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Title: Empress Josephine: An Historical Sketch of the Days of Napoleon
Author: Mühlbach, L. (Luise)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Empress Josephine: An Historical Sketch of the Days of Napoleon" ***

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By Louise Muhlbach

Author Of: Daughter Of An Empress, Marie Antoinette, Joseph II and His
Court, Frederick The Great and His Family, Berlin And Sans-Souci, Etc.

Translated from the German by Rev. W. Binet, A M.




       I.  Introduction
      II.  The Young Maid
     III.  The Betrothal
      IV.  The Young Bonaparte
       V.  The Unhappy Marriage
      VI.  Trianon and Marie Antoinette
     VII.  Lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte
    VIII.  A Page from History
      IX.  Josephine’s Return
       X.  The Days of the Revolution
      XI.  The 10th of August and the Letter of Napoleon Bonaparte
     XII.  The Execution of the Queen
    XIII.  The Arrest
     XIV.  In Prison
      XV.  Deliverance



     XVI.  Bonaparte in Corsica
    XVII.  Napoleon Bonaparte before Toulon
   XVIII.  Bonaparte’s Imprisonment
     XIX.  The 13th Vendemiaire
      XX.  The Widow Josephine Beauharnais
     XXI.  The New Paris
    XXII.  The First Interview
   XXIII.  Marriage
    XXIV.  Bonaparte’s Love-Letters
     XXV.  Josephine in Italy
    XXVI.  Bonaparte and Josephine in Milan
   XXVII.  The Court of Montebello
  XXVIII.  The Peace of Campo Formio
    XXIX.  Days of Triumph



     XXX.  Plombieres and Malmaison
    XXXI.  The First Faithlessness
   XXXII.  The 18th Brumaire
  XXXIII.  The Tuileries
   XXXIV.  The Infernal Machine
    XXXV.  The Cashmeres and the Letter
   XXXVI.  Malmaison
  XXXVII.  Flowers and Music
 XXXVIII.  Prelude to the Empire
   XXXIX.  The Pope in Paris
      XL.  The Coronation
     XLI.  Days of Happiness
    XLII.  Divorce
   XLIII.  The Divorced
    XLIV.  Death



“I win the battles, Josephine wins me the hearts.” These words of
Napoleon are the most beautiful epitaph of the Empress Josephine, the
much-loved, the much-regretted, and the much-slandered one. Even while
Napoleon won battles, while with lofty pride he placed his foot on the
neck of the conquered, took away from princes their crowns, and from
nations their liberty--while Europe trembling bowed before him, and
despite her admiration cursed him--while hatred heaved up the hearts of
all nations against him--even then none could refuse admiration to the
tender, lovely woman who, with the gracious smile of goodness, walked
at his side; none could refuse love to the wife of the conqueror, whose
countenance of brass received light and lustre from the beautiful eyes
of Josephine, as Memnon’s statue from the rays of the sun.

She was not beautiful according to those high and exalted rules of
beauty which we admire in the statues of the gods of old, but her whole
being was surrounded with such a charm, goodness, and grace, that the
rules of beauty were forgotten. Josephine’s beauty was believed in,
and the heart was ravished by the spell of such a gracious, womanly
apparition. Goethe’s words, which the Princess Eleonore utters in
reference to Antonio, were not applicable to Josephine:

“All the gods have with one consent brought gifts to his cradle, but,
alas! the Graces have remained absent, and where the gifts of these
lovely ones fail, though much was given and much received, yet on such a
bosom is no resting-place.”

No, the Graces were not absent from the cradle of Josephine; they, more
than all the other gods, had brought their gifts to Josephine. They had
encircled her with the girdle of gracefulness, they had imparted to her
look, to her smile, to her figure, attraction and charm, and given
her that beauty which is greater and more enduring than that of youth,
namely loveliness, that only real beauty. Josephine possessed the beauty
of grace, and this quality remained when youth, happiness, and grandeur,
had deserted her. This beauty of grace struck the Emperor Alexander as
he came to Malmaison to salute the dethroned empress. He had entered
Paris in triumph, and laid his foot on the neck of him whom he once had
called his friend, yet before the divorced wife of the dethroned emperor
the czar, full of admiration and respect, bowed his head and made her
homage as to a queen; for, though she was dethroned, on her head shone
the crown in imperishable beauty and glory, the crown of loveliness, of
faithfulness, and of womanhood.

She was not witty in the special sense of a so-called “witty woman.”
 She composed no verses, she wrote no philosophical dissertations, she
painted not, she was no politician, she was no practising artist, but
she possessed the deep and fine intuition of all that which is beautiful
and noble: she was the protectress of the arts and sciences. She knew
that disciples were not wanting to the arts, but that often a Maecenas
is needed. She left it to her cousin, the Countess Fanny Beauharnais, to
be called an artist; hers was a loftier destiny, and she fulfilled that
destiny through her whole life--she was a Maecenas, the protectress of
the arts and sciences.

As Hamlet says of his father, “He was a man, take him for all in all, I
shall not look upon his like again;” thus Josephine’s fame consists not
that she was a princess, an empress anointed by the hands of the pope
himself, but that she was a noble and true wife, loving yet more than
she was loved, entirely given up in unswerving loyalty to him who
rejected her; languishing for very sorrow on account of his misfortune,
and dying for very grief as vanished away the star of his happiness.
Thousands in her place, rejected, forgotten, cast away, as she
was--thousands would have rejoiced in the righteousness of the fate
which struck and threw in the dust the man who, for earthly grandeur,
had abandoned the beloved one and disowned her love. Josephine wept over
him, lamented over his calamities, and had but a wish to be allowed to
share them with him. Josephine died broken-hearted--the misfortunes of
her beloved, who no more loved her, the misfortunes of Napoleon, broke
her heart.

She was a woman, “take her for all in all”--a noble, a beautiful woman,
a loving woman, and such as belongs to no peculiar class, to no peculiar
nation, to no peculiar special history; she belongs to the world, to
humanity, to universal history. In the presence of such an apparition
all national hatred is silent, all differences of political opinion are
silent. Like a great, powerful drama drawn from the universal history of
man and represented before our eyes, so her life passes before us; and
surprised, wondering, we gaze on, indifferent whether the heroine of
such a tragedy be Creole, French, or to what nation she may owe her
birth. She belongs to the world, to history, and if we Germans have no
love for the Emperor Napoleon, the tyrant of the world, the Caesar of
brass who bowed the people down into the dust, and trod under foot
their rights and liberties--if we Germans have no love for the conqueror
Napoleon, because he won so many battles from us, yet this does not
debar us from loving Josephine, who during her lifetime won hearts to
Napoleon, and whose beautiful death for love’s sake filled with tears
the eyes of those whose lips knew but words of hatred and cursing
against the emperor.

To write the life of Josephine does not mean to write the life of a
Frenchwoman, the life of the wife of the man who brought over Germany
so much adversity, shame, and suffering, but it means to write a woman’s
life which, as a fated tragedy or like a mighty picture, rises before
our vision. It is to unfold a portion of the world’s history before our
eyes--and the world’s history is there for our common instruction and
progress, for our enlightenment and encouragement.

I am not afraid, therefore, of being accused of lacking patriotism,
because I have undertaken to write the life of a woman who is not a
German, who was the wife of Germany’s greatest enemy and oppressor. It
is, indeed, a portion of the universal drama which is unfolded in the
life of this woman, and amid so much blood, so much dishonor, so many
tears, so much humiliation, so much pride, arrogance, and treachery, of
this renowned period of the world’s history, shines forth the figure
of Josephine as the bright star of womanhood, of love, of
faithfulness--stars need no birthright, no nationality, they belong to
all lands and nations.


On the 23d of July, 1763, to the Chevalier Tascher de la Pagerie,
ex-lieutenant of the royal troops, a resident of the insignificant
spot of the Trois Islets, on the island of Martinique, was borne by his
young, rich, and beautiful wife, a first child.

The loving parents, the relatives and friends had longed for this child,
but now that it was come, they bade it welcome without joy, and even
over the brow of the young father hung the shadow of a cloud as he
received the intelligence of the birth of his child. For it was a girl,
and not the wished-for boy who was to be the inheritor of the valuable
family-plantation, and the inheritor also of the ancient and respectable
name of Tascher de la Pagerie.

It was, however, useless to murmur against fate. What was irrevocable
had to be accepted, and welcome made to the daughter, who, instead of
the expected heir, would now lay claim to the rights of primogeniture.
As an inheritance reserved for him who had not come, the daughter
received the name which had been destined to the son. For two hundred
years the name of Joseph had been given to the eldest son of the family
of Tascher de la Pagerie, but now that there was none to whom the
Chevalier, Ex-lieutenant Joseph de la Pagerie could leave his name as a
legacy, the family had to be satisfied to give the name to his daughter,
and consequently she received at baptism the name of Joseph Marie Rosa.

There was, however, one being who gladly and willingly forgave the fault
of her birth, and who consecrated to the daughter the same love she
would have offered to the son. This being was the mother of the little
Joseph Marie Rosa.

“Contrary to all our wishes,” writes she to her husband’s sister, the
beautiful Madame Renaudin, in Paris--“contrary to all our wishes, God
has given me a daughter. My joy is not therefore diminished, for I look
upon my child as a new bond which binds me still closer to your brother,
my dear husband, and to you. Why should I have such a poor and meagre
opinion of the female sex, that a daughter should not be welcomed by
me? I am acquainted with many persons of our sex who concentrate in
themselves as many good qualities as one would only with difficulty find
in the other sex. Maternal love already blinds me and fosters in me the
hope that my daughter may be like them, and if even I cannot enjoy
this satisfaction, yet I am thankful to my child that by means of her
existence I am gathering so much happiness.”

Indeed, extraordinary joy, since the birth of the child, reigned in the
house of M. Tascher de la Pagerie; joy reigned all over Martinique,
for the long war between France and England was ended, and a few months
before the birth of little Joseph Marie Rosa, the peace which secured
to France the possession of her maritime colonies had been signed.
Martinique, so often attacked, bombarded, besieged by English
ships--Martinique was again the unconditional property of France, and
on the birthday of the little Marie Joseph Rosa the French fleet entered
into the harbor of Port Royal, landed a French garrison for the island,
and brought a new governor in the person of the Marquis de Fenelon, the
nephew of the famous Bishop de Fenelon.

Joyously and quietly passed away the first years of the life of the
little Joseph, or little Josephine, as her kind parents called her. Only
once, in the third year of her life, was Josephine’s infancy troubled
by a fright. A terrible hurricane, such as is known to exist only in the
Antilles, broke over Martinique. The historians of that period know not
how to depict the awful and calamitous events of this hurricane, which,
at the same time, seemed to shake the whole earth with its convulsions.
In Naples, in Sicily, in the Molucca Islands, volcanoes broke out in
fearful eruptions; for three days the earth trembled in Constantinople.
But it was over Martinique that the hurricane raged in the most
appalling manner. In less than four hours the howling northwest’ wind,
accompanied by forked lightning, rolling thunder, heavy water-spouts,
and tremendous earth-tremblings, had hurled down into fragments all the
houses of the town, all the sugar-plantations, and all the negro cabins.
Here and there the earth opened, flames darted out and spread round
about a horrible vapor of sulphur, which suffocated human beings. Trees
were uprooted, and the sugar and coffee plantations destroyed. The
sea roared and upheaved, sprang from its bounds, and shivered as mere
glass-work barks and even some of the larger ships lying in the harbor
of Port Royal. Five hundred men perished, and a much larger number
were severely wounded. Distress and poverty were the result of this
astounding convulsion of nature.

The estate of M. Tascher de la Pagerie was made desolate. His residence,
his sugar-plantations, were but a heap of ruins and rubbish, and as
a gift of Providence he looked upon the one refuge left him in his
sugar-refinery, which was miraculously spared by the hurricane. There M.
Tascher saved himself, with Josephine and her younger sister, and there
his wife bore him a third child. But Heaven even now did not fulfil
the long-cherished wishes of the parents, for it was to a daughter that
Madame de la Pagerie gave birth. The parents were, however, weary with
murmuring against fate, which accomplished not their wish; and so to
prove to fate that this daughter was welcome, they named the child born
amid the horrors of this terrific hurricane, Desiree, the Desired.

Peaceful, happy years followed;--peaceful and happy, in the midst of the
family, passed on the years of Josephine’s infancy. She had every thing
which could be procured. Beloved by her parents, by her two sisters,
worshipped by her servants and slaves, she lived amid a beautiful,
splendid, and sublime nature, in the very midst of wealth and affluence.
Her father, casting away all ambition, was satisfied to cultivate his
wide and immense domains, and to remain among his one hundred and fifty
slaves as master and ruler, to whom unconditional and cheerful obedience
was rendered. Her mother sought and wished for no other happiness than
the peaceful quietude of the household joys. Her husband, her children,
her home, constituted the world where she breathed, in which alone
centred her thoughts, her wishes, and her hopes. To mould her daughters
into good housekeepers and wives, and if possible to secure for them
in due time, by means of a brilliant and advantageous marriage, a happy
future--this was the only ambition of this gentle and virtuous woman.

Above all things, it was necessary to procure to the daughters an
education suited to the claims of high social position, and which would
fit her daughters to act on the world’s stage the part which their
birth, their wealth, and beauty, reserved for them. The tender mother
consented to part with her darling, with her eldest daughter; and
Josephine, not yet twelve years old, was brought, for completing her
education, to the convent of our Lady de la Providence in Port Royal.
There she learned all which in the Antilles was considered necessary
for the education of a lady of rank; there she obtained that light,
superficial, rudimentary instruction, which was then thought sufficient
for a woman; there she was taught to write her mother tongue with a
certain fluency and without too many blunders; there she was instructed
in the use of the needle, to execute artistic pieces of embroidery;
there she learned something in arithmetic and in music; yea, so as to
give to the wealthy daughter of M. Tascher de la Pagerie a full and
complete education, the pious sisters of the convent consented that
twice a week a dancing-master should come to the convent to give to
Josephine lessons in dancing, the favorite amusement of the Creoles.
[Footnote: “Histoire de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” par Joseph Aubenas.
vol. i., p. 36.]

These dancing-lessons completed the education of Josephine, and,
barely fifteen years old, she returned to her parents and sisters as an
accomplished young lady, to perform the honors of the house alongside
of her mother, to learn from her to preside with grace and ease over
a large mansion, and above all things to be a good mistress, a
benefactress, and a protectress to her slaves. Under her mother’s
guidance, Josephine visited the negro cabins to minister unto the sick,
to bring comfort and nourishment to the old and to the weak, to pray
with the dying, to take under her loving guardianship the new-born babes
of the negro women, to instruct in the catechism the grown-up children,
to excite them to industry, to encourage them through kindness and
friendliness, to protect them, and to be a mediator when for some
offence they were condemned to severe punishment.

It was a wonderfully peaceful and beautiful life that of the young
Josephine, amid a bountiful nature, in that soft, sunny clime which
clothed her whole being with that tender, pleasing grace, that lovely
quietude, that yielding complacency, and at the same time with that
fiery, passionate nature of the Creoles. Ordinarily dressed only with
the “gaule,” a wide, loose garment of white muslin, falling loosely
about the waist, where no belt gathered its folds, the beautiful head
wrapped up in the many-colored madras, which around the temples was
folded up into graceful knots holding together her chestnut-brown
hair--in this dress Josephine would swing for hours in her hammock
made of homespun silk and ornamented with borders of feathers from the
variegated iridescent birds of Cayenne.

Round about her were her young female slaves, watching with their
brilliant dark eyes their young mistress, ever ready to read every
wish upon that dreamy, smiling countenance, and by their swarthy tinge
heightening the soft, tender whiteness of her own complexion.

Then, wearied with the stillness and with her dreams, Josephine would
spring up from the hammock, dart into the house with all the lightness
of the gazelle to enliven the family with her own joyousness, her merry
pleasantry, and accompanied by her guitar to sing unto them with her
lovely youthful voice the songs of the Creoles. As the glowing sun
was at its setting, away she hastened with her slaves into the garden,
directed their labors, and with her own hands tended her own cherished
flowers, which commingled together in admirable admixture from all
climes under the genial skies of the Antilles. In the evening, the
family was gathered together in the light of the moon, which imparted
to the nights the brightness of day and streamed upon them her soft
blue rays, upon the fragrant terrace, in front of the house, where the
faithful slaves carefully watched the little group close one to another
and guarded their masters from the approaches of poisonous serpents,
that insidious progeny of the night.

On Sundays after Josephine had religiously and faithfully listened to an
early mass, she gladly attended in the evening the “barraboula” of the
negroes, dancing their African dances in the glare of torches and to the
monotonous sound of the tam-tam.

On festivals, she assisted her mother to put all things in order, and
to preside at the great banquets given to relatives and friends, who
afterward were visited in their turn, and then the slaves carried their
masters in hammocks, or else, what was far more acceptable, the young
maidens mounted small Spanish horses, full of courage and daring,
and whose firm, quick step made a ride to Porto Rico simply a rushing

Amidst this dreamy, sunny, joyous existence of the young maiden gleamed
one day, as a lightning-flash, a prophetic ray of Josephine’s future

This happened one afternoon as she was walking alone and thoughtful
through the plantation. A group of negresses, in the centre of which was
an old and unknown woman, attracted her attention. Josephine approached.
It was an old negro woman from a neighboring plantation, and she
was telling the fortune of the young negro women of M. Tascher de la
Pagerie. No sooner did the old woman cast her eyes on Josephine than
she seemed to shrink into one mass, whilst an expression of horror and
wonder stole over her face. She vehemently seized the hand of the young
maiden, examined it carefully, and then lifted up her large, astonished
eyes with a searching expression to the face of Josephine.

“You must see something very wonderful in my face and in my hand?”
 inquired Josephine, laughing.

“Yes, something very wonderful,” repeated the negro woman, still
intently staring at her.

“Is it a good or a bad fortune which awaits me?”

The old prophetess slowly shook her head.

“Who can tell,” said she, gravely, “what is a good or a bad fortune
for human beings? In your hand I see evil, but in your face
happiness--great, lofty happiness.”

“Well,” cried out Josephine, laughing, “you are cautious, and your
oracle is not very clear.”

The old woman lifted up her eyes to heaven with a strange expression.

“I dare not,” said she, “express myself more clearly.”

“Speak on, whatever the result!” exclaimed Josephine, whose curiosity
was excited by the very diffidence of the fortune-teller. “Say what you
see in my future life. I wish it, I order you to do so.”

“Well, if you order it, I must obey,” said she, with solemnity. “Listen,
then. I read in your countenance that you are called to high destinies.
You will soon be married. But your marriage will not be a happy one. You
will soon be a young widow, and then--”

“Well, and then?” asked Josephine, passionately, as the old woman
hesitated and remained silent.

“Well, and then you will be Queen of France--more than a queen!” shouted
the prophetess, with a loud voice. “You will live glorious, brilliant
days, but at the last misfortune will come and carry you to your grave
in a day of rebellion.”

Afraid of the pictures which her prophetic vision had contemplated in
the future, the old hag forced her way through the circle of negro women
around, and rushed away through the field as fast as her feet could bear
her on.

Josephine, laughing, turned to her astonished women, who had followed
with their eyes the flight of the prophetess, but who now directed their
dark eyes with an expression of awe and bewilderment to their young
mistress, of whom the fortune-teller had said she would one day be Queen
of France. Josephine endeavored to overthrow the faith of her swarthy
servants in the fortune-teller, and, by pointing to the ridiculous
prophecy in reference to herself, and which predicted an impossible
future, she tried to prove to them what a folly it was to rely on the
words of those who made a profession of foretelling the future.

But against her will the prophetic words of the old woman echoed in the
heart of the young maiden. She could not return home to her family
and talk, laugh, and dance, as she had been accustomed to do with her
sisters. Followed by her slaves, she went into her garden and sank in
a hammock, hung amid the gigantic leaves of a palm-tree, and, while the
negro girls danced and sang round her, the young maid was dreaming about
the future, and her beating heart asked if it were not possible that the
prophecy of the negro woman might one day be realized.

She, the daughter of M. Tascher de la Pagerie--she a future “Queen
of France! More than a queen!” Oh, it was mere folly to think on such
things, and to busy herself with the ludicrous prophecies of the old

And Josephine laughed at her own credulity, and the slaves sang and
danced, and against her will the thoughts of the young maiden returned
to the prophecy again and again.

What the old fortune-teller had said, was it so very ridiculous, so
impossible? Could not that prophecy become a reality? Was it, then, the
first time that a daughter of the Island of Martinique had been exalted
to grandeur and lofty honors?

Josephine asked these questions to herself, as dreaming and thoughtful
she swung in the hammock and gazed toward the horizon upon the sea,
which, in its blue depths and brilliancy, hung there as if heaven had
lowered itself down to earth. That sea was a pathway to France, and
already once before had its waves wafted a daughter of the Island of
Martinique to a throne.

Thus ran the thoughts of Josephine. She thought of Franchise d’Aubigne,
and of her wondrous story. A poor wanderer, fleeing from France to
search for happiness beyond the seas in a foreign land, M. d’Aubigne
had landed in Martinique with his young wife. There Franchise was born,
there passed away the first years of her life. Once, when a child of
three years old, she was bitten by a venomous serpent, and her life was
saved only through the devotion of her black nurse, who sucked alike
poison and death from the wound. Another time, as she was on a voyage
with her parents, the vessel was in danger of being captured by a
corsair; and a third time a powerful whirlwind carried into the waves of
the sea the little Francoise, who was walking on the shore, but a large
black dog, her companion and favorite, sprang after her, seized her
dress with its teeth, and carried the child back to the shore, where
sobbing for joy her mother received her.

Fate had reserved great things for Francoise, and with all manner of
horrors it submitted the child to probation to make of it a strong and
noble woman.

A severer blow came when her father, losing in gambling all the property
which he had gathered in Martinique, died suddenly, leaving his family
in poverty and want. Another blow more severe still came when on her
return to France, whither her mother was going with her, she lost this
last prop of her youth and childhood. Madame d’Aubigne died, and her
body was committed to the waves; and, as a destitute orphan, Francoise
d’Aubigne touched the soil of France.

And what became of the poor orphan of the Creole of Martinique?

She became the wife of a king, and nearly a queen! For Francoise
d’Aubigne, the widow of Scarron, the governess of the children of Louis
XIV, had caused the mother of these children, the beautiful Madame de
Montespan, to be cast away, and she became the friend, the beloved,
the secret spouse of the king: and the lofty Louis, who could say of
himself, “L’etat c’est moi” he, with all the power of his will, with all
his authority, was the humble vassal of Franchise d’Aubigne, Marquise de

This was the first princess whom Martinique had given to the world!

Was it not possible that the prophecies of the old negro woman could be
realized? could not once more a daughter of the Island of Martinique be
exalted into a princess?

“You will be Queen of France!” the negress had said.

No, it was mere folly to believe in such a ridiculous prophecy. The
throne of France was now occupied. Alongside of her consort, the
good, the well-beloved Louis XVI, the young and beautiful Queen Marie
Antoinette, the daughter of the mighty Empress Maria Theresa, sat on the
throne. She was young, she was beloved throughout France, and she had
already, to the great delight of her husband and of his people, borne an
heir to the throne of France.

The throne of the lilies stood then on firm and sure foundations,
and the prophecies of the old negress belonged only to the kingdom of
fables. [Footnote: This prophecy, nearly as related above, was told by
the Empress Josephine herself to her maids of honor in the castle of
Navarra.--See “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine, la Ville, la Cour
et les Salons de Paris sous l’Empire, par Madame Georgette Ducrest.”]


Six months had barely elapsed since Josephine’s return from the convent
when the family Tascher de la Pagerie received from their relatives in
Paris letters which were to be of the greatest importance for the whole

The beautiful Madame de Renaudin, sister of M. Tascher de la Pagerie,
had settled in Paris after having rid herself of an unhappy marriage
with a man, coarse and addicted to gambling, and after having, through
a legal separation, reobtained her freedom. She lived there in the
closest, intimacy with the Marquis de Beauharnais, who, for many
years, at an earlier period, had resided as governor on the Island of
Martinique, and there had bound himself to the whole family of Tascher
de la Pagerie by the ties of a cordial friendship. His wife, during her
residence in Martinique, had been the most tender friend of Madame de
Renaudin, and when the marchioness bore a second son to her husband,
Madame de Renaudin had stood as godmother, and promised to love and
protect the child of her friend as if she were his mother.

Chance brought on the opportunity of accomplishing this promise and of
fulfilling the oath made to God before the altar. The Marchioness de
Beauharnais returned to France in the year 1763 with her husband and
her two sons, but died there a short time after; and Madame de Renaudin,
true to her oath, hastened to replace the natural guardian, the mother.

Perhaps she had but followed the dictates of her heart, perhaps against
her will a sentiment of joy had passed over her at the death of the
poor marchioness, for, by this death, one at least of the two obstacles
intervening between Madame de Renaudin and the Marquis de Beauharnais
had been removed. Both married, both of the Catholic religion, death
alone could make their hands free, and confer upon them the right of
joining hands together for all their days.

They loved one another, they had ceased long ago to make a secret of it;
they avowed it to each other and to their dependants, for their brave,
loyal, and noble hearts would not stoop to falsehood and deception, and
they had the courage to acknowledge what their sentiments were.

Death had then made free the hand of the Marquis de Beauharnais, but
life held yet in bondage the hand of the Baroness de Renaudin.

As long as her husband lived, she could not, though legally divorced
from him, conscientiously think of a second marriage.

But she possessed the courage and the loyalty of true love; she had seen
and experienced enough of the world to despise its judgments, and with
cheerful determination do what in her conscience she held to be good and

Before God’s altar she had promised to the deceased Marchioness de
Beauharnais to be a mother to her son; she loved the child and she loved
the father of this child, and, as she was now free, as she had no duties
which might restrain her footsteps, she followed the voice of her heart
and braved public opinion.

She had purchased not far from Paris, at Noisy-le-Grand, a country
residence, and there passed the summer with the Marquis de Beauharnais,
with his two sons and their tutor.

The marquis owned a superb hotel in Paris, in Thevenot Street, and
there, during winter, he resided with his two sons and the Baroness de
Renaudin, the mother, the guardian of his two orphan sons, the friend,
the confidante, the companion of his quiet life, entirely devoted to
study, to the arts, to the sciences, and to household pleasures.

Thus the years passed away; the two sons of the Marquis de Beauharnais
had grown up under the care of their maternal friend: they had
been through their collegiate course, had been one year students at
Heidelberg, had returned, had been through the drill of soldier and
officer, a mere form which custom then imposed on young men of high
birth; and the younger son Alexander, the godchild of the Baroness de
Renaudin, had scarcely passed his sixteenth year when he received his
commission as sub-lieutenant.

A year afterward his elder brother married one of his cousins, the
Countess Claude Beauharnais, and the sight of this youthful happy love
excited envy in the heart of the young lieutenant of seventeen years,
and awoke in him a longing for a similar blessedness. Freely and without
reserve he communicated his wishes to his father, begged of him to
choose him a wife, and promised to take readily and cheerfully as such
her whom his father or his sponsor, his second mother, would select for

A few months later reached Martinique the letters which, as already
said, were to be of the utmost importance to the family of M. Tascher de
la Pagerie.

The first of these letters was from the Marquis de Beauharnais, and
addressed to the parents of Josephine, but with a considerate and
delicate tact the marquis had not written the letter with his own hand,
but had dictated it to his son Alexander, so as to prove to the family
of his friend De la Pagerie that the son was in perfect unison of
sentiment with the father, and that the latter only expressed what the
son desired and approved.

“I cannot express,” wrote the marquis, “how much satisfaction I have
in being at this moment able to give you a proof of the inclination and
friendship which I always have had for you. As you will perceive, this
satisfaction is not merely on the surface.

“My two sons,” continues he, “are now enjoying an annual income of forty
thousand livres. It is in your power to give me your daughter to enjoy
this income with my son, the chevalier. The esteem and affection he
feels for Madame de Renaudin makes him passionately desire to be united
with her niece. I can assure you that I am only gratifying his wishes
when I pray you to give me for him your second daughter, whose age
corresponds at best with his. I sincerely wish that your eldest daughter
were a few years younger, for then she would certainly have had the
preference, the more so that she is described to me under the most
advantageous colors. But I confess my son, who is but seventeen and a
half years old, thinks that a young lady of fifteen is too near him
in age. This is one of those cases in which reasonable and reflecting
parents will accommodate themselves to circumstances.”

M. de Beauharnais adds that his son possesses all the qualities
necessary to make a woman happy. At the same time he declares that, as
regards his future daughter-in-law, he has no claims to a dowry, for
his son already possesses an income of forty thousand livres from his
mother’s legacy, and that after his father’s death he will inherit
besides an annual income of twenty-five thousand livres. He then
entreats M. de la Pagerie, as soon as practicable, to send his daughter
to France, and, if possible, to bring her himself. The marquis then
addresses himself directly to the wife of M. de la Pagerie, and repeats
to her in nearly the same words his proposal, and endeavors also to
excuse to her the choice of the second daughter.

“The most flattering things have been told me,” writes he, “of your
eldest daughter, but my son finds her, with her fifteen years, too old
for him. My son is worthy of becoming your son-in-law; Nature has gifted
him with good and fine parts, and his income is sufficiently large to
share it with a wife qualified to render him happy. Such a one I trust
to find in your second daughter; may she resemble you, madame, and I can
no longer doubt of my son’s happiness! I feel extremely happy to see my
long-cherished wishes satisfied! I can not express to you how great
will be my joy to see riveted forever, by means of this union of our two
families, the inclination and the friendship which have already so long
chained us together. I trust that Mademoiselle de la Pagerie will not
refuse her consent. Allow me to embrace her and already to greet her as
my own beloved daughter.” [Footnote: Aubenas, “Histoire de l’Imperatrice
Josephine,” vol. i., p. 78.]

To this letter was addressed a note from Madame de Renaudin to her
brother and to her sister-in-law. She openly acknowledges that she
it was who desired this union, and who had brought the matter to its
present stage, and she endeavors to meet the objection that it would
appear strange for a young lady to undertake a long journey in search of
a future husband, whilst it would be more expedient that the bridegroom
should make the journey to his bride, to receive her at the hands of
her parents, and bring her with him to a new home. But this bride of
thirteen years must first be trained for her future destiny; she is
not to be in the house of her future father-in-law, but in the house of
Madame de Renaudin, her aunt, and she is there to receive the completion
of her education and that higher culture which her parents, even with
all the necessary means, could not give her in Martinique.

“We are of opinion,” she writes, “that the young people must see one
another and please each other, before we bring this matter to a close,
for they are both too dear to us to desire to coerce them against their
inclination. Your daughter will find in me a true and kind mother, and
I am sure that she will find the happiness of her future life in the
contemplated union, for the chevalier is well qualified to make a wife
happy. All that I can say of him exhausts by no means the praise he
deserves. He has a pleasant countenance, an excellent figure, wit,
genius, knowledge, and, what is more than this, all the noble qualities
of heart and soul are united in him, and he must consequently be loved
by all who know him.”

Meanwhile, before these letters reached Martinique, chance had already
otherwise decided the fate of Mary, the second daughter of M. de la
Pagerie. With one sentence it had destroyed all the family schemes.
After three days of confinement to a bed of sickness, Mary had died of a
violent fever, and when the letter, in which the Marquis de Beauharnais
asked for her hand, reached her father, she had been buried three

M. Tascher de la Pagerie hastened to announce her death to the Marquis
and to Madame de Renaudin; and to prove to them how much he also had at
heart a union of the two families, he offered to his son, the chevalier,
the hand of his third daughter, the little twelve-year-old Desiree.
Undoubtedly it would have been more gratifying to him if the choice of
the marquis had fallen upon his eldest daughter, and he makes this known
very clearly in his answer to Madame de Renaudin.

“My eldest daughter,” writes he, “Josephine, who is lately returned from
the convent, and who has often desired me to take her to France, will,
believe me, be somewhat sensitive at the preference given to her younger
sisters. Josephine has a beautiful head, beautiful eyes and arms, and
also a wonderful talent for music. During her stay in the convent I
procured her a guitar-teacher; she has made the best of the instruction
received, and she has a glorious voice. It is a pity she has not the
opportunity of completing her education in France; and were I to have my
wish, I would bring her to you instead of my other two daughters.”

Meanwhile the Marquis de Beauharnais, as well as his son, found that the
youngest daughter of M. de la Pagerie was too young for their impatient
desire to bring to a favorable issue these important family concerns,
and that the eldest of the daughters ought to have the preference. The
son of the marquis especially pronounced himself decidedly in favor of
Josephine, and father and son, as well as Madame de Renaudin, turned
imploringly to M. Tascher de la Pagerie, praying that he would bring
them his eldest daughter.

Now, for the first time, when the choice of the Beauharnais family
had irrevocably fallen upon Josephine, now for the first time was this
proposed marriage made known to her, and her consent asked.

Josephine, whose young heart was like a blank sheet of paper, whereon
love had as yet written no name, Josephine rejoiced at the prospect
of accomplishing the secret wish of her maiden heart, to go to
Paris--Paris, the burning desire of all Creoles--Paris, after all the
narratives and descriptions, which had been made to Josephine, rose
before the soul of the young maiden as a golden morning dream, a
charming fairy world; and full of gratitude she already loved her future
husband, to whom she owed the happiness of becoming acquainted with the
city of wonders and pleasures.

She therefore acquiesced without regret at being separated from
her parents and from her sister, from the home of all her sweet
reminiscences of youth, and joyously, in August of the year 1779, she
embarked on board the vessel which was to take her with her father to

In the middle of October they both, after a stormy passage, touched
the soil of France and announced to their relatives their safe arrival.
Alexandre de Beauharnais, full of impatient longings to see his unknown
young bride, hastened to Brest to bid her and her father welcome, and to
accompany them to Paris.

The first meeting of the young couple decided their future. Josephine,
smiling and blushing, avowed to her father that she was willing and
ready to marry M. Alexandre Beanharnais; and, the very first day of
his meeting with Josephine, Alexandre wrote to his father that he was
enchanted with the choice made, and that he felt strongly convinced
that, at the side of so charming, sweet, and lovely a being, he would
lead a happy and sunny life.

The love of the children had crowned all the schemes of the parents,
and on the 13th of December, 1779, the marriage of the young couple took
place. On the 13th of December, Mademoiselle Josephine Tascher de la
Pagerie became the Viscountess Josephine de Beauharnais.


In the same year, 1779, in which Josephine de la Pagerie for the first
time left Martinique for Prance, a vessel which had sailed from Corsica
brought to France a boy who, not only as regards Josephine’s life,
but also as regards all Europe, yea, the whole world, was to be of the
highest importance, and who, with the iron step of fatality, was to
walk through Europe to subvert thrones and raise up new ones; to tread
nations in the dust, and to lift up others from the dust; to break
tyranny’s chains in which people languished, so as to impose upon them
his own chains.

This boy was Napoleon Bonaparte, the son of the advocate Charles de

From Ajaccio, the principal town of Corsica, came the ship which brought
to France the boy, his father, and his two elder brothers. In Ajaccio
the family of the Bonapartes had been settled for more than a century.
There also Napoleon had passed the first years of his life, in the
family circle with his parents, and in joyous amusements with his five
brothers and sisters.

His father, Charles de Bonaparte, belonged to one of the noble families
of Corsica, and was one of the most influential men on the island. His
mother, Letitia Ramolina, was well known throughout the island for her
beauty, and the only woman who could have been her rival, for she was
her equal in beauty, youth, and grace, was her dearest friend, the
beautiful Panonia de Comnene, afterward the mother of the Duchess

The beautiful Letitia Ramolina was married to Charles de Bonaparte the
same year that her friend Panonia de Comnene became the wife of M.
de Permont, a high French official in Ajaccio. Corsica was then the
undisputed property of the kingdom of France, and, however proud the
Corsicans were of their island, yet they were satisfied to be called
subjects of France, and to have their beautiful island considered as a
province of France.

Napoleon Bonaparte was the fifth child of his parents, the favorite of
his beautiful mother Letitia, who was the life of the household, the
ruler of the family. She governed the house, she educated the children;
she knew, with the genuine ability of a housekeeper, of a mother, how to
spend with careful frugality the moderate income of her husband; how
to economize, and yet how to give to each what was needed. As to the
father, in the hours of leisure which business, political debates, and
amusements allowed him to give to his home and family, his children were
an agreeable recreation, an interesting pastime; and when the children,
carried away by the sparkling fire of youth, shouted or cried too loud,
the father endeavored to palliate their misdemeanor, and obtain their
pardon from their mother. Then Letitia’s eyes were fastened with a
flaming glance upon her husband, and, imperatively bidding him leave the
children, she would say: “Let them alone. Their education concerns you
not. I am the one to keep the eyes upon them.”

She trained them up with the severity of a father and with the
tenderness of a mother. Inexorable against every vice of heart and
character, she was lenient and indulgent toward petty offences which
sprang up from the inconsiderateness and spiritedness of youth. Every
tendency to vulgar sentiments, to mean envy or selfishness, she strove
to uproot by galling indignation; but every thing which was great and
lofty, all sentiments of honor, of courage, of large-heartedness, of
generosity, of kindness, she nursed and cherished in the hearts of her
children. It was a glorious sight to contemplate this young mother
when with her beautiful, rosy countenance glowing with enthusiasm and
blessedness, she stood among her children, and in fiery, expressive
manner spoke to the listening group of the great and brave of old, of
the deeds of a Caesar, of a Hannibal; when she spoke of Brutus, who,
though he loved Caesar, yet, greater than Caesar, and a more exalted
Roman in his love for the republic, sacrificed his love to the
fatherland; or when she, with that burning glow which all Corsicans, the
women as well as the men, cherish for their home and for the historical
greatness of their dear island, told them of the bravery and self-denial
even unto death with which the Corsicans for centuries had fought for
the freedom of their island; how, faithful to the ancient sacred law of
blood, they never let the misdeed pass unpunished; they never feared the
foe, however powerful he might be, but revenged on him the evil which he
had committed against sister or brother, father or mother.

And when Letitia thus spoke to her children in the beautiful and
harmonious language of her country, the eyes of the little Napoleon
were all aflame, his childish countenance suddenly assumed a grave
expression, and on the little body of the child was seen a man’s head,
glowing with power, energy, and pride.

These narratives of his mother, these enthusiastic stories of heroes
of the past, which the boy, with loud-beating heart, with countenance
blanched by mental excitement, gathered from the beautiful lips of his
mother, were the highest pleasure of the little Napoleon, and often in
future years has the emperor amid his glory thought of those days never
to be forgotten, when the child’s heart and soul hung on his mother’s
lips, and listened to her wondrous stories of heroes.

These narratives of Letitia, this enthusiasm which her glowing language
awoke in the heart of the child, this whole education which Letitia gave
to her children, became the corner-stone of their future. As a sower,
Letitia scattered the seed from which hero and warrior were to spring
forth, and the grain which fell into the heart of her little Napoleon
found a good soil, and grew and prospered, and became a laurel-tree,
which adorned the whole family of the Bonapartes with the blooming crown
of immortality.

Great men are ever much more the sons of their mother than of the
father, while seldom have great men seen their own greatness survive in
their sons. This is a wonderful secret of Nature, which perhaps cannot
be explained, but which cannot be denied.

Goethe was the true son of his talented and noble mother, but he could
leave as a legacy to his son only the fame of a name, and not his
genius. Henry IV., the son of a noble, spiritual and large-hearted
Jeanne de Navarre, could not leave to France, which worshipped and loved
her king, could not leave to his people, a successor who resembled him,
and who would inherit his sharp-sightedness, his prudence, his courage,
and his greatness of soul. His son and successor was Louis XIII., a king
whose misfortune it was ever to be overruled, ever to be humbled, ever
to stand in the shade of two superior natures, which excited his envy,
but which he was never competent to overcome; ever overshadowed by the
past glories which his father’s fame threw upon him, overshadowed by the
ruler and mentor of his choice, his minister, the Cardinal de Richelieu,
who darkened his whole sad existence.

Napoleon was the son of his mother, the large-hearted and high-minded
Letitia Ramolina. But how distant was the son of the hero, who, from a
poor second lieutenant, had forced his way to the throne of France! how
distant the poor little Duke de Reichstadt from his great father! Even
over the life of this son of an eminent father weighed a shadow--the
shadow of his father’s greatness. Under this shadow which the column of
Vendome cast from Paris to the imperial city of Vienna, which the steep
rock of St. Helena cast even upon the castle of Schonbrunn, under this
shadow died the Duke de Reichstadt, the unfortunate son of his eminent

The little Napoleon was always a shy, reserved, quiet boy. For hours
long he could hide in some obscure corner of the house or of the garden,
and sit there with head bent low and eyes closed, half asleep and half
dreaming; but when he opened his eyes, what a life in those looks! What
animation, what exuberance in his whole being, when awaking from his
childish dreams he mixed again with his brothers, sisters, and friends!

Letitia’s words and example had penetrated the soul of the child with
the highest emotions of honor and human dignity, and the little boy of
seven years exhibited oftentimes the sentiments of honor, pride, and
obstinacy of a man. Every bodily correction to which he was submitted
made him turn pale and tremble, not from pain but for shame, filled him
with indignation, and was apt to bring on sickness. In Corsica still
prevailed the custom of severe discipline for children, and in all the
classes of the school the rod was applied as a means of punishment and
reformation. To beat one’s wife was considered in Corsica, as everywhere
else, an unpardonable brutality; but parents as well as teachers whipped
children to mould them into noble, refined, honorable men.

The little Napoleon would not adapt himself to the blessings of this
education, and the mere threats of the rod-switching deprived the child
of his senses and threw him into convulsions. But though the little
Napoleon was gloomy, monosyllabic, and quiet, yet was he from early
childhood the favorite of all who knew him, and he already wielded over
brothers, sisters, and companions, a wonderful influence.

When a boy of four years old, Letitia sent him to a sort of play-school,
where boys and girls amused themselves together and learned the ABC. The
young Napoleon was soon the soul of the little company. The boys obeyed
him, and submitted to his will; the girls trembled before him, and yet
with a smile they pressed toward him merely to be near him and to have
a place at his side. And the four-year child already practised a tender
chivalry. One of his little school-companions had made an impression on
his heart; he honored her with special favors, sat at her side during
the lessons, and when they left school to return home, the little
Napoleon never missed, with complete gravity of countenance, to offer
his arm to his favorite of five years of age and to accompany her to her
home. But the sight of this gallant, with his diminutive, compact,
and broad figure, over which the large head, with its earnestness of
expression, seemed so incongruous, and which moved on with so much
gravity, while the socks fell from the naked calves over the heels--all
this excited the merriment of the other children; and when, arm-in-arm
with his little schoolmate, he thus moved on, the other urchins in
great glee shouted after him: “Napoleone di mezza calzetta dall’ amore
a Giacominetta!” (“Napoleon in socks is the lover of the little

The boy endured these taunts with the stoic composure of a philosopher,
but never after did he offer his arm to the little Giacominetta, and
never afterward did his socks hang down over his heels.

When from this “mixed school” he passed into a boys’ school, the little
Napoleon distinguished himself above all the other boys by his ambition,
his deep jealousy, his perseverance at learning and studying, and he
soon became the favorite of the Abbe Recco, [Footnote: Napoleon, in his
testament, written at St. Helena, willed a fixed sum of money to this
Professor Recco, in gratitude for the instruction given him in his
youth.] who taught at the royal college of Ajaccio as professor. A few
times every week the worthy professor would gather his pupils in a large
hall, to read them lectures upon ancient history, and especially upon
the history of Rome; and, in order to give to this hall a worthy and
significant ornament, he had it adorned on either side with two large
and costly banners, one of which had the initials S. P. Q. E., and
represented the standard of ancient Rome; facing it and on the opposite
side of the hall was the standard of Carthage.

Under the shadows of these standards were ranged the seats for the
scholars, and in the vacant centre of the large hall was the professor’s
chair, from which the Abbe Recco dictated to his pupils the history of
the heroic deeds of ancient Rome.

The elder children sat under the larger standard, under the standard of
Rome, and the junior boys immediately opposite, under the standard of
Carthage; and as Napoleon Bonaparte was the youngest scholar of the
institution, he sat near the Carthaginian standard, whilst his brother
Joseph, his senior by five years, had his seat facing him on the Roman
side. Though at the commencement of the lectures Napoleon’s delight had
been great, and though he had listened with enthusiasm to the history
of the struggles, and to the martial achievements of the ancient Romans,
the little Napoleon soon manifested an unmistaken repugnance to attend
these lectures. He would turn pale, as with his brother he entered the
hall, and with head bowed low, and dark, angry countenance, took his
seat. A few days afterward he declared to his brother Joseph, his lips
drawn in by anguish, that he would no more attend the lectures.

“And why not?” asked Joseph, astonished. “Do you take no interest in the
Roman history? Can you not follow the lecture?”

The little Napoleon darted upon his brother a look of inexpressible
contempt. “I would be a simpleton if the history of heroes did not
interest me,” said he, “and I understand everything the good Professor
Recco says--I understand it so well that I often know beforehand what
his warriors and heroes will do.”

“Well, then, since you have such a lively interest in the history of the
Romans, why will you no more follow the lectures?”

“No, I will not, I cannot,” murmured Napoleon, sadly.

“Tell me, at least, the reason, Napoleon,” said his brother.

The boy looked straight before him, for a long time hesitating and
undecided; then he threw up his head in a very decided manner, and gazed
on his brother with flaming eyes.

“Yes,” cried he, passionately, “I will tell you! I can no longer endure
the shame to sit down under the standard of the conquered and humiliated
Carthaginians. I do not deserve to be so disgraced.”

“But, Napoleon,” said Joseph, laughing, “why trouble yourself about the
standard of the old Carthaginians? One is just as well under it as under
the Roman standard.”

“Is it, then, the same to you under which standard you sit? Do you not
consider it as a great honor to sit under the standard of the victorious

“I look upon the one as being without honor, and upon the other as being
without shame,” said Joseph, smiling.

“If it is so,” cried out the little Napoleon, throwing himself on his
brother’s neck, “if it is for you no great sacrifice, then, I implore
you to save me, to make me happy, for you can do it! Let us change
seats; give me your place under the standard of Rome, and take my place

Joseph declared himself ready to do so, and when the two brothers came
next time to the lecture, Napoleon, with uplifted head and triumphant
countenance, took his seat under the standard of victorious Rome.

But soon the expression of joy faded away from his face, and his
features were overcast, and with a restless, sad look, he repeatedly
turned himself toward his brother Joseph, who sat facing him under the
standard of the conquered race.

Silent and sad he went home with Joseph, and when his mother questioned
him about the cause of his sorrow, he confessed, with tears in his
eyes, that he was a heartless egotist, that he had been unjust and cruel
toward Joseph, that he had cheated his brother of his place of honor and
had seated himself in it.

It required the most earnest assurances of Joseph that he placed no
value whatever on the seat; it required all the persuasiveness and
authority of Letitia to appease the boy, and to prevail upon him to
resume the conquered seat. [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i.,

As the course of instruction which the boys had received in Ajaccio was
not sufficient for the times, and for the capacities of his sons, their
father passed over to France with Joseph and Napoleon, to take advantage
of the favorable resources for a more complete education.

Napoleon saw the time of departure approach with an apparently
indifferent mind, only his face was somewhat paler, he was still more
monosyllabic and more reserved than before; and his eyes, full of an
indescribable expression of tenderness and admiration, followed all the
movements of his mother, as if to print deeply in his soul the beloved
image, so as to take it with him beyond the seas, in all its freshness
and beauty.

He wept not as he bade her farewell; not a word of sorrow or regret
did he speak, but he embraced his mother with impassioned fondness,
he kissed her hands, her forehead, her large black eyes, he sank down
before her and kissed her feet, then sprang up, and, after casting upon
her whole figure a deep, glowing look, he rushed away to embark at once,
without waiting for brother or father, who were yet bidding a touching
farewell to relatives and friends.

Letitia gazed after her Napoleon with glowing and wide-open eyes; she
wept not, she complained not, but she pressed her two hands on her heart
as if to keep it from breaking asunder, from bleeding to death; then she
called all her children around her, and, folding them up in her arms,
exclaimed: “Join your hands and pray with me that our little Napoleon
may return home to us a noble and great man.”

As soon as they had prosperously landed in France, the father placed
his two sons in the college of Autun, and then travelled farther on
to Paris, there to obtain, through the influence of his patrons and
friends, a place for his daughter Marianne (afterward Elise) in St.
Cyr, an institution for the daughters of noblemen, and also a place for
Napoleon in the military school of Brienne. His efforts were crowned
with success; and whilst Joseph remained at college in Autun, Napoleon
had to part with him and go to Brienne.

When the brothers bade farewell one to another, Joseph wept bitterly,
and his sighs and tears choked the tender words of farewell which his
quivering lips would have uttered.

Napoleon was quiet, and as his eye moistened with a tear, he endeavored
to hide it, and turned aside ashamed of himself and nearly indignant,
for he did not wish the Abbe Simon, one of the professors of the
college, who was present at the parting of the brothers, to see his
unmanly tenderness.

But the Abbe Simon had seen that tear, and when Napoleon was gone he
said to Joseph: “Napoleon has shed but one tear, but that tear proves
his deep sorrow as much as all your tears.” [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi
Joseph,” vol. i., p.26.]

Taciturn and quiet as he had been in Ajaccio, the little Napoleon was
equally so at the military school of Brienne, where he remained from
his eleventh to his sixteenth year. His character had always something
sombre and hidden; his eye seemed turned more inwardly than outwardly;
and his fellowship with his books seemed to procure him a more pleasant
recreation than the company of his schoolmates, whose childish joys
and pleasures he despised or pretended to do so, because his limited
pecuniary resources did not allow him to share with them pleasures of an
expensive nature.

But, though still and reserved, he always was friendly and courteous to
his comrades, grateful for every mark of friendship and kindness, and
always ready to protect the young and feeble against the overbearing
and the strong, censuring with grave authority every injustice, and with
Spartan harshness throwing his contempt into the very face of him who,
according to his standard, had offended against honor, the lofty spirit
and the dignity of a freeman.

It could not fail that soon Napoleon should win over his schoolmates
a marked moral influence; that they would listen to him as if he were
their superior; that they should feel something akin to fear in presence
of the flashing eyes of this little boy of barely fourteen years, whose
pale, expressive countenance, when illumined with anger, almost seemed
to them more terrible than that of the irritated face of the teacher,
and whom they therefore more willingly and more unconditionally obeyed
than the principal of the establishment.

One day the latter had forbidden the scholars to go to the fair in a
neighboring locality, because they had lately been guilty of excesses
on a similar occasion; and, so as to be sure that the scholars would not
trespass against his orders, the principal had the outside gate in the
front yard locked.

This last circumstance kindled Napoleon’s anger; he considered it as an
insult that the scholars should be treated as prisoners.

“Had we been ordered in the name of the law to remain here,” cried
he, “then honor itself would have claimed from us to remain, for law
commands obedience to our superiors. But since we are treated as slaves,
who are by main force compelled to submission, then honor claims from us
to prove to our oppressors that we are free beings, and that we desire
to remain such. We are treated as prisoners of war, kept under lock and
bolt, but no one has demanded our word of honor that we will make no
effort to escape this subjection. Whosoever has a brave heart and a soul
full of honor’s love, let him follow me!”

All the youngsters followed him without hesitation. More submissive to
this pale, small boy of fourteen years, than to the severe, strong,
and exalted principal, none dared oppose him as he stood in the garden,
facing a remote place in the wall, and giving orders to undermine it,
so as to make an outlet. All obeyed the given orders, all were animated
with burning zeal, with cheerful alacrity; and after an hour of earnest
labor the work was done, and the passage under the wall completed.

The scholars wanted to rush with jubilant cries through the opening, and
gain their freedom outside of the wall, but Napoleon held them back.

“I will go first,” said he. “I have been your leader throughout this
expedition, now I will be the first to pass out, that upon me may fall
the punishment when we are discovered.”

The young men fell back silently and respectfully, while, proud and
stately as a field-marshal who gives the signal for the battle, Napoleon
passed through their ranks, to be the first from the crowd to go through
the newly-made passage.

It could not fail that the daring of these “prisoners of war” should be
discovered, that the principal should be the very same day informed that
the young men had, notwithstanding his strict orders, notwithstanding
the closed gate, made a way for themselves, and had visited the
prohibited fair, while the principal believed them to be in the garden.

A strict inquiry took place the next morning. With threatening tones,
the principal ordered the young men to name him who had guided them
to so unheard-of a deed, who had misled them into disobedience and
insubordination. But all were still; none wished to be a traitor, not
even when the principal promised to all full pardon, full impunity, if
they would but name the instigator of their guilty action.

But as no one spoke, as no one would name him, Napoleon gave himself up
as the culpable one.

“I alone am guilty,” cried he, proudly. “I alone deserve punishment.
These have done only what I commanded them--they have but followed my
orders, nothing more. The guilt and the punishment are mine alone.”

The principal, glad to know the guilty one, kept his promise, and,
forgiving the rest, decided to punish only the one who acknowledged
himself to have been the leader.

Napoleon was, therefore, sentenced to the severest and most degrading
punishment known in the institution--to the so-called “monk’s penalty.”
 That is to say, the future young soldier, in the coarse woollen garment
of a mendicant friar, was on his knees, to devour his meal from an
earthen vessel in the middle of the dining-room, while all the other
boys were seated at the table.

A deathly pallor overspread the face of the boy when he heard this
sentence. He had been for many days imprisoned in a cell with bread and
water, and he had without a murmur submitted to this correction, endured
already on a former occasion, but this degrading punishment broke his

Stunned, as it were, and barely conscious, he allowed the costume of the
punishment to be put on, but when he had been led into the dining-room,
where all the scholars were gathered for the noonday meal, when he was
forced upon his knees, he sank down to the ground with a heavy sigh, and
was seized with violent convulsions.

The rector himself, moved with deepest sympathy for the wounded spirit
of the boy, hastened to raise up Napoleon. At the same moment rushed
into the hall one of the teachers of the institution, M. Patrault, who
had just been informed of the execution which was about to be carried
out on Napoleon. With tears in his eyes, he hastened to Napoleon, and
with trembling hands tore from his shoulders the detestable garment, and
broke out at the same time in loud complaints that his best scholar,
his first mathematician, was to be dishonored and treated in an unworthy

Napoleon, however, was not always the reserved, grave boy who took
no part in the recreations and pleasures of the rest of his young
schoolmates. Whenever these amusements were of a more serious, of a
higher nature, Napoleon gladly and willingly took a part in them. Now
and then in the institution, on festivals, theatrical representations
took place, and on these occasions the citizens of Brienne were allowed
to be present.

But to maintain respectable order, every one who desired to be present
at the representation had to procure a card of admission signed by the
principal. On the day of the exhibition, at the different doors of the
institution, were posted guards who received the admission cards, and
whose strict orders were to let no one pass in without them. These
posts, which were filled by the scholars, were under the supervision
of superior and inferior officers, and were confided only to the most
distinguished and most praiseworthy students.

One day, Voltaire’s tragedy, “The Death of Caesar,” was exhibited.
Napoleon had the post of honor of a first lieutenant for this festivity,
and with grave earnestness he filled the duties of his office.

Suddenly at the entrance of the garden arose a loud noise and vehement
recriminations of threatening and abusive voices.

It was Margaret Haute, the porter’s wife, who wanted to come in, though
she had no card of admission. She was well known to all the students,
for at the gate of the institution she had a little stall of fruits,
eggs, milk, and cakes, and all the boys purchased from her every day,
and liked to jest and joke with the pleasant and obliging woman.

Margaret Haute had therefore considered it of no importance to procure a
card of admission, which thing she considered to be superfluous for such
an important and well-known personage as herself. The greater was her
astonishment and anger when admission was refused, and she therefore
began to clamor loudly, hoping by this means to attract some of the
scholars, who would recognize her and procure her admittance. Meanwhile
the post guardian dared not act without superior orders, and the
inferior officer hastened to communicate the important event to the
first lieutenant, Napoleon de Bonaparte, and receive his decision.

Napoleon, who ordinarily was kind to the fruit-vender, and gladly
jested with the humorous and coarse woman, listened to the report of
the lieutenant with furrowed brow and dark countenance, and with severe
dignity gave his orders: “Remove that woman, who takes upon herself
to introduce licentiousness into the camp.” [Footnote: Afterward, when
First Consul, Napoleon sent for this woman and her husband to come to
Paris, and he gave them the lucrative position of porter at the castle
of Malmaison, which charge they retained unto their death.]


While the boy Napoleon de Bonaparte pursued his studies as a student in
Brienne, she, who was one day to share his greatness and his fame, had
already appeared on the world’s stage as the wife of another. Josephine
Tascher de la Pagerie was already received in the highest society of
Paris as the Viscountess de Beauharnais.

Every thing seemed to promise to the young couple a happy, secure
future, free from care. They were both young, wealthy, of good family,
and though the parents had planned this marriage and joined together
the hands of the young couple, yet it was their good fortune that love
should tie and strengthen the bond which mere expediency had formed.

Yes, they loved one another, these young married people of sixteen and
eighteen. How could it have been otherwise, when they both met each
other with the candid and honest desire to make one another happy; when
each of them had been so well adapted to the other that their brilliant,
good, and beautiful qualities were so prominent that their eyes were
blinded to the possibility of imperfections and vices which perchance
remained in the obscure background of their virtue and of their

Josephine had entered upon her marriage with a pure maiden heart, and
soon this heart glowed with enthusiasm for her young husband, who in
reality was well qualified to excite enthusiasm in a young maid and
instil into her a passionate attachment. Alexandre de Beauharnais was
one of the most brilliant and most beloved personages at the court
of Versailles. His face had all the beauty of regularity; his figure,
marked by a lofty, even if somewhat heavy form, was tall, well knit,
and of wonderful elasticity and energy; his manners were noble and
prepossessing, fine and natural. Even in a court so distinguished as
that of Versailles for many remarkable chevaliers, the Viscount de
Beauharnais was considered as one of the most lovely and most gifted:
even the young Queen Marie Antoinette honored him with special
distinction. She had called him the most beautiful dancer of Versailles,
and consequently it was very natural that up to the time of his marriage
he should be invited to every court-ball, and there should each time
enjoy the pleasure of being requested to dance with the queen.

This flattering distinction of the Queen Marie Antoinette had naturally
made the young viscount the mark of attention of all these beautiful,
young, and coquettish ladies of Versailles. They used to say of him,
that in the dancing-room he was a zephyr, fluttering from flower to
flower, but at the head of his regiment he was a Bayard, dreaming only
of war and carnage.

It was, therefore, quite natural that so brilliant and so preferred
a cavalier, a young man of so many varied accomplishments, a being
so impassioned, so gallant, should soon become the object of the most
tender and passionate fondness from a young wife, who in her quiet
native land had seen none to compare with him, and who became for her
the ideal of beauty, chivalry, elegance, and whom, in her devoted and
admiring love, she used to call her own Achilles.

Josephine loved her husband; she loved him with all the devotedness and
fire of a creole; she loved him and breathed but for him, and to be with
him seemed to her life’s golden, blessed dream. Added to all this,
came the joys and raptures of a Parisian life--these new, unknown,
diversified pleasures of society, these manifold distractions and
entertainments of the great city. Josephine abandoned herself to all
this with the joy and wantonness of an innocent, unsuspicious being.
With all these glorious things round about her, she felt as if
surrounded by a sea of blessedness and pleasure, and she plunged into it
with the quiet daring of innocency, which foresees not what breakers and
abysses this sea encloses under the shining surface.

But these breakers were there, and against them was the happiness of
Josephine’s love soon to be dashed to pieces.

She loved her young husband with her whole heart, with all her soul. But
he, the young, the flattered Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais, he also
loved his young wife, whom the wish and will of his superiors had placed
at his side.

He had not chosen her because he loved her, but only because he had
thought it expedient and advisable to become married, and because the
unknown Mademoiselle de la Pagerie had been offered to him as “a good
settlement.” Perhaps, also, he had contracted this marriage to get rid
all at once of those manifold ties, intrigues, and attachments which his
open, unrestrained life of youth had woven around him, for his marriage
with the young creole had put an end to many love-intrigues which
perchance threatened to be inconvenient and burdensome.

At first charmed by her foreign, unaccustomed appearance, transported by
her ingenuous grace, her sweet, lovely amiableness and freshness, he had
fully decided to love his young wife, and, with all the triumphant pride
of a lover, he had led Josephine into society, into the saloons.

But his eye was not blinded by the ravishment of a real and true love,
and in the drawing-room he saw what, in the solitude of the residence
of Noisy, where the young couple had retired for a few weeks after their
marriage, he might never have missed--he saw that Josephine possessed
not the lofty elegance and the exquisite manners of the ladies of the
Parisian saloons. She always was a charming, artless, graceful young
woman, but she lacked the striking advantages of a real drawing-room
lady; she lacked that perfect self-possession, that pliancy of
refinement, that sparkling wit, and that penetration, which then
characterized the ladies of the higher Parisian society, and which the
young viscount had but lately so fondly and passionately admired in the
beautiful and celebrated Baroness de B.

The viscount saw all these deficiencies of his young wife’s social
education, and this darkened his brow and brought on his cheek the flush
of shame. He was cruel enough to reproach Josephine, in somewhat harsh
and imperious tones, of her lack of higher culture, and thus the first
matrimonial difference clouded the skies of marriage happiness, which
the young unsuspecting wife had believed would ever be bright with

Josephine, however, loved her young husband too fondly not to cheerfully
comply with all his wishes, not to strive to replace what he reproached
her to be lacking.

On a sudden she left the brilliant, enchanting Paris, which had
entranced her with its many joys and its many distractions, and, as her
husband had to be for some time at Blois with his regiment, she went
to Noisy, to her aunt’s residence, so as to labor at her higher mental
culture, at the side of the lovely and intellectual Madame de Renaudin.

Josephine had hitherto, as a simple, sentimental young lady, played the
guitar, and chirped with it, in her fresh but uncultivated voice, her
sweet songs of love. She gave up the guitar, the favorite instrument of
the creoles, and exchanged it for the harp, for which attainment as well
as for the art of singing she procured the best and ablest masters. Even
a dancing-master had to come to Noisy to give to the young viscountess
that perfection of art which would enable her, without fear, to dance at
a ball alongside of the Viscount de Beauharnais, “the beautiful dancer
of Versailles.” With her aunt she read the works of the writers and
poets who were then praised and loved, and with wonderful predilection
she also studied botany, to which science she ever clung during her
life, and which threw on her existence gleams of joy when the sun of her
happiness had long set.

Josephine, who out of pure love for her husband learned and studied
zealously, communicated to the viscount, in her letters, every
advancement she made in her studies; and she was proud and happy when he
applauded her efforts, and when in his letters he praised her assiduity
and her progress.

But evidently these letters of the viscount contained nothing of that
love and ardor which the young fiery creole longed for from her
husband; they were not the utterances of a young, anxious lover, of an
enthusiastic, worshipping husband; but they were addressed to Josephine
with the quiet, cool benignity of a considerate friend, of a mentor, of
a tutor who knows full well how much above his pupil soars his own mind,
and with what supreme deference this pupil must look up to him.

“I am delighted,” wrote he once--“delighted at your zeal to acquire
knowledge and culture; this zeal, which we must ever cherish, is ever
the source of purest enjoyments, and possesses the glorious advantage,
when we follow its dictates, of never producing any grief. If you
persevere in the resolution you have taken, if you continue to labor
with unabated zeal at your personal improvement, be assured that the
knowledge you will have acquired will exalt you highly above all others;
and whereas science and modesty will be combined in you, you will
succeed in becoming an accomplished woman. The talents which you
cultivate have their pleasant side, and if you devote to them a portion
of the day, you will unite the agreeable to the useful.” [Footnote:
“Histoire de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. i., p. 110.]

This is what Alexandre de Beauharnais wanted. His wife, through her
knowledge, was to be highly exalted above all others. She was to study
the sciences, and become what is now called a learned woman, but what
was then termed a philosophical woman.

The ambition of the ardent viscount required that his young wife should
be the rival of his learned, verse-writing aunt, the Baroness Fanny
de Beauharnais; that Josephine, if not the most beautiful and most
intellectual woman of Paris, should be the most accomplished.

But these extravagant expectations did not, unfortunately, coincide
entirely with the tastes and mental tendencies of Josephine. No one was
less qualified than she to be a philosophical woman, and to make the
sciences a serious study. It was far from her ambition to desire to
shine by her knowledge; and the learned and scientific Baroness de
Beauharnais only excited fear and antagonism on account of her stiff and
pretentious pedantry, which seemed to Josephine to have but little in
harmony with a woman’s being.

Josephine loved the sciences and the arts, but she did not wish to
convert herself into their devoted priestess. She wished merely to adorn
herself with their blossoms, to take delight in their fragrance, and to
rejoice in their beauty. With instinctive sentiment she did not wish to
have the grace and youthful freshness of her womanly appearance marred
by knowledge; her heart longed not for the ambition of being called a
learned woman; she only wished to be a beloved wife.

But the viscount, instead of recognizing and cherishing the tender and
sacred treasures which reposed in the heart of his young wife, ridiculed
her for her sensitiveness; allowed himself, through displeasure at her
uncultivated mind, to utter unreasonable reproaches, and to act harshly
toward his wife; and her tears were not calculated to conciliate him
or to gain his heart. He treated Josephine with a sort of contemptuous
compassion, with a mocking superiority, and her young, deeply-wounded
soul, intimidated and bleeding, shrank back into itself. Josephine
became taciturn, embarrassed, and mute, in her husband’s presence; she
preferred being silent, rather than by her conversation, which might not
appear intellectual and piquant enough for the viscount, to annoy and
irritate him.

Confidence and harmony had flown away from the household of the young
couple. From his timid, silent wife, with tears in her eyes and a mute
complaint on her trembling lips, the husband rushed away into the world,
into society, to the boisterous joys of a garrison’s life, or else to
the dangerous, intoxicating amusements which the refined world of the
drawing-rooms offered him.

Scarcely after a two years’ marriage, the young bridegroom was again the
zephyr of the drawing-room; and, breaking asunder the bonds with which
the marriage and the household had bound him, he fluttered again from
flower to flower, was once more the gallant cavalier of the belles,
forgot duty and wife, to pay his attentions and bring his homage to the
ladies of the court.

But this neglect which she now experienced from her husband, this
evident preference for other women, suddenly awoke Josephine from her
painful resignation, from her quiet melancholy. The young, patient,
retreating wife was changed at once into an irritated lioness, and,
amid the refinements of the French polish, with all its gilded
accompaniments, uprose the glowing, impassioned, threatening creole.

Josephine, wounded both in her vanity and in her love--Josephine wished
not and could not bear, as a passive, silent sufferer, the neglect of
her husband; he had insulted her as a woman, and the wrath of a woman
rose within her. She screened not her jealousy from her husband; she
reproached him for preferring other women to his wife, for neglecting
her for the sake of others, and she required that to her alone he should
do homage, that to her alone he should consecrate love and allegiance.
She wept, she complained, when she learned that, whilst she was left
at home unnoticed, he had been here and there in the company of other
women; she allowed herself to be so carried away by jealousy as to make
violent reproaches against her husband.

But tears and reproaches are not in the least calculated to bring back
to a wife the heart of a husband, and jealousy recalls not a husband’s
love, when that love has unfolded his pinions and flown away. It only
causes the poor butterfly to feel that marriage had tied its wings
with a thread, and that it constantly recalls him away, with the severe
admonitions of duty, from the beautiful flowers toward which he desires
to fly.

The complaints and reproaches of Josephine, however much they proved her
love, had precisely the contrary effect from what she expected. Through
them she wanted to bring back her husband to her love, but she repelled
him further still; he flew away from her complaints to the merry society
of his friends, male and female, and left Josephine alone at Noisy to
weep over her wretchedness.

Notwithstanding all this, they were both to be again reunited one to
another in a new bond of love and happiness. On the 3d of September,
1781, Josephine presented to her husband a son, the heir of his name,
and for whom the father had already so long craved. Alexandre came to
Noisy to be present at the birth of his child, and with true, sincere
affection he embraced son and mother, and swore everlasting love and
fidelity to both.

But circumstances were stronger than the will of this young man of
twenty-two years. The monotonous life of Noisy, the quietude which
prevailed in the house on account of the young mother, could not long
retain captive the fiery young man. He endured this life of solitude, of
watching at the bedside, of listening to the child’s cries, for a whole
week, and then was drawn away with irresistible attraction to Paris;
the father’s tenderness could no longer restrain the glowing ardor, the
impassioned longings for distraction in the young man; and the viscount
left Noisy to lead once more in Paris or with his garrison the free,
unrestrained dissipations of his earlier days.

Josephine was comfortless. She had hoped the son would retain the
father, but he left her alone, alone with the child, and with all the
torments of her jealousy.

It is true, he came back now and then to see his son, his little Eugene,
and also to make amends to the young, sick, and suffering mother, by a
few days’ presence, for the many days of absence.

But Josephine, irritated, jealous, too young, too inexperienced to
reflect, Josephine committed the fault of receiving her husband every
time he came, with reproaches and complaints, and of meeting him
with violent scenes of jealousy and of offended dignity. The viscount
himself, so young, so impassioned, had not the patience to go with
calm indifference through the purgatory of such scenes. His proud heart
rebelled against the chains with which marriage would bind him; he was
angry with this woman who dared reproach him; he was the more vexed
that his conscience told him she was unjust toward him, that he was the
innocent one. He returned her complaints with deriding scorn; he allowed
himself to be carried away by her reproaches to the manifestation of
violent anger; and the tempest of matrimonial discord raged through this
house, which at first seemed to have been built for a temple of peace
and happiness.

The parents of the young couple saw with deep, heartfelt concern the gap
deepening between them both, and which every day widened more and more,
and as their warnings and wishes now remained fruitless, they resolved
to try if a long absence might not heal the wounds which they both had
inflicted upon their own hearts. At the request of his father and of
Madame de Renaudin, the viscount undertook a long journey to Italy, from
which he returned only after nearly nine months’ absence.

What the relatives had hoped from this journey seemed to be realized.
The viscount returned home to his Josephine with a penitent, tender
heart; and Josephine, enchanted with his tenderness, with the pliant
loveliness of his whole being--Josephine, with a smile of blessedness
and with happy dreams of the future, rested once more on the bosom of
the man whom, even in her angry moods, she had never ceased to love.

But after a few months passed in happiness and harmony, the viscount
was once more obliged to separate himself from his wife, to meet his
regiment, which was now in Verdun. Absence soon broke the slender
threads which had bound together the hearts of husband and wife.
Alexandre abandoned himself to his tendencies to dissipation, and
Josephine to her jealousy. During the frequent visits which the viscount
paid to his wife in Noisy, he was received with tears and reproaches,
which always ended in violent scenes of anger and bitterness.

Such an existence, full of ever-recurring storms and ceaseless discord,
weighed heavily on the hearts of both husband and wife, and made them
long for an issue from this Labyrinth of an unhappy marriage. Yet
neither of them dreamed of a separation; not only their son, the little
Eugene, kept them from such thoughts, but also the new hopes which
Josephine carried in her bosom would have made such thoughts appear
criminal. It was necessary to endeavor to bear life as well as one
could, and not allow one’s self to be too much lacerated by its thorns,
even if there was no further hope of gathering its roses.

Alexandre de Beauharnais, even if he lacked the skill of being a
faithful, devoted husband, was a noble and goodnatured man, whose
generous heart wanted to punish himself alone for the error of this
marriage, which weighed so heavily on husband and wife; and, in order
to procure peace to both, he resolved to become an exile, to tear away
pitilessly the attractive ties which society, friends, and women, had
woven around him. If he could not be a good husband, he might at least
be a good soldier; and, whereas his heart could not adopt the resolution
of devoting itself with exclusive affection to his wife, he resolved
to devote himself entirely to that love to which he had never been
disloyal, the love of fame. His ambitious nature longed for honors
and distinction; his restless, youthful courage craved for action and
battle-fields; and, as no opportunity offered itself on land, Alexandre
de Beauharnais decided to search on the seas for what was denied him on

The Marquis de Bouille, governor of Martinique, had just arrived in
France, to propose to the government a new expedition against the
British colonies in the Antilles. Already this fearless and enterprising
man, since he had been in Martinique, with the forces at his disposal,
with the help of the young creoles, and supported by the squadrons which
lay in Port Royal, had conquered Dominique, Grenada, St. Vincent, St.
Christophe, Mievres, and Montserrat, and now he contemplated an attack
upon the rich and important island of Jamaica, whose conquest he trusted
would force the English into peace.

Alexandre de Beauharnais wanted nothing more attractive than to join
this important and daring enterprise of the Marquis de Bouille. With
recommendations from his uncle, the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, the
viscount hastened to the Marquis de Bouille, begged of him instantly the
privilege of serving under him, and offered his services as adjutant.

The marquis received with kindness a young man so earnestly recommended,
and gave him the hope of fulfilling his wishes. These hopes were not,
however, realized; and the viscount, no longer able to endure the burden
of uncertainty and of domestic discord, decided to leave France on his
own responsibility, to sail for Martinique, and there to enlist as a
simple volunteer, under the orders of the governor.

In September, 1782, he left Noisy for Brest, there to embark for
Martinique. At the hour of departure the love, which for so long had
been hidden under the dark cloud of jealousy and discord, awoke in all
its glow and energy in the hearts of the young couple. With streaming
eyes Josephine embraced her husband, and in the most touching tones
entreated him to remain with her, entreated him not to tear the father
away from the son, who already recognized him and stretched his little
hands toward him, nor from the child yet unborn in her bosom. Carried
away by so much intensity of affection, by such a fond, all-pardoning
love, Alexandre was deeply moved; he regretted the past, and the
decision he had taken to leave his wife and his family. All the sweet
emotions of peace, of home, of paternal bliss, of married life, overcame
him in this hour of farewell with, resistless power, and in Josephine’s
arms he wept bitter tears of repentance, of love, of farewell.

But these tears, no more than his wife’s regrets, could make him waver
in his determination.

The word of separation had been spoken, and it had to be fulfilled. Amid
the anguish of parting, he felt for himself the necessity of breaking,
by means of a long absence, with the evil practices of the past, and to
make amends for the sad errors of his youth.

He left his home to win in a distant land the happiness which he had
in vain sought at the side of his wife, of his son, and of his family.
Before the ship upon which he was to embark for his journey weighed
anchor, he took a last farewell of his family in a letter addressed to
Madame de Renaudin.

“I have,” said he, “received the letter which tells of your good wishes
for the future, and I have read with the deepest interest the assurances
of your attachment. These assurances would still have been more
flattering to me, could they have convinced me that my actual course has
your approbation, and that you estimate rightly my determination, and
the sacrifice I am making. However, I have on my side conscience, which
applauds me for preferring, to the real, actual joys of a quiet
and pleasurable existence, the prospect, even if a remote one,
of preferment, which may secure me a distinguished position and a
distinction which may be of advantage to my children. The greater have
been my sacrifices, the more commendable it is to have made them; and if
chance only favors my determination, then the laurels I will win shall
make ample amends for all troubles and hardships, and shall change all
my anguish into joy!--Be kind enough, I pray you, to embrace for me,
my father, my wife, and Eugene!” [Forward: “Histoire de l’Imperatrice
Josephine,” vol. i, p. 133.]

It is evident that Alexandre de Beauharnais had gone to Martinique to
win fame and to fight for laurels. But chance favored not his resolves.
He had no sooner landed in Martinique, than the news spread that
negotiations had begun between England and France. M. de Bouille
received strict orders to make no attack on Jamaica; and a few weeks
after, on the 20th of January, 1783, the preliminaries of peace were
signed at Versailles. A few months later, peace was concluded, and all
the conquests made by the Marquis de Bouille were returned to England.

Alexandre de Beauharnais had then come in vain to Martinique. No fame
was to be won--no laurels could be gathered there.

Unfortunately, however, the viscount found another occupation for his
restless heart, for the vague cravings of his affections. He made the
acquaintance there with a young creole, who had been a widow for the
last six months, and who had returned to Martinique from France to
pass there her year’s mourning. But her heart had no mourning for her
deceased husband; it longed for Paris, it craved for the world and its
joys. She was yet, though a few years older than the viscount, a young
woman; she was beautiful--of that wondrous, enticing beauty peculiar to
the creoles; she was an accomplished mistress in the difficult art
of pleasing, and she formed the design of gaining the heart of the
impulsive Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais. This design was not
undertaken because he seemed worthy of love, but because she wanted to
revenge herself on the family of Tascher de la Pagerie, which family had
been for a long time at enmity with her own, and had given free and
open expression against the too easy manners and light behavior of
the beautiful widow. She wanted to take vengeance for these insults by
seducing from M. de la Pagerie his own son-in-law, and by enjoying the
triumph of having charmed away the husband from his daughter.

The proverb says, “What woman will, woman can!” and what the beautiful
Madame de Gisard wanted was not so very hard to achieve. All she wished
was to hold complete sway over the heart of a young man who felt heavily
burdened with the fetters of marriage; who, now that the schemes of
ambition had failed, reproached his young wife that she was the cause of
his misfortune; that for her sake he had exiled himself from home, and
sentenced himself to the dulness and loneliness of a village-life in
Martinique. The society of the beautiful Madame de Gisard brought at
least novelty and distraction to this loneliness; she gave occupation
to the heart weary with connubial storms; she excited his fancy and his

Madame de Gisard knew how to use all these advantages; she wanted to
triumph over the family of De la Pagerie, she wanted to return to Paris
in the company of a young, handsome, and distinguished lover.

It was not enough to win the love of the viscount; she had to drive
him into the resolution of separating from his wife, of accusing her of
unfaithfulness and guilt, so as to have the right of casting her away,
in order that she herself might openly occupy her place. Madame de
Gisard had the requisite talent to carry out her plans, and to acquire
full control over the otherwise rebellious and proud heart of the young
man. She first began to lead him into open rupture with his father
and mother-in-law. Through respect for them, the viscount had avoided
appearing in public with Madame de Gisard, and betraying the intimacy
which existed between them. Madame de Gisard ridiculed his bashfulness
and submissive spirit; she considered this servility to the head of
the family as absurd, and she drove the viscount by means of scorn and
sarcasm to open revolt.

Then, after separating him from his wife’s family, she attacked the wife
herself. With all the cunning and smoothness of a seducing demon, she
encompassed the young man’s heart, and filled it with mistrust against
Josephine. She accused the forsaken one with levity and unfaithfulness;
she filled his heart with jealousy and rancor; she used all the means of
perfidy and calumny of which a woman is capable, and in which she finds
a refuge when her object is to ruin, and she succeeded completely.

Alexandre de Beauharnais was now entirely hers; he was gathering against
Josephine anger and vengeance; and even when he received the news that,
on the 13th of April, 1783, his young wife had given birth to a daughter
at Noisy, his soul was not moved by soft emotions, by milder sentiments
of reconciliation.

Madame de Gisard had taught him that henceforth he need no more be on
the defensive in reference to the reproaches of Josephine, but that he
now must be the aggressor; that, to justify his own guiltiness, he must
accuse his wife of guilt. She had offered herself as the price of his
reconquered freedom; and the viscount, overcome with love, anger, and
jealousy, was anxious to become worthy of this price.

He left Martinique and returned to Noisy, not to embrace and bless his
daughter Eugenie Hortense, but to bow down the mother’s head with the
curse of shame. He accused, without listening to any justification, and,
with all the vehemence of misguided passion, he asked for an immediate
separation, an immediate divorce. Vain were the expostulations, the
prayers of his father and of Madame de Renaudin. Vain were the tears,
the assurances of innocence from Josephine. The tears of an injured
woman, the prayers of his sorrowing relatives, were impotent against the
whisperings and the seducing smiles of the beautiful Madame de Gisard,
who had secretly accompanied him to France, and who had now over him an
unconditional sway.

The viscount brought before Parliament a complaint for separation from
his wife, and based it upon the most improbable and most shameless

Josephine, who, for two years in loneliness and abandonment, had awaited
the return of her husband; Josephine, who had always hoped, through the
voice of her children, to recall her husband to herself, saw herself
suddenly threatened with a new, unexpected tempest. Two years of
suffering were finally to be rewarded by a scandalous process, which
exposed her person to the idle and malicious tongues of the Parisians.

She had, however, to submit to fate; she had to bow her head to the
storm, and trust for her justification to the mercy of God and to the
justice of the Parliament. During the time of the process she withdrew,
according to custom, into a convent, and for nearly one year hid herself
with her shame and her anguish in the abbey of Pantemont, in the street
Grenelle, St. Germain. However, she was not alone; her aunt, Madame
de Renaudin, accompanied her, and every day came the Marquis de
Beauharnais, her husband’s father, bringing her the children, who,
during the time of the unfortunate process, were to remain at Noisy,
under the guardianship of their grandfather and of a worthy governess.
The members of her husband’s family rivalled each other in their
manifestations of affection to a woman so much injured and so
incriminated, and openly before the world they declared themselves
against the viscount, who, blinded by passion and entirely in the chains
of this ensnaring woman, was justifying the innocency of his wife by
his own indiscreet demeanor--by the public exhibition of his passion
for Madame de Gisard, and thus caused the accusations launched against
Josephine to recoil upon his own head.

At last, after one year of debates, of careful considerations and
investigations, of receiving evidence, and of hearing witnesses, the
Parliament pronounced its decision.

Josephine was declared absolutely innocent of the crimes brought against
her, and was entirely acquitted of the accusation of unfaithfulness. The
Parliament pronounced the solemn decree: The accusation directed against
the Viscountess de Beauharnais was simply a malicious calumny. The
innocency of the accused wife was evident, and consequently the Viscount
de Beauharnais was bound to receive again his wife into his house.
However, the viscountess was permitted and allowed not to share the same
residence with her husband, and to separate herself from him. In this
case the viscount was condemned to pay to his wife an annual pension of
ten thousand francs, and to leave with her mother his daughter Eugenie
Hortense, while he, the father, should provide for the education of the

Exonerated from the disgraceful imputation of faithlessness, Josephine
was again free to leave the convent and return to the life of the world.
It was her husband’s family which now prepared for the poor young
woman the most beautiful and most touching triumph. The father of her,
accuser, the Marquis de Beauharnais, as well as his elder son and wife,
the Duke and Duchess de la Rochefoucauld, and the Baroness Fanny de
Beauharnais, came in their state carriages to the abbey to receive
Josephine and lead her back to Paris. They had been joined by a great
number of the most respectable and most noble ladies of the Parisian
aristocracy, all in their state carriages, and in the splendor of their
armorial trappings and liveries, as if it were to accompany a queen
returning home.

Josephine shed tears of blessed joy when quitting her small, sombre
rooms in the abbey. She entered into the reception-room to bid farewell
to the prioress, and there met all these friends and relatives, who
saluted her with looks of deepest tenderness and sympathy, and embraced
her in their arms as one found again, as one long desired. This hour of
triumph indemnified her for the sorrows and sufferings of the unhappy
year which the poor wife of scarcely twenty years of age, and fleeing
from calumny and hatred, liar! sighed away in the desolate and lonesome
convent. She was free, she was justified; the disgrace was removed from
her head; she was again authorized to be the mother of her children; she
saw herself surrounded by loving parents, by true friends, and yet in
her heart there was a sting. Notwithstanding his cruelty, his harshness,
though he had abandoned and despised her, her heart could not be forced
into hating the husband for whom she had so much wept and suffered.
Her tears had impressed his image yet deeper in her heart. He was
the husband of her first love, the father of her children; how could
Josephine have hated him, how could her heart, so soft and true, cherish
animosity against him?

At the side of her husband’s father, and holding her daughter in
her arms, Josephine entered Paris. Behind them came a long train of
brilliant equipages, of relatives and friends. The passers-by stopped to
see the brilliant procession move before them, and to ask what it meant.
Some had recognized the viscountess, and they told to others of the
sufferings and of the acquittal of the poor young woman; and the people,
easily affected and sympathizing, rejoiced in the decision of the
Parliament, and with shouts and applause followed the carriage of the
young wife.

The marquis, her father-in-law, turned smilingly to Josephine.

“Do you see, my daughter,” said he, “what a triumph you enjoy, and how
much you are beloved and recognized?”

Josephine bent down toward the little Hortense and kissed her.

“Ah,” said she, in a low voice, “we are returning home, but the father
of my children will not bid us welcome. For a pressure of his hand,
for a kind word from him, I would gladly give the lofty triumph of this

No, Alexandre de Beauharnais did not bid welcome to Josephine in his
father’s house, which they had occupied together. Ashamed and irritated,
he had sped away from Paris, and returned to his regiment at Verdun.

On the arm of the Marquis de Beauharnais, Josephine traversed the
apartments in which she had lived with her husband, and which she now
saw again as a widow, whom not death but life had separated from her
husband. Her father-in-law saw the tears standing in her eyes, and,
with the refined sympathy of a sensitive mind, he understood the painful
thoughts which agitated the soul of the young wife.

He fondly folded her in his arms, and laid his blessing hand on the head
of the little Hortense.

“I have lost my son Alexandre,” said he, “but I have found in his stead
a daughter. Yes, Josephine, you are and will remain my daughter, and to
you and to your children I will be a true father. My son has parted from
us, but we remain together in harmony and love, and as long as I live my
daughter Josephine will never want a protector.”


Whilst the Viscountess Josephine de Beauharnais, the empress of the
future, was living in enforced widowhood, the life of Marie Antoinette,
the queen of the present, resembled a serene, golden, sunny dream; her
countenance, beaming with youth, beauty, and grace, had never yet been
darkened with a cloud; her large blue eyes had not yet been dimmed with

In Fontainebleau, whither Josephine had retired with her father-in-law,
who through unfortunate events had lost the greatest part of his
fortune--in Fontainebleau lived the future Empress of France in sad
monotony; in Versailles, in Trianon, lived the present Queen of France
in the dazzling splendor of her glory, of her youth, and of her beauty.
In Trianon--this first gift of love from the king to his wife--the Queen
of France dreamed life away in a pleasant idyl, in a joyous pastoral
amusement; there, she tried to forget that she was queen, that is to
say, that she was the slave of etiquette; there she tried to indemnify
herself for the tediousness, the emptiness, the heartlessness of the
great festivals in the Tuileries and in Versailles.

In Trianon, Marie Antoinette desired to be the domestic wife, the
pleasant, youthful woman, as in the Tuileries and at Versailles she was
the proud and lofty queen. Marie Antoinette felt her days obscured by
the splendors of royalty; the crown weighed heavily on her beautiful
head, which seemed made for a crown of myrtle and roses; life’s
earnestness had not yet cast its breath on those rosy cheeks and robbed
of youth’s charm the smile on those crimson lips.

And why should not Marie Antoinette have smiled and been joyous? Every
thing shone round about her; every thing seemed to promise an enduring
harvest of felicity, for the surface of France was calm and bright, and
the queen’s vision had not yet been made keen enough by experience to
penetrate below this shining surface and see the precipices already
hidden underneath.

These precipices were yet covered with flowers, and the skies floating
above them seemed yet cloudless. The French people appeared to retain
yet for the royal family that enthusiastic devotedness which they had
manifested for centuries; they fondly proclaimed to the queen, whenever
she appeared, their affection, their admiration; they were not weary
with the expressions of their rapture and their worship, and Marie
Antoinette was not weary of listening to these jubilant manifestations
with which she was received in the theatre, on the streets, in the
gardens of the Tuileries, on the terraces of Versailles; she was not
weary of returning thanks with a friendly nod or with a gracious smile.

All the Parisians seemed still to be, as once, at the arrival of the
Dauphin, they had been called by the Baron de Vesenval, “the queen’s
lovers,” and also to rival one another in manifesting their allegiance.

Even the fish-women of Paris shared the general enthusiasm; and when,
in 1781, the queen had given to her husband a son, and to his people
a future monarch, the ladies of “the Halls” were amongst the most
enthusiastic friends of the queen. They even came to Versailles to
congratulate the royal couple on the dauphin’s birth, to salute the
young dauphin as the heir to the crown of France, and to sing under the
window of the king some songs, one of which so pleased the king that
oftentimes afterward, in his quiet and happy hours, he used to sing
a verse of it with a smile on his lip. This Terse, which even Marie
Antoinette sang, ran thus:

    “Ne craignez pas, cher papa,
        D’ voir augmenter vot’ famille,
     Le bon Dieu z’y pourvoira:
        Faits-en taut qu’ Versailles en fourmille;
     Yeut-il cent Bourbons cheu nos
        Ya du pain, du laurier pour tous.”

[Footnote: Madaine ile Carapan, “Histoire de Marie Antoinette,” vol. i.,
p. 218.]

In Trianon, Marie Antoinette passed her happiest hours and days; there,
the queen changed herself into a shepherdess; there, vanished from her
the empty splendors of purple and ermine, of etiquette and ceremonial;
there, she enjoyed life in its purity, in its innocency, in its
naturalness; such was the ideal Marie Antoinette wished to realize in

A simple dress of white muslin, a light kerchief of gauze, a straw hat
with a gayly-colored ribbon, such was the attire of the queen and of the
princesses whom Marie Antoinette invited. For the only etiquette which
prevailed at Trianon was this: that no one from the court, even princes
or princesses, should come to Trianon without having received an
invitation from the queen to that effect. Even the king submitted to
this ceremonial, and had expressly promised his consort never to come to
Trianon without an invitation, and, so as to please the queen, no sooner
did she announce her intention of retiring to her country-residence,
than he was always the first who hastened to obtain the favor of an

In Trianon, Louis ceased to be king as well as Marie Antoinette ceased
to be queen. There Louis XVI. was but the farmer of the lady of the
castle; the Count d’Artois was the miller, and the learned Count de
Provence, the schoolmaster. For each of them had been erected in
the gardens of Trianon a separate house suited to their respective

The farmer Louis had his farm-house built in Swiss style, with a balcony
of finely-carved wood at the gable-end, and with stalls attached to the
house, and where bellowed the stately red cows of Switzerland; behind
the house was a small garden in which the variegated convolvulus and the
daisy shed their fragrance.

The Count d’Artois had, near the stream which flowed through the park,
his miller’s house, with an enormous wheel, made of wooden spokes joined
together, and which moved lustily in the water, and adorned the clear
brook with wavelets of foam.

The Count de Provence had, under the shadow of a mulberry-tree,
his house, with a large school-room in it; and oftentimes the whole
court-society were converted into scholars of both sexes, who took their
seats on the benches of the school-room, whilst the Count de Provence,
in a long coat with lead buttons and with an immense rod in his hand,
ascended the cathedra and delivered to his school-children a humorous
and piquant lecture, all sparkling with wit.

The princesses also had in this “grove of Paradise,” as Marie Antoinette
called the woods of Trianon, their cottages, where they milked cows,
made butter, and searched for eggs in the hens’ nests. In the midst of
all these cottages and Swiss houses stood the cottage of the farming
Marie Antoinette; it was the finest and the most beautiful one of all,
adorned with vases full of fragrant blossoms and surrounded by flowering
plants and by cozy bowers of verdure. This cottage was the highest
delight of the queen’s life, the enchanting toy of her happiness. Even
the little castle of Trianon, however simple and modest, seemed too
splendid for the taste of the pastoral queen. For in Trianon one
was always reminded that the lady of this castle was a queen; there,
servants were in livery; there, officials and names and titles were to
be found, even when etiquette was forbidden entrance into the halls of
the little castle of Trianon. Marie Antoinette was no more queen there,
it is true, but she was the lady of the palace to whom the highest
respect was shown, and who therefore had been constrained expressly and
strictly to order that at her entrance into the drawing-rooms the ladies
would not interrupt the piece begun on the piano, nor stand up if seated
at their embroidery, and that the gentlemen would keep on undisturbed
their billiard-party or their game at trictrac.

But in her cottage all rank disappeared; there, was no distinction;
there, ceased the glory of name and title, and no sooner was the castle
abandoned for the cottages than each named the other with some Arcadic,
pastoral appellation, and each busied himself with his rural avocations.
How lustily the laughter, how merrily the song sounded from these
cottages amid these bowers and groves; how the countenance of the
farming-lady was lighted up with happiness and joy; with what delight
rested upon her the eye of the farmer Louis, who in his blue blouse,
with a straw hat on his head, with a rosy, fleshy, good-natured face,
was exactly fitted for his part, and who found it no difficult task to
hide under the farmer’s garment the purple of the king!

How often was Marie Antoinette seen in her simple white dress, her
glowing countenance shaded by a straw hat, bounding through the garden
as light as a gazelle, and going from the barn to the milk-room,
followed by the company she had invited to drink of her milk and eat of
her fresh eggs! How often, when the farmer Louis had secreted himself
in a grove for the sake of reading, how often was he discovered there by
the queen, torn away from his book and drawn to a dejeuner on the
grass! When that was over, and Louis had gone back to his book, Marie
Antoinette hastened to her cows to see them milked, or she went into the
rocking-boat to fish, or else reposed on the lawn, busy as a peasant,
with her spindle.

But this quiet occupation detained not long the lively, spirited
farming-lady; with a loud voice, she called to her maids or companions
from the cottages, and then began those merry, unrestrained amusements
which the queen had introduced into society, and which since then have
been introduced not only into the drawing-rooms of the upper classes,
but also into the more austere circles of the wealthy burghers.

Then the queen with her court played at blindman’s bluff, at pampam,
or at a game invented by the Duke de Chartres, the future Duke Philippe
d’Orleans, Egalite, and which game was called “descamper,” a sort of
hide-and-seek amusement, in which the ladies hid themselves in the shady
bushes and groves, to be there discovered by the gentlemen, and then
to endeavor by flight to save themselves, for if once caught and seized
they had to purchase their liberty with a kiss.

When evening came all left the cottages for the little castle, and
the pastoral recreations gave way to the higher enjoyments of refined
society. Marie Antoinette was not in the castle of Trianon queen again,
but she was not either the simple lady of the farm, she was the lady of
the castle, and--the first amateur in the theatrical company which twice
a week exhibited their pieces in the theatre of Trianon.

These theatrical performances were quite as much the queen’s delight as
her pastoral occupations in her farm cottages, and Marie Antoinette
was unwearied in learning and studying her parts. She had chosen for
teachers two pensioned actors, Caillot and Dazincourt, who had to come
every day to Trianon to teach to the noble group of actors the
small operas, vaudevilles, and dramas, which had been chosen for
representation, and in which the queen naturally always played the
part of first amateur, while the princesses, the wives of the Counts de
Provence and Artois, the two Countesses de Polignac, undertook the other
parts, even those of gentlemen, when the two brothers of the king, the
only male members of this theatrical company, could not assume all the
gentlemen’s parts.

At first the audience at these representations was very limited. Only
the king, the princes and the princesses of the royal household, not
engaged in the performance, constituted the audience; but afterward it
was found that to encourage the actors a little, a larger audience
was needed; then the boxes were filled with the governesses of the
princesses, the queen’s waiting-women, whose sisters and daughters with
a few other select ladies had been invited.

It was natural that those who had been thus preferred, and who enjoyed
the privilege of seeing the Queen of France, the princes and princesses,
appear as actors, should be full of admiration and applause at the
talents displayed by the royal troupe; and as they alone formed the
select audience, whose presence had for object to animate the artistes,
they had also assumed the duty to excite and to vitalise the zeal
and the fire of the players by their enthusiasm and by their liberal

This applause of a grateful public blinded the royal actors as to their
real merits, and excited in them the ambition to exhibit their artistic
talents before a larger audience and to be admired. Consequently, the
queen granted to the officers of the lifeguard and to the masters of the
king’s stalls and to their brothers, admittance into the theatre; the
gentlemen and ladies of the court had seats in the gilt boxes; a larger
number of ladies were invited, and soon from all sides came requests for
tickets of admission to the theatrical performances in the Trianon.

The same privileges which had been allowed to a few could not be, and
it was not desirable that they should be, granted to all; those who were
purposely refused revenged themselves of this refusal by an unsparing
criticism on the performers and by bitter sarcasm at the Queen of
France, who so far forgot her dignity as to play comedies before her
subjects, and who played her part not always in such a manner as to give
to a sharp criticism no reason for blame.

The queen possessed, it is true, the desire, but not the ability, to be
an actress or a songstress. When she played the part of a comedian, no
one felt tempted to laugh; but contrariwise it might often happen that,
when her part was tragical, impressive and touching even to tears, the
faces of her auditors brightened with involuntary laughter.

Once even it happened that a person from the audience, when the queen
had not yet left the stage, cried aloud, and perhaps with the intention
of being heard by her: “One must confess that royal acting is bad

Though she understood the words, yet the smile on her lips vanished not
away; and as the Countess Diana de Polignac wished to persuade her to
allow the impertinent one who had spoken these words, to be sought out
and punished, the queen, shrugging her shoulders answered: “My friend, I
say as Madame de Maintenon: ‘I am upon the stage, and must therefore be
willing to be applauded or hissed.’”

Yes, she had to endure the applause or the hissing. Unfortunately, the
number of those who hissed grew every day. The queen had provoked public
expression since she bade it defiance. On the day she banished etiquette
from its watchful duty at the apartments of the Queen of France, the
public expression with its train of slanders and maliciousness entered
in through the open portals. The queen was blamed for her theatricals as
well as for her simple, unadorned toilet, yet she was imitated in these
two things, as even before the costly and luxurious toilet, the high
head-gears of the queen, and also blindman’s buff and descamper, had
been imitated. Every woman now wanted such a simple negligee, such a
headdress, such a feather as Marie Antoinette. As once before, Madame
Bertin, the celebrated milliner of the queen, had been circumvented to
furnish a pattern of the queen’s coiffure, so now all the ladies rushed
upon her in flocks to procure the small caps, fichus, and mantelets,
after the queen’s model. The robes with long trains, the court-dresses
of heavy silk, jewels and gold ornaments, were on a sudden despised;
every thing which could add brilliancy and dignity to the toilet was
banished, the greatest simplicity and nonchalance were now the fashion;
every lady strove, if possible, to resemble a shepherdess of Watteau,
and it was soon impossible to distinguish a duchess from an actress.

Not only the ladies but also the gentlemen were carried away by this
flood of novelty. They gave up the boots with red heels, the embroidered
garments, as already before they had given up laces, bandelets, gold
fringes, and diamond buttons on the hats; they put on simple coats of
cloth as the burgher and the man of the people wore; they abandoned
their equipages, with their brilliant armorial trappings and the golden
liveries, and found satisfaction in promenading the streets, with cane
in hand, and with boots instead of buckled shoes.

It is true these street promenadings of the nobility were not oftentimes
without inconvenience and molestation. As without the insignia of their
rank and position they mixed with the society of the streets, entered
into taverns and cafes, the people took them for what they seemed to be,
for their equals, and instead of respectfully making way for them,
the people claimed as much attention from them as they themselves were
willing to give. Often enough disputes and scuffles took place between
the disguised nobleman and the man of the people, the laborer, or the
commissionnaire, and at such experiments of hand to hand the victory was
not to the nobleman, but to the fist of the man, of the people.

The novelty of such scenes excited the fastidious aristocracy; it became
a sort of passion to mix with the people, to frequent the cabarets, to
strike some bargain at trade, to be the hero of a fist-fight, even if
it ended by the stout workmen throwing down the aristocrats who had
despised them. To be thrown down was no more considered by the nobility
as a disgrace, and they applauded these affrays as once they had
applauded duelling.

The aristocracy mixed with the people, adopted their manners and usages,
even much of their mode of thinking, of their democratic opinions, and,
by divesting themselves of their external dignity, of their halo, the
nobility threw down the barrier of separation which stood between them
and the democracy; that respect and esteem which the man of the people
had hitherto maintained toward the nobleman vanished away.

The principle of equality, which was to have such fatal consequences for
France, arose from the folly of the aristocracy; and Marie Antoinette
was the one who, with her taste for simplicity, with her opposition to
etiquette and ceremony, had called this principle into life.

Not only was the queen imitated in her simplicity, she was also imitated
in her love of comedy. These theatrical amusements of the queen were
a subject of reproach, and yet these private recreations of Marie
Antoinette were the fashion of the day. The taste for theatrical
representations made its way into all classes of society; soon there was
no nobleman, no banker, not even a respectable, well-to-do merchant,
who had not in his house a small theatre, and who, with his family and
friends, endeavored not to emulate on his own narrow stage the manners
of the celebrated actors.

Before these days, a nobleman would have considered himself insulted and
dishonored if he had been supposed to have become a comedian, or even
to have assumed a comedian’s garb, were it but in the home-circle. The
queen by her example had now destroyed this prepossession, and it was
now so much bon ton to act a comedy that even men of gravity, even the
first magistrate of Paris, could so much forget the dignity of position
as to commit to memory and even to act some of the parts of a buffoon.
[Footnote: Montjoie, “Histoire de Marie Antoinette, Reine de France.”]

It was also soon considered to be highly fashionable to set one’s self
against the prejudice which had been hitherto fostered against
actors; and, whereas the queen took lessons in singing from Garat, the
opera-singer, and even sang duets with her, she threw down the wall of
partition which had hitherto separated the artistes of the stage from
good society.

Unfortunate queen, who, with the best qualities of the heart, was
preparing her own ruin; who understood not that the freedom and license
which she herself granted, would soon throw on the roof of the Tuileries
the firebrand which reduced to dust and ashes the throne of the
Bourbons!--unfortunate queen, who in her modesty would so gladly forget
her exaltation and her majesty, and who thereby taught her subjects to
make light of majesty and to despise the throne!

She saw not yet the abyss opening under her feet; the flowers of Trianon
hid it from her view! She heard not the distant mutterings of the public
mind, which, like the raging wave of the storm, swelled up nearer and
nearer the throne to crush it one day under the howling thunders of the
unshackled elements of the unloosed rage of the people!

The skies, arching over the fragrant blossoms of the charming Trianon,
and over the cottages of the farming queen, were yet serene and
cloudless, and the voice of public opinion was yet drowned in the joyous
laughter which echoed from the cottages of Trianon, or in the sweet
harmonies which waved in the concert-hall, when the queen, with Garat,
or with the Baron de Vaudreuil, the most welcome favorite of the ladies,
and the most accomplished courtier of his day, sang her duets.

Repose and peace prevailed yet in Trianon, and the loyal subjects of the
King of France made their pilgrimages to Trianon, there to admire the
idyls of the queen and to watch for the favorable opportunity of espying
the queen, Marie Antoinette, in her rustic costume, with a basket of
eggs on her arm, or the spindle in hand, and to be greeted by her with
a salutation, a friendly word. For Marie Antoinette in Trianon was only
the lady of the mansion, or the farming-lady--so much so, that she had
allowed the very last duties of etiquette, which separated the subject
from the queen, to be abandoned, that even when with her gay company she
was in Trianon, the gates of the park and of the castle were not closed
to visitors, but were opened to any one who had secured from the keeper
a card of admission; the benefit arising from these cards was applied by
order of the queen to the relief of the poor of Versailles. It is true,
one condition of small importance was attached, “by order of the queen,”
 to the obtaining of such a card. It was necessary to belong to the
nobility, or to the higher magistracy, so as to be entitled to purchase
a card of admission into the Trianon, and this sole insignificant
condition contained the germ of much evil and of bitter hatred. The
merchant, the spicier, was conscious of a bitter insult in this order,
which banished him from Trianon, which made it impossible for him to
satisfy his curiosity, and to see the queen as a shepherdess, and the
king as a farmer. This order only whetted more and more the hatred and
the contempt for the preferred classes, for the aristocrats, and turned
the most important class of the population, the burgesses, into enemies
of the queen. For it was the queen who had given this order which kept
away from Trianon the tradesmen; it was the queen alone who ruled in
Trianon: and, to vent vengeance on the queen’s order, she was blamed
for assuming a right belonging only to the King of France. Only he, the
king, was entitled to give laws to France, only he could set on the very
front of the law this seal: “DE PAR LE ROI.”

And now the queen wanted to assume this privilege. In the castles of
pleasure presented by the king to the queen, in Trianon as well as in
St. Cloud, was seen at the entrance of the gardens a tablet, containing
the regulations under which admission was granted to the public, and
these two tablets began with the formula, “DE PAR LA HEINE!” This
unfortunate expression excited the ill-will and the anger of all France;
every one felt himself injured, every one was satisfied to see therein
an attack on the integrity of the monarchy, on the sovereignty of the

“It is no more the king alone who enacts laws,” they said, “but the
queen also assumes this right; she makes use of the formalities of the
state, she issues laws without the approbation of the Parliament. The
queen wants to place our king aside and despoil us of our rights, so as
to take the king’s place!”

And these complaints, these reproaches became so vehement, so loud, that
their echoes resounded in the chambers of the king, so that even one of
the ministers could make observations to the king on that subject, and
say: “It is certainly immoral and impolitic for a queen of France to own
castles for her own private use” [Footnote: Campan, “Memoires,” vol. i.,
p. 274.]

The good Louis therefore ventured to speak to his consort on this
subject, and to ask of her to remove this expression which gave so much
offence, and which had so violently excited the public sentiment.

But the pure heart of Marie Antoinette rebelled against such a
supposition; her pride was stirred up that she, a queen, the daughter of
the Caesars, should make concession to public opinion; that she should
submit to this imaginary and invisible power, which dared despise her as
a queen, which she recognized not and would not recognize!

This power, the public opinion, stood yet behind Marie Antoinette as an
invisible, an unobserved phantom, which soon was to be transformed into
a cruel monster, whose giant hand would pitilessly crush the happiness
and the peace of the queen.

The prayers and expostulations of the king were in vain. Marie
Antoinette would not bow to the public sentiment; she would not depart
from her regulations, she would not strike off her “De par la reine” for
the sake of “De par le peuple”

“My name is there in its right place,” said she, with a countenance
beaming with resolution and pride; “these gardens and castles are my
property, and I can very well issue orders in them, without interfering
with state rights.”

And the “De par la reine” remained on the regulation-tablets in Trianon
as well as in St. Cloud; and the people, who, through birth or through
official position, were not entitled to enter Trianon, came thither at
least to read the tablets of rules at the gate of entrance, and to
fill up their hearts with scorn and contempt, and to utter loud curses
against this presumptuous and daring “De par la reine.”

And this woman, whose pride and imperiousness kept away and scorned away
the burgesses from the gates of Trianon, came to Trianon there to rest
from the unbending majesty of her sovereignty, and she herself used to
say to her ladies, with her own enchanting smile, “To forget that she
was queen.”

The numberless fairy-tales related about the enchanted castle of the
queen had found their way to Fontainebleau, and had been re-echoed in
the quiet, lonely house where lived the Marquis de Beauharnais and
his family. The marquis, always extremely attentive to procure for his
beloved daughter-in-law some distraction and some recreation, proposed
to Josephine to visit this Trianon, which furnished so much material
for admiration and slander, and to make thither with a few friends a
pleasure excursion.

Josephine gladly accepted the invitation; she longed for diversion and
society. Her young, glowing heart had been healed and strengthened after
the deep wound which the ever-beloved husband had inflicted; she had
submitted to her fate; she was a divorced woman, but Parliament had by
its judgment kept her honor free from every shadow; public opinion had
pronounced itself in her favor; the love of her parents, of the father
of him who had so shamefully accused her, so cruelly deserted her,
endeavored to make compensation for what she had lost. Josephine could
not trouble, with her sorrows, with her sad longings of soul, those who
so much busied themselves in cheering her up. She had, therefore, so
mastered herself as to appear content, as to dry here tears; and her
youth, the freshness and elasticity of her mind, had come to the help
of her efforts. She had at first smiled through effort, she soon did
it from the force of youthful pleasure; she had at first repressed her
tears by the power of her will, soon her tears were dried up and her
eyes irradiated again the fire of youth and hope, of the hope once
more to win her husband’s heart, to return her two graceful and beloved
children to their father, whom their youth needed, for whom every
evening she raised to the God of love the prayers which their mother
with low, trembling voice and tears in her eyes made them say after her.

Josephine, then, in company with her aunt Madame de Renaudin and
with her father-in-law the Marquis de Beauharnais, undertook this
pleasure-excursion to Trianon. The sight of these glorious parks, these
gardens so artistically laid out, charmed her and filled her with the
sweet reminiscences of the loved home, of the beautiful gardens in
Martinique, which she herself with her slaves had cultivated, in which
she had planted those beautiful flowers whose liveliness of color and
whose fragrance of blossom were here in hot-houses so much praised. The
love of plants and flowers had ever remained fresh amid the storms
and sorrows which in the last years had passed over her heart, and
oftentimes she had sought in the study of botany forgetfulness and
refreshment. With a vivacity and a joyfulness such as had not been seen
in her for a long time, Josephine wandered about this beautiful park,
these hot-houses and gardens, and, transported with joy and admiration,
she exclaimed: “Oh, how happy must the queen be to call this paradise
her own!”

The sound of approaching voices interrupted her in her observations and
in her admiration, which, perchance, was not entirely free from envy.
Through the foliage of the trees was seen a large company approaching
the queen’s farm-house, before which stood Josephine with her escort. At
the curve of the path near the grove where Josephine stood, appeared
a woman. A white muslin dress, not expanded by the stiff, ceremonious
hoop-petticoat, but falling down in ample folds, wrapped up her tall,
noble figure, a small lace kerchief covered the beautiful neck, and
in part the splendid shoulders. The deep-blond unpowdered hair hung
in heavy, curly locks on either side of the rosy cheeks; the head was
covered with a large, round straw hat, adorned with long, streaming silk
ribbons; on the arm, partly covered with a black knit glove, hung an
ornamented woven basket, which was completely filled with eggs.

“The queen!” murmured Josephine, trembling within herself, and,
frightened at this unexpected meeting, she wanted to withdraw behind the
grove, in the hope of being unnoticed by the farmer’s wife passing by.

But Marie Antoinette had already seen her, and on her beautiful, smiling
countenance was not for a moment expressed either surprise or concern at
this unexpected meeting with uninvited strangers. She was so accustomed
to see curiosity-seekers in her lovely Trianon, and to meet them,
disturbed not in the least her unaffected serenity. A moment only she
stood still, to allow her followers, the Duchesses de Polignac, the
Princess de Lamballe, and the two Counts de Coigny, to draw near; then
lightly and smilingly she walked toward the house near which Josephine
bewildered and blushing stood, whilst the marquis bowed profoundly and

The queen, who was about to pass by and enter into the house, stood
still. Her large dark-blue eye was for a moment fixed with questioning
expression upon Josephine, then a smile illumined her beautiful
countenance. She had recognized the Viscountess de Beauharnais, though
she had seen her only twice. Although, through her husband’s rank and
station, Josephine was entitled to appear at court, yet she had always,
with all the retreating anxiety of inexperienced youth, endeavored to
evade the solemnity of an official presentation. The young, lively,
unaffected Creole had cherished an invincible horror for the stiff
court-etiquette, for the ceremonial court-dress of gold brocade, with
the court-mantle strictly embroidered after the established pattern, and
which terminated in a long, heavy train, for the majestic head-gear of
feathers, flowers, laces, and veils, all towering up nearly a yard high,
and, above all things, for those rules and laws which regulated and
fixed every word, every step, every movement, at a solemn presentation
at court.

Marie Antoinette had had compassion on the timidity of the young
Creole, and to spare her the solemnity of a rigid presentation had twice
received at a private audience the young Viscountess de Beauharnais, and
had then received also her homage. [Footnote: Le Normand, “Histoire de
l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. i., p. 97.]

The youthful, charming appearance of Josephine, her peculiar and at
the same time ingenuous and graceful attitude, had not been without
impression on the queen; and with the most sympathizing interest, she
had heard of the sad disturbances which had clouded the matrimonial
happiness of the young Creole.

No longer, as before, had Marie Antoinette requested the Viscount de
Beauharnais, the beautiful dancer of Versailles, to dance with her;
and when Parliament had given its sentence, and openly and solemnly had
proclaimed the innocency of Josephine, the accused wife, the queen also
had loudly expressed her satisfaction at this judgment, and the Viscount
de Beauharnais was no more invited to the court festivities.

About to enter into the house, the queen had recognized the young
viscountess, and with a friendly movement of the head she beckoned her
to approach, welcomed the marquis, whom her short-sightedness had not at
once recognized, to her beloved Trianon, and she requested them both
to visit her little kingdom as often as they would wish, and to examine
every thing attentively.

In the goodness and generosity of her heart, the queen gladly desired
to make amends to the young, timid woman, who, embarrassed and blushing,
stood before her, for the sufferings she had endured, for the disgrace
under which she had had to bow her head; she wanted to give the accused
innocent one a reparation of honor such as Parliament and public
sentiment had already done.

She was consequently all goodness, all condescension, all confidence;
she spoke to Josephine, not as a queen to her favored subjects, but as
a young woman to a young woman, as to her equal. With sympathetic
friendliness she made inquiries concerning the welfare of the
viscountess and her family; she invited her to come often to Trianon,
and, with a flattering allusion to the vast knowledge of the viscountess
in botany, she asked her if she was satisfied with the arrangements of
garden and hot-houses.

Josephine, with the sensitiveness and fine tact natural to her, felt
that the trivial flattery of a courtier would but be a wretched and
inappropriate return for so much goodness and loving-kindness; she
felt that frankness and truth were the thanks due to the queen’s

She therefore answered the queen’s questions with impartial sincerity,
and, encouraged by the kindness of the queen, she openly and clearly
gave her opinion concerning the arrangement of the hot-houses, and drew
the attention of the queen to some precious and choice plants which she
had noticed in the hot-houses.

Marie Antoinette listened to her with lively interest, and at parting
extended to her in a friendly manner her beautiful hand.

“Come soon again, viscountess,” said she, with that beautiful smile
which ever won her true hearts; “you are worthy to enjoy the beauty
of my beloved Trianon, for you have eyes and sense for the beautiful.
Examine everything closely, and when we see one another again, tell
me what you have observed and what has pleased you. It will ever be a
pleasure to see you.” [Footnote: The very words of the queen.--See Le
Normand, “Histoire,” &c., vol. i., p. 135.]

But Josephine was no more to see the beautiful queen, so worthy of
compassion; and these kind words which Marie Antoinette had spoken to
her were the last which Josephine was ever to hear from her lips.

A few days after this visit to Trianon, Josephine received from her
parents in Martinique letters which had for their object to persuade her
with the tenderness of love, with all the reasons of wisdom, to
return to her home, to the house of her parents, to withdraw with
bold resolution from all the inconveniences and humiliations of her
precarious and dangerous situation, and, instead of living in humble
solitude as a divorced, despised woman, sooner to come to Martinique,
and there in her parents’ home be again the beloved and welcomed

Josephine hesitated still. She could not come to the resolution of
abandoning the hope of a reunion with Alexandre de Beauharnais; she
dreamt yet of the happiness of seeing the beloved wanderer return to his
wife, to his children.

But her aunt and her father-in-law knew better than she that there was
no prospect of such an event; they knew that the viscount was still the
impassioned lover of the beautiful Madame de Gisard; that she held him
too tightly in her web to look for a possibility of his returning to his
legitimate affection.

If any thing could rouse him from this love-spell, and bring him back to
duty and reason, it would be that sudden, unexpected departure; it would
be the conviction which would necessarily be impressed upon him,
that Josephine desired to be forever separated from him; that she was
conscious of being divorced from him forever, and that, in the pride of
her insulted womanhood, she wished to withdraw herself and her daughter
from his approaches, and from the scandal which his passion for Madame
de Gisard was giving.

Such were the reasons with which her relatives, even the grandfather
of her two children, sought to persuade her to a voyage to
Martinique--bitter though the anguish would be for them to be deprived
of the presence of the gentle, lovely young woman, whose youthful
freshness and grace had like sunshine cheered the lonely house in
Fontainebleau; to see also part from them the little Hortense, whose
joyous voice of childhood had now and then recalled the faithless son
to the father’s house, and which was still a bond which united Josephine
with her husband and with his family.

Josephine had to give way before these arguments, however much her heart
bled. She had long felt how much of impropriety and of danger there was
in the situation of a young woman divorced from her husband, and how
much more dignified and expedient it would be for her to return to
her father’s home and to the bosom of her family. She therefore took a
decided resolution; she tore herself away from her relatives, from her
beloved son, whom she could not take with her, for he belonged to the
father. With a stream of painful tears she bade farewell to the love of
youth, to the joys of youth, from which naught remained but the wounds
of a despised heart, and the children who gazed at her with the beloved
eyes of their father.

In the month of July of the year 1788, Josephine, with her little
five-year-old daughter Hortense, left Fontainebleau, went to Havre,
whence she embarked for Martinique.


While the Viscountess Josephine de Beauharnais was, during long years of
resignation, enduring all the anguish, humiliations, and agonies of an
unhappy marriage, the first pain and sorrow had also clouded the days of
the young Corsican boy who, in the same year as Josephine, had embarked
from his native land for France.

In the beginning of the year 1785, Napoleon Bonaparte had lost his
father. In Montpellier, whither he had come for the cure of his diseased
breast, he died, away from home, from his Letitia and his children.
Only his eldest son Joseph stood near his dying couch, and, moreover,
a fortunate accident had brought to pass that the poor, lonely sufferer
should meet there a friendly home, where he was received with the most
considerate affection. Letitia’s companion of youth, the beautiful
Panonia Comnene, now Madame de Permont, resided in Montpellier with
her husband, who was settled there, and with all the faithfulness and
friendship of a Corsican, she nursed the sick husband of her Letitia.

But neither the skill of the renowned physicians of Montpellier, nor the
tender care of friends, nor the tears of the son, could keep alive the
unfortunate Charles de Bonaparte. For three days long he struggled with
death; for three days long his youth, his manhood’s powers, resisted the
mighty foe, which already held him in its chains; then he had to submit
to the conqueror. Exhausted with death’s pallor, Charles de Bonaparte
sank back on his couch, and as Death threw his dark shadows on his
face bathed in cold perspiration, Charles de Bonaparte, with stammering
tongue, in the last paroxysms of fancy, exclaimed: “It is in vain!
Nothing can save me! Even Napoleon’s sword, which one day is to triumph
over all Europe, even that sword cannot frighten away the dragon of
death which crouches on my breast!” [Footnote: See “Memoires du Roi
Joseph,” vol. i., p. 29.]

Wonderful vision of a dying man! The dimmed eye of the dying father
saw his son Napoleon’s sword, “which one day was to triumph over all
Europe;” as he prophesied its power, he sighed at the same time over the
impotency which holds all mankind in its bands, and leaves even the hero
as a powerless child in the hands of fate. The sword which was to be a
yoke to all Europe could not terrify from the breast of his father the
dragon of death!

Napoleon received the news of his father’s decease whilst at the
military school of Paris, where he had been placed for the last six
months, to the joy and satisfaction of his teachers as well as to that
of his schoolmates in Brienne. For the reserved, taciturn, proud boy,
who, rugged and blunt, stood aloof from his comrades, who even dared
speak rude and bitter words against his teachers and against the whole
military institution at Brienne, was oftentimes an inconvenience and a
burden as well to teachers as to schoolmates; and all felt relieved, as
from a depressing weight, when they no more feared the naming eyes of
the boy who observed every thing, who criticised every thing, and passed
judgment upon every thing.

But if he was not loved, it was impossible to refuse esteem to his
capacity, to his desire for learning; and the testimony which Monsieur
de Heralio, the principal of the institution of Brienne, sent with the
young Napoleon to Paris, was a tribute of respect and an acknowledgment
of merit. He portrayed him “as having an extremely capacious head,
especially skilled in mathematics, and of great powers and talents.” As
to his character, one of the professors of the institution had in the
testimonial written the remark: “A Corsican by birth and character. He
will do great things, if circumstances are favorable.”

But circumstances did not appear favorable, but contrariwise seemed to
bo roused in enmity against the poor Corsican boy. He had been scarcely
half a year in Paris when he lost his father, and this grief, of which
not a murmur escaped, which he kept within, devouring his heart, as
every thing else which affected him, made his existence still more
reserved, still more retired, and isolated him more and more. Moreover,
death had not only taken away the father, but also the support which
Napoleon received from him. The means of the Bonaparte family were very
meagre, and barely sufficed to the support of Signora Letitia and her
seven children. Napoleon could not and dared not require or accept
any help from his mother, on whom and on his brother Joseph it became
incumbent to educate and support the young family. He had to be
satisfied to live upon the bounty which the royal treasury furnished to
the young men at the military school.

But these limited means were to the ambitious boy a source of
humiliation and pain. The majority of his comrades consisted of young
aristocrats, who, provided with ample means, led a gay, luxurious,
dissipated life, had horses, servants, equipages, kept up one with
another expensive dinner-parties and dejeuners, and seized every
opportunity to organize a festivity or a pleasure-party. Every
departure, every admission of a scholar, was celebrated with brilliant
display; every birthday furnished the opportunity of a feast, and every
holiday became the welcomed occasion for a pleasure excursion which the
young men on horseback, and followed by their servants in livery, made
in the vicinity of Paris.

Napoleon could take no part in all these feastings and dissipations; and
as his proud heart could not acknowledge his poverty, he put on the mask
of a stoic, who, with contemptuous disregard, cast away vain pleasures
and amusements, and scorned those who with unrestrained zest abandoned
themselves to them.

He had scarcely been half a year in the military school when he gave
loud expression to his jealousy and envy; the young Napoleon, nearly
sixteen years old, undertook boldly to censure in the very presence of
the teachers the regulations of the institution. In a memorial which
he had composed, and which he presented to the second director of the
establishment, M. Berton, he gave utterance to his own views in the most
energetic and daring manner, imposing upon the professors the duty of
making a complete change in the institution; of limiting the number
of servants, so that the military pupils might learn to wait upon
themselves; of simplifying the noonday meal, so as to accustom them to
moderation; of forbidding banquets, dejeuners, and pleasure-excursions,
so that they might not become inured to a frivolous, extravagant mode of

This mask of a censuring stoic, which he put on in the presence of
teachers and school-mates, he retained also with his few friends. Madame
de Permont, a short time after the death of Napoleon’s father, came with
her family to Paris, where her husband had obtained an important and
lucrative office; her son Albert attended the military school and was
soon the friend of Napoleon, as much as a friendship could be formed
between the young, lively M. de Permont, the son of wealthy and
distinguished parents, and the reserved, proud Napoleon Bonaparte, the
son of a poor, lonely widow.

However, Napoleon this time acquiesced in the wishes of his true friend,
and condescended to pass his holidays with Albert in the house of
Madame de Permont, the friend of his mother; and oftentimes his whole
countenance would brighten into a smile, when speaking with her of the
distant home, of the mother, and of the family. But as many times also
that countenance would darken when, gazing round, he tacitly compared
this costly, tastefully decorated mansion with the poor and sparingly
furnished house in which his noble and beautiful mother lived with her
six orphans, and who in her household duties had to wait upon herself;
when again he noticed with what solicitude and love Madame de Permont
had her children educated by masters from the court, by governesses
and by teachers at enormous salaries, whilst her friend Letitia had to
content herself with the very deficient institutions of learning to
be found in Corsica, because her means were not sufficient to bring to
Paris, to the educational establishment of St. Cyr, her young daughters,
like the parents of the beautiful Pauline.

The young Napoleon hated luxury, because he himself had not the means
of procuring it; he spoke contemptuously of servants, for his position
allowed him not to maintain them; he spoke against the expensive noonday
meal, because he had to be content with less; he scorned the amusements
of his school-mates, because, when they arranged their picnics and
festivities, his purse allowed him not to take a part in them.

One day in the military school, as one of the teachers was to bid it
farewell, the scholars organized a festivity, toward which each of them
was to contribute a tolerably large sum. It was perhaps not all accident
that precisely on that day M. de Permont, the father of Albert, came to
the military school to visit his son, and Napoleon, his son’s friend.

He found all the scholars in joyous excitement and motion; his son
Albert was, like the rest, intently busy with the preparations of the
feast, which was to take place in the garden, and to end in a great
display of fireworks. All faces beamed with delight, all eyes were
illumined, and the whole park re-echoed with jubilant cries and joyous

But Napoleon Bonaparte was not among the gay company. M. de Permont
found him in a remote, lonesome path. He was walking up and down
with head bent low, his hands folded behind his back; as he saw M. de
Permont, his face became paler and gloomier, and a look nearly scornful
met the unwelcomed disturber.

“My young friend,” said M. de Permont, with a friendly smile, “I come to
bring you the small sum which you need to enable you to take a part in
the festivity. Here it is; take it, I pray you.”

But Napoleon, with a vehement movement of the hand, waved back the
offered money, a burning redness for a moment covered his face, then his
cheeks assumed that yellowish whiteness which in the child had always
indicated a violent emotion.

“No,” cried he, vehemently, “no, I have nothing to do with this
meaningless festivity. I thank you--I receive no alms.”

M. de Permont gazed with emotions of sympathizing sorrow in the pale
face of the poor young man for whom poverty was preparing so many
griefs, and in the generosity of his heart he had recourse to a

“This is no alms I offer you, Napoleon,” said he, gently, “but this
money belongs to you, it comes from your father. At his dying hour he
confided to me a small sum of money, with the express charge to keep it
for you and to give you a portion of it in pressing circumstances, when
your personal honor required it. I therefore bring you to-day the fourth
part of this sum, and retain the rest for another pressing occasion.”

With a penetrating, searching look. Napoleon gazed into the face of
the speaker, and the slight motions of a sarcastic smile played for an
instant around his thin, compressed lips.

“Well, then,” said he, after a pause, “since this money comes from my
father, I can use it; but had you simply wished to lend it to me,
I could not have received it. My mother has already too much
responsibility and care; I cannot increase them by an outlay, especially
when such an outlay is imposed upon me by the sheer folly of my
schoolmates.” [Footnote: Napoleon’s words.--See “Memoires de la Duchesse
d’Abrantes,” vol. i., p. 81.]

He then took the offered sum for which, as he thought, he was indebted
to no man, and hastened to pay his contribution to the festivity. But,
in respect to his principles, he took no part in the festivity, but
declaimed all the louder, and in a more biting tone, against the
criminal propensities for pleasure in the young men who, instead of
turning their attention to their studies, lavished away their precious
time in dissipation and frivolities.

These anxieties and humiliations of poverty Napoleon had doubly to
endure, not only for himself, but also for his sister Marianne (who
afterward called herself Elise). She had been, as already said, at her
father’s intercession and application, received in the royal educational
institute of St. Cyr, and there enjoyed the solid and brilliant
education of the pupils of the king. But the spirit of luxury and the
desire for pleasure had also penetrated into this institution, founded
by the pious and high-minded Madame de Maintenon, and the young ladies
of St. Cyr had among themselves picnics and festivals, as well as the
young men of the military school.

Napoleon, whose means, as long as he was in Brienne, never allowed him
to visit his beloved sister at St. Cyr, had now frequent opportunities
of seeing her, for Madame de Permont, in her royal friendship to the
Bonaparte family, took as lively an interest in the daughter as in the
son of her friend Letitia, and often drove to St. Cyr to visit the young
and beautiful Marianne.

A few days after the festival in the military school, a short vacation
had followed, and Napoleon passed it with his friend Albert in the house
of the family of Permont. To please young Napoleon, it was decided to
go to St. Cyr, and the glowing cheeks and the lively manner with which
Napoleon, during the journey, conversed with M. and Madame de Permont,
proved what satisfaction he anticipated in meeting his sister.

But Marianne Bonaparte did not seem to share this satisfaction. With
downcast countenance and sad mien she entered the reception-room and
saluted M. and Madame Permont, and even her brother, with a gloomy,
despairing look. As she was questioned about the cause of her sadness,
she broke into tears, and threw herself with vehement emotion into the
arms of Madame de Permont.

Vain were the prayers and expostulations of her mother’s friend to have
her reveal the cause of her sadness. Marianne only shook her head in a
negative manner, and ever a fresh flow of tears started from her eyes,
but she remained silent.

Napoleon, who at first, pale and silent, had looked on this outbreak of
sorrow, now excitedly approached his sister, and, laying his hand upon
her arm, said in angry tones: “Since you cry, you must also confess the
cause of your tears, or else we are afraid that you weep over some wrong
of which you are guilty. But woe to you if it is so! I am here in the
name of our father, and I will be without pity!” [Footnote: “Memoires de
la Duehesse d’Abrantes.”]

Marianne trembled, and cast a timid, anxious look upon her young
brother, whose voice had assumed such a peculiar, imperious
expression--whose eyes shone with the expression of a proud, angry

“I am in no wise guilty, my brother,” murmured she, “and yet I am sad
and unhappy.”

And blushing, trembling, with broken words, interrupted by tears and
sighs, Marianne related that next day, a farewell festival was to take
place in the institution in honor of one of the pupils about to leave.
The whole class was taking a part in it, and each of the young ladies
had already paid her contribution.

“But I only am not able,” exclaimed Marianne, with a loud burst of
anguish, “I have but six francs; if I give them, nothing is left me, and
my pension is not paid until six weeks. But even were I to give all I
have, my miserable six francs would not be enough.”

Very unwillingly indeed had Napoleon, whilst Marianne thus spoke,
put his hand into his pocket, as if to draw out the money which his
sorrowing sister needed, but remembering his own poverty, his hand
dropped at his side; a deep glow of anger overspread his cheeks, and
wildly stamping down with the foot he turned away and walked to the
window, perhaps to allow none to notice the nervous agitation of his
countenance and his tears of vexation and shame.

But what Napoleon could not do, that did Madame de Permont. She gave to
the weeping young girl the twelve francs she needed to take a part in
the festivity, and Marianne, less proud and less disdainful than her
brother, accepted gladly, without opposition and without the need of a
falsehood, the little sum offered.

Napoleon allowed this to take place without contradiction, and hindered
not his sister to receive from Madame de Permont the alms which he
himself had so arrogantly refused.

But they had barely left the reception-room and entered the carriage,
than his suffering heart burst into a sarcastic philippic against the
contemptible administration of such royal establishments as St. Cyr and
the military school.

M. de Permont, who had at first patiently and with a smile listened to
these raving invectives, felt himself at last wounded by them; and the
supercilious and presumptuous manner in which the young man of barely
seventeen years spoke of the highest offices of the state, and of the
king himself, excited his anger.

“Hush, Napoleon!” said he, reluctantly. “It does not beseem you, who are
educated upon the king’s bounty, to speak thus.”

Napoleon shrank within himself as if he had been bitten by a serpent,
and a deadly pallor overspread his cheeks.

“I am not the pupil of the king, but of the state!” exclaimed he, in a
boisterous voice, trembling with passion.

“Ah, that is indeed a fine distinction which you have made there,
Napoleon,” said M. de Permont, laughing. “It is all the same whether you
are the pupil of the state or of the king; moreover, is not the king
the state also? However it may be, it beseems you not to speak of your
benefactor in such inappropriate terms.”

Napoleon concentrated all his efforts into self-control, and mastered
himself into a grave, quiet countenance.

“I will be silent,” said he, with an appearance of composure; “I will no
more say what might excite your displeasure. Only allow me to say,
were I master here, had I to decide upon the regulations of these
institutions, I would have them very different, and for the good of

“Were I master here!” The pupil of the military school, for whom poverty
was preparing so much humiliation, who had just now experienced a fresh
humiliation through his sister in the reception-room of St. Cyr, was
already thinking what he would do were he the ruler of France; and,
strange enough, these words seemed natural to his lips, and no one
thought of sneering or laughing at him when he thus spoke.

Meanwhile his harsh and repulsive behavior, his constant fault-finding
and censoriousness were by no means conducive to the friendship and
affection of those around him; he was a burden to all, he was an
inconvenience to all; and the teachers as well as the pupils of the
military school were all anxious to get rid of his presence.

As nothing else could be said to his reproach; as there was no denying
his assiduity, his capacities, and progress, there was but one means
of removing him from the institution--he had to be promoted. It was
necessary to recognize the young pupil of the military school as
competent to enter into the practical, active military service; it was
necessary to make a lieutenant out of the pupil.

Scarcely had one year passed since Napoleon had been received into the
military school of Paris, when he was nominated by the authorities of
the school for a vacancy in the rank of lieutenant, and he was promoted
to it in the artillery regiment of La Fere, then stationed at Valence.

In the year 1786 Napoleon left the military school to serve his country
and his king as second lieutenant, and to take the oath of allegiance.

Radiant with happiness and joy, proud alike of his promotion and of his
uniform, the young lieutenant went to the house of M. de Permont to show
himself to his friends in his new dignity and in his new splendors, and,
at their invitation, to pass a few days in their house before leaving
for Valence.

But, alas! his appearance realized not the wished-for result. As he
entered the saloon of Madame de Permont the whole family was gathered
there, and at the sight of Napoleon the two daughters, girls of six and
thirteen years, broke out into loud laughter. None are more alive than
children to the impression of what is ridiculous, and there was indeed
in the appearance of the young lieutenant something which well might
excite the laughing propensities of the lively little maidens. The
uniform appeared much too long and wide for the little meagre figure
of Napoleon, and his slender legs vanished in boots of such height and
breadth that he seemed more to swim than to walk with them.

These boots especially had excited the laughter of the little maidens;
and at every step which Napoleon, embarrassed as he was by the terrible
cannon-boots, made forward, the laughter only increased, so that the
expostulations and reproaches of Madame de Permont could not procure

Napoleon, who had entered the drawing-room with a face radiant with joy,
felt wounded by the children’s joyousness at his own cost. To be the
subject of scorn or sarcasm was then, as it was afterward, entirely
unbearable to him, and when he himself also tried to jest he knew not
how to receive the jests directed at him. After having saluted M. and
Madame de Permont, Napoleon turned to the eldest daughter Cecilia, who,
a few days before, had come from the boarding-school to remain a
short time at home, and who, laughing, had placed herself right before
monsieur the lieutenant.

“I find your laughter very silly and childish,” said he, eagerly.

The young maid, however, continued to laugh.

“M. Lieutenant,” said she, “since you carry such a mighty sword, you
no doubt wish to carry it as a lady’s knight, and therefore you must
consider it an honor when ladies jest with you.”

Napoleon gave a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders.

“It is evident,” said he, scornfully, “that you are but a little

These sarcastic words wounded the vanity of the young maiden, and
brought a glow of anger on her face.

“Well, yes,” cries she, angrily, “I am a school-girl, but you--you are
nothing else than a puss in boots!”

A general laugh followed; even Madame de Permont, ordinarily so good
and so considerate, could not suppress laughter. The witty words of the
little school-girl were too keen and too applicable that she should be
subjected to reproach.

Napoleon’s wrath was indescribable. His visage was overspread with a
yellow-greenish pallor, his lips were contracted nervously, and already
opened for a word of anger. But he suppressed that word with an effort;
for though not yet familiar with all the forms and usages of society,
his fine tact and the instinct of what was becoming told him that when
the conversation ran into personalities the best plan was to be silent,
and that he must not return personal remarks, since his opponent was one
of the fair sex. He therefore remained silent, and so controlled himself
as to join in the general laughter and to show himself heartily amused
at the unfortunate nickname of the little Cecilia.

And that every one might be convinced how much he himself had been
amused at this little scene, he brought, a few days afterward, to the
youngest daughter of Madame de Permont, a charming little toy which he
had had made purposely for her. This toy consisted of a small gilt and
richly-ornamented carriage of papier-mache, before which leaped along a
very lovely puss in boots.

To this present for the little Lolotte (afterward Duchess d’Abrantes),
was added for Cecilia an elegant and interesting edition of the tales
of “Puss in Boots,” and when Napoleon politely presented it to the young
maid he begged her to receive kindly this small souvenir from him.

“That is too much,” said Madame de Permont, shaking her head. “The toy
for Loulou would have been quite enough. But this present to Cecilia
shows that you took her jest in earnest, and were hurt by it.”

Napoleon, however, affirmed that he had not taken the jest in earnest,
that he had been no wise hurt by it; that he himself when he put on
his uniform had to laugh at the nickname of “puss in boots” which dear
Cecilia had given him.

He had, however, endeavored no more to deserve this nickname, and the
unlucky boots were replaced by much smaller and closer-fitting ones.

A few days after this little incident the young second lieutenant left
Paris and went to meet his regiment La Fere at Valence.

A life of labor and study, of hopes and dreams, now began for the young
lieutenant. He gave himself up entirely to his military service, and
pursued earnest, scientific studies in regard to it. Mathematics, the
science of war, geometry, and finally politics, were the objects of his
zeal; but alongside of these he read and studied earnestly the works of
Voltaire, Corneille, Racine, Montaigne, the Abbe Raynal, and, above all,
the works of Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose passionate and enthusiastic
disciple Napoleon Bonaparte was at that time. [Footnote: “Memoires du
Roi Joseph,” vol. i., p. 33.]

Amid so many grave occupations of the mind it would seem that the heart
with all its claims had to remain in the background. The smiling boy
Cupid, with his gracious raillery and his smarting griefs, seemed
to make no impression on that pale, grave, and taciturn artillery
lieutenant, and not to dare shoot an arrow toward that bosom which had
mailed itself in an impenetrable cuirass of misanthropy, stoicism, and

But yet between the links of this coat-of-mail an arrow must have
glided, for the young lieutenant suddenly became conscious that there
in his bosom a heart did beat, and that it was going in the midst of
his studies to interrupt his dreams of misanthropy. Yes, it had come to
this, that he abandoned his study to pay his court to a young lady, that
at her side he lost his gravity of mien, his gloomy taciturnity, and
became joyous, talkative, and merry, as beseemed a young man of his age.

The young lady who exercised so powerful an influence upon the young
Bonaparte was the daughter of the commanding officer at Valence, M. de
Colombier. He loved her, but his lips were yet too timid to confess
it, and of what need were words to these young people to understand one
another and to know what the one felt for the other?

In the morning they took long walks through the beautiful park; they
spoke one to another of their childhood, of their brothers and
sisters, and when the young maid with tears in her eyes listened to the
descriptions which Napoleon made to her of his country, of his father’s
house, and, above all things, of his mother--when she with animation
and enthusiasm declared that Letitia was a heroine greater than whom
antiquity had never seen, then Napoleon would take her two hands in his
and thank her with tremulous voice for the love which she consecrated to
his noble mother.

If in the morning they had to separate, as an indemnification an evening
walk in the light of the moon was agreed upon, and the young maid
promised heroically to come without uncertainty, however imperative was
her mother’s prohibition. And truly, when her mother was asleep, she
glided down into the park, and Napoleon welcomed her with a happy smile,
and arm in arm, happy as children, they wandered through the paths,
laughing at their own shadows, which the light of the moon in wondrous
distortion made to dance before them. They entered into a small bower,
which stood in the shadow of trees, and there the young Napoleon had
prepared for the young maid a very pleasing surprise. There on the table
was a basket full of her favorite fruit--full of the sweetest, finest
cherries. Louise thanked her young lover with a hand-pressure for the
tender attention, but she declared that she would touch none of the
cherries unless Napoleon enjoyed them with her, and to please his
beloved he had to obey.

They sat down on the seat before the bower and enjoyed the golden light
of the moon, the night air amid the lime-trees, the joy of being thus
secretly together, and with infinite delight they ate of the sweet juicy
cherries. But when the last cherry was eaten, the moon became darkened,
a rude night breeze shook the trees, and made the young maid tremble
with cold. She must not remain from home any longer, she must not
expose herself to the dangerous night air; thus argued the considerate
tenderness of the young lieutenant, and, kissing her hand, he bade
farewell to Louise, and watched until the tender ethereal figure had
vanished behind the little door which led from the park into the house.
[Footnote: “Memorial de St. Helene,” p. 30.]

The sweet idyl of his first love had, however, come to a sudden and
unexpected end. The young Second-Lieutenant Bonaparte was ordered to
Lyons with his regiment, and the first innocent romance of his heart was

But he never forgot the young maid, whom he then had so tenderly loved,
and in the later days of his grandeur he remembered her, and when he
learned that she had lost her husband, a M. de Bracieux, and lived in
very depressing circumstances, he appointed her maid of honor to his
sister Elise, and secured her a very handsome competency.

The dream of his first love had been dreamed away; and, perhaps
to forget it, Napoleon again in Lyons gave himself up with deepest
earnestness to study. The Academy of Sciences in Lyons had offered
a prize for the answer to the question: “What are the sentiments and
emotions which are to be instilled into men, so as to make them happy?”

Napoleon entered the lists for this prize, and, if his work did not
receive the prize, it furnished the occasion for the Abbe Raynal, who
had answered the question successfully, to become acquainted with
the young author, and to encourage him to persevere in his literary
pursuits, for which he had exhibited so much talent.

Napoleon then, with all the fire of his soul, began a new work, the
history of the revolutions in Corsica; and, in order to make accurate
researches in the archives of Ajaccio, he obtained leave of absence to
go thither. In the year 1788, Napoleon returned to his native isle to
his mother, to his brothers and sisters, all of whom he had not seen for
nine years, and was welcomed by them with the tenderest affection.

But the joys of the family could draw away the young man but little
from his studies and researches; and, however much he loved his mother,
brothers and sisters, now much grown up, yet he preferred being alone
with his elder brother Joseph, making long walks with him, and in solemn
exchange of thoughts and sentiments, communicating to him his studies,
his hopes, his dreams for the future.

To acquire distinction, fame, reputation with the actual world, and
immortality with the future--such was the object on which all the
wishes, all the hopes of Napoleon were concentrated; and in long hours
of conversation with Joseph he spoke of the lofty glory to carve out an
immortal name, to accomplish deeds before which admiring posterity would

Did Napoleon then think of purchasing for himself an immortal name as
writer, as historian? At least he studied very earnestly the archives of
Ajaccio, and sent a preliminary essay of his history of the revolutions
of Corsica to Raynal for examination. This renowned savant of his day
warmly congratulated the young author on his work, and asked him to send
a copy that he might show it to Mirabeau.

Napoleon complied with these wishes; and when, a few weeks after, he
received a letter from Raynal, after reading it, he, with radiant eyes
and a bright smile, handed it to his brother Joseph.

In this letter of Raynal were found these words: “Monsieur de Mirabeau
has in this little essay found traits which announce a genius of the
first rank. He entreats the young author to come to him in Paris.”
 [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i., p. 33.]

But the young author could not at once obey the call of the Count de
Mirabeau. A sad family bereavement delayed him at the time in Corsica.
The brother of his grandfather, the aged Archdeacon Lucian, the faithful
counsellor and friend of Letitia and of her young family, was seized
with a mortal disease; the gout, which for years had tormented him, was
now to give him the fatal blow, and the whole family of the Bonapartes
was called to the bedside of the old man to receive his parting words.

Weeping, they all stood around his couch; weeping, Letitia bent over the
aged man, whose countenance was already signed with the hand of death.
Around kneeled the younger children of Letitia, for their great-uncle
had long been to them a kind father and protector; and on the other
side of the couch, facing Letitia and her brother, the Abbe Fesch, stood
Joseph and Napoleon, gazing with sad looks on their uncle.

His large, already obscured eyes wandered with a deep, searching glance
upon all the members of the Bonaparte family, and then at last remained
fixed with a wondrous brilliancy of expression on the pale, grave face
of Napoleon.

At this moment, the Abbe Fesch, with a voice trembling with emotion and
full of holy zeal, began to intone the prayers for the dead. But the old
priest ordered him with a voice full of impatience to be silent.

“I have prayed long enough in my life,” said he; “I have now but a few
moments to live, and I must give them to my family.”

The loud sobbings of Letitia and of her children interrupted him, and
called forth a last genial smile upon the already stiffening features.

“Letitia,” said he, in a loud, friendly tone, “Letitia, cease to shed
tears; I die happy, for I see you surrounded by all your children. My
life is no longer necessary to the children of my dear Charles; I
can therefore die. Joseph is at the head of the administration of
the country, and he will know how to take care of what belongs to his
family. You, Napoleon,” continued he, with a louder voice, “you will be
a great and exalted man.” [Footnote: “Tu poi. Napoleon, serai unomone”
 such were the words of the dying man, assures us King Joseph in his
memoirs; whilst Las Casas, in his memorial of St. Helena, makes Napoleon
relate that his uncle had told him, “You, Napoleon, will be the head of
the family.”]

His eyes turned on Napoleon, he sank back on the cushions, and his dying
lips murmured yet once more, “Tu serai unomone!”

After the body of the worthy great-uncle had been laid in the grave,
Napoleon left Corsica to return to France and to his regiment, for the
time of his leave of absence had expired.

For the second time the lips of a dying man had prophesied him a great
and brilliant future. His dying father had said that one day the sword
of his son Napoleon would make all Europe bow under the yoke; his
great-uncle had prophesied he would be a great and exalted personage.

To these prophecies of the dying is to be added Mirabeau’s judgment,
which called Napoleon a genius of the first stamp.

But this great and glorious future was yet screened under dark
clouds from the eyes of the young lieutenant of artillery, and the
blood-dripping hand of the Revolution was first needed to tear away
these clouds and to convert the king’s lieutenant of artillery into the
Emperor of France!


The dark clouds which hung yet over the future of Napoleon Bonaparte,
the lieutenant of artillery, were gathering in heavier and heavier
masses over all France, and already were overshadowing the throne of the

Marie Antoinette had already abandoned the paradise of innocency in
Trianon, and when she came there now it was to weep in silence, to cast
away the mask from her face, and under the garb of the proud, imperious,
ambitious queen to exhibit the pallid, anxious countenance of the woman.

Alas! they were passed away, those days of festivity, those innocent
joys of Trianon; the royal farmer’s wife had no more the heart to carry
the spindle, to gather eggs from the hens’ nests, and to perform with
her friends the joyous idyls of a pastoral life.

The queen had procured for herself a few years of freedom and license by
banishing from Versailles and from the Tuileries the burdensome Madame
Etiquette, who hitherto had watched over every step of a Queen of
France, but in her place Madame Politique had entered into the palace,
and Marie Antoinette could not drive her away as she had done with
Madame Etiquette.

For Madame Politique came into the queen’s apartments, ushered in by a
powerful and irresistible suite. The failure of the crops throughout
the land, want, the cries of distress from a famishing people, the
disordered finances of the state--such was the suite which accompanied
Politique before the queen; pamphlets, pasquinades, sarcastic songs
on Marie Antoinette, whom no more the people called their queen,
but already the foreigner, L’Autrichienne--such were the gifts which
Politique brought for the queen.

The beautiful and innocent days of Trianon were gone, no longer could
Marie Antoinette forget that she was a queen! The burden of her lofty
position pressed upon her always; and, if now and then she sought to
adorn her head with roses, her crown pressed their thorns with deeper
pain into her brow.

Unfortunate queen! Even the circle of friends she had gathered round her
person only urged her on more and more into the circle which politics
had traced around her. In her innocency and thoughtlessness of heart she
imagined that, to a queen as to any other woman, it might be allowed
to have about her friends and confidants, to enjoy the pleasures of
society, and to amuse one another! But now she had to learn that a queen
dare not have confidants, friends, or social circles!

Her friends, in whose disinterestedness she had trusted, approached
her with demands, with prayers; they claimed power, influence, and
distinctions; they all wanted to rule through the queen; they all wanted
through her to impose laws to king and state; they wanted to name and
to depose ministers; they wanted their friendship to be rewarded with
embassies, ministerial offices, decorations, and titles.

And when Marie Antoinette refused compliance with their wishes, her
beautiful friends, the Duchesses de Polignac, wept, and her friends,
Messieurs Vesenval, Vaudreuil, Coigny, and Polignac, dared be angry and
murmur at her.

But when Marie Antoinette consented--when she used her influence with
the king, to satisfy the wishes of her friends, and to make ministers of
her facon--then the queen’s enemies, with loud, mad-dog cry, lifted up
the voice and complained and clamored that it was no more the king but
the queen who reigned; that she was the one who precipitated the nation
into wretchedness and want; that she gave millions to her friends,
whilst the people were perishing with hunger; that she sent millions to
her brother, the Emperor of Austria, whilst the country was only able
to pay the interest of her enormous debt; that she, in unrestrained
appetite and licentiousness, lived only for pleasure and festivities,
whilst France was depressed under misery and want.

And the queen’s enemies were mightier, more numerous, and more loyal one
to another than the queen’s friends, who were ever ready to pass into
the camp of her foes as soon as Marie Antoinette gratified not their
wishes and would not satisfy their political claims.

At the head of these enemies was the king’s brother, the Count de
Provence, who never forgave the queen for being an Austrian princess;
there were also the king’s aunts, who could never forgive her that the
king loved her, that by means of this love to his wife they should lose
the influence which these aunts, and especially Madame Adelaide, had
before exercised over him; there was the Duke d’Orleans, who had to
revenge himself for the disgust and dislike which Marie Antoinette
publicly expressed against this vicious and wild prince; there was the
Cardinal Prince de Rohan, whose criminal passion the queen had repelled
with contemptuous disgust, and who had paid for this passion one million
francs, with imprisonment, shame, and ridicule. For this passion for the
queen had blinded the cardinal, and made him believe in the possibility
of a return. In his blindness he had placed confidence in the
whisperings and false promises of the insidious intriguer Madame de
la Motte-Valois, who, in the queen’s name, asked from him a loan of a
million for the purchase of a jewelled ornament which highly pleased
the queen, and which she, notwithstanding her exhausted coffers, was
resolved to possess.

Yes, love had blinded Cardinal de Rohan, and with blind eyes he had
accepted as letters from the queen those which Madame de la Motte
brought him; and he could not see that the person who gave him a
rendezvous in the gardens of Versailles was not the queen, but only a
common, vicious woman, who had been clothed in the queen’s garments.

The queen had been travestied into a wench, and the highest
ecclesiastical dignitary of the land was the one who took this wench for
his queen, was the one who, with a rendezvous, a kiss on the hand, and
a rose, was rewarded for the million he had given to the jeweller for a
necklace of diamonds!

It is true, the deception was discovered; it is true, it was Marie
Antoinette herself who asked for a strict investigation, who with tears
of anger required from her consort that this horrible intrigue which had
been woven round her person should be investigated and judged publicly
before the Parliament; that the Cardinal de Rohan should be punished for
the criminal insult offered by him to the queen, since he thought her
capable of granting him a rendezvous, of exchanging with him letters of
tender passion, and of accepting gifts from him!

But the Parliament, which recognized the guilt of Madame de la Motte,
which ordered her to be whipped, branded, and driven out of the country
as an impostor and a thief, the Parliament declared the Cardinal de
Rohan innocent; all punishments were removed from him, and he was
re-established in all his dignities and rights. And the people, who in
enormous masses had besieged the Parliament buildings, welcomed this
decision of the judges with loud demonstrations and shouts of joy, and
carried the cardinal in triumph through the streets, and honored and
glorified him as a martyr and a saint.

This triumph of the cardinal was an affecting defeat to the queen; it
was the first awful testimony, spoken loudly and openly, by the popular

Hitherto her enemies had worked against her quietly, and in the darkness
of night; but now, in open day, they dared launch against her their
terrible accusations, and represent her imprudence as a crime, her
errors as shameful and premeditated wickedness. No one believed in the
queen’s innocency in this necklace transaction; and whereas Cardinal
de Rohan had been made a martyr, whereas Parliament had declared him
innocent, the queen consequently must be the guilty one, to whose
cupidity the cardinal and the unfortunate Madame de la Motte and also
the beautiful D’Olivia, who in this horrible farce had played the part
of the queen, had been sacrificed.

The name, the character, the reputation of the queen, had been trodden
down in the dust, and the Count de Provence, who himself composed
sarcastic songs and pasquinades against his royal sister-in-law, and
had copies of them circulated through the court, reflected not that in
calumniating the queen and exposing her to the scorn and ridicule of
the world he thereby shook the throne itself, and imperilled the awe and
respect which the people should have had for the monarchy. And all the
other mighty dignitaries and foes of Marie Antoinette did not calculate
that in exciting the storm of calumny against the Queen of France, they
also attacked the king and the aristocracy, and tore down the barrier
which hitherto had stood between the people and the nobility.

Hitherto pamphlets and sarcastic songs only had been directed against
the queen; but now, in the year 1787, all France was to re-echo a
pamphlet launched against the nobility and the whole aristocracy.

This pamphlet was “The Wedding of Figaro,” by Beaumarchais. The habits
of the aristocracy, of the higher classes, were in this drama castigated
and thrown to the scorn, ridicule, and laughter of all France. Every
thing which the people hitherto had held sacred, was laughed at in this
drama; all the laws of manners, of rank, of morality, were scorned
at, hissed at; and, under this hissing, appeared in full view and with
fearful veracity the rotten and poisoned condition of the so-called
upper classes of society.

It was in vain that the censor declared the publication illegal, and
prohibited the representation of “The Wedding of Figaro.” The opposition
took advantage of this measure, and since it could not be published,
hundreds of copies were circulated; and, if it could not be represented,
its reading was listened to. It soon became fashionable to attend at the
readings of “Figaro’s Wedding” and to possess a copy of the drama.
Even in the queen’s social circle, in the circle of the Polignacs, this
dangerous drama was patronized, and even the queen was requested to use
her influence upon the king for its representation.

This general clamor, this tempest of the public opinion, excited
even the king’s curiosity; and as everybody attended the readings of
Beaumarchais’ drama, the crowned heads had also to bow to the fashion.
Madame de Campan had to read before the king and the queen this renowned
“Wedding of Figaro,” so that the king might give his decision. The
good-natured countenance of the king darkened more and more, and during
Figaro’s monologue, in which the different institutions of the state
are ridiculed, especially when, with words full of poison and scorn, the
author alludes to state-prisons, the king rose angrily from his seat.

“It is a contemptible thing,” cried he, vehemently. “The Bastile must be
destroyed before the representation of this piece would not appear as a
dangerous inconsequence. This man ridicules every thing which in a state
ought to be esteemed and respected.”

“This piece will not then be represented?” asked Marie Antoinette, at
the close of the reading.

“No, certainly not!” exclaimed Louis, “you can be convinced of it; this
piece will not be represented.”

But the clamor, the longings for this representation were more and more
loudly expressed, and more and more pressing. It was in vain that the
king by his decree forbade its already-announced representation in the
theatre of the menus plaisirs. Beaumarchais cried aloud to the murmuring
audience, who complained very loudly against this tyranny, against
this oppression of the king, the consoling words: “Well, sirs, the king
desires that my drama be not represented here, but I swear that it will
be represented, perhaps even in the chancel of Notre Dame.”

It was soon apparent that Beaumarchais’ words and the wishes of the
public opinion were stronger than the words and the wishes of the king
and of his highest officers. The king himself felt it and acknowledged
it soon; he shrugged his shoulders compassionately when the chancellor
of the seal, adhering still to his opposition, would by no means consent
to the performance of the drama.

“You will see,” said Louis, with his own soft, good-natured smile--“you
will see that Beaumarchais’ credit is better than that of the great-seal
bearer.” [Footnote: “Memoires de Madame de Campan,” vol. i., p. 279.]

The king’s prophecy was correct--Beaumarchais had more credit than the
chancellor! His powerful patrons in high places, and all those who
made opposition to the king and queen, and at their head the Count de
Provence, banded together to have this piece publicly represented. The
king’s consent was elicited from him by the assurance made public
that Beaumarchais had stricken out of his drama all the offensive and
captious parts, and that it was now a mere innocent and somewhat tedious

The king gave his consent, and “The Wedding of Figaro” was represented
at the Theatre Francais.

The effect of this drama on the public was a thing unheard of; so
enthusiastic that Beaumarchais himself laughingly said: “There
is something yet more foolhardy than my piece, and that is, its
result”--that the renowned actress Sophie Arnold, in allusion to this,
that the opponents of this drama had prophesied that it would fall
through, exclaimed: “The piece will fall through to-day more than fifty
times one after another!”

But even this prophecy of the actress did not reach the full result,
and the sixtieth representation was as crowded as the first. All Paris
wanted to see it, so as to hiss the government, the nobility, clergy,
morality. There was a rush from the provinces to Paris for the sake of
attending the representation of “Figaro’s Wedding;” and even those who
hitherto had opposed the performance, pressed forward to see it.

One day Beaumarchais received a letter from the Duke de Villequier,
asking of him as a favor to give up for that evening his trellised
box in behalf of some ladies of the court, who desired to see “Figaro”
 without being seen.

Beaumarchais answered: “My lord duke, I have no respect for ladies who
desire to see a performance which they consider improper, and who wish
to see it under cover. I cannot stoop to such fancies. I have given my
piece to the public to amuse and not to instruct them, not to procure to
tamed wenches (begueules mitigees) the satisfaction of thinking well of
the piece in a small trellised box, and then to say all manner of evil
against it in public. The pleasure of vice and the honors of
virtue, that is what the prudery of our age demands. My piece is not
double-faced. It must be accepted or repelled. I salute you, my lord
duke, and keep my box.” [Footnote: “Correspondance de Diderot et Grimm
avec un Souverain.”]

All Paris chuckled over this letter, which was circulated in hundreds
of copies, as the drama itself had circulated at first. Every one was
convinced that it was the queen who wanted to attend the representation
of “Figaro” in the trellised box; for it, was well known that the
queen, angry at monsieur for having been present with all his suite at
a representation in the box reserved for the court, had openly declared:
“Could she come to the conclusion of seeing this drama, she would only
see it through a small trellised box, and that without any ceremony.”

In laughing at the letter of Beaumarchais, the ridicule was directed
against the queen, who had been refused in so shameful a manner. But
Marie Antoinette did not wish to be laughed at. She still hoped to
overcome her enemies, and to win the public sentiment. She requested an
investigation, she insisted that the Duke de Villequier should openly
acknowledge for whom among the ladies of the court he had asked for the
box; that Beaumarchais should publicly confess that he had not dared
suppose his words were directed against the queen.

The whole matter was brought to an end by an arbitrary decree.
Beaumarchais was compelled publicly to acknowledge that his famous
letter was directed neither to a duke nor to a peer, but to one of his
friends, whose strange request he had thus answered in the first flush
of anger. But it is evident no one believed in this explanation, and
every one felt pleasure in referring to the queen the expression of
“begueule mitigee.”

Paris, which for a whole winter had laughed at a theatrical piece, and
was satiated with it, was now to assist at the first scene of a drama
whose tragical power and force were to tear France asunder, and whose
continuance was to be marked by blood and tears.

This important drama, whose opening followed closely Beaumarchais’
drama, exhibited its first scene at Versailles at the opening of the
States-General on the 5th of May, 1789. All Paris, all France watched
this event as the rise of a new sun, of a new era which was to break
upon France and bring her happiness, salvation, and strength. A new, an
unsuspected power entered with it upon the scene, the Tiers Etat;
the third class was, at the opening of the States-General, solemnly
recognized as a third power, alongside of the nobility and clergy.
With the third class, the people and the yeomen entered into the king’s
palace; one-half of the people were to make the laws instead of having
to submit to them.

It was Marie Antoinette who had endeavored with all her influence on the
king that the third class, hitherto barely recognized, barely
tolerated, should appear in a two-fold stronger representation at the
States-General; it was the queen also who had requested Necker’s recall.
Unfortunate woman, who bowed both pride and will to the wishes of public
opinion, who yet hoped to succeed in winning again the people’s love,
since she endeavored to meet the wishes of the people!

But this love had turned away from her forever; and whatever Marie
Antoinette might now do to exhibit her candid wishes, her devotedness
was not trusted in by the people, who looked upon her as an enemy, no
longer Queen of France, but simply an Austrian.

Even on this day of universal joy, on the day of the opening of the
States-General, there was no desire to hide from the queen the hatred
felt against her, but there was the resolve to show her that France,
even in her hour of happiness, ceased not to make opposition to her.

The opening of the States-General was to be preceded in Versailles
by divine service. In solemn procession the deputies arrived; and the
people who had streamed from Paris and from the whole region round
about, and who in compact masses filled the immense square in front of
the palace, and the whole street leading to the Church of St. Louis,
received the deputies with loud, unbroken shouts, and met the princes
and the king with applause. But no sooner was the queen in sight, than
the people remained dumb; and then, after this appalling pause, which
petrified the heart of the queen, the women with their true instinct of
hatred began to cry out, “Long live the Duke d’Orleans! Long live the
people’s friend, the good Duke d’Orleans!”

The name of the duke thus derisively thrown in the face of the
queen--for it was well known that she hated him, that she had forbidden
him to enter into her apartments--this name at this hour, thrown at
her by the people, struck the queen’s heart as the blow of a dagger;
a deathly pallor overspread her cheeks, and nearly fainting she had to
throw herself into the arms of the Princess de Lamballe, so as not to
sink down. [Footnote: See “Count Mirabeau,” by Theodore Mundt. Second
edition, vol. iii., p. 234.]

With the opening of the States-General, as already said, began the first
act of the great drama which France was going to represent before
the eyes of Europe terrified and horrified: with the opening of the
States-General the revolution had begun. Every one felt it; every
one knew it; the first man who had the courage to express it was
Mirabeau--Mirabeau, the deputy of the Third Estate, the count who was at
enmity with all those of his rank, who had solemnly parted with them to
devote himself to the people’s service and to liberty!

On the day of the opening, as he entered the hall in which the
States-General were convened, he gazed with scrutinizing and flaming
eyes on the representatives of the nobility, on those brilliant and
proud lords who, though his equals in rank, were now his inveterate
enemies. A proud, disdainful smile fluttered athwart his lips, which
ordinarily were pressed together with a sarcastic and contemptuous
expression. He then crossed the hall with the bearing of a conqueror,
and took his seat upon those benches from which was launched the
thunderbolt which was to dash to pieces the throne of the lilies.

A long-tried friend, who was also a friend of the government and of the
nobility, had seen this look of hatred and anger which Mirabeau had
cast upon the gallery of the aristocrats; he now approached Mirabeau
to salute him, and perhaps to pave a way of reconciliation between the
prodigal Count de Mirabeau and his associates in rank.

“Think,” said he, “my friend, that society is not to be won by threats,
but by flatteries; that, when once injured, it is difficult to effect a
reconciliation. You have been unjust toward society, and if you look
for forgiveness you must not be obstinate, but you must stoop to ask for

Mirabeau had listened with impatience, but at the word “pardon,” his
anger broke with terrible force. He sprang up, stamped violently on the
floor with his feet; his hair which, like a lion’s mane, mantled his
head, seemed to bristle up, his little eyes darted flashes, and his lips
were blanched and trembling, and with a thundering voice he exclaimed:
“I am not here to implore pardon for myself, but that others should sue
for mercy.”

Was Mirabeau himself willing to grant pardon? Had he come with a
reconciling heart into this assembly, where people and king were to
measure their rights one against the other?

As the good King Louis this day entered the hall, in all the pomp of
his royal dignity, to welcome the States-General with a solemn address,
Mirabeau’s eyes were fixed on him: “Behold the victim,” said he.
[Footnote: Theodore Mundt: “Graf Mirabeau,” vol. iv., p. 15.]

From this day the struggle began--the struggle of the monarchy against
the revolution, of the liberal party against the reaction, the struggle
of the people against the aristocracy, against every thing which
hitherto had been legitimate, welcomed, and sacred!

A new day had broken in, and the prophetic mind of the queen understood
that with it came the storm which was to scatter into fragments her
happiness and her peace.


To rest!--to forget! This was what Josephine sought for in Martinique,
and what she found in the circle of her friends. She wanted to rest from
the pains and struggles which had agitated the last years of her life.
She wanted to forget that she still loved the Viscount de Beauharnais,
though rejected and accused, though he had treacherously abandoned her
for the sake of another woman.

But he was the father of her children, and there was Hortense with her
large blue eyes and her noble, lovely countenance to remind Josephine
of the father to whom Hortense bore so close a resemblance. Josephine’s
tender-heartedness would not suffer the innocent, childish heart of
Hortense to become alienated from her father, or to forget the esteem
and respect which as a daughter she owed to him. Josephine therefore
never allowed any one to utter a word of blame against her husband in
the presence of her daughter; she even imposed silence on her mother
when, in the just resentment of a parent who sees her child suffer, she
accused the man who had brought wretchedness on her Josephine, who at so
early an age had taught her life’s sorrows.

How joyous, beautiful, happy had her Josephine nearly ten years ago
left her home, her country, her family, to go to a foreign land which
attracted her with every thing which can charm a young girl--with the
love of a young and beautiful husband--with the luxury, the pleasures
and festivities of Paris!

And now after ten years Josephine returned to her father’s home, lonely,
abandoned, unhappy, blighted with the mildew which ever deteriorates the
character of a divorced woman; yet so young, with so many ruined hopes,
with so many wounds in the heart!

Josephine’s mother could not pardon him all this, and her countenance
became clouded whenever the little Hortense spoke of her father. And
the child spoke of him so often--for each evening and morning she had to
pray God in his behalf--and when she asked her mother where her brother
Eugene was, why he had not come with them to Martinique; Josephine
answered her, he had remained with his father, who loved him so much,
and who must have at least one of his children with him.

“Why then can he not, with Eugene, be with us?” asked the little
Hortense, thoughtfully. “Why does he remain in that hateful, stony
Paris, whilst he could live with us in the beautiful garden where so
many charming flowers and so many large trees are to be found? Why is
papa not with us, mamma?”

“Because he has occupations--because he cannot leave his regiment, my
child,” answered Josephine, carefully hiding her tears.

“If he cannot come to us, mamma, then let us go to him,” cried the
loving child. “Come, mamma, let us go on board a ship, and let us go to
our dear papa, and to my dear brother Eugene.”

“We must wait until your father sends for us, until he writes that we
must come,” said Josephine, with a sad smile. “Pray to God, my child,
that he may soon do it!”

And from this time the child prayed God every evening that her father
would soon send for her mother and for herself; and whenever she saw her
mother receive a letter she said: “Is it a letter from my papa? Does he
write for us to travel and to come to him?”

One day Josephine was enabled to answer this question to her daughter
with a proud and joyous yes.

Yes, the Viscount de Beauharnais had begged his wife to forget the past,
and to come back to him. He had, with all the contrition of penitence,
with the glow of an awakening love, prayed for pardon; he requested from
her large-heartedness to be once more reunited to him who had despised,
calumniated, and rejected her; he swore with sacred oaths to love her
alone, and to keep to her in unbroken faithfulness.

At first Josephine received these vows with a suspicious, sorrowful
smile; the wounds of her heart were not yet healed, the bitter
experiences of the past were yet too fresh in her mind; and Madame de la
Pagerie, Josephine’s mother, repelled with earnestness every thought
of reconciliation and reunion. She did not wish to lose her daughter a
second time, and see her go to meet a dubious and dangerous happiness;
she did not wish that Josephine, barely returned to the haven of rest
and peace, should once more risk herself on the open, tempestuous ocean
of life.

But the letters of the viscount were more and more pressing, more and
more tender. He had completely and forever broken with Madame de Gisard;
he did not wish to see her again, and henceforth he desired to be the
true, devoted husband of his Josephine.

Josephine read these assurances, these vows of love, with a joyous
smile, with a beating heart: all the crushed flowers of her youth raised
up their blossoms again in her heart; she began again to hope, to trust,
to believe once more in the possibility of happiness; she was ready to
listen to her husband’s call, and to hasten to him.

But her mother held her back. She believed not, she trusted not. Her
insulted maternal heart could not forget the humiliations and the
sufferings which this man who now called for Josephine had inflicted
upon her daughter. She could not pardon the viscount for having deserted
his young wife, and that for the sake of a coquette! She therefore
sought to inspire Josephine with mistrust; she told her that these vows
of the viscount were not to be relied upon; that he had not given up his
paramour to come back to Josephine, but that he was forsaken by her and
abandoned by her. Madame de Gisard had regretted to be only the paramour
of the Viscount de Beauharnais, and, as she could never hope to be his
legitimate wife, she had abandoned him, to marry a wealthy Englishman,
with whom she had left France to go with him to Italy.

At this news Josephine’s head would sink down, and, with tears in her
eyes and sorrow in her heart, she promised her mother no more to listen
to the voice of a faithless husband; no more to value the assurances of
a love which only returned to her because it was rejected elsewhere.

Meanwhile, not only the Viscount de Beauharnais prayed Josephine to
return, but also his father the marquis claimed this from his beloved
daughter-in-law; even Madame de Renaudin confirmed the entire conversion
of Alexandre, and conjured Josephine to hesitate no longer once more to
take possession of a heart which beat with so burning a sorrow and so
longing a love toward her. She pictured to her, besides, how necessary
she was to him; how much in these troublous and stormy days which had
just begun, he was in need of a quiet haven of domestic life, there to
rest after the labors and the conflicts of politics and of public life;
how many dangers surrounded him, and how soon it might happen that he
would need not only a household refuge but also a nurse who would bind
his wounds and keep watch near the bed of sickness.

For the times of quietness were gone; the brand which the States-General
had flung over France had lit a fire everywhere, in every city, in every
house, in every head; and the flaming speeches of the deputies of the
Third Estate only fanned the fire into higher flames.

The revolution was there, and nothing could keep back the torrent
of blood, fire, enthusiasm, and hatred. Already the Third Estate had
solemnly proclaimed its separation from Old France, from the ancient
monarchy of the lilies, since that monarchy had abandoned the large
assembly-hall where the States-General held their sessions, and in which
the nobility and the clergy still imagined they were able to maintain
the balance of power against the despised Third Estate. The Tiers Etat
had, in the ballroom, converted itself into the National Assembly, and
with enthusiasm had all these deputies of the third class sworn on the
17th of June, 1789, “never to part one from the other until they had
given a constitution to France.”

Alexandre de Beauharnais, deputy from Blois, had passed with his
colleagues into the ballroom, had with them taken the fatal oath; in
the decisive night of the 4th of August he, with burning enthusiasm,
had renounced all the privileges of the nobility, all his feudal rights;
and, breaking with the past, with all its family traditions and customs,
had passed, with all the passion and zest of his nine-and-twenty years,
into the hostile camp of the people and of liberty.

The revolution, which moved onward with such rash and destructive
strides, had drawn Alexandre de Beauharnais more and more into its
flood. It had converted the king’s major into an enthusiastic speaker
of the Jacobins, then into the secretary of the National Assembly, and
finally into its president.

The monarchy was not yet powerless; it fought still with all the
bitterness of despair, of the pains of death, against its foes; it still
found defenders in the National Assembly, in the faithful regiments of
the Swiss and of the guards, and in the hearts of a large portion of the
people. The passions of parties were let loose one against another; and
Alexandre de Beauharnais, the president of the National Assembly, stood
naturally in the first rank of those who were threatened by the attacks
of the royalists.

Yes, Alexandre de Beauharnais was in danger! Since Josephine knew this,
there was for her but one place which belonged to her, to which she
could lay claim--the place at her husband’s side.

How could she then have withstood his appeals, his prayers? How could
she then have remained in the solitude and stillness of Martinique, when
her husband was now in the fight, in the very struggle? She had, now
that fate claimed it, either to share her husband’s triumphs, or to
bring him comfort if he fell.

The intercessions of her family, even the tears of her mother, could no
longer retain Josephine; at the side of her husband, the father of her
two children, there was her place! No one could deprive her of it, if
she herself wished to occupy it.

She was entitled to it, she was still the wife of the Viscount de
Beauharnais. The Parliament, which had pronounced its verdict against
the demands of a divorce from the viscount, had, in declaring Josephine
innocent, condemned her husband to receive into his house his wife, if
she desired it; or else, in case she waived this right, to pay her a
fixed annual income.

Josephine had parted voluntarily from her husband, since she had not
returned to him, but had exiled herself with her father-in-law and her
aunt in Fontainebleau; but she had never laid claims to nor received the
income which Parliament had appointed. She had never assumed the rights
of a divorced wife, but she retained still all the privileges of a
married woman, who at God’s altar had bound herself to her husband for a
whole life, in a wedlock which, being performed according to the laws of
the Catholic Church, was indissoluble.

Now the viscount claimed his wife, and who dared keep her back if she
wished to follow this call? Who could stand between husband and wife,
when their hearts claimed and longed for this reunion?

The tears of Madame de la Pagerie had attempted it, but had not
succeeded! The soft, patient, pliant Josephine had suddenly become a
strong-minded, joyous, courageous woman; the inconveniences of a long
sea-voyage, the perils of the revolution, into whose open crater she
was to enter, affrighted her not. All the energies of her being began to
develop themselves under the first sunbeams of a renewed love! The years
of sorrow had passed away. Life, love called Josephine again, and she
listened to the call, jubilant and full of friendly trust of undimmed

In the first days of September, 1790, Josephine, with the little
Hortense, embarked from Martinique, and after a short, favorable
passage, landed in France, in the middle of October. [Footnote: If,
in the work “Queen Hortense, an Historical Sketch from the Days of
Napoleon,” I have given a few different details of Josephine’s return to
France and to her husband, I have followed the error common to all the
historians of that time, who represent Josephine returning despite her
husband’s will, who receives her into his house, and recognizes her as
his wife, only at the instant supplication of his family, and
especially of his children. It is only of late that all this has been
satisfactorily refuted, and that it has been proved that Josephine
returned only at the instance of her husband’s pressing demands. See
Aubenas, “Histoire de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. i., p. 164.--L. M.]

Again a prophecy accompanied Josephine to France, and perhaps this
prophecy is to be blamed for her sudden departure and her unwavering
resolution to leave Martinique. The old negro woman who, once before
Josephine’s departure, had prophesied that she would wear a crown and be
more than a Queen of France--the old Euphemia was still living, and
was still considered as an infallible oracle. A few days before her
departure, Josephine, with all the superstitious faith of a Creole, went
to ask the old prophetess if her journey would be propitious.

The old Euphemia stared long and fixedly into Josephine’s smiling
countenance; then, as if overcome by a sudden thought, she exclaimed:
“Go! go as fast as possible, for death and danger threaten you! Already
are on the watch wicked and bloodthirsty fiends, who every moment are
ready to rush among us with fire and sword, and to destroy the colony in
their cruel wrath!”

“And shall I safely arrive in France?” asked Josephine. “Shall I again
see my husband?”

“You will see him again,” exclaimed the prophetess, “but hasten to go to

“Is he threatened with any danger?” demanded Josephine.

“Not yet!--not at once!” said the old negress. “They now applaud your
husband and recognize his services. But he has powerful enemies, and one
day they will threaten his life, and will lead him to the scaffold and
murder him!”

Before Josephine left Martinique, a portion of these prophecies of
the old negro woman were to be fulfilled. The wicked and bloodthirsty
fiends, of whom she said they were ready with fire and sword to rush
upon the colony--those fiends did light the firebrand and destroy the
peace of Martinique.

The resounding cries for freedom uttered in the National Assembly, and
which shook the whole continent, had rushed along across the ocean to
Martinique. The storm-wind of the revolution had on its wings borne the
wondrous story to Martinique--the wondrous story of man’s sacred rights,
which Lafayette had proclaimed in the National Assembly, the wondrous
story that man was born free, that he ought to remain free, that there
were to be no more slaves in the land of liberty, in France, and in her

The storm-wind which brought this great news across the ocean to
Martinique scattered it into the negro-cabins, and at first they
listened to it with wondrous delight. Then the delirium of joy came over
them; jubilant they broke their chains, and in wild madness anticipated
their human rights, their personal freedom.

The revolution, with its terrible consequences of blood and horrors,
broke loose in Martinique, and, exulting in freedom, the slaves threw
the firebrand on the roof of their former masters, rushed with war’s
wild cry into their dwellings, and, in freedom’s name, punished those
who so long had punished them in tyranny’s name.

Amid the barbaric shouts of those dark free men, Josephine embarked on
board the ship which was to carry her and her little Hortense to France;
and the flames which rose from the roofs of the houses as so many
way-marks of fire for the new era, were Josephine’s last, sad farewell
from the home which she was never to see again. [Footnote: Le Normand,
“Memoires de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. i., p. 147]


Happiness had once more penetrated into the heart of Josephine. Love
again threw her sun-gleams upon her existence, and filled her whole
being with animation and joy. She was once more united to her husband,
who, with tears of joy and repentance, had again taken her to his heart.
She was once more with her relatives, who, in the day of distress, had
shown her so much love and faithfulness, and finally she had also her
son, her own dear Eugene, from whom she had been separated during the
sad years of their matrimonial disagreements.

How different was the husband she now found from him she had quitted! He
was now a man, an earnest, thoughtful man, with a fiery determination,
with decidedness of purpose, and yet thoughtful, following only what
reason approved, even if the heart had been the mover. The passions
of youth had died away. The excitable, thoughtless, pleasure-seeking
officer of the king had become a grave, industrious, indefatigable,
moral, austere servant of the people and of liberty. The songs of joy,
of equivocal jesting, of political satire, had died away on those lips
which only opened now in the clubs, in the National Assembly, to utter
inspired words in regard to liberty, fraternity, and equality.

The most beautiful dancer of Versailles had become the president of the
National Assembly, which made so many tears run, and awoke so much anger
and hatred in the king’s palace of Versailles. He at least belonged to
the constitutional fraction of the National Assembly; he was the
friend and guest of Mirabeau and of Lafayette; he was the opponent of
Robespierre, Marat, and Danton, and of all the fanatics of the Mountain
party, who already announced their bloody views, and claimed a republic
as the object of their conflicts.

Alexandre de Beauharnais was no republican, however enthusiastic he
might have been in favor of America’s struggle for freedom, however
deeply he had longed to go like Lafayette to America, for the sake of
assisting the Americans to break the chains which yoked them to England,
so as to build a republic for themselves. The enthusiasm of that
day, the enthusiasm for France had driven him upon the path of the
opposition; but while desiring freedom for the people, he still hoped
that the people’s freedom was compatible with the power and dignity of
the crown; that at the head of constitutional France the throne of a
constitutional king would be maintained. To bring to pass this reunion,
this balance of right between the monarchy and the people, such was the
object of the wishes of Alexandre de Beauharnais; this was the ultimate
aim of his struggles and longings.

Josephine looked upon these tumultuous conflicts of parties, upon this
wild storm of politics, with wondering, sad looks. With all the tact of
tender womanhood she held herself aloof from every personal interference
in these political party strifes. At the bottom of her heart a true and
zealous royalist, she guarded herself carefully from endeavoring to keep
her husband back from his chosen path, and to bring into her house and
family the party strifes of the political arena. She wanted and longed
for peace, unity, and rest, and in his home at least her husband would
have no debates to go through, no sentiments to fight against.

In silence and devotedness Josephine submitted to her husband’s will,
and left him to perform his political part, while she assumed the part
of wife, mother, of the representative of the household; and every
evening opened her drawing-room to her friends, and to her husband’s
associates in the same conflict.

What a mixed and extraordinary assemblage was seen in the
drawing-room of the president of the National Assembly! There were
the representatives of old France, the brilliant members of the old
nobility: the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, the Count de Montmorency, the
Marquis de Caulaincourt, the Prince de Salm-Cherbourg, the Princess von
Hohenzollern, Madame de Montesson, the wife of the old Duke d’Orleans;
and alongside of these names of the ancient regime, new names rose up.
There were the deputies of the National Assembly--Barnave, Mounier,
Thouvet, Lafayette, and the favorite of the people, the great Mirabeau.
Old France and Young France met here in this drawing-room of Josephine
on neutral grounds, and the beautiful viscountess, full of grace and
prudence, offered to them both the honors of her house. She listened
with modest bashfulness to the words of the great tribunes of the
people, and oftentimes with a smile or a soft word she reconciled the
royalists, those old friends who sought in this drawing-room for
the Viscountess de Beauharnais, and found there only the wife of the
president of the National Assembly.

The saloon of Josephine was soon spoken of, and seemed as a haven in
which the refined, elegant manners, the grace, the wit, the esprit, had
been saved from the stormy flood of political strife. Every one sought
the privilege of being admitted into this drawing-room, whose charming
mistress in her own gentleness and grace received the homage of all
parties, pleased every one by her loveliness, her charms, the fine,
exquisite tact with which she managed at all times the sentiments of the
company, and with which she knew how to guide the conversation so
that it would never dwindle into political debates or into impassioned

However violent was the tempest of faction outside, Josephine endeavored
that in the interior of her home the serene peace of happiness should
prevail. For she was now happy again, and all the liveliness, all the
joys of youth, had again found entrance into her mind. The anguish
endured, the tears shed, had also brought their blessing; they had
strengthened and invigorated her heart; with their grave, solemn
memories they preserved Josephine, that child of the South, of the sun,
and of joy, from that light frivolity which otherwise is so often the
common heritage of the Creoles.

The viscount had now the satisfaction which ten years ago, at the
beginning of his married life, he had so intently longed for, the
satisfaction of seeing his wife occupied with grave studies, with the
culture of her own mind and talents. It was to him a ravishment to see
Josephine in her drawing-room in earnest conversation with Buffon, and
with all the aptitude of a naturalist speak of the organization and
formation of the different families of plants; he exulted in the open
praise paid to her when, with her fine, far-reaching voice, she sang
the songs of her home, which she herself accompanied on the harp; he was
proud when, in her saloon, with all the tact and assurance of a lady of
the world, she took the lead in the conversation, and could speak
with poets and authors, with artists and savants, and that, with
understanding and feeling, upon their latest works and creations; he
was made happy when, passing from serious gravity to the most innocent
gayety, she jested, laughed, and danced, as if she were yet the
sixteen-year-old child whom ten years ago he had made his wife, and from
whom he had then so cruelly exacted that she should demean herself as a
fine, experienced, and highly-refined lady.

Life had since undertaken to mould the young Creole into an elegant,
highly-accomplished woman, but fortunately life had been impotent to
change her heart, and that heart was ever beating in all the freshness
of youth, in all the joyous warmth and faithfulness of the young girl of
sixteen years who had come to France with so many ideal visions, so many
illusions, so many dreams and hopes. It is true this ideal had vanished
away, these illusions had burst into pieces like meteors in the skies;
the dreams and hopes of the young maiden heart had fallen into dust, but
the love, the confiding, faithful, hoping love, the love assured of the
future, had remained alive; it had overcome the storms and conflicts; it
had been Josephine’s consolation in the days of sorrow; it was now her
delight in these days of happiness.

Her whole heart, her undivided love, belonged to her husband, to her
children, and often from the society gathered in her reception-rooms,
she would slip away and hasten to the bed of her little Hortense to
bid good-night to the child, who never would sleep without bidding
good-night to its mother, who would kneel at the side of the crib with
little Hortense, and utter the evening prayer, asking of God to grant to
them all prosperity and peace!

But this peace which Josephine so earnestly longed for was soon to be
imperilled more and more, was to be banished from the interior of home
and family, from its most sacred asylum, by the revolution and its
stormy factions.

An important event, pregnant with results, suddenly moved all Paris, and
filled the minds of all with the most fearful anticipations.

The king, with his wife and children, had fled! Openly and irretrievably
he had separated himself from country and people; he had, by this
flight, solemnly expressed before all Europe the discord which existed
between him and his people, between the king and the constitution to
which he had sworn allegiance.

Alexandre de Beauharnais, the president of the National Assembly, was
the first to be informed of this extraordinary event. On the morning of
the 21st of June, 1791, M. de Bailly, mayor of Paris, came to announce
to him that the king with all his family had fled from Paris the
previous evening.

It was the hour at which the sessions of the National assembly began
every morning, and Beauharnais, accompanied by Bailly, hastened to the
Assembly. The deputies were already seated when the president took
the chair with a grave, solemn countenance. This countenance told the
deputies of the people that the president had an important and very
unusual message to communicate, and a deep stillness, an oppressive
silence, overspread the whole assemblage as the president rose from his
seat to address them.

“Gentlemen,” said he, with a voice which, amid the general silence,
sounded solemn and powerful--“gentlemen, I have a sad message to bring
before you. The mayor of Paris has just now informed me that the king
and his family have this night been seduced into flight by the
enemies of the people.” [Footnote: Aubenas, “Histoire de l’Imperatrice
Josephine,” vol i., p. 171.]

This news had a stupendous effect on the deputies. At first they sat
there dumb, as if petrified with fear; then they all rose up to make
their remarks and motions in a whirl of confusion, and it required all
the energy and determination of the president to re-establish peace, and
to control their minds.

The Assembly then, in quiet debate, resolved to declare itself in
permanent session until the termination of this crisis, and gave to the
president full power during this time to provide for the tranquillity
and security of the Assembly. Bailly and Lafayette were by the president
summoned before the deputies, to state what the sentiments of Paris
were, what was the attitude of the National Guards, what were the
precautions they had taken to preserve aright the peace of Paris.

But this peace was not in danger, and the only one whom the Parisian
people at this moment dreaded, was he who had fled from Paris--the king.
And yet, not for a moment did the people rise in anger against the
king; actuated by a new and overpowering thought, the people in their
enthusiasm for this idea forgot their anger against him who by his deed
had kindled this thought. The thought which was uppermost in all minds
at the flight of the king was this: that the state could subsist even
if there were no king at its head; that law and order still remained in
Paris, even when the king had fled.

This law and order was the National Assembly, the living representation
and embodiment of the law; the government was there; the king alone had
disappeared. Such was the sentiment which animated all classes, which
brought the people in streaming masses to the palace where the National
Assembly held its sittings. A few hours after the news of the king’s
flight had spread through Paris, thousands were besieging the National
Assembly, and shouting enthusiastically: “Our king is here; he is in the
hall of session. Louis XVI. can go; he can do what he wills; our king
is still in Paris!” [Footnote: Prudhomme, “Histoire Parlementaire de la
Revolution,” vol. x. p. 241.]

The Assembly, “the King of Paris,” remained in permanent session,
waiting for the developments of events, and working out in committees
the decrees passed in common deliberation, whilst the president and
the secretary remained the whole night in the council-room, so as to
be ready at any moment to rectify fresh news and to issue the necessary

Early next morning the most important news had reached the president,
and the deputies hastened from their respective committees into the hall
of session, there to take their seats.

Amid the breathless silence of the Assembly, President Beauharnais
announced that the king, the queen, the dauphin, Madame, and divers
persons of their suite, had been arrested in Varennes.

The Assembly received this communication with dignified quietude, for
they were conscious that the king’s return would in no wise impair their
own sovereignty, that the power was in their hands, even if the king
were there. In this full assurance of their dignity the National
Assembly passed a decree ordering the proper authorities “to protect
the king’s return, to seize and imprison all those who might forget, the
respect they owed to the royal dignity.”

At the same time the National Assembly sent from their number
two deputies, Barnave and Petion, to bring back from Varennes the
unfortunate royal family and to accompany them to Paris.

Meanwhile the news of the king’s capture only increased the people’s
enthusiasm for the National Assembly, the truly acknowledged sovereign
of France. Every one was anxious to give expression to this enthusiasm;
the National Guards of Paris begged for the privilege of taking the oath
of allegiance to the National Assembly, and when at the motion of the
president this was granted by the Assembly, a whole detachment was
marched into the hall so as to take the oath of allegiance to the
National Assembly with one voice, amid the applause of the Assembly and
the tribunes. This detachment was followed by fresh companies, and the
people filled the streets to see the National Guards come and go, and
like them to swear allegiance to the National Assembly with enthusiastic

The provinces would not be a whit behind the enthusiasm of Paris; and
whilst the guards swore their oath, from all cities and provinces came
to the president of the National Assembly, addresses congratulating
the Assembly on its triumphs, and promising the most unconditional

Finally after two days of restless activity, after two days, during
which Alexandre de Beauharnais had hardly found time to quiet his wife
by a note, explaining his absence from home, finally a courier brought
the news that the captive royal family were entering Paris. A second
courier followed the first. He announced that the royal family had
reached the Tuileries surrounded by an immense crowd, whose excitement
caused serious apprehensions. Petion had, therefore, thought it
expedient not to allow the royal family to alight, but had confined them
to the two carriages, and he now sent the keys of these two carriages to
the president of the National Assembly, as it was now his duty to adopt
still further measures.

Beauharnais proposed that at once twenty deputies be chosen to speed on
to the Tuileries to deliver the royal family from their prison, and to
lead them into the palace.

The motion was carried, and the deputies reached the court of the
Tuileries yet in time to save the affrighted family from the people,
who, in their wild madness, were about to destroy the carriages, and to
take possession of the king and queen.

The presence of the deputies imposed silence on the shouts and howlings
of the people. The king had come into the Tuileries, and before him
bowed the people in dumb respect. They quietly allowed that this their
king should open the carriage wherein the other king, the king by God’s
grace, Louis XVI., sat a prisoner; they allowed that the king by the
grace of the people, the National Assembly, through its twenty deputies,
should render liberty to Louis and to his family, and lead them quietly
under their protection into the Tuileries.

But from this day the Tuileries, which for centuries had been the palace
of the kings of France, now became a prison for the King of France!

Louis XVI. was returned, not as the head, but as the prisoner of the
state; from the moment he left Paris, the ermine mantle of his royalty
had fallen from his shoulders upon the shoulders of the National
Assembly; King Louis XVI. had dethroned himself.

Amid these fatal storms, amid these ever-swelling revolutionary floods,
there was yet an hour of happiness for Josephine. Out of the wild waves
of rebellion was to rise, for a short time, an island of bliss. The
National Assembly, whose president, Alexandre de Beauharnais, had
once more, in the course of the sessions, been re-elected by general
acclamation, declared itself on the 3d of September, 1791, dissolved,
and its members vanished to make room for the Legislative Assembly,
which organized the very next day.

Alexandre de Beauharnais, after having so long and so zealously
discharged his duties as a citizen, returned to his Josephine, to his
children; and, weary with the storms and debates of the last months,
longed for a quiet little place, away from the turmoil of the capital
and from the attrition of parties. Josephine acquiesced gladly in the
wishes of her husband, for she felt her innermost being shattered by
these last exciting times, and perhaps she cherished the secret hope
that her husband, once removed from Paris, would be drawn away from the
dangerous arena of politics, into which his enthusiasm had driven
him. She was, and remained at heart, a good and true royalist; and
as Mirabeau, dying in the midst of revolution’s storms, had said
of himself, that “he took to his grave the mourning-badge for the
monarchy,” [Footnote: Mirabeau died on the 6th of May, 1791.--See,
on his death, “Count Mirabeau,” by Theodore Mundt, vol. iv.] so also
Josephine’s heart, since the flight to Varennes, wore the mourning-badge
for the unfortunate royal family, who since that day had to endure so
much humiliation, so much insult, and to whom Josephine in her loyal
sense of duty consecrated the homage of a devout subject.

Josephine, therefore, gladly consented to the viscount’s proposal to
leave Paris. Accompanied by their children and by the governess of
Hortense, Madame Lanoy, the viscount and his wife went to a property
belonging to one of the Beauharnais family near Solange.

Three months were granted to Josephine in the quietude, in the sweet
repose of country-life, at her husband’s side, and with her children, to
gather strength from the anxieties and griefs which she had suffered in
Paris. She enjoyed these days as one enjoys an unexpected blessing, a
last sunshine before winter’s near approach, with thankful heart to God.
Full of cheerful devotedness to her husband, to her children, her lovely
countenance was radiant with joy and love; she was ever busy, with the
sunshine of her smile, to dissipate the shadows from her husband’s brow,
and to replace the impassioned excitements, the honors and distinctions
of his Parisian life, by the pleasantness and joys of home.

But Alexandra de Beauharnais could no longer find satisfaction in the
quiet, harmless joys of home; he even reproached himself that he could
be cheerful and satisfied whilst France resounded with cries of distress
and complaints, whilst France was torn in her innermost life by the
disputes and conflicts of factions which, no more satisfied with the
speeches of the tribune, filled the streets with blood and wounds. The
revolution had entered into a new phase, the Legislative Assembly had
become the Constituent Assembly, which despoiled the monarchy of the
last appearance of power and degraded it to a mere insignificancy. The
Girondists, those ideal fanatics, who wanted to regenerate France after
the model of the states of antiquity, had seized the power and the
ministerial portefeuilles. The beautiful, witty, and noble Madame Roland
ruled, by means of her husband, the Minister Roland, and was striving to
realize in France the ideal of a republic after the pattern of Greece;
she was the very soul of the new cabinet, the soul of the Girondists,
the rulers of France; in her drawing-room, during the evening, the new
laws to be proposed next day in the Constituent Assembly, were spoken
of, and the government measures discussed.

For a moment it had seemed as if the king, through his cabinet
of Girondists, would once more be reconciled with his people, and
especially with the Constituent Assembly, as if the nation and the
monarchy would once more endeavor to stand one by the other in harmony
and peace. Perhaps the Girondists had believed in this possibility,
and had regarded the king’s assurances that he would adhere to the
constitution, and that he would go hand in hand with his ministers, and
accept the constitution as the faithful expression of his will. But when
they discovered that Louis was not honorable in his assurances; that
he was in secret correspondence with the enemies of France; that in a
letter to his brother-in-law, the Emperor Leopold, he had made bitter
complaints about the constraint to which he was subjected, then
the Girondists were inflamed with animosity, and had recourse to
counter-measures. They decreed the exile of the priests, and the
formation, in the vicinity of Paris, of a camp of twenty thousand
militia from all the departments of France.

Foreign nations looked upon this decree as a sign of dawning
hostilities, and threatened France with countermeasures. France
responded to the challenge thus thrown at her, and, in a stormy session
of the Assembly, the fatherland was declared to be in danger, the
organization of an army to occupy the frontiers was decreed, and all the
children of the fatherland were solemnly called to her defence.

This call awoke Alexandre de Beauharnais from the dreamy repose to which
he had abandoned himself during the last months. His country called
him, and he dared not remain deaf to this call; it was his duty to tear
himself from the quiet peace of the household, from the arms of his
wife and family, and place himself in the ranks of the defenders of his

Josephine heard this resolution with tears in her eyes, but she
could not keep back her husband, whose countenance was beaming with
enthusiasm, and who dreamed of fame and victory. She accompanied
Alexandre to Paris, and after he had been gladly received by the
minister of war, and appointed to the Northern army, she then took from
him a last, fond farewell, entreated him with all the eloquence of love
to spare himself, and not wantonly to face danger, but to preserve his
life for his wife and children.

Deeply moved by this tender solicitude of his wife, Alexandre promised
to hold her requests as sacred. Once more they embraced each other
before they both quitted Paris on diverging roads.

Alexandre de Beauharnais went to Valenciennes, where commanded Marshal
Rochambeau, to whom he had been commissioned adjutant.

Josephine hastened with her children toward Fontainebleau, so at least
to be there united with her husband’s father, and to live under his
protection until the return of her husband.


Since the death of Mirabeau, the last defender of the monarchy, since
the failure of the contemplated flight, royalty in France had no chance
of existence left; the throne had lost every prop upon which it could
find support, and it sank more and more into the abyss which the
revolution had dug under its feet.

Marie Antoinette was conscious of it; her foreboding spirit foresaw
the coming evil; her proud soul nearly broke under the humiliations and
griefs which every day brought on. She had hitherto courageously and
heroically struggled against adversity; she had concealed tears and
anguish, to smile at that people which hated her and cursed her, which
insulted and reviled her constantly. But a day was to come in which the
smile would forever depart from her lip--in which Marie Antoinette, the
daughter of the Caesars, so deeply humbled and trodden down in the dust,
would no more lift up her head, would no more rise from the terrible

This day was the 10th of August, in the year 1792. The terrible storm,
which so long had filled the air with its mutterings, and had shaken the
throne with its thunderings, was on this day with terrific power to be
let loose and to dash in pieces the monarchy. The king furnished the
occasion for this eruption by dismissing his Girondist ministry, by not
signing the decree for the organization of a national militia, and for
the exile of the priests.

This refusal was the flash which broke open the heavy clouds that so
long had hung over his head--the flash which caused the tempest to burst

Since that day Paris was in a state of rebellion; fresh disturbances
took place every day; and finally, on the morning of the 10th of August,
bands of people rushed to the palace of the Tuileries and surrounded
it with wild howlings and shouts. A portion of the National Guards
endeavored to force the people into a retreat; the other portion united
with the people in fierce assaults upon the Tuileries, and on its
defenders the Swiss. These were massacred by the people armed with
pikes; with jubilant howlings the armed masses rushed over the corpses
of the fallen into the king’s palace.

The Procurator-General Roderer implored the king to save himself with
his family by taking refuge in the National Assembly, for there alone
was safety for him and the queen.

Louis hesitated; but Marie Antoinette felt once more the pride of a
queen awake within her; she felt it was nobler and worthier to die as
the loyal Swiss had done, to die sword in hand, than to meet pardon and
disgrace, than to bow her head under the yoke. She entreated the king to
remain with the loyal National Guards and to fight with his soldiers and
die in the palace of his fathers. She spoke to the successor of Henry
IV., to the father of the dauphin, for whom he should maintain the
inheritance received; she appealed to the heart, to the honor of Louis;
she spoke with flaming eyes, and with the eloquence of despair.

But Louis listened not to her, but to the solicitations of Roderer, who
told him that he had but five minutes to save himself, the queen, and
his children; that in five minutes more all would be lost.

“It cannot be helped,” muttered the king; and then with louder voice
he continued: “It is my will that we be conducted into the Legislative
Assembly; I command it!”

A shriek of terror broke forth from the breast of the queen; her proud
heart resisted once more her husband’s weakness, who, for his own and
for her misfortune, was not made of the stuff which moulds kings.

“Sire,” cried she, angrily and excited--“sire, you must first command
that I be nailed to the walls of this palace! I remain here. I stir not
from this spot!” [Footnote: The very words of the queen.--See “Memoires
Secretes et Universelles,” par Lafont d’Aussone.]

But Madame Elizabeth, the Princesses de Lamballe and de Tarent, begged
her with tears to consent; the good king fixed on her sad, weeping
eyes, and Roderer entreated her not to abandon, by her delays, to the
approaching executioners, her husband, her children, and herself.

Marie Antoinette offered to her husband her last and her greatest
sacrifice; she bowed her proud head to his will; she consented to
accompany the king with her children into the Assembly.

She took the dauphin in her arms, Madame Therese by the hand, and, at
the side of the king, followed by the Princesses Lamballe and Tarent,
walked out of the palace of the Tuileries to go to the Convent des
Peuillants, where the Legislative Assembly held its sessions.

What a martyrdom in this short distance from the Tuileries to the
Feuillants--what dishonor and fears were gathered on this path! Between
the deep ranks of Swiss grenadiers and National Guards was this path;
the queen stares fixedly on the ground, and she does not see that her
thin silk shoes will be torn by the hard, fallen leaves of the trees
under which they are moving.

But the king sees every thing, notices every thing. “How many leaves,”
 said he, gazing forward--“they fall early this year!”

Now at the foot of the terrace the advance of the royal family is
stopped by a multitude of people, who, with wild howlings, swing their
pikes and clubs, and in their madness shout: “No, they must not enter
the Assembly!--they are the cause of all our misery! Let us put an end
to all this! Down with them!--down!”

The queen pays no attention to these shouts; she sees not that the
National Guards are clearing a way by force; she walks forward with
uplifted head, with a countenance petrified like that of Medusa at the
sight of evil.

But as a man approaches her, seizes the dauphin and takes him in his
arms, the transfixed queen is aroused, and, with all the anguish of a
mother’s despair, grapples the arm of the man who wants to rob her of
all she now possesses, her child!

“Be not afraid,” whispered the man, “I will do him no harm, I am but
going to carry him;” and Marie Antoinette, her eyes fixed on the child,
moves forward. At their entrance into the hall of the Assembly the man
gives her back the dauphin, and she makes him sit down near her on the
seats of the ministers.

A rough voice issues from the midst of the Assembly: “The dauphin
belongs to the nation; place him at the side of the president. The
Austrian is not worthy of our confidence!”

They tear away from the queen the weeping child, who clings to her, and
who is carried to the president, at whose left hand the king has seated

Again a voice is heard reminding the Assembly of the law which forbids
them to deliberate in the presence of the king.

The royal family must leave the lower portion of the hall, and are led
into a small room, with iron trellis-work, behind the president’s chair.

The royal family, with their attendants, pressed into the small space of
this room, can here at least, away from the gaze of their enemies, hide
their dishonored heads; at least no one sees the nervousness of despair
which now and then agitates the tall figure of the queen, the tears
trembling on her eyelids when she looks to the poor little dauphin,
whose blond curly head lies in her bosom, asleep from exhaustion,
hunger, and sorrow.

No one sees the king and the queen, but they see and hear every thing.
They hear from without the howlings of the mob, the cannon’s roar, the
reports of the rifles, telling them that a bloody fratricidal strife, a
terrible civil war, is raging. They hear there in the hall, a few steps
from them, the fanatical harangues of the deputies, whose words, full
of blood, are like the hands of the murdering Marsellais there without.
Marie Antoinette hears Vergniaud’s motion, “to divest the king at once
of his power and rank,” and she hears the acclamations of the Assembly
in favor of the motion. She hears the Assembly by their own power
reinvesting the Girondist ministers, dismissed by the king, with their
dignity and power! She hears the Assembly decide “to invite the French
people to form a national compact.”

She hears all this, and the cold perspiration of anguish and horror
covers her brow while she has yet strength enough to force hack her
tears into her heart. She asks for a handkerchief to wipe her forehead.
Not one of the attendants around can furnish a kerchief which is not
stained with the blood of the victims fallen at their side in protecting
the royal family with their lives. [Footnote: “Memoires inedites du
Comte de la Rochefoucauld.”]

At last, at two o’clock in the morning, is this painful martyrdom ended,
and the royal family are led into the upper rooms of the convent, where
hastily and penuriously enough a few chambers had been furnished.

The howlings of the crowd ascend to their windows. Under those of the
queen’s room groups of infuriated women sing the song whose horrible
burden is, “Madame Veto avait promis de faire egorger tout Paris.”
 Between the sentences other voices shout and howl: “The queen is the
cause of our misery! Kill her! kill the queen, the murderess of France!
Kill Madame Veto! Throw us her head!”

Three days after, the royal family are led to the Temple. The rulers of
the state are now state prisoners. But the queen had already found the
peace which misfortune generally brings to strong souls; and as she
walked to the Temple, and saw her foot protruding from the extremity
of her shoe, she said with an affecting smile, “Who could have believed
that one day the Queen of France should be in want of shoes!”

With the 10th of August began the last act of the great tragedy of the
revolution. Its second scene had its representation in the first days of
September, in those days of blood and tears, in which infuriated
bands of the people stormed the prisons to murder the captive priests,
aristocrats, and royalists.

Under the guillotine fell during this month the head of the queen’s
friend, the Princess de Lamballe, who was followed in crowds by the
king’s faithful adherents, sealing their loyalty and their love with
their death.

This loyalty and love for the royal family was during this month branded
as an unpardonable crime, for the National Convention, which on the 21st
of September had taken the place of the Constituent Assembly, on the
25th declared France to be a republic, and the royalists became thereby
criminals, who had sinned in the respect and love which they owed to the
“republic one and indivisible.”

The new republic of France celebrated her saturnalia in the following
months, and unfurled her blood-stained standard over the nation. She
was not satisfied with having brought to the guillotine more than ten
thousand aristocrats and royalists, to terrify the faithful adherents
and servants of the throne. She required, moreover, the death of those
for whose sake so many thousands had perished--the death of the king and
of the queen.

On the 5th of December began the trial of Louis Capet, ex-King of
France, now accused by the Convention. The pages of history have
illustrated this stupendous and tragical event in all its shapes and
colors. Each party has preyed upon it, the poets have sung it, and made
it the central point of tragedy and romance: but none have painted it
in so telling, in so terse, masterly traits, none have so fully
comprehended and expressed the already stupendous event, as Lieutenant
Napoleon Bonaparte, the future Emperor of France.

He happened to be in Paris during these days of terror. He had, with all
the energies of his soul, given himself up to the new state of
things, and he belonged to the most upright and zealous faction of
the republicans. He acknowledged himself won over to their ideas, he
participated in their celebrations, he was the friend of many of the
most influential and conspicuous members of the Convention, and he was
rarely absent from their meetings; but in the presence of the awful
catastrophe of the king’s accusation and execution his proud and daring
soul shrank back, and, full of misgivings, shuddered within itself. The
young, enthusiastic republican, to his own great horror, found in
the depths of his soul a holy respect and awe in the presence of this
royalty which he so often in words had despised, and the fall of the
king, this enemy of the republic, moved his heart as a calamity which
had fallen upon him and upon all France. He himself gave to one of
his friends in Ajaccio a very correct description of these days. After
narrating the events of the first days of the trial of the king, he

“The day after I heard that the advocate Target had refused to undertake
the king’s defence, to which he was privileged by virtue of his office.
This is what may be called, in the strictest sense of the word, to erase
one’s name from history. What grounds had he for such a low cunning?
‘His life I will not save, and mine I dare not risk!’ Malherbes,
Tronchet, Deseze, loyal and devoted subjects, to imitate them in their
zeal would be impossible for me; but were I a prince I would have them
sit at my right hand--united together in the most strenuous efforts to
defend the successor of St. Louis. If they survive this deed of sublime
faithfulness, never can I pass by them without uncovering my head.

“Business detained me unavoidably in Versailles. Only on the 16th of
January did I return to Paris, and consequently I had lost three or four
scenes of this tragedy of ambition. But on the 18th of January I went
to the National Convention. Ah, my friend, it is true, and the most
infuriated republicans avow it also, a prince is but an ordinary man!
His head will as surely fall as that of another man, but whosoever
decrees his death trembles at his own madness, and were he not urged
by secret motives, his vote would die on his lips ere it was uttered.
I gazed with much curiosity at the fearless mortals who were about
deciding the fate of their king. I watched their looks. I searched into
their hearts. The exceeding weightiness of the occasion had exalted
them, intoxicated them, but within themselves they were full of fear in
the presence of the grandeur of their victim.

“Had they dared retreat, the prince had been saved. To his misfortune,
they had argued within themselves, ‘If his head falls not to-day, then
we must soon give ours to the executioner’s stroke.’

“This was the prominent thought which controlled their vote. No pen
can adequately portray the feelings of the spectators in the galleries.
Silent, horrified, breathless, they gazed now on the accused, now on the
defenders, now on the judges.

“The vote of Orleans sounded forth--‘Death!’ An electric shock could
not have produced deeper impression. The whole assembly, seized with
an involuntary terror, rose. The hall was filled with the murmurs of
conflicting emotions.

“Only one man remained seated, immovable as a rock, and that one was

“I ventured to reflect on the cause of such indifference (as that of
Orleans) and I found that cause grounded on ambition, but this cannot
justify the conduct of Orleans. It is only thus that I could account
for his action: he seeks a throne, though without any right to it, and
a throne cannot be won if the pretender renounces all claims to public
respect and virtue.

“I will be brief, for to unfold a mournful story is not my business.
The king was sentenced to death; and if the 21st day of January does
not inspire hatred for the name of France, a glorious name at least will
have been added to the roll-call of her martyrs.

“What a city was Paris on that day! The population seemed to be in a
state of bewilderment; all seemed to exchange but gloomy looks, and one
man hurried on to meet another without uttering a word. The streets were
deserted; houses and palaces were like graves. The very air seemed to
mirror the executioner. In a word, the successor of St. Louis was led to
the scaffold through the ranks of mourning automatons, that a short time
before were his subjects.

“If any one is at your side, my friend, when you read this, conceal the
following lines from him, even were he your father. It is a stain on the
stuff of which my character is made--that Napoleon Bonaparte, for the
sake of a human being’s destruction, should have been deeply moved and
compelled to retire to his bed, is a thing barely credible, though it is
true, and I cannot confess it without being ashamed of myself.

“On the night before the 21st of January I could not close my eyes, and
yet I could not explain to myself the cause of this unusual excitement.
I rose up early and ran everywhere to and fro where crowds had gathered.
I wondered at, or much more I despised, the weakness of those forty
thousand National Guards, of which the nineteenth part were practically
the assistants of the executioner. At the gate of St. Denis I met
Santerre; a numerous staff followed him. I could have cut off his ears.
I spat down before him--it was all I could do. In my opinion, the Duke
d’Orleans would have filled his place better. He had set his eyes on a
crown, and, as every one knows, such a motive overcomes much hesitancy.

“Following the Boulevards, I came to the Place de la Revolution. The
guillotine, a new invention, I had not yet seen. A cold perspiration
ran over me. Near me stood a stranger, who attributed my uneasiness and
pallor to some special interest on my part for the king’s fate. ‘Do not
be alarmed,’ said he, ‘he is not going to die; the Convention is only
glad to exhibit its power, and at the foot of the scaffold the king will
find his letters of pardon.’ ‘In this case,’ said I, ‘the members of the
Convention are not far from their own ruin, and could a guilty man have
more deserved his fate than they? Whoever attacks a lion, and desires
not to be destroyed by it, must not wound but kill on the spot.’

“A hollow, confused noise was heard. It was the royal victim. I pushed
forward, making way with my elbows, and being pushed myself. All my
efforts to come closer were fruitless. Suddenly the noise of drums
broke upon the gloomy silence of the crowd. ‘This is the signal for
his freedom,’ said the stranger. ‘It will fall back on the head of
his murderers,’ answered I; ‘half a crime in a case like this is but

“A moment’s stillness followed. Something heavy fell on the scaffold.
This sound went through my heart.

“I inquired of a gendarme the cause of this sound. ‘The axe has fallen,’
said he. ‘The king is not saved then?’ ‘He is dead.’ ‘He is dead!’

“For ten times at least I repeated the words ‘He is dead.’

“For a few moments I remained unconscious. Without knowing by whom,
I was carried along by a crowd, and found myself on the Quai des
Theatines, but could say nothing, except ‘He is dead.’

“Entirely bewildered, I went home, but a good hour elapsed before I
fully recovered my senses.” [Footnote: See “Edinburgh Quarterly Review,”


The king’s execution was the signal-fire which announced to the
horrified world the beginning of the reign of terror, and told Europe
that in France the throne had been torn down, and in its stead the
guillotine erected. Yes, the guillotine alone now ruled over France; the
days of moderation, of the Girondists, had passed away; the terrorists,
named also men of the Mountain, on account of the high seats they
occupied in the Convention, had seized the reins of power, and now
controlled the course of events.

Everywhere, in every province, in every city, the blood-red standard of
the revolution was lifted up; might had become law; death was the rule,
and in lieu of the boasted liberty of conscience was tyranny. Who dared
think otherwise than the terrorists, who presumed to doubt the measures
of the Convention, was a criminal who, in the name of the one and
indivisible republic, was to be punished with death; whose head must
fall, for he had cherished thoughts which agreed not with the schemes of
the revolutionists.

How in these days of agitation and anguish Josephine rejoiced at her
good fortune, that she had not to tremble for her husband’s life; that
she was away from the crater of the revolution which raged in Paris, and
daily claimed so many victims!

Alexandre de Beauharnais was still with the army. He had risen from rank
to rank; and when, in May, General Custine was deposed by the Committee
of Public Safety from the command of the Northern army, Alexandre de
Beauharnais, who was then chief of the general’s staff of this army, was
appointed in his place as commanding general of the Army of the Rhine;
and the important work now to be achieved was to debar the besieging
Prussians and Austrians from recapturing Mayence. The Committee of
Public Safety had dismissed General Custine from his post, because
he had not pressed on with sufficient speed to the rescue of Mayence,
according to the judgment of these new rulers of France, who wanted from
Paris to decide all military matters, and who demanded victories whilst
too often refusing the means necessary for victory.

General de Beauharnais was to turn to good what General Custine,
according to the opinion of these gentlemen of the Convention, had
failed to do. This was an important and highly significant order, and to
leave it unfulfilled was to excite the anger of the Committee of Safety;
it was simply to deserve death.

General de Beauharnais knew this well, but he shrank not back from the
weighty and dangerous situation in which he was placed. To his country
belonged his life, all his energies; and it was to him of equal
importance whether his head fell on the battle-field or on the scaffold;
in either case it would fall for his country; he would do his duty, and
his country might be satisfied with him.

In this enthusiastic love for country, De Beauharnais accepted
cheerfully the offered command of the Army of the Rhine as
general-in-chief, and he prepared himself to march to the rescue of
besieged Mayence.

Whilst General de Beauharnais was on the French frontier, Josephine
trembled with anxious misgivings. The new dignity of her husband filled
her with fear, for she multiplied the dangers which surrounded him and
his family, for now the eyes of the terrorists were fixed on him. An
unfortunate move, an unsuccessful war operation, could excite the wrath
of these men of power, and send Beauharnais to the guillotine. It
was well known that he belonged not to the Mountain party, but to the
moderate republicans, to the Girondists; and as the Girondists were now
incarcerated, as the Committee of Safety had brought accusations against
them, and declared them guilty of treason toward France, it was also
easy, if it pleased the terrorists, to find a flaw in the character of
General Beauharnais, and to bring accusations against him as had been
done against the Girondists.

Such were Josephine’s fears, which made her tremble for her husband,
for her children. She wished at least to secure these from the impending
danger, and to save and shield them from the guillotine. Her friend, the
Princess von Hohenzollern, was on the eve of leaving for England with
her brother the Prince von Salm, and Josephine was anxious to seize this
opportunity to save her children. She brought Eugene and Hortense to the
princess, who was now waiting in St. Martin, in the vicinity of St. Pol,
in the county of Artois, expecting a favorable moment for departure; for
already was the emigration watched, already it was considered a crime
to leave France. With bitter tears of grief, and yet glad to know her
children safe, Josephine bade farewell to her little ones, and then
returned to Paris, so as to excite no suspicion through her absence. But
no sooner had General Beauharnais heard of Josephine’s plan to send her
children from the country, than in utmost speed he dispatched to his
wife a courier bearing a letter in which he decidedly opposed the
departure of the children, for by this emigration his own position would
be imperilled and his character made suspicious.

Josephine sighed, and, with tears in her eyes, submitted to her
husband’s will; she sent a faithful messenger to St. Martin to bring
back Eugene and Hortense. But the Princess von Hohenzollern would not
trust the children to any one; she had sworn to her friend Josephine to
watch over them, never to let them go out of her sight, and she wished
to keep her oath until such time as she could restore the children to
their mother. She therefore returned herself to Paris, to bring back
Eugene and Hortense to Josephine; and this journey, so short and so
insignificant in itself, was nevertheless the occasion that the Princess
von Hohenzollern remained in France; that her brother, the Prince von
Salm, should mount the scaffold! The favorable moment for emigration was
lost through this delay; the journey to Paris had attracted the eyes of
the authorities to the doings of the princess and of her brother, the
contemplated journey to England was discovered, and the incarceration of
the Prince von Salm and of his sister was the natural consequence. A few
months after, the prince paid with his life the contemplated attempt to
migrate; his sister, the Princess von Hohenzollern, was saved from the
guillotine through accident.

Meanwhile, Josephine had at least her children safely returned, and,
in the quietude and solitude of Fontainebleau, she awaited with beating
heart the future developments of events; she saw increase every day the
dangers which threatened her, her family, and, above all things, her

Mayence was still besieged by the Austrian and Prussian forces. General
Beauharnais had not completed the organization of his army so as to
press onward to the rescue of the besieged, whose perils increased every
day. But whilst, in unwearied activity, he urged on the preliminary
operations, a courier arrived, who brought to the general his
appointment to the office of minister of war, and required his immediate
presence in Paris, there to assume his new dignity.

Alexandre de Beauharnais had the courage to answer with a declination
the office. He entreated the Convention to make another choice, for
he considered himself more competent to serve his country against the
coalition of tyrants, among his companions-in-arms, than to be minister
of war amid revolution’s storms.

The Convention pardoned his refusal for the sake of the patriotic
sentiments which he had expressed. But this refusal was to have, not
only for the general, but also for all the aristocracy of France, the
most fatal results. Some of the most fanatical members of the Mountain
party ever considered as an audacious resistance to the commands of
the Convention this refusal of Alexandre de Beauharnais, to accept the
office which the highest powers of the land offered him.

It was a nobleman, an aristocrat, who had dared oppose the democratic
Convention, and hence the welcome pretext was found to begin the
long-wished-for conflict against the aristocrats. One of the deputies of
the Mountain made the motion to remove from all public offices, from
the army, from the cabinet, all noblemen. Another accused General de
Beauharnais, as well as all officers from amongst the nobility, of
moderate tendencies, and requested at the same time that a list of all
officers from the nobility, and now in the army, should be laid before
the Convention.

But on this very day a letter from the general reached the Convention.
In this letter he expressed the hope of a speedy rescue of Mayence; he
announced that he had completed the organization of his forces and
all his preparations, and that soon from the camps of Vicembourg and
Lauterburg he would advance against Mayence.

This letter was received by the Convention with loud acclamations, and
so took possession of all minds that they passed over the motion of
hostility against the nobility, to the order of the day.

Had General de Beauharnais accomplished his purpose--had he succeeded in
relieving the garrison besieged in Mayence, now sorely pressed, and
in delivering them, this horrible decree which caused so much blood to
flow, this decree against the nobility, would never have appeared, and
France would have been spared many scenes of cruelty and horror.

Beauharnais hoped still to effect the rescue. Trusty messengers from
Mayence had brought him the news that the garrison held on courageously
and bravely, and that they could hold their ground a few days longer.
Dispatch was therefore necessary; and if in a few days they could be
re-enforced, then they would be saved, provided the other generals
should advance with their troops in time to attack the Austrian and
Prussian forces lying round about Mayence. The French had already
succeeded in obtaining some advantages over the enemy; and General de
Beauharnais could triumphantly announce to the Convention that, on the
22d of July, a warm encounter with the Prussians had taken place at St.
Anna’s chapel, and that he had forced the Prussians to a retreat with
considerable loss.

The Convention received this news with jubilant shouts, and already
trusted in the sure triumph of the French armies against the united
forces of Prussia and Austria. If in these days of joyous excitement
some one had dared renew the motion to dismiss Beauharnais from his
command because he was a nobleman, the mover would undoubtedly have been
considered an enemy of his country.

How much attention in these happy days was paid to the general’s
wife--how busy were even the most fanatical republicans, the dreaded
ones of the Mountain, to flatter her, to give expression to their
enthusiastic praises of the general who was preparing for the arms of
the republic so glorious a triumph!

Josephine now came every day to be present in the gallery at the
sessions of the Convention, and her gracious countenance radiated a
cheerful smile when the minister of war communicated to the Assembly
the newly-arrived dispatches which announced fresh advantages or closer
approaches of General Beauharnais. By degrees a new confidence filled
the heart of Josephine, and the gloomy forebodings, which so long had
tormented her, began to fade away.

In the session of the 28th of July, Barrere, with a grave, solemn
countenance, mounted the tribune and with a loud, sad voice announced to
the Convention, in the name of the Committee of Safety, that a courier
had just arrived bringing the news that, on the 23d of July, Mayence, in
virtue of an unjust capitulation, had fallen.

A loud, piercing shriek, which issued from the gallery, broke the
silence with which the Assembly had received this news. It was Josephine
who had uttered this cry--Josephine who was carried away fainting from
the hall. She awoke from her long swoon only to shed a torrent of tears,
to press her children to her heart, as if desirous to screen them from
the perils of death, which now, said her own forebodings, were pressing
on from all sides.

Josephine was not deceived: this calamitous news, all at once, changed
the whole aspect of affairs, gave to the Convention and to the republic
another attitude, and threw its dark shadows over the unfortunate
general who had undertaken to save Mayence, and had not been able to
fulfil his word.

Surely this was not his fault, for General Dubayet had capitulated
before it had been possible for Beauharnais to accomplish the rescue. No
one therefore ventured to accuse him, but undeserved misfortune always
remains a misfortune in the eyes of those who had counted upon success;
and the Convention could never forgive the generals from whom they had
expected so much, and who had not met these expectations.

These generals had all been men of the aristocracy. As there was
no reason to accuse them on account of their unsuccessful military
operations, it was necessary to attack them with other weapons, and
seek a spot where they could be wounded. This spot was their name, their
ancestors, who in the eyes of the republican Convention rose up like
embodied crimes behind their progeny, to accuse the guilty.

The Jacobin Club, a short time after the capture of Mayence, began again
in an infuriated session the conflict against the nobility, and the
fanatical Hebert moved:

“All the noblemen who serve in the army, in the magistracy, in any
public office, must be driven away and dismissed. The people must
require this, the people themselves! They must go in masses to the
Convention, and after exposing the crimes and the treachery of the
aristocrats, must insist on their expulsion. The people must not leave
the Convention, it must remain in permanent session, there until it is
assured that its will is carried out.”

The multitude with loud, jubilant tones cried, “Yes. yes, that is what
we want, let us go to the Convention! No more nobility! the nobles are
our murderers!”

The next day, the Jacobins, accompanied by thousands of shouting women
and infuriated men, went to the Convention to make known its will in the
name of the people. The Convention received their petition and decreed
the exile and the dissolution of the nobility, and delivered to the
punishment of the law the guilty subject who would dare use the name of

General de Beauharnais saw full well the blow aimed at him, and at all
the officers from the nobility in the army; he foresaw that they would
not stop at these measures; that soon he and his companions of fate
would be accused and charged with treason, as had been already done to
General Custine, and to so many others who had paid with their lives
their tried loyalty to the republic. He wanted to anticipate the
storm, and sent in his resignation. As the Convention left his petition
unanswered, he renewed it, and as it remained still ineffective, he
gladly, forced to this measure by sickness, transferred his command
to General Landremont. The Convention had then to grant him leave of
absence, and, as it maintained him in his rank, they ordered him back to

At last Josephine saw her husband again, for whom during the last
few months she had suffered so much anxiety and pain. At last she was
enabled to bring to her children the father for whom every evening they
had prayed God to guard him from foes abroad and from foes at home. As a
gift sent again by Heaven, she received her husband and entreated him to
save himself with his family from revolution’s yawning abyss, which was
ready to swallow them all, and to go away with his own into a foreign
land, as his brother had done, who for some months past had been in
Coblentz with the Prince d’Artois.

But Alexandre de Beanharnais rejected with something like anger these
tearful supplications of his wife. He was not blinded to the dangers
which threatened him, but he wanted to meet them bravely; true to the
oath he had taken to the republic and to his country, he wished as a
dutiful son to remain near her, even if his allegiance had to be paid
with his death.

Josephine, on the bosom of her husband, wept hot, burning tears as he
communicated to her his irrevocable decision not to leave France, but in
the depths of her heart she experienced a noble satisfaction to find her
husband so heroic and so brave, and, offering him her hand, said with
tears in her eyes:

“It is well--we remain; and if we must go to the scaffold, we will at
least die together.”

The general, with his wife and children, retired to his small property,
Ferte-Beauharnais, where he longed to obtain rest during a few happy
months of quietude.

But the fearful storms which had agitated France in her innermost life,
now raged so violently that each household, each family, trembled; there
was neither peace nor rest in the home nor in the hearts of men.

The Convention, threatened from outside by failures and defeats--for the
capture of Mayence by the Prussians and Austrians had been followed by
the capture of Toulon in September by the English--the Convention wanted
to consolidate at least its internal authority, and to terrify by severe
measures those who, on account of the misfortunes on the frontiers,
might hope for a fresh change of affairs in the interior, and who might
help it to pass.

Consequently the Convention issued a decree ordering all dismissed
or destitute soldiers to return in four-and-twenty hours to their
respective municipalities, under pain of ten years in chains, and at the
same time forbade them to enter Paris or to approach the capital nearer
than ten leagues.

A second decree ordered the formation of a revolutionary army in Paris,
to which was assigned the duty of carrying out the decrees of the

Finally a third decree, which appeared on the 17th of September, ordered
the arrest and punishment of all suspected persons.

This decree thus characterized the suspected ones: “All those who, by
their conduct, their relations, their discourses, their writings, had
shown themselves the adherents of tyranny, of federalism, the enemies
of liberty, much more all the ex-nobles, men, women, fathers, brothers,
sons or daughters, sisters or brothers, or agents of the migrated ones,
all who had not invariably exhibited and proved their adherence to the

With this decree the days of terror had reached their deepest gloom;
with this decree began the wild, bloody hunting down of aristocrats and
ci-devants; then began suspicions, accusations which needed no
evidence to bring the accused to the guillotine; then were renewed
the dragonnades of the days of Louis XIV., only that now, instead of
Protestants, the nobles were hunted down, and hunted down to death. The
night of the St. Bartholomew, the night of the murderess Catharine de
Medicis and of her mad son Charles IX., found now in France its cruel
and bloody repetition; only this night of horror was prolonged during
the day, and shrank not back from the light.

The sun beamed upon the pools of blood which flowed through the streets
of Paris, and packs of ferocious dogs in large numbers lay in the
streets, and fed upon this blood, which imparted to these once tamed
creatures their natural wildness. The sun beamed on the scaffold,
which, like a threatening monster, lifted itself upon the Place de la
Revolution, and the sun beamed upon the horrible axe, which every day
out off so many noble heads, and ever glittering, ever menacing, rose up
from the midst of blood and death.

The sun also shone upon the day in which Marie Antoinette, like her
husband, ascended the scaffold, to rest at last in the grave from all
her dishonor and from the agonies of the last years.

This day was the 16th of October, 1793. For the last four months, Marie
Antoinette had longed for this day as for a long-expected bliss; four
months ago she had been led from the prison of the Temple into the
Conciergerie, and she knew that the prisoners of the Conciergerie only
left it to obtain the freedom which men do not give, but which God gives
to the suffering ones, the freedom of death.

Marie Antoinette longed for this liberty, and for this deliverance of
death. How distant behind were the days of happiness, of joyous youth,
far behind in infinite legendary distance! How long since this tall,
grave figure, with its proud and yet affable countenance, had lost
all similarity to the charming Queen Marie Antoinette, around whom had
fluttered the genii of beauty, of youth, of love, of happiness; who once
in Trianon had represented the idyl of a pastoral queen; who, in the
exuberance of joy, had visited in disguise the public opera-ball; who
imagined herself so secure amid the French people as to believe she
could dispense with the protection of “Madame Etiquette;” who then was
applauded by all France with jubilant acclamations, and who now was
persecuted with mad anger!

No, the queen of that day, Marie Antoinette, who, in the golden halls of
Versailles and of the Tuileries, received the homage of all France, and
who, with smiling grace and face radiant with happiness, responded to
all this homage; she had no resemblance with Louis Capet’s widow, who
now stands before the tribunal of the revolution, and gravely, firmly
gives her answers to the proposed questions.

She has also made her toilet for this day; but how different is this
toilet of the Widow Capet from that which once Marie Antoinette had worn
to be admired!

Then could Marie Antoinette, the frivolous, fortunate daughter of bliss,
shut herself up in her boudoir for long hours with her confidante the
milliner, Madame Bertier, to devise some new ball-dress, some new fichu,
some new ornament for her robes; then could Leonard, for this queen with
her wondrous blond hair, tax all the wealth of his science and of his
imagination; to invent continually new coiffures and new head-dresses
wherewith to adorn the beautiful head of the Queen Marie Antoinette, on
whose towering curls clustered tufts of white plumes; or else diminutive
men-of-war unfurled the net-work of their sails; or else, for variety’s
sake, on that royal head was arranged a garden, a parterre adorned with
flowers and fruits, with butterflies and birds of paradise.

The Widow Capet needs no milliner now; she needs no friseur now for
her toilette. Her tall, slim figure is draped in a black woollen dress,
which the republic at her request has granted her to mourn her beheaded
husband; her neck and shoulders, once the admiration of France, are now
covered with a white muslin kerchief, which in pity Bault, her attendant
at the jail, has given her. Her hair is uncovered, and falls in long
natural curls on either side of her transparent, blanched cheeks. This
hair needs no powder now; the long sleepless nights, the anxious days,
have covered it with their powder forever, and the thirty-eight-year-old
widow of Louis Capet wears on her head the gray hairs of a
seventy-year-old woman.

In this toilet, Marie Antoinette stands before the tribunal of the
revolution from the 6th to the 13th day of October. There is nothing
royal about her, nothing but her look and the proud attitude of her

And the people who fill the galleries in closely-packed masses, and
who weary not to gaze on the queen in her humiliation, in her toilet
of anguish, the people claim constantly that Marie Antoinette will rise
from her rush-woven seat; that she will allow herself to be stared at by
these masses of people, whom curiosity and not compassion have brought

Once, as at the call from the public in the galleries, she rose up, the
queen sighed: “Ah, will not the people soon be tired of my sufferings?”
 [Footnote: Marie Antoinette’s own words.--See Goncourt, “Histoire de
Marie Antoinette,” p. 404.]

Another time her dry, blanched lips murmured, “I thirst.” But no one
near her dares have compassion on this sigh of agony from the queen;
each looks embarrassed at his neighbor; not one dares give a glass of
water to the thirsty woman.

One of the gendarmes has at last the courage to do so, and Marie
Antoinette thanks him with a look which brings tears in the eyes of the
gendarme, and which may perchance cause his death to-morrow under the
guillotine as a traitor!

The gendarmes who guard the queen have alone the courage to show pity!

One night, as she is led from the hall of trial to her prison, Marie
Antoinette becomes so exhausted, so overpowered, that staggering, she
murmurs, “I can see no longer! I can go no farther! I cannot move!”

One of the gendarmes walking alongside of her offers his arm, and
supported by it Marie Antoinette totters up the three stone steps which
lead into the prison.

At last, at four o’clock in the morning, on the 15th of August, the
jury have given their verdict. It runs: “Death!--execution by the

Marie Antoinette has heard the verdict with unmoved composure, whilst
the noise from the excited crowd in the galleries is suddenly hushed as
by a magic spell, and even the faces of the infuriated fish women turn

Marie Antoinette alone has remained calm; grave and cool she rises from
her seat and herself opens the balustrade to leave the hall and return
to her prison.

And then at last, on the morning of the 16th of October, her sorrows
will end, and Marie Antoinette can find refuge in the grave! Her soul is
almost joyous and serene; she has suffered so much, and for her to sink
into death is truly blessedness!

She has passed the undisturbed hours of the night in writing to her
sister-in-law, Madame Elizabeth, and this letter is also the queen’s
testament. But the widow of Louis Capet has no riches, no treasures, no
property to will; she has nothing left which belongs to her--nothing but
her love, her tears, her farewell salutations. These she leaves behind
to all those who have loved her. She takes leave of her relatives, her
brothers and sisters, and cries out to them a farewell.

“I had friends,” she continues; “the thought of being forever separated
from them, and your grief for my death, are my deepest sorrow; you will
at least know that to the last moment I have remembered you.”

Then, when Marie Antoinette has finished this letter, some of whose
characters here and there are disfigured by her tears, she thinks of
leaving to her children a last token of remembrance--one which the
executioner’s hand has not desecrated.

The only ornament which remains is her long hair, whose silver-gray
locks are the tearful history of her sufferings.

Marie Antoinette with her own hands despoils herself of this last
ornament; she cuts off her long hair behind the head, so as to leave
it as a last token to her children, to her relatives and friends. Then,
after having taken her spiritual farewell of life, she prepares herself
for the last great ceremony of her existence, for death.

She feels exhausted, weary unto death, and she strengthens herself for
this last toilsome journey, that she may worthily pass through it.

Marie Antoinette needs food, and with courageous mind she eats a
chicken’s wing which has been brought to her. After having eaten, she
makes her last toilet, the toilet of death.

The wife of the jailer, at the queen’s request, gives her one of her own
chemises, and Marie Antoinette puts it on. Then she clothes herself
with the garments which she has worn during her days of trial before the
tribunal of the revolution, only over the black woollen dress, which she
has often mended and patched with her own hand, she puts on a mantle
of white needlework. Around her neck she ties a small plain kerchief of
white muslin, and, as it is not allowed her to mount the scaffold
with uncovered head, she puts on it the round linen hood which the
peasant-women used to wear. Black stockings cover her feet, and over
them she draws shoes of black woollen stuff.

Her toilet is now ended--earthly things have passed away! Ready to meet
death, the queen lays herself down on her bed and sleeps.

She still sleeps when she is notified that a priest is there, ready to
come in, if she will confess.

But Marie Antoinette has already unveiled her heart to God; she will
have none of these priests of reason, whom the republic has ordained,
after having exiled or murdered with the guillotine the priests of the

“As I cannot do as I please,” she has written to Madame Elizabeth, in
her farewell letter, “so must I endure it if a priest is sent to me; but
I now declare that I will tell him not a word, that I will consider him
entirely as a stranger to me.”

And Marie Antoinette held her word. She forbids not the priest Girard
to come in, but she answers in the negative when he asks her if she will
receive from him the consolations of religion.

She paces her small cell to and fro, to warm herself, for her feet are
stiff with cold. As seven o’clock strikes, the door opens.

It is the executioner of Paris, Samson, who enters.

A slight tremor runs through the queen’s frame. “You come very early,
sir,” murmurs she, “could you not delay somewhat?”

As Samson replies in the negative, Marie Antoinette assumes again
a calm, cold attitude. She drinks without any reluctance the cup
of chocolate which has been brought to her from a neighboring cafe.
Proudly, calmly, she allows her hands to be bound with strong ropes
behind her back.

At eleven o’clock she finally leaves her room to descend the corridor,
and to mount into the wagon which waits for her before the gate of the

No one guides her on the way; no one bids her a last farewell; no one
shows a sympathizing or sad countenance to the departing one.

Alone, between two rows of gendarmes posted on both sides of the
corridor, the queen walks forward; behind her is Samson, holding in
his hand the end of the rope; the priest and the two assistants of the
executioner follow him.

On the path of Death--such is the suite of the queen, the daughter of an

Perchance at this hour thousands were on their knees to offer to God
their heart-felt prayers for Marie Antoinette, whom in the silence
of the soul they still call “the queen;” perchance many thousand
compassionate hearts pour out warm tears of sympathy for her who now
ascends into the miserable wagon, and sits on a plank which ropes have
made firm to both sides of the vehicle. But those who pray and weep have
retired into the solitude of their rooms, for God alone must receive
their sighs and see their tears. The eyes which follow the queen on
her last journey must not weep; the words which are shouted at her must
betray no compassion.

Paris knows that this is the hour of the queen’s execution, and the
Parisian crowd is ready, it is waiting. In the streets, in the windows
of the houses, on the roofs, the people have stationed themselves in
enormous masses; they fill the whole Place de la Revolution with their
dark, destructive forms.

Now resound the drums of the National Guard posted before the
Conciergerie. The large white horse, which draws the chariot in which
Marie Antoinette sits backward, at the side of the priest, is driven
onward by the man who swings on its back. Behind her in the wagon is
Samson and his assistants.

The queen’s face is white; all blood has left her cheeks and lips, but
her eyes are red; they have wept so much, unfortunate queen! She weeps
not now. Not one tear dims her eye, which pensively and calmly soars
above the crowd, then is lifted up to the very roofs of the houses, then
again is slowly lowered, and seems to stare over the human heads away
into infinite distance.

Calm and pensive as the eye is the queen’s countenance, her lips
are nearly closed, no nervous movement on her face tells whether she
suffers, whether she feels, whether she notices those tens of thousands
of eyes which are fixed on her, cold, curious, sarcastic! And yet Marie
Antoinette sees every thing! She sees yonder woman who lifts up her
child; she sees how this child with his tiny hands sends a kiss to the
queen! Suddenly a nervous agitation passes over the queen’s features,
her lips tremble, and her eyes are obscured with a tear! This first,
this single token of human sympathy has revived the heart of the queen
and awakened her from her torpor.

But the people are bent upon this, that Marie Antoinette shall not reach
the end of her journey with this last comfort of pity. They press on,
howling and shouting, scorning and jubilant, nearer and nearer to the
wagon; they sing sarcastic songs on Madame Veto, they clap hands, and
point at her with the finger of scorn.

She, however, is calm; her look, cold and indifferent, runs over the
crowd; only once it flames up with a last angry flash as she passes
by the Palais Royal, where Philippe Egalite, the ex-Duke d’Orleans,
resides, as she reads the inscription which he had placed at the gate of
his palace.

At noon the chariot reaches at last its destination. It stops at the
foot of the scaffold, and Marie Antoinette alights from the wagon, and
then calm and erect ascends the steps of the scaffold.

Her lips have not opened once on this awful journey; they now have no
word of complaint, of farewell! The only farewell which she has yet to
say on earth is told by her look--by a look which is slowly directed
yonder to the Tuileries--it is the farewell to past memories--it deepens
the pallor on the cheeks, it opens her lips to a painful sigh. She then
bows her head--a momentary, breathless silence follows. Samson lifts up
the white head, which once had been the head of the Queen of France, and
the people cry and shout, “Long live the republic!”


Uninterruptedly had the guillotine for the last three months of the
year 1793 continued its destructive work of murder, and the noblest
and worthiest heads had fallen under this reaper of Death. No personal
merit, no nobility of character, no age, no youth, could hope to escape
the death-instrument of the revolution when a noble name stood up as
accuser. Before this accuser every service was considered as nothing;
it was enough to be an aristocrat, a ci-devant, to be suspected, to be
dragged as a criminal before the tribunal of the revolution, and to be

The execution of the queen was followed by that of the Girondists; and
this brilliant array of noble and great men was followed in the next
month by names no less noble, no less great. It was an infuriated chase
of the aristocrats as well as of the officers, of all the military
persons who, in the unfortunate days of Toulon and of Mayence, had been
in the army, and who had been dismissed, or whose resignation had been

The aristocrats were tracked in their most secret recesses, and not
only were they punished, but also those who dared screen them from the
avenging hand of the republic. The officers were recognized under
every disguise, and the very fact that they had disguised themselves or
remained silent as to their true character was a crime great enough to
be punished with the guillotine.

More than twenty generals were imprisoned during the last months of the
year 1793, and many more paid with their lives for crimes which they had
never committed, and which had existence only in the heated imagination
of their accusers. Thus had General Houchard fallen; he was followed
in the first days of the new year of 1794 by the Generals Luckner and

Alexandre de Beauharnais had served under Luckner, he had been Biron’s
adjutant, he had been united with General Houchard in the unfortunate
attempt to relieve Mayence. It was therefore natural that he should be
noticed and espied. Besides which, he was an aristocrat, a relative of
many of the emigres, the brother of the Count de Beauharnais, who was
now residing in Coblentz with the Count d’Artois, and it had not been
forgotten what an important part Alexandre de Beauharnais had played
in the National Assembly; it was well known that he belonged to the
moderate party, that he had been the friend of the Girondists.

Had the Convention wished to forget it, the informers were there to
remind them of it. Alexandre de Beauharnais was denounced as suspected,
and this denunciation was followed, in the first days of January, by an
arrest. He was taken to Paris, and at first shut up in the Luxemburg,
where already many of his companions-in-arms were incarcerated.

Josephine was not in Ferte-Beauharnais when the emissaries of the
republic came to arrest her husband. She was just then in Paris, whither
she had gone to seek protection and assistance for Alexandre at the
hands of influential acquaintances; in Paris she learned the arrest of
her husband.

The misfortune, which she had so long expected and foreseen, was now
upon her and ready to crush her and the future of her children. Her
husband was arrested--that is to say, he was condemned to die.

At this thought Josephine rose up like a lioness; the indolence, the
dreamy quietude of the creole, had suddenly vanished, and Josephine was
now a resolute, energetic woman, anxious to risk every thing, to try
every thing, so as to save her husband, the father of her children. She
now knew no timidity, no trembling, no fear, no horror; every thing
in her was decision of purpose; keen, daring action. Letters, visits,
petitions, and even personal supplications, every thing was tried; there
was no humiliation before which she shrank. For long hours she sat in
the anterooms of the tribunal of the revolution, of the ministers who,
however much they despised the aristocrats, imitated their manners,
and made the people wait in the vestibule, even as the ministers of
the tyrant had done; with tears, with all the eloquence of love, she
entreated those men of blood and terror to give her back her husband, or
at least not to condemn him before he had been accused, and to furnish
him with the means of defence.

But those new lords and rulers of France had no heart for compassion;
Robespierre, Marat, Danton, could not be moved by the tears which a wife
could shed for an accused husband. They had already witnessed so much
weeping, listened to so many complaints, to so many cries of distress,
their eyes were not open for such things, their ears heard not.

France was diseased, and only by drawing away the bad blood could she
be restored to health, could she be made sound, could she rise up again
with the strength of youth! And Marat, Danton, Robespierre, were the
physicians who were healing France, who were restoring her to health
by thus horribly opening her veins. Marat and Danton murdered from
bloodthirsty hatred, from misanthropy and vengeance; Robespierre
murdered through principle, from the settled fanatical conviction, that
France was lost if all the old corrupt blood was not cleansed away from
her veins, so as to replenish them with youthful, vitalizing blood.

Robespierre was therefore inexorable, and Robespierre now ruled over
France! He was the dictator to whom every thing had to bow; he was at
the head of the tribunal of revolution; he daily signed hundreds of
death-warrants; and this selfsame man, who once in Arras had resigned
his office of judge because his hand could not be induced to sign
the death-warrant of a convicted criminal [Footnote: See “Maximilian
Robespierre,” by Theodore Mundt, vol. i.]--this man, who shed tears over
a tame dove which the shot of a hunter had killed, could, with heart
unmoved, with composed look, sit for long hours near the guillotine on
the tribune of the revolution, and gaze with undimmed eyes on the heads
of his victims falling under the axe.

He was now at the summit of his power; France lay bleeding, trembling
at his feet; fear had silenced even his enemies; no one dared touch
the dreaded man whose mere contact was death; whose look, when coldly,
calmly fixed on the face of any man, benumbed his heart as if he had
read his sentence of death in the blue eyes of Robespierre.

At the side of Robespierre sat the terrorists Fouquier-Tinville and
Marat, to whom murder was a delight, blood-shedding a joy, who with
sarcastic pleasure listened unmoved to the cries, to the tearful prayers
of mothers, wives, children, of those sentenced to death, and who fed on
their tears and on their despair.

With such men at the head of affairs it was natural that the reign of
terror should still be increasing in power, and that with it the number
of the captives in the prisons should increase.

In the month of January, 1794, the list of the incarcerated within the
prisons of Paris ran up to the number of 4,659; in the month of February
the number rose up to 5,892; in the beginning of April to 7,541; and at
the end of the same month it was reckoned that there were in Paris
eight thousand prisoners. [Footnote: Thiers, “Histoire de la Revolution
Francaise,” vol. vi., p. 41]

The greater the number of prisoners, the more zealous was the tribunal
of the revolution to get rid of them; and with satisfaction these judges
of blood saw the new improvements made in the guillotine, and which not
only caused the machine to work faster, but also prevented the axe from
losing its edge too soon by the sundering of so many necks.

“It works well,” exclaimed Fouquier-Tinville, triumphantly; “to-day we
have fifty sentenced. The heads fall like poppy-heads!”

And these fifty heads falling like poppy-heads, were not enough for his

“It must work better still,” cried he; “in the next decade, I must have
at least four hundred and fifty poppy-heads!”

And then, as if inspired by a joyous and happy thought, his gloomy
countenance became radiant with a grinning laughter, and, rubbing his
hands with delight, he continued: “Yes, I must have four hundred and
fifty! Then, if we work on so perseveringly, we will soon write over
our prison-gates, ‘House to let!’” [Footnote: “Histoire de l’Imperatrice

They worked on perseveringly, and the vehicles which carried the
condemned to execution rolled every morning with a fresh freight through
the streets of Paris, where the guillotine, with its glaring axe,
awaited them.

The month of April, as already said, had brought the number of prisoners
in Paris to eight thousand; the month of April had therefore more
executions to engrave with its bloody pen into the annals of history.
On the 20th of April fell on the Place de la Revolution the heads of
fourteen members of the ex-Parliament of Paris; the next day followed
the Duke de Villeroy, the Admiral d’Estaing, the former Minister of War
Latour du Pin, the Count de Bethune, the President de Nicolai. One day
after, the well-laden wagon drove from the Conciergerie to the Place de
la Revolution; in it were three members of the Constituent Assembly,
and to have belonged to it was the only crime they were accused of. Near
these three sat the aged Malesherbes, with his sister; the Marquis de
Chateaubriand, with his wife; the Duchess de Grammont, and Du Chatelet.
It will be seen that the turn for women had now come; for those women
who were now led to the execution had committed no other crime than to
be the wives or the relatives of emigrants or of accused persons, than
to bear names which had shone for centuries in the history of France.

Josephine also had an ancient aristocratic name; she also was related
to the migrated ones, the wife of an accused, of a prisoner! And she
wearied the tribunal of the revolution constantly with petitions, with
visits, with complaints. They were tired of these molestations, and it
was so easy, so convenient to shield one’s self against them! There was
nothing else to do but to arrest Josephine; for once a prisoner, she
could no longer--in anterooms, where she would wait for hours; in the
street before the house-door, where she would stand, despite rains and
winds--she could no longer trouble the rulers of France, and beseech
them with tears and prayers for her husband’s freedom. The prisoner
could no more write petitions, or move heaven and earth for her
husband’s sake.

The Viscountess de Beauharnais was arrested. On the 20th of April, as
she happened to be at the proper authority’s office to obtain a pass
according to the new law, which ordered all ci-devants to leave Paris
in ten days, Josephine was arrested and led into the Convent of the
Carmelites, which for two years had served as a prison for the bloody
republic, and from which so many of its victims had issued to mount the
wagon which led them to the guillotine.

Amid this wretchedness there was one sweet joy. Alexandre de Beauharnais
had no sooner heard of the arrest of his wife, than he asked as a favor
from the tribunal of the revolution to be removed into the same prison
where his wife was. In an incomprehensible fit of merciful humor his
prayer was granted; he was transferred to the Convent of the Carmelites,
and if the husband and wife could not share the same cell, yet they were
within the same walls, and could daily (through the turnkeys, who had to
be bribed by all manner of means, by promises, by gold, as much as could
be gathered together among the prisoners) hear the news.

Josephine was united to her husband. She received daily from him news
and messages; she could often, in the hours when the prisoners in
separate detachments made their promenades in the yard and in the
garden, meet Alexandre, reach him her hand, whisper low words of trust,
of hope, and speak with him of Eugene and Hortense, of these dear
children who, now deserted by their parents, could hope for protection
and safety only from the faithfulness and love of their governess,
Madame Lanoy. The thought of these darling ones of her heart excited
and troubled Josephine, and all the pride and courage with which she had
armed her heart melted into tears of anxiety and into longings for her
deserted children.

But Madame Lanoy with the most faithful solicitude watched over the
abandoned ones; she had once sworn to Josephine that if the calamity,
which Josephine had constantly anticipated, should fall upon her and
upon her husband, she would be to Hortense and Eugene a second mother;
she would care for them and protect them as if they were her own
children. And Madame Lanoy kept her promise.

To place them beyond the dangers which their very name made imminent,
and also perhaps to give by means of the children evidence of the
patriotic sentiments of the parents, Madame Lanoy left with the children
the viscount’s house, where they had hitherto resided, and occupied
with both of them a small shabby house, where she established herself
as seamstress. The little eleven-year-old Hortense, the daughter of the
Citizeness Beauharnais, was now the assistant of the Citizeness Lanoy,
at the trade of seamstress. Eugene was apprenticed to a cabinet-maker;
a leather apron was put on, and then with a plank under his arm,
and carrying a plane in his hand, he went through the streets to the
workshop of the cabinet-maker, and every one lauded the patriotic
sentiments of the Citizeness Lanoy, who tried to educate the brood of
the ex-aristocrats into orderly and moral beings.

Eugene and Hortense fell rapidly and understandingly into the plan of
their faithful governess; they transformed themselves in their language,
in their dress, in their whole being and appearance, into little
republicans, full of genuine patriotism. Like their cousin, Emile de
Beauharnais, whose mother (the wife of the elder brother of the Viscount
de Beauharnais) had already for a long time languished in prison, they
attended the festivals which had for its object the glorification of the
republic, and, alongside of the Citizeness Lanoy, the little milliner
Hortense followed the procession of her quarter of the city, perhaps
to awaken thereby the good-will of the authorities in favor of her
imprisoned parents.

Then, when Madame Lanoy thought this good-will had been gained, she
made a step further, and undertook to have the children present to the
Convention a petition for their parents. This petition ran thus:

“Two innocent children appeal to you, fellow-citizens, for the freedom
of their dear mother--their mother against whom no reproach can be
made but the misfortune of being born in a class from which, as she has
proven, she ever felt completely estranged, for she has ever surrounded
herself with the best patriots, the most distinguished men of the
Mountain. After she had on the 26th of Germinal requested a pass in
order to obey the law, she was arrested on the evening of that day
without knowing the cause. Citizen representatives, you cannot be
guilty of oppressing innocence, patriotism, and virtue. Give back to
us unfortunate children our life. Our youth is not made for suffering.”
aged eleven years. [Footnote: “Histoire de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” par

To this complaint of two deserted children no more attention was paid
than to the cries of the dove which the hawk carries away in its claws,
but perhaps the innocent touching words of the petition had awakened
compassion in the heart of some father.

It is true no answer was given to the petition of the children, but the
Citizeness Lanoy was allowed to take the children of the accused twice
a week into the reception-room of the Carmelite Convent, that there they
might see and speak to their mother.

This was a sweet comfort, an unhoped-for joy, as well to Josephine as to
her husband; for if he was not permitted to come into the lower room and
see the children, yet he now saw them through the eyes of his wife, and
through her he received the wishes of their tender affection.

What happiness for Josephine, who loved her children with all the
unrestrained fondness of a Creole! what happiness to see her Eugene, her
Hortense, and to be permitted to speak to them! How much they had to say
one to another, how much to communicate one to the other!

It is true much had to be passed in silence if they would not excite
the anger of the turnkey, who was always present at the meeting of the
children with their mother. Strict orders had been given that Josephine
should never whisper one word to the children, or speak to them of the
events of the day, of what was going on beyond the prison walls. The
least infringement of this rule was to be punished by debarring the
children from having any further conversation with their mother.

And yet they had so much to say; they needed her advice so much, so as
to know what future steps they might take to accomplish their mother’s
freedom! They had so much to tell to Josephine about relatives and
friends, and above all so much to say about what was going on outside
of the prison! But how bring her news? how speak to their mother? how
receive her message in such a way that the jailer’s ears could not know
what was said?

Love is full of invention. It turns every thing into subserviency to
its end. Love once turned the dove into a carrier; love made Josephine’s
children find out a new mail-carrier--it made them invent the lapdog

Josephine, like all Creoles, had, besides her love for flowers, botany,
and birds, a great fondness for dogs. Never since the earliest days of
her childhood had Josephine been seen in her room, at the promenade, or
in her carriage, without one of these faithful friends and companions of
man, which share with the lords of creation all their good qualities
and virtues, without being burdened with their failings. The love,
the faithfulness, the cunningness of dogs are virtues, wherewith they
successfully rival man, and the dogs boast only of one quality which
amongst men is considered a despicable vice, namely, the canine
humbleness which these animals practise, without egotism, without
calculation, whilst man practises it only when his interest and his
selfishness make it seem advantageous.

Two years before, a friend of Josephine had given her a small, young
model of the then fashionable breed of dogs, a small lapdog, and at
once Josephine had made a pet of the little animal, which had been
recommended to her as the progeny of a rare and genuine race of lapdogs.
It is true the little Fortune had not fulfilled what had been promised;
he had not grown up exactly into a model of beauty and loveliness.
With small feet, a long body of a pale yellow rather than red, a thick,
double, flat nose, this lapdog had nothing of its race but the black
face, and the tail in the shape of a corkscrew. Besides all this, he was
undoubtedly of a surly, quarrelsome disposition, and he preferred the
indolent and ease of his cushion to either a promenade with Josephine or
to a game with her children.

But since Josephine was no more there, since her beautiful hands no more
presented him his food, a change had come over Fortune’s character;
he had awakened from the effeminacy of happiness to full activity. The
children had but to say, “We are going to mamma,” and at once Fortune
would spring up from his cushion with a cheerful bark, and run out into
the streets, describing circles and performing joyous leaps. Fortune,
as soon as the reception-room of the prison was opened, was always the
first to rush in, barking loudly at the jailer; then, when his spite
was over, to run with all the signs of passionate tenderness toward his
mistress; then he would surround her with caresses, and leap, bark, and
whine, until she noticed him, until she should have kissed and embraced
the children, and then taken him up in her arms.

But one day, as the door of the reception-room opened, and Eugene and
Hortense entered with Madame Lanoy, Fortune’s loud barking trumpet
sounded not, and he sprang not forward toward Josephine. He walked on
gravely with measured steps at the side of Madame Lanoy, who led him
with a string which she had fastened to his collar. With important,
thoughtful mien, he gazed resignedly and gravely at his mistress, and
even for his hated foe the jailer he had but a dull growl, which he soon

Josephine was somewhat alarmed at this change in Fortune’s demeanor,
and after she had welcomed, taken to her bosom and kissed her darling
children, after she had saluted the good Madame Lanoy, she inquired why
Fortune was so sad and why he was led as a captive.

“Because he is so wild and unruly, mamma,” said Eugene, with a peculiar
smile, “because he wants always to be the first to salute you, and
because he barks so loud that we cannot possibly for some time hear what
our dear mamma has to say.”

“And then, in the street, he is so wicked and troublesome,” cried
Hortense, with eagerness, “and he always begins quarrelling and fighting
with every dog which passes by, and we must stand there and wait for him
when we are so anxious to see our dear mamma.”

“For all these reasons,” resumed Madame Lanoy, with slow, solemn
intonation, “for all these reasons we have thought it necessary to chain
Fortune and to tighten up his collar.”

“And you have done quite well, citizeness,” growled the turnkey, “for
I had already thought of silencing forever the abominable lapdog if he
again barked at me so.”

Josephine said nothing, but the peculiar smile she had noticed on
her children’s face had passed, at the words of Madame Lanoy, over
Josephine’s radiant countenance, and she now with her pet names called
Fortune to her, to press him to her heart, to pat him, and by all these
caresses to make amends for his having his collar somewhat tightened.

But whilst thus petting him, and tenderly smoothing down his sleek fur,
her slim fingers quickly and cautiously passed under the wide collar of
Fortune. Then her eyes were rapidly directed toward the jailer. He was
engaged in animated conversation with Madame Lanoy, who knew how to make
him talk, by inquiring after the health of his little sick daughter.

A second time Josephine’s fingers were passed under Fortune’s
collar--for she had well understood the words of Madame Lanoy--with a
woman’s keen instinct she understood why Fortune’s collar had been drawn
closer about him. She had felt the thin, closely-folded paper, which
was tied up with the string in the dog’s collar, and she drew it out
rapidly, adroitly to hide it in her hand. She then called Hortense and
Eugene, and whilst she talked with them, she slowly and carefully, under
pretext of adjusting more closely the kerchief round her neck, secreted
the paper in her bosom.

The jailer had seen nothing; he was telling Madame Lanoy, with all the
pride of a kind father, that all the prisoners were anxious about his
little Eugenie; that all, more than once a day, inquired how it fared
with the little one; that she was the pet of the prisoners, who were so
delighted to have the child with them, and for long hours to jest and
play with her. Unfortunate captives, who nattered the child, and feigned
love for it, so as to move the father’s heart, and instil into it a
little compassion for their misfortune!

When Eugene and Hortense came the next time with their faithful Lanoy,
Fortune was again led by the string as a prisoner, and this time
Josephine was still more affectionate than before. She not only welcomed
him at his entrance, and lifted him up in her arms, but she was yet,
if possible, more affectionate toward him at the time of departure,
and embraced him, and tried if the collar had not been buckled on too
tightly, if the string which was tied round it did not hurt him too
much. And whilst she examined this, Eugene was telling the jailer that
he was now a worthy apprentice of a cabinet-maker, and that he hoped one
day to be a useful citizen of the republic. The jailer was listening to
him with a complacent smile, and had no suspicion that at this moment
Josephine’s cunning fingers were making sure with the string under the
collar the note in which she gave an answer to the other note that she
had before found under the collar of Fortune. [Footnote: “Souvenirs d’un
Sexagenaire,” par M.L. Arnould, vol. iii., p. 3.]

From this day, Josephine knew every thing of importance in Paris; from
this time she could point out to her children the means to pursue so as
to win to their parents influential and powerful friends, so that they
might one day be delivered from their captivity. Fortune was love’s
messenger between Josephine and her children; a beam of happiness
had penetrated both cells, where lived Alexandre de Beauharnais and
Josephine, and they owed this gleam only to the lapdog mail.


Since France had become a democratic republic, since the differences
in rank were abolished, and liberty, equality, and fraternity alone
prevailed, the aristocracy was either beyond the frontiers of France
or else in the prisons. Outside of the prison were but citoyens and
citoyennes; inside of the prison were yet dukes and duchesses, counts
and countesses, viscounts and viscountesses; there, behind locks
and bars, the aristocracy was represented in its most glorious and
high-sounding names.

And there also, within these walls, was the proud, strict dame, whom
Marie Antoinette had once, to her misfortune, driven away from the
Tuileries, and who had not been permitted to possess a single foot of
ground in all France--there, within the prison with the aristocrats,
lived also Madame Etiquette. She had to leave the Tuileries with the
nobility, and with the nobility she had entered into the prisons of the
Conciergerie and of the Carmelite Convent. There she ruled with the same
authority and with the same gravity as once in happier days she had done
in the king’s palace.

The republic had mixed together the prisoners without any distinction,
and in the hall, where every morning they gathered together to attend to
the roll-call of the condemned who were to report for the guillotine; in
the narrow rooms and cells, where they passed the rest of the day,
the republic had made no distinction between all these inmates of the
prison, dukes and simple knights, duchesses and baronesses, princesses
of the blood and country nobility of inferior degree. But etiquette
was there to remedy this unseemliness of fate and to re-establish the
natural order of things--etiquette, which had enacted rules and laws for
the halls of kings, enforced them also in the halls of prisons. Only for
the ladies of the most ancient nobility, the duchesses and princesses of
the blood, in the prison-rooms, as once in the king’s halls, the small
stool (tabouret) was reserved, and they were privileged to occupy the
rush-bottomed seats which were in the prisons, and which now replaced
the tabouret. No lady of inferior rank would consent to sit down in
their presence unless these ladies of superior rank had expressly
requested and entitled their inferior companions of misfortune to do so.
When, at the appointed hour, the halls were abandoned for the general
promenade in the yards of the Conciergerie, or in the small cloistered
gardens of the Carmelites, this recreation was preceded by a ceremony
which shortened its already short hour by at least ten minutes: the
ladies and the gentlemen, according to their order, rank, and nobility,
placed themselves in two rows on either side of the outer door, and
between them passed on first in ceremonial order of rank, as at a
court-festival, the ladies and gentlemen who at court were entitled
to the high and small levees, as well as to the tabouret, and to the
kissing of the queen’s hand. As they passed, each bowed low, and then,
with the same due observance of rank, as was customary at court, the
ladies and gentlemen of inferior titles followed two by two, when the
higher nobility had passed. [Footnote: “Souvenirs de la Marquise de
Crequi,” vol. v].

It was yet the court-society which was assembled here in the rooms and
cells of the prison; only this court-society, this aristocracy, had no
more King Louis to do homage unto, but they served another king, they
bowed low before another queen! This king to whom the nobility of France
belonged was Death; this queen to which proud heads bowed low was the

It was King Death who now summoned the aristocrats to his court; the
scaffold was the hall of festivity where solemn homage was made to this
king. It would therefore have been against all etiquette to crowd into
this hall of festivity with beclouded countenance; this would have
diminished the respect due to King Death, if he had not been approached
with full-court ceremonial, and with the serene, easy smile of a
courtier. To die, to meet death was now a distinction, an honor for
which each almost envied the other. When at ten o’clock in the morning
the gathering took place in the large room, the conversation was of the
most cheerful and unaffected easiness; they joked, they laughed, they
speculated on politics, though it was well known that in a few minutes
yonder door was to open, and that on its threshold the jailer would
appear, list in hand; that from this list he would call out with his
loud, croaking voice, as Death’s harbinger, the names of those whose
death-warrants had been yesterday signed by Robespierre, and who would
have immediately to leave the hall, to mount the wagons which were
already waiting at the prison’s gate to drive them to the guillotine.

While the jailer read his list, suspense and excitement were visible on
all faces, but no one would have so deeply lowered himself as to betray
fear or anguish when his name fell from the lips of the jailer. The
smile remained on the lip, friends and acquaintances were bidden
farewell with a cheerful salutation, and with easy, unaffected demeanor
they quitted the hall to mount the fatal vehicle.

To die gracefully was now considered as much bon ton as it had been once
fashionable gracefully to enter the ballroom and do obeisance to
the king; contempt and scorn would have followed him who might have
exhibited a sorrowful mien, hesitation, or fear.

One morning the jailer had read his list, and sixteen gentlemen and
ladies of the aristocracy had consequently to leave the hall of the
Conciergerie to enter both wagons now ready at the gate. As they were
starting for the fatal journey a second turnkey appeared, to say
that through some accident only one of the wagons was ready, and that
consequently only eight of the sentenced ones could be driven to the
guillotine. This meant that the accident nullified eight death-warrants
and saved the lives of eight sentenced persons. For it was not
probable that these eight persons would next morning be honored with
an execution. Their warrants were signed, their names had been called;
neither the tribunal of the revolution nor the jailer could pay special
attention whether their heads had fallen or not. The next day would
bring on new condemnations, new lists, new distinctions for the wagons,
new heads for the guillotine. Whoever, on the day appointed for the
execution, missed the guillotine, could safely reckon that his life
was saved; that henceforth he was amongst the forgotten ones, of whom a
great number filled the prisons, and who expected their freedom through
some favorable accident.

To-day, therefore, only eight of the sixteen condemned were to mount the
wagon. But who were to be the favored ones? The two turnkeys, with cold
indifference, left the choice to the condemned. Only eight could be
accommodated in the wagon, they said, and it was the same who went or
who remained. “Make your choice!”

A strife arose among the sixteen condemned ones--not as to who might
remain behind, but as to those who might mount into the wagon.

The ladies declared that, according to the rules of common politeness,
which allowed ladies to go first, the choice belonged to them; the
gentlemen objected to this motion of the ladies on the plea that to
reach the guillotine steps had to be ascended, and as etiquette required
that in going up-stairs the gentlemen should always precede the ladies,
they were also now entitled to go first and to mount the steps of the
scaffold before the ladies. At last all had to give way to the claims of
the Duchess de Grammont, who declared that at this festival as at every
other the order of rank was to be observed, and that she, as well as all
the gentlemen and ladies of superior rank, had the undisputed privilege
now, as at all other celebrations, to take the precedency.

No one ventured to oppose this decision, and the Duchess de Grammont,
proud of the victory won, was the first to leave the room and mount the

Another time the turnkey began to read the list: every one listened
with grave attention, and at every call a clear, cheerful “Here I am!”

But after the jailer, with wearied voice, had many times repeated a name
from his list, the accustomed answer failed. No one came forward, no one
seemed to be there to lay claim to that name and to the execution.
The jailer stopped a few minutes, and as all were dumb, he continued,
indifferent and unmoved, to call out the names.

“We will then have only fifteen heads to deliver to-day,” said he, after
reading the list, “for there must have been a mistake. One of the
names is false, or else the person to whom it belongs has already been

“It is probably but a blunder of the pen!” exclaimed a handsome young
man who, smiling, stepped out of the crowd of listeners and passed on to
the side where the victims stood. “You read Chapetolle. There is no
such name here. The hand of the writer was probably tired of writing the
numerous lists of those who are sentenced to death, and he has therefore
written the letters wrong. My name is Chapelotte, and I am the one meant
by Chapetolle.”

“I do not know,” said the jailer, “but it is certain that sixteen
sentenced ones ought to go into the wagons, and that only fifteen have
reported themselves in a legal way.”

“Well, then, add me in an illegal manner to your fifteen,” said the
young man, smiling. “Without doubt it is my name they intended to write.
I do not wish to save my life through a blunder in writing, and who
knows if another time I may find such good company as to-day in your
chariot? Allow me then to journey on with my friends.”

The jailer had no reason to refuse him this journey, and he had the
satisfaction besides of being thus able to deliver sixteen sentenced
prisoners to the guillotine.

Such was the society of the aristocrats, among whom Josephine lived the
long, dreary days of her imprisonment. The cell she occupied was
shared by two companions of misfortune, the Duchess de Aguillon and the
beautiful Madame de Fontenay, who afterward became Madame Tallien, so
distinguished and renowned for her beauty and wit. Therese de Fontenay
knew, and every one knew, that she was already sentenced, even if her
sentence was not yet written down and countersigned. It was recorded in
the heart of Robespierre. He had sentenced her, without any concealment.
She had but a few weeks more to endure the martyrdom, the anguish of
hope and of expectation. She was his secure victim; Robespierre needed
not hasten the fall of this beautiful head, which was the admiration of
all who saw it. This beauty was the very crime which Robespierre wanted
to punish, for with this beauty, Therese de Fontenay, who then resided
in Bordeaux with her husband, had captivated the old friend and
associate in sentiments of Robespierre, the fanatical Tallien; with
this beauty she had converted the man of blood and terror into a
soft, compassionate being, inclined to pardon and to mercy toward his

Tallien had been sent as commissionnaire from the Convention to
Bordeaux, and there with inexorable severity he had raged against the
unfortunate merchants, from whom he exacted enormous assessments, and
whom he sentenced to the guillotine if they refused, or were unable to
pay. But suddenly love changed the bloodthirsty tiger into a sensitive
being, and the beautiful Madame de Fontenay, who had become acquainted
with Tallien in the prison of Bordeaux, had worked a complete change in
his whole being. For the first time this man, who unmoved had condemned
to death King Louis and the Girondists, found on his lips the word
“pardon;” for the first time the hand which had signed so many
death-warrants wrote the order to let a prisoner go free.

This prisoner was Therese de Fontenay, the daughter of the Spanish
banker Cabarrus, and she rewarded him for the gift of her life with
a smile which forever made him her captive. From this time the
death-warrants were converted into pardons from his lips, and for every
pardon Therese thanked him with a sweet smile, with a glowing look of

But this leniency was looked upon as criminal by the tribunal of
terror in Paris. They recalled the culprit who dared pardon instead of
punishing; and if Robespierre did not think himself powerful enough
to send Tallien as a traitor and as an apostate to the scaffold,
he punished him for his leniency by separating from him Therese de
Fontenay, who had abandoned the husband forced upon her, and who had
followed Tallien to Paris, and Robespierre had sent her to prison.

There, at the Carmelites’, was Therese de Fontenay; she occupied the
same cell as Josephine; the same misfortune had made them companions and
friends. They communicated one to the other their hopes and fears;
and when Josephine, with tears in her eyes, spoke to her friend of her
children, of her deep anguish, for they were alone and abandoned in the
world outside of the prison walls, whilst their unfortunate pitiable
mother languished in prison, Therese comforted and encouraged her.

“So long as one lives there is hope,” said Therese, with her enchanting
smile. “Myself, who in the eyes of you all am sentenced to death,
hope--no, I hope not--I am convinced that I will soon obtain my freedom.
And I swear that, as soon as I am free, I will stir heaven and earth to
procure the liberty of my dear friend Josephine and of her husband the
Viscount de Beauharnais, and to give back to the poor orphaned children
their parents.”

Josephine answered with an incredulous smile, and a shrugging of the
shoulders; and then Therese’s very expressive countenance glowed, and
her large, black eyes flashed deeper gleams.

“You have no faith in me, Josephine,” she said, vehemently; “but I
repeat to you, I will soon obtain my freedom, and then I will procure
your liberty and that of your husband.”

“But how will you obtain that?” asked Josephine, shaking her head.

“I will ruin Robespierre,” said Therese, gravely.

“In what do your means of ruining him consist?”

“In this letter here,” said Therese, as she drew out of her bosom a
small paper folded up. “See, this sheet of paper; it consists but of a
few lines which, since they would not furnish me with writing-materials,
I have written with my blood on this sheet of paper, which I found
yesterday in the garden during the promenade. The turnkey will give this
letter to-day to Tallien. He has given me his word, and I have promised
him that Tallien will recompense him magnificently for it. This letter
will ruin Robespierre and make me free, and then I will procure the
freedom of the Viscount and of the Viscountess de Beauharnais.”

“What then, in that letter is the magic word which is to work out such

Therese handed the paper to her friend.

“Read,” said she, smiling.

Josephine read: “Therese of Fontenay to the citizen Tallien. Either in
eight days I am free and the wife of my deliverer, the noble and brave
Tallien, who will have freed the world from the monster Robespierre, or
else, in eight days, I mount the scaffold; and my last thought will be
a curse for the cowardly, heartless man who has not had the courage to
risk his life for her he loved, and who suffers for his sake, for his
sake meets death--who had not the mind to consider that with daring deed
he must destroy the bloodthirsty fiend or be ruined by him. Therese de
Fontenay will ever love her Tallien if he delivers her; she will
hate him, even in death, if he sacrifices her to Robespierre’s

“If, through mishap, Robespierre should receive this letter, then you
and Tallien are lost,” sighed Josephine.

“But Tallien, and not Robespierre, will receive it, and I am saved,”
 exclaimed Therese. “Therefore, my friend, take courage and be bold. Wait
but eight days patiently. Let us wait and hope.”

“Yes, let us wait and hope,” sighed Josephine. “Hope and patience are
the only companions of the captive.”


Meanwhile the patience of the unfortunate prisoners of the Carmelite
convent were to be subjected to a severe trial; and the very next day
after this conversation with Therese de Fontenay, Josephine believed
that there was no more hope for her, that she was irrevocably lost, as
her husband was lost. For three days she had not seen the viscount, nor
received any news from him. Only a vague report had reached her that the
viscount was no longer in the Carmelite convent, but that he had been
transferred to the Conciergerie.

This report told the truth. Alexandre de Beauharnais had once more been
denounced, and this second accusation was his sentence of death. For
some time past the fanatical Jacobins had invented a new means to find
guilty ones for the guillotine, and to keep the veins bleeding, so as
to restore France to health. They sent emissaries into the prisons to
instigate conspiracies among the prisoners, and to find out men wretched
enough to purchase their life by accusing their prison companions, and
by delivering them over to the executioner’s axe. Such a spy had been
sent into that portion of the prison where Beauharnais was, and he had
begun his horrible work, for he had kindled discord and strife among the
prisoners, and had won a few to his sinister projects. But Beauharnais’s
keen eye had discovered the traitor, and he had loudly and openly
denounced him to his fellow-prisoners. The next day, the spy disappeared
from the prison, but as he went he swore bloody vengeance on General de
Beauharnais. [Footnote: “Memoires du Comte de Lavalette,” vol. i., p.

And he kept his word; the next morning De Beauharnais was summoned
for trial, and the gloomy, hateful faces of his judges, their hostile
questions and reproaches, the capital crimes they accused him of, led
him to conclude that his death was decided upon, and that he was doomed
to the guillotine.

In the night which followed his trial, Alexandre de Beauharnais wrote to
his wife a letter, in which he communicated to her his sad forebodings,
and bade her farewell for this life. The next day he was transferred to
the Conciergerie--that is to say, into the vestibule of the scaffold.

This letter of her husband, received by Josephine the next day after her
conversation with Therese de Fontenay, ran thus:

“The fourth Thermidor, in the second year of the republic. All the signs
of a kind of trial, to which I and other prisoners have been subjected
this day, tell me that I am the victim of the treacherous calumny of a
few aristocrats, patriots so called, of this house. The mere conjecture
that this hellish machination will follow me to the tribunal of the
revolution gives me no hope to see you again, my friend, no more
to embrace you or our children. I speak not of my sorrow: my tender
solicitude for you, the heartfelt affection which unites me to you,
cannot leave you in doubt of the sentiments with which I leave this

“I am also sorry to have to part with my country, which I love, for
which I would a thousand times have laid down my life, and which I
no more can serve, but which beholds me now quit her bosom, since she
considers me to be a bad citizen. This heart-rending thought does not
allow me to commend my memory to you; labor, then, to make it pure
in proving that a life which has been devoted to the service of the
country, and to the triumph of liberty and equality, must punish that
abominable slanderer, especially when he comes from a suspicious
class of men. But this labor must be postponed; for in the storms of
revolution, a great people, struggling to reduce its chains to dust,
must of necessity surround itself with suspicion, and be more afraid to
forget a guilty man than to put an innocent one to death.

“I will die with that calmness which allows man to feel emotion at the
thought of his dearest inclinations--I will die with that courage which
is the distinctive feature of a free man, of a clear conscience, of an
exalted soul, whose highest wishes are the prosperity and growth of the

“Farewell, my friend; gather consolation from my children; derive
comfort in educating them, in teaching them that, by their virtues
and their devotion to their country, they obliterate the memory of my
execution, and recall to national gratitude my services and my claims.
Farewell to those I love: you know them! Be their consolation, and
through your solicitude for them prolong my life in their hearts!
Farewell! for the last time in this life I press you and my children to

Josephine had read this letter with a thousand tears, but she hoped
still; she believed still in the possibility that the gloomy forebodings
of her husband would not be realized; that some fortunate circumstance
would save him or at least retard his death.

But this hope was not to be fulfilled. A few hours after receiving
this letter the turnkey brought to the prisoners the bulletin of the
executions of the preceding day. It was that day Josephine’s turn to
read this bulletin to her companions. She therefore began her sad task;
and, as slowly and thoughtfully she let fall name after name from her
lips, here and there the faces of her hearers were blanched, and their
eyes filled with tears.

Suddenly Josephine uttered a piercing cry, and sprang up with the
movement of madness toward the door, shook it in her deathly sorrow, as
if her life hung upon the opening of that door, and then she sank down

Unfortunate Josephine! she had seen in the list of those who had been
executed the name of General Beauharnais, and in the first excitement
of horror she wanted to rush out to see him, or at least to give to his
body the parting kiss.

On the sixth Thermidor, in the year II., that is, on the 24th of
July, 1794, fell on the scaffold the head of the General Viscount de
Beauharnais. With quiet, composed coolness he had ascended the scaffold,
and his last cry, as he laid his head on the block, was, “Long live the

In the wagon which drove him to the scaffold, he had found again a
friend, the Prince de Salm-Kirbourg, who was now on his way to the
guillotine, and who had risked his life in bringing back to Paris the
children of Josephine.

His bloodthirsty enemies had not enough of the head of General
Beauharnais; his wife’s head also should fall, and the name of the
traitor of his country was to be extinguished forever.

Two days after the execution of her husband, the turnkey brought to
Josephine the writ of her accusation, and the summons to appear before
the tribunal of the revolution--a summons which then had all the
significancy of a death-warrant.

Josephine heard the summons of the jailer with a quiet, easy smile; she
had not even a look for the fatal paper which lay on her bed. Near this
bed stood the physician, whom the compassionate republic, which would
not leave its prisoners to die on a sick-bed, but only on the scaffold,
had sent to Josephine to inquire into her illness and afford her relief.

With indignation he eagerly snatched the paper from the bed, and,
returning it back to the jailer, exclaimed: “Tell the tribunal of the
revolution that it has nothing more to do with this woman! Disease will
bring on justice here, and leave nothing to do for the guillotine. In
eight days Citoyenne Beauharnais is dead!” [Footnote: Aubenas, “Histoire
de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. i., p. 235.]

This decision of the physician was transmitted to the tribunal, which
resolved that the trial of Madame Beauharnais would be postponed for
eight days, and that the tribunal would wait and see if truly death
would save her from the guillotine.

Meanwhile, during these eight days, events were to pass which were to
give a very different form to the state of things, and impart to the
young republic a new, unexpected attitude.

Robespierre ruled yet, he was the feared dictator of France! But Tallien
had received the note of his beautiful, fondly-loved Therese, and he
swore to himself that she should not ascend the scaffold, that she
should not curse him, that he would possess her, that he would win her
love, and destroy the fiend who stood in the way of his happiness, whose
blood-streaming hands were every day ready to sign her death-warrant.

On the very same day in which he received the letter of Therese,
he conversed with a few trusty friends, men whom he knew detested
Robespierre as much as himself, and who all longed for an occasion to
destroy him. They planned a scheme of attack against the dictator who
imperilled the life of all, and from whom it was consequently necessary
to take away life and power, so as to be sure of one’s life. It was
decided to launch an accusation against him before the whole Convention,
to incriminate him as striving after dominion, as desirous of breaking
the republic with his bloody hands, and ambitious to exalt himself into
dictator and sovereign. Tallien undertook to fulminate this accusation
against him, and they all agreed to wait yet a few days so as to gain
amongst the deputies in the Convention some members who would support
the accusation and give countenance to the conspirators. On the ninth
Thermidor this scheme was to be carried out; on the ninth Thermidor,
Tallien was to thunder forth the accusation against Robespierre and move
his punishment!

This enterprise, however, seemed a folly, an impossibility, for at this
time Robespierre was at the height of his power, and fear weighed
upon the whole republic as a universal agony. No one dared oppose
Robespierre, for a look from his eye, a sign from his hand sufficed to
bring death, to lead to the scaffold.

The calm, peaceful, and united republic for which Robespierre had
toiled, which had been the ultimate end of his bloodthirstiness, was at
last there, but this republic was built upon corpses, was baptized with
streams of blood and tears. And now that the republic had given up
all opposition, now that she bowed, trembling under the hand of her
conqueror, now, Robespierre wanted to make her happy, he wanted to give
her what the storms of past years had ravished from her--he wanted
to give the republic a God! On the tribune of the Convention, on this
tribune which was his throne, rose Robespierre, to tell with grave
dignity to the republic that there was a Supreme Being, that the soul of
man was immortal. Then, accompanied by the Convention, he proceeded to
the Champ de Mars, to inaugurate the celebration of the worship of a
Supreme Being as his high-priest. But amid this triumph, on his way
to the Champ de Mars, Robespierre the conqueror had for the first time
noticed the murmurs of the Tarpeian rock; he had noticed the dark,
threatening glances which were directed at him from all sides. He felt
the danger which menaced him, and he was determined to remove it from
his person by annihilating those who threatened.

But already terror had lost its power, no one trembled before the
guillotine, no one took pleasure in the fall of the axe, in the streams
of blood, which empurpled the Place de la Revolution. The fearful
stillness of death hung round the guillotine, the people were tired
of applauding it, and now and then from the silent ranks of the people
thundered forth in threatening accents the word “tyrant!” which, as the
first weapon of attack, was directed against Robespierre, who, on the
heights of the tribune, was throned with his unmoved, calm countenance.

Robespierre felt that he must strike a heavy, decisive blow against his
foes and annihilate them. On the eighth Thermidor, he denounced a plot
organized by his enemies for breaking up the Convention. Through St.
Just he implicated as leaders of this conspiracy some eminent members
of the committees, and requested their dismissal. But the time was
past when his motions were received with jubilant acclamations, and
unconditionally obeyed. The Convention decided to submit the motion
of Robespierre to a vote, and the matter was postponed to the next
morning’s session.

In the night which preceded the contemplated action of the Convention,
Robespierre went to the Jacobin Club and requested assistance against
his enemies in the Convention. He was received with enthusiasm, and
a general uprising of the revolutionary element was decided upon, and
organized for the following morning.

The same night, Tallien, his friends and adherents, met together, and
the mode of attack for the following day, the ninth Thermidor, was
discussed, and the parts assigned to each.

The prisoners in the Carmelite convent did not of course suspect any
thing of the events which were preparing beyond the walls of their
prison. Even Therese de Fontenay was low-spirited and sad; for this day,
the ninth Thermidor, was the last day of respite fixed by her to Tallien
for her liberty.

This was also the last day of respite which had saved Josephine from the
tribunal of the revolution, through the decision of her physician.
Death had spared her head, but now it belonged to the executioner. The
captives feared the event, and they were confirmed in this fear by the
jailer, who, on the morning of the ninth Thermidor, entered the room
which Josephine, the Duchess d’Aiguillon, and Therese de Fontenay
occupied, and who removed the camp-bed which Josephine had hitherto used
as a sofa, to give it to another prisoner.

“How,” exclaimed the Duchess d’Aiguillon, “do you want to give this bed
to another prisoner? Is Madame de Beauharnais to have a better one?”

The turnkey burst into a coarse laugh. “Alas! no,” said he, with a
significant gesture, “Citoyenne Beauharnais will soon need a bed no

Her friends broke into tears; but Josephine remained composed and quite.
At this decisive moment a fearful self-possession and calmness came over
her; all sufferings and sorrow appeared to have sunk away, all anxiety
and care seemed overcome, and a radiant smile illumined Josephine’s
features, for, through a wondrous association of ideas, she suddenly
remembered the prophecy of the negro-woman in Martinique.

“Be calm, my friends,” said she, smiling; “weep not, do not consider me
as destined to the scaffold, for I assure you I am going to live: I
must not die, for I am destined to be one day the sovereign of France.
Therefore, no more tears! I am the future Queen of France!”

“Ah!” exclaimed the Duchess d’Aiguillon, half angry and half sad, “why
not at once appoint your state dignitaries?”

“You are right,” said Josephine, eagerly; “this is the best time to
do so. Well, then, my dear duchess, I now appoint you to be my maid of
honor, and I swear it will be so.”

“My God! she is mad!” exclaimed the duchess, and, nearly fainting, she
sank upon her chair.

Josephine laughed, and opened the window to admit some fresh air. She
perceived there below in the street a woman making to her all manner of
signs and gestures. She lifted up her arms, she then took hold of her
dress, and with her hand pointed to her robe.

It was evident that she wished through these signs and motions to convey
some word to the prisoners, whom perhaps she knew, for she repeatedly
took hold of her robe with one hand, and pointed at it with the other.

“Robe?” cried out Josephine interrogatively.

The woman nodded in the affirmative, then took up a stone, which she
held up to the prisoner’s view.

“Pierre?” ask Josephine.

The woman again nodded in the affirmative, and then placed the stone
(pierre) in her robe, made several times the motion of falling, then of
cutting off the neck, and then danced and clapped her hands.

“My friends,” cried Josephine, struck with a sudden thought, “this woman
brings us good news, she tells us Robespierre est tombe.” (Robespierre
has fallen.)

“Yes, it is so,” exclaimed Therese, triumphantly; “Tallien has kept his
word; he conquers, and Robespierre is thrust down!”

And, overpowered with joy and emotion, the three women, weeping, sank
into each other’s arms.

They now heard from without loud cries and shouts. It was the jailer,
quarrelling with his refractory dog. The dog howled, and wanted to go
out with his master, but the jailer kicked him back, saying: “Away, go
to the accursed Robespierre!”

Soon joyous voices resounded through the corridor; the door of their
cell was violently opened, and a few municipal officers entered to
announce to the Citizeness Madame Fontenay that she was free, and bade
her accompany them into the carriage waiting below to drive her to the
house of Citizen Tallien. Behind them pressed the prisoners who, from
the reception-room, had followed the authorities, to entreat them to
give them the news of the events in Paris.

There was now no reason for the municipal authorities to make a secret
of the events which at this hour occupied all Paris, and which would
soon be welcomed throughout France as the morning dawn of a new day.

Robespierre had indeed fallen! Tallien and his friends had in the
Convention brought against the despot the accusation that he was
striving for the sovereign power, and that he had enthroned a Supreme
Being merely to proclaim himself afterward His visible representative,
and to take all power in his own hands. When Robespierre had endeavored
to justify himself, he had been dragged away from the speaker’s tribune;
and, as he defended himself, Tallien had drawn a dagger on Robespierre,
and was prevented from killing the tyrant by a few friends, who by
main force turned the dagger away. Immediately after this scene, the
Convention decided to arrest Robespierre and his friends Couthon and St.
Just; and the prisoners, among whom Robespierre’s younger brother had
willingly placed himself, were led away to the Luxemburg. [Footnote:
The next day, on the tenth Thermidor, Robespierre, who in the night had
attempted to put an end to his life with a pistol, was executed
with twenty-one companions. His brother was among the number of the

The prisoners welcomed this news with delight; for with the fall of
Robespierre, had probably sounded for them the hour of deliverance, and
they could hope that their prison’s door would soon be opened, not to be
led to the scaffold, but to obtain their freedom.

Therese de Fontenay, with the messengers sent by Tallien, left the
Carmelite cloisters to fulfil the promise made by her to Tallien in
her letter, to become his wife, and to pass at his side new days of
happiness and love.

She embraced Josephine tenderly as she bade her farewell, and renewed to
her the assurance that she would consider it her dearest and most sacred
duty to obtain her friend’s liberty.

In the evening of the same day, Josephine’s camp-bed was restored to
her; and, stretching herself upon it with intense delight, she said
smilingly to her friends: “You see, I am not yet guillotined; I will be
Queen of France.” [Footnote: “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine,” ch.

Therese de Fontenay, now Citoyenne Tallien, kept her word. Three days
after obtaining her liberty, she came herself to fetch Josephine out
of prison. Her soft, mild disposition had resumed its old spell over
Tallien, whom the Convention had appointed president of the Committee of
Safety. The death-warrants signed by Robespierre were annulled, and the
prisons were opened, to restore to hundreds of accused life and liberty.
The bloody and tearful episode of the revolution had closed with the
fall of Robespierre, and on the ninth Thermidor the republic assumed a
new phase.

Josephine was free once more! With tears of bliss she embraced her two
children, her dear darlings, found again! In pressing her offspring to
her heart with deep, holy emotion, she thought of their father, who had
loved them both so much, who had committed to her the sacred trust of
keeping alive in the hearts of his children love for their father.

Encircling still her children in her arms, she bowed them on their
knees; and, lifting up to heaven her eyes, moist with tears, she
whispered to them: “Let us pray, children; let us lift up our thoughts
to heaven, where your father is, and whence he looks down upon us to
bless his children.”

Josephine delayed not much longer in Paris, where the air was yet damp
with the blood of so many murdered ones; where the guillotine, on which
her husband had died, lifted yet its threatening head. She hastened with
her children to Fontainebleau, there to rest from her sorrows on the
heart of her father-in-law, to weep with him on the loss they both had

The dream of her first youth and of her first love had passed away, and
to the father of her beheaded husband Josephine returned a widow; rich
in gloomy, painful experiences, poor in hopes, but with a stout heart,
and a determination to live, and to be at once a father and a mother to
her children.



The civil war which for four years had devastated France had also with
its destruction and its terrors overspread the French colonies, and in
Martinique as well as in Corsica two parties stood opposed to each other
in infuriated bitterness--one fighting for the rights of the native
land, the other for the rights of the French people, for the “liberty,
equality, and fraternity” which the Convention in Paris had adopted
for its motto, since it delivered to the guillotine, on the Place de
la Revolution, the heads of those who dared lay claim for themselves to
this liberty of thought so solemnly proclaimed.

In Corsica both parties fought with the same eagerness as in France, and
the execution of Louis XVI. had only made the contest more violent and
more bitter.

One of these parties looked with horror on this guillotine which had
drunk the blood of the king, and this party desired to have nothing in
common with this French republic, with this blood-streaming Convention
which had made of terror a law, and which had destroyed so many lives in
the name of liberty.

At the head of this party stood the General Pascal Paoli, whom the
revolution had recalled to his native isle from his exile of twenty
years, and who objected that Corsica should bend obediently under the
blood-stained hand of the French Convention, and whose wish it was that
the isle should be an independent province of the great French republic.

To exalt Corsica into a free, independent republic had been the idea of
his whole life. For the sake of this idea he had passed twenty years in
exile; for, after having made Corsica independent of Genoa, he had not
been able to obtain for his native isle that independence for which
he had fought with his brave Genoese troops. During eight years he had
perseveringly maintained the conflict--during eight years he had been
the ruler of Corsica, but immovable in his republican principles; he had
rejected the title of king, which the Corsican people, grateful for
the services rendered to their fatherland, had offered him. He had been
satisfied to be the first and most zealous servant of the island, which,
through his efforts, had been liberated from the tyrannical dominion of
Genoa. But Genoa’s appeal for assistance had brought French troops to
Corsica; the Genoese, harassed and defeated everywhere by Paoli’s brave
troops, had finally transferred the island to France. This was not what
Paoli wanted--this was not for what he had fought!

Corsica was to be a free and independent republic; she was to bow no
more to France than to Genoa; Corsica was to be free.

In vain did the French government make to General Paoli the most
brilliant offers; he rejected them; he called the Corsicans to the most
energetic resistance to the French occupation; and when he saw that
opposition was in vain, that Corsica had to submit, he at least would
not yield, and he went to England.

The cry for liberty which, in the year 1790, resounded from France, and
which made the whole world tremble, brought him back from England to
Corsica, and he took the oath of allegiance to free, democratic France.
But the blood of the king had annulled this oath, the Convention’s
reign of terror had filled his soul with horror; and, after solemnly
separating himself from France, he had, in the year 1793, convoked a
Consulta, to decide whether Corsica was to submit to the despotism of
the French republic, or if it was to be a free and independent state.
The Consulta chose the latter position, and named Paoli for president as
well as for general-in-chief of the Corsicans.

The National Convention at once called the culprit to its bar,
and ordered him to Paris to justify his conduct, or to receive the
punishment due. But General Paoli paid no attention to the imperious
orders of the Convention, which, as the chief appeared not at its bar,
declared him, on the 15th of May, 1793, a traitor to his country, and
sent commissioners to Corsica to arrest the criminal.

This traitor to the state, the General Pascal Paoli, was then at the
head of the Moderate party in Corsica, and he loudly and solemnly
declared that, in case of absolute necessity, it would be preferable to
call England to their assistance than to accept the yoke of the French
republic, which had desecrated her liberty, since she had soiled it with
the blood of so many innocent victims.

But in opposition to General Paoli rose up with wild clamor the other
party, the party of young, enthusiastic heads, who were intoxicated with
the democratic ideas which had obtained the sway in France, and which
they imagined, so great was their impassioned devotedness to them,
possessed the power and the ability to conquer the whole world.

At the head of this second party, which claimed unconditional adherence
to France, to the members of the Convention--at the head of this
fanatical, Corsican, republican, and Jacobin party, stood the Bonaparte
family, and above them all the two brothers Joseph and Napoleon.

Joseph was now, in the year 1793, chief justice of the tribunal of
Ajaccio; Napoleon, who was captain of artillery in the French army of
Italy, had then obtained leave of absence to visit his family. Both
brothers had been hitherto the most affectionate and intimate admirers
of Paoli, and especially Napoleon, who, from his earliest childhood, had
cherished the most unbounded admiration for the patriot who preferred
exile to a dependent grandeur in Corsica. Even now, since Paoli’s return
to Corsica, and Napoleon had had many opportunities to see him, his
admiration for the great chief had lost nothing of its force or
vitality. Paoli seemed sincerely to return this inclination of Napoleon
and of his brother, and in the long evening walks, which both
brothers made with him, Napoleon’s mind opened itself, before his old,
experienced companion, the great general, the noble republican, with
a freedom and a candor such as he had never manifested to others. With
subdued admiration Paoli listened to his short, energetic explanations,
to his descriptions, to his war-schemes, to his warm enthusiasm for the
republic; and one day, carried away by the warmth of the young captain
of artillery, the general, fixing his glowing eyes upon him, exclaimed:
“Young man, you are modelled after the antique; you belong to Plutarch!”

“And to General Paoli!” replied Napoleon, eagerly, as he pressed his
friend’s hand affectionately in his own.

But now this harmonious concord between General Paoli and the young men
was destroyed by the passion of party views. Joseph as well as Napoleon
belonged to the French party; they soon became its leaders; they were
at the head of the club which they had organized according to the maxims
and principles of the Jacobin Club in Paris, and to which they gave the
same name.

In this Jacobin Club at Ajaccio Napoleon made speeches full of glowing
enthusiasm for the French republic, for the ideas of freedom; in this
club he enjoined on the people of Corsica to adhere loyally to France,
to keep fast and to defend with life and blood the acquired liberty of
republican France, to regard and drive away as traitors to their country
all those who dared guide the Corsican people on another track.

But the Corsican people were not there to hear the enthusiastic speeches
about liberty and to follow them. Only a few hundred ardent republicans
of the same sentiment applauded the republican Napoleon, and cried aloud
that the republic must be defended with blood and life. The majority of
the Corsican people flocked to Paoli, and the commissioners sent by
the Convention from Paris to Corsica, to depose and arrest Paoli, found
co-operation and assistance only among the inhabitants of the cities
and among the French troops. Paoli, the president of the Consulta, was
located at Corte; the messengers of the Convention gathered in Bastia
the adherents of France, and excited them to strenuous efforts against
the rebellious Consulta and the insurgent Paoli. Civil war with all its horrors was there; the raging conflicts of the
parties tore apart the holy bonds of family, friendship, and love.
Brother fought and argued against brother, friend rose up against
friend, and whole families were destroyed, rent asunder by the
impassioned rivalries of sentiment and partisanship. Denunciations and
accusations, suspicions and enmities, followed. Every one trembled at
his own shadow; and, to turn aside the peril of death, it was necessary
to strike. [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i., p. 51.]

The Bonaparte brothers opposed General Paoli with violent bitterness;
bloody conflicts took place, in which the national Corsican party
remained victorious. Irritated and embittered by the opposition which
some of the natives themselves were making to his patriotic efforts,
Paoli persecuted with zealous activity the conquered, whom he resolved
to destroy, that they might not imperil the young Corsican independence.
Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte were the leaders of this party, and Paoli
knew too well the energy and the intellectual superiority of Napoleon
not to dread his influence. Him, above all things, him and his family,
must he render harmless, so as to weaken and to intimidate the French
party. He sent agents to Ajaccio, to arrest the whole Bonaparte family,
and at the same time his troops approached the town to occupy it and
make the French commissioners prisoners. But these latter, informed in
time of the danger, had gained time and saved themselves on board the
French frigate lying in the harbor, and with them the whole Bonaparte
family had embarked. Napoleon, on whom the attention of Paoli’s agents
had been specially directed, was more than once in danger of being
seized by them, and it was due to the advice of a friend that, disguised
as a sailor, he saved himself in time on board the French frigate and
joined his family. [Footnote: “Memoires de la Duchess d’Abrantes,” vol.
i.] The commissioners of the Convention at once ordered the anchor to be
weighed, and to steer toward France.

This frigate, on board of which the Bonaparte family in its flight had
embarked, carried to France the future emperor and his fortune.

The house, the possessions of the Bonaparte family, fell a prey to
the conquerors, and on them they gave vent to their vengeance for
the successful escape of the fugitives. A witness of these facts is
a certificate which Joseph Bonaparte a few months later procured from
Corsica, and which ran as follows:

“I, the undersigned, Louis Conti, procurator-syndic of the district of
Ajaccio, department of Corsica, declare and certify: in the month of
May of this year, when General Paoli and the administration of the
department had sent into the city of Ajaccio armed troops, in concert
with other traitors in the city, took possession of the fortress, drove
away the administration of the district, incarcerated a large portion of
the patriots, disarmed the republican forces, and, when these refused
to give up the commissioners of the National Convention, Paoli’s troops
fired upon the vessel which carried these commissioners:

“That these rebels endeavored to seize the Bonaparte family, which had
the good fortune to elude their pursuit:

“That they destroyed, plundered, and burnt everything which belonged to
this family, whose sole crime consisted in their unswerving fidelity to
the republicans, and in their refusal to take any part in the scheme
of isolation, rebellion, and disloyalty, of which Paoli and the
administration of the department had become guilty.

“I moreover declare and certify that this family, consisting of ten
individuals, and who stood high in the esteem of the people of the
island, possessed the largest property in the whole department, and that
now they are on the continent of the republic.

“(Signed) CONTI, Proc.-Synd. Delivered on the 5th of September, 1793,
Year II. of the republic.” [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i.,
p. 52.]

Paoli, the conqueror of the French republic, the patriotic enemy of the
Bonaparte family, drove Napoleon Bonaparte from his native soil! The
cannon of the Corsican patriots fired upon the ship on which the future
emperor of the French was steering toward his future empire!

But this future lay still in an invisible, cloudy distance--of one
thing, however, was the young captain of artillery fully conscious:
from this hour he had broken with the past, and, by his dangers and
conflicts, by the sacrifice of his family’s property, by his flight from
Corsica, given to the world a solemn testimony that he recognized
no other country, that he owed allegiance to no other nation than to
France. He had proved that his feelings were not Corsican, but French.

The days of his childhood and youth sank away behind him, with the
deepening shadows of the island of Corsica, and the shores which rose
before him on the horizon were the shores of France. There lay his
future--his empire!


Whilst Paris, yet trembling, bowed under the bloody rule of the
Convention, a spirit of opposition and horror began to stir in the
provinces; fear of the terrorists, of the Convention, began to kindle
the courage, to make defiance to these men of horror, and to put an end
to terrorism. The province of Vendee, in her faithfulness and loyalty to
the royal family, arose in deadly conflict against the republicans;
the large cities of the south, with Toulon at their head, had shielded
themselves from the horrors which the home government would have brought
them, by uniting with the enemies who now from all sides pressed upon

Toulon gave itself up to the combined fleet of England and Spain.
Marseilles, Lyons, and Nismes, contracted an alliance together, and
declared their independence of the Convention and of the terrorists.
Everywhere in all the cities and communities of the south the people
rose up, and seditions and rebellions took place. Everywhere the
Convention had to send its troops to re-establish peace by force, and
to compel the people to submit to its rule. Whole army corps had to be
raised to win back to the republic the rebellious cities, and only after
hard fighting did General Carteaux subdue Marseilles.

But Toulon held out still, and within its protecting walls had the
majority of the inhabitants of Marseilles taken refuge before the wrath
of the Convention, which had already sent to the latter some of
its representatives, to establish there the destructive work of the
guillotine. Toulon offered them safety; it seemed impregnable, as much
by its situation as by the number and strength of its defenders. It
could also defy any siege, since the sea was open, and it could by this
channel be provisioned through the English and Spanish fleet.

No one trembled before the little army of seventeen thousand men which,
under General Carteaux, had invested Toulon.

But in this little army of the republicans was a young soldier whom yet
none knew, none feared, but whose fame was soon to resound throughout
the world, and before whom all Europe was soon tremblingly to bow.

This young man was Napoleon Bonaparte, the captain of artillery. He had
come from Italy (where his regiment was) to France, to make there, by
order of his general, some purchases for the park of artillery of
the Italian army. But some of the people’s representatives had had an
opportunity of recognizing the sharp eye and the military acquirements
of the young captain of artillery; they interceded in his favor, and he
was promoted to the army corps which was before Toulon, and at once sent
in the capacity of assistant to General Carteaux, with whom also was
Napoleon’s brother Joseph, as chief of the general’s staff.

From this moment the siege, which until now had not progressed
favorably, was pushed on with renewed energy, and it was due to the
cautious activity, the daring spirit of the captain of artillery, that
marked advantages were gained over the English, and that from them many
redoubts were taken, and the lines of the French drawn closer and closer
to the besieged city.

But yet, after many months of siege, Toulon held out still. From the
sea came provisions and ammunition, and on the land-side Toulon was
protected against capture by a fort occupied by English troops, and
which, on account of its impregnable position, was called “Little
Gibraltar.” From this position hot-balls and howitzers had free range
all over the seaboard, for this fort stood between the two harbors
of the city and immediately opposite Toulon. The English, fully
appreciating the importance of the position, had occupied it with six
thousand men, and surrounded it with intrenchments.

It came to this, as Napoleon in a council of war declared to the
general, that the English must be driven out of their position; then,
when this fort was taken, in two days Toulon must yield.

The plan was decided upon, and from this moment the besiegers directed
all their strength no more against Toulon, but against the important
fort, “Little Gibraltar,” “for there,” as Napoleon said, “there was the
key to Toulon.”

All Europe now watched with intense anxiety the events near Toulon; all
France, which hitherto with divided sentiments had wished the victory
to side now with the besieged, now with the besiegers, forgot its
differences of opinion, and was united in the one wish to expel the
hated enemy and rival, the English, from the French city, and to crown
the efforts of the French army with victory.

The Convention, irritated that its orders should not have been
immediately carried out, had in its despotic power recalled from his
command General Carteaux, who could not succeed in capturing Toulon,
and had appointed as chief of battalion the young captain of artillery,
Napoleon Bonaparte, on account of his bravery in capturing some
dangerous redoubts. The successor of Carteaux, the old General
Dugommier, recognizing the superior mind of the young chief of
battalion, willingly followed his plans, and was readily guided and led
by the surer insight of the young man.

The position of new Gibraltar had to be conquered so as to secure the
fall of Toulon; such was, such remained Napoleon’s unswerving judgment.
No effort, no cost, no blood, was to be spared to attain this result. He
placed new batteries against the fort; stormed the forts Malbosquet and
Ronge; a terrible struggle ensued, in which the English General O’Hara
was taken prisoner by the French, and the English had to leave the fort
and retreat into the city.

The first great advantage was won, but Little Gibraltar remained still
in the hands of the English, and Napoleon desired, and felt it as an
obligation, to subdue it at any price.

But already the Convention began to be discouraged, and to lose energy,
and the deputies of the people, Barras and Freron, who until now had
remained with the besieging army, hastened to Paris to implore the
Convention to give up the siege, and to recall the army from Toulon.

But before they reached Paris the matter was to be decided before
Toulon. The fate of the Little Gibraltar was to be fulfilled; it was to
be taken, or in the storming of it the French army was to perish.

Thousands of shells were thrown into the fort, thirty cannon thundered
against it. Napoleon Bonaparte mixed with the artillerymen, encouraged
by his bold words their activity, their energy, and their bravery, and
pointed to them the spots where to direct their balls. Whilst he was
in conversation with one of the cannoneers near whom he stood, a
cannon-ball from the English tore away the head of the artilleryman who
had just lifted up the match to fire his cannon.

Napoleon quietly took up the burning match out of the hand of the dead
man, and discharged the gun. Then, with all the zeal and tact of an
experienced cannoneer, he began to load the piece, to send forth its
balls against the enemy and for many hours he remained at this post,
until another artilleryman was found to relieve the chief of division.
[Footnote: This brave action of Napoleon was to have for him evil
results. The cannoneer, from whose hand he took the match, was suffering
from the most distressing skin-disease, generally breaking out with the
greatest violence in the hand. The match which the cannoneer had for
hours held in his hand was yet warm with its pressure, and imparted to
Napoleon’s hand the poison of the contagious disease. For years he had
to endure the eruption, which he could not conquer, as he had conquered
nations and princes, but to its destructive and painful power he had
to subdue his body. The nervous agitations to which he was subject, the
shrugging of his right shoulder, the white-greenish complexion of his
face, the leanness of his body, were all consequences of this disease.
It was only when Napoleon had become emperor, that Corvisart succeeded,
by his eloquence, in persuading him to follow a regular course of
treatment. This treatment cured him; his white-greenish complexion and
his leanness disappeared. The nervous movement of the shoulder remained,
and became a habit.--See “Memoires de Constant,” vol. i.]

But whilst Napoleon made himself a cannoneer in the service of his
country, he remained at the same time the chief of division, whose
attention was everywhere, whose eagle glance nothing escaped, and who
knew how to improve every advantage.

A body of troops was at a distant point, and Bonaparte wanted to send
them an important order. Whilst loading his cannon, he called aloud
to an under-officer to whom he might dictate the dispatch. A young man
hastened to the call, and said he was ready to write. Upon a mound of
sand he unfolded his pocket-book, drew out of it a piece of paper, and
began to write what Napoleon, with a voice above the cannon’s roar,
was dictating to him. At this very moment, as the order was written,
a cannon-ball fell quite near the officer, burrowing the ground, and
scattering some of the light sand over the written paper. The young man
raised his hat and made a bow to the cannon-ball, that buried itself in
the sand.

“I thank you,” said he, “you have saved me sand for my paper.”

Napoleon smiled, and looked with a joyous, sympathizing glance at the
young officer, whose handsome pleasing countenance was radiant with bold
daring and harmless merriment.

“Now, I need a brave messenger to carry this order to that exposed
detachment,” said Napoleon.

“I will be the messenger,” cried out the officer, eagerly.

“Well, I accept you, but you must remove your uniform, and put on a
blouse, so as not to be too much exposed.”

“That I will not do,” exclaimed the young man. “I am no spy.”

“What! you refuse to obey?” asked Napoleon, threateningly.

“No, I refuse to assume a disguise,” answered the officer “I am ready to
obey, and even to carry the order into the very hands of the devil.
But with my uniform I go, otherwise those cursed Englishmen might well
imagine that I am afraid of them.”

“But you imperil your life if you go in your glittering uniform.”

“My life does not belong to me,” cried out gayly the young soldier. “Who
cares if I risk it? You will not be sorry about it, for you know me
not, citizen-officer, and it is all the same to me. Shall I not go in
my uniform? I should be delighted to encounter those English gentlemen,
for, with my sword and the sprightly grains in my patron’s pocket,
the conversation will not sleep, I vow. Now, then, shall I go,

“Go,” said Napoleon, smiling. “But you are wrong if you think I will
not be sorry in case you pay this duty with your life. You are a brave
fellow, and I love the brave. Go; but first tell me your name, that when
you return I may tell General Dugommier what name he has to inscribe in
his papers of recommendation for officers; that will be the reward for
your message.”

“My name is Junot, citizen-officer,” exclaimed the young man as,
swinging the paper in his hand, he darted away eagerly.

The roar of the cannon was still heard, when Napoleon’s messenger
returned, after a few hours, and reported to him. The chief of division
received him with a friendly motion of his head.

“Welcome, Junot,” said he. “I am glad to see you back, and that you
have successfully accomplished your task. I must now make a change of
position in yonder battallion. To-morrow I will give you your commission
of lieutenant, citizen-soldier.”

“And to-day grant me a nobler reward, citizen-officer,” said the young
man, tenderly; “give me your hand, and allow me to press it in mine.”

Napoleon, smiling, gave him his hand. The eyes of both young men met in
radiant looks, and with these looks was sealed the covenant which united
them both in a friendship enduring to the tomb. For not one of his
companions-in-arms remained attached to Napoleon with so warm, true,
nearly impassioned tenderness as Junot, and none of them was by the
general, the consul, the emperor, more implicitly trusted, more heartily
beloved than his Junot, whom he exalted to the ranks of general,
governor of Lisbon, Duke d’Abrantes, who was one of the few to whom
in his days of glory he allowed to speak to him in all truth, in all
freedom, and without reserve.

But whilst the two young men were sealing this covenant of friendship
with this look of spiritual recognition, the cannon was thundering forth
on all sides. The earth trembled from the reports of the pieces; all the
elements seemed unloosed; the storm howled as if to mingle the noise
of human strife with the uproar of Nature; the sea dashed its frothy,
mound-like waves with terrible noise on the shore; the rain poured down
from the skies in immense torrents, and everything around was veiled in
mists of dampness and smoke. And amid all this, crackled, thundered,
and hissed the shells which were directed against Little Gibraltar, or
whizzed from Toulon, to bring death and destruction among the besiegers.

Night sank down, and yet Little Gibraltar was not taken. “I am lost,”
 sighed General Dugommier. “I shall have to pay with my head, if we are
forced to retreat.”

“Then we must go forward,” cried Bonaparte; “we must have Little

An hour after, a loud cry of victory announced to General Dugommier that
the chief of division had reached his aim, that Little Gibraltar was
captured by the French.

As the day began to dawn, the French had already captured two other
forts; and Bonaparte roused all his energies to fire from Little
Gibraltar upon the enemy’s fleet. But the English admiral, Lord Hood,
knew very well the terrible danger to which he was exposed if he did not
at once weigh anchor.

The chief of division had prophesied correctly: in Little Gibraltar was
the key of Toulon; and since the French had now seized the keys, the
English ships could no longer close the city against them. Toulon was
lost--it had to surrender to the conquerors. [Footnote: Toulon fell on
the 18th of December, 1793.]

It is true, defensive operations were still carried on, but Napoleon’s
balls scattered death and ruin into the city; the bursting of shells
brought destruction and suffering everywhere, and in the city as well as
in the harbor columns of flames arose from houses and ships.

Toulon was subdued; and the chief of division, Napoleon Bonaparte, had
achieved his first brilliant pass of arms before jubilant France and
astonished Europe; he had made his name shine out from the obscurity of
the past, and placed it on the pages of history.

The Convention showed itself thankful to the daring soldier, who had
won such a brilliant victory alike over the foreign as well as over the
internal enemies of the republic; and Napoleon Bonaparte, the chief of
division, was now promoted to the generalship of division.

He accepted the nomination with a quiet smile. The wondrous brilliancy
of his eyes betrayed only to a few friends and confidants the important
resolves and thoughts which moved the soul of the young general.

In virtue of the order of the Convention, the newly-appointed General
Bonaparte was to go to the army of the republic which was now stationed
in Italy; and he received secret instructions from the Directory
concerning Genoa. Bonaparte left Paris, to gather, as he hoped, fresh
laurels and new victories.


On the 25th day of March, 1794. General Bonaparte entered the
headquarters of the French army in Nice. He was welcomed with joy and
marks of distinction, for the fame of his heroic deeds before Toulon
had preceded him; and on Bonaparte’s pale, proud face, with its dark,
brilliant eyes, was written that he was now come into Italy to add fresh
laurels to the victor’s crown won before Toulon.

The old commander-in-chief of the French army, General Dumerbion,
confined oftentimes to his bed through sickness, was very willing to be
represented by General Bonaparte, and to place every thing in his hands;
and the two representatives of the people, Ricord and Robespierre (the
younger brother of the all-powerful dictator)--these two representatives
in the army corps of Italy bound themselves in intimate friendship with
the young general, who seemed to share their glowing enthusiasm for the
republic, and their hatred against the monarchy and the aristocrats.
They cherished, moreover, an unreserved confidence in the military
capacities of young Bonaparte, and always gave to his plans their
unconditional assent and approbation. Upon Napoleon’s suggestion
batteries were erected on the coast of Provence for the security of the
fleet and of trading-vessels; and when this had been accomplished,
the general began to carry out the plan which he had laid before the
representatives of the republic, and according to which the republican
army, with its right and left wings advancing simultaneously on the
sea-coast, was to march through the neutral territory of Genoa into

This plan of Bonaparte was crowned with the most unexpected success.
Without observing the neutrality of Genoa, Generals Massena and Arena
marched through the territory of the proud Italian republic, and thus
began the bloody war which was to desolate the Italian soil for so many

Ever faithful to Bonaparte’s war-schemes, which the general-in-chief,
Dumerbion, and the two representatives of the people, Ricord and
Robespierre, had sanctioned, the French columns moved from the valleys,
within whose depths they had so long and so uselessly shed their
blood, up to the heights and conquered the fortresses which the King of
Sardinia had built on the mountains for the protection of his frontiers.
Thus Fort Mirabocco, on the pass of the Cross, fell into the hands of
General Dumas, who then conquered the intrenched Mount Cenis; thus the
pass of Tenda, with the fortress Saorgio, was captured by the French;
and there, in the general depot of the Piedmontese army, they found
sixty cannon and war materials of all kinds.

The French had celebrated their first victories in Italy, and both
commanding officers of the fortresses of Mirabocco and Saorgio had to
pay for these triumphs in Turin with the loss of their lives; whilst
General Bonaparte, “as the one to whose well-matured plans and
arrangements these brilliant results were due,” received from the
Convention brilliant encomiums.

But suddenly the state of affairs assumed another shape, and at one blow
all the hopes and plans of the young, victorious general were destroyed.

Maximilian Robespierre had fallen; with him fell the whole party; then
fell his brother, who a short time before had returned to Paris, and had
there endeavored to obtain from Maximilian new and more ample powers
for Bonaparte, and even the appointment to the chief command of the
army--there fell also Ricord, who had given to General Bonaparte the
letter of secret instructions for energetic negotiations with the
government of Genoa, and to carry out which instructions Bonaparte had
at this time gone to that city.

As he was returning to his headquarters in Saona, from Paris had arrived
the new representatives, who came to the army of Italy as delegates of
the Convention, and were armed with full powers.

These representatives were Salicetti, Albitte, and Laporte. The first of
these, a countryman of Bonaparte, had been thus far his friend and his
party associate. He was in Corsica at the same time as Napoleon, in the
year 1793; he had been, like his young friend, a member of the Jacobin
Club of Ajaccio, and Salicetti’s speeches had not been inferior to those
of Napoleon, either in wildness or in exalted republicanism.

But now Salicetti had become the representative of the moderate party;
and it was highly important for him to establish himself securely in his
new position, and to give to the Convention a proof of the firmness
of his sentiments by manifesting the hatred which he had sworn to the
terrorists, and to all those who, under the fallen regime, had obtained
recognition and distinction.

General Bonaparte had been a friend of the young Robespierre; loudly and
openly he had expressed his republican and democratic sentiments; he
had been advanced under the administration of Robespierre, from
simple lieutenant to general; he had been sent to Genoa, with secret
instructions by the representatives of the Committee of Safety, made up
of terrorists--all this was sufficient to make him appear suspicious
to the moderate party, and to furnish Salicetti an opportunity to show
himself a faithful partisan of the new system of moderation.

General Bonaparte was, by order of the representatives of the people,
Salicetti and Albitte, arrested at his headquarters in Saona, because,
as the warrant for arrest, signed by both representatives, asserted:
“General Bonaparte had completely lost their confidence through his
suspicious demeanor, and especially through the journey which he had
lately made to Genoa.” The warrant of arrest furthermore ordered
that General Bonaparte, whose effects should be sealed and his papers
examined, was to be sent to Paris, under sure escort, and be brought for
examination before the Committee of Safety.

If this order were carried into execution, then Bonaparte was lost; for,
though Robespierre had fallen, yet with his fall the system of blood and
terror had not been overthrown in Paris; it had only changed its name.

The terrorists, who now called themselves the moderates, exercised the
same system of intimidation as their predecessors; and to be brought
before the Committee of Safety, signified the same thing as to receive a

Bonaparte was lost, if it truly came to this, that he must be led to

This was what Junot, the present adjutant of Napoleon, and his faithful
friend and companion, feared. It was therefore necessary to anticipate
this order, and to procure freedom to Bonaparte.

A thousand schemes for the rescue of his beloved chief, crossed the soul
of the young man. But how make them known to the general? how induce
him to flee, since all approaches to him were forbidden? His zeal, his
inventive friendship, succeeded at last in finding a means. One of the
soldiers, who was placed as sentry at the door of the arrested general,
was bribed by Junot; through him a letter from Junot reached Bonaparte’s
hands, which laid before him a scheme of flight that the next night
could be accomplished with Junot’s help.

Not far from Bonaparte’s dwelling Junot awaited the answer, and soon a
soldier passed by and brought it to him.

This answer ran thus: “In the propositions you make, I acknowledge your
deep friendship, my dear Junot; you are also conscious of the friendship
I have consecrated to you for a long time, and I trust you have
confidence in it.

“Man may do wrong toward me, my dear Junot; it is enough for me to be
innocent; my conscience is the tribunal which I recognize as sole judge
of my conduct.

“This conscience is quiet when I question it; do, therefore, nothing,
if you do not wish to compromise me. Adieu, dear Junot. Farewell, and
friendship.” [Footnote: Abrantes, “Memoires,” vol. i., p. 241.]

Meanwhile, notwithstanding his quiet conscience, Bonaparte was not
willing to meet his fate passively and silently, and, perchance, it
seemed to him that it was “not enough to be innocent,” so as to be
saved from the guillotine. He therefore addressed a protest to both
representatives of the people who had ordered his arrest, and this
protest, which he dictated to his friend Junot, who had finally
succeeded in coming to Bonaparte, is so extraordinary and so peculiar
in its terseness of style, in its expressions of political sentiment; it
furnishes so important a testimony of the republican democratic opinions
of the young twenty-six-year-old general, that we cannot but give here
this document.

Bonaparte then dictated to his friend Junot as follows:

“To the representatives Salicetti and Albitte:

“You have deprived me of my functions, you have arrested me and declared
me suspected.

“I am, then, ruined without being condemned; or else, which is much more
correct, I am condemned without being heard.

“In a revolutionary state exist two classes: the suspected and the

“When those of the first class are accused, they are treated as the
common law of safety provides.

“The oppression of those of the second class is the ruin of public
liberty. The judge must condemn only after mature deliberation, and when
a series of unimpeachable facts reaches the guilty.

“To denounce a patriot as guilty is a condemnation which deprives him of
what is most dear--confidence and esteem.

“In which class am I to be ranked?

“Have I not been, since the beginning of the revolution, faithful to its

“Have I not always been seen at war with enemies at home, or as a
soldier against the foreign foe?

“I have sacrificed my residence in my country and my property to the
republic; I have lost all for her.

“By serving my country with some distinction at Toulon and in the
Italian army, I have had my share in the laurels which that army has won
at Saorgio, Queille, and Tanaro.

“At the time of the discovery of Robespierre’s conspiracy, my conduct
was that of a man who is accustomed to recognize principles only.

“It is therefore impossible to refuse me the title of patriot.

“Why, then, am I declared suspect without being heard? Why am I arrested
eight days after the news of the death of the tyrant?

“I am declared suspect, and my papers are sealed!

“The reverse ought to have taken place: my papers ought to have been
unsealed; I ought to have been tried; explanations ought to have been
sought for, and then I might have been declared suspect if there were
sufficient motives for it.

“It is decided that I must go to Paris under a warrant of arrest
which declares me suspect. In Paris they will conclude that the
representatives have acted thus only after sufficient examination, and I
shall be condemned with the sympathy which a man of that class deserves.

“Innocent, patriotic, slandered, whatever may be the measures which the
committee take, I cannot complain.

“If three men were to declare that I have committed a crime, I could not
complain if the jury should declare me guilty.

“Salicetti, you know me. Have you, during the five years of our
acquaintance, found in my conduct any thing which could be suspected as
against the revolution?

“Albitte, you know me not. No one can have given you convincing
evidence against me. You have not heard me; you know, however, with what
smoothness calumny oftentimes whispers.

“Must I then be taken for an enemy of my country? Must the patriots
ruin, without any regard, a general who has not been entirely useless
to the republic? Must the representatives place the government under the
necessity of acting unjustly and impolitically?

“Mark my words; destroy the oppression which binds me down, and
re-establish me in the esteem of the patriots.

“If, then, at some future hour, the wicked shall still long for my
life, well, then I consider it of so little importance--I have so often
despised it--yes, the mere thought that it can be useful to the country,
enables me to bear its burden with courage.” [Footnote: Bourienne,
“Memoires sur Napoleon,” etc., vol. i., p. 63.]

Whether these energetic protestations of Bonaparte, or whether some
other motives, conduced to the result, Salicetti thought that with
Napoleon’s arrest he had furnished sufficient proof of his patriotic
sentiments; it seemed to him enough to have obscured the growing fame
of the young general, and to have plunged back into obscurity and
forgetfulness him whose first steps in life’s career promised such a
radiant and glorious course!

It matters not, however, what circumstances may have wrought out; the
representatives Salicetti and Albitte issued a decree in virtue of
which General Bonaparte was, after mature consideration and thorough
examination of his papers, declared innocent and free from all
suspicion. Consequently, Bonaparte was temporarily set at liberty; but
he was suspended from his command in the Italian army, and was recalled
to Paris, there to be made acquainted with his future destination.

This destination was pointed out to him in a commission as
brigadier-general of infantry in the province of Vendee, there to lead
on the fratricidal strife against the fanatical Chouans, the faithful
adherents of the king.

Bonaparte refused this offer--first, because it seemed to him an
insulting request to ask him to fight against his own countrymen; and
secondly, because he did not wish to enter the infantry service, but to
remain in the artillery.

The Committee of Safety responded to this refusal of Bonaparte by
striking his name from the list of generals appointed for promotion,
because he had declined to go to the post assigned him.

This decision fell upon the ambitious, heroic young man like a
thunderbolt. He had dreamed of brilliant war deeds, of laurels, of fame,
of a glorious future, won for him by his own sword; and now, all at
once, he saw himself dragged away from this luminous track of fame upon
which he had so brilliantly entered--he saw himself thrust back into
obscurity, forgetfulness, and inactivity.

A gloomy, misanthropic sentiment took possession of him; and, though a
prophetic voice within said that the future still belonged to him, with
its fame, its laurels, its victories, yet inactivity, care, and the
wants of the present, hung with oppressive weight upon his mind.

He withdrew from all social joys and recreations, he avoided his
acquaintances, and only to a few friends did he open his foreboding
heart; only with these did he associate, and to them alone he made his
complaints of broken hopes, of life’s career destroyed.

To these few friends, whom Bonaparte in his misfortune found faithful
and unchanged, belonged the Ferment family, and above all belonged
Junot, who had come to Paris at the same time as Bonaparte, and who,
though the latter was dismissed from the service, continued to call
himself the adjutant of General Bonaparte.

In the Permont family Napoleon was received with the same friendship and
attention as in former days; Madame de Permont retained ever for the son
of the friend of her youth, Letitia, a kindly smile, a genial sympathy,
an intelligent appreciation of his plans and wishes; her husband
manifested toward him all the interest of a parental regard; her son
Albert was full of tenderness and admiration for him; and her younger
daughter Laura jested and conversed with him as with a beloved brother.

In this house every thing seemed pleasant and friendly to Bonaparte;
thither he came every day, and mixed with the social circles, which
gathered in the evening in the drawing-rooms of the beautiful, witty
Madame de Permont; and where men even of diverging political sentiments,
aristocrats and ci-devants of the first water, were to be found. But
Madame de Permont had forbidden all political discussion in her saloon;
and General Bonaparte, now compelled to inactivity, dared no more show
his anger against the Committee of Safety, or against the Convention,
than the Count de Montmorency or any of the proud ladies of the former
quarter of St. Germain.

Not only the inactivity to which he was condemned, not only the
destruction of all his ambitious hopes, burdened the mind of Bonaparte,
but also the material pressure under which he now and then found
himself, and which seemed to him a shame and a humiliation. With gloomy
grudge he gazed at those young elegants whom he met on the Boulevards
in splendid toilet, on superb horses--at these incroyables who, in the
first rays of the sun of peace, from the soil of the republic, yet moist
with blood, had sprung up as so many mushrooms of divers colors and
varied hues.

“And such men enjoy their happiness!” exclaimed Bonaparte,
contemptuously, as once in the Champs Elysees he sat before a
coffee-house, near one of those incroyables, and with violent emotion
starting up, he pushed his seat back and nearly broke the feet of his
exquisitely dressed neighbor.

To be forgotten, to be set in the background, to be limited in means,
was always to him a source of anger, which manifested itself now in
impassioned vehemence, now in vague, gloomy dreaminess, from which
he would rise up again with some violent sarcasm or some epigrammatic

But whilst he thus suffered, was in want, and had so much to endure, his
mind and heart were always busy. His mind was framing new plans to
bring to an end these days of inactivity, to open a new path of fame and
glory; his heart dreamed of a sweet bliss, of another new love!

The object of this love was the sister of his brother’s wife, the
young Desiree Clary. Joseph Bonaparte, who was now in Marseilles as
war-commissioner, had married there one of the daughters of the rich
merchant Clary; and her younger sister Desiree was the one to whom
Napoleon had devoted his heart. The whole Bonaparte family was now in
Marseilles, and had decided to make their permanent residence in France,
as their return to Corsica was still impossible; for General Paoli, no
longer able to hold the island, had called the English to his help, and
the assembled Consulta, over which Paoli presided, had invited the King
of England to become sovereign of the island. The French party, at whose
head had been the Bonaparte family, was overcome, and could no longer
lift up head or voice.

Bonaparte came often to Marseilles to visit his family, which consisted
of his mother Letitia, her three daughters, her two younger sons, and
her brother, the Abbe Fesch. There, he had seen every day, in the house
of his brother, Desiree Clary, and the beautiful, charming maid had not
failed to leave in the heart of the young general a deep impression.
Desiree seemed to return this inclination, and a union of the two young
lovers might soon have taken place, if fate, in the shape of accident,
had not prevented it.

Joseph was sent by the Committee of Safety to Genoa, with instructions;
his young wife and her sister Desiree accompanied him. Perhaps the
new, variable impressions of the journey, perhaps her separation from
Bonaparte, and her association with other officers less gloomy than the
saturnine Napoleon, all this seemed to cool the love of Desiree Clary;
she no more answered Napoleon’s letters, and, in writing to his brother
Joseph, he made bitter complaints: “It seems that to reach Genoa the
River Lethe must first be crossed, and therefore Desiree writes no
more.” [Footnote: See “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i.]

The only confidant to whom Bonaparte imparted these heart-complaints,
was Junot. He had for him no secrecy of his innermost and deepest
inclinations; to him he complained with grave and impassioned words
of Desiree’s changeableness; and Junot, whose worshipful love for his
friend could not understand that any maiden, were she the most beautiful
and glorious on earth, could ever slight the inclination of General
Bonaparte, Junot shared his wrath against Desiree, who had begun the
rupture between them by leaving unanswered two of Napoleon’s letters.

After having been angry and having complained in concert with Bonaparte,
Junot’s turn to be confidential had come. Bewildered, and blushing like
a young maid, he avowed to his dear general that he also loved, and that
he could hope for happiness and joy only if Napoleon’s younger sister,
the beautiful little Pauline, would be his wife.

Bonaparte listened to him with a frowning countenance, and when Junot
ended by asking his mediation with Pauline’s mother, Napoleon asked in
a grave tone, “But, what have you to live upon? Can you support Pauline?
Can you, with her, establish a household which will be safe against

Junot, radiant with joy, told him how, anticipating this question of
Napoleon, he had written to his father, and had asked for information
in regard to his means; and that his father had just now answered his
questions, and had replied that for the present he could not give him
anything, but that after his death the inheritance of his son would
amount to twenty thousand francs.

“I shall be one day rich,” exclaimed Junot, gayly, as he handed to
Napoleon the letter of his father, “for with my pay I will have an
income of twelve hundred livres. My general, I beseech you, write to
the Citoyenne Bonaparte; tell her that you have read the letter of my
father, and say a good word in my favor.”

Bonaparte did not at once reply. He attentively read the letter of
Junot, senior, then returned it to his friend, and with head sunk down
upon his breast he stared gloomily, with contracted eyebrows.

“You answer not, general,” exclaimed Junot, in extreme anguish. “You do
not wish to be my mediator?”

Bonaparte raised his head; his cheeks were paler than before, and a
gloomy expression was in his eyes.

“I cannot write to my mother to make her this proposition,” said he, in
a rough, severe tone. “That is impossible, my friend. You say that one
day you will have an income of twelve hundred livres. That is, indeed,
very fair, but you have them not now. Besides, your father’s health is
remarkably good, and he will make you wait a long time. For the present
you have nothing; for your lieutenant’s epaulets can be reckoned as
nothing. As regards Pauline, she has not even that much. Let us then
sum up: you have nothing; she has nothing! What is the total amount?
Nothing. You cannot, therefore, be married now: let us wait. We shall,
perhaps, friend, outlive these evil days. Yes, we shall outlive them,
even if I have to become an exile, to seek for them in another portion
of the world! Let us, then, wait!” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s words.--See
Abrantes, “Memoires,” vol. i., p. 284.]

And a wondrous, mysterious brilliancy and flash filled the eyes of
General Bonaparte, as with a commanding voice he repeated, “Let us

Was this one of those few and pregnant moments in which the mind with
prophetic power gazes into the future? Had a corner of the veil which
hid the future been lifted up before the glowing eagle-eye of Napoleon,
and did he see the splendor and the glory of that future which were to
be his? However great his imagination, however ambitious his dreams,
however wide his hopes, yet they all were to be one day surpassed by
the reality. For would he not have considered a madman him, who, at this
hour, would have told him: “Smooth the furrows on your brow, Bonaparte;
be not downcast about the present. You are now in want, you are thrust
aside; forgetfulness and obscurity are now your lot; but be of good
cheer, you will be emperor, and all Europe will lie trembling at your
feet. You love the young Desiree Clary, and her indifference troubles
you; but be of good cheer, you will one day marry the daughter of
a Caesar, and the little Desiree, the daughter of a merchant from
Marseilles, will one day be Sweden’s queen! You refuse to Junot, your
friend, the gratification of his wishes, because he possesses nothing
but his officer’s epaulets: but be of good cheer, for you will one day
convert the little Lieutenant Junot into a duke, and give him a kingdom
for a dowry! You feel downhearted and ashamed, because your sister
Pauline is not rich, because she possesses nothing but her beauty and
her name: but be of good cheer, she will one day be the wife of the
wealthiest prince of Italy; all the treasures of art will be gathered
in her palace, and yet she will be the most precious ornament of that

Surely the General Bonaparte would have laughed at the madman, who, in
the year 1795, should have thus spoken to him--and yet a mere decade of
years was to suffice for the realization of all these prophecies, and to
turn the incredible into a reality.


The days of terror, and of blood, under which France has sighed so long,
were not to end with the fall of Robespierre. Another enemy of the rest
and peace of France had now made its entrance into Paris--hunger began
to exercise its dreary rale of horror, and to fill the hearts of men
with rage and despair.

Everywhere throughout France the crops had failed, and the republic had
too much to do with the guillotine, with the political struggles in the
interior, with the enemies on the frontier, she had been so busy with
the heads of her children, that she could have no care for the welfare
of their stomachs.

The corn-magazines were empty, and in the treasury of the republican
government there was no money to buy grain in foreign markets. Very soon
the want of bread, the cry for food, made itself felt everywhere; soon
hunger goaded into new struggles of despair the poor Parisian people,
already so weary with political storms, longing for rest, and exhausted
by conflicts. Hunger drove them again into politics, hunger converted
the women into demons, and their husbands into fanatical Jacobins. Every
day, tumults and seditious gatherings took place in Paris; the murmuring
and howling crowd threatened to rise up. Every day appeared at the bar
of the Convention the sections of Paris, entreating with wild cries for
a remedy for their distress. At every step in the streets one was met by
intoxicated women, who tried to find oblivion of their hunger in wine,
and to whom, notwithstanding their drunkenness, the consciousness of
their calamity remained. These drunken women, with the gestures of
madness, shouted: “Bread! give us bread! We had bread at least in the
year ‘93! Bread! Down with the republic! Down with the Convention, which
leaves us to starve!”

To these shouts responded other masses of the people: “Down with the
constitutionalists! Long live the Mountain! Long live the Convention!”

Civil war, which in its exhaustion had remained subdued for a moment,
threatened to break out with renewed rage, for the parties stood
face to face in determined hostility, and “Down with the
constitutionalists!--down with the republicans!” was the watchword of
these parties.

For a moment it seemed as if the Mountain, as if the revolution, would
regain the ascendency, as if the terrorists would once more seize
the rudder which had slipped from their blood-stained hands. But the
Convention, which for a time had remained undecided, trembling and
vacillating, rose at length from its lethargy to firm, energetic
measures, and came to the determination to restore peace at any price.

The people, stirred up by the terrorists, the furious men of the
Mountain, had to be reduced to silence, and the cry, “Long live the
constitution of ‘93!--down with the Convention!”--this cry, which every
day rolled on through the streets of Paris like the vague thunderings
of the war-drum,--had to be put down by armed force. Barrere,
Collot d’Herbois, Billaud Varennes, the remnant of the sanguinary
administration of Robespierre, the terrorists who excited the people
against the Convention, who pressed on the Thermidorists, and wanted
to occupy their place, these were the ones who with their adherents
and friends threatened the Convention and imperilled its existence. The
Convention rose up in its might and punished these leaders of sedition,
so as through fear and horror to disperse the masses of the people.

Barrere, Collot d’Herbois, and Billaud Varennes, were arrested and sent
to Cayenne; six of their friends, six republicans and terrorists, were
also seized, and as they were convicted of forging plots against the
Convention and the actual administration, they were sentenced to death.
A seventh had also been at the head of this conspiracy; and this seventh
one, who with the others had been sentenced to death, and whom the
Committee of Safety had watched for everywhere, to bring down upon him
the chastisement due, this seventh one was Salicetti--the same Salicetti
who after the fall of Robespierre had arrested General Bonaparte as
suspect. Bonaparte had never forgiven him, and though he often met him
in the house of Madame de Permont, and appeared to be reconciled with
him, yet he could not forget that he was the one who had stopped him
in the midst of his course of fame, that it was he who had debarred him
from his whole career.

“Salicetti has done me much harm,” said Bonaparte to Madame de Permont,
and a strange look from his eyes met her face--“Salicetti has destroyed
my future in its dawn. He has blighted my plans of fame in their bud.
I repeat, he has done me much harm. He has been my evil spirit. I
can never forget it,” but added he, thoughtfully, “I will now try to
forgive.” [Footnote: Abrantes, vol. i, p. 300.]

And again a peculiar, searching look of his eyes met the face of Madame
de Permont.

She, however, turned aside, she avoided his look, for she dared not tell
him that Salicetti, for whom the Convention searched throughout Paris so
as to bring upon him the execution of his death-warrant--that Salicetti,
whom Bonaparte so fiercely hated, was hid a few steps from him in the
little cabinet near the drawing-room.

Like Bonaparte, Salicetti was the countryman of Madame de Permont; in
the days of his power, he had saved the husband and the son of Panonia
from the persecution of the terrorists, and lie had now come to ask
safety from those whom he had once saved.

Madame de Permont had not had the courage to refuse an asylum to
Salicetti; she kept him secreted in her house for weeks; and during all
these weeks, Bonaparte came daily to visit Madame de Permont and her
children, and every day he turned the conversation upon Salicetti, and
asked if they knew not yet where he was secreted. And every time, when
Madame de Permont answered him in the negative, he gazed at her with a
piercing look, and with his light, sarcastic smile.

Meanwhile Salicetti’s danger for himself, and those who secreted him,
increased every day, and Madame de Permont resolved to quit Paris.
The sickness of her husband, who was in Toulon, furnished her with the
welcomed opportunity of a journey. She made known to the friends and
acquaintances who visited her house, and especially to Bonaparte, that
she had received a letter from the physician in Toulon, requesting her
presence at her husband’s bed of sickness. Bonaparte read the letter,
and again the same strange look met the face of Madame de Permont.

“It is, indeed, important,” said he, “that you should travel, and I
advise you to do so as soon as possible. Fatal consequences might ensue
to M. de Permont, were you to delay any longer in going to Toulon.”

Madame de Permont made, therefore, all her arrangements for this
journey. Salicetti, disguised as a servant, was to accompany her.
Bonaparte still came as usual every day, and took great interest in
the preparations for her journey, and conversed with her in the most
friendly and pleasant manner. On the day of departure, he saluted her
most cordially, assured her of his true, unswerving attachment, and,
with a final, significant look, expressed a wish that her journey might
be accomplished without danger.

When Madame de Permont had overcome all difficulties, and she and her
daughter had left Paris and passed the barriere, as the carriage rolled
on without interruption (Salicetti, disguised as a servant, sitting
near the postilion on the driver’s seat), the housemaid handed to her
a letter which General Bonaparte had given her, with positive orders to
hand it to her mistress only when they should be beyond the outer gates
of Paris.

The letter ran thus: “I have never been deceived: I would seem to be in
your estimation, if I did not tell you that, for the last twenty days, I
knew that Salicetti was secreted in your house. Remember what I told
you on the first day, Prairial, Madame de Permont--I had then the mental
conviction of this secrecy. Now it is a matter of fact.--Salicetti, you
see I could have returned to you the wrong which you perpetrated against
me, and by so doing I should have revenged myself, whilst you wronged
me without any offence on my part. Who plays at this moment the nobler
part, you or I? Yes, I could have revenged myself, and I have not done
it. You will, perhaps, say that your benefactress acted as a protecting
shield. That is true, and it also is taken into consideration. Yet,
even without this consideration, such as you were--alone, disarmed,
sentenced--your head would even then have been sacred to me. Go, seek in
peace a refuge where you can rise to nobler sentiments for your country.
My mouth remains closed in reference to your name, and will no more
utter it. Repent, and, above all things, do justice to my intentions. I
deserve it, for they are noble and generous.

“Madame de Permont, my best wishes accompany you and your daughter. You
are two frail beings, without protection. Providence and prayers will
accompany you. Be prudent, and during your journey never stop in large
towns. Farewell, and receive the assurance of my friendship.” [Footnote:
Abrantes, “Memoires,” vol. i., p. 351.]

The nobility of mind which Bonaparte displayed toward his enemy was
soon to receive its reward; for, whilst Salicetti, a fugitive, sick,
and sentenced to death, was compelled to remain hidden, Bonaparte was
emerging from the oblivion to which the ambitious zeal of Salicetti
would have consigned him.

When Napoleon, dismissed from his position, arrived in Paris, and
appealed to Aubry, the chief of the war department, to be re-established
in his command, he was told: “Bonaparte is too young to command an army
as general-in-chief;” and Bonaparte answered: “One soon becomes old on
the battle-field, and I come from it.” [Footnote: Norvins, “Histoire de
Napoleon,” vol. i., p. 60.]

But Aubry, in his functions of chief of the war department, was soon
superseded by the representative Douclet de Ponte-Coulant, and this
event gave to the position of the young general a different aspect.
Ponte-Coulant had for some time followed with attention the course of
the young general, whose military talents and warlike reputation had
filled him with astonishment. He had especially been surprised at
the plan for the conduct of the war and the conquest of Italy which
Bonaparte had laid before the war committee. Now that Ponte-Coulant had
been promoted to be chief of the war department, he sent for General
Bonaparte, and attached him to the topographic committee, where the
plans of campaigns were decided and the movements of each separate corps

The forgotten one, doomed to inactivity, General Napoleon Bonaparte, now
arose from his obscurity, and before him again opened life, the world,
and fame’s pathway, which was to lead him up to a throne. But the envy
and jealousy of the party-men of the Convention ever threw obstacles
before him on his glorious course, and the war-scheme which he
now unfolded to the committee for the campaign did not receive the
approbation of the successor of Ponte-Coulant in the war department, and
it was thrust aside. A new political crisis was needed to place in the
hands of Napoleon the command of the army, the ruling authority over
France, and this crisis was at hand.

Paris, diseased, still bleeding in its innermost life with a thousand
wounds, was devoured by hunger. The unfortunate people, wretched from
want and pain, during many past years, were now driven to despair. The
political party leaders understood but too well how to take advantage of
this, and to prey upon it. The royalists were busy instilling into the
people’s minds the idea that the return of the Bourbons would restore
to miserable France peace and happiness. The terrorists told the people
that the Convention was the sole obstacle to their rest and to their
peace, that it was necessary to scatter it to the winds, and to
re-establish the Constitution of 1793. The whole population of Paris was
divided and broken into factions, struggling one against the other with
infuriated passions. The royalists, strengthened by daily accessions
of emigrants, who, under fictitious names and with false passports,
returned to Paris to claim the benefit of the milder laws passed in
their favor, constituted a formidable power in that city. Whole sections
were devoted to them, and were secretly supplied by them with arms and
provisions, so as finally to be prepared to act against the Convention.
An occasion soon presented itself.

The Convention had, through eleven of its committee members, prepared
a new constitution, and had laid it before the people for adoption or
rejection, according to the majority of votes. The whole country, with
the exception of Paris, was in favor of this new constitution--she
alone in her popular assemblies rejected it, declared the Convention
dissolved, and the armed sections arose to make new elections. The
Convection declared these assemblies to be illegal, and ordered their
dissolution. The armed sections made resistance, congregated together,
and by force opposed the troops of the Convention--the National
Guards--commanded by General Menou. On the 12th Vendemiaire all Paris
was under arms again; barricades were thrown up by the people, who
swore to die in their defence sooner than to submit to the will of the
Convention; the noise of drums and trumpets was heard in every street;
all the horrors and cruelties of a civil war once more filled the
capital of the revolution, and the city was drunk with blood!

The people fought with the courage of despair, pressed on victoriously,
and won from General Menou a few streets; whole battalions of the
National Guards abandoned the troops of the Convention and went over to
the sections. General Menou found himself in so dangerous a position
as to be forced to conclude an armistice until the next day with the
Section Lepelletier, which was opposed to him, up to which time the
troops on either side were to suspend operations.

The Section Lepelletier declared itself at once en permanence, sent
her delegates to all the other sections, and called upon “the sovereign
people, whose rights the Convention wished to usurp,” to make a last and
decisive struggle.

The Convention found itself in the most alarming position; it trembled
for its very existence, and already in fancy saw again the days of
terror, the guillotine rising and claiming for its first victims the
heads of the members of the Convention. A pallid fear overspread all
faces as constantly fresh news of the advance of the sections reached
them, when General Menou sent news of the concluded armistice.

At this moment a pale young man rushed into the hall of session, and
with glowing eloquence and persuasive manner entreated the Convention
not to accept the armistice, not to give time to the sections to
increase their strength, nor to recognize them as a hostile power to war
against the government.

This pale young man--whose impassioned language filled the minds of all
his hearers with animosity against General Menou, and with fresh courage
and desire to fight--was Napoleon Bonaparte.

After he had spoken, other representatives rushed to the tribune, to
make propositions to the Assembly, all their motions converging to the
same end--all desired to have General Menou placed under arrest, and
Bonaparte appointed in his place, and intrusted with the defence of the
Convention and of the legislative power against the people.

The Assembly accepted this motion, and appointed Bonaparte commanding
officer of the troops of the Convention, and, for form’s sake, named
Barras, president of the Convention, commander-in-chief.

Bonaparte accepted the commission; and now, at last, after so much
waiting, so many painful months of inactivity, he found himself called
to action; he stood again at the head of an army, however small it might
be, and could again lift up the sword as the signal for the march to the

It is true this fight had a sad, horrible purpose; it was directed
against the people, against the sections which declared themselves to be
the committee of the sovereign people, and that they were fighting the
holy fight of freedom against those who usurped their rights.

General Bonaparte had refused to go to Vendee, because he wished not
to fight against his own countrymen, and could not take part in a
civil war; but now, at this hour of extreme peril, he placed himself
in opposition to the people’s sovereignty, and assumed command over the
troops of the Convention, whose mission it was to subdue the people.

Every thing now assumed a more earnest attitude; during the night the
newly-appointed commanding officer sent three hundred chasseurs, under
Murat, to bring to Paris forty cannon from the park of artillery in
Sablons, and, when the morning of the 13th Vendemiaire began to dawn,
the pieces were already in position in the court of the Tuileries and
pointed against the people. Besides which, General Bonaparte had taken
advantage of the night to occupy all the important points and places,
and to arm them; even into the hall of session of the Convention he
ordered arms and ammunition to be brought, that the representatives
might defend themselves, in case they were pressed upon by the people.

As the sun of the 13th Vendemiaire rose over Paris, a terrible
street-fight began--the fight of the sovereign people against the
Convention. It was carried on by both sides with the utmost bitterness
and fierceness, the sections rushing with fanatic courage, with all the
energy of hatred, against these soldiers who dared slay their brothers
and bind their liberty in chains; the soldiers of the Convention fought
with all the bitterness which the consciousness of their hated position
instilled into them.

The cannon thundered in every street and mingled their sounds with the
cries of rage from the sectionnaires--the howlings of the women, the
whiz of the howitzers, the loud clangs of the bells, which incessantly
called the people to arms. Streams of blood flowed again through the
streets; everywhere, near the scattered barricades, near the houses
captured by storm, lay bloody corpses; everywhere resounded the cries of
the dying, the shrieks and groans of the wounded, the wild shouts of the
combatants. In the Church of St. Roche, and in the Theatre Francaise,
the sectionnaires, driven from the neighboring streets by the troops of
General Bonaparte, had gathered together and endeavored to defend these
places with the courage of despair. But the howitzers of Bonaparte soon
scattered them, and the contest was decided.

The sections were defeated; the people, conquered by the Convention, had
to recognize its authority; they were no more the sovereigns of France;
they had found a ruler before whom they must bow.

This ruler was yet called the Convention, but behind the Convention
stood another ruler--General Bonaparte!

It was he who had defeated the people, who had secured the authority to
the Convention, and it was therefore natural that it should be thankful
and exhibit its gratitude. General Bonaparte, in acknowledgment for
the great services done to his country, was by the Convention appointed
commander-in-chief of the army of the interior, and thus suddenly he
saw himself raised from degrading obscurity to pomp and influence,
surrounded by a brilliant staff, installed in a handsome palace by
virtue of his office as chief officer, entitled to and justified in
maintaining an establishment wherein to represent worthily the dignity
of his new position.

The 13th Vendemiaire, which dethroned the sovereign people, brought
General Bonaparte a step nearer to the throne.


Meanwhile Josephine had passed the first months of her newly-obtained
freedom in quiet contentment with her children in Fontainebleau, at the
house of her father-in-law. Her soul, bowed down by so much misery
and pain, needed quietness and solitude to allow her wounds to cease
bleeding and to heal; her heart, which had experienced so much anguish
and so many deceptions, needed to rest on the bosom of her children and
her relatives, so as to be quickened into new life. Only in the solitude
and stillness of Fontainebleau did she feel well and satisfied; every
other distraction, every interruption of this quiet, orderly existence
brought on a nervous trembling, which mastered her whole body, as if
some other adversity was about to break upon her. The days of terror
which she had passed in Paris, and especially the days she had outlived
in prison, were ever fresh before her mind, and tormented her with their
reminiscences alike in her vigils and in her dreams.

She wanted to hear nothing of the world’s events, nothing from Paris,
the mention of which place filled her with fear and horror; and with
tears in her eyes she entreated her father-in-law to omit all mention of
the political changes and revolutions which took place there.

But, alas! the politics from which Josephine fled, to which she closed
her ears, rushed upon her against her will--they came to her in the
shape of want and privation.

Josephine, who wished to have nothing more to do with the affairs of
this world, learned, through the deprivations which she had to endure,
the want to which she and her family were exposed, that the world
had not yet been pushed back into the old grooves, out of which
the revolution had so violently lifted it up; that the republic yet
exercised a despotic authority, and was not prepared to return to the
heirs the property of the victims of the guillotine! The income
and property of General Beauharnais had all been confiscated by
the republic, for he had been executed as a state criminal, and
the procedure had this in common with the ordinary actions of the
government, that it never returned what it had once usurped. Even
Josephine’s father-in-law, as well as her aunt--Madame de Renaudin,
who, after her husband’s death, had been married to the Marquis de
Beauharnais--had both in the revolutionary storms lost all their
property, and saw themselves reduced to the last extremity. They lived
from day to day with the greatest economy, upon the smallest means, and
flattered themselves with the hope that justice would be done to the
innocent victims of the revolution; that at last to the widow and
children of the murdered General Beauharnais his income and property
would be returned.

Another hope remained to Josephine: reliance upon her relatives,
especially upon her mother in Martinique. She had written to her as soon
as she had obtained her liberty; she had entreated her mother, who had
been a widow for two years, to rent all her property in Martinique, and
to come to France, and at her daughter’s side to enjoy a few quiet years
of domestic happiness.

But this hope also was to be destroyed, for the revolution in Martinique
had committed the same devastations as in France, and the burning houses
of their masters had been the bonfires whose flames were sent up to
heaven by the newly-freed slaves in the name of the republic and of the
rights of man. Madame Tascher de la Pagerie had experienced the same
fate as all the planters in Martinique; her house and outbuildings had
been burnt, her plantations destroyed, and a long time would be required
before the fields could again be made to produce a harvest. Until then,
Madame Tascher would be sorely limited in her means, and, if she did
not succeed in selling some of her property and raising funds, would be
without the money necessary to bring under cultivation the remnant of
her large plantation. She was, therefore, not immediately prepared to
supply her daughter with any considerable assistance, and Josephine
endured the anguish of seeing not only herself and children, but also
her dear mother, suffer through want and privation.

To the need of gold to procure bare necessaries, was soon added the very
lack of them. Famine, with all its horrors, was at hand; the people
were clamoring for food, and the land-owners as well as the rich were
suffering from the want of that prime necessary of life-bread! The
Convention had adopted no measures to satisfy the demands of the howling
populace, and it had to remain contented with making accessible to all
such provisions as were in the land. One law, therefore, ordered all
land-owners to deliver to the state their stores of meal; a second law
prohibited any person from buying more than one pound of bread on the
same day. The greatest delicacy in those days of common wretchedness
was white bread, and there were many families that for a long time were
unable to procure this luxury.

Josephine herself had with many others to endure this privation: the
costly white loaf was beyond her reach. In her depressed and sad lot the
unfortunate widowed viscountess remained in possession of a treasure
for which many of the wealthy and high-born longed in vain, and which
neither gold nor wealth could procure--Josephine possessed friends,
true, devoted friends, who forsook her not in the day of need, but stood
the more closely at her side, helping and loving.

Among these friends were, above all, Madame Dumoulin and M. Emery.
Madame Dumoulin, the wife of a wealthy purveyor of the republican army,
was at heart a true royalist, and had made it her mission, as much as
was within her power, to assist with her means the most destitute from
whom the revolution had taken their family joys and property. She aided
with money and clothing the unfortunate emigrants, who, as prominent and
influential friends of the king and of Old France, had abandoned their
country, and who now, as nameless, wretched beggars, returned home to
beg of New France the privilege at least to hunger and starve, and at
last to die in their motherland. Madame Dumoulin had always an open
house for those aristocrats and ci-devants who had the courage not to
emigrate and to bow their despised heads to all the fluctuations of the
republic, and had remained in France, though deprived by the republic of
their ancestral names, property, and rank. Those aristocrats who had
not migrated found a friendly reception in the house of the witty and
amiable Madame Dumoulin, and twice a week she gathered those friends of
the ancient regime to a dinner, which was prepared with all the luxury
of former days, and which offered to her friends, besides material
enjoyment, the pleasures of an agreeable and attractive company.

Among Madame Dumoulin’s friends who never failed to be present at these
dinners was Josephine de Beauharnais, of whom Madame Dumoulin said she
was the sunbeam of her drawing-room, for she warmed and vitalized all
hearts. But this sunbeam had not the power to bring forth out of the
unfruitful soil of the fatherland a few ears of wheat to turn its flour
into white bread. As every one was allowed to buy bread only according
to the numbers in the household, Madame Dumoulin could not give to her
guests at dinner any white bread, and on her cards of invitation was the
then usual form, “You are invited to bring a loaf of white bread.”

But it was beyond the means of the poor Viscountess de Beauharnais to
fulfil this invitation; her purse was not sufficient to afford her twice
a week the luxury of white bread. Madame Dumoulin, who knew this, came
kindly to the rescue of Josephine’s distress, and entreated her not to
trouble herself with bringing bread, but to allow her to procure it for
her friend.

Josephine accepted this offer with tears of emotion, and she never
forgot the goodness and kindness of Madame Dumoulin. In the days of her
highest glory she remembered her, and once, when empress, radiant with
jewels and ornaments of gold, as she stood in the midst of her court,
related with a bewitching smile, to the ladies around her, that there
was a time when she would have given a year of her life to possess but
one of those jewels, not to adorn herself therewith, but to sell it, so
as to buy bread for her children, and that in those days the excellent
Madame Dumoulin had been a benefactress to her, and that she had
received at her hands the bread of charity. [Footnote: “Memoires sur
l’Imperatrice Josephine,” par Mad. Ducrest, chap XXXVI.]

The same abiding friendship was shown to Josephine by M. Emery, a banker
who had a considerable business in Dunkirk, and who for many years had
been in mercantile relations with the family of Tascher de la Pagerie in
Martinique. Madame de la Pagerie had every year sent him the produce of
her sugar plantations, and he had attended to the sale to the largest
houses in Germany. He knew better than any one else the pecuniary
circumstances of the Pagerie family; he knew that, if at present Madame
de la Pagerie could not repay his advanced sums, her plantations would
soon produce a rich harvest, and even now be a sufficient security. M.
Emery was therefore willing to assist the daughter of Madame Tascher de
la Pagerie, and several times he advanced to Josephine considerable sums
which she had drawn upon her mother.

The cares of every-day life, its physical necessities, lifted Josephine
out of the sad melancholy in which she had lulled her sick, wounded
heart, within the solitude of Fontainebleau. She must not settle down in
this inactive twilight, nor wrap herself up in the gloomy gray veil of
widowhood! Life had still claims upon her; it called to her through
her children’s voices, for whom she had a future to provide, as well
as through the voice of her own youth, which she must not intrust
hopelessly to the gloomy Fontainebleau.

And the young mother dared not and wanted not to close her ears to these
calls; she arose from her supineness, and courageously resolved to
begin anew life’s battle, and to claim her share from the enjoyments and
pleasures of this world.

She first, by the advice of M. Emery, undertook a journey to Hamburg,
to make some arrangements with the rich and highly respectable
banking-house of Mathiesen and Sissen. Mathiesen, the banker, who had
married a niece of Madame de Genlis, had always shown the greatest
hospitality to all Frenchmen who had applied to him, and he had assisted
them with advice and deeds. To him Josephine appealed, at the request
of M. Emery, so as to procure a safe opportunity to send letters to her
mother in Martinique, and also to obtain from him funds on bills drawn
upon her mother.

M. Mathiesen met her wishes with a generous pleasure, and through him
Josephine received sufficient sums of money to protect her from further
embarrassments and anxieties, at least until her mother, who was on the
eve of selling a portion of her plantation, could send her some money.

On her return from her business-journey to Hamburg, as she was no longer
a poor widow without means, she adopted the courageous resolution of
leaving her asylum and returning to dangerous and deserted Paris, there
to prepare for her son an honorable future, and endeavor to procure for
her daughter an education suited to her rank and capacities.

At the end of the year 1795, Josephine returned with her two children
to Paris, which one year before she had left so sorrowfully and so

What changes had been wrought during this one year! How the face
of things had been altered! The revolution had bled to death. The
thirteenth Vendemiaire had scattered to the winds the seditious elements
of revolution, and the republic was beginning quietly and peacefully to
grow into stature. The Convention, with its Mountain, its terrorists,
its Committee of Safety, its persecutions and executions, had outlived
its power, which it had consigned to the pages of history with so many
tears and so much blood. In a strange contradiction with its own bloody
deeds, it celebrated the last day of its existence by a law which, as a
farewell to the thousand corpses it had sacrificed to the revolution,
it had printed on its gory brow. On the day of its dissolution the
Convention gave to France this last law: “Capital punishment is forever
abolished.” [Footnote: Norvins, “Histoire de Napoleon,” vol. i., p. 82.]

With this farewell kiss, this love-salutation to the France of the
future, to the new self-informing France, the Convention dissolved
itself, and in its stead came the Council of Elders, the Council of Five
Hundred, and lastly the Directory, composed of five members, among whom
had been elected the more eminent members of the Convention, namely,
Barras and Carnot.

Josephine’s first movement in Paris was to find the lovely friend whom
she made in the Carmelite prison, and to whom she in some measure owed
her life, to visit Therese de Fontenay and see if the heart of the
beautiful, celebrated woman had in its days of happiness and power
retained its remembrances of those of wretchedness and mortal fears.

Therese de Fontenay was now the wife of Tallien, who, elected to the
Council of the Five Hundred, continued to play an influential
and important part, and therefore had his court of flatterers and
time-serving friends as well as any ruling prince. His house was one
of the most splendid in Paris; the feasts and banquets which took place
there reminded one, by their extravagant magnificence, of the days of
ancient Rome, and that this remembrance might still be more striking,
ladies in the rich, costly costumes of patrician matrons of ancient
Rome appeared at those festivities not unworthy of a Lucullus. Madame
Tallien--in the ample robe of wrought gold of a Roman empress, shod with
light sandals, from which issued the beautiful naked feet, and the toes
adorned with costly rings, her exquisitely moulded arms ornamented with
massive gold bracelets; her short curly hair fastened together by a
gold bandelet, which rose over the forehead in the shape of a diadem,
bejewelled with precious diamonds; the mantle of purple, fringed
with gold and placed on the shoulders--was in this costume of such a
wonderful beauty, that men gazed at her with astonishment and women with

And this beautiful woman, often worshipped and adored, though sometimes
slandered, had amid her triumphs kept a faithful remembrance of the
past. She received Josephine with the affection of a true friend. In
her generosity she allowed her no time to proffer any request, but came
forward herself with offers to intercede for her friend, and to use all
the means at her disposal, omitting nothing that would help Josephine to
recover her fortune, her lost property. With all the eagerness of true
love she took the arm of her friend and led her to Tallien, and with the
enchanting smile and attitude of a commanding princess she told him that
he must help Josephine to become happy again, that every thing he could
do for her would be rewarded by an increasing love; that if he did not
do justice to Josephine, she would punish him by her anger and coldness.

Tallien listened with complacency to the praiseworthy commands of
his worshipped Therese, and promised to use all his influence to have
justice done to the will of the sacrificed General de Beauharnais. He
himself accompanied Josephine to Barras, that she might present her
application to him personally and request at his hands restitution of
her property. She was received by Barras, as well as by the other four
directors, with the greatest politeness; each promised to attend to
her case and to return to the widow and to the children of Alexandre de
Beauharnais the property which had been so unjustly taken from them.

It is true, weeks and months of waiting and uncertainty passed away,
but Josephine had hope for a comforter; she had, besides, her beautiful
friend Therese Tallien, who with affectionate eloquence endeavored to
instil courage into Josephine, and by her constant petitions and
prayers did not allow the Directory, amid its many important affairs
of government, to forget the case of the poor young widow. Therese took
care also that Josephine should appear in society at the receptions and
balls given by the members of the new government; and when made timid
through misfortune, and depressed at heart by the uncertainty of her
narrow lot, she desired to keep aloof from these rejoicings, Therese
knew how to convince her that she must sacrifice her love of retirement
to her children; that it was her duty to accept the invitations of the
Directory, so as to keep alive their interest and favor in her behalf;
and that, were she to retreat into solitude and obscurity, she would
thereby imperil her future and that of her children.

Josephine submitted to this law of necessity, and appeared in society.
She screened her cares and her heartsores under the covert of smiles,
she forced herself into cheerfulness, and when now and then the smile
vanished from her lip and tears filled her eyes, she thought of her
children, and, mastering her sorrows, she was again the beautiful,
lovely woman, whose elegant manners and lively and witty conversation
charmed and astonished every one.

At last, after long months of uncertainty, Therese Tallien, her face
beaming with joy, came one morning to visit her friend Josephine, and
presented to her a paper with a large seal, which Tallien had given her
that very morning.

It was an order, signed by the five directors, instructing the
administrator of the domains to relieve the capital and the property of
General Beauharnais from the sequestration laid upon them, and also to
remove the seals from his furniture and his movables, and to reinstate
the Widow Beauharnais in possession of all the property left by her

Josephine received this paper with tears of joy, and, full of religious,
devout gratitude, she fell on her knees and cried:

“I thank Thee, my God! I thank Thee! My children will no more suffer
from want, and now I can give them a suitable education.”

She then fell upon her friend’s neck, thanking her for her faithfulness,
and swore her everlasting friendship and affection.

The dark clouds which had so long overshadowed Josephine’s life were now
gone, and in its place dawned day, bright and clear.

But the sun which was to illumine this day with wondrous glory had
not yet appeared. Therese at this hour reminded her friend of a day in
prison when Josephine had assured her friends trembling for her life
that she was not going to die, that she would one day be Queen of

“Yes,” said Josephine, smiling and thoughtful, “who knows if this
prophecy will not be fulfilled? To-day begins for me a new life. I have
done with the past, and it will sink behind me in the abyss of oblivion.
I trust in the future! It must repay me for all the tears and anxieties
of my past life, and who knows if it will not erect me a throne?”


Yes, they were now ended, the days of sufferings and privations! The
wife of General Beauharnais was no more the poor widow who appeared as
a petitioner in the drawing-rooms of the members of the Directory, and
often obliged, even in the worst kind of weather, to go on foot to the
festivals of Madame Tallien, because she lacked the means to pay for
a cab; she was no longer the poor mother who had to be satisfied to
procure inferior teachers for her children, because she could not
possibly pay superior ones.

Now, as by a spell, all was changed, and gold was the magic wand which
had produced it. Thanks to this talisman, the Viscountess de Beauharnais
could now quit the small, remote, gloomy dwelling in which she had
hitherto resided, and could again procure a house, gather society round
about her, and, above all things, provide for the education of her

This was her dearest duty, her most important obligation, with which
she busied herself even before she rented a modestly-furnished room.
Her Eugene, the darling of her heart, desired like his father to devote
himself to a military life, and his mother took him to a boarding-school
in St. Germain, where young men of distinguished families received their
education. Her twelve-year-old daughter Hortense, of whom Josephine had
said, “She is my angel with the gold locks, who alone can smile away
the tears from my eyes and sorrow from my heart”--Hortense entered
the newly-opened educational establishment of Madame Campan, once the
lady-in-waiting of Marie Antoinette. Josephine wept hot tears as she
accompanied her Hortense into the boarding-school, and, embracing her
blond curly-haired angel, she closely pressed her to her heart, and

“Judge how much I love you, my daughter, since I have the courage to
leave you and to deprive myself of the greatest of my life’s enjoyments!
Ah, I shall be very lonesome, Hortense, but my thoughts will be with you
continually--with you and your brother Eugene. Live to be an honor to
your father, grow and prosper to be your mother’s happiness!”

Then with a kiss she took leave of her daughter, and comfortless and
alone she returned to her solitary apartments in Paris.

During the next eight days her doors were shut; she opened them to none,
not even to her friend Therese, and not once did Josephine leave her
dwelling during this time, nor did she accept any of the invitations
which came to her from all sides.

Her heart was yet wrapped in mourning for her separation from her
children, and, with all the intensity of an affectionate mother’s love,
she preferred leaving her anguish to die out of itself than to suppress
it with amusements and pleasures.

But after this last sorrow had been overcome, Josephine, with serenity
and a smile of cheerfulness, came again from her solitude into the
world which called her forth with all its voices of joy, pleasure,
and flattery. And Josephine no longer closed her ears to these sweet
attractive voices. She had long enough suffered, wept, fasted; now
she ought to reap enjoyments, and gather her portion of this life’s
pleasures; now she must live! The past had set behind her, and, as one
new-born or risen from the dead, Josephine walked into the world with a
young maiden heart, and a mind opened to all that is beautiful, great,
and good; her soul filled with visions, hopes, desires, and dreams.
Out of the widow’s veil came forth the young, charming Creole, and her
radiant eyes saluted the world with intelligent looks and an expression
of the most attractive goodness.

Her next care was to procure a pleasant, convenient home suited to her
rank. She purchased from the actor Talma a house which he possessed
in the Street Chautereine, and where he had, during the storms of the
revolution, received his friends as well as all the literary, artistic,
and political notables of the day with the kindest hospitality. It
was not a brilliant, distinguished hotel, no splendid building, but a
small, tastefully and conveniently arranged house, with pretty rooms, a
cheerful drawing-room, lovely garden, exactly suited to have therein a
quiet, agreeable, informal pastime. Josephine possessed in the highest
degree the art of her sex to furnish rooms with elegance and taste,
so as to make every one in them comfortable, satisfied, at ease, and

The drawing-room of the widow of General Beauharnais became soon the
central point where all her friends of former days found themselves
together again, and all the remnants of the good old society found
reception; where the learned, the artist, the poet, met with a refuge,
there to rest for a few hours from political strife, to put aside the
serpent’s skin of assumed republican manners, and again assume the
tone and forms of the higher society. Such drawing-rooms in these
revolutionary days were extremely few; no one dared to become
conspicuous; every one was reserved and quiet; every one shrank from
making himself suspected of being a ci-devant, even if under the
republican toga he left visible his dress-coat of the upper society with
its embroidery of gold. Men had entirely broken with the past, wishing
to deny it, and not be under the yoke of its forms and rules; it was
therefore necessary, out of the chaos of the republic, to create a
new world, a new society, new forms of etiquette, and new fashions.
Meanwhile, until these new fashions for republican France should be
found, men had recourse (so as not to go back to the days of the late
monarchy of France) to the republics of olden times; the ladies dressed
according to the patterns of the old statues of the deities of Greece
and Rome, giving receptions in the style of ancient Greece, and banquets
laid out in all the extravagant splendors of a Lucullus.

The members of the republican Directory, whose residence was in the
palace of the Luxemburg, took the lead in all these neo-Grecian and
neo-Roman festivities; and, whereas they loudly proclaimed that it was
necessary to furnish opportunities to the working-classes and laborers
to gain money, and that it was incumbent on all to promote industry,
they rivalled each other in their efforts to exhibit an extravagant
pomp and a brilliant display. On reception-days of the members of the
Directory the public streamed in masses toward the Luxemburg, there to
admire the splendors of the five monarchs, and to rejoice that the days
of the carmagnoles, the sans-culottes, the dirty blouse, and the bonnet
rouge were at least gone by. The five directors, to the delight of the
Parisian people, wore costly silk and velvet garments embroidered
with gold, and on their hats, trimmed also with gold lace, waved large

Luxury celebrated its return to Paris, after having had to secrete
itself, so long from the blood-stained hands of the sans-culottes,
in the most obscure corners of the deserted palaces of St. Germain.
Pleasure, which had fled away horrified from the guillotine and from the
terrorists, dared once more to show its rose-wreathed brow and smiling
countenance, and here and there make its cheerful festivities resound.

Men became glad, and dared to laugh again; they came out from the
stillness of their homes, which anxiety had kept closed, to search for
amusement, pleasure, and recreation; but no citizen dared to be select,
none dared to assume aristocratic exclusiveness. One had to be pleased
with a dinner at a tavern; with a glass of ice-water in a cafe, or to
take part in a public ball which was opened to every one who could pay
his fee of admission; and especially in the evening the public rushed to
the theatre with the same eagerness that was exhibited in the morning
to reach the shops of the bakers and butchers, where each received
his portion of meat or bread by producing a card signed by the circuit
commissioners. In front of these shops, as well as in front of the
theatres, the pressure was so great that for hours it was necessary to
fall into line, and sometimes go away dissatisfied; for the republic
had yet retained the system of equality, so that the rich and the
influential were not served any sooner than the poor and the unknown;
there was only one exception: only one condition received distinction
before the baker’s shop and the theatre: it was that of the mothers of
the future, those women whose external appearance revealed that they
would soon bring forth a future citizen, a new soldier for the republic,
which had lost so many of its sons upon the scaffold and on the

It was so long that one had been deprived of laughter and merriment, and
had walked with sad countenance and grave solemnity through the days
of blood and terror, that now every occasion for hilarity was received
eagerly and thankfully, and every opportunity for mirth and amusement
sought out. The theatres were therefore filled every evening with an
attentive, thankful audience; every jest of the actor, every part well
performed, elicited enthusiastic approbation. It is true no one yet
dared act any other pieces than those which had reference to the
revolution, and in some shape or other celebrated the republic, accusing
and vilifying the royalists. The pieces represented were--“The Perfect
Equality,” or else “Thee and Thou,” “The Last Trial of the Queen,”
 “Tarquin, or the Fall of the Monarchy,” “Marat’s Apotheosis,” and
similar dramas, all infused with republicanism; still, men faint at
heart and satiated with the republic, hastened notwithstanding to the
theatre, to enjoy an hour of recreation and merriment.

To be cheerful, happy, and joyous, seemed now to the Parisians the
highest duty of life, and every thing was made subservient to it.
The people had wept and mourned so long, that now, to shake off this
oppressive heaviness of mind, they rushed with fanatical precipitancy
into pleasure; they gave themselves up to the wildest orgies and
bacchanals, and without disgust or shame abandoned themselves to the
most immoral conduct. All tears were dried up as if by magic; honest
poverty began to be ashamed of itself; and the wealth so carefully hid
until now, was again brought to light; even those who in the days
of revolutionary terror had become rich through the property of the
sacrificed victims, exposed themselves to public gaze with impunity
and without shame. They plundered and adorned themselves with a wealth
acquired only through cunning, treachery, and murder. Everywhere feasts,
banquets, and balls, were organized; and it was an ordinary event to
find in the same company the accuser and the accused, the executioner
and his victim, the murderer near the daughter of the man whose head he
had given over to the guillotine!

This was especially the case at the so-called victim balls (bals a la
victime) which were given by the heirs, the sons and fathers of
those who had perished by the guillotine. People gathered together
in brilliant entertainments and balls to the honor and memory of the
executed ones. Every one who could pay the large fee of admission to
these bals a la victime were permitted to enter. Those who came there,
not for pleasure, but to honor their dead, showed this intention by
their clothing, and especially by the arrangement of their hair. To
remind them that those who had been led to the guillotine had had their
hair cut close, gentlemen now had theirs cut short, and the dressing
of the hair a la victime was for gentlemen as much a fashion as the
dressing of the hair a la Titus (the Roman emperor) was for the ladies.
Besides this, the heirs of the victims wore some token of the departed
ones, and ladies and gentlemen were seen in the blood-stained garments
which their relatives had worn on their way to the scaffold, and which
they had purchased with large sums of money from the executioner, that
lord of Paris. It often happened that a lady in the blood-stained dress
of her mother danced with the son of the man who had delivered her
mother to the guillotine; that a son of a member of the Convention of
1793 led, in the minuet, the graceful “pas de chale,” with the daughter
of an emigrant marquis. The most fanatical men of the days of terror,
now exalted into wealthy land-owners, led on in the gay waltz the
daughters of their former landlords; and these women pressed the hand
soiled with the blood of their relatives because now, as amends for
their traffic in blood, they could offer future wealth and distinction.

It seemed that all Paris and all France had gone mad--that the whole
nation was drunk with blood as with intoxicating wine, and wanted
to stifle the voice of conscience in the horrible revelry of the

Josephine never took part in these public balls and festivities;
never did the widow of General Beauharnais, one of the victims of the
revolution, attend these bals a la victime, where man prided himself on
his misfortune and gloried in his sorrows. The Moniteur--which then gave
daily notices of the balls and amusements that were to take place in
Paris, so as to let the world know how cheerful and happy every one
felt there, and which made it its business to publish the names of the
ci-devants and ex-nobles who had partaken in these festivities--never
in its long and correct list mentions the name of the widow of General

Josephine kept aloof from all these wild dissipations--these balls and
banquets. She would neither dance, nor adorn herself in the memory of
her husband; she would not take a part in the splendid festivities of
a republic which had murdered him, and had pierced her loyal heart with
the deepest wounds.


In the midst of these joys and amusements of the new-growing Paris,
the storm of the thirteenth Vendemiaire launched forth its destructive
thunderbolts, and another rent was made in the lofty structure of the
republic. The royalists, who had cunningly frequented these bals a
la victime, to weave intrigues and conspiracies, found their webs
scattered, and the republic assumed a new form.

Napoleon with his sword had cut to pieces the webs and snares of the
royalists as well as of the revolutionists, and France had to bow to the
constitution. In the Tuileries now sat the Council of the Elders; in
the Salle du Manege sat the Five Hundred; and in the palace of Luxemburg
resided the five directors of the republic.

On the thirteenth Vendemiaire Paris had passed through a crisis of its
revolutionary disease; and, to prevent its falling immediately into
another, it permitted the newly-appointed commander-in-chief of the army
of the interior of France, General Napoleon Bonaparte, to have every
house strictly searched, and to confiscate all weapons found.

Even into the house of the Viscountess de Beauharnais, in the rue
Chantereine, came the soldiers of the republic to search for secreted
weapons. They found there the sword of Alexandre de Beauharnais, which
certainly Josephine had not hidden, for it was the chief ornament of her
son’s room. When Eugene, on the next Saturday, came to Paris from St.
Germain, as he did every week, to pass the Sunday in his mother’s house,
to his great distress he saw vacant on the wall the place where the
sword of his father had been hanging. With trembling voice and tears
in her eyes his mother told him that General Bonaparte, the new
commander-in-chief, had ordered the sword to be carried away by his

A cry of anger and of malediction was Eugene’s answer; then with
flaming eyes and cheeks burning with rage he rushed out, despite the
supplications of his affrighted and anxious mother. Without pausing,
without thinking--conscious only of this, that he must have again his
father’s sword, he rushed on. It was impossible, thought he, that the
republic which had deprived his father of the honors due to him, his
property, his money--that now, after his death, she should also take
away his sword.

He must have this sword again! This was Eugene’s firm determination,
and this made him bold and resolute. He rushed into the palace where the
general-in-chief, Bonaparte, resided, and with daring vehemence demanded
an interview with the general; and, as the door-keeper hesitated, and
even tried to push away the bold boy from the door of the drawing-room,
Eugene turned about with so much energy, spoke, scolded, and raged so
loudly and so freely, that the noise reached even the cabinet where
General Bonaparte was. He opened the door, and in his short, imperious
manner asked the cause of this uproar; and when the servant had told
him, with a sign of the hand he beckoned the young man to come in.

Eugene de Beauharnais entered the drawing-room with a triumphant
smile, and the eye of General Bonaparte was fixed with pleasure on the
beautiful, intelligent countenance, on the tall, powerful figure of the
fifteen-year-old boy. In that strange, soft accent which won hearts to
Napoleon, he asked Eugene his business. The young man’s cheeks became
pallid, and with tremulous lips and angry looks, the vehement eloquence
of youth and suffering, Eugene spoke of the loss he had sustained, and
of the pain which had been added to it by despoiling him of the sword of
his father, murdered by the republic.

At these last words of Eugene, Bonaparte’s brow was overshadowed, and an
appalling look met the face of the brave boy.

“You dare say that the republic has murdered your father?” asked he, in
a loud, angry voice.

“I say it, and I say the truth!” exclaimed Eugene, who did not turn away
his eyes from the flaming looks of the general. “Yes, the republic has
murdered my father, for it has executed him as a criminal, as a traitor
to his country, and he was innocent; he ever was a faithful servant of
his country and of the republic.”

“Who told you that it was so?” asked Bonaparte, abruptly.

“My heart and the republic itself tell me that my father was no
traitor,” exclaimed Eugene, warmly. “My mother loved him much, and she
regrets him still. She would not do so had he been a traitor, and then
the republic would not have done what it has done--it would not have
returned to my mother the confiscated property of my father, but would,
had he been considered guilty, have gladly kept it back.”

The grave countenance of Bonaparte was overspread by a genial smile, and
his eyes rested with the expression of innermost sympathy on the son of

“You think, then, that the republic gladly keeps what it has?” asked he.

“I see that it gladly takes what belongs not to it,” exclaimed Eugene,
eagerly. “It has taken away my father’s sword, which belonged to me, his
son, and my mother has made me swear on that sword to hold my father’s
memory sacred, and to strive to be like him.”

“Your mother is, it seems, a very virtuous old lady,” said Bonaparte, in
a friendly tone.

“My mother is a virtuous, young, and beautiful lady,” said Eugene,
sturdily; “and I am certain, general, that if you knew her, you would
not in your heart have caused her so much pain.”

“She has, then, suffered much on account of this sword being taken
away?” asked Bonaparte, interested.

“Yes, general, she has wept bitterly over this our loss, as I have.
I cannot bear to see my mother weep; it breaks my heart. I therefore
implore you to give me back my father’s sword; and I swear to you that
when I am a man, I will carry that sword only for the defence of my
country, as my father had done.”

General Bonaparte nodded kindly to the boy. “You are a brave defender of
your cause,” said he, “and I cannot refuse you--I must do as you wish.”

He gave orders to an ordnance officer present in the room to bring
General de Beauharnais’s sword; and when the officer had gone to fetch
it, Bonaparte, in a friendly and sympathizing manner, conversed with the
boy. At last the ordnance officer returned, and handed the sword to the

With solemn gravity Bonaparte gave it to Eugene. “Take it, young man,”
 said he, “but never forget that you have sworn to carry it only for the
honor and defence of your country.”

Eugene could not answer: tears started from his eyes, and with deep
affection he pressed to his lips the recovered sword of his father.

This manifestation of true childish emotion moved Bonaparte to tender
sympathy, and an expression of affectionate interest passed over his
features as he offered his hand to Eugene.

“By Heaven, you are a good son,” exclaimed he from his heart, “and you
will be one day a good son to your country! Go, my boy, take to your
mother your father’s sword. Tell her that I salute her, though unknown
to her--that I congratulate her in being the mother of so good and brave
a son.”

Such was the beginning of an acquaintance to which Josephine was
indebted for an imperial crown, and, for what is still greater, an
undying fame and an undying love.

Beaming with joy, Eugene returned to Josephine with his father’s sword,
and with all the glowing sentiments of thankfulness he related to her
how kindly and obligingly General Bonaparte had received him, what
friendly and affectionate words he had spoken to him, and how much
forbearance and patience he had manifested to his impassioned request.

Josephine’s maternal heart was sensitive and grateful for every
expression of sympathy toward her son, and the goodness and forbearance
of the general affected her the more, that she knew how bold and wild
the boy, smarting under pain, must have been. She therefore hastened
to perform a duty of politeness by calling the next day on General
Bonaparte, to thank him for the kindness he had shown Eugene.

For the first time General Bonaparte stood in the presence of the woman
who one day was to share his fame and greatness, and this first moment
was decisive as to his and her future. Josephine’s grace and elegance,
her sweetness of disposition, her genial cheerfulness, the expression of
lofty womanhood which permeated her whole being, and which protected
her securely from any rough intrusion or familiarity; her fine, truly
aristocratic bearing, which revealed at once a lady of the court and of
the great world; her whole graceful and beautiful appearance captivated
the heart of Napoleon at the first interview, and the very next day
after receiving her short call he hastened to return it.

Josephine was not alone when General Bonaparte was announced; and when
the servant named him she could not suppress an inward fear, without
knowing why she was afraid. Her friends, who noticed her tremor and
blush, laughed jestingly at the timidity which made her tremble at the
name of the conqueror of Paris, and this was, perhaps, the reason why
Josephine received General Bonaparte with less complacency than she
generally showed to her visitors.

Amid the general silence of all those present the young general
(twenty-six years old) entered the drawing-room of the Viscountess de
Beauharnais; and this silence, however flattering it might be to his
pride, caused him a slight embarrassment. He therefore approached the
beautiful widow with a certain abrupt and perplexed manner, and spoke
to her in that hasty, imperious tone which might become a general, but
which did not seem appropriate in a lady’s saloon. General Pichegru,
who stood near Josephine, smiled, and even her amiable countenance was
overspread with a slight expression of scorn, as she fixed her beautiful
eyes on this pale, thin little man, whose long, smooth hair fell in
tangled disorder on either side of his temples over his sallow,
hollow cheeks; whose whole sickly and gloomy appearance bore so little
resemblance to the majestic figure of the lion to which he had been so
often compared after his success of the thirteenth Vendemiaire.

“I perceive, general,” suddenly exclaimed Josephine, “that you are sorry
it was your duty to fill Paris once more with blood and horror. You
would undoubtedly have preferred not to be obliged to carry out the
bloody orders of the affrighted Convention?”

Bonaparte shrugged his shoulders somewhat. “That is very possible,” said
he, perfectly quiet. “But what can you expect, madame? We military men
are but the automatons which the government sets in motion according
to its good pleasure; we know only how to obey; the sections, however,
cannot but congratulate themselves that I have spared them so much.
Nearly all my cannon were loaded only with powder. I wanted to give a
little lesson to the Parisians. The whole affair was nothing but the
impress of my seal on France. Such skirmishes are only the vespers of my
fame.” [Footnote: Napoleon’s words.--See Le Normand, vol. i., p. 214.]

Josephine felt irritated, excited by the coldness with which Napoleon
spoke of the slaughter of that day; and her eyes, otherwise so full of
gentleness, were now animated with flashes of anger.

“Oh,” cried she, “if you must purchase fame at such a price, I would
sooner you were one of the victims!”

Bonaparte looked at her with astonishment, but as he perceived her
flushed cheeks and flashing eyes, the sight of her grace and beauty
ravished him, and a soft, pleasant smile suddenly illumined his
countenance. He answered her violent attack by a light pleasantry, and
with gladsome unaffectedness he gave to the conversation another turn.
The small, pale, gloomy general was at once changed into a young,
impassioned, amiable cavalier, whose countenance grew beautiful under
the sparkling intelligence which animated it, and whose enchanting
eloquence made his conversation attractive and lively, carrying with it
the conviction of a superior mind.

After the visitors who had met that morning in Josephine’s drawing-room
had departed the general still remained, notwithstanding the astonished
and questioning looks of the viscountess, paying no attention to her
remarks about the fine weather, or her intention to enjoy a promenade.
With rapid steps, and hands folded behind his back, he paced a few times
to and fro the room, then standing before Josephine he fixed on her face
a searching look.

“Madame,” said he, suddenly, with a kind of rough tone, “I have a
proposition to make: give me your hand. Be my wife!”

Josephine looked at him, half-astonished, half-irritated. “Is it a joke
you are indulging in?” said she.

“I speak in all earnestness,” said Bonaparte, warmly. “Will you do me
the honor of giving me your hand?”

The gravity with which Bonaparte spoke, the deep earnestness imprinted
on his features, convinced Josephine that the general would not
condescend to indulge in a joke of so unseemly a character, and a lovely
blush overspread the face of the viscountess.

“Sir,” said she, “who knows if I might not be inclined to accept your
distinguished offer, if, unfortunately, fate stood not in the way of
your wishes?”

“Fate?” asked Bonaparte, with animation.

“Yes, fate! my general,” repeated Josephine, smiling. “But let us speak
no more of this. It is enough that fate forbids me to be the wife of
General Bonaparte. I can say no more, for you would laugh at me.”

“But you would laugh at me if you could turn me away with so vague
an answer,” cried Bonaparte, with vivacity. “I pray you, explain the
meaning of your words.”

“Well, then, general, I cannot be your wife, for I am destined to be
Queen of France--yes, perhaps more than queen!”

It was now Bonaparte’s turn to appear astonished and irritated, and
using her own words he said, shrugging his shoulders, “Madame, is it a
joke you are indulging in?”

“I speak in all earnestness,” said Josephine, shaking her head. “Listen,
then: a negro-woman in Martinique foretold my fortune, and as her
oracular words have thus far been all fulfilled, I must conclude that
the rest of her prophecies concerning me will be realized.”

“And what has she prophesied to you?” asked Bonaparte, eagerly.

“She has told me: ‘You will one day be Queen of France! you will be
still more than queen!’”

The general was silent. He had remained standing; but now slowly paced
the room a few times, his hands folded on his back and his head inclined
on his breast. Then again he stood before the viscountess, and his eyes
rested upon her with a wondrous bright and genial expression.

“I bid defiance to fate,” said he, somewhat solemnly. “This prophecy
does not frighten me away, and in defiance of your prophetic
negro-woman, I, the republican general, address my prayer to the future
Queen of France: be my wife!--give me your hand.”

Josephine felt almost affrighted at this pertinacity of the general, and
a sentiment of apprehension overcame her as she looked into the pale,
decided countenance of this man, a stranger to her, and who claimed her
for his wife.

“Oh, sir,” exclaimed she, with some anguish, “you offer me your hand
with as much carelessness as if the whole matter were merely for a
contra-dance. But I can assure you that marriage is a very grave matter,
which has no resemblance whatever to a gay dance. I know it is so. I
have had my sad experience, and I cannot so easily decide upon marrying
a second time.”

“You refuse my hand, then?” said Bonaparte, with a threatening tone.

Josephine smiled. “On the contrary, general,” said she, “give me your
hand and accompany me to my carriage, which has been waiting for me this
long time.”

“That means you dismiss me! You close upon me the door of your
drawing-room?” exclaimed Bonaparte, with warmth.

She shook her head, and, bowing before him with her own irresistible
grace, she said in a friendly manner: “I am too good a patriot not to be
proud of seeing the conqueror of Toulon in my drawing-room. To-morrow I
have an evening reception, and I invite you to be present, general.”

From this day Bonaparte visited Josephine daily; she was certain to meet
him everywhere. At first she sought to avoid him, but he always knew
with cunning foresight how to baffle her efforts, and to overcome
all difficulties which she threw in his way. Was she at her friend
Therese’s, she could safely reckon that General Bonaparte would soon
make his appearance and come near her with eyes beaming with joy, and in
his own energetic language speak to her of his love and hopes. Was she
to be present at the receptions of the five monarchs of Paris, it was
General Bonaparte who waited for her at the door of the hall to offer
his arm, and lead her amid the respectful, retreating, and gently
applauding crowd to her seat, where he stood by her, drawing upon her
the attention of all. Did she take a drive, at the accustomed hour, in
the Champs Elysees, she was confident soon to see General Bonaparte
on his gray horse gallop at her side, followed by his brilliant staff,
himself the object of public admiration and universal respect; and
finally, if she went to the theatre, General Bonaparte never failed to
appear in her loge, to remain near her during the performance; and when
she left, to offer his arm to accompany her to her carriage.

It could not fail that this persevering homage of the renowned and
universally admired young general should make a deep and flattering
impression on Josephine’s heart, and fill her with pride and joy. But
Josephine made resistance to this feeling; she endeavored to shield
herself from it by maternal love.

She sent for her two children from their respective schools, and with
her nearly grown-up son on one side and her daughter budding into
maidenhood on the other, she thus presented herself to the general,
and with an enchanting smile said: “See, general, how old I am, with a
grown-up son and daughter who soon can make of me a grandmother.”

But Bonaparte with heart-felt emotion reached his hand to Eugene and
said, “A man who can call so worthy a youth as this his son, is to be

A cunning, smiling expression of the eye revealed to Josephine that he
had understood her war-stratagem--that neither the grown-up son nor the
marriageable daughter could deter him from his object.

Josephine at last was won by so much love and tenderness, but she could
not yet acknowledge that the wounds of her heart were closed; that once
more she could trust in happiness, and devote her life to a new love,
to a new future. She shrank timidly away from such a shaping of her
destiny; and even the persuasions of her friends and relatives, even of
the father of her deceased husband, could not bring her to a decision.

The state of her mind is depicted in a letter which Josephine wrote
to her friend Madame de Chateau Renaud, and which describes in a great
measure the strange uncertainty of her heart:

“You have seen General Bonaparte at my house! Well, then, he is the one
who wishes to be the father of the orphans of Alexandre de Beauharnais
and the husband of his widow. ‘Do you love him?’ you will ask. Well,
no!--‘Do you feel any repugnance toward him?’ No, but I feel in a state
of vacillation and doubt, a state very disagreeable to me, and which
the devout in religious matters consider to be the most scandalizing. As
love is a kind of worship, one ought in its presence to feel animated
by other feelings than those I now experience, and therefore I long for
your advice, which might bring the constant indecision of my mind to
a fixed conclusion. To adopt a firm course has always appeared to my
Creole nonchalance something beyond reach, and I find it infinitely more
convenient to be led by the will of another.

“I admire the courage of the general; I am surprised at his ample
knowledge, which enables him to speak fluently on every subject; at the
vivacity of his genius, which enables him to guess at the thoughts of
others before they are expressed; but I avow, I am frightened at the
power he seems to exercise over every one who comes near him. His
searching look has something strange, which I cannot explain, but which
has a controlling influence even upon our directors; judge, therefore,
of his influence over a woman. Finally, the very thing which might
please--the violence of his passion--of which he speaks with so much
energy, and which admits of no doubt, that passion is exactly what
creates in me the unwillingness I have so often been ready to express.

“The first bloom of youth lies behind me. Can I therefore hope that this
passion, which in General Bonaparte resembles an attack of madness, will
last long? If after our union he should cease to love me, would he not
reproach me for what he had done? Would he not regret that he had not
made another and more brilliant union? What could I then answer? What
could I do? I could weep. ‘A splendid remedy!’ I hear you say. I know
well that weeping is useless, but to weep has been the only resource
which I could find when my poor heart, so easily wounded, has been hurt.
Write to me a long letter, and do not fear to scold me if you think
that I am wrong. You know well that everything which comes from you is
agreeable to me.” [Footnote: “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine,” par
Madame Ducrest p. 362.]

While Josephine was writing this letter to her friend, General Bonaparte
received one which produced upon him the deepest impression, though it
consisted only of a few words. But these words expressed the innermost
thought of his soul, and revealed to him perhaps for the first time its
secret wishes.

One evening as the general, returning home from a visit to the
Viscountess Josephine, entered into his drawing-room, followed by some
of his officers and adjutants, he observed on a large timepiece, which
stood on the mantel-piece, a letter, the deep-red paper and black seal
of which attracted his attention.

“Whence this letter?” asked he, with animation, of the servant-man
walking before him with a silver candlestick, as he pointed to the red

But the waiter declared that he had not seen the letter, and that he
knew not where it came from.

“Ask the other servants, or the porter, who brought this red letter with
the black seal,” ordered Bonaparte.

The servant hurried from the room, but soon returned, with the news that
no one knew any thing about the letter; no one had seen it, no one knew
who had placed it there.

“Well, then, let us see what it contains,” said Bonaparte, and he was
going to break the seal, when Junot suddenly seized his hand and tore
the letter away from him.

“Do not read it, general,” implored Junot; “I beseech you do not open
this letter. Who knows if some of your enemies have not sent you a
letter a la Catharine de Medicis? Who knows if it is not poisoned--that
the mere touch of it may not produce death?”

Bonaparte smiled at this solicitude of his tender friend, yet he
listened to his pressing alarms, and, instead of opening and reading the
letter, he passed it to Junot.

“Read it yourself, if you have the courage to do so,” said be,
familiarly shaking his head.

Junot rapidly broke the black seal and tore the red paper. Then, fixing
his eyes on it, he threw it aside, and broke into loud, merry laughter.

“Well,” asked Bonaparte, “what does the letter contain?”

“A mystery, my general--nothing more than a mystery,” cried Junot,
presenting the letter to Bonaparte.

The letter contained but these words:

“Macbeth, you will be king.


Junot laughed over this mysterious note, but Bonaparte shared not in
his merriment. With compressed lips and frowning brow he looked at
these strange, prophetic words, as if in their characters he wanted to
discover the features of him who had dared to look into the most hidden
recesses of his soul; then he threw the paper into the chimney-fire,
and slowly and thoughtfully paced the room, while in a low voice he
murmured, “Macbeth, you will be king.”


At last the conqueror of Toulon conquered also the heart of the young
widow who had so anxiously struggled against him; at last Josephine
overcame all her fears, all her terror, and, with joyous trust in the
future, was betrothed to General Bonaparte. But even then, after having
taken this decisive step, after love had cast away fear, even then she
had not the courage to reveal to her children that she had contracted
a new marriage-tie, that she was going to give to the orphans of the
Viscount de Beauharnais a new father. Ashamed and timid as a young maid,
she could not force herself into acknowledging to the children of
her deceased husband that a new love had grown in her heart--that the
mourning widow was to become again a happy woman.

Josephine, therefore, commissioned Madame de Campan to communicate this
news to her Eugene and Hortense; to tell them that she desired not only
to have a husband, but also to give to her children a faithful, loving
father, who had promised to their mother with sacred oaths to regard,
love, and protect them as his own children.

The children of General Beauharnais received this news with tears in
their eyes; they complained loudly and sorrowfully that their mother was
giving up the name of their father and changing it for another; that the
memory of their father would be forever lost in their mother’s heart.
But, through pure love for their mother, they soon dried up these tears;
and when next day Josephine, accompanied by General Bonaparte, came to
St. Germain, to visit Madame de Campan’s institution, she met there her
daughter and son, who both embraced her with the most tender affection,
and, smiling under their tears, offered their hands to General
Bonaparte, who, with all the sincerity and honesty of a deep, heart-felt
emotion, embraced them in his arms, and solemnly promised to treat them
as a father and a friend.

All Josephine’s friends did not gladly give their approbation to her
marriage with this small, insignificant general, as yet so little known,
whose success before Toulon was already forgotten, and whose victory of
the thirteenth Vendemiaire had brought him but little fame and made him
many enemies.

Among the friends who in this union with Bonaparte saw very little
happiness for Josephine was her lawyer, the advocate Ragideau, who for
many years had been her family’s agent, whose distinguished talent for
pleading and whose small figure had made him known through all Paris,
and of whom it was said that as a man he was but a dwarf; but as a
lawyer, he was a giant.

One day, in virtue of an invitation from the Viscountess de Beauharnais,
Ragideau came to the small hotel of the rue Chautereine, and sent his
name to the viscountess. She received his visit, and at his entrance
into her cabinet all those present retreated into the drawing-room
contiguous thereto, as they well knew that Josephine had some business
transactions with her lawyer.

Only one small, pale man, in modest gray clothing, whom Ragideau did
not condescend to notice, remained in the cabinet, who retired quietly
within the recess of a window.

Josephine received her business agent with a friendly smile, and spoke
long and in detail with him concerning a few important transactions
which had reference to her approaching marriage. Then suddenly passing
from the coldness of a business conversation to the tone of a friendly
one, she asked M. Ragideau what the world said of her second marriage.

Ragideau shrugged his shoulders and assumed a thoughtful attitude. “Your
friends, madame,” said he, “see with sorrow that you are going to marry
a soldier, who is younger than yourself, who possesses nothing but his
salary, and therefore cannot leave the service; or, if he is killed in
battle, leaves you perhaps with children, and without an inheritance.”

“Do you share the opinion of my friends, my dear M. Ragidean?” asked
Josephine, smiling.

“Yes,” said the lawyer, earnestly, “yes, I share them--yes. I am not
satisfied that you should contract such a marriage. You are rich,
madame; you possess a capital which secures you a yearly income of
twenty-five thousand francs; with such an income you had claims to a
brilliant marriage; and I feel conscientiously obliged, as your friend
and business agent, in whom you have trusted, and who has for you the
deepest interest, to earnestly remonstrate with you while there is
yet time. Consider it well, viscountess; it is a reckless step you are
taking, and I entreat you not to do it. I speak to your own advantage.
General Bonaparte may be a very good man, possibly quite a distinguished
soldier, but certain it is he has only his hat and his sword to offer

Josephine now broke into a joyous laugh, and her beaming eyes turned to
the young man there who, with his back turned to the party, stood at the
window beating the panes with his fingers, apparently heedless of their

“General,” cried out Josephine, cheerfully, “have you heard what M.
Ragideau says?”

Bonaparte turned slowly round, and his large eyes fell with a flaming
look upon the little advocate.

“Yes,” said he, gravely, “I have heard all. M. Ragideau has spoken as an
honest man, and every thing he has said fills me with esteem for him. I
trust he will continue to be our agent, for I feel inclined to give him
full confidence.”

He bowed kindly to the little lawyer, who stood there bewildered and
ashamed, and, offering his arm to Josephine, Bonaparte led her into the
drawing-room. [Footnote: The little advocate Ragideau remained after
this Josephine’s agent. When Bonaparte had become emperor, he appointed
Ragideau notary of the civil list, and always manifested the greatest
interest in his behalf, and never by a word or a look did he remind him
of the strange circumstance which brought about their acquaintance.--See
Meneval. “Napoleon et Marie Louise,” vol. i., p. 202.]

The decisive word had been spoken: Josephine de Beauharnais was now the
bride of General Bonaparte. His hitherto pale, gloomy countenance was
all radiant with the bright light of love and happiness. The days of
solitude and privations were forgotten; the young, beautiful Desiree
Clary, whom Bonaparte so much loved a few months ago, and the amiable
Madame Permont, were also forgotten (and yet to the latter, in her loge
at the theatre, as a farce between acts, he had offered his hand); all
the little love-intrigues of former days were forgotten; to Josephine
alone belonged his heart, her alone he loved with all the impassioned
glow and depth of a first exclusive love.

But yet, now and then, clouds darkened his large pensive brow; even her
smile could not always illumine the gloomy expression on his features;
it would happen that, plunged in deep, sad cogitations, he heard not the
question which she addressed him in her remarkably soft and clear voice
which Bonaparte so much loved.

His lofty pride felt humiliated and disgraced by the part he was now

He was the general of the army of the interior, but beyond the frontiers
of France there stood another French army, whose soldiers had not the
sad mission to maintain peace and quietness at home, to fight against
brothers; but an army seeking for the foe, whose blood and victories
were to secure them laurels.

General Bonaparte longed to be with this army, and to obliterate the
remembrance of the 13th Vendemiaire and its sad victory by brilliant
exploits beyond the Alps. It was also to him a humiliating and
depressing feeling to become the husband of a wealthy woman, and not
bring her as a glorious gift or a wedding-present the fame and laurels
of a husband.

It has often been said that Josephine obtained for her husband, as
a wedding-gift, his appointment of commanding general of the army in
Italy; that she procured this appointment from Barras, with whom, before
her acquaintance with Bonaparte, she had been in closer relationship
than that of mere friendship. Even such historians as Schlosser have
accepted this calumny as truth, without taking pains to investigate
whether the facts justified this supposition. In the great historical
events which have shaken nations, it is really of little importance if,
under the light which illumines and brings out such events, a shadow
should fall and darken an individual. Even the hatred and scorn with
which a nation, trodden down in the dust, curses a tyrant, and endeavors
to take vengeance on his fame, ask not if the stone flung at the hated
one falls upon other heads than the one aimed at.

Not Josephine, but Bonaparte, did they wish to injure when stating she
had been the beloved of Barras. It was Bonaparte whom they wished to
humble and mortify, when historians published that, not to his merits,
but to the petitions of his wife, he was indebted for his commission as
general of the army in Italy.

But truth justifies not this calumny; and when with the light of truth
the path of the widow of General Beauharnais is lighted, it will be
found that this path led to solitude and quietness; that at none of the
great and brilliant banquets which Barras then gave, and which in the
Moniteur are described with so much pomp, not once is, the name of
Viscountess de Beauharnais mentioned; that in the numerous pasquinades
and lampoons which then appeared in Paris and in all France, and in
which all private life was fathomed, not once is the name of Josephine
brought out, neither is there any indirect allusion to her.

Calumny has placed this stain on Josephine’s brow, but truth takes it
away. And that truth is, that not Josephine, but Bonaparte, was the
friend of Barras; that it was not Barras, but Carnot, who promoted
Bonaparte to the rank of commanding general of the army in Italy.

Carnot, the minister of war of the republic, the noble, incorruptible
republican, whose character, pure, bright, and true as steel, turned
aside all the darts of wickedness and calumny, which could not inflict
even a wound, or leave a stain on the brilliancy of his spotless
character, has given upon this point his testimony in a refutation. At
a later period, when the hatred of parties, and the events of the 18th
Fructidor, had forced him to flee from France, he defended himself
against the accusation launched at him in the Council of the Five
Hundred, which pointed him out as a traitor to the republic; and this
defence gave a detailed account of the whole time of his administration,
and especially what he achieved for the republic, claiming as one of his
services the appointment of Bonaparte.

“It is not true,” says he, “that Barras proposed Bonaparte for the chief
command of the army in Italy. I myself did it. But time was allowed to
intervene, so as to ascertain whether Bonaparte would succeed before
Barras congratulated himself, and then only to his confidants, that it
was he who had made this proposition to the Directory. Had Bonaparte
not answered the expectations, then I should have been the one to
blame: then it would have been I who had chosen a young, inexperienced,
intriguing man; and I who had betrayed the nation, for the other members
did not interfere in war-matters; upon me all responsibility would
have fallen. But as Bonaparte is victorious, then it must be Barras
who appointed him! To Barras alone are the people indebted for this
nomination! He is Bonaparte’s protector, his defender against my
attacks! I am jealous of Bonaparte; I cross him in all his plans; I
lower his character; I persecute him; I refuse him all assistance; I, in
all probability, am to plunge him into ruin!”--such were the calumnies
which at that time filled the journals bribed by Barras. [Footnote:
“Response de L. N. M. Carnot, citoyen francais, l’un des fondateurs
de la republique, et membre constitutionnel du Directoire executif an
rapport fait sur la conjuration du 18 Fructidor an conseil des Cinq

To Carnot, the secretary of war of the republic, did Bonaparte go, to
ask of him the command of the army in Italy. But Carnot answered him, as
he had already before Aubry, the minister of war, “You are too young.”

“Let us put appearances and age aside,” said Bonaparte, impatiently.
“Alexander, Scipio, Conde, and many others, though still younger than
I, marched armies to brilliant conquests, and decided the fate of whole
kingdoms. I believe I have given a few proofs of what I can achieve, if
I am set at the right place; and I burn with great longing to serve my
country, to obtain victories over despots who hate France because they
fear, calumniate, and envy her!”

“I know you are a good patriot,” said Carnot, slowly turning his head;
“I know and appreciate your services, and you may rest assured that
the obstacles which I place in your path are not directed against you
personally. But do you know the situation of our army? It is devoured
by the quartermaster; betrayed and sold, I fear, by its general, and
demoralized, notwithstanding its successes! That army needs every thing,
even discipline, whilst the enemy’s army has all that we need. We want
nearly a miracle to be victorious. Whoever is to lead to success our
disordered, famished, disorganized army must, above all things, possess
its full confidence. Besides which, without further events, I cannot
dismiss the commanding general, Scherer, but I must wait until some
new disgrace furnishes me the right to do so. You know all. Judge for

“I have already made all these objections within my own mind,” replied
Bonaparte, quietly; “yet I do not despair that if you will give me your
advice and assistance, I will overcome all these difficulties. Listen to
me, and I will let you know my plan for the arrangement of the war, and
I am convinced you will give it your sanction.”

With glowing eloquence, complete clearness and assurance, and the
convincing quietude of a persuaded, all-embracing, all-weighing mind,
Bonaparte unfolded the daring and astounding plan of his campaign. As he
spoke, his face brightened more and more, his eyes glowed with the
fire of inspiration, his countenance beamed with that exalted, wondrous
beauty which is granted to genius alone in the highest moments of its
ecstasy; the small, insignificant, pale young man became the bold,
daring hero, who was fully prepared gladly to tread a world under his

Carnot, who had looked on in astonishment, was finally carried away,
inspired by the persuasive eloquence of the young general, who in a
few words understood how to map out battle-fields, to measure whole
engagements, and to give to every one the needful and appropriate place.

“You are right,” cried Carnot, delighted, and offering his hand to
Bonaparte. “This plan must be carried out, and then we shall conquer our
enemies. I no longer doubt of the result, and from this moment you can
rely upon me. You shall be commander-in-chief of the army in Italy. I
will myself propose you to the Directory, and I will so warmly speak
in your favor, that my request will be granted.” [Footnote: “Memoires
historiques et militaires, sur Carnot,” vol. ii.]

On this day the face of General Bonaparte was irradiated with a still
deeper lustre than when Josephine avowed that his love was returned, and
when she consented to be his.

Josephine’s affianced, in the depths of his heart, retained a deep,
unfulfilled desire, an unreached aim of his existence. The commanding
general of the army in Italy had nothing more to wish, or to long
for; he now stood at hope’s summit, and saw before him the brilliant,
glorious goal of ambition toward which the path lay open before him.

Love alone could not satisfy the heart of Napoleon; the larger portion
of it belonged to ambition--to the lust for a warrior’s fame.

“I am going to live only for the future,” said Bonaparte, that day, to
Junot, as he related to him the successful result of his interview with
Carnot. “None of you know me yet, but you will soon. You will see what
I can do: I feel within me something which urges me onward. Too long has
the war been limited to a single district; I will take it into the heart
of the continent, I will bring it on fresh soil, and so carry it out
that the men of habit will lose their footing, and the old officers
their heads, so that they will no more know where they are. The soldiers
will see what one man, with a will of iron, can accomplish. All this
I will do--and from this day I strike out from the dictionary the word

Carnot was true to his word. On the 23d day of February, 1796, Bonaparte
was appointed by the Directory commander-in-chief of the army of Italy.

From the face of the young general beamed forth the smile of victory;
he was now certain of the future! He now knew that to his Josephine he
could offer more than a hat and a sword, that he would bring her undying
fame and victory’s brilliant crown. This was to be the dowry before
which the twenty-five thousand francs’ yearly income, which the little
giant Ragideau had so highly prized, would fall into the background.

On the 9th of March the marriage between General Bonaparte and the widow
Viscountess Josephine de Beauharnais took place. Barras, as member of
the government, was Bonaparte’s first witness; his second was Captain
Lemarrois, his adjutant; and the choice of this witness was a delicate
homage which Napoleon paid to his dear Josephine: for Lemarrois was the
one who had first led the boy Eugene to Bonaparte, and had thus been the
means of his acquaintance with Josephine.

The two witnesses of Josephine were Tallien, who had delivered her from
prison, and to whom she owed the restoration of her property, and a
M. Calmelet, an old friend and counsellor of the Beauharnais family.
[Footnote: “Souvenirs historiques du Baron de Meneval,” vol. i., p.

In the pure modesty of her heart, Josephine had not desired that the two
children of her deceased husband should be the witnesses of her second
marriage, and Bonaparte was glad that Josephine’s bridal wreath would
not be bedewed with the tears of memory.

On this happy day of Bonaparte’s marriage, so much of the past was set
aside, that the certificate of baptism of the betrothed was forgotten,
and the number of years which made Josephine older than Bonaparte was
struck out.

The civil record, which M. Leclerc received of the marriage of Bonaparte
and Josephine, describes them as being nearly of the same age, for it
ran thus: “Napoleon Bonaparte, born in Ajaccio, on the 5th of February,
1768; and Marie Josephe Rosa Tascher de la Pagerie, born in Martinique,
the 23d of June, 1767.”

Bonaparte’s glowing and impassioned love led him--in order to spare his
Josephine the smallest, degree of humiliation--to alter and destroy the
dates of the certificate of their baptism; for Bonaparte was born on the
15th of August, 1769, and Josephine on the 23d of June, 1763. She was
consequently six years older than he; but she knew not that these six
years would, one day, be the abyss which was to swallow her happiness,
her love, her grandeur.

Two days after his marriage with Josephine, Bonaparte left Paris for the
army, to travel in haste, an uninterrupted journey toward Italy.

“I must hasten to my post,” said he smiling to Josephine, “for an
army without a chief is like a widow who can commit foolish deeds and
endanger her reputation. I am responsible for the army’s conduct from
the moment of my appointment.”


Carnot had told Bonaparte the truth concerning the state of the army in
Italy. His statements were sustained by the proclamation which the new
commander-in-chief of the army in Italy addressed to his soldiers, as
for the first time he welcomed them at Nice.

“Soldiers,” said he, “you are naked and badly fed; the government owes
you much, and can give you nothing. Your patience and the courage you
have exhibited amid these rocks are worthy of admiration; but you gain
no fame: no glory falls upon you here. I will lead you into the fertile
plains of the world; rich provinces and large cities will fall into
your power; there you will find honor, fame, and abundance. Soldiers of
Italy, would you fail in courage and perseverance?” [Footnote: Norvins,
“Histoire de Napoleon,” vol. i., p. 89.]

The mangled, ragged, half-starved soldiers answered with loud
enthusiastic shouts. When the vivats had died away, an old veteran
came out of the ranks, and with countenance half-defiant, half-smiling,
looking at the little general, he asked: “General, what must we do
that the roasted partridges, which are promised to us, may fly into our

“Conquer,” cried Bonaparte, with a loud resounding voice--“conquer!
To the brave, glory and good repasts! To the coward, disgrace! To the
faint-hearted, misery! I will lead you into the path of victory. Will
you follow?”

“We will, we will!” shouted the soldiers. “Long live the little general
who is to deliver us from our wretchedness, who is to lead us into
victory’s path!”

Bonaparte kept his word. He led them to Voltri, to the bridge of Arcola,
to Lodi. But amid his wild career of fights, hardships, vigils, studies, and
perils, the thought of Josephine was the guiding star of his heart.
His mind was with her amid the battle’s storm; he thought of her in
the camp, on the march, in the greatest conflict, and after the most
brilliant victories. This was shown in the letters he wrote every day
to Josephine; and in the brilliant hymns which the warrior, amid the
carnage of war, sung with the enthusiastic fervor of a poet to his love
and to his happiness.

It is the mission of eminent historians, when describing his victorious
campaign of Italy, to narrate his conquests; our mission is simply to
observe him in his conduct toward Josephine, and to show how under the
uniform of the warrior beat the heart of the lover.

The letters which Bonaparte then wrote to Josephine are consequently
what concerns us most, and from which we will select a few as a proof of
the impassioned love which Napoleon felt for his young wife.


I. “PORT MAURICE, the 14th Germinal (April 3), 1796.

“I have received all your letters, but none has made so much impression
on me as the last one. How can you, my adored friend, speak to me in
that way? Do you not believe that my situation here is already horrible
enough, without your exciting my longings, and still more setting my
soul in rebellion? What a style! what emotions you describe! They glow
like fire, they burn my poor heart! My own Josephine, away from you,
there is no joy; away from you, the world is a wilderness in which I
feel alone, and have no one in whom I can confide. You have taken from
me more than my soul; you are the only thought of my life. When I feel
weary with the burden of affairs, when I dread some inauspicious result,
when men oppose me, when I am ready to curse life itself, I place my
hand upon my heart, your image beats there; I gaze on it, and love is
for me absolute bliss, and everything smiles except when I am away from
my beloved.

“By what art have you been able to enchain all my powers, and to
concentrate in yourself all my mental existence? It is an enchantment,
my dear friend, which is to end only with my life. To live for
Josephine, such is the history of my life! I am working to return to
you, I am dying to approach you! Fool that I am, I see not that I am
more and more drifting away from you! How much space, how many mountains
separate us! how long before you can read these words, the feeble
expression of a throbbing soul in which you rule! Ah, my adored wife, I
know not what future awaits me, but if it keeps me much longer away from
you, it will be intolerable; my courage reaches not that far. There was
a time when I was proud of my reputation; and sometimes when I cast
my eyes on the wrong which men could have done me, on the fate which
Providence might have in reserve for me, I prepared myself for the most
unheard-of adversities without wrinkling the brow or suffering fear; but
now the thought that my Josephine should be uncomfortable, or sick,
or, above all, the cruel, horrible thought that she might love me
less, makes my soul tremble, and my blood to remain still, bringing
on sadness, despondency, and taking away even the courage of anger and
despair. In times past I used to say, ‘Men have no power over him who
dies without regret.’ But now to die without being loved by you, to die
without the certainty of being loved, is for me the pains of hell, the
living, fearful feeling of complete annihilation. It is as if I were
going to suffocate! My own companion, you whom fate has given me, to
make life’s painful journey, the day when no more I can call your heart
mine, when nature will be for me without warmth, without vitality. ... I
will give way, my sweet friend (ma douce amie); my soul is sorrowful, my
body languishes; men weary me. I have a good right to detest them, for
they keep me away from my heart.

“I am now in Port Maurice, near to Oneglia; to-morrow I go to Albenga.
Both armies are moving forward; we are endeavoring to deceive each
other. Victory belongs to the swiftest. I am well satisfied with General
Beaulieu, he manoeuvres well; he is a stronger man than his predecessor.
I trust to beat him soundly. Be without care; love me as your eyes;
but no, that is not enough, as yourself, more than yourself, as your
thoughts, as your spirit, your life, your all! Sweet friend, pardon me;
I am beyond myself; nature is too weak for him who feels with passion,
for him whom you love.

“To Barras, Sucy, Madame Tallien, my heart-felt friendship; to Madame
Chateau Renaud, kindest regards; for Eugene and Hortense, my true love.
N. B.”

II. “ALBENGA, the 18th Germinal (April 7), 1796 [Footnote: The three
following letters have never been published until recently, and are not
to be found in any collection of letters from Napoleon and Josephine,
not even among those published by Queen Hortense: “Lettres de Napoleon a
Josephine, et de Josephine a Napoleon.” They are published for the first
time in the “Histoire de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” by Aubenas, and were
communicated to this author in Napoleon’s manuscript by the well-known
and famous gatherer of autographs, Feuillet de Couches.]

“I have just now received your letter, which you break off, as you say,
to go to the country; and then, you assume a tone as if you were envious
of me, who am here nearly overwhelmed by affairs and by exertion! Ah, my
dear friend, ... it is true, I am wrong. In the spring it is so pleasant
in the country; and then the beloved one of eighteen years will be so
happy there; how would it be possible to lose one moment for the sake
of writing to him who is three hundred miles away from you, who lives,
breathes, exists only in remembering you, who reads your letters as a
man, after hunting for six hours, devours a meal he is fond of.

“I am satisfied. Your last letter is cold, like friendship. I have not
found in it the fire which glows in your eyes, the fire which I have
at least imagined to be there. So far runs my fancy. I found that your
first letters oppressed my soul too much; the revolution which they
created in me disturbed my peace and bewildered my senses. I wanted
letters more cold, and now they bring on me the chill of death. The
fear of being no more loved by Josephine--the thought of having her
inconstant--of seeing her ... But I martyrize myself with anguish! There
is enough in the reality, without imagining any more! You cannot have
inspired me with this immeasurable love without sharing it; and with
such a soul, such thoughts, such an understanding as you possess, it
is impossible that, as a reward for the most glowing attachment and
devotion, you should return a mortal blow. ...

“You say nothing of your bodily sufferings; they have my regret.
Farewell till to-morrow, mio dolce amor. From my own wife a thought--and
from fate a victory; these are all my wishes: one sole, undivided
thought from you, worthy of him who every moment thinks of you.

“My brother is here. He has heard of my marriage with pleasure. He longs
to become acquainted with you. I am endeavoring to persuade him to go to
Paris, His wife has recently given birth to a daughter. They send you
a box of bonbons from Genoa as a present. You will receive oranges,
perfumes, and water of orange-flowers, which I send you. Junot and Murat
send their best wishes.

“N. B.”

The victory which Bonaparte implored from his destiny was soon to take
place; and the battle of Mondovi, which followed the capitulation of
Cherasco, made Bonaparte master of Piedmont and of the passes of the
Alps. He sent his brother Joseph to Paris, to lay before the Directory
pressing considerations concerning the necessity and importance of
concluding a permanent peace with the King of Sardinia, so as to isolate
Austria entirely in Italy. At the same time Junot was to take to the
Directory the conquered standards. Joseph and Junot travelled together
from Nice by means of post-horses, and they made so rapid a journey that
in one hundred and twenty hours they reached Paris.

The victor’s messengers and the conquered flags were received in Paris
with shouts of rapture, and with a glowing enthusiasm for General
Bonaparte. His name was on every tongue. In the streets and on the
squares crowds gathered together to talk of the glorious news, and to
shout their acclamations to the brave army and its general. Even the
Directory, the five monarchs of France, shared the universal joy and
enthusiasm. They received Joseph and Junot with affable complacency, and
communicated to the army and to its general public eulogies. In honor
of the messengers who had brought the standards and the propositions of
peace, they gave a brilliant banquet; and Carnot, proud of having been
the one who had brought about Bonaparte’s appointment, went so far in
his enthusiasm as at the close of the banquet to tear his garments open
and exhibit to the assembled guests Napoleon’s portrait which he carried
on his breast.

“Tell your brother,” cried he to Joseph, “that I carry him here on my
heart, for I foresee he will be the deliverer of France, and therefore
he must know that in the Directory he has only admirers and friends.”
 [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i., p. 62.]

But something else, more glorious than these salutations of love from
France and from the Directory, was to be brought back by his messengers
to the victorious commander-his wife, his Josephine; he claimed her
as the reward of battles won. Joseph was not only the messenger of the
general, he was also the messenger of the lover; and before delivering
his papers to the Directory, he had first, as Bonaparte had ordered him,
to deliver to Josephine his letter which called her to Milan. Napoleon
had thus written to her:


“CAEN, the 3rd Floreal (May 24), 1796.

“My brother will hand you this letter. I cherish for him the most
intimate friendship. I trust he will also gain your affection. He
deserves it. Nature has gifted him with a tender and inexhaustibly good
character; he is full of rare qualities. I write to Barras to have
him appointed consul to some Italian port. He desires to live with his
little wife away from the world’s great stream of events. I recommend
him to you.

“I have received your letters of the 16th and of the 21st. You have
indeed for many days forgotten to write. What, then, are you doing? Yes,
my dear friend, I am not exactly jealous, but I am sometimes uneasy.
Hasten, then, for I tell you beforehand that if you delay I shall be
sick. So great exertion, combined with your absence, is too much.

“Your letters are the joys of my days, and my happy days are not too
many. Junot takes to Paris twenty-two standards. You will come back with
him, will you not? .... Misery without remedy, sorrow without comfort,
unmitigated anguish, will be my portion if it is my misfortune to
see him come back alone, my own adored wife! He will see you, he will
breathe at your shrine, and perhaps you will even grant him the special
and unsurpassed privilege of kissing your cheeks, and I, I will be far,
far away! You will come here, at my side, to my heart, in my arms!
Take wings, come, come! Yet, journey slowly; the road is long, bad,
fatiguing! If your carriage were to upset, if some calamity were to
happen, if the exertion. ... Set out at once, my beloved one, but travel

“I have received a letter from Hortense, a very acceptable one indeed.
I am going to answer it. I love her much, and will soon send her the
perfumes she desires. N. B.”

But Josephine could not meet at once the ardent wishes of her husband.
She had, on the receipt of his letter, made with Joseph all the
necessary preparations for the journey; but the ailment which had so
long troubled her, broke out, and a violent illness prostrated her.

Bonaparte’s suffering and anger at this news were unbounded; a terrible
restlessness and anxiety took possession of him, and, to obtain speedy
and reliable news from Josephine, he sent from Milan to Paris a special
courier, whose only business it was to carry a letter to Josephine.

The general had nothing to communicate to the Directory; it was only
the lover writing to his beloved! What fire, what energy of passion,
penetrated him, is evident from the following letter:

IV. “TORTONA, at noon, the 27th Prairial,

“In the Year IV. of the Republic (15th June, 1796).

“To Josephine: My life is a ceaseless Alpine burden. An oppressive
foreboding prevents me from breathing. I live no more, I have lost more
than life, more than happiness, more than rest! I am without hope. I
send you a courier. He will remain only four hours in Paris, and return
with your answer. Write me only ten lines; they will be some comfort
to me. ... You are sick, you love me, I have troubled you; you are
pregnant, and I cannot see you. This thought bewilders me. I have done
you so much wrong, that I know not how to make amends for it. I found
fault because you remained in Paris, and you were sick! Forgive me, my
beloved. The passion you have inspired in me has taken my reason away; I
cannot find it again. One is never cured of this evil. My contemplations
are so horrible, that it would be a satisfaction to see you; to press
you for two hours to my heart, and then, to die together! Who takes care
of you? I imagine that you have sent for Hortense. I love this child
a thousand times more, when I think she can comfort you somewhat. As
regards myself, there will be no solace, no rest, no hope, before the
courier whom I have sent to you has returned, and you have told me in a
long letter the cause of your illness, and how serious it is. I tell
you beforehand that if it is dangerous I will at once go to Paris.
My presence would be called for by your sickness. I have always been
fortunate. Never has Fate stood against my wishes, and to-day it strikes
me where only wounds are possible. Josephine, how can you delay so long
in writing to me? Your last laconic note is dated the 3d of this month,
and this adds to my sorrow. Yet I have it always in my pocket. Your
portrait and your letters are always under my eyes.

“I am nothing without you. I can scarcely understand how I have lived
without knowing you. Ah, Josephine, if you know my heart, could you
remain without writing from the 29th of May to the 16th of June, and not
travel hither? Have you lent an ear to faithless friends, who wish to
keep you away from me? I am angry with the whole world; I accuse every
one round about you. I had calculated that you would leave on the 5th,
and be at Milan on the 15th.

“Josephine, if you love me, if you believe that all depends on the
recovery of your health, take good care of yourself. I dare not tell you
not to undertake so long a journey--not to travel in the heat, if
you possibly can move. Make small journeys; write to me at every
stopping-place, and send me each time your letters by a courier. ...
Your sickness troubles me by night and by day. Without appetite or
sleep, without regard for friendship, reputation, or country!--you and
you alone! The rest of the world exists no more for me than if it were
sunk into oblivion. I still cling to honor, for you hold to it; to fame,
for it is a joy to you; if it were not for this, I would have abandoned
every thing to hasten to your feet.

“Sometimes, I say to myself: ‘I trouble myself without cause, she is
already well, she has left Paris and is on the way, she is perhaps in
Lyons.’ ... Fruitless deception! You are in your bed, suffering--more
interesting--more worthy of adoration; you are pale, and your eyes are
more languishing than ever! when you are well again, if one of us is
to be sick, cannot I be the one? for I am stronger, I have more vital
power, and would therefore sooner conquer sickness. Fate is cruel, it
strikes me through you.

“What sometimes comforts me is to know that on fate depends your
sickness, but that it depends on no one to oblige me to outlive you.

“Be careful, my dearly-beloved one, to tell me in your letter that you
are convinced that I love you above all that can be conceived; that
never has it come to me to think of other women; that they are all in my
eyes without grace, beauty, or wit; that you, you entirely, you as I
see you, as you are, can please me and fetter all the powers of my soul;
that you have grasped it in all its immeasurableness; that my heart has
no folds closed from your eyes, no thoughts which belong not to you;
that my energies, arms, mind, every thing in me, is subject to you; that
my spirit lives in your body; that the day when you will be inconstant
or when you will cease to live, will be the day of my death, and that
nature and earth are beautiful to my eyes only because you live in them.
If you do not believe all this, if your soul is not convinced of it,
penetrated with it, then I am deceived in you, then you love me no more.
A magnetic fluid runs between persons who love one another. You know
that I could never see, much less could I endure, a lover: to see him
and to tear his heart would be one and the same thing; and then I might
even lay hands on your sacred person.... no, I would never dare do it,
but I would fly from a world where those I deem the most virtuous have
deceived me.

“But I am certain of your love, and proud of it. Accidents are
probations which keep alive all the energies of our mutual affections.
My adored one, you will give birth to a child resembling his mother;
it will pass many years in your arms. Unfortunate that I am, I would be
satisfied with one day! A thousand kisses on your eyes and lips! ....
adored wife, how mighty is your spell! I am ill on account of your
illness. I have a burning fever. Retain the courier no longer than
six hours; then let him return, that he may bring me a letter from my
sovereign. N. B.”

These were the first letters which Josephine received from her loving,
tender husband. They are a splendid monument of affection with which
love adorns the solitary grave of the departed empress; and surely in
the dark hours of her life, the remembrance of these days of happiness,
of these letters so full of passionate ardor, must have alleviated the
bitterness of her grief and given her the consolation that at least she
was once loved as perhaps no other woman on earth can boast! All these
letters of Bonaparte, during the days of his first prosperity, and of
his earnest cravings, Josephine had carefully gathered; they were to be,
amid the precious and costly treasures which the future was to lay at
her feet, the most glorious and most prized, and which she preserved
with sacred loyalty as long as she lived.

This is the reason that, out of all the letters which Bonaparte wrote
to Josephine during long years, not one is lost; that there is no gap in
the correspondence, and that we can with complete certainty, from week
to week and year to year, follow the relations which existed between
them, and that the thermometer can be placed on Bonaparte’s heart
to observe how by degrees the heat diminishes, the warmth of passion
disappears into the cool temperature of a quiet friendship, and how it
never sinks to cold indifference, even when Josephine had to yield to
the young and proud daughter of Austria, and give up her place at the
side of the emperor.

Of all the letters of Josephine to Bonaparte, which were now so glowing
that they seemed to devour him with flames of fire and bewildered his
senses, and then so cold and indifferent that they caused the chill of
death to pass over his frame--of all these, not one has been preserved
to posterity. Perhaps the Emperor Napoleon destroyed them; when in the
Tuileries he received Josephine’s successor, his second wife, and
when he endeavored to destroy in his own proud heart the memory of the
beautiful, happy past, he there destroyed those letters, that they might
return to dust, even as his own love had returned.


Bonaparte’s letter, which the courier brought to Josephine, found her
recovered, and ready to follow her husband’s call, and go to Milan.
But she was deprived of one precious and joyous hope: the child, which
Bonaparte so much envied because it would pass many years in Josephine’s
arms, was never to be born.

In the last days of the month of June Josephine arrived in Milan. Her
whole journey had been one uninterrupted triumph. In Turin, at the court
of the King of Sardinia, she had received the homage of the people as
if she were the wife of a mighty ruler; and wherever she went, she was
received with honors and distinction. To Turin Bonaparte had sent before
him one of his adjutants, General Marmont, afterward Duke de Ragusa, to
convey to her his kindest regards and to accompany her with a military
escort as far as Milan. In the palace de Serbelloni, his residence in
Milan, adorned as for a feast, Bonaparte received her with a countenance
radiant with joy and happy smiles such as seldom brightened his pale,
gloomy features.

But Bonaparte had neither much time nor leisure to devote to his
domestic happiness, to his long-expected reunion with Josephine. Only
three days could the happy lover obtain from the restless commander;
then he had to tear himself away from his sweet repose, to carry
on further the deadly strife which he had begun in Italy against
Austria--which had decided not to give away one foot of Lombardy without
a struggle--and not to submit to the conqueror of Lodi. A new army
was marched into Italy under the command of General Wurmser, the same
against whom, three years before, on the shores of the Rhine, Alexandre
de Beauharnais had fought in vain. At the head of sixty thousand men
Wurmser moved into Italy to relieve Mantua, besieged by the French.

This alarming news awoke Bonaparte out of his dream of love, and neither
Josephine’s tears nor prayers could keep him back. He sent couriers to
Paris, to implore from the Directory fresh troops and more money, to
continue the campaign. The Directory answered him with the proposition
to divide the army of Italy into two columns, one of which would act
under the commander-in-chief, General Kellermann, the other under

But this proposition, which the jealous Directory made for the sake of
breaking the growing power of Bonaparte, only served to lift him a step
higher in his path to the brilliant career which he alone, in the depths
of his heart, had traced, and the secret of which his closed lips would
reveal to no one.

Bonaparte’s answer to this proposition of the Directory was, that if
the power were to be divided, he could only refuse the half of this
division, and would retire entirely from command.

He wrote to Carnot: “It is a matter of indifference to me whether I
carry on the war here or elsewhere. To serve my country, and deserve
from posterity one page of history, is all my ambition! If both I and
Kellermann command in Italy, then all is lost. General Kellermann has
more experience than I, and will carry on the war more ably. But the
matter can only be badly managed if we both command. It is no pleasure
for me to serve with a man whom Europe considers the first general of
the age.”

Carnot showed this letter to the Directory, and declared that if
Bonaparte were to be given up, he would himself resign his position of
secretary of war. The Directory was not prepared to accept this twofold
responsibility, and they sacrificed Kellermann to the threats of
Napoleon and Carnot.

General Bonaparte was confirmed in his position of commander-in-chief of
the army in Italy, even for the future, and the conduct of the war was
left in his hands alone.

With this fresh triumph over his enemies at home, Bonaparte marched from
Milan to fight the re-enforced enemy of France in Italy.

On this new war-path, amid dangers and conflicts, the tumults of the
fight, the noise of the camp, the confusion of the bivouac, the young
general did not for one moment forget the wife he so passionately loved.
Nearly every day he wrote to her, and those letters, which were often
written between the dictation of the battle’s plan, the dispatches to
the Directory, and the impending conflict, were faithful waymarks, whose
directions it is easy to follow, and thus trace the whole successful
course of the hero of Italy.

To refer here to Bonaparte’s letters to Josephine, implies at once the
mention of Bonaparte’s deeds and of Josephine’s happiness. The first
letter which he wrote after the interview in Milan is from Roverbella,
and it tells her in a few words that he has just now beaten the foe,
and that he is going to Verona. The second is also short and hastily
written, but is full of many delicate assurances of love, and also that
he has met and defeated the foe at Verona. The third letter is from
Marmirolo, and shows that Bonaparte, notwithstanding his constant
changes of position, had taken the precautions that Josephine’s letters
should everywhere follow him; for in Marmirolo he received one, and this
tender letter filled him with so much joy, thanks, and longings, that,
in virtue of it, he forgets conquests and triumphs entirely, and is only
the longing, tender lover. He writes:

“MARMIROLO, the 29th Messidor, 9 in the evening” (July 17), 1796.

“I am just now in receipt of your letter, my adored one; it has filled
my heart with joy. I am thankful for the pains you have taken to send me
news about yourself; with your improved health, all will be well; I am
convinced that you have now recovered. I would impress upon you the duty
of riding often; this will be a healthy exercise for you.

“Since I left you I am forever sorrowful. My happiness consists in being
near you. Constantly does my memory renew your kisses, your tears, your
amiable jealousy; and the charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle
incessantly a burning flame within my heart and throughout my senses.
When shall I, free from all disturbance and care, pass all my moments
with you, and have nothing to do but to love, nothing to think of but
the happiness to tell it and prove it to you? I am going to send you
your horse, and I trust you will soon be able to be with me. A few days
ago I thought I loved you, but since I have seen you again, I feel that
I love you a thousand times more. Since I knew you, I worship you more
and more every day; this proves the falsity of La Bruyere’s maxim, which
says that love springs up all at once. Every thing in nature has its
growth in different degrees. Ah, I implore you, let me see some of your
faults; be then less beautiful, less graceful, less tender, less good;
especially be never tender, never weep: your tears deprive me of my
reason, and change my blood into fire. Believe me, that it is not in my
power to have a single thought which concerns you not, or an idea which
is not subservient to you.

“Keep very quiet. Recover soon your health. Come to me, that at least
before dying we may say, ‘We were happy so many, many days!’

“Millions of kisses even for Fortune, notwithstanding its naughtiness.
[Footnote: Fortune was that little peevish dog which, when Josephine
was in prison, served as love-messenger between her and her children.]

But this letter, full of tenderness and warmth, is not yet enough for
the ardent lover; it does not express sufficiently his longing, his
love. The very next day, from the same quarters of Marmirolo, he writes
something like a postscript to the missive of the previous day. He tells
her that he has made an attack upon Mantua, but that a sudden fall of
the waters of the lake had delayed his troops already embarked, and that
this day he is going to try again in some other way; that the enemy a
few days past had made a sortie and killed a few hundred men, but that
they themselves, with considerable loss, had to retreat rapidly into the
fortress, and that three Neapolitan regiments had entered Brescia. But
between each of these sentences intervene some strong assurance of his
love, some tender or flattering words; and finally, at the end of the
letter, comes the principal object, the cause why it was written. The
tender lover wanted some token from his beloved: it is not enough for
him always to carry her portrait and her letters, he must also have a
lock of her hair. He writes:

“I have lost my snuffbox; I pray you find me another, somewhat more
flat, and pray have something pretty written upon it, with a lock
of your hair. A thousand burning kisses, since you are so cold, love
unbounded, and faithfulness beyond all proof.”

Two days afterward he writes again from Marmirolo, at first hastily, a
few words about the war, then he comes to the main point. He has been
guilty, toward Josephine, of a want of politeness, and, with all the
tenderness and humility of a lover, he asks forgiveness. Her pardon and
her constant tardiness in answering his letters, are to him more weighty
matters than all the battles and victories of his restless camp-life,
and therefore he begins at once with a complaint at his separation from

“MARMIROLO, the 1st Thermidor, Year IV. (July 19, 1796.)” For the last
two days I am without letters from you. This remark I have repeated
thirty times; you feel that this for me is sad. You cannot, however,
doubt of the tenderness and undivided solicitude with which you inspire

“We attacked Mantua yesterday. We opened upon it, from two batteries, a
fire of shells and red-hot balls. The whole night the unfortunate city
was burning. The spectacle was terrible and sublime. We have taken
possession of numerous outworks, and we open the trenches to-night.
To-morrow we make our headquarters at Castiglione, and think of passing
* the night there.”

“I have received a courier from Paris. He brought two letters for you: I
have read them. Though this action seems to me very simple, as you
gave me permission so to do, yet, I fear, it will annoy you, and that
troubles me exceedingly. I wanted at first to seal them over again; but,
pshaw! that would have been horrible. If I am guilty, I beg your pardon.
I swear to you I did it not through jealousy; no, certainly not; I have
of my adored one too high an opinion to indulge in such a feeling. I
wish you would once for all allow me to read your letters; then I should
not have any twittings of conscience or fear.”

“Achilles, the courier, has arrived from Milan; no letter from my adored
one! Farewell, my sole happiness! When will you come, and be with me? I
shall have to fetch you from Milan myself.”

“A thousand kisses, burning as my heart, pure as yours!”

“I have sent for the courier; he says he was at your residence, and that
you had nothing to say, nothing to order! Fie! wicked, hateful, cruel
tyrant!--pretty little monster! You laugh at my threats and my madness;
ah, you know very well that if I could shut you up in my heart, I would
keep you there a prisoner.”

“Let me know that you are cheerful, right well, and loving!”


But Josephine seems not to have answered this letter as Napoleon
desired. She knew that it was nothing but unfounded jealousy which had
induced him to read the letters sent to her, and to punish him for this
jealousy she forbade him to read her letters in the future.

But while she reproached him in a jesting manner, and punished him for
this jealousy, she, herself, with all the inconsistency of a lover, fell
into the same fault, and could not hide from him the jealous fears which
the ladies from Brescia, especially the beautiful Madame de Te----,
had created within her mind. Bonaparte answered this letter as general,
lover, and husband; he gives an account of his war operations, submits
to her will as a lover, and commands her as a husband to come to him in

“CASTIGLIONE, the 4th Thermidor, Year IV. (July 22, 1796).

“The wants of the army require my presence in these parts; it is
impossible for me to go so far away as Milan; it would require for that
purpose five or six days, and during that time circumstances might arise
which would make my presence here absolutely necessary.

“You assure me that your health is now good; consequently, I pray you
to come to Brescia. At this moment I am sending Murat into the city to
prepare you such a house as you wish.

“I believe that you can very well sleep in Cassano on the 6th, if you
leave Milan late, so as to be in Brescia on the 7th, where the most
tender of lovers awaits you. I am in despair that you can believe, my
dear friend, that my heart can be drawn toward any one but yourself;
it belongs to you by right of conquest, and will be enduring and
ever-lasting. I do not understand why you speak of Madame de Te----. I
trouble myself no more about her than any other woman in Brescia. Since
it annoys you that I open your letters, the enclosed one will be the
last that I open; your letter did not reach me till after I had opened

“Farewell, my tender one; send me often your news. Break up at once and
come to me, and be happy without disquietude; all is well, and my heart
belongs to you for life.

“Be sure to return to the Adjutant Miollis the box of medallions which,
as he writes, he has given you. There are so many babbling and bad
tongues, that it is necessary to be always on one’s guard.

“Health, love, and speedy arrival in Brescia!

“I have in Milan a carriage which is suited for city and country; use it
on your journey. Bring your silver and a few necessary things. Travel by
short stages, and during the cool of the morning and evening, so as not
to weary you too much. The troops need only three days to reach Brescia,
a distance of fourteen miles. I beg of you to pass the night of the 6th
in Cassano; on the 7th I will come to meet you as far as possible.

“Farewell, my Josephine; a thousand tender kisses!


Josephine gladly obeyed the wishes of her husband, and exactly on the
7th Thermidor (July 25) she entered Brescia. Bonaparte had ridden an
hour’s distance to meet her, and, amid the shouts of the population, he
led her in triumph into the house prepared for her reception.

Three days were allowed to the general to enjoy his happiness and
Josephine’s presence. On the 28th of July he received the intelligence
that Wurmser was advancing, and that he was in Marmirolo. At once
Bonaparte broke up from Brescia, to meet him and offer battle.

Brescia was no longer a dwelling-place for Josephine now that the enemy
threatened it; she therefore accompanied her husband, and the effeminate
creole, the tender Parisian, accustomed to all the comforts of life,
the lady surrounded by numerous attendants in Milan, saw herself at once
obliged, as the true wife of a soldier, to share with her husband all
the hardships, inconveniences, and dangers of a campaign.

The news of the advance of the Austrians became more and more precise.
No sooner had Bonaparte arrived in Peschiera with his Josephine, than he
learned that Montevaldo was attacked by the enemy. In great haste they
pursued their journey; the next day they reached Verona, but Wurmser
had been equally swift in his movements, and on the heights surrounding
Verona were seen the light troops of Austria.

Even a serious skirmish at the outposts took place, and Josephine,
against her will, had to be the witness of this horrible, cannibal
murder, which we are pleased to call war.

Bonaparte, who had preceded his army, was forced to retreat from Verona,
and went with Josephine to Castel Nuovo, where the majority of his
troops were stationed. But it was a fearful journey, beset with dangers.
Everywhere on the road lay the dying and the wounded who had remained
behind after the different conflicts, and who with difficulty were
crawling along to meet the army. Josephine’s sensitive heart was
painfully moved by the spectacle of these sufferings and these bleeding
wounds. Napoleon noticed it on her pale cheeks and trembling lips, and
in the tears which stood in her eyes. Besides which, a great battle
was at hand, threatening her with new horrors. To guard her from them,
Bonaparte made another sacrifice to his love, and resolved to part from

She was to return to Brescia, while Napoleon, with his army, would meet
the foe. With a thousand assurances of love, and the most tender vows,
he took leave of Josephine, and she mastered herself so as to repress
her anxiety and timidity, and to appear collected and brave. With
a smile on her lip she bade him farewell, and began the journey,
accompanied by a few well-armed horsemen, whom Bonaparte, in the most
stringent terms, commanded not to leave his wife’s carriage for an
instant, and in case of attack to defend her with their lives.

At first the journey was attended with no danger, and Josephine’s heart
began to beat with less anxiety; she already believed herself in safety.
Suddenly, from a neighboring coppice, there rushed out a division of the
enemy’s cavalry; already were distinctly heard the shouts and cries with
which they dashed toward the advancing carriage. To oppose this vast
number of assailants was not to be thought of; only the most rapid
flight could save them.

The carriage was turned; the driver jumped upon the horses, and, in a
mad gallop, onward it sped. To the swiftness of the horses Josephine
owed her escape. She reached headquarters safely, and was received by
Bonaparte with loud demonstrations of joy at her unexpected return.

But Josephine had not the strength to conceal the anxiety of her heart,
her fears and alarms. These horrible scenes of war, the sight of the
wounded, the dangers she had lately incurred, the fearful preparations
for fresh murders and massacres--all this troubled her mind so violently
that she lost at once all courage and composure. A nervous trembling
agitated her whole frame, and, not being able to control her agony, she
broke into loud weeping.

Bonaparte embraced her tenderly, and as he kissed the tears from her
cheeks, he cried out, with a threatening flash in his eyes, “Wurmser
will pay dearly for the tears he has caused!” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s
words.--“Memorial de Ste. Helene,” vol. i., p. 174.]

It was, however, a fortunate accident that the enemy’s cavalry had
hindered Josephine from reaching Brescia. A quarter of an hour after her
return to headquarters the news arrived that the Austrians had advanced
into Brescia. Meanwhile Josephine had already regained all her courage
and steadfastness; she declared herself ready to abide by her husband,
to bear with him the dangers and the fatigues of the campaign; that she
wished to be with him, as it behooved the wife of a soldier.

But Bonaparte felt that her company would cripple his courage and
embarrass his movements. Josephine once more had to leave him, so that
the tender lover might not disturb the keen commanding general, and that
his head and not his heart might decide the necessary measures.

He persuaded Josephine to leave him, and to retire into one of the
central cities of Italy. She acceded to his wishes, and travelled away
toward Florence. But, to reach that city, it was necessary to pass
Mantua, which the French were investing. Her road passed near the walls
of the besieged city, and one of the balls, which were whizzing around
the carriage, struck one of the soldiers of her escort and wounded
him mortally. It was a dangerous, fearful journey--war’s confusion
everywhere, wild shouts, fleeing, complaining farmers, constant cries of
distress, anxiety, and want.

But Josephine had armed her heart with great courage and resolution; she
shrank from no danger, she overcame it all; she already had an undaunted
confidence in her husband’s destiny, and believed in the star of his

And this star led her on happily through all dangers, and protected
her throughout this reckless and daring journey. Through Bologna and
Ferrara, she came at last to Lucca; there to rest a few days from her
hardships and anxieties. There, in Lucca, she was to experience the
proud satisfaction of being witness of the deep confidence which had
struck root in the heart of the Italians, in reference to the success
of the French commander-in-chief. Though it was well known that Wurmser,
with a superior force, was advancing against General Bonaparte, and
his hungry, tattered troops, and that they were on the eve of a battle
which, according to all appearances, promised to Napoleon a complete
defeat, and to the Austrians a decisive victory, the town of Lucca
was not afraid to give to the wife of Bonaparte a grand and public
reception. The senate of Lucca received her with all the marks of
distinction shown only to princesses; the senate came to her in official
ceremony, and brought her as a gift of honor, in costly gold flasks, the
produce of their land, the fine oil of Lucca.

Josephine received these marks of honor with that grace and amiability
with which she won all hearts, and, with her enchanting smile, thanking
the senators, she told them, with all the confidence of a lover, that
her victorious husband would, for the magnificent hospitality thus shown
her, manifest his gratitude to the town of Lucca by the prosperity and
liberty which he was ready to conquer for Italy.

This confidence was shortly to be justified. No sooner had Josephine
arrived in Florence, whither she had come from Lucca, than the news of
the victory of the French army, commanded by her husband, reached there

Suddenly abandoning the siege of Mantua, Bonaparte had gathered together
all his forces, and with them he dealt blow after blow upon the three
divisions of the army corps of Wurmser, until he had completely defeated
them. The battles of Lonato and Castiglione were the fresh trophies of
his fame. On the 10th of August Bonaparte made his victorious entry into
Brescia, which only twelve days before he had been suddenly obliged to
abandon with his Josephine, to whom he had then been barely reunited,
and was still luxuriating in the bliss of her presence.

Bonaparte had fulfilled his word: he had revenged Josephine, and Wurmser
had indeed paid dearly for the tears which he had caused Josephine to

But after these days of storm and danger, the two lovers were to enjoy a
few weeks of mutual happiness and of splendid triumphs.

Josephine had returned from Florence to Milan, and thither Bonaparte
came also in the middle of August, to rest in her arms after his battles
and victories.


The days of armistice which Bonaparte passed in Milan were accompanied
by festivities, enjoyments, and triumphs of all kinds. All Milan and
Lombardy streamed forth to present their homage to the deliverer of
Italy and to his charming, gracious wife; to give feasts in their
honor, to praise them in enthusiastic songs, to celebrate their fame in
concerts, serenades, and illuminations.

The palace Serbelloni served Italy’s deliverer once more as a residence,
and it was well calculated for this on account of its vastness and
elegance. This was one of the most beautiful buildings among the palaces
of Milan. Over its massive lower structure, and its rez-de chaussee of
red granite, sparkling in the sun with its play of many colors, arose
bold and steep its light and graceful facade. The interior of this
beautiful palace of the Dukes of Serbelloni was adorned with all the
splendors which sculpture and painting gathered into the palaces of the
Italian nobility.

In those halls, whose roofs were richly decorated and gilded, and
supported by white columns of marble, and whose walls were covered with
those splendid and enormous mirrors which the republic of Venice alone
then manufactured; and from whose tall windows hung down in long, heavy
folds curtains of purple velvet, embroidered with gold, the work of the
famous artisans of Milan--in those brilliant halls the happy couple,
Bonaparte and Josephine, received the deputies of applauding Italy and
the high aristocracy of all Lombardy.

An eye-witness thus describes a reception-evening in the Serbelloni
palace: “The hall in which the general received his visitors was a long
gallery divided by marble columns into three smaller rooms; the two
extreme divisions formed two large drawing-rooms, perfectly square, and
the middle partition formed a long and wide promenade apartment. In the
drawing-room, into which I entered, was Madame Bonaparte, the beautiful
Madame Visconti, Madame Leopold Berthier, and Madame Ivan. Under the
arches, at the entrance of the middle room, stood the general;
around him, but at a distance, the chiefs of the war department,
the magistrates of the city, with a few ministers of the Italian
governments, all in respectful attitude before him. Nothing seemed to be
more striking than the bearing of this little man among the dignitaries
overawed by his character. His attitude had nothing of pride, but it had
the dignity of a man conscious of his worth, and who feels that he is in
the right place. Bonaparte tried not to increase his stature, so as to
be on the same level with those around him; they already spared him that
trouble, and bowed to him. None of those who conversed with him appeared
taller than he. Berthier, Silmaine, Clarke, Augerean, awaited silently
till he should address them, an honor which this evening was not
conferred upon all. Never were headquarters so much like a court: they
were the prelude to the Tuileries.” [Footnote: Arnold, “Souvenirs d’un
Sexagenaire,” vol. iii., p. 10.]

To Milan came the ambassadors of princes, of the free cities, and of
the Italian republics. They all claimed Bonaparte’s assistance and
protection; they came bearers of good-will, of utterances of hope and
fear, and expecting from him help and succor. The princes trembled for
their thrones; the cities and republics for their independence; they
wanted to conciliate by their submission the general whose sword could
either threaten them all or give them ample protection. Bonaparte
received this homage with the composure of a protector, and sometimes
also with the proud reserve of a conqueror.

He granted to the Duke of Parma the protection which he had sought, and
permitted him to remain on his territory as prince and ruler, though the
strongest expostulations had been made to Bonaparte on that point.

“He is a Bourbon,” they said; “he must no longer rule.”

“He is an unfortunate man,” replied Bonaparte, proudly; “it is not worth
while to attack him. If we leave him on his lands, he will rule only in
our name; if we drive him away, he will be weaving intrigues everywhere.
Let him remain where he is, I wish him no wrong; his presence can be
useful, his absence would surely he hurtful.”

“But he is a Bourbon, citizen general, a Bourbon!” exclaimed Augereau,
with animation.

Bonaparte’s countenance darkened, and his brow was overspread with
frowns. “Well, then,” cried he, with threatening tone, “he is a Bourbon!
Is he therefore by nature of so despicable a family? Because three
Bourbons have been killed in France, must we therefore hunt down all the
others? I cannot approve of proscriptions which thus fall upon a whole
family, a whole class of people. An absurd law has prohibited all the
nobles from serving the republic, and yet Barras is in the Directory,
and I am at the head of the army in Italy. We are consequently liable
to punishment in virtue of your absurd and cruel system! Hunt down those
who do wrong, but not masses who are innocent. Can you punish Paris
and France for the crimes of the sans-culottes? The Bourbons are, it is
said, the enemies of freedom; they have been led to the scaffold under
the action of a right which I do not acknowledge. The Duke of Parma is
weak, and a poltroon,--he will not stir. His people seem to love him,
for we are here, and they rise not, they utter no complaint. Let him,
then, continue to rule as long as he pays all that I exact from him.”
 [Footnote: Napoleon’s words.--See Hazlitt, “Histoire de Napoleon,” vol.
v., p. 1.]

Thanks to the good-will and protection of the republican general, the
Duke of Parma remained on his little throne--on the same throne which
was one day to be to Napoleon’s second wife a compensation for her lost
imperial crown. The Empress of France was to become a Duchess of Parma;
and now to her husband, the present general of the republic, the actual
Duke of Parma was indebted that his little dukedom was not converted
into a republic.

It is true that the duke had to pay dearly for the protection which
Bonaparte granted. He had to pay a war-subsidy of two million francs,
and, besides, give from his collection his most beautiful painting,
that of St. Jerome by Correggio, for the Museum of the Louvre in Paris.
[Footnote: This splendid picture is now in the Vatican at Rome.] The
duke, as a lover of art, was more distressed at the loss of this picture
than at the enormous contribution he had to pay; for he soon caused the
proposition to be made to General Bonaparte, to redeem from the French
government that painting, for the sum of two hundred thousand francs, a
proposition which Bonaparte, without any further consultation with the
authorities in Paris, rejected with some degree of irritation.

The Duke of Parma remained therefore the sovereign of his duchy, because
it so pleased Bonaparte; but Bonaparte was led into error when he
thought that, as his people rebelled not, they therefore loved their
duke, and were satisfied with him. The women and the priests controlled
entirely the feeble duke; and not only the people, but the better
classes and the aristocracy, submitted to all this with great
unwillingness. Once, when Joseph Bonaparte, whom the French republic had
sent to give assurance of protection and recognition to the little Duke
of Parma, was walking with a few cavaliers in the gardens around the
duke’s palace in Colorno, he expressed his admiration at the symmetry
and beauty of the buildings.

“That is true,” was the answer, “but just look at the buildings of the
neighboring cloister! do you not see how superior that dwelling is
to that of the sovereign? Wretched is the country where this can take
place!” [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph,” vol. i., p. 65.]

Even the representatives of the republic of Venice came to Bonaparte.
They came not only to secure his friendship, but also to complain that
the French army, in its advance upon Brescia, had done injury to the
neutral territory of Venice.

Bonaparte directed at them a look of imperious severity, and, instead
of laying stress on their neutrality, he asked in a sharp tone, “Are you
for us, or against us?”

“Signor, we are neutral, and--”

“Do not be neutral,” interrupted Bonaparte, with vehemence, “be strong,
otherwise your friendship is useful to none.”

And, with imperious tone, he reproached them for the vacillating,
perfidious conduct which, since 1792, had been the policy of Venice,
and he threatened to punish and destroy that republic if she did not
immediately prove herself to be the loyal friend of the French.

While Bonaparte used the few short weeks of rest to bring Italy more and
more under the yoke of France, it was Josephine’s privilege to draw to
herself and toward her husband the minds of the Italians, to win their
hearts to her husband, and through him to the French republic, which
he represented. She did this with all the grace and affability, all
the genial tact and large-heartedness of a noble heart, which were the
attributes of her beautiful and amiable person. She was unwearied
in well-doing, in listening to all the petitions with which she was
approached; she had for every complaint and every request an open ear;
she not only promised to every applicant her intercession, but she made
him presents, and was ever ready, by solicitations, flatteries, and
expostulations, and, if necessary, even with tears, to entreat from her
husband a mitigation of the punishment and sentence which he had decided
upon in his just severity; and seldom had Bonaparte the courage to
oppose her wishes. These were for Josephine glorious days of love and
triumph. She depicts them herself in a letter to her aunt in plain,
short words.

“The Duke de Serbelloni,” writes she, “will tell you, my dear aunt, how
I have been received in Italy; how, wherever I passed, they celebrated
my arrival; how all the Italian princes, even the Duke of Tuscany, the
emperor’s brother, gave festivities in my honor. Well, then, I would
prefer to live as a plain citizeness of France. I like not the honorable
distinctions of this country. They weary me. It is true, my health
inclines me to be sad. I often feel very ill. If fate would bring me
good health, then I should be entirely happy. I possess the most amiable
husband that can be found. I have no occasion to desire anything. My
wishes are his. The whole day he is worshipping me as if I were a
deity; it is impossible to find a better husband. He writes often to
my children--he loves them much. He sent to Hortense, through M.
Serbelloni, a beautiful enamelled repeating watch, ornamented with fine
pearls; to Eugene he sent also a fine gold watch.” [Footnote: Aubenas,
“Histoire de l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. i., p. 349.]

But soon these days of quietness and happiness were to be broken;
the armistice was drawing to a close, when, with redoubled energy,
Bonaparte, who had received from the government the wished-for
re-enforcements, longed to resume the war with Austria, which on her
side had sent another army into Italy, under General Alvinzi, to relieve
Mantua, and to deliver Wurmser from his peril.

On the 13th of August Bonaparte left Milan and returned to Brescia,
where he established his headquarters, and where, with all the speed and
restlessness of a warrior longing for victory, he made his preparations
for the coming conflict.

But amid the anxieties, the cares, the chances of this new campaign,
his heart remained behind in Milan with his Josephine; when the
general began to rest, the lover began to breathe. No sooner were
the battle-plans, the fight, the preparations and the dispositions
accomplished, than all his thoughts returned to Josephine, and he had
again recourse to his written correspondence with his adored wife; for
although he longed so much to have her with him, yet he was unwilling to
occasion her so much inconvenience and so many privations.

Bonaparte’s letters are again way-marks during his glorious path of
victory and triumph, while he was over-running Italy with wondrous
rapidity--but, instead of relating these conquests, we turn to his
letters to Josephine. Already, on his way to Brescia, he had written her
several times. The very day after reaching there, after having made the
necessary military arrangements, Bonaparte wrote to her:

“BRESCIA, the 14th Fructidor, Year IV. (August 31, 1795).

“I am leaving for Verona. I have hoped in vain to receive a letter from
you; this makes me wretched and restless. At the time of my departure,
you were somewhat suffering; I pray you, do not leave me in such a state
of disquietude. You had promised me a greater punctuality; your tongue,
then, chimed in with your heart...; you, whom Nature has gifted with a
sweet disposition, with joyousness, and every thing which is agreeable,
how can you forget him who loves you so warmly? Three days without
a letter from you! I have during that time written to you several.
Separation is horrible; the nights are long, tiresome, and insipid; the
days are monotonous.”

“To-day, alone with thoughts, works, men, and their destructive schemes,
I have not received from you a single note that I can press to my

“Headquarters are broken up; I leave in one hour. I have this night
received expresses from Paris; there was nothing for you but the
enclosed letter, which will afford you some pleasure.”

“Think on me; live for me; be often with your beloved, and believe that
there is for him but one sorrow; that he shrinks only from this--to be
no more loved by his Josephine. A thousand right sweet kisses, right
tender, right exclusive kisses.”


Three days after he tells her that he is now in the midst of war
operations; that hostilities have begun again, and that he hopes in a
few days to advance upon Trieste. But this occupied his mind less than
his solicitude for Josephine. After a short paragraph on his military
affairs, he continues:

“No letter from you yet; I am really anxious; but I am assured that you
are well, and that you have made an excursion on the Como Lake. Every
day I wait impatiently for the courier who is to bring me news from you;
you know how precious this is to me. I live no longer when away from
you; the joy of my life is to be near my sweet Josephine. Think of me;
write often, very often; this is the only remedy for separation; it is
cruel, but I trust it will soon be over.”


Meanwhile this separation was to last longer than Bonaparte had
imagined. War held him entangled in its web so fast, that he had not
time even to write to Josephine. In the next two letters he could only
tell her, in a few lines, what had happened at the theatre of war; that
he had again defeated Wurmser, and had surrounded him, and that he
hopes to take Mantua. Even for his constant complaint about Josephine’s
slothfullness in writing, he finds no room in these short letters. In
the next letter, however, it appears the more violently. He has no
time to give her, as was his usual practice, any account of the war.
He begins at once with the main object, which is--“Josephine has not

“VERONA, 1st day of Complementaires in Year V,” “(September 17, 1796).

“I write to you often, my beloved one, but you write seldom to me. You
are wicked and hateful, very hateful--as hateful as you are inconstant.
It is indeed faithlessness to deceive a wretched man, a tender lover!
Must he lose his rights because he is away, burdened with hardship and
labor? Without his Josephine, without the certainty of her love, what is
there on earth for him? What would he do here?

“We had yesterday a very bloody affair; the enemy has lost many men, and
is well beaten. We have taken his advanced works before Mantua.

“Farewell, adored Josephine! One of these nights the doors will open
with a loud crash: as a jealous man, I am in your arms!

“A thousand dear kisses! BONAPARTE.”

But the doors were not to be opened on any of the following nights for
the jealous one! The events of war were to keep him away a long time
from his Josephine. The Austrian Generals Wurmser and Alvinzi, with
their two armies, demanded all the energy and activity of Bonaparte.
Meanwhile, as he was preparing for the great battles which were to
decide the fate of Italy, his thoughts were always turned to his
Josephine; his deep longings grew day by day, still he had no longer
cause to complain that Josephine did not write, that she had forgotten
him! Contrariwise, Josephine did write; she had, while he was writing
her angry letters about her silence, written several times, for
Bonaparte in the following letter says that he has received many
letters from her, which, probably on account of the difficulties of
communication, had been delayed. He had received them with the highest
delight, and pressed them to his lips and heart. But no sooner had he
rejoiced over them, than he complains that they are cold, reserved, and
old. No word, no expression, satisfies his ardent love. He complains
that her letters are cold, and then, when she dips her pen in the fire
of tender love, he complains again that her glowing letters “turn
his blood into fire, and stir up his whole being.” Love, with all its
wantonness and all its pains, holds him captive in its hands, and the
general has no means of appeasing the lover.

The letter which complains of Josephine’s coldness is dated

“MODENA, 26th Vendemiaire of the Year V.” (October 17, 1796),

“I was yesterday the whole day on the field. To-day I have kept my bed.
Fever and a violent headache have debarred me from writing to my adored
one; but I have received her letters, I pressed them to my lips and
to my heart, and the anguish of a separation of hundreds of miles
disappeared. At this moment I see you at my side, neither capricious
nor angry, but soft, tender, and wrapped in that goodness which is
exclusively the attribute of my Josephine. It was a dream--judge if
it could drive the fever away. Your letters are as cold as if you were
fifty years old; they seem to have been composed after a marriage of
fifteen years. One can see in them the friendship and sentiments of
the winter of life. Pshaw! Josephine, ... that is very naughty, very
abominable, very treasonable on your part. What more remains to make
me worthy of pity? All is already done! To love me no more! To hate
me! Well, then, let it be so! Every thing humiliates but hatred,
and indifference with its marmoreal pulse, its staring eyes, and its
measured steps. A thousand thousand kisses as tender as my heart! I
am somewhat better. I leave to-morrow. The English are cruising on the
Mediterranean. Corsica is ours. Good news for France and for the army.


Bonaparte had gone to wage the last decisive battle. He writes to her
from Verona a few lines that he has arrived there, and that he is just
going to mount his horse to pursue the march. In this letter, however,
he does not tell Josephine that General Vaubois, with his fugitive
regiments, has been beaten by the Tyrolese, and that, driven from their
mountains, he has arrived in Verona; that Alvinzi occupies the Tyrol and
has pushed on to Brenta and to Etsch. Bonaparte was gathering his troops
to drive away General Alvinzi, who had occupied the heights of Caldiero,
from these important positions, and to take possession of them by main
force. A violent and desperate struggle ensued, and the day ended with
victory on the side of the Austrians. Bonaparte had to return to Verona;
Alvinzi maintained himself on the heights.

To the irritated general, disappointed in his plans and humiliated, his
love becomes his “bete de souffrance,” upon which he takes vengeance
for the defeat of Caldiero. Josephine has to endure the flaming wrath of
Bonaparte, in whom now general and lover are fused into one; but in his
expressions of anger the general has no complaints--it is the lover who
murmurs, who reprimands, and is irritated.

On the evening of the 12th November, the day of the defeat of Caldiero,
Bonaparte returned to Verona. The next day he wrote to Josephine:

“VERONA, the 3d Frimaire, Year V.” (November 13, 1796)

“I love you no more; on the contrary, I hate you. You are a wicked
creature, very inconsistent, very stupid, very silly. You do not write
to me. You do not love your husband. You know how much pleasure your
letters would afford, and you do not write to him even six lines, which
you can readily scribble out.”

“How, then, do you begin the day, madame? What important occupation
takes away your time from writing to your very excellent lover? What new
inclination chokes and thrusts aside the tender, abiding love which you
have promised him? What can this wonderful, this new love be, which lays
claim to all your time, and rules over your days, and hinders you from
occupying yourself with your husband? Josephine, be on your guard; on
some evil night the doors will be burst open and I shall stand before

“In truth, I am restless, my dear one, because I receive no news from
you. Write me at once four pages about those things, which fill my heart
with emotion and pleasure.

“I trust soon to fold you in my arms, and then I will overwhelm you with
a million of kisses burning like the equator.”


Whilst Bonaparte was pursuing and engaging with Wurmser and Alvinzi in
bloody hostilities, and writing to Josephine tender and angry letters
of a lover ever jealous, ever dissatisfied and envious, Josephine was
leading in Milan a life full of pleasure and amusement, full of splendor
and triumphs, of receptions and festivities. Every new victory, every
onward movement, was for the inhabitants of Milan, and her proud and
rich nobles, a fresh and welcome occasion to celebrate and glorify the
wife of General Bonaparte, and, through her, the hero who was to take
away from their necks the yoke of the Austrian, and who suspected not
that he was so soon to place upon them another yoke.

Josephine, true to the wishes and commands of Bonaparte, accepted these
festivities and this homage with all the affability and grace which
distinguished her. She had by degrees become familiar with this
ceaseless homage, which at first seemed so wearisome; by degrees she
took delight in this life of pleasure, in the incense of adulation, and
the brilliancies of fame. All the indolence, the dreamy carelessness,
the graceful abandonment of the creole had been again awakened in her.
She cradled herself playfully on the lulling, bright waves of pleasure
as an insect with golden wings, and she smiled complacently at the
stream of encircling festivities.

Bonaparte had told her to use all the arts of a woman to bind the
Milanese and the Lombards to herself and to her husband. With her smiles
she was to continue the conquest begun by Bonaparte’s sword.

She could not, therefore, live alone in quiet solitude; she could not
remain in obscurity while her husband was performing his part on the
theatre of war; she could not, by an appearance of gravity, or by a
clouded brow, furnish occasion to the suspicion that there existed doubt
in the future success of her husband, or in his prosperity and victory.

Roses were to crown her brow--a cheerful smile was to beam on her
countenance; with joyous spirit, she was to take part in the festivities
and pleasures--that the Milanese might see with what earnest confidence
she believed in Napoleon’s star! But Bonaparte, with all the instinct of
a genuine lover, had read the deepest secret of her soul; he was envious
and jealous, because he felt that Josephine did not belong to him with
her whole heart, her whole being, all her emotions and thoughts. Her
heart, which had received from the past so many scars and wounds,
could not yet have blossomed anew; it had been warmed by the glow of
Bonaparte’s love, but it was not yet thoroughly penetrated with that
passion which Bonaparte so painfully missed, so intensely craved.

The earnest, unfettered nature of his love intimidated her, while it
ravished and flattered her vanity; but her heart was not entirely his,
it had yet room for her children, for her friends, for the things of
this world!

Josephine loved Bonaparte with that soft, modest, and retiring
affection, which only by degrees--by the storms of anguish, jealousy,
agony, and the possibility of losing him--was to be fanned into that
vitality and glow which never cooled again in her heart, and which at
last gave her the death-stroke.

She therefore thought she was fulfilling her task when she, while
Bonaparte was fighting with weapons, conquered with smiles, and received
the homage of the conquered only as a tribute which they brought through
her to the warlike genius of her husband.

Meanwhile Bonaparte had taken vengeance for his defeat at Caldiero.
Through a ruse of war, he had decoyed Alvinzi from his safe and
impregnable position into one where he could meet him with his army
anxious for the fray, and give him battle.

The gigantic struggle lasted three days--and the close of the third day
brought to the conqueror, Bonaparte, the laurel-wreath of undying glory,
which, more enduring and dazzling than an imperial crown, surrounded
with a halo the hero’s brow long after that crown had fallen from it.

This was the victory of Arcola, which Bonaparte himself decided by
snatching from the flag-bearer the standard of the retreating regiment,
and rushing with it, through a shower of balls, over the bridge of death
and destruction, and, with a voice heard above the thundering cannon,
shouting jubilant to his soldiers--“En avant, mes amis!” And bravely the
soldiers followed him--a brilliant victory was the result.

Elevated by this deed, the grandest and most glorious of his heroic
career, Napoleon returned to Verona on the 19th November. The whole
city--all Lombardy--sang to his praise their inspired hymns, and greeted
with enthusiasm the conqueror of Arcola. He, however, wanted a sweeter
reward; and after obtaining a second victory, on the 23d of November,
by defeating Wurmser near Mantua, he longed to rest and enjoy an hour’s
happiness in the arms of his Josephine.

From Verona he wrote to her on the day after the battle of Mantua, on
the 24th of November:

“I hope soon to be in your arms, my beloved one; I love you to madness!
I write by this courier for Paris. All is well. Wurmser was defeated
yesterday under Mantua. Your husband needs nothing but the love of his
Josephine to be happy. BONAPARTE.”

But the most terrible doubts hung yet over this love. The letter in
which Napoleon announced his coming had not reached Josephine; and, as
the next day he came to Milan with all the cravings and impatience of a
lover, he did not find Josephine there.

She had not suspected his coming; she had not dreamed that the
commanding officer could stop in his victorious course and give way to
the lover. She thought him far away; and, ever faithful to Bonaparte’s
direction to assist him in the conquest of Italy, she had accepted an
invitation from the city of Genoa, which had lately and gladly entered
into alliance with France. The most brilliant festivities welcomed her
in this city of wealth and palaces, and “Genova la superba” gathered
all its magnificence, all the splendor of its glory, to offer, under the
eyes of all Europe, her solemn homage to the wife of the celebrated hero
of Arcola.

While Josephine, with joyous pride was receiving this homage, Bonaparte,
gloomy and murmuring, sat in his cabinet at Milan, and wrote to her:

“MILAN, the 7th Frimaire, Year V.,” Three o’clock. afternoon (November
27, 1796).

“I have just arrived in Milan, and rush to your apartments. I have left
every thing to see you, to press you in my arms; .... you are not there!
You are pursuing a circle of festivities through the cities. You go away
from me at my approach; you trouble yourself no more about your dear
Napoleon. A spleen has made you love him; inconstancy renders you

“Accustomed to dangers, I know a remedy against ennui and the troubles
of life. The wretchedness I endure is not to be measured; I am entitled
not to expect it.

“I will wait here until the 9th. Do not trouble yourself. Pursue your
pleasures; happiness is made for you. The whole world is too happy when
it can please you, and your husband alone is very, very unhappy.


But this cry of anguish from this crushed heart did not reach Josephine;
and the courier, who next day came to Milan from Genoa, brought
from Josephine only a letter with numerous commissions for Berthier.
Bonaparte’s anger and sorrow knew no bounds, and he at once writes to
her with all the utterances of despair and complaint of a lover, and the
proud wrath of an injured husband:

“MILAN, the 8th Frimaire, Year V., eight o’clock, evening.

“The courier whom Berthier had sent to Milan has just arrived. You have
had no time to write to me; that I can understand very well. In the
midst of pleasures and amusements it would have been too much for you to
make the smallest sacrifice for me. Berthier has shown me the letter you
wrote to him. It is not my purpose to trouble you in your arrangements
or in the festivities which you are enjoying; I am not worth the
trouble; the happiness or the misery of a man you love no longer has not
the right to interest you.

“As regards myself, to love you and you alone, to make you happy, to do
nothing that can wrong you in any way, is the desire and object of my

“Be happy, have nothing to reproach me, trouble not yourself about the
felicity of a man who only breathes in your life, who finds enjoyment
only in your happiness. When I claim from you a love which would
approach mine, I am wrong: how can one expect that a cobweb should weigh
as much as gold? When I sacrifice to you all my wishes, all my thoughts,
all the moments of my life, I merely obey the spell which your charms,
your character, your whole person, exercise over my wretched heart. I
am wrong, for Nature has not endowed me with the power of binding you
to me; but I deserve from Josephine in return at least consideration and
esteem, for I love her unto madness, and love her exclusively.

“Farewell, adorable wife! farewell, my Josephine! May fate pour into my
heart every trouble and every sorrow; but may it send to my Josephine
serene and happy days! Who deserves it more than she? When it is well
understood that she loves me no more, I will garner up into my heart my
deep anguish, and be content to be in many things at least useful and
good to her.

“I open this letter once more to send you a kiss.... ah! Josephine. ...
Josephine! BONAPARTE.”

Meanwhile it was not yet well understood that Josephine loved him no
more; for as soon as she knew of Bonaparte’s presence in Milan, she
hastened to dispatch him a courier, and to apprise him of her sudden

Bonaparte did not leave Milan on the 9th; he remained there, waiting for
Josephine, to lift her up in his arms from her carriage, and to bear
her into her apartments; to enjoy with her a few happy days of a quiet,
domestic, and mutual love, all to themselves.

His presence with the army, however, soon became a matter of necessity;
for Alvinzi was advancing with considerable re-enforcements, with two
army corps to the relief of Mantua, and Bonaparte, notwithstanding
his pressing remonstrances to the Directory, having received but few
re-enforcements and very little money, had to exert all his powers and
energy to press a few advantages from the superior forces of the enemy.
Everywhere his presence and personal action were needed; and, constantly
busy with war, ever sword in hand, he could not, for long weeks, even
once take pen IN HAND and write to his Josephine. His longings had to
subside before the force of circumstances, which claimed the general’s
whole time.

On the 3d of February, 1797, he again finds time to send her a few
lines, to say that he is breaking up and going to Rimini. Then, after
Alvinzi had been again defeated, after the fortress of Mantua had
capitulated, Bonaparte had to break up again and go to Rome, to require
from the pope the reason why he had made common cause with Austria, and
shown himself the enemy of the French republic. In Bologna he lingered a
few days, as Josephine, in compliance with his wishes, had come there to
make amends by her presence for so long a separation.

She remained in Bologna, while Bonaparte advanced toward the city of
the Church. But the gloomy quietude, the constant rumors of war, the
threatening dangers, the intrigues with which she was surrounded, the
hostile exertions of the priests, the want of society, of friendly
faces, every thing had a tendency to make Josephine’s residence in
Bologna very disagreeable, and to bring on sadness and nervousness.

In this gloomy state of mind she writes to Bonaparte that she feels
sick, exhausted and helpless; that she is anxious to return to Paris. He
answers her from Ancona:

“The 8th Pluviose, Year V. (February 16, 1797).

“You are sad, you are sick, you write to me no longer, you wish to
return to Paris! Do you no longer love your friend? This thought makes
me very unhappy. My dear friend, life is intolerable to me, since I have
heard of your sadness.

“I send you at once Moscati to take care of you. My health is somewhat
feeble; my cold hangs on. I pray you spare yourself, and love me as much
as I love you, and do write every day. My restlessness is horrible.

“I have given orders to Moscati to accompany you to Ancona, if you will
come. I will write to you and let you know where I am.

“I may perhaps make peace with the pope, and then will soon be with you;
it is the most intense desire of my life.

“I send a hundred kisses. Think not that any thing can equal my love,
unless it be my solicitude for you. Write to me every day yourself, my
dearly-beloved one!


But Josephine, in her depressed state of mind, and her nervous
irritability, did not have the courage to draw nearer the scenes of war,
and she dreaded to face again such dangers as once she had encountered
in Brescia and on her journey to Florence. She had not been able to
overcome the indolence of the Creole so much as to write to Bonaparte.
Fully conscious of his love and pardon, she relied upon them when, in
her reluctance to every exertion, she announced to him, through the
physician Moscati, that she would not come to Ancona, but would wait for
him in Bologna.

This news made a very painful impression upon Bonaparte, and filled him
with sorrow, though it reached him on a day in which he had obtained
a new triumph, a spiritual victory without any shedding of blood. The
pope, frightened at the army detachments approaching Rome, as well as at
the menacing language of the victor of Arcola, signed a peace with the
French republic, and with the general whose sword had bowed into the
dust all the princes of Italy, and freed all the population from their
duties as subjects. Bonaparte announced this to Josephine, and it is
evident how important it was to him that this news should precede even
his love-murmurings and reproaches. His letter was dated

“TOLONTINO, the 1st Ventose, Year V. (February 19,1797).

“Peace with Rome is signed. Bologna, Ferrara, Romagna fall into the
hands of the French republic. The pope has to pay us in a short time
thirty millions, and gives us many precious objects of art.

“I leave to-morrow for Ancona, and then for Rimini, Ravenna, and
Bologna. If your health permits, come over to meet me in Ravenna, but, I
implore you, spare yourself.

“Not a word from your hand! What have I done? To think only of you,
to love but you, to live but for my wife, to enjoy only my beloved’s
happiness, does this deserve such a cruel treatment from her? My friend,
I implore you, think of me, and write to me every day. Either you are
sick, or you love me no longer. Do you imagine, then, that my heart is
of marble? Why do you have so little sympathy with my sorrow? You must
have a very poor idea of me! That I cannot believe. You, to whom Nature
has imparted so much understanding, so much amiability, and so much
beauty, you, who alone can rule in my heart, you know, without doubt,
what power you have over me!

“Write to me, think of me, and love me.

“Yours entirely, yours for life,


This is the last letter of Bonaparte to Josephine during his first
Italian campaign--the last at least in the series of letters which
Queen Hortense has made public, as the most beautiful and most glorious
monument to her mother. [Footnote: “Lettres de Napoleon a Josephine et
de Josephine a Napoleon et a sa fille. Londres et Leipzic, 1833.”]

We have dwelt upon them because these letters, like sunbeams, throw a
bright light on the new pathway of Josephine’s life--because they are an
eloquent and splendid testimony to the love which Josephine had inspired
in her young husband, and also to her amiableness, to her sweetness of
disposition, to her grace, and to all the noble and charming qualities
which procured her so much admiration and affection, and which still
caused her to be loved, sought for and celebrated, when she had to
descend from the height of a throne, and became the deserted, divorced
wife of the man who loved her immeasurably, and who so often had sworn
to her that this love would only end with his life!


On the 18th of April were finally signed, in Leoben, the preliminaries
of peace between Austria and France, and which finally put an end to
this cruel war. Austria was compelled to acknowledge herself defeated,
for even the Archduke Charles, who had pushed forward from the Rhine
with his army to oppose the conqueror of Wurmser and of Alvinzi, had not
been able to arrest Bonaparte in his victorious career.

Bonaparte had publicly declared he would march toward Vienna, and
dictate to the Emperor of Germany, in his very palace, terms of peace.
He was at the point of carrying into execution this bold plan. Since the
battle of Tagliamento, on the 16th of March, the army of the archduke
was broken, and he could no longer prevent Bonaparte from marching with
his army over Laybach and Trieste into Germany. On the 25th of March,
Bonaparte entered into Klagenfurt; and now that he was but forty miles
from the capital, the Austrian court began to tremble at the approach
of this army of sans-culottes who, under the leadership of General
Bonaparte, had been transformed into heroes. She therefore accepted
the propositions of peace made by Bonaparte, and, as already said, its
preliminaries were signed in Leoben.

Now Bonaparte could rest after such constant and bloody work, now he
could again hasten to his Josephine, who was waiting for him in the
palace of Serbelloni. The whole city--all Lombardy--was with her, awaiting him. His journey
from Leoben to Milan was a continuous triumph, which, however, reached
its culminating point at his entrance into the city. Milan had adorned
herself for this day as a bride to receive her hero. From every balcony
waved the united French and Italian standards, costly tapestries
were hanging down, every window was occupied by beautiful women
gayly attired, and who, with large bouquets of flowers and waving
handkerchiefs, greeted the conqueror. All the dignitaries of the city
went to meet him in processional pomp; from every tower sounded the
welcome chimes, and the compact masses of the people in the streets and
on the roofs of the houses filled the air with the jubilant shout: “Long
live the deliverer of Italy! the conqueror of Austria!”

Josephine, surrounded by ladies of the highest aristocracy of Lombardy,
received her husband in the Palace Serbelloni. With radiant smiles, and
yet with tears in her eyes, she received him, her heart swelling with a
lofty joy at this ovation to Bonaparte; and through the glorification
of this victory he appeared to her more beautiful, more worthy of love,
than ever before. On this day of his return from so many battles
and victories her heart gave itself up with all its power, all its
unreservedness and fulness, to this wondrous man who had won so
many important battles, and who bowed before her alone with all the
submissive humility of a conquered man! From this day she loved him with
that warm, strong love which was to end only with her death.

Josephine had good reason to be happy on this day, for it brought her
not only her husband, but also a new source of happiness, her son, her
dear Eugene. Bonaparte had sent for him from Paris, and given him a
commission of second lieutenant in the first regiment of hussars, and
had also appointed him adjutant of the commanding general of the army of
Italy, perhaps as much to give to Josephine a new proof of his affection
as to attach Eugene to his person, for whom he felt the love of a

Near the returned general, Josephine, to her supreme delight, saw her
dear son, from whom she had been separated so long; and Eugene, whom she
had left in Paris a mere boy, presented himself to her in Milan, in his
officer’s uniform, as a youth, with countenance beaming with joy and
eyes full of lustre, ready to enter upon fame’s pathway, on which his
step-father, so brilliant a model, was walking before him. The maternal
heart of Josephine felt both love and pride at the sight of this young
man, so remarkable for his healthy appearance, and his youthful vigor
and genius, and she thanked Bonaparte with redoubled love for the joyous
surprise which his considerate affection had prepared for her.

Now began for Josephine and Bonaparte happy days, illumined by all the
splendor of festivities, of fealty exhibited, of triumphs realized.
After lingering a few days in Milan, Bonaparte, with his wife, the
whole train of his friends, his adjutants and servants, removed to the
pleasure-castle of Montebello, near Milan.

Here, amid rich natural scenery, in this large, imposing castle, which,
built on the summit of a hill, mantled with olive-groves and vineyards,
afforded on all sides a view of the surrounding, smiling plains of
Lombardy--here Bonaparte wished to rest from the hardships and dangers
of his last campaign; here, he wished to organize the great Italian
republic which was then the object of his exertions, and whose iron
crown he afterward coveted to place on his head. At Montebello he wished
to enact new laws for Italy, create new institutious, reduce to silence,
with threatening voice, the opposition of those who dared to oppose to
the new law of liberty the old centennial rights of possession and of

Italy was to be free, such was the will of her deliverer; and he took
great care not to let any one suspect or read the secret thoughts
which he kept hid behind the pompous proclamations of his authority. He
therefore answered evasively and vaguely those who came to fathom his
designs, and to become acquainted with his plans.

The Grand-duke of Tuscany sent to Montebello for this purpose, the
Marquis Manfredini. He was instructed to ask General Bonaparte if it was
his intention to destroy the grand-duchy of Tuscany, and to incorporate
its territory into the great Italian republic. The marquis implored
Bonaparte with persuasive, touching accents, to tell him what his plans
were, and if he would allow Tuscany to subsist as an independent state.

Bonaparte, smiling, shrugged his shoulders: “Signor marquis,” said he,
“you remind me of that creditor who once asked the Cardinal de Rohan
when he wished to pay him. The cardinal simply answered: ‘My dear sir,
do not be so curious.’ If your grand-duke will keep quiet, he will
suffer no injury.”

Napoleon exhibited less friendliness and good-nature toward the republic
of Venice, which had also sent her delegates to Montebello for the
sake of reconciling the general, who had sworn vengeance against the
republic, because a sort of Sicilian Vespers had been organized there
against the French; and because, especially in Verona, and throughout
the Venetian provinces, thousands of Frenchmen had been murdered by
the revolted peasants, whom the fanatical priesthood had stirred to

Now, that Bonaparte had defeated the Grand-duke Charles, the hope of
the rebels, Venice humbly sent her most distinguished sons to plead for
forgiveness and indulgence, and to promise full reparation. But Napoleon
received them with contempt and threatening anger, and to their humble
petitions replied in a thundering voice, “I will be an Attila to

Meanwhile the same general, who swore the ruin of Venice, showed himself
conciliating and lenient toward Rome, and instead of being an Attila, he
endeavored to be a preserver and a protector.

The Directory in Paris was not fully satisfied with the peace which
Bonaparte had concluded with the pope. They thought Napoleon had been
too lenient with him; that he ought to have taken Rome from him, as he
tore away Milan from the Emperor of Germany. The five rulers of France
went so far as to make reproaches against Bonaparte for his leniency,
and to require from him the downfall of the pope, and with him that of

But Bonaparte had the boldness to oppose these demands of the Directory,
and to set up his will in defiance to their supreme authority.

He wrote to the Directory: “You say with reason that the Roman religion
will long be the enemy of the republic; that is very true, but it is
equally true that, on account of the great distance you are from the
scene of events, you cannot measure the amount of difficulty there is in
carrying out your orders.

“You wish to destroy the Catholic Church in a city where it has ruled so
many years. Believe me, it is useless to burden ourselves with fruitless
labor. We have already enough to do; to defeat our enemies on the field
of battle, it is not necessary to arouse all Europe against us--even the
heretics, through policy, would defend the cause of the Holy See. Are
you fully convinced that France would calmly look on? France needs a
religious worship: that which you propose cannot, on account of its
simplicity, replace this one. Follow my advice: let the pope be pope!
If you bury his earthly power, acknowledge at least his spiritual
authority. Force him not to seek refuge at a foreign court, where by his
mere presence it would gain an immense ascendency. Italy wants religion
and the pope. If she is wounded in her faith, she will be hostile to us,
while now she is peaceably inclined. I repeat, the present difficulties
are too weighty, to add new ones. Who can fathom the future? Who can
assume the responsibility of such a deed as the one you propose? I shall
not, therefore, do it, since you leave it with me to inform you on the
subject. I consider it dangerous to conjure up fanaticism. The Catholic
religion is that of the arts, and the arts are absolutely necessary
to Italy’s welfare. Be sure that if you destroy the former, you give a
fatal blow to the latter, and that the Italians are good accountants.
Ponder well these matters, then, and be sure that Catholicism has ceased
to exist in France. Are you well satisfied that no one there will go
back to it?”

While in Montebello, though the sword had been laid aside, Bonaparte was
still busy with war affairs, and the quarrels of princes and nations.
Josephine at the same time passed there the honored life of a mighty
princess, whose favors and intercessions the great and the powerful of
earth endeavored to obtain by every conceivable means. The ladies of the
aristocracy of Milan were eager to pay their homage to the wife of the
deliverer; the courts of Italy, as well as other parts of Europe, sent
ambassadors to General Bonaparte; and these gentlemen were naturally
zealous in offering their incense to Josephine, in surrounding her with
courtly and flattering attentions. The Marquis de Gallo, the ambassador
of Spain at the court of Verona, came with the Austrian ambassador, the
Count von Meerfeld, to Montebello, to enter into negotiations about the
peace which was to form the precious key-stone to the preliminaries of
Leobeu; and these two gentlemen, who opposed to the plain manners of
Bonaparte’s companions-in-arms the very essence of refined, polished,
and witty courtiers, rivalled each other in showing to Josephine their
highest consideration by their festivities and amusements; to win her
favor and interest through the most complacent and considerate attention
to all her views, wishes, and plans.

Josephine received all this homage with the enchanting and smiling
quietude of a woman who, without exaltation or pride, feels no surprise
at any flattery or homage, but kindly and thankfully accepts what is
due to her. Among this brilliant Italian aristocracy which surrounded
her--among the ambassadors of the powers who sued not so much for
alliance with France as for General Bonaparte’s favor--among the
generals and superior officers who had shared with Bonaparte the dangers
of the battle-field and the laurels of victory--among learned
men, artists, and poets, whom Bonaparte had often invited to
Montebello--among so brilliant, so wealthy, so superior, so intelligent
a society, Josephine shone as the resplendent sun around which all
these planets moved, and from which they all received life, light, and
happiness. She received the ambassadors of sovereigns with the dignity
and affability of a princess; she conversed with the most distinguished
ladies in cheerful simplicity, and with the unaffected joyousness and
harmless innocency of a young maiden; she conversed with men of learning
and artists in profound and serious tones, about their labors, their
efforts, and success; she allowed the generals to relate the momentous
events of the late great battles, and her eye shone with deeper pride
and pleasure when from the mouth of the brave she heard the enthusiastic
praise of her husband.

Then her keen looks would be directed toward Bonaparte, who perchance
stood in a window recess, engaged in some grave, solemn conversation
with an eminent ambassador; her eyes again would glance from her husband
to her son, to this young officer of seventeen years, who now laughed,
jested, and played, as a boy, and then with respectful attention
listened to the conversation of the generals, and whose countenance
beamed with inspiration as they spoke to him of the mighty deeds of war
and the plans of battle of his step-father, whom Eugene loved with the
affection of a son, and the enthusiasm of a disciple who looks up to and
reveres his master.

Yes, Josephine was happy in these days of Montebello. The past, with
its sad memories, its deceptions and errors, had sunk behind her, and
a luminous future sent its rays upon her at the side of the man whom
jubilant Italy proclaimed “her deliverer,” and whom Josephine’s joyous
heart acknowledged to be her hero, her beloved. For now she loved him
truly, not with that love of fifteen years past, with the marmoreal
pulse, of which Bonaparte had spoken to her in his letters, but with
all the depth and glow of which a woman’s heart is capable, with all
the passion and jealousy of which the heart of a creole alone is

Happy, sunny days of Montebello! days full of love, of poetry, of
beauty, of happiness!--full of the first, genial, undisturbed, mutual
communion!--days of the first triumphs, of the first homage, of the
first dawn of a brilliant future! Never could the memory of those days
fade away from Josephine’s heart; never could the empress, in the long
series of her triumphs and rejoicings, point to an hour like one of
those she had, as the wife of the general, enjoyed at Montebello!

Every day brought new festivities, new joys, new receptions: balls,
official banquets, select friendly dinners, came by turns; in
brilliant soirees, they received the aristocracy of Lombardy, who, with
ever-growing zeal, struggled for the honor of being received at the
court of Montebello, and to see the doors of the drawing-room of the
wife of General Bonaparte open to them. Sometimes parties were made up
for a chase, of which Berthier acted as master, and who was not a whit
behind in organizing hunting-parties in the style of those of the former
court of Versailles, where he once had acted as page.

At times, in the warm days of May, the whole company went out together
on the large and splendid piazza which ran along the castle, on the
garden side, and which was supported by slender marble columns, and
whose roof, made of thin wire-work, was thickly shaded by the foliage of
the vine, the ivy, and the delicate leaves of the passion-flower. Here,
resting on the marble settees, one listened in blessed happiness to
the music of bands secreted in some myrtle-grove and playing military
symphonies or patriotic melodies. Then, as the evening faded away, when
the court of Montebello, as the Italians now called the residence of the
general of the republic, had no brilliant reception, they gathered in
the drawing-room, where Josephine, with all the affability of a lady
from the great world, received her guests, and with all the modesty and
grace of a simple housewife served herself the tea.

These quiet social evenings in the little drawing-room of Josephine,
away from excitement, were among Bonaparte’s happiest moments; there,
for a few hours at least, he forgot the mighty cares and schemes which
occupied his mind, and abandoned himself to the joys of society, and
to a cheerful intercourse with his family and friends. In these quiet
evenings Josephine exerted all the art and refinement of her great
social nature to render Bonaparte cheerful and to amuse him. She
sometimes organized a party of vingtet-un, and Bonaparte with his
cards was as eager for the victory as in days past he had been with his
soldiers. Very often, when success did not favor him, and his cards were
not such as suited him, the great general would condescend to correct
fate (de corriger la fortune); and he was much delighted when in his
expertness he succeeded, and, thanks to his correction of fate, obtained
the victory over his play-mates. When the parti was ended, they went
out on the terrace to enjoy the balmy air and refreshing coolness of
the evening, and to take delight in witnessing the enchanting spectacle
afforded by the thousands of little stars with which the fire-flies
illumined the darkness of the summer night and encircled the lake as
with a coronet of emeralds.

When they grew tired of this, they returned to the drawing-room to
listen to Josephine’s fine, full, soul-like voice singing the songs of
her island-home, or else to find amusement in the recital of fairy tales
and marvellous stories. None understood this last accomplishment better
than Bonaparte; and it required only the gracious request, the lovely
smiles of his Josephine, to convert the general into one of those
improvisatores who with their stories, more resembling a dramatic
representation than a narrative, could exalt the Italian mind into
ecstasy, and be ever sure to attract an attentive audience.

Bonaparte understood the art of holding his audience in suspense, and
keeping them in breathless attention, quite as well as an improvisator
of the Place of St. Mark or of Toledo Street. His stories were always
full of the highest dramatic action and thrilling effect; and it was his
greatest triumph when he saw his hearers turn pale, and when Josephine,
shuddering, clung anxiously to him, as if seeking from the soldier’s
hand protection against the fearful ghosts he had evoked.

After the marvellous stories came grave scientific conversations with
men of learning, whom Bonaparte had invited for the sake of deriving
from their intercourse both interest and instruction. Among these were
the renowned mathematicians Maria Fontana, Monge, and Berthelet; and
the famous astronomer Oriani, whom Bonaparte, through a very flattering
autographic note, had invited to Montebello.

But Oriani, little accustomed to society and to conversation with any
one but learned men, was very reluctant to come to Montebello, and would
gladly have avoided it had he not been afraid of exciting the wrath
of the great warrior. Bonaparte, surrounded by his generals, his
staff-officers and adjutants, was in the large and splendidly-illumined
drawing-room when Oriani made his appearance.

The savant, timid and embarrassed, remained near the door, and dared not
advance a single step farther on this brilliant floor, where the lights
of the chandeliers were reflected, and which filled the savant with more
bewilderment than the star-bespangled firmament.

But Bonaparte’s keen eye understood at once his newly-arrived guest; he
advanced eagerly toward him, and as Oriani, stammering and embarrassed,
was endeavoring to say something, but grew silent in the midst of his
speech, the former smilingly asked:

“What troubles you so much? You are among your friends; we honor
science, and I willingly bow to it.”

“Ah, general,” sighed Oriani, sorrowfully, “this magnificence dazzles

Bonaparte shrugged his shoulders. “What!” said he, looking around with a
contemptuous glance on the mirrors and rich tapestries which adorned the
walls, and on the glittering chandeliers, the embroidered uniforms of
the generals, and the costly toilets of the ladies--“what, do you call
this magnificence? Can these miserable splendors blind the man who every
night contemplates the far more lofty and impressive glories of the

The savant, recalled by these warning words of Bonaparte to the
consciousness of his own dignity, soon recovered his quiet demeanor
and conversed long and gladly with the general, who never grew tired of
putting questions to him, and of gaining from him information.

But there were also cloudy moments in Montebello, oftentimes
overshadowing the serene sunshine. They came from France--from Rome--and
there were even some which had their origin in Montebello. These clouds
which were formed in Montebello, and which caused slight showers of
tears with Josephine, and little tempests of anger with Bonaparte, were
certainly not of a very serious nature; they owed their origin to a
lapdog, and this pet dog was Fortune, the same which in days gone by had
been the letter-carrier between Josephine and her children when she
was in the Carmelite prison. Notwithstanding Fortune had become old
and peevish, Josephine and her children loved him for the sake of past
reminiscences, while Bonaparte simply hated and detested him. Bonaparte
had, however, perhaps without wishing it, erected for him an abiding
monument in the “Memorial de Ste. Helene,” where he gave a report of his
hostilities with the lapdog Fortune, along with those of his wars with
the European powers.

“I was then,” says Bonaparte, in his “Memorial,” “the ruler of Italy,
but in my own house I had nothing to say; there Josephine’s will was
supreme. There was an ugly, growling personage, at war with everybody,
whose bad qualities made him intolerable to me and to others, yet he was
an important individual, who was by Josephine and her children flattered
from morning till evening, and who was the object of their most delicate
attentions. Fortune, to me a hateful beast, was a horrible lapdog,
with crooked legs and deformed body, without the slightest beauty or
kindness, but of a most malicious disposition. I would gladly have
killed him, and often prayed Heaven to deliver me from him. This
happiness was, however, reserved for me in Montebello. A bull-dog which
belonged to my cook became tired of his churlish incivilities, and not
having the same considerateness as the rest of the inmates of the palace
of Montebello, he attacked the detestable animal so violently as to
kill him on the spot. Then began tears and sighs in the house. Josephine
could not be comforted; Eugene wept, and I myself against my will put
on a sorrowful countenance. But I gained nothing by this fortunate
accident. After Fortune had been stuffed, sung in sonnets, and made
immortal by funeral discourses, he was replaced by two setters, male
and female. Then came the amiable displays and the bickerings of this
love-couple, and afterward their progeny. So that I knew not what to do.

“Soon after this, as I was walking in the park, I noticed my cook, who,
as soon as he saw me, disappeared on a side-path.

“‘Are you afraid of me?’ said I. “’ Ah, general,’ replied he, timidly, ‘you have good reason to be angry
with me.’

“‘I? What have you done?’

“‘My unfortunate dog has indeed killed poor little Fortune.’

“‘Where is your dog?’

“‘He is in the city. God have mercy on us! he dares not come here.’

“‘Listen, my good fellow’ (but I spoke in a low voice, for fear of being
heard), ‘let your dog run about just as he likes--perhaps he may deliver
me from the others.’

“But this happiness was not in reserve for me. Josephine, not satisfied
with dogs, soon after this procured a cat, which brought me into a state
of despair; for this detestable animal was the most vicious of its race.
....” [Footnote: Memorial de Ste. Helene.]

The strifes with Fortune, with the setters, and with the cat, troubled
Bonaparte less than the intrigues which his enemies in Italy, as well
as in France, stirred up against him, and through them endeavored to
destroy him.

In Italy it was the priests who had sworn deadly enmity to Bonaparte,
and who, with all the weapons which the arsenal of the Church,
fanaticism, and superstition, furnished them, fought against the general
who had dared to break the power of the pope, and to restrict within
narrower limits the rule of the priests. It was these priests who
continually made the most furious opposition to the ascendency which
Bonaparte had won over the Italian mind, and sought constantly to rouse
up, within the minds of the people, opposition to him.

One day, Marmont announced that a certain Abbe Sergi was exciting the
peasants against the French, and especially against Bonaparte; that he
was preaching sedition and rebellion in Christ’s name, and was showing
to the ignorant laborers a letter, which he had received from Christ,
in which it was declared that General Bonaparte was an atheist and a
heretic, whom one ought to destroy and drive away from Italy’s sacred

Bonaparte at once ordered Marmont to arrest this Abbe Sergi, who lived
in Poncino, and to bring him to Montebello. His orders were followed,
and, after a few days, the captive abbe was brought before the general.
He seemed cheerful, unaffected, and assumed the appearance of being
unconscious of guilt.

“Are you the man,” exclaimed Bonaparte, “to whom Christ writes letters
from Paradise?”

“Ah! signor general, you are joking,” replied the abbe, smiling--but
one of Bonaparte’s angry looks fell upon his broad, well-fed face, and
forced the priest into silence.

“I am not joking,” answered Bonaparte, angrily; “you, however,
are joking with the peasants, since you are telling these poor,
superstitious men that you are in correspondence with Christ.”

“Alas! signor general,” sighed the abbe, with contrite mien, “I wanted
to do something in the defence of our cause, and what can a poor
clergyman do?--he has no weapons--”

“Mind that in future you procure other weapons!” interrupted Bonaparte,
vehemently. “That will be better for you than to dare use the Deity for
your schemes of wickedness. I order you to receive no more letters from
Paradise, not even from Christ. Correspond with your equals, and be on
your guard, or you will soon find that I can punish the disobedient!”

The abbe bowed penitently, and with tears in his eyes. Bonaparte turned
his back to him, and ordered him to be taken to Poncino.

From that day, however, much as he hated General Bonaparte, the Abbe
Sergi received no more letters from Paradise.

Nevertheless, the letters of the Abbe Sergi were not those which gave
the most solicitude to Bonaparte; much worse were those he received from
Paris, which gave him an account of the persevering intrigues of his
enemies, and the malicious slanders that were circulated against him by
the Directory, who were envious of his power and superiority, and which
mischievous and poisonous calumnies were re-echoed in the newspapers.

These insidious attacks of the journals, more than any thing else,
excited Bonaparte’s vehement anger. The hero who, on the battle-field,
trembled not before the balls which whizzed about his head, had a
violent dislike to those insect-stings of critics who, like wasps
humming round about the laurel-wreath on his brow, ever found between
the leaves of his fame some place where with their stings they could
wound him, and who was as sensitive as a young blameless maiden would be
against the wasp-stings of slander.

This irritable sensitiveness led him to consider those detestable
attacks of the journals worth a threatening denunciation to the

“Citizen-directors,” wrote he to them, “I owe you an open confession; my
heart is depressed and filled with horror through the constant attacks
of the Parisian journals. Sold to the enemies of the republic, they
rush upon me, who am boldly defending the republic. ‘I am keeping the
plunder,’ whilst I am defeating them; ‘I affect despotism,’ whilst I
speak only as general-in-chief; ‘I assume supreme power,’ and yet I
submit to law! Every thing I do is turned to a crime against me; the
poison streams over me.

“Were any one in Italy to dare give utterance to the one-thousandth part
of those calumnies, I would impose upon him an awful silence!

“In Paris, this is allowed to go on unpunished, and your tolerance is an
encouragement. The Directory is thus producing the impression that it is
opposed to me. If the directors suspect me, let them say so, and I will
justify myself. If they are convinced of my uprightness, let them defend

“In this circle of argument, I include the Directory with me, and cannot
go beyond it. My desire is, to be useful to my country. Must I, for
reward, drink the cup of poison?

“I can no longer be satisfied with empty, evasive arguments; and if
justice is not done to me, then I must take it myself. Therefore, I am
yours. Salutation and brotherly love. BONAPAKTE.”

But all these vexations, hostilities, and calumnies, were, however,
as already said, mere clouds, which now and then obscured the bright
sunshine at the court of Montebello. At a smile or a loving word from
Josephine, they flew away rapidly, and the sunshine again in all
its splendor, the pleasures, feasts, and joys, continued in their
undisturbed course. All Italy did homage to the conqueror, and it was
therefore very natural that sculptors and painters should endeavor to
draw some advantage from this enthusiasm for its deliverer, and that
they should endeavor to represent to the admirers of Bonaparte his
peculiar form and countenance.

But Bonaparte did not like to have his portrait painted. The staring,
watchful gaze of an artist was an annoyance to him; it made him restless
and anxious, as if he feared that the scrutinizing look at his face
might read the secrets of his soul. Yet at Josephine’s tender and
pressing request he had consented to its being taken by a young painter,
Le Gros, whose distinguished talent had been brought to his notice.

Le Gros came therefore to Montebello, happy in the thought that he could
immortalize himself through a successful portrait of the hero whom he
honored with all the enthusiasm of a young heart. But he waited in vain
three days for Bonaparte to give him a sitting. The general had not one
instant to spare for the unfortunate young artist.

At last, at Josephine’s pressing request, Bonaparte consented on the
fourth day to sit for him one-quarter of an hour after breakfast. Le
Gros came therefore delighted, at the time appointed, into the cabinet
of Josephine, and had his easel ready, awaiting the moment when
Bonaparte would sit in the arm-chair opposite. But, alas! the painter’s
hopes were not to be realized. The general could not bring himself to
sit in that arm-chair, doing nothing but keeping his head quiet, so
that the painter might copy his features. He had no sooner been seated,
than he sprang up suddenly, and declared it was quite impossible to
endure such martyrdom.

Le Gros dared not repeat his request, but with tears in his eyes
gathered up his painting-materials. Josephine smiled. “I see very well,”
 said she, “that I must have recourse to some extraordinary means to save
for me and for posterity a portrait of the hero of Arcola.”

She sat down in the arm-chair, and beckoned to Le Gros to have his easel
in readiness. Then with a tender voice she called Napoleon to her, and
opening both arms she drew him down on her lap, and in this way she
induced him to sit down quietly a few moments and allow the painter the
sight of his face, thus enabling him to sketch the portrait. [Footnote:
“Memoires et Souvenirs du Comte Lavalette,” vol. i., p. 168.]

At the end of this peculiar sitting, Bonaparte smilingly promised that
he would next day grant the painter a second one, provided Josephine
would again have the “extraordinary means” ready. She consented, and for
four days in succession Le Gros was enabled to sit before him a quarter
of an hour, and throw upon his canvas the features of the general, while
he quietly sat on Josephine’s lap.

This picture, which Le Gros thus painted, thanks to the sweet ruse of
Josephine, and which was scattered throughout Europe in copperplate
prints, represented Bonaparte, with uncovered head, holding a standard
in his hand, and with his face turned toward his soldiers, calling on
them to follow him as he dashed on the bridge of Arcola, amid a shower
of Austrian balls.

It is a beautiful, imposing picture, and contemporaries praised it for
its likeness to the hero, but no one could believe that this pale, grave
countenance, these gloomy eyes, and earnest lips, which seemed incapable
of a smile, were those of Bonaparte as he sat on the lap of his beloved
Josephine when Le Gros was painting it.


After three months the time drew nigh when the peace negotiations
were to reach a final conclusion, and when it was to be decided if the
Emperor of Germany would make peace with the French republic or if he
would renew the war.

For three months had the negotiations continued in Montebello--three
months of feasts, pleasures, and receptions. To the official and public
rejoicings had been also added domestic joys. Madame Letitia came to
Italy to warm her happy, proud mother’s heart at the triumphs of her
darling son; and she brought with her her daughter Pauline, while the
youngest, Caroline, remained behind in Madame Campan’s
boarding-school. It could not be otherwise than that the sisters of
the commander-in-chief, whose true beauty reminded one of the classic
features of ancient Greece, should find among the officers of the army
of Italy most enthusiastic admirers and worshippers, and that many
should long for the favor of being more intimately connected by the ties
of affection with the celebrated general.

Bonaparte left his sisters entirely free to make a choice among their
suitors, and he hesitated not to give his consent when Pauline became
affianced to General Leclerc. After a few weeks, the marriage was
celebrated in Montebello; and, soon after, the happy couple left that
city to return to Paris, whither Madame Letitia had preceded them.

Josephine, however, remained with her husband; she accompanied him from
Montebello to Milan, where Bonaparte, now that the Austrian envoys had
taken their leave, tarried some time, awaiting the final decision of the
Austrian court upon his propositions. Meanwhile, the imperial court,
for good reasons, still hesitated. It was known that in France there was
secretly preparing an event which in a short time might bring on a new
order of things, putting an end to the hateful republic, and once more
placing the Bourbons on the throne of the lilies.

General Pichegru, a zealous royalist, and intimate friend of the Prince
de Conde, with whom he had been in secret correspondence for several
months, had organized a conspiracy which had for its object the downfall
of the Directory, the ruin of the republican administration, the recall
of the monarchy to Paris, and the re-establishment of the Bourbons.

But General Moreau, who, with his army on the Rhine, stood opposite to
that of the royalists, had the good fortune to discover the conspiracy,
by intercepting Pichegru’s whole correspondence. The Directory, informed
by Moreau, took secretly precautionary measures, and on the 18th
Fructidor, Pichegru, with all his real or supposed guilty companions,
was arrested. To these guilty ones belonged also, according to
the opinion of the Directory, two out of their number, Carnot and
Barthelemy, besides twenty-two deputies and one hundred and twenty-eight
others, all among the educated classes of society. These were exiled
to Cayenne; Carnot alone escaped from this distant and cruel exile by a
timely flight to Geneva.

The 18th Fructidor, which disarmed the royalists and destroyed their
plans, had a great influence upon the negotiations carried on between
France and Austria, which were entangled with so many difficulties.
Austria, which had vacillated and delayed--for she was informed of the
schemes of the royalists, and hoped that if Louis XVIII. should ascend
the throne, she would be delivered from all the burdensome exactions
of the republic--now saw that this abortive attempt had removed the
royalists still further from their object and more firmly consolidated
the republic; she was therefore inclined to push on negotiations more
speedily, and to show greater readiness to bring on a final settlement.

The conferences broken off in Montebello were resumed in Udine. Thither
came the Austrian and French plenipotentiaries. Bonaparte, however,
felt that his presence was also necessary, so as not to allow these
conferences again to remain in abeyance. He therefore, accompanied by
Josephine, went to Passeriano, a beautiful residence of the Doge
Marini, not far from Udine, charmingly situated on the shores of the
Tagliamento, and in the midst of a splendid park. But the residence
in Passeriano was not enlivened by the pleasures, recreations, and
festivities of Montebello. Politics alone occupied Bonaparte’s mind, and
not only the peace negotiations, but also the Directory of the republic,
furnished him with too many occasions for ill-will and anger.

Austria, which had added the Count von Coblentz to her
plenipotentiaries, adhered obstinately to her former claims; and the
Directory, which now felt stronger and more secure by their victory of
the 18th Fructidor, were so determined not to accept these claims,
that they wrote to General Bonaparte that they would sooner resume
hostilities than concede to “the overpowered, treacherous Austria,
sworn into all the conspiracies of the royalists, her unreasonable

But Bonaparte knew better than the proud lords of the Directory, that
France needed peace as well as Austria; that France lacked gold,
men, and ammunition, for the vigorous prosecution of the war. While,
therefore, the Directory, enthroned in the Luxemburg, amid peace and
luxury, desired a renewal of hostilities, it was the man of battles who
desired peace, and who was inclined to make to Austria insignificant
concessions sooner than see the work of peace dashed to pieces.

The sole recreation in Passeriano consisted in the banquets which
were interchanged between it and Udine, and where Josephine found much
pleasure, at least in the conversation of the Count von Coblentz,
who could speak to her with spirit and grace of his sojourn in
Petersburg--of Catharine the Great, at whose court he had been
accredited so long as ambassador from Austria, and who had even granted
him the privilege of being present at her private evening circles at the

Bonaparte was still busy with the glowing tenderness of a worshipping
lover, in procuring for his Josephine pleasures and recreations, as each
favorable opportunity presented itself.

The republic of Venice, now laboring under the greatest anxiety and fear
on account of Bonaparte’s anger at her perfidy and enmity, had descended
from the height of her proud attitude to the most abject humility. Her
solicitude for mere existence made her so far forget her dignity, that
she humbly invited Bonaparte, whose loud voice of anger pronounced only
vengeance and destruction, to come and receive in person their homage
and the assurance of their loyalty.

Bonaparte refused this invitation as regarded his own person, for in
his secret thoughts the ruin of Venice was a settled matter; and as
the death-warrant of this republic of terror and secret government was
already signed in his thoughts, he could not accept her feasts and her
homage. But he did not wish before the time to betray to the republic
his own conclusions, and his refusal to accept their invitation ought
not to have the appearance of a hostile demonstration. He therefore sent
to Venice a representative, who, in his name, was to receive the
humble homage and the assurances of friendship from the republic. This
representative was Josephine, and she gladly undertook this mission,
without foreseeing that Venice, which adorned itself for her sake with
flowers and festivities, was but the crowned victim at the eve of the

As Bonaparte himself could not accompany his wife, he sent with her
as an escort the ex-magistrate Marmont; and in his memoirs the latter
relates with enthusiasm the feasts which the republic of Venice gave
in honor of the general upon whom, as she well knew, her future fate

“Madame Bonaparte,” says he, “was four days in Venice. I accompanied
her hither. Three days were devoted to the most splendid feasts. On
the first day there was a regatta, a species of amusement which
seems reserved only to Venice, the queen of the sea. ... Six or seven
gondolas, each manned by one or two oarsmen, perform a race which begins
at St. Mark’s Square, and ends at the Rialto bridge. These gondolas
seem to fly; persons who have never seen them can form no idea of their
swiftness. The beauty of the representation consists especially in the
immense gatherings of the spectators. The Italians are extremely fond of
this spectacle; they come from great distances on the continent to see
it; there is not in Venice an individual who rushes not to the Canal
Grande to enjoy the spectacle; and during the time of the regatta of
which I am speaking, the wharves on the Canal Grande were covered with
at least one hundred and fifty thousand persons, all full of curiosity.
More than five hundred small and large barges, adorned with flowers,
flags, and tapestries, followed the contesting gondolas.

“The second day we had a sea-excursion; a banquet had been prepared on
the Lido: the population followed in barges adorned with wreaths and
flowers, and to the sound of music re-echoing far and near.

“The third day, a night promenade took place. The palace of the doge,
and the houses along the Canal Grande, were illuminated in the most
brilliant manner, and gave light to hundreds of gondolas, which also
were made luminous with divers-colored lamps. After a promenade of two
hours, and a splendid display of fireworks in the midst of the waters,
the ball opened in the palace of the doge. When we think of the means
which the situation of Venice offers, the beauty of her architecture,
the wonderful animation of the thousand gondolas closely pressed
together, causing the impression of a city in motion; and when we think
of the great exertions which such an occasion would naturally call
forth, the brilliant imagination of this people so remarkable for its
refined taste, and its burning lusts for pleasure--then we can form some
idea of the wondrous spectacle presented by Venice in those days. It was
no more the mighty Venice, it was the elegant, the luxurious Venice.”
 [Footnote: “Memoires du Due de Raguse,” vol. i., p. 287.]

After those days of festivities, Josephine, the queen of them, returned
to the quietude of Passeriano, which, after the sunshine of Venice, must
have appeared to her still more gloomy and sad.

But Bonaparte himself was weary of all this useless repose, and he
resolved with a daring blow to cut into shreds those diplomatic knots of
so many thousand interwoven threads.

The instrument with which he was to give the blow was not the sword--it
was not that which Alexander had used, but it was a cup. This cup, at a
dejeuner given to him by the Count von Coblentz, where was displayed the
costly porcelain service presented to him by the Empress Catharine, was
dashed at the feet of the Count von Coblentz by Bonaparte, who, with a
thundering voice, exclaimed: “In fourteen days I will dash to pieces the
Austrian monarchy as I now break this!”

The Count von Coblentz, infuriated at this, was still staring in
bewilderment at the fragments of the imperial gift, when Bonaparte left
the room, to enter his carriage. With a loud voice he called to one of
the officers of his suite, and gave him orders to go at once to the
camp of the Archduke Charles, and to tell him, in the name of General
Bonaparte, that the peace negotiations were broken, and that hostilities
would be resumed next day.

But as Bonaparte was going toward his carriage, he met the Marquis de
Gallo, who besought him to re-enter the room; he assured him that it
had been resolved to accept Bonaparte’s ultimatum--that is to say, to
renounce all claims to the fortress of Mantua.

On the next day [Footnote: The 17th of October, 1797.] the treaty of
peace between Austria and France was signed. It had been decided that
the ceremony of signing it should take place in the village of Campo
Formio, which for this reason was declared to be neutral ground. It lay
midway between Udine and Passeriano; and Bonaparte sent his adjutant,
Marmont, into the village to select a house where the ceremony might
take place. But there was not a single building which was in any way
fitted to receive such distinguished guests. The Austrian diplomats,
therefore, consented to come to Passeriano to ratify the terms of
peace, provided, it should be named after the neutral territory of Campo

The Count von Coblentz and the Marquis de Gallo passed the whole day at
Passeriano, in the company of Bonaparte and Josephine. In Josephine’s
drawing-room each abandoned himself to the most cheerful and unaffected
conversation, while at the same time the secretaries of both the
Austrian and French embassies were in the cabinet of the French general,
writing two copies of the mutual agreements of peace which were to be
signed by Bonaparte and by the Austrian plenipotentiaries.

During the whole day Bonaparte was in high spirits. He had reached his
aim: the strife was over; diplomatic bickerings were at rest; the small
as well as the great war was ended; peace was gained at last! Bonaparte
had, not only on the battle-field, but also at the green-table, been
victorious; he had not only overcome Austria, but also the Directory.
During the whole day he remained in the drawing-room with Josephine and
his Austrian guests, and without any affectation he took his part in
the conversation. It was so pleasant to him to be thus in confidential
intercourse, that, as the evening came on, he would not allow lights to
be brought into the drawing-room. As if they were in a sociable family
circle, in some old remote castle, they amused themselves in relating
ghost-stories, and here, too, Bonaparte won a victory. His story
surpassed all others in horrors and thrilling fears, and the dramatic
mode of its delivery increased its effect. Josephine became excited
as if by some living reality; and while Bonaparte, with an affrighted,
trembling voice, was describing how the door opened, how the
blood-stained ghost with hollow eyes entered, she screamed aloud, and
tremblingly clung to his arm.

At this moment it was announced that the secretaries had prepared
the documents of the treaty, and that nothing was wanting to make it
operative but the signatures.

Bonaparte laughingly thanked his Josephine with a kiss for the
flattering effect produced by his ghost-story, and then he hastened
into his cabinet to attach his signature to the peace of Campo Formio.
[Footnote: Lavalette, “Memoires,” vol. i., p. 250.]

This peace gave to France the left bank of the Rhine, with the fortress
of Mayence: it delivered Italy from the rule of Austria, but it repaid
Austria by giving her possession of the beautiful city of the lagoons,
Venice, which made Austria mistress of the Adriatic Sea.

Peace was concluded, and now Bonaparte, with his laurels and victories,
could return to Paris; now he could hope that he had swept away,
from the memory even of his adversaries, the sad success of the 13th
Vendemiaire, by the series of brilliant victories and conquests which he
had obtained in the name of their common country.

Bonaparte prepared himself therefore to return home to France. But the
Emperor of Germany, full of admiration for the hero of Arcola, and of
joy at a peace which had given him Venice, and which gave to France
little more than the captured cannon, standards, and prisoners, but
undying glory, wished to show himself thankful to Bonaparte. He offered
to the general millions of treasure, and, still more, a magnificent
estate, and promised him the title of duke.

But Bonaparte refused alike the money and the title. As a simple French
general he wished to return to France, and, though in future days he
created at his will many dukes, he now disdained to become a duke by
the grace of the Emperor of Germany. He accepted nothing out of all the
offered presents, but six splendid gray horses which the Emperor Francis
had sent him from his own stalls. Bonaparte had won too many victories,
to need the title of a German duke; he had obtained a sufficiently
ample share of the war-booty not to need the wealth and the treasures of
sovereign gifts. He was no longer the poor general, of whom his enemies
could say that he had married the widow of General de Beauharnais
on account of her riches and of her influence; he now, besides fame,
possessed a few millions of francs, which, as a small portion of his
share of the victory’s rewards, he brought home with him.

His work in Italy was accomplished; and in Milan, whither Bonaparte had
returned with Josephine, they bade each other farewell: they wished to
return to Paris by different routes.

Bonaparte desired first to go to Rastadt, there to attend the great
peace congress of Germany and France. His journey thither was a complete
triumph. He was everywhere received with enthusiasm; everywhere the
people applauded the conqueror of so many battles, the hero who,
only twenty-eight years old, had, by his series of victories, gained
immortality. His reception in Berne, especially, was enthusiastic
and flattering; both sides of his pathway were lined with brilliant
equipages, and the beautiful, richly apparelled ladies who sat in them
threw him kisses, crowns of flowers and bouquets, shouting, “Long live
the peace-maker!”

He travelled over Mount Cenis to Rastadt, where he found in the crowd of
German and French diplomats many generals and learned men, who had come
there to see the man whom his very enemies admired, amongst whom he was
nearly as popular as with his friends. However, Bonaparte remained but a
few days there; for, after having attended the opening of the Congress,
he pursued his journey to Paris, where he arrived on the 6th of

Josephine, as we have already said, did not accompany her husband to
Paris. Before leaving Italy, she desired to accomplish two objects of
her heart. She wished to see Rome, the everlasting city of fame and of
arts, the city of the ancient gods, and of the seat of St. Peter; and
she wished also to embrace her son Eugene, who was there as an attache
of Joseph Bonaparte, the ambassador of the French republic. Wherever she
went, she was received with enthusiasm, not only as the wife of Italy’s
deliverer, but also on account of her personal merits. Through her
affability, her amiableness, and her sweet disposition, which shunned
every haughty exaltation, and yet was never lacking in dignity or in
reserve--through the goodness of her heart, which was ever ready to help
the unfortunate--through all those exquisite and praiseworthy qualities
which adorned and beautified her, she had won the love and admiration
of all Italy; and long afterward, when the deliverer of Italy had
become her lord and her oppressor, when she had no longer cause to love
Bonaparte, but only to curse him, Italy preserved for Josephine a memory
full of admiration and love.


On the 5th of December, 1797, Bonaparte returned to Paris; and, a few
days after, Josephine arrived also. In her little hotel, in the Street
Chautereine, where she had passed so many bright and happy days, she
hoped, after so many storms and hardships, to enjoy again new and
cheerful sunny days of domestic enjoyments--she hoped to rest from
all those triumphs which had accompanied at each step both her and her

This hope, however, was not to be realized, for greater triumphs still
than those she had enjoyed in Italy awaited Bonaparte in Paris. The days
of quietude, and the pleasures of home, which Josephine so much loved,
and which she so well understood how to embellish with friendships and
joys, were now forever past away. Placed at the side of a hero whose
fame already filled all Europe, she could no longer calculate upon
living in modest retirement, as she would have wished to do: it was
her lot to share his burden of glory, as she also was illumined by its

From this moment nothing of former days remained; all was changed, all
was altered by Bonaparte’s laurels and victories. He was no more the
servant of the republic, he was nearly its master; he had not only
defeated Austria in Italy, but he had also defeated in France the
Directory, which had sent him as its general to Italy, and which now saw
him return home as the master of the five monarchs of France.

Every thing now, as already said, assumed a new shape: even the house
in which they lived, the street in which this house stood, had to be
changed. Hitherto this street had been called “Rue Chautereine;” since
Bonaparte’s return the municipality of Paris gave it the name “Rue de
la Victoire,” and now to this Street of Victory the people of Paris
streamed forth to see the conqueror; to stand there patiently for hours
before the little hotel, and watch for the moment when at one of the
windows the pale countenance of Bonaparte, with his long, smooth hair,
might appear.

Even the little hotel was to be altered. Bonaparte--who, in earlier
days, had described, as his dream of happiness, the possession of a
house, of a cabriolet, and to have at his table the company of a few
friends, with his Josephine--now found that the little house in the Rue
de la Victoire was too small for him; that it must be altered even as
the street had been. The modest and tasteful arrangements which had
sufficed the Widow Josephine de Beauharnais, appeared now to her young
husband as insufficient; the little saloon, in which at one time he had
felt so happy at the side of the viscountess, was no longer suited to
his actual wants. Large reception-rooms and vestibules were needed,
magnificent furniture was necessary, for the residence of the conqueror
of Italy, in the Rue de la Victoire.

Architects were engaged to enlarge and transform the small house into
a large hotel, and it was left to Josephine’s taste to convert the
hitherto elegant private dwelling into a magnificent residence for the
renowned general who had to be daily in readiness to receive
official visits, delegations of welcome from the authorities, and the
institutions of Paris, and from the other cities of France.

For France was desirous to pay her homage to the hero of Arcola, and to
celebrate his genius--to wish him prosperity, and to applaud him. The
Directory had to adapt themselves to the universal sentiment; to pay
their respects to the general with a cheerful mien and with friendly
alacrity, while at heart they looked on him with vexation and envy.
Bonaparte’s popularity filled them with anxiety and fearful misgivings.

But it was necessary to submit to this; the public sentiment required
those festivities in honor of the general of the republic, and the five
directors in the Luxemburg had no longer the power to guillotine the
public sentiment, the true king of Paris, as once they had guillotined
King Louis.

The directors, therefore, inaugurated brilliant festivities;
they received the conqueror of Italy in the Luxemburg with great
demonstrations of solemnity, in which the Parisians took a part. In
the immense court in front of the residence of the directors this
celebration took place. In the midst of the open place a lofty platform
was erected; it was the country’s altar, on which the gigantic statues
of Freedom, Equality, and of Peace, were lifted up. Around this altar
was a second platform, with seats for the five hundred, the deputies,
and the authorities; the standards conquered in the Italian war formed
over the seats of the five directors a sort of canopy: they were,
however, to them as the sword of Damocles, ready to fall upon them at
any moment and destroy them.

The directors, dressed in brilliant antique robes, created no
impression, notwithstanding their theatrical splendor, in comparison
with the sensation produced by the simple, unaffected appearance of
General Bonaparte. He wore the plain green uniform which he had worn at
Arcola and Lodi; his suite was limited to a few officers only, who, like
himself, appeared in their ordinary uniforms, which they had worn on
the battle-field. The two generals, Andreossy and Joubert, carried
the standards which the Legislative Assembly, two years before, had
presented to the army of Italy, and upon which could now be read the
names of sixty-seven battles won.

At one of the windows of the palace of the Luxemburg, Josephine watched
this strange celebration, the splendors of which made her heart beat
with delight, and filled her eyes with tears of joy. Near her was her
daughter Hortense, lately withdrawn from Madame Campan’s institution,
to be with her mother, who, full of ecstasy and pride, gazed at the
charming maiden at her side, just blooming into a young lady; and then
beyond, at that pale young man with pensive eyes standing near yonder
altar, and before whom all the authorities of Paris bowed--who was her
husband, her Bonaparte, everywhere conqueror! Before her only was he the
conquered! She listened with a happy smile to the long speech with which
Talleyrand saluted Bonaparte in the name of his country; she heard how
Barras, concealing within himself his jealousy and his envy, welcomed
him; how with admiration he praised him; how he said that Nature, in
one of her most exalted and greatest moments, had resolved to produce a
masterpiece, and had given to the wondering world Bonaparte!

And then, after this affected harangue, Josephine saw how Barras, with
tears of emotion, embraced Bonaparte, and how the other Directors of
France followed his example. A slight sarcastic smile for a moment
played on Josephine’s lips, for she well knew how little this friendship
and this love of the Directory were to be trusted, how little sincerity
was contained in the sentiments which they so publicly manifested toward
the conqueror.

With love’s anxiety and a woman’s instinct, she watched over her hero;
she was ever busy to track out the meandering paths of his foes, to
destroy the nets wherein they wished to entangle his feet. She had even
braved the jealous wrath of Bonaparte when it was necessary to ferret
out some intrigue of the Directory. The special spy, whom Barras had
sent to Italy to watch the movements of Bonaparte, and to give him early
reports of every word, Botot, had been received by Josephine with a
friendly smile and with great attention; she manifested toward him a
confiding friendship, and thus succeeded in discovering his secret,
and behind the seeming friend to unveil the cunning spy of Bonaparte’s
enemies. She could therefore meet Bonaparte’s anger with serene brow
and pure conscience; and when he accused her of frivolity and
unfaithfulness, she justified herself before him by unveiling the secret
schemes and machinations of his foes. And these foes were chiefly the
five directors. He therefore knew very well what he was to expect from
the embraces, the tears, the kisses of Barras; and the flattering
words which he spoke to him in the presence of the Parisians made no
impression whatever on Bonaparte’s heart.

But the applause with which the people of Paris received him was not
deceitful, like that of the Directory; the respect they paid him was not
forced, and their applause therefore filled the hearts of Josephine
and Bonaparte with joy. Wherever he appeared, he was greeted with
loud demonstrations of joy; the poets praised him in their songs, the
musicians sang hymns in his honor, and the men of science brought to him
proofs of their esteem. The Institute of Sciences named him one of their
members in the place of Carnot; the painters and architects paid him
homage with their works. The renowned painter David requested the honor
of taking Bonaparte’s portrait, and the general acceded to his wishes
because Josephine had promised that the painter’s request should be
granted. David desired to paint him on horseback near the bridge of Lodi
or of Arcola, and he placed before him a sketch he had made for this
picture. But Bonaparte rejected it.

“No,” said he, “I was not there alone, I conquered only with the whole
army. Place me there, quiet and calm, seated upon a fiery horse.”

What did Bonaparte mean by this “fiery horse”? Are his words to be
understood in all their beauty and simplicity? or did he, by the
restless horse, which he so calmly reins in, already think of the
republic which, under the guidance of his masterly hand, was one day
to be converted into an empire? Who could read the depths of this man’s
heart, which screened itself so carefully, and whose secrets in regard
to the future he dared not divulge even to his beloved Josephine?

The first few weeks after their return from Italy were passed away amid
festivities and demonstrations of respect. Josephine abandoned herself
to this pomp with a high spirit, and with a deep love for enjoyment. Her
whole being was thoroughly interpenetrated with the warmth of this new
sun, which had risen over her in so wondrous a light, and surrounded her
with its lustrous rays. All these festivities, banquets, representations
at the grand opera, and at the Theatre Francais, these public ovations
which accompanied Bonaparte at every step, at every promenade, at every
attendance at the theatre,--all these marks of honor elated Josephine,
filling her with an enthusiastic pride for the hero, the man whom she
now loved with all the excitability of a woman’s heart, and over whom
fame rested as a halo, and which made him appear to Josephine still
greater and more exalted. To him alone now belonged her whole heart and
being; and now for the first time she experienced those nervous spasms
of jealousy which at a later date were to mix so many bitter drops of
gall in the golden cup of her greatness.

At the ovations, the tokens of affection on the part of gentlemen
delighted her, but she had no thanks for the ladies when, with their
enthusiasm, brilliant eyes, bewitching smiles, and flattering words,
they endeavored to manifest their adoration and gratitude to the hero of
Italy; she could barely keep back her tears when, at the reception which
Talleyrand, the minister of foreign affairs, gave to Bonaparte, the
beautiful songstress Grassini appeared, and, with her entrancing voice,
sang the fame of the conqueror who had bound captive to his triumphal
car, as the most precious booty, the proud songstress herself.

The Directory, however, would have gladly allowed the ladies to take
part in this enthusiasm if the men had taken no share in it; but
the admiration which they had everywhere manifested so strongly
for Bonaparte, had completely overshadowed their own greatness and
importance. They were no longer the monarchs of France--Bonaparte alone
seemed to be its ruler--and their envious jealousy told them that
it would require but a sign from his hand to impart to the French
government a new form, to disenthrone the five directors, and to place
himself in their position. The sole aim was, therefore, to remove
Bonaparte as soon as practicable from Paris, and if possible from
France, so as to check his popularity, and to oppose his ever-growing

Bonaparte was but little inclined to meet these views of the Directory,
and to accept the propositions made to him. He declined at once to go
to Rastadt, there to attend to the discussions of the congress, with
as much resolution as he had refused to go to Rome to punish the
papal government for the enmity it had shown to Prance. He left it to
diplomats to prattle in Rastadt over the green-table, and to General
Berthier to punish the papal government, and to drive Pius out of the
Eternal City, the seat of St. Peter, and erect there the altar of the
republic of Rome.

There were greater and loftier aims which Bonaparte now sought--and
fame, which he loved quite as much as Josephine did, and was soon to
love even more, was enticing him on to paths yet untrodden, where no
hero of past ages had sought for it.

In Egypt, near the pyramids of four thousand years, he desired to gather
fresh laurels; from thence the astonished world was to hear the wondrous
recitals of his victories. His lively fancy already imagined his name
written on those gigantic monuments of past ages, the only earthly
creations which have in themselves nearly the character of immortality.
With his mighty deeds he wished to surpass all the heroes of modern
times; he desired to rival Caesar and Alexander.

Caesar had won fifty battles, Bonaparte wanted to win a hundred.
Alexander had gone from Macedonia to the temple of Jupiter Ammon,
Bonaparte wished to leave Paris to obtain victories at the cataracts of
the Nile.

The bitterness which existed between the Directory and Bonaparte was
increasing more and more. He no longer spoke to the five monarchs as
an obedient, submissive son of the republic; he spoke as their lord and
master; he threatened when his will was not obeyed; he was wroth when he
met with opposition. And the Directory had not the courage to reproach
him for his undutiful conduct, or to enter the lists with him to dispute
for the sovereignty, for they well knew that public sentiment would
declare itself in his favor, that Paris would side with the general if
matters were to come to a crisis between them. It was therefore better
and wiser to avoid this strife, and, under some good pretext, remove
Bonaparte and open to him some distant pathway to fame, so as to be rid
of him.

Egypt was far enough from Paris to give to the Directory guaranties
of security, and it fell in with Bonaparte’s plans. It was resolved
therefore to send an expedition to Egypt, and he was appointed its

Bonaparte had directed his eyes to the East when in Passeriano he was
making peace with Austria. In Egypt were the battle-fields which were to
surround his name with a fresh halo of glory.

Josephine learned this resolution of Bonaparte with fear and anxiety,
but she dared not betray this to any one, since this expedition was to
remain a secret to all the world. Only in private could her tears flow,
only before Bonaparte could she complain. Once, as she encircled him
convulsively with her arms, her mind full of misgivings and her eyes of
tears she asked him how many years he thought of remaining in Egypt.

She had put this question only in a jesting form. He took it in full
earnestness, and answered:

“Either a few months or six years. All depends upon circumstances. I
must win Egypt to civilization. I will gather there artists, learned
men, mechanics of all trades, even women--dancers, songstresses, and
actresses. I want to mould Egypt into a second France. One can do a
great deal in six years. I am now twenty-nine years old, I shall be
thirty-five when I return--that is not old. But I shall want more than
six years if I go to India.” [Footnote: Bourrienne, vol. ii., p. 49.]

Josephine cried aloud with anguish and horror, and, embracing him in
her arms, implored him with all the delicate tenderness of her anxious
affection not to thrust her aside, but to allow her to accompany him to

But Bonaparte refused, and this time her tears, which he had never
before denied, were fruitless. He felt that Josephine’s presence would
damp his ardent courage, retard his onward march, and that he would
not have the necessary fearless energy to incur risks and perils if
Josephine were to be threatened by their consequences. He could not
expose her to the privations and restless wanderings of a campaign, and
his burning love for her was too real for him to yield to her wishes.

Josephine, meanwhile, was not silenced by his refusal; she persevered in
her supplications, and Bonaparte, at last softened by her prayers, was
obliged to come to terms. It was decided that Josephine should follow
him to Egypt, that he would select a place of residence and prepare
every thing for her reception there, so that she might without danger or
too much inconvenience undertake the journey.

But before commencing such an undertaking, Josephine’s health needed
recruiting; she was to go to the baths of Plombieres, and Bonaparte was
to hold a ship in readiness in Toulon to bring her to Egypt.

The ship which was chosen to transport her was the Pomona, the same
in which, when only sixteen years old, she had come from Martinique to
France. Then she had gone forth to an unknown world and to an unknown
husband; now she was on the same ship to undertake a journey to an
unknown world, but it was a beloved husband whom she was going to meet,
and love gave her the strength to do so.

Josephine, full of the sweetest confidence that she was soon to follow
Bonaparte, and hereafter to see him again, accompanied him to Toulon.
She had the strength to repress her tears as she bade him farewell, and
to smile as he entreated her to keep her heart faithful to him.

She showed herself at this separation stronger than Bonaparte himself,
for while her eyes were bright with joyous love, his were sad and
obscured by tears.

The difference was this: Bonaparte knew that he was bidding farewell to
Josephine for long years; she trusted that in a few months she would be
reunited to him.

Bonaparte imprinted a last kiss on the lips of Josephine. She embraced
him tenderly in her arms, and, to shield herself against the deep
anguish of the separation, she cried aloud:

“In three months we meet again! The Pomona, which brought me to France,
will bear me back to my hero, to my Achilles! In three months I shall be
with you again. You have often called me the star of your fortune. How
could this star abandon you when you are going to fight against your

He gazed at her with a look at once full of deep love and sorrow:

“Josephine,” said he, solemnly, “my enemies are neither in Asia nor
in Africa, but they are all in France. I leave you behind me in their
midst, for you to watch them, and to unravel their schemes. Think
of this, and be my strong and prudent wife.” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s
words.--See Le Normand, vol. i., p. 278.]

Deeply moved, he turned away, and hastened from her to the boat that was
to bear him to the flag-ship, which was waiting only for the commanding
general to come aboard before weighing anchor.



While Bonaparte with the French fleet was sailing toward the East,
there, in the wide valley of the Nile, to win a new fame, Josephine
started for Plombieres, where she had requested her daughter Hortense
to meet her. The splendid scenery and pleasant quietude of Plombieres
offered at least some comfort and satisfaction to Josephine, whose
heart was not yet healed from the anguish of separation. Her greatest
consolation was the thought that in a few months she would go to her
husband; that the Pomona would bear her to him who now possessed her
whole soul, and surrounded her whole being with an enchantment which was
to cease only with her life.

She counted the days, the weeks, which separated her from the wished-for
journey; she waited with impatient longing for the news that the Pomona,
which needed a few repairs, was ready and all prepared for the distant
but welcome voyage.

Her sole recreation consisted in the company of, and in the cordial
fellowship with Hortense, now grown up a young lady, and the
companionship of a few intimate ladies who had followed her to
Plombieres. Surrounded by these, she either sat in her drawing-room,
busy with some manual labor, or else, followed by a single servant, she
and Hortense made long walks in the wonderfully romantic vicinity of

One morning she was in the drawing-room with her friends, working with
the needle, conversing, and finding recreation in stepping through the
wide-open folding-doors upon the balcony, from which a most enchanting
view could be had of the lovely valley, and the mountains which stood
round about it. While there, busily embroidering a rose, one of her
friends, who had gone to the balcony, called her to come quickly to
admire a remarkably small greyhound which was passing down the street.
Josephine, whose love for dogs had made Napoleon pass many a restless
hour, hastened to obey her friend’s call, and went out upon the balcony,
whither the rest of the ladies followed her, all curious to see the
greyhound which had set Madame de Cambis into such an excitement. But
the weight of these six ladies, gathered close together on the balcony,
was too heavy for the plank and joist-work loosely put together. A
fearful crash was heard; and as Hortense, who had remained in the
drawing-room, busy with her painting, looked out, she saw neither the
ladies nor the balcony. All had disappeared--nothing but a cloud of
dust arose from the street, amidst a confusion of cries of distress, of
shouts for help, and groans of pain.

The balcony, with the ladies, had been precipitated into the street, and
all those who were on it were more or less severely injured. Josephine
recognized it as a providential protection that she had not paid
with broken limbs, like her friends, for the curiosity of seeing the
beautiful little greyhound, but had only received violent contusions and
sprained joints. For weeks she had to suffer from the consequences of
this fall, and was confined to her bed, not being able to lift herself
up, nor with her bruised, swollen hands to bring the food to her mouth
during this time. Hortense had to wait upon her mother as she had waited
upon her when she was only a small, helpless child.

While Josephine was thus for these weeks suffering, the Pomona,
fully equipped, was sent to sea, for she was intrusted with important
instructions for the commanding general Bonaparte, and could not
possibly be detained for Josephine’s recovery. She received this news
with bitter tears, and resolutely declared that no sooner should she be
recovered than she would sail for Egypt in any kind of vessel; that she
was firmly decided to follow her husband and share his dangers.

She had, however, twice received letters from Bonaparte. In the first of
these he had, full of tender solicitude, entreated her not to undertake
the fatiguing and dangerous voyage; in the second he had commanded
her with all the earnestness of love to give up the enterprise, and
requested as a proof of her affection and faithfulness, that she would
listen to reason, remain in Paris, and watch over his interests, and be
his guardian angel.

Josephine read this last letter with a sorrowful smile, and, as she
handed it to her friend Madame de Chateau-Renaud, she said, sighing:

“The days of happiness are over. While in Italy, Bonaparte required that
I should bid defiance to all dangers, so as to be at his side, for his
letters then demanded my presence. Now he orders me to avoid dangers,
and to remain quietly at home.”

“But it is out of pure love he does this!” exclaimed her friend. “See
how affectionate and how tender his letter is! Certainly no man can love
his wife more warmly than Bonaparte loves you.”

“Oh, yes,” sighed Josephine, “he loves me yet, but I am no longer
absolutely necessary--he can live without me; once love ruled over his
reason, now his reason rules over his love. It will be as I fear: I
shall day by day love him more fondly and more passionately, for he is
my last love, but he will every day love me less, for perhaps I am his
first love, and his heart will be young long after he reads upon my face
that I am six years older than he.”

However, she conformed to the wishes of her husband; she was resigned,
and gave up the thought of going to Egypt. At first she did it only
with tears, but soon after there came news which made her accept her
husband’s wishes as the commands of Fate.

The Pomona, the vessel which had once brought her from Martinique to
France, and on board of which she was to go to Egypt, had been captured
by an English man-of-war, and all her passengers sent as prisoners to

The fall from the balcony had therefore saved Josephine from being
carried into captivity to England. To this fall she owed her liberty!
With all the levity and superstition of a creole, Josephine looked upon
this fortunate mishap as a warning from Fate, and it seemed to her as if
this had taken place to hinder her journey to Egypt. She therefore dried
her tears and submitted to the orders alike of Fate and of her husband.

She remained in France, and accepted her mission to watch, as a true
friend and beloved one, over the interests of her husband, to observe
his friends and foes, and to send him news of every thing which it was
important for him to know.

Once her fate decided, and she resolved to remain in France, she
determined to make her life comfortable and pleasant; she wished to
prepare for herself and her children a joyous existence, and procure
also for her returning husband a gift which she knew would meet a
long-cherished wish of his.

She bought a residence, situated not far from Paris, the Castle
Malmaison, if the name of castle can be properly given to a pretty,
tastefully-built country residence, tolerably large and plain, but
surrounded by a beautiful park.

Their wishes and wants were yet simple, and the country residence,
Malmaison, was amply sufficient to receive the family and the friends of
General Bonaparte and his wife; it became too small and too narrow only
when it had to accommodate the Emperor Napoleon, the empress, and their
court-attendants and suite.

But if the Castle Malmaison was not large, the park which surrounded
it was all the larger and handsomer, and, with its shady walks, its
wondrous beds of flowers, its majestic avenues, its splendid groves and
lawns, it had for Josephine pleasures and joys ever new and fresh; and
it furnished her, moreover, with the welcome opportunity of following
the inclinations of her youth amidst the flowers, birds, trees, and

Josephine loved botany; it was natural that she should endeavor to
collect together in Malmaison the most beautiful plants and flowers, and
to arrange them in this her little earthly paradise. She enlisted the
most able architects and the most skilful gardeners, and, under their
direction, with the hands of hundreds of workmen, there soon arose one
of the most beautiful hot-houses, wherein all these glories of earth,
splendid flowers, and fruits of distant climes, would find a home!

Josephine herself, with her fine taste and her deep knowledge of botany,
directed all these arrangements and improvements; the builders as well
as the gardeners had to submit their plans for her approbation, and it
was not seldom that her keen, practised eye discovered in them defects
which her ingenuity at once found means to correct.

In Malmaison, Josephine created around her a new world, a quiet paradise
of happiness, where she could dream, with blissful cheerfulness and
with all the youthful energy of her heart, of a peaceful future, of
delightful contentment, in the quiet enjoyment of Nature and of home.

But the old world outside did not cease its own march; it fought its
battles, spun its intrigues, and continued its hostilities. Josephine
could not withdraw herself from this old world; she dared not place the
paradise of Malmaison as a wall of partition between her and the
wild stir and tumult of Paris; she had to rush away from the world of
innocence, from this country-life, into the whirlpool of the agitated,
restless life of Paris.

Bonaparte had made it a duty for her to watch his friends as well as his
foes, and there were then happening in Paris events which appeared to
the wife of General Bonaparte worthy of close observation. His long
absence had diminished the number of his friends, and at the same time
gave strength to and increased his enemies, who were ever busy to
defame and vilify his heroic deeds, and to turn them into a crime; they
represented that the expedition to Egypt, notwithstanding the glorious
exploits of the French army, should have had more striking results, and
the louder they cried out, the more feeble and timid were the voices
of his friends. The latter daily found their position becoming more
precarious, for they were the moderate republicans, the supporters of
the actual order of things, and of the constitution which France had
adopted. Against this constitution arose, with loud cries, two hostile
parties, which increased every day, and assumed toward it a more and
more threatening attitude.

These parties were, on the one hand, the royalists, who saw their hopes
increase every day, because the armies of the European powers, allied
against France, were approaching nearer and nearer the French
frontiers; and, on the other, the republicans of the past, who hoped to
re-establish the old days of the Convention and of the red republic.

Both parties tried to undermine society and the existing authorities;
they organized conspiracies, seditions, and tumults, and were constantly
inventing new intrigues, so as to destroy the government, and set
themselves up in its place.

The royalists trusted to the combined powers of the princes of Europe,
with whom the exiled Bourbons were approaching; and in La Vendee the
guerilla warfare had already begun against the republic.

The red republicans dreamed of re-establishing the guillotine, which was
to restore France to health by delivering her from all the adversaries
of the republic and bring back the glorious days of 1793; they left
nothing untried to excite the people into dissatisfaction and open

Against both parties stood the Directory, who in these days of tumult
and sedition, were themselves feeble and without energy, seeking only to
prolong their existence. They were satisfied to live on day by day, and
shrank from every decided action which might increase the wrath of the
parties or destroy the brilliant present of the mighty directors, in
whose ears the title of “the five monarchs” sounded so sweetly.

In the interior of France, anarchy, with all its horrors and confusion,
prevailed, and, on the frontier, its enemies were taking advantage of
this anarchy to give to the republic its mortal stroke.

Turkey, Russia, the Kings of Sardinia, Naples, and Sweden, were allied
with Austria, England, and Prussia, and they had begun to make immense
preparations. A Russian army, led by Suwarrow, was marching toward
Italy, to the help of Austria--to reconquer Lombardy. The Rastadt
congress, from which a universal peace had been expected, had dissolved,
and the only result was an increased enmity between Germany and
France, the deputies of the latter, as they were returning home, being
shamefully murdered in the open street, immediately before the gates of
Rastadt, at the instigation of the Austrian Count Lehrbach.

The murder of these ambassadors became the signal for the renewal of
war, which was now to be prosecuted with increased bitterness.

At this important, critical moment, when all Europe was buckling on
its armor against France, which so much needed the guidance of her
victorious general--at this moment, Bonaparte was not only away from
Paris, but no news had been received from him for some months. Only
a vague rumor was spread through Paris: “Bonaparte had fallen at the
desperate attack on Acre,” and this sufficed to discourage entirely his
friends, and to make his enemies still more audacious and overbearing.

At first Josephine was entirely cast down by the terrible news; but
afterward came the reflection, the doubt, the hope, that all this
might be a rumor spread by his enemies. She hastened to Paris to obtain
information from the Directory, so as to find out if there were any
foundation for the report of Bonaparte’s death. But the Directory had
as uncertain news as Josephine herself, and the absence of information
seemed to confirm its truth.

As she came one day to Barras to ask him if there were any news from
the army, she heard him say to Rewbell, one of the five directors: “Here
comes the wife of that hypocrite Bonaparte! If he is not dead to Europe,
he is at least dead to France.”

This expression proved to her that Barras himself did not believe in his
death, and gave to Josephine all her energy and presence of mind. She
busied herself in endeavoring to find a clew to this horrible rumor; and
she found that Bonaparte’s enemies had spread it, and that only those
to whom his death would be welcome, and his return be objectionable, had
circulated this report.

Her heart again beat with hope; she now felt, in the blissful joy which
penetrated her whole being, that Bonaparte was not dead; that he lived
still; that he would return home, to her great delight and to the terror
of his foes. A cheerful assurance sustained her whole nature. While
all those, who in the days of her happiness had rivalled each other in
assuring her of their friendship and devotedness, the Directory, the
ministers, the majority of the generals, turned away from her, cold and
indifferent; and her few true friends, low-spirited and depressed, bowed
their heads, while her foes and those of Bonaparte scornfully said in
their joy, “Now the new King of Jerusalem and Cyprus has fallen under
the blows of a new savage Omar.” While every thing was against her,
Josephine alone was cheerful, and confidingly looked into the future,
for she felt and knew that the future would soon bring back her husband,
her beloved.


Josephines prophetic heart had not deceived her. Bonaparte lived! But
his was a life of danger, of constantly renewed battles and hardships--a
life in which he had constantly to guard against not only enemies, but
also against sickness.

Bonaparte had traversed the deserts with his army, visited the pyramids,
conquered Cairo, and, in warmly-contested and fearful combats, had
defeated and subdued the Mussulman. But these numerous victories had
been followed by some defeats, and all his successes were more than
counterbalanced by the fruitless storming of the impregnable Acre, and
the failure to conquer Syria. The English admiral, Sidney Smith, with
his vessels, anchored in the harbor of Acre, protected the besieged,
and constantly provided them with provisions and ammunition, and so
efficiently supported the pacha and his mercenary European soldiers,
that Bonaparte, after two months of fruitless efforts, abandoned the
siege on the 10th of May, 1799, and retreated into Egypt.

This is not, however, the place to recall the stupendous enterprises of
Bonaparte, which remind one of the deeds of the heroes and demi-gods of
ancient Greece, or the nursery tales of extraordinary beings.

His heroic deeds are engraven on history’s page: there can be read
the wondrous events of his Egyptian campaign, of his march through
the wilderness, of the capture of Cairo, of his successful battles of
Aboukir and Tabor, which led the heroic General Kleber, forgetting all
rivalry, to embrace Bonaparte, exclaiming: “General Bonaparte, you are
as great as the world, but the world is too small for you!”

There, also, one can read of the cruel massacre of three thousand
captive Mussulmen, of the revolt of Cairo; there are depicted the
blood-stained laurels which Bonaparte won in this expedition, the
original plan of which seems to have been conceived in the brain of one
who was at once a demi-god and an adventurer.

We leave, therefore, to history the exclusive privilege of narrating
Bonaparte’s career as a warrior; our task is with something
superior--with his thoughts, feelings, and sufferings, in the days of
his Egyptian campaign. It is not with the soldier, the captain, or his
plans of battle, that we have to do, but with the man, and especially
with the husband of Josephine--the woman who for his sake suffered,
was full of solicitude, contended for him, and struggled with love and
loyalty, while he fought only with sword and cannon.

It is true, Bonaparte also had to suffer, and his anxieties for the
success of his plans did not alone hang heavily on his heart, while with
his army he besieged the impregnable Acre. At this very time his heart
received a deep wound from his friend and confidant Junot, who drove
the sting of jealousy into his sensitive heart. It is the privilege of
friendship to pass by in silence nothing which calumny or ill-will may
imagine or circulate, but truly to make known to our friend every thing
which the public says of him, without regard to the sufferings which
such communications may entail upon his heart. Junot made full use of
this privilege. Bourrienne in his memoirs relates as follows:

“While we were in the vicinity of the springs of Messoudiah, I saw one
day Bonaparte, with his friend Junot, pacing to and fro, as he often
did. I was not very far from them, and I know not why during this
conversation my eyes were fixed on him. The face of the general was
paler than usual, though I knew not the cause. There was a strange
nervousness; his eyes seemed bewildered, and he often struck his head
with his hand.

“After a quarter of an hour, he left Junot and came toward me. I had
noticed his angry, thoughtful expression. I went to meet him, and as I
stood before him, Bonaparte, with a harsh and severe tone, exclaimed:
‘You have no affection for me. The women! ... Josephine! ... Had you any
affection for me, you would long ago have given me the information which
Junot has now told me: he is a true friend! Josephine! ... and I am six
hundred miles away! ... You ought to have told me! ... Josephine! ...
so to deceive me! ... You! ... “Woe to you all! I will uproot
that detestable race of seducers and blondins! As regards
her--separation!--yes: divorce, public separation before the eyes
of all! ... I must write! I know every thing! ... It is her fault,
Bourrienne! You ought to have told me.’

“These vehement, broken utterances, the strange expression on his face,
and his excited tone of voice, revealed only too clearly what had been
the subject of the conversation he had had with Junot. I saw that Junot
had been drawn into a fatal indiscretion, and that if he had really
believed that charges could be made against Madame Bonaparte, he had
exaggerated them in an unpardonable manner. My situation was one of
extreme delicacy: I had, however, the good fortune to remain cool, and
as soon as his first excitement had subsided, I began to tell him that
I knew nothing about what Junot had told him; that if even such rumors,
which often were circulated only by slander, had reached me, and if I
had thought it my duty to communicate them to him, I should certainly
not have chosen the moment when he was six hundred miles away from
France to do so. I did not hesitate to tell him how blameworthy Junot’s
conduct appeared to me, and how ungenerous it was to accuse a woman
thoughtlessly, when she was not present to justify or to defend herself;
I told him that it was no proof of affection for Junot to add domestic
troubles to the grave anxieties which already overburdened him.
Notwithstanding my observations, to which, however, he listened with
composure, the word ‘separation’ fell often from his lips, and one must
understand to what a pitch the excitement of his feelings could carry
him, to be able to imagine how Bonaparte appeared during this painful
scene. I did not, however, give up the point; I came back to what I had
said. I reminded him with what carelessness men received and circulated
such reckless stories, suited only to the idle curiosity of gossips, and
unworthy the attention of strong minds. I spoke to him of his fame: ‘My
fame?’ cried he, ‘ah, I know not what I would give if what Junot has
told me is not true--so much do I love this woman ... if Josephine
is guilty, I must be divorced from her forever. ... I will not be
the ridicule of the idle babblers of Paris! I must write to Joseph to
procure this separation.’

“Though he was still much excited, yet he was somewhat more quiet. I
took advantage of a moment’s pause to combat this idea of separation
which seemed to overrule him. I called his attention to the
unreasonableness it would be, on such vague and probably false rumors,
to write to his brother. ‘If you send a letter,’ said I, ‘it will
bear the impress of the excitement which has dictated it; as regards
a separation, it will be time, after mature consideration, to speak of

“These last words made an impression on him which I had not expected so
soon to see; he became perfectly calm, and listened to me as if he
felt the need of receiving words of encouragement, and after this
conversation he never again alluded to the subject. Fourteen days after,
before Acre, he manifested to me the most violent displeasure against
Junot, complained of the sufferings which such indiscreet revelations
had caused him, and which he now considered as purely an invention
of malice. I afterward noticed that he did not forgive Junot this
stupidity. It is easy to understand why Josephine, when she learned from
Napoleon this conduct of Junot, never could feel for him a very warm
interest, or intercede in his favor.” [Footnote: Bourrienne, “Memoires,”
 vol. ii., p. 212.]

It will be seen that the very sensitive heart of Bonaparte had again
been kindled into jealousy, as it so often had happened before in Italy.
Absence--a momentary separation--was enough to enkindle these flames. We
have seen in the letters which Bonaparte wrote to Josephine during the
Italian campaign, how her silence--the least delay in her answering
his letters--was enough for him to incriminate her, on account of his
jealous affections; how, because she does not constantly write, he
threatens to rush in some night unexpectedly, and with the rage of
jealousy force the doors open, and murder “the young lover of eighteen,
and curse Josephine because he must love her without bounds.”

Now he swears to root out this detestable race of seducers and blondins
who have beguiled from him the heart of his Josephine. Full of passion
and jealousy, he believes in the calumnies which Junot, with all the
cruel inconsiderateness of a trusty friend, has whispered to him, and at
once Josephine is guilty! She has had a love-correspondence with Charles
Botot, the blond private secretary of Barras, for Charles Botot comes
sometimes to Malmaison, and has often been seen near Josephine and her
daughter Hortense in her loge! But by degrees comes reflection, and a
fortnight after he believes that malice alone can have invented these
calumnies. This noble conviction, however, was soon to be shaken by the
enemy, for Josephine had enemies quite near Bonaparte, who longed to
draw away from her a husband’s heart and to drive him into a divorce.

First of all there were the whole family of Bonaparte, who had seen with
unwillingness Napoleon’s marriage, for he was thereby much less under
their influence, and they had wished that he would at all events have
married Desiree Clary, the sister of Joseph’s wife, and thus have been
more closely united to the family.

But, while he was in Egypt, another powerful enemy had been added to
these. This was a young and beautiful woman, Madame Foures, the beloved
of the ardent general.

While Bonaparte, with all the madness of jealousy at a mere groundless
calumny, which had come across the sea distorted and magnified,
wished to be divorced from Josephine; while he complained of woman’s
faithlessness, frivolity, and inconstancy; while he cursed all women as
coquettes, he himself was guilty of faithlessness. Forgetting his vows
and his protestations of love for his wife, he had abandoned himself to
a new affection without any regard to public opinion, and even made no
secret of his intrigues.

Unfortunate Josephine! The fears she had anticipated and dreaded before
accepting Bonaparte’s proffered hand were too soon to be realized. His
heart began to grow cold while her love increased every day with deeper
intensity; he had perchance already read in her amiable countenance the
first signs of age, and he thought it might well be allowed to the young
general not to maintain so strict a fealty to that faithfulness which he
claimed from her.

But Bonaparte still loved Josephine, although he was unfaithful to her.
Surely this new love might well bear the guilt of the credulousness with
which he judged Josephine, and the word of separation might thus easily
come upon his lips, because the newly-loved one, amid the vows of her
affection, might have whispered it in his ear.

Madame Foures had an immense advantage over Josephine; she was barely
twenty years old, was bewitchingly beautiful, was a coquette, and--she
was there in Bonaparte’s immediate presence, while the Mediterranean
separated him from Josephine.

Bonaparte abandoned himself to this new love with all his passionate
nature. Not only did the whole army in Egypt know this, but his foes
also became acquainted with it; and Sir Sidney Smith made use of this
fact to attack his enemy in a way little known to the annals of warfare.
Bonaparte had removed from the Egyptian army Madame Foures’ injured
husband, who held there the rank of a cavalry officer, by sending him
with a message to the Directory. But the vessel in which he had sailed
for France was captured by the English, and Admiral Sidney Smith
undertook, with all the careless, open manner of an Englishman, to make
him fully acquainted with the relations existing between his wife and
General Bonaparte.

He then gave to M. Foures, who was beside himself with anger and wrath,
and who threatened bloody vengeance, his freedom, and exhibited his
good-will toward him so far as to have him landed near Cairo, where
Bonaparte then was with his beautiful mistress.

Enraged with jealousy, M. Foures rushed to his wife, to make to her the
most violent demonstrations. Perhaps too weak to part with an adored,
beautiful wife, he simply ordered her to return with him to France.

But Madame Foures made resistance. She called her mighty lover to her
help; she claimed a separation; and the war-commissioner Duprat, who
in the army was invested with the functions of a civil magistrate,
pronounced, at the request of Madame Foures and at the order of
Bonaparte, the decree of separation.

Madame Foures was free, but this did not satisfy the secret wishes of
her heart. The most important point was, that Bonaparte should be free
also, that he also should desire to be divorced. Josephine must be
removed from him and thrust aside, so that the beautiful Pauline Foures
might take her place.

No means, either of coquetry, tears, flatteries, or promises of enduring
love, remained untried to induce Bonaparte to take the decisive step.
Sometimes Pauline would pout; sometimes her eyes shed the tears of
repentance over her own faithlessness, and she vowed she would take
refuge in a cloister if Bonaparte would not restore her to honor by
exalting her to the position of being his wife; sometimes she sought by
her cheerful humor, her genial abandonment, to bind him to her, to amuse
him; and sometimes, when dressed as a general, on a fiery horse, and
surrounded by a vast number of adjutants, she would ride up to him and
win by her smiles and flatteries friends, who calumniated Josephine,
and represented to him the necessity of a separation from his inconstant

But, notwithstanding all the calumnies, and all the deceiving arts of
his beloved, there existed in Bonaparte’s heart something which spoke
in favor of the poor, slandered, and forgotten Josephine; and, amid
the exciting pleasures of his new passion, he remembered with longing,
sorrowful heart the charming, gracious woman whom he once had tenderly
loved, and whom he still so loved that he could not sacrifice her to
his beautiful mistress. Still he persevered in showing to the latter the
deepest, most tender, and undivided attention; and when the chances of
war kept him away from her for a long time, when he went to Syria and
left her in Cairo, Bonaparte wrote to her every day the most touching
letters, which were forwarded by a special courier.

This was occurring at the same time that Josephine in Paris was hoping
in vain with painful longing for letters from her husband, and was
watching over his interests with the kindest attention, while his
enemies were spreading news of his death.

Bonaparte had now no time to write to his wife, for the beautiful
Pauline Foures laid claim to the little leisure which remained to the
commanding general, and to her he addressed warm and glowing words of
love, such as while in Italy he had addressed to Josephine when he swore
to her never to love another woman.

Meanwhile Fate rendered fruitless all the efforts of the beautiful
Madame Foures to draw Bonaparte into a separation; Fate came to
Josephine’s rescue, and, strange to say, it came in the shape of the
Frankfort Journal.

The victorious battle of Aboukir, which Bonaparte, on the 25th of July,
1799, had with his army won over the enemy, gave occasion to parleying
negotiations between the French commander-in-chief and the English
admiral, Sidney Smith. Bonaparte sent a commissioner on board the
English flag-ship, and Sir Sidney Smith was cunning enough to send
through this commissioner to the French general a few newspapers
recently received from Europe. For ten months the French army and
Bonaparte were without news from France, and this present of the English
admiral was received by Bonaparte and his generals with the deepest joy
and curiosity.

Among these papers was a copy of the Journal de Frankfort of the 10th of
June, 1799. This was the first newspaper which furnished Bonaparte with
news from France for ten long months, and the natural consequence was
that he glanced over it with the most inquisitive impatience. Suddenly
he uttered a cry; the pallor of death overspread his face, and, fixing
his flaming eyes on Bourrienne, who at this moment was alone with
him--“My presentiments have not deceived me,” exclaimed Bonaparte.
“Italy is lost! The wretched creatures! All the results of our
victories have vanished! I must go to France at once--this very moment!”
 [Footnote: Bourrienne, “Memoires,” vol. ii., p. 305.]

This newspaper informed Bonaparte of the late events in France. It told
him that the French Directory had experienced a change, that only one of
them, Barras, had remained in it, and that four new directors--Sieyes,
Grohier, Moulins, and Ducos--were now its members. It told him much
more--that the French army in Italy had suffered the most disastrous
reverses; that all Italy had been reconquered by the combined armies of
Russia and Austria under Suwarrow and the Archduke Charles, who were
now advancing upon France, which was on every side surrounded by the
revengeful enemies of the republic.

No sooner had Bonaparte read this news than his decision was taken.
Berthier was called into his tent, and under the seal of silence
Bonaparte communicated to him his unwavering resolution of going
immediately to France, but that this was to remain a secret to his
whole army as well as all the generals. Berthier, Gautheaume, Eugene
Beauharnais, Monge, and Bourrienne, were alone to accompany him, but the
last two were not to be made acquainted with their departure for Europe
before they had left Cairo with Bonaparte. As he noticed gleams of joy
in Berthier’s face at the news of returning to France, Bonaparte once
more impressed upon him the duty of preserving silence and not to betray
the secret by word or deed, and to do nothing which might induce friends
or acquaintances to believe that a voyage was contemplated. The secret
was indeed faithfully kept, and the few confidants intrusted with it
took great care to divulge nothing, for fear he might punish them by
leaving them in Egypt.

Bonaparte himself maintained the most absolute secrecy; neither his
beloved, the beautiful Pauline Foures, nor General Kleber, whom he had
chosen to be his successor in the chief command of the army of Egypt,
suspected any thing.

To his beloved, Bonaparte said he was leaving Cairo for the sake of
making a tour through the Delta, and that in a few weeks he would be
with her again. The news he had received from Europe had suddenly cooled
the glow of his passion, and, at the thought of returning to France,
rose up again before his mind the image of Josephine in all her grace
and loveliness. For a long time, while she was not at his side, he had
been unfaithful to her, but he did not wish, for his own sake, to add
scandal to faithlessness. He did not wish to bring to France with him,
as sole booty from Egypt, a mistress.

Pauline Foures, therefore, suspected as little of his plans as General
Kleber. It was only after Bonaparte, with his small suite of five
confidants and the Mameluke Roustan, had embarked at Alexandria, that
Pauline learned that he had deserted--that he had abandoned her. In
a short note which his master of the stall, Vigogne, handed to her,
Bonaparte took leave of her, and made her a present of every thing he
left behind in Cairo, including the house he occupied, with all its
costly and luxurious furniture. [Footnote: The departure of Bonaparte
made Madame Foures comfortless, and she now watched for an opportunity
to hasten back to him in France. Touched by her tears and prayers,
Junot furnished her with an opportunity, and Pauline reached Paris in
November, 1799. But Bonaparte would no longer see her; he now sacrificed
the mistress to the wife, as he had nearly sacrificed the wife to the
mistress. Pauline received orders to leave Paris immediately; at the
same time Bonaparte sent her a large sum of money, which he afterward
repeated.--See Saint Elsne, “Les Amours et Galanteries des Rois de
France,” vol. ii., p. 320.]

General Kleber learned Bonaparte’s departure, only through the orders
sent to him by the latter to assume the chief command of the army; his
troops learned his absence by the order of the day, in which Bonaparte
bade them farewell.

After four weeks of a long voyage against tempestuous and contrary
winds, the two frigates, upon one of which Bonaparte and Eugene and his
other followers had embarked, touched at Ajaccio. The whole population
had no sooner learned that Bonaparte was in the harbor, than they rushed
out to see him, and to salute him with enthusiastic demonstrations;
and it was in vain that their attention was drawn to the fact that both
frigates had come directly from Egypt, and had to observe quarantine
before any communication with the population could be allowed.

“Pestilence sooner than the Austrians!” shouted the people, and hundreds
and hundreds of boats surrounded the French vessels. Every one wanted
to see the general, their famous countryman, Bonaparte. But Bonaparte’s
heart was sorrowful amid the general rejoicing, for in Ajaccio he had
learned of the great battle of Novi, where the Austrians had gained the
victory, and which had cost General Joubert’s life.

“It is too great an evil,” said he, with a sigh; “there is no help for
it.” But as he gave up Italy, all his thoughts were more strongly bent
upon Paris, and his desire to be there as soon as possible increased
more and more.

After a short stay in Ajaccio, the voyage to France, despite all
quarantine regulations, was continued, and the star of fortune, which
had hitherto protected him, still guided Bonaparte safely into the
harbor of Frejus, though the English fleet had watched and pursued the
French vessels. A courier was at once dispatched to the Directory in
Paris to announce the arrival of Bonaparte, and that he would, without
any delay, come to Paris.

Josephine was at a dinner at Gohier’s, one of the five directors, when
this courier arrived, and with a shout of joy she received the news of
her husband’s coming. Her longing was such that she could not wait for
him in Paris, in her house of the Rue de la Victoire. She resolved to
meet him, and to be the first to bid him welcome, and to show him her
unutterable love.

No sooner was this resolution taken than it was carried out. She began
her journey with the expectation of meeting her husband at Lyons, for
in his letter to the Directory he stated that he would come by way of
Lyons. In great haste, without rest or delay, Josephine travelled the
road to that city, her heart beating, her luminous eyes gazing onward,
looking with inexpressible expectancy at every approaching carriage, for
it might bring her the husband so long absent from her!

She little suspected that while she was hastening toward Lyons,
Bonaparte had already arrived in Paris. He had changed the plan of
his journey, and, entirely controlled by his impatient desires, he
had driven to Paris by the shortest route. Josephine was not there to
receive him in her house; she was not there to welcome the returning
one--and the old serpent of jealousy and mistrust awoke again within
him. To add to this, his brothers and sisters had seized the occasion to
give vent to their ill-will by suspicions and accusations against their
unwelcome sister-in-law. Bonaparte, full of sad apprehension at her
absence, perhaps secretly wishing to find her guilty, listened to the
whisperings of her enemies.

He therefore did not go to meet Josephine the next day on her return
from her unsuccessful journey. A few hours after, he opened his closed
doors and went to see her. She advanced toward him with looks full of
love and tenderness, and opened her arms to him, and wanted to press him
closely to her heart.

But he coldly held her back, and with deliberate severity and an
expression of the highest indifference, he saluted her, and asked if she
had returned happy and satisfied from her pleasure excursion with her
light-haired friend.

Josephine’s tears gushed forth, and, as if annihilated, she sank down,
but she had not a word of defence or of justification against the cruel
accusation. Her heart had been too deeply wounded, her love too
much insulted, to allow her to defend herself. Her tearful eyes only
responded to Bonaparte’s cruel question, and then in silence she retired
to her apartments.

For three days they did not see each other. Josephine remained in her
rooms and wept. Bonaparte remained in his rooms and complained. To
Bourrienne, who then was not only his private secretary but also his
confidant, he complained bitterly of the faithlessness and inconstancy
of Josephine, of the unheard-of indifference that she should undertake
a pleasure-journey when she knew that he was soon to be in Paris. It
was in vain that Bourrienne assured him that Josephine had undertaken no
pleasure-excursion, that she had left Paris only to meet him, and to
be the first to bid him welcome. He would not believe him, for in the
melancholy gloominess of his jealousy he believed in the slanders which
Josephine’s enemies, and his brothers and sisters, had whispered in his
ear, that Josephine had left Paris for a parti de plaisir with Charles
Botot, the beautiful blondin whom Bonaparte so deeply hated. How
profound his sadness was, may be seen by a letter which at this time he
wrote to his brother Joseph, and in which he says:

“I have a great deal of domestic sorrow ... your friendship to me is
very dear; to become a misanthrope, there was nothing further needed
than to lose her and to be betrayed by you. It is a sad situation indeed
to have in one single heart all these emotions for the same person.

“I will purchase a country residence either near Paris or in Burgundy;
I am thinking of passing the winter there and of shutting myself up;
I feel weary with human nature; I need solitude; I want to be alone;
grandeur oppresses me, my feelings are distorted. Fame appears insipid
at my twenty-nine years; I have tried every thing; nothing remains but
to become an egotist.” [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph.” vol. i., p.

But, according to himself, “he cherished in his heart, at the same
time; all manner of emotions for the same person;” that is, he hated and
detested Josephine, but he also loved and admired her; was angry with
her, and yet longed for her; he found her frivolous and faithless, and
yet something in his heart ever spoke in her favor, and assured him that
she was a noble and faithful being.

Fortunately, there was one who confirmed into full conviction these low
whisperings of his heart; fortunately, Bourrienne ceased not to argue
against this jealousy of Bonaparte, and to assure him again and again
that Josephine was innocent, that she had committed nothing to excite
his anger.

Finally, after three days of complaints and dreary accusations, love
conquered in the heart of Bonaparte. He went to Josephine. She advanced
to meet him with tears in her eyes, but with a soft, tender smile. The
sight of her gracious appearance, her blanched cheeks, moved him, and,
instead of explanations and mutual recriminations, he opened his arms to
her, and she threw herself on his breast with a loud cry of exultation.

Then came the explanations. He now believed that she had left Paris
hurriedly for the sake of meeting him; and, as regarded the dangerous
“blond,” the private secretary of Barras, M. Charles Botot, Josephine
smilingly handed to her husband a letter she had received from him a
few days before. In this letter Charles Botot acknowledged his
long-cherished affection for her daughter Hortense, and he claimed her
hand in due form.

“And you have doubtless accepted his offer?” asked Bonaparte, his face
overcast again. “Since, unfortunately, you are married yourself, and he
cannot be your husband, then of course he must marry the daughter, so
as to be always near the mother. M. Charles Botot is no doubt to be your
son-in-law? You have accepted his hand?”

“No,” said she, softly, “we have refused it, for Hortense does not love
him, and she will follow her mother’s example, and marry only through
love. Besides,” continued Josephine, with a sweet smile, “I wanted him
no longer.”

“You wanted him no longer! How is this?” asked General Bonaparte,

“Barras has sent him his dismissal,” said she, looking at her husband
with an expression of cunning roguery. “M. Botot could no longer, as he
has hitherto been--without, however, being conscious of it--be my spy in
the Directory; I could no longer learn from him what the Directory were
undertaking against my Bonaparte, against the hero whom they envy and
caluminate so much, nor in what new snares they wished to entangle him!
What had I to do with Botot, since he could not furnish me news of the
intrigues of your enemies, nor afford me the chance of counteracting
them? Charles Botot was nothing more to me than a mere lemon, which I
squeezed for your sake; when there was nothing left in it I threw it

“And is such the truth?” asked Bonaparte, eagerly. “This is no invention
to raise my hopes, only to be cast down again?”

Josephine smiled. “I have daily taken notes of what Charles Botot
brought me,” said she, gently; “I always hoped to find a safe
opportunity to send this diary to you in Egypt, that you might be
informed of what the Directory thought, and what was the public opinion,
so that you might take your measures accordingly. But, for the last
eight months, I knew not where you were, and so I have kept my diary:
here it is.”

She gave the diary to Bonaparte, who, with impatient looks, ran over the
pages, and was fully convinced of her devotedness and care. Josephine
had well served his interests, and closely watched over his affairs.
Then, ashamed and repentant, he looked at her, who, in return, smiled at
him with gracious complacency.

“Josephine,” asked he, quietly, “can you forgive me? I have been
foolish, but I swear to you that never again will I mistrust you, I will
believe no one but you. Can you forgive me?”

She embraced him in her arms, and tenderly said: “Love me, Bonaparte; I
well deserve it!”

Peace, therefore, was re-established, and Josephine’s enemies had the
bitter disappointment to see that their efforts had all been in vain;
that again the most perfect unanimity and affection existed between
them; that the cloud which their enmity had conjured up, had brought
forth but a few tear-drops, a few thunderings; and that the love which
Bonaparte carried in his heart for Josephine was not scattered into

The cloud had passed away; the sun of happiness had reappeared; but it
had yet some spots which were never to fade away. The word “separation”
 which Bonaparte, so often in Egypt, and now in Paris, had launched
against Josephine, was to be henceforth the sword of Damocles, ever
suspended over her head: like a dark, shadowy spectre it was to follow
her everywhere; even amid scenes of happiness, joy, and glory, it was
to be there to terrify her by its sinister presence, and by its gloomy
warnings of the past!


Bonaparte’s journey from Frejus to Paris, on his return from Egypt, had
been a continued triumph. All France had applauded him. Everywhere he
had been welcomed as a deliverer and savior; everywhere he had been
hailed as the hope of the future, as the man from whom was to be
expected assistance in distress, the restoration of peace, help, and

For France was alarmed; she stood on the edge of a precipice, from which
only the strong hand of a hero could save her. In the interior, anarchy
prevailed amongst the authorities as well as the people. In La Vendee
civil war raged, with all its sanguinary horrors, and the authorities
endeavored to protect themselves against it by tyrannical laws, by
despotic measures, which threatened both property and freedom. There
existed no security either for person or for property, and a horrible,
fanatical party-spirit penetrated all classes of society. The royalists
had been defeated on the 18th Fructidor, but that very fact had again
given the vantage-ground to the most decided opponents of the royalists,
the red republicans, the terrorists of the past, who now intrigued and
formed plots and counterplots, even as the royalists had done. They
sought to create enmity and bitterness amongst the people, and hoped
to re-establish on the ruins of the present administration the days of
terror and of the guillotine.

These red republicans, ever ready for the struggle, organized themselves
into clubs and “constitutional circles,” where the ruin of the actual
state of things, and the severe and bloody republic of Robespierre,
formed the substance of their harangues; and their numbers were
constantly increased by new members being sworn in.

The ballot in May, 1799, had been in favor of the Directory, and
unfavorable to the moderate party, for only fanatical republicans had
been elected to the Council of Five Hundred.

Against these factions and republican clubs the Directory had to make a
perpetual war: but their power and means failed to give them the victory
in the strife. It was a constant oscillation and vacillation, a
constant compromising and capitulating with all parties--and the natural
consequence was, that these parties, as soon as they had secured the
ear of the Directory, and gained an advantage, strove hard to obtain the
ruling authority. Corruption and mistrust universally prevailed.
Every thing had the appearance of dissolution and disorder. Highwaymen
rendered the roads unsafe; and the authorities, instead of carrying out
the severity of the law, were so corrupt and avaricious as to sell their
silence and indulgence. The upright citizen sighed under the weight
of tyrannical laws from which the thief and the seditious knew how to

The nation, reduced to despair by this arbitrary rule and corruption,
longed for some one to deliver it from this dreadful state of
dissolution; and the enthusiasm which was manifested at the return of
General Bonaparte, was a confession that in him the people foresaw and
recognized a deliverer. Exhausted and wearied, France sought for a man
who would restore to her peace again--who would crush the foes within,
and drive away the enemy from without.

Bonaparte appeared to the people with all the prestige of his former and
recent victories; he had planted the victorious French tricolor upon the
summit of the capitol, and of the pyramids; he had given to France the
most acceptable of presents, “glory;” he had adorned her brow with so
many laurels, that he himself seemed to the people as if radiant with
glory. All felt the need of a hero, of a dictator, to put an end to the
prevailing anarchy and disturbances, and they knew that Bonaparte was
the only one who could achieve this gigantic work.

Bonaparte understood but too well these applauding and welcoming voices
of the people, and his own breast responded favorably to them. The
secret thoughts of his heart were now to be turned into deeds, and the
ambitious dreams of his earlier days were to become realities. All
that he had hitherto wanted was a bridge to throw over the abyss which
separated the republicans, the defenders of liberty, equality, and
fraternity, from rule, power, and dictatorship. Anarchy and exhaustion
laid down this bridge, and on the 18th Brumaire, General Bonaparte, the
hero of “liberal ideas,” passed over it to exalt himself into dictator,
consul, emperor, and tyrant of France.

But the Directory also understood the voices of the applauding people;
they also saw in him the man who had come to deprive them of power and
to assume their authority. This was secretly yet violently discussed by
the Directory, the Council of the Elders, and of the Five Hundred.

One day, at a dinner given to a few friends by the Abbe Sieyes, one of
the members of the Directory, the abbe, Cabanis, and Joseph Bonaparte,
were conversing together, standing on the side of the drawing-room, near
the chimney. It was conceded that undoubtedly a crisis was near at hand,
that the republic had now reached its limit, and that, instead of five
directors, only three would be elected, and that, without any doubt,
Bonaparte would be one of the three.

“Yes,” cried Sieyes, with animation, “I am for General Bonaparte, for of
all military men he is the most civil; but then I know very well what
is in reserve for me: once elected, the general, casting aside his two
colleagues, will do as I do now.” And Sieyes, standing between Canabis
and Joseph, placed his two arms on their shoulders, then, pushing them
with a powerful jerk, he leaped forward and bounded into the middle
of the room, to the great astonishment of his guests, who knew not the
cause of this gymnastic performance of the abbe. [Footnote: “Memoires du
Roi Joseph,” vol. i., p. 77.]

The other directors were also conscious of this movement of Bonaparte,
and they secretly resolved to save themselves by causing his ruin.
Either the Directory or Bonaparte had to fall! One had to perish, that
the other might have the power! In order that the Directory might exist,
Bonaparte must fall.

The Directory had secretly come to this conclusion on Bonaparte’s
return. They were fully aware that a daring act alone could save them,
and they were determined not to shrink from it.

The deed was to take place on the 2d Brumaire. On that day he was to be
arrested, and accused of having premeditated a coup d’etat against the
Directory. Indeed, one M. de Mounier had come to Director Gohier and had
denounced Bonaparte, whom he positively knew was conspiring to destroy
the existing government. Gohier received these accusations with much
gravity, and sent at once for the other directors to hasten to him,
but only one, Moulins, was then in Paris to answer Gohier’s summons. He
came, and after a long conference both directors agreed that the next
day they would have Bonaparte arrested on his return to Paris from
Malmaison, where they knew he was to give a large banquet that day. They
sent for the chief of police, and quietly gave him the order to station
himself the next day with twelve resolute men on the road to Malmaison,
and to arrest Bonaparte as he should drive that evening toward Paris.

On this very day Josephine, who did not wish to be present at the
banquet of gentlemen in Malmaison, had come to Paris to attend a party
at the house of one of her friends. The conversation went on; they
talked and jested, when a gentleman near Josephine told a friend that
some striking event would probably take place that day in Paris, for he
had just now met a friend who held an important office in the police. He
had invited him to go to the theatre, but he declined, stating that he
was to be on duty this evening, as some important affair was about being
transacted--the arrest, as he thought, of some influential personage.

Josephine’s heart trembled with horrible misgivings at these words.
Love’s instinct convinced her that her husband was the one to be
arrested, and she thought within herself that it was Destiny itself
which sent her this intelligence, that she might save her husband from
the fearful blow which awaited him. Thus persuaded, she gathered all her
strength and presence of mind, and determined to act with energy,
and battle against the enemies of her husband. Without betraying the
slightest emotion, or exciting any suspicion that she had heard or
noticed what was said, Josephine rose from her seat with a cheerful
and composed countenance, and pleasantly took leave of the lady of the
house. But once past the threshold of the house, once in her carriage,
her anxious nature woke up again, and she began to act with energy and
resolution. She pulled the string, to give her directions to the driver.
As fast as the horses could speed, he was to drive his mistress to
Colonel Perrin, the commanding officer of the guards of the Directory.
In ten minutes she was there, and knowing well how devoted a guard he
and all his soldiers would be to Bonaparte, she communicated to him her
fears, and requested from him immediate and speedy assistance to remove
the danger.

Colonel Perrin was prepared to enter into her plans, and he promised to
send to Malmaison a company of grenadiers, provided she would, as
soon as possible, have General Murat send him an order to that effect.
Josephine at once went to one of her true, reliable friends, who
belonged to the Council of the Elders, and, making him acquainted with
the danger which threatened her husband, requested him to gather a few
devoted friends, and to attend to the orders which Murat would send

After having made all these preparations, Josephine drove in full gallop
toward Malmaison.

The dinner, to which Bonaparte had invited gentlemen from all classes
of society, was just over, and the guests were scattered, some in the
drawing-rooms, and some in the garden, where Bonaparte was walking up
and down in animated conversation with the secretary, Roger Ducos.

At this moment the carriage of Josephine drove into the yard; and Murat,
who, with a few gentlemen, stood under the porch, hastened to offer his
hand so as to help Josephine to alight. An eye-witness who was present
at this scene relates as follows:

“‘Where is the general?’ asked Josephine, hastily, of General Murat.

“‘I do not know,’ was the answer; ‘he is gone with Roger, but Lucien is

“‘Look at once for the general!’ exclaimed Josephine, breathless, ‘I
must speak to him immediately.’

“I approached her and said that he was in the garden. She ran--she
flew! I placed myself at a window in the first story, from which I could
easily see into the garden-walks. My expectations had not deceived me.

“No sooner did Bonaparte see Josephine approach, than he left Roger
Ducos and hurried to meet her. Both then walked into a path near by. I
could see them well. Josephine spoke with animation; the general walked
on; now and then she held him back. At last they took the path leading
to the castle. I went down to meet them on the steps near the door.

“Madame Bonaparte held her husband by the left hand. Her animated,
expressive features had a bewitching pride and softness; it was a most
delightful admixture of tenderness and heroism. Bonaparte looked around,
pale and grave, but his eyes ever rested with pleasure on his wife. She
refused to enter into the large hall, and retired to her room. Bonaparte
called for Roger, and entered the saloon with him. His guests were
awaiting his arrival, to take their leave. The carriages drove up, and
the gentlemen left Malmaison to return to Paris. Only Lucien and Murat
remained with Bonaparte; Madame Bonaparte joined them as they entered
the vestibule. When she saw Murat, she exclaimed:

“‘How, general, you still here!--Do you not consider,’ continued she,
turning to Bonaparte, ‘that Murat ought to be already in Paris with
Perrin?--Away! quick! to horse, to the Rue Varennes, or I drive thither

“Murat laughed; but four minutes after he was riding at a gallop on
the road to the city. The three others returned to their rooms. I was
curious to know what was the conversation; but as I had nothing more to
do in the castle, I was about leaping on my horse to ride to Paris, when
I saw a detachment of infantry marching toward the castle.

“I thought it my duty to announce them to the general; he sat between
his wife and his brother. ‘How!’ cried he, as he rose up hastily.

“‘What of them?’ answered Madame Bonaparte, smiling. ‘Your company has
left you, now comes mine. It is a rendezvous; but be comforted--they are
not too many.’

“All three walked into the yard, where the troops were placing
themselves in line without the sound of a drum.

“‘You are an extraordinary man, sir,’ said Madame Bonaparte to the
captain. ‘Nearly as soon as I?’

“‘Madame,’ replied the officer, ‘we have been ready for the march these
four hours.’

“The officers followed the general into the drawing-room, and
refreshments were distributed to the soldiers; it was a company of

“At nine o’clock in the evening, a courier arrived, bearing dispatches
to Bonaparte. At once he, his wife, and his brother, drove to Paris.
The grenadiers were ordered to follow immediately and in silence.”
 [Footnote: “Memoires secretes,” vol. i., p. 26.]

These dispatches, which Bonaparte had received from Paris, brought him
the news that this time the danger was over--that the directors had
abandoned their plan. Some fortunate accident may have warned them, even
as Josephine herself had been warned. The spies who everywhere tracked
Josephine, as well as Bonaparte, had carried to Gohier intelligence of
all the strange movements of the wife of Bonaparte, and the director at
once perceived that she was informed of the danger which threatened her
husband, and that she was bent upon preventing it.

But now that the plan of the directors had been unveiled, danger
threatened them in their turn, and they immediately adopted measures to
face this new peril. In place of Bonaparte, they must find some one
whom they could arrest, without withdrawing their orders. They found a
substitute in a wealthy merchant from Hamburg, who now resided in Paris.
Gohier had him arrested, and accused him of having had relations with
the enemies of France.

Bonaparte assumed the appearance of having no doubts as to the sincerity
of Gohier, of suspecting nothing as to his own arrest, which had been
prevented by the timely and energetic action of Josephine. He thanked
her with increased tenderness for her love and faithfulness, and as he
pressed her affectionately to his breast, he swore to her that he would
never again doubt her; that he would, by the most unreserved confidence,
share with her his schemes and designs, and that henceforth he would
look upon her as the good angel who watched over the pathway of his

And Bonaparte kept his word. From this day his Josephine was not only
his wife, but his confidante, his friend, who knew all his plans, and
who could assist him with her advice and her exquisite practical
tact. She it was who brought about a reconciliation with Moreau and
Bernadotte; and by her amiable nature, attractive and dignified
manner, and great social talents, she bound even his friends closer to
Bonaparte; or with a smile, a kind word, some flattering observation, or
some of those little attentions which often-times tell more effectually
with those who receive them than great services, she would often win
over to him his foes and opponents.

“It is known but to few persons,” says the author of the “Memoires
secretes,” “that Bonaparte always consulted his wife in civil matters,
even when they were of the highest importance. This fact is entirely
true, but Bonaparte would have been extremely mortified had he known
that those around him suspected it. Had it been possible for me to
divide my being, with what delight I should have followed this noble
woman! I would relate a few traits of hers if I did not know that M.
D. B., who is much better acquainted with her than I, is to write a
biography. [Footnote: The “Memoires secretes” appeared in 1815. The
biography spoken of by the author is probably that of Madame Ducrest,
and which appeared in 1818.] I know not what were the events of the
first years of Madame de Beauharnais, but if they were like those of her
last fifteen years, we should have the history of a perfect woman. She
has known but little of me, and therefore no interested motive guides
my pen, no other sentiment than that of truth.” [Footnote: “Memoires
secretes,” vol. i., p. 36.]

The 2d Brumaire afforded sufficient reasons for Bonaparte to put into
execution his resolutions. He now knew the enmity of the Directory;
he knew he must cause their downfall if he himself did not wish to
be destroyed by them. He knew that, during his last triumphal journey
through France, he had heard sufficient to convince him that the voice
of the people was for him, that every one longed for a change, that
France was heartily wearied of revolutionary commotions, and above
all things craved for rest and peace; that it wished to lay aside all
political strife, and, like him, preferred to have nothing more to do
with a republican majority.

“Every one desires a more central government,” said Napoleon to his
brother Joseph. “Our dreams of a republic are the illusions of youth.
Since the 9th Thermidor the republican party has dwindled away more and
more; the efforts of the Bourbons and the foreigners, coupled with the
memories of ‘93, have called forth against the republican system an
imposing majority. If it had not been for the 13th Vendemiaire and the
18th Fructidor, this majority would long ago have won the ascendency;
the weaknesses, the imperiousness of the Directory, have done the rest.
To-day the people are turning their hopes toward me, to-morrow it will
be toward some one else.”

Bonaparte did not wish to wait until to-morrow. He had made all his
preparations; he had made sure of his generals and officers; he knew
also that the soldiers were for him, and that it required but a signal
from him to bring about the catastrophe.

He gave the signal by inviting on the 18th Brumaire, to a dejeuner in
his house, all his confidants and friends, all the generals and superior
officers, and also the commanding general of the National Guards. Nearly
all of them came at this invitation; only General Bernadotte kept aloof,
as he perceived that the breakfast had other objects than to converse
and to eat. Sieyes and Ducos were the only directors who made their
appearance; Gohier, that morning, had sent to Bonaparte an invitation
to dinner, so as to deceive the more securely him whom he knew was his
enemy; Barras and Moulins, suspecting Bonaparte’s schemes, remained in
the background, silently awaiting the result.

While the guests were assembling in Bonaparte’s house, and filling all
the space in it, a friend and confidant of Bonaparte, in the Council of
the Elders, made the following motion: “In consideration of the intense
political excitement which prevails in Paris, it is necessary to remove
the sessions to St. Cloud, and to give to General Bonaparte the supreme
command of the troops.”

After a violent debate, the motion was suddenly adopted; and, when it
was brought to Bonaparte, he saw that the moment for action had come.

He told all those about him that at last the time was at hand to restore
to France rest and peace, that he was decided to do this, and he called
upon them to follow him. Every one was ready, and, surrounded by a
brilliant suite, Bonaparte went first to the Council of the Elders, to
express his thanks for his nomination, and solemnly to swear that he
would adopt every measure necessary to save the country.

Immediately after this he went to the Tuileries to hold a review of the
troops stationed there. The soldiers and the people, who had streamed
thither in masses to see him, received him with loud acclamations,
assuring him of their loyalty and devotedness.

No one this day rose in favor of the deputies, no one seemed to desire
that their sittings should as heretofore take place in Paris, nor to
think that force would have to be used to remove them.

The palace of Luxemburg, in which their sittings had hitherto taken
place, and St. Cloud, in which they were to meet in the future, were
both, by orders of Bonaparte, surrounded with troops, and the deputies
as well as the Council of the Elders adjourned that very day to St.

Moulins and Gohier alone had the courage to offer opposition, and, in
a letter to the Council of the Elders, to describe Bonaparte as a
criminal, who threatened the republic, and to demand of them his arrest;
and also that they should immediately decree that the republic was in
danger, and that it must be defended with all energy. But this letter
fell into Bonaparte’s hands; and the directors, when they saw that their
request was unheeded, resigned, as Barras had done.

The republic now had but two legitimate rulers, Sieyes and Ducos; and at
their side stood Bonaparte, soon to exalt himself above them.

The following day, the 19th Brumaire, was actually the decisive day.
The Five Hundred, who now, like the Council of the Elders, held their
deliberations in St. Cloud, were discussing under great excitement the
abdication of the Directory and the necessity of a new election. The
debates were so vehement and so full of passion that the president,
Lucien Bonaparte, could not command order. A wild uproar arose, and at
this moment Napoleon entered the hall. Every one rushed at him with wild
frenzy; and the most violent recriminations were launched at him. “He
is a traitor!” they cried out. “He is a Cromwell, who wants to seize
the sovereign power!” What Bonaparte had never experienced on the
battle-field, in the thickest of the fight, he now felt. He became
bewildered by this violent strife of words, by this hailstorm of
accusations which whizzed around his ears. He tried to speak; he
tried to address the audience, but he could not--he could merely
give utterance to a few broken sentences; he made charges against the
Directory, with assurances of his own loyalty and devotedness, which
the audience received with loud murmurs, and then with wild shouts.
Bonaparte became more embarrassed and bewildered. Suddenly turning
toward the door of the hall, he exclaimed, “Who loves me, let him follow
me!” and he walked out hastily.

The soldiers outside received him with great cheers, and this brought
back Bonaparte’s presence of mind. “General,” whispered Augereau, as
they mounted their horses, “you are in a critical position.”

“Think of Arcola,” replied Bonaparte, calmly. “There the position seemed
still more critical. Have patience for half an hour, and you will see
how things change.”

Bonaparte made good use of this half hour. At its expiration he
re-entered the hall of deliberation of the Five Hundred, surrounded by
his officers, at the very moment when, on a motion of a member, they
were renewing their oaths to the constitution. Again they received
him with shouts: “Down with the tyrant!--down with the dictator! The
sanctity of the law is violated! Death to the tyrant who brings soldiers
here to do us violence!”

One of the deputies rushed upon Bonaparte and seized him, but at that
instant the grenadiers also entered the room, delivered their general,
and carried him in triumph out of the hall.

After his departure, the waves of wrath and political frenzy rose higher
and higher. Shouts and imprecations filled the room with confusion;
reproaches fell on all sides upon the president, Lucien Bonaparte, for
not having immediately ordered the arrest of the traitor, who by his
appearance, as well as by his armed escort, had insulted the assembly.
When Lucien endeavored to defend Napoleon’s conduct, he was interrupted
by the cries: “He is a stain on the republic! He has tarnished his
reputation!” Louder and wilder rose the cry to declare Napoleon an
outlaw. [Footnote: “Memoires du Roi Joseph.”]

Lucien refused, and, as they urged their demand with increasing
violence, he left the presidential chair, and with deep emotion put
off the insignia of his office--his mantle and his sash--and was at the
point of making for himself an outlet through the wild crowd pressing
in frenzy around him, when the doors opened, and a company of grenadiers
rushed in, who by main force carried him away out of the hall.

Lucien, whom Napoleon awaited outside with his troops, immediately
mounted his horse, and in this moment of deepest danger kept his
presence of mind, being fully aware that he must now be decided to save
himself and his brother or perish with him. He turned to the troops, and
ordered them to protect the president of the Five Hundred, to defend the
constitution attacked by a few fanatics, and to obey General Bonaparte,
who was empowered by the Council of the Elders to arrest the seditious,
and to protect the republic and its laws.

The soldiers answered him with the acclamation, “Long live Bonaparte!”
 But a certain shudder was visible. A few warning voices were lifted
up; they thought it strange that weapons should be directed against the
representatives of the country.

By a dramatic action Lucien brought the matter to a close, though it
was at the time meant by him in all sincerity. He drew his sword, and,
directing its point toward Napoleon’s breast, he exclaimed: “I swear
to pierce even my brother’s heart if he ever dares touch the liberty of

These words had an electric effect; every one felt inspired, lifted up,
and swore to obey Bonaparte, and to remain loyal to him even unto death.
At a sign from Napoleon, Murat, with his grenadiers, dashed into the
hall and drove away the assembly of the Five Hundred. At ten o’clock
that evening St. Cloud was vacant; only a few deputies, like homeless
night-birds, wandered around the palace out of which they had been so
violently ejected.

In the interior of St. Cloud, Bonaparte was busy preparing for the
people of Paris a proclamation, in which he justified his deed, and
repeated the sacred assurance “that he would protect liberty and the
republic against all her enemies at home as well as abroad.” When this
was done, it was necessary to think of giving to the French people a new
government, instead of the one which had been broken up. Napoleon had
been in conference until the dawn of day with Talleyrand, Roderer, and
Sieyes. Meanwhile Lucien had gathered around him in a room the members
of the Five Hundred who were devoted to him, and had resumed the
presidential chair; Napoleon’s friends among the members of the Council
of the Elders also gathered together, and both assemblies issued a
decree, in which they declared there was no longer a Directory, and in
which they excluded from the assembly as rebellious and factious a
vast number of deputies. And more, they decreed the nomination of a
provisional commission, and decided that it should consist of three
members, who should bear the title of Consuls of the Republic, and they
appointed as consuls Sieyes, Ducos, and Bonaparte.

At three o’clock in the morning every thing was ready, and Napoleon,
accompanied by Bourrienne, went to Paris. He had reached his goal; he
was at the head of the administration, but his countenance betrayed no
joyous excitement; he was taciturn and pensive, and during the whole
journey to Paris he spoke not a word, but quietly leaned in a corner
of the carriage. Perhaps he dreamed of a great and brilliant future;
perhaps he was busy with the thought how he could ascend higher on this
ladder to a throne, whose first step he had now ascended, since he had
exalted himself into a consul of the republic.

Not till he arrived at his residence in the Rue de la Victoire did
Bonaparte’s cheerfulness return, when, with countenance beaming
with joy, and followed by Bourrienne, he hastened to Josephine, who,
exhausted by anxiety and care during this day full of danger, had
finally gone to rest. Near her bed Bonaparte sank into an arm-chair,
and, gazing at her and seizing her hand, he turned smilingly to

“Is it not true,” said he--“I said many foolish things?”

“Well, yes, general, that cannot be denied,” replied Bourrienne,
shrugging his shoulders, while Josephine broke out into loud, joyous

“I would sooner speak to soldiers than to lawyers,” said Bonaparte,
cheerfully. “These honorable fools made me timid. I am not accustomed to
speak to an audience--but that will come in time.”

With affectionate sympathy Josephine requested him to relate in detail
all the events of the day; and she listened with breathless attention to
the descriptions which Bonaparte made in his own terse, brief, and lucid

“And Gohier?” said she, at last--“you know I love his wife, and when you
were in Egypt he was ever kind and attentive to me. You will not touch
him, will you, mon ami?”

Bonaparte shrugged his shoulders. “What of it, my love?” said he; “it is
not my fault if he is pushed aside. Why has he not wished it otherwise?
He is a good-natured man, but a blockhead. He does not understand me....
I would do much better to have him transported. He wrote against me to
the Council of the Elders, but his letter fell into my hands, and the
council has heard nothing of it. The unfortunate man!... Yesterday he
expected me to dinner.... And that is called statesmanship.... Let us
speak no more of this matter.” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--See
Bourrienne, vol. iii., p. 106.]

Then he began to relate to his Josephine how Bernadotte had acted,
refusing to take any part in the events of the day, and how, when
Bonaparte had requested him at least to undertake nothing against him,
he answered: “As a citizen, I will keep quiet; but if the Directory
gives me the order to act, I will fight against every disturber of the
peace and every conspirator, whoever he may be.”

Bonaparte then suddenly turned to Bourrienne to dismiss him, that he
might himself take some rest; and when he extended his hand to bid him
farewell, he added, carelessly:

“Apropos, to-morrow we sleep in the Luxemburg.” It was decided!--the
long-premeditated deed was done! With the 18th Brumaire, Bonaparte had
made an important step forward on the path of fame and power whose end
was seen by him alone.

Bonaparte was no longer a general receiving orders from a superior
authority; he was no longer the servant of the Directory; but he was now
the one who would give orders--he was the master and ruler; he stood at
the head of the French nation; he made the laws, and his deep, clear eye
looked far beyond both consuls who stood at his side, into that future
when he alone would be at the head of France; when, instead of the
uprooted throne of the lilies, he would sit in the Tuileries, in the
chair of the First Consul, this chair of a Caesar, which could so easily
become an emperor’s throne!

On the 20th Brumaire, Napoleon occupied the residence of the Directory
in the palace of the Luxemburg, after he had, through his brother Louis,
made Gohier prisoner, the only one of the directors who still lingered
there, and whom he afterward released. Josephine’s intercession procured
the liberty of the husband of her friend, and this generous pardon
of the furious letter which Gohier had written against him was the
thank-offering which Bonaparte presented to the gods as he made his
entrance into the Luxemburg.

The Luxemburg itself was, however, but a relay for a change of horses
in the wondrous journey which Bonaparte had to travel from the lawyer’s
house on the island of Corsica to the throne-room of the Bourbons in the
palace of the Tuileries.

In simple equipage, he with Josephine made his entrance into the
Luxemburg, but after the rest of a few weeks he left this station, to
make his entrance into the Tuileries in a magnificent carriage, drawn
by the six splendid grays which the Emperor of Austria had presented to
General Bonaparte in Campo Formio. For already another change had taken
place in the government of France, and the trefoil-leaf of the consuls
had assumed another form.

The two consuls, who had stood at the side of Bonaparte, invested with
equal powers, had been set aside by the new constitution of the year
VIII., which the people had adopted on the 17th of February, 1800 (18th
Pluviose, year VIII.). This constitution named Bonaparte as consul for
ten years, and with him two other consuls, who were more his secretaries
than his colleagues. Next to him was Cambaceres, as second consul for
ten years, and then Lebrun, as third consul for five years.

With these two consuls, Bonaparte, on the 19th of February, 1800, made
his solemn entry into the Tuileries. The old century, with its Bourbon
throne, its bloody revolution, its horrors, its party passions, had
passed away, and the new century found in the Tuileries a hero who
wanted to crush all parties with a hand of iron, and to place his foot
on the head of the revolution, so as to close the abyss which it had
opened, in order to build himself an emperor’s throne over it.

He was for the present satisfied to hear himself called “First Consul;”
 he was willing for a short time to grant to the two men who sat at his
side in the carriage drawn by the six imperial grays, that they should
share the power with him, and should consider themselves vested with the
same authority. But Cambaceres and Lebrun had a keen ear for the joyful
shouts with which the people followed their triumphal march from the
Luxemburg to the Tuileries. They knew very well that these shouts and
acclamations were not addressed to them, but only to General Bonaparte,
the conqueror of Lodi and Arcola, the hero of the pyramids, the “savior
of society,” who, on the 18th Brumaire, had rescued France from the
terrorists. Both consuls were shrewd enough to draw a lesson from this
enthusiasm of the people, and willingly to fall back into the shade
rather than to be forced into it. The Tuileries had been appointed
for the residence of the three consuls, but the next day after their
triumphal entry Cambaceres left the royal palace to take up his abode in
the Hotel Elboeuf, on the Place de Carrousel. Lebrun, who at first made
the Flora Pavilion his headquarters, soon found it more advisable to
take his lodgings elsewhere, and he left the Tuileries, to make his
residence in the Faubourg St. Honore.


The Tuileries had again found a master; the halls where Marie Antoinette
received her joyous guests, her beautiful lady-friends, were now again
alive with elegant female figures, and resounded with gay voices,
cheerful laughter, and unaffected pleasantry. The apartments in which
Louis XVI. had passed such sad and fearful days, where he had laid with
his ministers such nefarious schemes, and where royalty had been trodden
down under the feet of the infuriated populace--these rooms were now
occupied by the hero who had subdued the people, slain the revolution
and restored to France peace and glory.

The Tuileries had again found a master--the throne-room was still vacant
and empty, for the first consul of the republic dared not yet lay
claim to this throne which the revolution had destroyed, and which the
republic had forever removed from France. But if there was no throne
in the Tuileries, there was at least a court; and “Madame Etiquette,”
 driven away from the royal palace since the days of the unfortunate
Marie Antoinette, had again, though with modest and timid step, slipped
into the Tuileries. It is true, she now clandestinely occupied a
servant’s room; but the day was not far distant when, as Egeria,
she would whisper advice and dictate laws to the ear of the new Numa
Pompilius; when all doors would be open to her, and when she alone
would, at all times, have access to the mighty lord of France.

In the Luxemburg, the fraternity and the equality of the revolution had
been set aside, as, long before, on the 13th Vendemiaire, the liberty
of the revolution had been cast away. In the Luxemburg the “citoyenne”
 Bonaparte had become “Madame” Bonaparte, and the young daughter of the
citizeness Josephine heard herself called “Mademoiselle” Hortense!

After the entrance into the Tuileries, fraternity and equality
disappeared rapidly, and the distinctions of gentlemen and servants,
rulers and subjects, superiors and subordinates, were again introduced.
The chief of the administration was surrounded with honors and
distinctions; the court, with all its grades, degrees, and titles, was
there; it had its courtiers, flatterers, and defamers; and also its
brilliant festivities, splendors, and pomp!

It is true this was not the work of a moment, nor so rapid an
achievement as the transition from the Luxemburg to the Tuileries, but
the introduction of the words “madame” and “monsieur” removed the first
obstacle which held the whole French nation bound to the same platform;
and a second obstacle had fallen, when permission was granted to all
the emigres, with the exception of the royal family, to return to their
native country.

The aristocrats of old France returned in vast numbers; they, the
bearers of old names of glory, the legitimists, who had fled before the
guillotine, now hoped to win again the throne from the consulate.

They kept themselves, however, aloof from the consul, whose greatness
and power were derived from the revolution, and who was to them a
representative of the rebellious, criminal republic; but they presented
themselves to his wife, they brought their homage to Josephine, the born
aristocrat, the relative and friend of so many emigrant families, and
they hoped, through her influence, to obtain what they dared not
ask from the first consul--the re-establishment of the throne of the

These aristocrats knew very well that Josephine longed for the return
of the royal family; that in her heart she cherished love and loyalty to
the unfortunate royal couple; and that, without any personal ambition,
without any desire for fame, but with the devotedness of a royalist, and
the affection of a noble, sensitive woman, she sighed for the time when
Bonaparte would again restore to the heir of Louis XVI. the throne of
the lilies, and recall to France the Count de Lille, to replace him as
king on his brother’s throne.

In fact, Josephine had faith in this fairy-tale of her royal heart; she
believed in those dreams with which her tender conscience lulled her
to repose, whenever she reproached herself, that she, the subject, now
walked and gave orders as mistress in this palace of royalty! “Why,
indeed, could she not believe in the realization of those dreams, since
Bonaparte himself seemed to cherish no further wishes than to rest on
his laurels, and to enjoy, in delightful privacy, the peace he had given
to France?

“I am looked upon as ambitious,” said Bonaparte one day, in the
confidential evening conversations with his friends in Josephine’s
drawing-rooms, “I am looked upon as ambitious, and why? Listen, my
friends, to what I am going to tell you, and which you may repeat to
all. In three years I shall retire from public life; I shall then have
about fifty thousand livres income, and that is sufficient for my mode
of living. I will get a country residence, since Josephine loves a
country life. One thing only I need, and this I claim--I want to be the
justice of the peace for my circuit. Now, say, am I ambitious?”

Every one laughed at the strange conceit of Bonaparte, who wished to
exchange his present course for the position of a justice of the peace,
and Bonaparte chimed in heartily with the laughter.

But Josephine believed those words of Bonaparte, and their echoes had
perchance penetrated even to Russia, to the ears of the pretender to
the French throne, the Count de Lille, and to the ears of the Count
d’Artois, his brother, and they both therefore based their hopes on
Josephine’s winning her husband to the cause of the Bourbons.

Both sent their secret emissaries to Paris, to enter into some compact
with Josephine, and to prepare their pathway to the throne, after having
failed to negotiate directly with Bonaparte, who had repelled all their
efforts, and with haughty pride had answered the autograph letter of the
Count de Lille.

The Count d’Artois, enlightened by the fruitless efforts of his brother,
resorted to another scheme. He sent a female emissary to Paris--not
to Bonaparte, but to Josephine. Napoleon himself speaks of it, in his
Memorial of St. Helena, as follows:

“The Count d’Artois made his advances in a more eloquent and refined
manner. He sent to Paris the Duchess de Guiche, a charming woman, who
by the elegance of her manners and by her personal attractions was well
calculated to bring to a favorable result the object of her mission. She
easily obtained an introduction to Madame Bonaparte, who was acquainted
with all the persons of the old court. The beautiful duchess was
therefore invited to a dejeuner at Malmaison; and during breakfast, when
the conversation ran upon London, the emigrants, and the princes, Madame
de Guiche stated that a few days before she had called upon the Count
d’Artois. They had spoken of current events, of the future of France,
of the royal family, and one of the confidants had asked the prince
what would be the reward of the first consul if he re-established
the Bourbons! The prince answered: ‘First of all he would be created
connetable, with all the privileges attached to that rank, if that were
agreeable to him. But that would not be enough; we would erect to him
on the Place de Carrousel a tall and costly column, and on it we would
raise the statue of Bonaparte crowning the Bourbons.’ A short time after
the dejeuner the consul entered, and Josephine had nothing more pressing
to do than to relate to him all these details. ‘And have you inquired,’
asked her husband, ‘whether this column would have for a pedestal the
corpse of the first consul?’ The beautiful duchess was still present,
and with her winning ways she was well calculated to carry her point. ‘I
shall ever be happy,’ said she, ‘and grateful for the kindness of
Madame Bonaparte in having granted me the opportunity of gazing upon and
listening to a great man--a hero.’ But it was all in vain; the Duchess
de Guiche the same night received orders to depart immediately; and
the beauty of this emissary appeared to Josephine too dangerous for her
urgently to intercede in her behalf. Early next morning Madame de Guiche
was on her way to the frontier.” [Footnote: “Memorial de Ste. Helene,”
 vol. i., p. 34.]

The Count de Lille chose for his mediator a very devoted servant, the
most skilful of all his agents, the Marquis de Clermont Gallerande. He
also was kindly received by Josephine, and he found access to her ear.
With intense sympathy, and tears in her eyes, she bade him tell her
the sad wanderings of that unfortunate man, “his majesty the King of
France,” and who as a fugitive was barely tolerated, roaming from court
to court, a protege of the good-will of foreign potentates. Drawn away
by her generous heart, and by her unswerving loyalty to the faith of her
childhood, she spoke enthusiastically of the young royal couple who once
had ruled in the Tuileries; and she went so far as to express the hope
that Bonaparte would again make good what the revolution had destroyed,
and that he would restore to the King of France his lost throne.

The Marquis de Clermont, to prove to her what confidence he reposed in
her, and what consideration the King of France entertained for the first
consul and his adored wife, communicated to her a letter from the Count
de Lille to him, which was in itself a masterpiece, well calculated to
move the heart of Josephine.

The Count de Lille portrayed in this letter first the dangers which
would threaten Bonaparte if he should allow himself to be drawn into the
inconsiderate and criminal step of placing the crown of France on his
own head, and then continued:

“Sitting upon a volcano, Bonaparte would sooner or later be destroyed by
it if he hastens not in due time to close the crater. Sitting upon
the first step of the throne restored by his own hand, he would be
the object of a monarch’s gratitude; he would receive from France the
highest regards, the more pure since they would be the result of his
administration and of public esteem. No one can convince him of these
truths better than she whose fortune is bound up with his, who can
be happy only in his happiness and honored only in his reputation. I
consider it a great point gained if you can come into some relation
with her. I know her sentiments from days of old. The Count de Vermeuil,
ex-governor of the Antilles, whose judgment as you know is most
excellent, has told me more than once that in Martinique he had often
noticed how her fealty to the crown deepened nearly to distraction; and
the protection which she grants to my faithful subjects who appeal
to her, entitles her justly to the name you give her, ‘an angel of
goodness.’ Let my sentiments be known to Madame Bonaparte. You will not
surprise her, but I flatter myself that her soul will rejoice to know
them.” [Footnote: Thibaudeau, “Histoire de la France, et de Napoleon
Bonaparte,” vol. ii., p. 202.]

The Count de Lille was not deceived. Josephine’s heart was filled with
joy at this confidence of the “King of France;” she was pleased that the
Marquis de Clermont had fulfilled his wishes, and that he should with
this letter have sent her a present. She read it with a countenance full
of enthusiasm, and with a tremulous voice, to her daughter Hortense,
whom she had educated to be as good a royalist as herself; and both
mother and daughter besieged, with earnest petitions, with tears and
prayers, and every expression of love, the first consul to realize the
hopes of the Count de Lille, and to recall the exiled prince to his

Bonaparte usually replied to all these requests with a silent smile;
sometimes also, when they were too violent and pressing, he repelled
them with unwilling vehemence.

“These women belong entirely to the devil!” said he, in his anger to
Bourrienne, “they are mad for royalty. The Faubourg St. Germain has
turned their heads, they are made the protecting genii of the royalists;
but they do not trouble me, and I am not displeased with them.”

Bourrienne ventured to warn Josephine, and to call her attention to
this, that she might not so strongly plead before Bonaparte for the
Count de Lille, but Josephine answered him with a sad smile: “I wish I
could persuade him to call back the king, lest he himself may have the
idea of becoming such; for the fear that he may do this always awakens
in me a foreboding of evil, which I cannot banish from my mind.”
 [Footnote: Bourrienne, vol. iv., p. 108.]

But until the king was really recalled by the first consul, Josephine
had to be pleased to assume the place of queen in the Tuileries, and to
accept the homage which France and soon all Europe brought to her. For
now that the republic was firmly established, and had made peace with
the foreign powers, they sent their ambassadors to the republic, and
were received in the name of France by the first consul and his wife.

It was indeed an important and significant moment when Josephine for
the first time in her apartments received the ambassadors of the foreign
powers. It is true no one called this “to give audience;” no one spoke
yet in genuine courtier’s style of “great levee” or “little levee;” the
appellation of “madame” was yet in use, and there was no court-marshal,
no maids of honor, no chamberlains of the palace. But the substance was
the same, and, instead of the high court-marshal, it was Talleyrand,
the secretary for foreign affairs, who introduced to Josephine the
ambassadors, and who called their names.

This introduction of the ambassadors was the first grand ceremony which,
since the revolution, had taken place in the Tuileries. With exquisite
tact, Josephine had carefully avoided at this festivity any pomp, any
luxury of toilet. In a plain white muslin dress, her beautiful brown
hair bound up in a string of white pearls, and holding Talleyrand’s
hand, she entered the great reception hall, in which the foreign
ambassadors, the generals, and the high dignitaries of the republic
were gathered. She came without pretension or ostentation, but at her
appearance a murmur of admiration ran through the company, and brought
on her cheeks the timid blush of a young maiden. With the assurance of
an accomplished lady of the world she received the salutations of the
ambassadors, knew how to speak to each a gracious word, how to entertain
them, not with those worn-out, stereotyped phrases customary at royal
presentations, but in an interesting, intellectual manner, which at once
opened the way to an exciting, witty, and unaffected conversation.

Every one was enchanted with her, and from this day not only the French
aristocracy, but all distinguished foreigners who came to Paris, were
anxious to obtain the honor of a reception in the drawing-room of the
wife of the first consul; from this day Josephine was the admiration of
Europe, as she had already been that of France and Italy. As the wife
of the first consul of France she could be observed and noticed by
all Europe, and it is certainly a most remarkable and unheard-of
circumstance that of all these thousands of eyes directed at her, none
could find in her a stain or blemish; that, though neither beautiful nor
young, her sweet disposition and grace so enchanted every one as to be
accepted as substitutes for them, while on account of her goodness
and generosity her very failings and weaknesses were overlooked, being
interwoven with so many virtues.

Constant, the first chamberlain of Bonaparte, who, at the time Bonaparte
was elected first consul, entered his service, describes Josephine’s
appearance and character in the following manner:

“Napoleon’s wife was of medium size; her figure was moulded with rare
perfection; her movements had a softness and an elasticity which gave
to her walk something ethereal, without diminishing the majesty of a
sovereign. Her very expressive physiognomy mirrored all the emotions of
her soul without losing aught of the enchanting gentleness which was the
very substance of her character. At the moment of joy or merriment she
was beautiful to behold. Never did a woman more than she justify the
expression that the eyes were the mirror of the soul. Hers were of a
deep-blue color, shadowed by long, slightly-curved lids, and overarched
by the most beautiful eyebrows in the world, and her simple look
attracted you toward her as if by an irresistible power. It was
difficult for Josephine to give to this bewitching look an appearance of
severity, yet she knew how to make it imposing when she chose. Her hair
was beautiful, long, and soft; its light-brown color agreed marvellously
well with her complexion, which was a mixture of delicacy and freshness.
At the dawn of her lofty power the empress was fond of putting on for
a head-dress a red Madras, which gave her the piquant appearance of a
creole. But what more than any thing else contributed to the charm which
invested her whole person was the sweet tone of her voice. How often it
has happened to me and to many others amid our occupations, as soon
as this voice was heard, to remain still for the sake of enjoying the
pleasure of hearing it! It might be said, perhaps, that the empress was
not a beautiful woman; but her countenance, so full of expression and
goodness, the angelic grace which was shed over her whole person, placed
her among the most charming women of the world.”

Further on, speaking of her character, he continues:

“Goodness was as inseparable from her character as grace from her
person. Good even to weakness, sensitive beyond all expression, generous
to extravagance, she was the delight of all those who were round about
her; certain it is that there never was a woman more loved and more
deservedly loved by those who approached her than Josephine. As she had
known what adversity was, she was full of compassion for the sorrows
of others; with a pleasant, equable temperament, full of condescension
alike to foe and friend, she carried peace wherever discord or disunion
existed; if the emperor was displeased with his brothers, or with any
other person, she uttered words of affection, and soon restored harmony.
She possessed a wondrous tact, a rare sentiment of what was becoming,
and the soundest and most unerring judgment one can possibly imagine.
Besides all this, Josephine had a remarkable memory, to which the
emperor would often appeal. She was a good reader, and had a peculiar
charm of her own which accorded with all her movements. Napoleon
preferred her to all his other readers.” [Footnote: Constant,
“Memoires,” vol. i., pp. 21, 39; vol. ii., p. 70.]

The Duke de Rovigo, the Duchess d’Abrantes, Mdlle. Ducrest, the niece of
the Countess de Genlis, Mdlle. d’Avrillon, General Lafayette, in a word,
all who have written about that period who knew Josephine, bear similar
testimony to her amiable disposition and her superior virtues.

In the same manner the man for whom, as Mdlle. Ducrest says, “she would
gladly have given her life,” Napoleon, in his conversations with his
confidential friends at St. Helena, ever spoke of her. “In all positions
of life, Josephine’s demeanor and actions were always pleasant or
bewitching,” said he. “It would have been impossible ever to surprise
her, however intrusive you might be, so as to produce a disagreeable
impression. I always found her in the same humor; she had the same
amiable complacency; she was good, gentle, and ever devoted to her
husband in true affection. He never saw her in bad humor; she was always
constantly busy in endeavoring to please him.” [Footnote: “Memorial de
Ste. Helene,” vol. i. pp. 38, 79.]

And she pleased him more than any other woman; he loved her in these
happy days of the consulate with all the affection of the first days of
his marriage; his heart might now and then be drawn aside from her to
other women, but it always returned true and loving to her.

And this woman, whom the future King of France called an “angel of
goodness,” and the future Emperor of France, “grace in person,” is the
one who entered the Tuileries at Bonaparte’s side to bring again into
France the tone of good society, refinement of manners, intellectual
conversation, and a love for the arts and sciences.

She was fully conscious of this mission, and devoted herself with
all the strength, energy, and perseverance of her character. Her
drawing-room soon became the central rendezvous of men of science, art,
learning, politics, and diplomacy, and to each Josephine knew how to
address friendly and captivating words; she knew how to encourage every
one by her noble affability, by her respectful interest in their works
and plans--so much so that all strove to do as well as possible, and
in her presence appeared more amiable than they otherwise would perhaps
have been. Alongside of the distinguished men of every rank were seen
the choicest company of ladies, young, beautiful, and captivating; the
most intelligent women of the Faubourg St. Germain were not ashamed to
appear in the drawing-room of the wife of the first consul, and thought
that the glory of their old aristocratic names would not be tarnished
by association with Madame Bonaparte, who by birth belonged to them,
and formed a sort of connecting link between the departed royalty of the
last century and the republicans of the present.

This republicanism was soon to hide itself behind the columns and
mirrors of the large hall of reception in the Tuileries. Bonaparte--the
first consul, and shortly to be consul for life--would have nothing to
do with this republicanism, which reminded him of the days of terrorism,
anarchy, and the guillotine; and the words “Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity,” which the revolution had written over the portals of the
Tuileries, were obliterated by the consul of the republic. France had
been sufficiently bled, and had suffered enough for these three words;
it was now to rest under the shadow of legal order and of severe
discipline, after its golden morning-dream of youth’s enchanting hopes.

Bonaparte was to re-establish order and law; Josephine was to remodel
society and the saloon; her mission was to unite the aristocracy of
ancient France with the parvenues of the new; she was to be to the
latter a teacher of refinement, and of the genuine manners and habits of
so-called good society.

To accomplish this, the wife of the first consul needed the assistance
of some ladies of those circles who had remained in lofty, haughty
isolation; she needed the co-operation of the ladies of the Faubourg
St. Germain. It is true they made their morning calls, and invited the
former Viscountess de Beauharnais, with her daughter, to their evening
receptions; but they carefully avoided being present at the evening
circles of Madame Bonaparte, where their exclusiveness was beset with
the danger of coming in contact with some “parvenu,” or with some sprig
of the army, or of the financial bureaus. Josephine therefore had to
recruit her troops herself in the Faubourg St. Germain, so as to
bring into her saloon the necessary contingent of the old legitimist
aristocracy, and she found what she desired in a lady with whom she had
been acquainted as Viscountess de Beauharnais, and who then had
ever shown herself kind and friendly. This lady was the Countess de
Montesson, the morganatic wife of the Duke d’Orleans, the father of
the Duke Philippe Egalite, who, after betraying the monarchy to
the revolution, was betrayed by the revolution, and, like his royal
relatives, Louis and Marie Antoinette, had perished on the scaffold!

Soon after his entrance into the Tuileries, the first consul invited,
through his wife, the Countess de Montesson to visit him, and when she
was announced he advanced to meet her with an unusual expression of
friendship, and endeavored with great condescension to make her say in
what manner he could please her or be of service to her.

“General,” said Madame de Montesson, much surprised, “I have no right
whatever to claim any thing from you.”

Bonaparte smiled. “You are mistaken,” said he; “I have been under many
obligations to you for a long time past. Do you not know that to you I
am indebted for my first laurels? You came with the Duke d’Orleans
to Brienne for the purpose of distributing the prizes at the great
examination, and when you placed on my head the laurel-crown, which has
since been followed by others, you said, ‘May it bring you happiness!’
It is commonly believed that I am a fatalist; it is therefore very
natural that I should not have forgotten my first coronation, and that
it is still fresh in my memory. It would afford me much pleasure to be
of service to you; besides, you can be useful to me. The tone of good
society has nearly perished in France; we would like to renew it again
with your assistance. I need some of the traditions of days gone by--you
can assist my wife with them; and when a distinguished foreigner comes
to Paris you can give him a reception which will convince him that
nowhere else can so much gentleness and amiableness be found.”
 [Footnote: “Memoires de Mdlle. Ducrest,” vol. i., p. 9.]

That Madame de Montesson might have a striking proof of Bonaparte’s
good-will, he renewed her yearly pension of one hundred and eighty
thousand francs, which the duke had donated to her in his will, and
which Bonaparte restored to her as the property which the revolution had
confiscated for the nation’s welfare. She manifested her gratitude to
the first consul for this liberal pension by opening the saloons to
the “parvenues of the Tuileries;” and leading the aristocrats of the
Faubourg St. Germain into the drawing-rooms of Josephine, and then
assisting her to form out of these elements a court whose lofty and
brilliant centre was to be Josephine herself. The ladies of the Faubourg
St. Germain were no longer ashamed to appear at the new court of the
Tuileries, but excused themselves by saying: “We flatter Josephine, so
as to keep her on our side, and to strengthen her loyalty to the king.
She will, by her entrancing eloquence, persuade the consul to recall our
King Louis XVIII., and give him his crown.”

But too soon, alas! were they made aware of their error. It was not long
before they became convinced that, if Bonaparte’s hands were busy in
raising a throne, in lifting up from the earth the fallen crown of
royalty, he was not doing this to place it on the brow of the Count de
Lille; he had a nearer object in view--he considered his own head better
suited to wear it.

The conqueror of terrorism and of the revolution was not inclined to
be defeated by the enemies of the republic, who were approaching the
frontiers of France, to restore the Bourbons. He took up the glove which
Austria had thrown down--for she had made alliance with England.

On the 6th of May, 1800, Bonaparte left Paris, marched with his army
over Mount St. Bernard, and assumed the chief command of the army in
Italy, which recently had suffered so many disastrous defeats from
Suwarrow and the Archduke Charles.

At Marengo, on the 14th of June, Bonaparte obtained a brilliant triumph.
Soon after, at Hohenlinden, Moreau also defeated the Austrians. These
two decisive victories forced Austria to make peace with France, to
abandon her alliance with England--that is to say, with the monarchical
principles; and, at the peace ratified in the beginning of the year 1801
at Limeville, to concede to France the grand-duchy of Tuscany.

In July, Bonaparte returned in triumph to France, and was received
by the people with enthusiastic acclamations. Paris was brilliantly
illuminated on the day of his return, and round about the Tuileries
arose the shouts of the people, who with applauding voices demanded
to see the conqueror of Marengo, and would not remain quiet until he
appeared on the balcony. Even Bonaparte was touched by this enthusiasm
of the French people; as he retreated from the balcony and retired into
his cabinet, he said to Bourrienne. “Listen! The people shout again
and again; they still send their acclamations toward me. I love those
sounds; they are nearly as sweet as Josephine’s voice. How proud and
happy I am to be loved by such a people!” [Footnote: Bourrienne, vol.
v., p. 35.]


The victory of Marengo, which had pleased the people, had filled the
royalists with terror and fear, and destroyed their hopes of a speedy
restoration of the monarchy, making them conscious of its fruitless
pretensions. With the frenzy of hatred and the bitterness of revenge
they turned against the first consul, who was not now their expected
savior of the monarchy, but a usurper who wanted to gain France for

The royalists and the republicans united for the same object. Both
parties longed to destroy Bonaparte: the one to re-establish the
republic of the year 1793, and the other the throne of the Bourbons.
Everywhere conspiracies and secret associations were organized, and
the watchful and active police discovered in a few months more than ten
plots, the aim of which was to murder Bonaparte.

Josephine heard this with sorrow and fear, with tears of anxiety and
love. She had now given her whole heart and soul to Bonaparte, and
it was the torment of martyrdom to see him every day threatened by
assassins and by invisible foes, who from dark and hidden places drew
their daggers at him. Her love surrounded him with vigilant friends and
servants, who sought to discover every danger and to remove it from his

When he was coming to Malmaison, Josephine before his arrival would send
her servants to search every hiding-place in the park, to see if in some
shady grove a murderer might not be secreted; she entreated Junot or
Murat to send scouts from Paris on the road to Malmaison to remove all
suspicious persons from it. Yet her heart trembled with anxiety when she
knew him to be on the way, and, when he had safely arrived, she would
receive him with rapture, as if he had just escaped an imminent danger,
and would make him laugh by the exclamations of joy with which she
greeted him as one saved from danger.

In the anxiety of her watchful love she made herself acquainted with
all the details of the discovered conspiracies of both the Jacobins
and royalists. She knew there were two permanent conspiracies at work,
though their leaders had been discovered and led into prison.

One of these conspiracies had been organized by the old Jacobins, the
republicans of the Convention; and these bands of the “enraged,” as
they called themselves, numbered in their ranks all the enemies of
constitutional order, all the men of the revolution of 1789; and all
these men had sworn with solemn oaths to kill Bonaparte, and to deliver
the republic from her greatest and most dangerous enemy.

The other conspiracy, which had its ramifications throughout France, was
formed by the royalists. “The Society of the White Mantle” was mostly
composed of Chouans, daring men of Vendee, who were ever ready to
sacrifice their lives to the mere notion of royalty, and who like the
Jacobins had sworn to murder Bonaparte.

Chevalier, who, with his ingenious infernal machine, sought to kill
Bonaparte on his way to Malmaison, belonged to the Society of the White
Mantle. But he was betrayed by his confidant and associate Becyer, who
assisted the police to arrest him. To the conspiracy of the “enraged”
 belonged the Italians Ceracchi, Arena, and Diana, who at the opera, when
the consul appeared in his loge, and was greeted by the acclamations of
the people, were ready to fire their pistols at him. But at the moment
they were about to commit the deed from behind the side-scenes, where
they had hidden themselves, they were seized, arrested, and led to
prison by the police. Josephine, as already said, knew all these
conspiracies; she trembled for Bonaparte’s life, and yet she could
not prevent him from appearing in public, and she herself, smiling and
apparently unsuspecting, had to appear at Bonaparte’s side at the
grand parades, in the national festivities, and at the theatrical
performances; no feature on her face was to betray the anxiety she was

One day, however, not only Bonaparte’s life but also that of Josephine,
was imperilled by the conspirators; the famous infernal machine which
had been placed on their way to the opera, would have killed the first
consul and his wife, if a red Persian shawl had not saved them both.

At the grand opera, that evening, was to be performed Joseph Haydn’s
masterpiece, “The Creation.” The Parisians awaited this performance
with great expectation; they rushed to the opera, not only to hear the
oratorio, the fame of which had spread from Vienna to Paris, but also
to see Bonaparte and his wife, who it was known would attend the

Josephine had requested Bonaparte to be present at this great musical
event, for she knew that the public would be delighted at his presence.
He at first manifested no desire to do so, for he was not sufficiently
versed in musical matters for it to afford him much enjoyment; and
besides, there was but one kind of music he liked, and that was the
Italian, the richness of whose melody pleased him, while the German and
French left him dissatisfied and weary. However, Bonaparte gave way to
the entreaties of Josephine, and resolved to drive to the opera.
The dinner that day had been somewhat later than usual, for besides
Josephine, her children, and Bonaparte’s sister Caroline, Murat, the
Generals Bessieres and Lannes, as well as Bonaparte’s two adjutants,
Lebrun and Rapp, had been present. Immediately after dinner they wanted
to drive to the opera; but as Josephine lingered behind, busy with the
arrangement of her shawl, Bonaparte declared he would drive in advance
with the two Generals Bessieres and Lebrun, while Rapp was to accompany
the ladies in the second carriage. With his usual rapidity of action he
seized his hat and sword, and, followed by his companions, left the room
to go to the carriage, which was waiting.

Josephine, who imagined that Bonaparte was waiting for her at the
carriage, hurriedly put on, without troubling herself any longer about
the becoming arrangement of the folds, a red Persian shawl, which
Bonaparte had sent her as a present from Egypt. She was going to leave,
when Rapp, with the openness of a soldier, made the remark that she had
not put on her shawl to-day with her accustomed elegance. She smiled,
and begged him to arrange it after the fashion of Egyptian ladies. Rapp
laughingly hastened to comply with her wishes; and while Josephine,
Madame Murat, and Hortense, watched attentively the arrangement of the
shawl in the hands of Rapp, Bonaparte’s carriage was heard moving away.

This noise put a speedy end to all further movements, and Josephine,
with the ladies and Rapp, hastened to follow Bonaparte. Their carriage
had no sooner reached the Place de Carrousel, than an appalling
explosion was heard, and a bright flame like a lightning-flash filled
the whole place with its glare; at the same moment the windows of the
carriage were broken into fragments, which flew in every direction
into the carriage, and one of which penetrated so deep into the arm
of Hortense, that the blood gushed out. Josephine uttered a cry of
horror--“Bonaparte is murdered!” At the same moment were heard loud
shrieks and groans.

Rapp, seized with fear, and only thinking that Bonaparte was in danger,
sprang out of the carriage, and, careless of the wounded and bleeding,
who lay near, ran onward to the opera to find out if Bonaparte had
safely reached there. While the ladies, in mortal agony, remained on the
Place de Carrousel, not knowing whether to return to the Tuileries or
to drive forward, a messenger arrived at full speed to announce that the
first consul had not been hurt, and that he was waiting for his wife
in his loge, and begged her to come without delay. Meanwhile Rapp had
reached the opera, and had penetrated into the box of the first consul.
Bonaparte was seated calmly and unmoved in his accustomed place,
examining the audience through his glass, and now and then addressing
a few words to the secretary of police, Fouche, who stood near him.
No sooner did Bonaparte see Rapp, than he said hastily, and in a low

At that moment she entered, followed by Madame Murat and Hortense.
Bonaparte saluted them with a smile, and with a look of unfathomable
love he extended his hand to Josephine. She was still pale and
trembling, although she had no conception of the greatness of the danger
which had menaced her.

Bonaparte endeavored to quiet her by stating that the explosion was
probably the result of some accident or imprudence; but at this moment
the prefect of the police entered who had been on the spot, and had
come to give a report of the dreadful effects of the explosion. Fifteen
persons had been killed, more than thirty had been severely wounded,
and about forty houses seriously damaged. This was all the work of
a so-called infernal machine--a small barrel filled with powder and
quicksilver--which had been placed in a little carriage at the entrance
of the Hue St. Nicaise.

Until now Josephine did not realize the extent of the danger which had
threatened her and her husband. Had the explosion taken place a few
moments before, it would have killed the consul; if it had been one
minute later, Josephine and her companions would have been involved
in the catastrophe. It was the shawl which Rapp was arranging on her
shoulders according to the rules of art, which caused them to retard
their departure, and thus saved her life.

An inexpressible horror now seized her and made her tremble; her looks,
full of love and deep anguish, were fixed on Bonaparte, who, in a low
voice, entreated her to compose herself, and not to make her distress
public. Near Josephine sat Hortense, pale and agitated, like her mother;
around her wounded arm was wrapped a handkerchief, stained here and
there with blood. Madame Murat was quiet and composed, like Bonaparte,
who was then giving instructions to the prefect of police to provide
immediate assistance for the unfortunate persons who had been wounded.

No one yet in the audience knew the appalling event. The thundering
noise had been heard, but it was presumed to have been an artillery
salute, and no evil was suspected, for Bonaparte, with his usual guards,
had entered his box, and, advancing to its very edge, had saluted the
public in a friendly way. This act of the first consul had its ordinary
effect: the audience, indifferent to the music, rose and saluted their
hero with loud acclamation and applause. Not till Josephine entered the
loge had the acclamations subsided, and the music begun again. A few
minutes after, the news of the fearful event spread all over the house:
a murmur arose, and the music was interrupted anew.

The Duchess d’Abrantes, who was present at this scene, gives a faithful,
eloquent, and graphic picture of it:

“A vague noise,” says she, “began to spread from the parterre to the
orchestra, and from the amphitheatre to the boxes. Soon the news of the
occurrence was known all over the house, when, like a sudden clap of
thunder, an acclamation burst forth, and the whole audience, with a
single undivided look of love, seemed to desire to embrace Bonaparte.
What I am narrating I have seen, and I am not the only one who saw it.
... What excitement followed this first explosion of national anger,
which at this moment was represented by the audience, whose horror at
the dark plot cannot be described with words! Women were seen weeping
and sobbing; men, pale as death, trembled with vengeance and anger,
whatever might have been the political standard which they followed; all
hearts and hands were united to prove that difference of opinion creates
no difference in the interpretation of the code of honor. During the
whole scene my eyes were fixed on the loge of the consul. He was quiet,
and only seemed moved when public sentiment gave utterance to strong
expressive words about the conspiracy, and these reached him. Madame
Bonaparte was not fully composed. Her countenance was disturbed; even
her attitude, generally so very graceful, was no longer under her
control. She seemed to tremble under her shawl as under a protecting
canopy, and in fact it was this shawl which had saved her from
destruction. She was weeping; however much she endeavored to compose
herself, she could not repress her tears; they would flow, against her
will, down her pale cheeks, and, whenever Josephine fixed her eyes upon
her husband, she trembled again. Even her daughter seemed extremely
agitated, and Madame Murat alone preserved the family character, and
seemed entirely herself.” [Footnote: Duchess d’Abrantes, “Memoires,”
 vol. ii., p. 66.]

At last, when the public excitement was somewhat abated, and the
music was again resumed, the audience turned its attention to Hadyn’s
masterpiece. But Josephine had not the strength to bear this effort, and
to submit to it quietly. She entreated her husband to retire with her
and the ladies; and when at last he acceded to her request, and had
quietly left the loge with her, Josephine sat by him in the carriage,
opposite Caroline and Hortense, and, sobbing, threw herself on
Bonaparte’s breast, and cried out in her anguish:

“What a life, where I must ever be trembling for you!”

The infernal machine did not kill the first consul, but it gave to
liberty and to the republic a fatal blow; it scattered into fragments
what remained of the revolutionary institutions from the days of blood
and terror. France rose up in disgust and horror against the party
which made of assassins its companions, and consequently this conspiracy
failed to accomplish what its originators had expected. They wanted to
destroy Bonaparte and ruin his power, but this abortive attempt only
increased his popularity, enlarged his power, and deepened the people’s
love for him who now appeared to them as a protecting rampart, and a
barrier to the flood of anarchy.

France gave herself up trembling, and without a will of her own, into
the hands of the hero to whom she was indebted for fame and recognition
by foreign powers, and through whom she hoped to secure domestic peace.
France longed for a strong arm to support her; Bonaparte gave her this
arm, but it not only supported France, it bowed her down; and from this
day he placed the reins on the wild republican steed, and let it feel
that it had found a master who had the power and the will to direct it
entirely in accordance with his wishes.

Bonaparte was determined to put an end to the seditions and conspiracies
of the republicans, whom he hated because they had for their aim the
downfall of all legitimate authority; and in turn was hated by them
because he had abandoned their standard and turned against the republic
with the faithlessness of a son who attacks the mother that gave him
birth. Bonaparte maintained that it was the republicans who had set the
infernal machine on his path, and paid no attention to the opinion of
Fouche, who ascribed to the royalists the origin of the plot. Bonaparte
wished first to do away with his most violent and bitter enemies,
the republicans of the year 1789; he desired to possess the power of
punishing such, and to render them harmless, and now the horror produced
by this criminal act came to his assistance in carrying out this plan.

The council of the state adopted the legislative enactment that the
consuls should have “the power to remove from Paris those persons whose
presence they considered dangerous to the public security, and that
all such persons who should leave their place of banishment should be
transported from the country!”

Under this law, George Cadoudal, Chevalier, Arena, Ceracchi, and many
others were executed; and one hundred and thirty persons, whose
only crime was that of being suspected of dissatisfaction toward the
administration of the consuls, and considered as Bonaparte’s enemies,
were transported to Cayenne.

Such were for France the results of this infernal machine, the object of
which was to assassinate the Consul Bonaparte, instead of which it had
only the effect of destroying his enemies and strengthening his power.


As mighty events always exercise an influence on minor ones, so this
fearful attempt at murder became the occasion for the introduction into
France of a new branch of industry, which had hitherto drawn millions
from Europe to the East.

Josephine, gratefully remembering her truly wonderful deliverance
through the means of her Persian shawl, wore it afterward in preference
to any other. Until then she had never fancied it, for when Bonaparte
sent it to her from Egypt, she wrote to him: “I have received the shawl.
It may be very beautiful and very costly, but I find it unsightly. Its
great advantage consists in its lightness. I doubt, however, if this new
fashion will meet with approbation. Notwithstanding, I am pleased with
it, for it is rare and warm.” [Footnote: “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice,”
 par Mademoiselle Ducrest, vol. iii., p. 227.]

But after it had saved her life, she no longer thought it unsightly, she
was fond of wrapping herself up in it, and the natural consequence was,
that these Persian shawls soon formed the most fashionable and costly
article of apparel.

Every lady of the higher classes considered it a necessity to cover her
tender shoulders with this valuable foreign material, and it soon became
“comme il faut” a duty of position, to possess a collection of such
Persian shawls, and to wear them at the balls and receptions in the

The desire to possess such a precious article of fashion led these
ladies oftentimes to “corriger la fortune” and to obtain, by some bold
but not very creditable act, possession of such a shawl, which had
now become in a certain measure the escutcheon of the new French

The Duchess d’Abrantes, in reference to this matter, relates two thefts
which at that time troubled the aristocratic society of the Tuileries,
which prove that the ladies had taken instructions from the gentlemen,
and that dishonest persons of both sexes were admitted into the society
of heroes and their beautiful wives!

At a morning reception in the Tuileries, the shawl of the Countess de
St. Martin had been stolen; and this lady was very much distressed at
the loss, for this cashmere was not only a present from Madame Murat,
but was one of uncommon beauty, on account of the rarity of the design,
consisting of paroquets in artistic groups, instead of the ordinary
palm. The countess was therefore untiring in recounting to every one her
irreparable loss, and uttered bitter curses against the bold female who
had stolen her treasure.

“A few weeks later,” relates the duchess, “at a ball given by the
minister Talleyrand, the countess came toward me with a bright
countenance and told me that she had just now found her shawl, and,
strange to say, upon the shoulders of a young lady at the ball!

“‘But,’ said I to her, ‘you will not accuse this lady before the whole

“‘And why not?’

“‘Because that would be wrong. Leave this matter to me.’

“She would not at first, but I pressed the subject on her consideration,
and she agreed at length to remain somewhat behind, while I approached
the young lady, who stood near the door, and was just going to leave the
ballroom. I told her in a low voice that in all probability she had
made a mistake; that she had perhaps mislaid her own cashmere, and had
through carelessness taken the shawl of the Countess de St. Martin.

“I was as polite as I could possibly be in such a communication; but the
young lady looked at me unpleasantly for such an impertinent intrusion,
and replied that ‘since the time the Countess de St. Martin had deafened
the ears of every one with the story of her stolen shawl, she had had
ample leisure to recognize as her property the cashmere she wore.’ Her
mother, who stood a few steps from her, and was conversing with another
lady, turned toward her when she heard her daughter speak in so loud a
voice. But the Countess de St. Martin, who had overheard that she ‘had
deafened the ears of every one with the story of her stolen shawl,’
rushed in to the rescue of her case.

“‘This cashmere belongs to me,’ said she, haughtily--seizing, at the
same time, the shawl with one hand, while the young lady with her fist
thrust her back violently. I saw that in a moment they would come to

“‘It will be easy to end this difficulty,’ said I to the Countess de St.
Martin. ‘Madame will be kind enough to tell us where she has purchased
this shawl which is so much like yours, and then you will see your
mistake, and be satisfied.’

“‘It does not suit me to tell where I got this shawl,’ replied the lady,
looking at me contemptuously; ‘there is no necessity for my telling you
where I purchased it.’

“‘Well, then,’ exclaimed eagerly the Countess de St. Martin, ‘you
confess, madame, that the shawl really belongs to you?’

“The other answered with a sarcastic smile, and drew the shawl closer
to her shoulders. A few persons, attracted by the strangeness of such
a scene, had gathered around us, and seemed to wait for the end of so
extraordinary an event.

“The countess continued with a loud voice:

“‘Well, then, madame, since the shawl belongs to you, you can explain to
me why the name of Christine, which is my first name, is embroidered in
red silk on the small edging. Madame Junot will be kind enough to look
for this name.’

“The young woman became pale as death. I shall never during my life
forget the despairing look which she gave me, as with trembling hand she
passed me the shawl, just as her father appeared from a room near the
place of the scene. I took the cashmere with an unsteady hand, and
sought reluctantly for the name of Christine, for I trusted she would at
least have taken it out; but the deathly paleness of the guilty one told
the contrary, and in fact I had no sooner unfolded the shawl, than the
name appeared, embroidered at the narrow edging.

“‘Ah!’ at last exclaimed the countess, in a triumphant tone, ‘I have--’
but as she raised her eyes to the young woman, she was touched by her
despairing look. ‘Well, then,’ cried she, ‘this is one of those mistakes
which so often happen. To-morrow I will return your cashmere.--We have
exchanged cashmeres,’ said she, turning to the young lady’s father,
who, surprised at seeing her naked shoulders, gazed at his daughter,
not understanding the matter. ‘You will have the goodness to send me my
shawl to-morrow,’ added she, noticing how the young woman trembled.

“We returned into the ballroom, and the next day the young lady sent to
the Countess de St. Martin her precious shawl.

“Something similar to this happened at the same time to Madame Hamelin.
She was at a ball; when rising from her seat to join in a contra-dance,
she left there a very beautiful black shawl; when she returned,
her shawl was no longer there, but she saw it on the shoulders of a
well-known and distinguished lady. Approaching her, she said:

“‘Madame, you have my shawl!’

“‘Not at all, madame!’

“‘But, madame, this is my shawl, and, as an evidence, I can state the
number of its palms--it has exactly thirteen, a very unusual number!’

“‘My shawl has also, by chance, precisely thirteen palms.’

“‘But,’ said Madame Hamelin, ‘I have torn it since I came here. You can
see where it is torn, and by that means I recognize my shawl.’

“‘Ah, my goodness! my shawl has also been torn; that is precisely why I
bought it, for I obtained it on that account somewhat cheaper.’

“It is useless to dispute with a person who is determined to follow
Basil’s receipt, that ‘what is worth taking is worth keeping.’ Madame
Hamelin lost her shawl, and had, as a sole consolation, the petty
vengeance of relating to everybody how it was taken, and of pointing
out the thief, who was in the meanwhile perfectly shameless.” [Footnote:
Abrantes, “Memoires,” vol. ix., pp. 70-76.]

No one, however, had a larger and more choice selection of these
cashmere shawls than Josephine. Mdlle. Ducrest relates that the deceased
empress had more than one hundred and fifty of the most magnificent and
costly cashmere shawls. She had sent to Constantinople patterns from
which she had them made there, as pleasing to the eye as they were
costly and precious. Every week M. Lenormant, the first man-milliner
in Paris, came to Navarra, the country residence of the empress,
and brought his most beautiful shawls for her selection. The empress
possessed several (having a white ground covered with roses, violets,
paroquets, peacocks, and other objects of beauty hitherto unknown in
France) each of which cost from fifteen to twenty thousand francs.

The empress went so far in her passion for cashmeres as to have dresses
made of the same material. One day she had put on one of these dresses,
which was so beautiful, that some gentlemen invited to dinner could not
withhold their admiration. One of them, Count Pourtales, thought that
this splendid material would be well adapted for a gentleman’s vest.
Josephine, in her large-heartedness, had a pair of scissors brought; she
then cut her dress into several pieces sufficiently large for a vest,
and divided them among the gentlemen present, so that only the bodice
of the dress remained, with a small piece around the waist But this
improvised spencer over the white richly-embroidered under-dress, was so
exceedingly becoming to the empress, and brought out so exquisitely her
beautiful bust, and slender graceful waist, that it would have been
easy to consider as a piece of coquetry what was simply Josephine’s
spontaneous generosity. [Footnote: Mademoiselle Ducrest.]

Josephine, however, did not so assiduously attend to her cashmere shawls
as to forget the unfortunate victims of the infernal machine. On the
contrary, she saw with deep pain how every one was busy in inculpating
others, and in casting suspicions on royalists and Jacobins, so as to
give a pretext to punish them. She noticed that all those who wished to
gain the consul’s favor were zealous in spying out fresh culprits, for
it was well known that Bonaparte was inclined to make of all hostile
parties a terrible example, so that, through the severity of the
punishment and the number of the punished, he might deter the
dissatisfied from any further plots.

Josephine’s compassionate heart was distressed, through sympathy for so
many unfortunate persons, whom wicked men maliciously were endeavoring
to drag into guilt, so as to have them punished; and the injustice which
the judges manifested at every hearing filled her with anger and
horror. Ever ready to help the needy, and to protect the persecuted, she
addressed herself to Fouche, the minister of police, and requested him
to use mildness and compassion. She wrote to him:

“Citizen minister, while trembling at the frightful calamity which has
taken place, I feel uneasy and pained at the fear of the punishments
which hang over the poor creatures who, I am told, belong to families
with which I have been connected in days past. I shall therefore be
appealed to by mothers, sisters, and despairing wives; my heart will be
lacerated by the sad consciousness that I cannot obtain pardon for all
those who implore it.

“The generosity of the consul is great, his affection for me is
boundless, I know it well; but the crime is of so awful a nature that
he will deem it necessary to make an example of extreme severity. The
supreme magistrate was not alone exposed to danger--many others were
killed and wounded by this sad event, and it is this which will make the
consul severe and implacable.

“I conjure you, then, citizen minister, to avoid extending your
researches too far, and not always to spy out new persons who might be
compromised by this horrible machine. Must France, which has been held
in terror by so many executions, have to sigh over new victims? Is
it not much more important to appease the minds of the people than to
excite them by new terrors? Finally, would it not be advisable, so soon
as the originators of this awful crime are captured, to have compassion
and mercy upon subordinate persons who may have been entangled in it
through dangerous sophisms and fanatical sentiments?

“Barely vested with the supreme authority, ought not the first consul
study to win the hearts rather than to make slaves of his people?
Moderate, therefore, by your advice, where in his first excitement he
may be too severe. To punish is, alas, too often necessary! To pardon
is, I trust, still more. In a word, be a protector to the unfortunate
who, through their confession or repentance, have already made in part
penance for their guilt.

“As I myself, without any fault on my part, nearly lost my life in the
revolution, you can easily understand that I take an interest in those
who can perhaps be saved without thereby endangering my husband’s life,
which is so precious to me and to France. I therefore earnestly desire
that you will make a distinction between the leaders of this conspiracy
and those who, from fear or weakness, have been seduced into bringing
upon themselves a portion of the guilt. As a woman, a wife, a mother,
I can readily feel for all the heart-rending agonies of those families
which appeal to me.

“Do what you possibly can, citizen minister, to diminish their numbers;
you will thereby spare me much anxiety. I can never be deaf to the cries
of distress from the needy; but in this matter you can do a great
deal more than I can, and therefore pardon what may seem strange in my
pleadings with you.

“Believe in my gratitude and loyalty of sentiment.

“JOSEPHINE.” [Footnote: Ducrest, “Memoires,” vol. iii., p. 231.]


In the Tuileries the first consul, with his wife, resided in all the
pomp and dignity of his new office. There he was the sovereign, the
commander; there he ruled, and, like a king, all bowed to him; the
people humbled themselves and recognized him as their master.

In the Tuileries etiquette and the stiff pomp of a princely court
prevailed more and more. Bonaparte required of his wife that she should
there represent the dignity and the grandeur of her new position;
that she should appear as the first, the most exalted, and the most
unapproachable of women. In the Tuileries there were no more evenings
of pleasant social gatherings, of joyous conversation with friends whom
affection made equals, and who, in love and admiration, recognizing
Bonaparte’s ascendency, brought him of their own free choice their
esteem and high consideration. Now, it was all honor and duty; now,
the friends of the past wore servants who, for duty’s sake, had to
be subservient to their master, and abide by the rules of etiquette,
otherwise the frown on their lofty ruler’s brow would bring them back
within their bounds.

Josephine was pained at these limits set to her personal freedom--at
these claims of etiquette, which did not permit her friends to remain at
her side, but strove to exalt above them the wife of the first consul.
Her sense of modesty ever accepted the pleasant, genial household
affections as more agreeable and more precious than the burdensome
representations, levees, and the tediousness of ceremonial receptions;
her sense of modesty longed for the quiet and repose of retirement, and
she was happy when, at the close of the court festivities, she could
return to Malmaison, there to enjoy the coming of spring, the blossoming
of summer, and the glorious beauty of autumn with its manifold colors.

In Malmaison were centered all her joys and pleasures. There she could
satisfy all the inclinations of her heart, all the fancies of her
imagination, all the wants of her mind; there she could be the tender
wife and mother, and the faithful friend; there she could receive,
without the annoyance of etiquette, men of learning and art; there she
could cultivate the soil and devote herself to botany, her favorite
study, and to her flowers, the dearest and most faithful friends of her
whole life.

Josephine sought for and found in Malmaison her earthly paradise; there
she was happy, and the care and the secret anguish which in Paris wove
around her heart its network, and every now and then whispered the
nefarious words of divorce and separation, followed her not in the
beautiful and friendly Malmaison; she left all this in Paris with the
stiff Madame Etiquette, who once in the Tuileries had poisoned the
existence of the Queen Marie Antoinette, and now sought to intrude
herself upon the consulate as an ill-tempered sovereign.

But in Malmaison there was no etiquette, none of the dignified coldness
of court-life. There you were allowed to laugh, to jest, and to be
happy. In Malmaison the first consul laid aside his gravity; there his
gloomy brow brightened, and he became again General Bonaparte, the
lover of his Josephine, the confidential companion of his friends, the
harmless individual, who seemed to have nothing to require from Heaven
but the happiness of the passing hour, and who could laugh at a joke
with the same guilelessuess as any other child of the people who never
deemed it necessary to cultivate a close intimacy with the grave and
gloomy Madame Politique.

It is true Malmaison was not Bonaparte’s sole country residence. The
city of Paris had presented him with the pleasure-castle of St. Cloud,
the same which Louis XVI. gave to his wife, and where, to the very great
annoyance of the proud Parisians, she had for the first time engraven
on the regulation-tablets, at the entrance of the park, the fatal
words--“De par la Reine.”

Now this royal mansion of pleasure belonged to the first consul of
the republic; it was his summer residence, but there he was still the
consul, the first magistrate, and the representative of France; and
he had there to give receptions, hold levees, receive the ministers,
councillors of state, and the foreign ambassadors, and appear in all the
pomp and circumstance of his position.

But in Malmaison his countenance and his being were changed. Here he was
the cheerful man, enjoying life; he was the joyous companion, the modest
land-owner, who with genial delight surveyed the produce of his soil,
and even calculated how much profit it could bring him.

“The first consul in Malmaison,” said the English minister, Fox, “the
first consul in St. Cloud, and the first consul in the Tuileries, are
three different persons, who together form that great and wonderful
idea; I should exceedingly like to be able to represent exactly after
nature these three portraits; they must be very much alike, and yet very

It is certain, however, that of these three portraits that of the first
consul in Malmaison was the most amiable, and that of the first consul
of the Tuileries the most imposing.

In Malmaison Bonaparte’s countenance was cheerful and free from care;
in the Tuileries he was grave and dignified. On his clouded brow were
enthroned great designs; from the deep, dark eyes shot lightnings ready
to fire a world--to erect or destroy kingdoms. In Malmaison these eyes
with cheerful brilliancy reposed on Josephine; his otherwise earnest
lips welcomed there the beloved of his heart with merry pleasantry and
spirited raillery; there he loved to see Josephine in simple, modest
toilet; and if in the lofty halls of the Tuileries he exacted from the
wife of the first consul a brilliant toilet, the bejewelled magnificence
of the first lady of France, he was delighted when in Malmaison he saw
coming through the green foliage the wife of General Bonaparte in simple
white muslin, with a laughing countenance; and with her sweet voice,
which he still considered as the finest music he ever heard, she bade
welcome to her husband who here was changed into her tender lover.

In Malmaison, Bonaparte would even put off his general’s uniform,
and, in his plain gray coat of a soldier, walk through the park in the
neighborhood, resting on the arm of his confidant, Duroc, and would
begin a friendly conversation with the first farmer he met, perfectly
satisfied when in the little man with the gray tightly-buttoned coat, no
one suspected or imagined to see the first consul of the republic.

Every Saturday the first consul hastened to the chateau to pass there,
as he said, his Sunday, his day of rest; and only on Monday morning did
he return to Paris, “to take up his chain again.”

How genial and happy were these days of rest! How eagerly did Josephine
labor to make them days of felicity for Bonaparte! how ingenious to
prepare for him new festivities and new surprises! and how her eyes
brightened when she had succeeded in making Bonaparte joyous and

If the weather was favorable, the whole company in Malmaison, the young
generals, with their beautiful, young, and lively wives, who surrounded
Bonaparte and Josephine, and of whom a great number belonged to their
family, made promenades through the park, then they seated themselves on
a fine spot to repeat stories or to indulge in harmless sociable games,
in which Bonaparte with the most cheerful alacrity took part. Even
down to the game of “catch” and to that of “room-renting” did Bonaparte
condescend to play; and as Marie Antoinette with her husband and her
court played at blindman’s-buff in the gardens of Trianon, so Bonaparte
was pleased on the lawns of Malmaison to play at “room-renting.”

How often after a dark, cloudy morning, when suddenly at noon the skies
would become clear and the sunshine break through the clouds, would
Bonaparte’s countenance gladden with all the spirit of a school-boy, in
the midst of holidays, and, throwing off his coat, laughingly exclaim,
“Now come, one and all, and let us rent the room!”

And then on the large, open lawn, surrounded on all sides by tall trees,
the first consul with his wife, his generals and their young wives,
would begin the exhilarating, harmless child’s-play, forgetful of all
care, void of all fear, except that he should lose his tree, and that as
a penniless individual having to rent a room he would have to stand in
the centre before all eyes, just as first consul he stood before all
eyes in the centre of France, and struggled for a place the importance
and title of which were known only to his silent soul. But in Malmaison,
at the game of “room to let,” Bonaparte had no remembrance whatever of
the ambitious wishes of the first consul; the whole world seemed to have
set, the memories of his youth passed before his eyes in such beauty,
saluting him with the gracious looks of childhood, as nearly to make him
an enthusiast.

How often, when on Josephine’s arm, surrounded by a laughing, noisy
group of friends, and walking through shady paths, on hearing the bells
of the neighboring village chime their vespers, would Bonaparte suddenly
interrupt the conversation and stand still to hear them! With a motion
of the hand he would command silence, while he listened with a smile of
grief to sounds which recalled days long gone by. “These bells remind me
of the days of my boyhood,” said he to Josephine; “it seems to me, when
I hear them, that I am still in Brienne.”

To keep alive the memories of his school-days in Brienne, he sent for
one of his teachers, the Abbe Dupuis, who had been remarkably kind to
him, and invited him to Malmaison, to arrange there a library, and to
take charge of it; he sent also for the porter of Brienne whose wife he
had so severely prohibited from entering the theatre, and made him the
porter of the chateau.

In bad weather and on rainy days the whole company gathered in the large
drawing-room, and found amusement in playing the various games of cards,
in which Bonaparte not only took much interest, but in which he so
eagerly played, that he often had recourse to apparent bungling, so as
to command success. Adjoining the drawing-room, where conversation and
amusements took place, was a room where the company sang and practised
music, to the delight of Bonaparte, who often, when one of his favorite
tunes was played, would chime in vigorously with the melody, nowise
disturbed by the fact that he never could catch the right tune, and that
he broke out every time into distressing discordance!

But all songs and music subsided, all plays were interrupted, when
Bonaparte, excited perhaps by the approaching twilight, or by some
awakened memory, began to relate one of those tragic, fearful stories
which no one could tell so well as he. Then, with arms folded behind his
back, he slowly paced the drawing-room, and with sinister looks, tragic
manner, and sepulchral voice, he would begin the solemn introduction of
his narrative:

“When death strikes, at a distance, a person whom we love,” said he,
one evening, with a voice tremulous with horror, “a certain foreboding
nearly always makes us anticipate the event, and the person, touched by
the hand of death, appears to us at the moment we lose him on earth.”

“How very sad and mournful that sounds!” sighed Josephine, as she placed
both her arms on Bonaparte’s shoulder, as if she would hold him, and
chain him to earth, that he might not vanish away with every ghost-like

Bonaparte turned to her with a genial smile, and shook his head at her,
so as to assure her of his existence and his love. Then he began his
story with all the earnestness and tragic power of an improvisator
of ancient Rome. He told how once Louis XIV., in the great gallery of
Versailles, received the bulletin of the battle of Friedlingen, and how,
unfolding it, he read to the assembled court the names of the slain and
of the wounded. Quietness reigned in the splendidly-illumined gallery;
and the courtiers in their embroidered coats, who, ordinarily, were
so full of merriment and so high-spirited, had, all at once, become
thoughtful. They gathered in a circle around the monarch, from whose
lips slowly, like falling tears, fell one by one the names of the
killed. Here and there the cheeks of their relatives turned pale.
Suddenly the Count de Beaugre saw appear, at the farther end of the
gallery, stately and ghost-like, the blood-stained figure of his son,
who, with eyes wide open, stared at his father, and saluted him with a
slight motion of the head, and then glided away through the door. “My
son is dead!” cried Count de Beaugre--and, at the very same moment,
the king uttered his name as one of the slain!” [Footnote: Bourrienne,
“Memoires,” vol. iii., p. 225.]

“Ah! may I never see such a ghost-like figure,” murmured Josephine,
drawing closer to her husband. “Bonaparte, promise me that you will
never go to war again; that you will keep peace with all the world, so
that I may have no cause of alarm!”

“And to tremble at my ghost,” exclaimed Bonaparte, laughing. “Look at
this selfish woman, she does not wish me a hero’s death, lest I should
appear to her here in the shape of a bloody placard!”

With her small bejewelled hand Josephine closed his mouth, and ordered
lights to be brought; she asked Lavalette to play a lively dancing-tune,
and cried out to the joyous youthful group, at the head of whom were
Hortense and Eugene, to fall in for a dance.

“Nothing more charming,” writes the Duchess d’Abrantes, “could be seen
than a ball in Malmaison, made up as it was of the young ladies whom the
military family of the first consul brought together, and who, without
having the name of it, formed the court of Madame Bonaparte. They were
all young, many of them very beautiful; and when this lovely group were
dressed in white crape, adorned with flowers, their heads crowned with
wreaths as fresh as the hues of their young, laughing, charming faces,
it was indeed a bewitching sight to witness the animated and lively
dance in these halls, through which walked the first consul, surrounded
by the men with whom he discussed and decided the destinies of Europe.”
 [Footnote: Abrantes, “Memoires,” vol. iii., p. 329.]

But the best and most exciting amusement in Malmaison was the theatre;
and nothing delighted Bonaparte so much as this, where the young troop
of lovers in the palace performed little operas and vaudevilles,
and went through their parts with all the eagerness of real actors,
perfectly happy in having the consul and his wife for audience. In
Malmaison, Bonaparte abandoned himself with boundless joy to his
fondness for the theatre; here he applauded with all the gusto of an
amateur, laughed with the laisser-aller of a college-boy at the harmless
jokes of the vaudevilles, and here also he took great pleasure in the
dramatic performances of Eugene, who excelled especially in comic roles.

Bonaparte had a most convenient stage constructed in Malmaison for his
actors; he had the most beautiful costumes made for each new piece, and
the actors Talma and Michet had to come every week to the chateau, to
give the young people instruction in their parts. The ordinary actors
of this theatre in the castle were Eugene and Hortense, Caroline Murat,
Lauriston, M. Didelot, the prefect of the palace, some of the officers
attached to the establishment, and the Count Bourrienne, the friend of
Bonaparte’s youth, who now had become the first secretary of the consul.
The pieces which Bonaparte attended with the greatest pleasure were the
“Barber of Seville,” and “Mistrust and Malice.” The young and amiable
Hortense made an excellent Rosine in the “Barber of Seville,” and
Bonaparte never failed to clap his hands in hearty applause to Hortense,
when Josephine with cheerful smiles would thank him, for she seemed as
proud of her daughter’s talent as of her husband’s applause.

Bourrienne, in his memoirs, gives a faithful description of those
evening theatrical performances, and of the happy life enjoyed in
Malmaison; he lingers with a sober joy over those beautiful and innocent
memories of other days.

“Bonaparte,” says he, “found great pleasure in our dramatic
entertainments; he loved to see comedies represented by those who
surrounded him, and oftentimes paid us flattering compliments. Though it
amused me as much as it did the others, yet I was more than once obliged
to call Bonaparte’s attention to the fact that my other occupations did
not give me time enough to learn my parts. He then, in his flattering
way, said: ‘Ah, Bourrienne, let me alone. You have so excellent a
memory! You know that this is an amusement to me! You see that these
performances enliven Malmaison and make it cheerful! Josephine is so
fond of them! Rise a little earlier!’

“‘It is a fact--I sleep a great deal!’

“‘Allons, Bourrienne, do it to please me; you do make me laugh so
heartily! Deprive me not of this pleasure. You know well that otherwise
I have but few recreations.’

“‘Ah, parbleu! I will not deprive you of it. I am happy to be able to
contribute something to your amusement.’ Consequently I rose earlier, to
learn my parts.

“On the theatre days the company at Malmaison was always very large.
After the performance a brilliant crowd undulated like waves in the
halls of the first story. The most animated and varied conversation took
place, and I can truly affirm that cheerfulness and sincerity were the
life of those conversations, and their principal charm. Refreshments of
all kinds were distributed, and Josephine performed the honors of those
gatherings with so much amiableness and complacency that each one might
believe she busied herself more with him than with any one else. At the
end of the delightful soirees, which generally closed after midnight,
we returned to Paris, where the cares of life awaited us.” [Footnote:
Bourrienne, “Memoires,” vol. v., p. 26.]

Time was spent not only in festivities and amusements at Malmaison, but
sciences and arts also formed there a serious occupation, and it was
Josephine who was the prime mover. She invited to the chateau painters,
sculptors, musicians, architects, and savants of every profession, and
thus to the Graces she added the Arts for companions.


Above all things, Josephine, in her retreat, devoted her time and
leisure hours to botany and to her dear flowers. Alexander Lenoir, the
famous architect of that day, had to assist her in enlarging the little
castle of Malinaison, and to open more suitable halls for the arts
and sciences. Under Josephine’s direction there arose the splendid
library-room resting upon columns; it was Josephine who had the
beautiful gallery of paintings constructed, and also with remarkable
judgment purchased a selection of the finest paintings of the great
masters to adorn this gallery. Besides which, she gave to living
painters orders of importance, and encouraged them to originate new
pieces, that art itself might have a part in the new era of peace and
prosperity, which, under the consulate, seemed to spread over France.

Alongside of the paintings Josephine adorned this gallery with the
finest antique statues, with a collection of the rarest painted vases
of Pompeii, and with ten paintings on cement, memorials of Grecian art,
representing the nine Muses and Apollo Mersagetos. These last splendid
subjects were a present which the King of Naples had given to Josephine
during her residence in Italy. Always attentive not only to promote the
arts, but also to help the artists and to increase their reputation,
Josephine would buy some new pieces of sculpture, and give them a
place in Malmaison. The two most exquisite masterpieces of Canova, “The
Dancing-Girl” and “Paris,” were purchased by Josephine at an enormous
price for her gallery, whose chief ornament they were.

Her fondness for flowers was such that she spared neither expense
nor labor to procure those worthy of Malmaison. She caused also large
green-houses and hot-houses to be constructed, the latter suited to
the culture of the pineapple and of the peach. In the green-houses were
found flowers and plants of every zone, and of all countries. People,
knowing her taste for botany, sent her from the most remote places the
choicest plants. Even the prince regent of England, the most violent
and bitter enemy of the first consul, had high esteem for this taste of
Josephine; and during the war, when some French ships, captured by the
English, were found to have on board a collection of tropical plants for
her, he had them carried with all dispatch to Madame Bonaparte.

Josephine had a lofty aim: she wanted to gather into her hot-houses all
the species and families, all the varieties of the tropical plants,
and she strove to accomplish this with a perseverance, a zeal, and an
earnestness of which no one would have thought her indolent, soft Creole
nature capable. To increase her precious collection, she spared neither
money nor time, neither supplications nor efforts. All travellers, all
seafaring men, who came into her drawing-room were entreated to send
plants to Malmaison; and even the secretary of the navy did not fail
to give instructions to the captains of vessels sailing to far-distant
lands to bring back plants for the wife of the first consul. If it were
a matter of purchase, nothing was too expensive, and when, through her
fondness for beautiful objects, Josephine’s purse was exhausted, and her
means curtailed, she sooner gave up the purchase of a beautiful ornament
than that of a rare plant.

The hot-houses of Malmaison caused, therefore, a considerable increase
in her expenses, and were a heavy burden to her treasury; and for their
sake, when the day of payment came, Josephine had to receive from her
husband many severe reproaches, and was forced to shed many a bitter
tear. But this, perhaps, made them still dearer; no sooner were the
tears dried up and the expenses covered, than Josephine again abandoned
herself with renewed zeal to her passion for collecting plants and
costly studies in botany, especially since she had succeeded in winning
to her person the renowned botanist and learned Bonpland, and in having
him appointed superintendent of her gardens and hot-houses. It was
Bonpland who cultivated Josephine’s inclination for botany, and exalted
her passion into a science. He filled the green-houses of Malmaison
with the rarest plants, and taught Josephine at the same time their
classifications and sexes, and she quickly proved herself to be a
zealous and tractable pupil. She soon learned the names of the plants,
as well as their family names, as classified by the naturalists; she
became acquainted with their origin and their virtues, and was extremely
sad and dejected when, in one of her families, a single species was
wanting. But what a joy when this gap was filled! No price was too
exorbitant, then, to procure the missing species; and one day she paid
for a small, insignificant plant from Chili the high price of three
thousand francs, filling Bonpland with ecstasy, but the emperor with
deep wrath as soon as he heard it. [Footnote: Avrillon, “Memoires sur
l’Imperatrice Josephine.”]

Next to botany, it was music which Josephine delighted in and
cultivated. Since the cares and the numerous relations of her
diversified life claimed so much of her time, she had abandoned the
exercises of music; and it was only at the hour of unusual serenity of
mind, or of more lively recollections of the past, that she was
heard singing softly one of the songs of her own native isle, even as
Bonaparte himself, when he was meditating and deciding about some new
campaign, would betray the drift of his thoughts by singing louder and
louder the favorite melody of the day, Marlborough s’en va-t-en guerre.
But Josephine had the satisfaction that Hortense was not only an
excellent performer on the piano and the harp, but that she could also
write original compositions, whose softness and harmonious combinations
made them popular throughout France. Another satisfaction was, that
Eugene sang, in a fine clear voice, with great talent, and that
frequently he would by his excellent singing draw even the first consul
into loud expressions of admiration.

Bonaparte was not easily satisfied as regards singing; it was seldom
that music elicited any commendation from him. The Italian music alone
could excite his enthusiasm, and through its impassioned fervor rouse
him up, or its humorous passages enliven him. Therefore Bonaparte, when
consul or emperor, always patronized the Italian music in preference to
any other, and he constantly and publicly expressed this liking, without
considering how much he might thereby wound the French artistes in their
ambition and love of fame. He therefore appointed an Italian to be first
singer at the opera. It is true this was Maestro Paesiello, whose operas
were then making their way through Europe, and everywhere meeting with
approbation. Bonaparte also was extremely fond of them, and at every
opportunity he manifested to the maestro his good-will and approbation.
But one day this commendation of Paesiello was changed to the most
stinging censure. It was on the occasion of the first representation
of Paesiello’s Zingari in Fiera. The first consul and his wife were in
their loge, and to show to the public how much he honored and esteemed
the composer, he had invited Paesiello to attend the performance in his

Bonaparte followed the performance with the most enthusiastic
demonstrations of gratification; he heartily applauded each part, and
paid to Paesiello compliments which were the more flattering since every
one knew that the lips which uttered them were not profuse in their use.
A tenor part had just ended, and its effect had been remarkable. The
audience was full of enthusiasm. Bonaparte, who by his hearty applause
had given the signal to a storm of cheers, turned toward Paesiello, and,
offering him his hand, exclaimed:

“Truly, my dear friend, the man who has composed this melody can boast
of being the first composer in Europe!”

Paesiello became pale, his whole body trembled, and, with stammering
voice, he said:

“General, this melody is from Cimarosa. I have placed it in my opera
merely to please the singers.”

The first consul shrugged his shoulders.

“I am sorry, my dear sir,” said he, “but I cannot recall what I have

The next day, however, he sent to the composer of the opera, as an
acknowledgment of his esteem, a magnificent present, with which he
no doubt wished to heal the pain which he had unwittingly caused the
maestro. But Paesiello possessed a temper easily wounded, and the more
so since he considered himself as the first and greatest composer in
the world, and was sincere in the opinion that others could compose good
music, but that his alone was grand and distinguished.

Bonaparte’s present could not, therefore, heal the wound which the
praise of Cimarosa’s melody had inflicted, and this wound was soon to
be probed deeper, and become fatal to Paesiello. Another new opera from
Paesiello, Proserpina, was to be represented. The first consul, who was
anxious to secure for his protege a brilliant success, had given
orders to bring it out in the most splendid style; the most beautiful
decorations and the richest costumes had been provided, and a stage
erected for a ballet, on which the favorite ballet-leaders of Paris were
to practise their art.

The mighty first consul was, on the evening of the first performance of
the opera of Proserpina, to learn the lesson, that there exists a power
which will not be bound in fetters, and which is stronger and more
influential than the dictates of the mighty--the power of public
opinion. This stood in direct opposition to the first consul, by the
voiceless, cold silence with which it received Paesiello’s piece.
Bonaparte might applaud as heartily as he pleased, and that might
elicit an echo from the group of his favorites, but the public
remained unmoved, and Bonaparte had the humiliation to see this opera,
notwithstanding his approbation, prove a complete failure. He felt as
nervous and excited as the composer himself, for he declared loudly
and angrily that the French knew nothing about music, and that it was
necessary to teach them that the Italians alone understood the art of

To teach this to the French the opera of Proserpina was to be repeated
until the mind of the public should have been educated to its beauty,
and they had been forced to acknowledge it. A decided warfare ensued
between this opera and the public, each party being determined to
have its own way; the authorities persevered in having the performance
repeated, and the public kept away from it with equal obstinacy. The
latter, however, had the advantage in this case, for they could not be
forced to attend where they were unwilling to go, and so they won the
victory, and the authorities had to yield.

Paesiello, touched to the quick by the failure of Proserpina, resigned
his position as leader, and left Paris to return to Italy. The question
now was, how to fill this important and honorable position. The
Parisians were excited about this nomination, and divided into two
parties, each of which defended its candidate with the greatest zeal,
and maintained that he would be the one who would receive Bonaparte’s
appointment. The candidates of these two parties were the Frenchman
Mehul and the Italian Cherubini. Those who formed the party of Cherubini
calculated especially on Bonaparte’s well-known preference for Italian
music. They knew that, though he was much attached to Mehul, whom he had
known before the expedition to Egypt, and had shown him many favors, yet
he had often expressed his contempt for French music, and was committed
against him by the very fact of his maintaining that the Italians alone
understood the art of musical composition.

Mehul had for a long time endured in silence the criticisms of
Bonaparte; he had patiently returned no answer when he repeated to him:
“Science, and only science--that is all the French musicians understand;
my dear sir, grace, melody, and joyousness, are unknown to you Frenchmen
and to the Germans; the Italians alone are masters here.”

One day Mehul, having become tired of these constant discouraging
remarks, resolved to let the first consul, who so often gave him bitter
pills to swallow, have a taste of them himself.

He went, therefore, to his friend, the poet Marsollier, and begged him
to write an extremely lively and extravagant piece, whose design
would be absurd enough to make it pass as the work of some Italian
pamphlet-writer, and at the same time he enjoined the most profound

Marsollier complied willingly with the wishes of his friend, and after
a few days he brought him the text for the small opera Irato. With the
same alacrity did Mehul sit down to the task of composing, and when the
work was done, Marsollier went to the committee of the comic opera to
tell them he had just received from Italy a score whose music was
so extraordinary that he was fully convinced of its success, and
had therefore been to the trouble, notwithstanding the weakness and
foolishness of the libretto, to translate the text into French. The
committee tried the score, was enchanted with the music, and was fully
convinced of the brilliant success of the little opera, inasmuch as the
strange and lively text was well adapted to excite the hilarity and the
merriment of the public. The first singers of the opera were rivals for
the parts; all the newspapers published the pompous advertisement that
in a short time would be performed at the Opera Comique a charming,
entrancing opera, the maiden piece of a young Italian.

Finally its first performance was announced; the first consul declared
that he and his wife would attend, and he invited Mehul, whom he liked
to tease and worry, because he loved him from his heart, to attend the
performance in his loge.

“It will undoubtedly be a mortification to you, my poor friend,” said
he, laughing; “but perhaps when you hear this enchanting music, so
different from that of the French, you will imitate it, and cease

Mehul replied with a bow; he then began to excuse himself from
accompanying the first consul to the theatre; and it was only after
Bonaparte and Josephine had pressed him very much, that he accepted the
invitation, and went with them to their loge.

The opera began, and, immediately after the first melody, Bonaparte
applauded and expressed his admiration. There never had been any
thing more charming--never had the French written music with so much
freshness, elegance, or so naturally. Bonaparte continued his praise,
and often-times repeated: “It is certain there is nothing superior to
Italian music.”

At last the opera ended amid a real storm of applause; and, with their
enthusiasm at the highest pitch, the audience claimed to know the names
of the poet and of the composer. After a long pause the curtain rose and
the registrar appeared; he made the three customary bows, and in a loud
voice named Marsollier as the author and Mehul as the composer of the
opera Irato.

The audience received this news with an unceasing storm of applause.
They, like the consul and the singers who had taken part in the opera,
knew nothing of the mystification, so well had the secret been kept.

Josephine turned smilingly to Bonaparte, and with her own charming grace
offered her hand to Mehul and thanked him for the twofold enjoyment he
had that day prepared for her, by furnishing her his entrancing opera,
and by having prepared a little defeat of Bonaparte, that traitor to his
country, who dared prefer the Italian music to the French.

Bonaparte himself looked at the affair on its bright side; he had
enjoyed the opera; he had laughed; he was satisfied, and consequently he
overlooked the deceitful surprise.

“Conquer me always in this manner!” said he, laughing, to Mehul, “and I
shall enjoy both your fame and my amusement.”

The friends of Cherubini thought of this little event when the question
arose as to the appointment to the situation of first singer at the
Grand Opera, and they therefore did not hesitate to wager that Cherubini
would be appointed, since he was an Italian.

But they knew not that Bonaparte had pardoned Mehul, and frequently
joked with him, whilst he ever grumbled at Cherubini on account of an
expression which the latter had once allowed himself to use against
General Bonaparte.

Bonaparte had conversed with Cherubini after a representation of one of
his operas, and, while he congratulated him, he however added that this
opera did not please him as much as the other pieces of Cherubini--that
he thought it somewhat sober and scientific, and that he missed in
it the accustomed richness of the maestro’s melodies. This criticism
wounded Cherubini as if pierced by a dagger, and with the irritable
vehemence of an Italian he replied:

“General, busy yourself in winning battles--that is your trade; but
leave me to practise mine, about which you know nothing.”

The Consul Bonaparte had neither forgotten nor pardoned Cherubini’s
answer; and, despite his fondness for Italian music, he was resolved to
give to Mehul the position vacated by Paesiello.

Josephine approved entirely of this choice, and, in order to witness
Mehul’s joy, she invited him to Malmaison, that the consul might
there inform him of his appointment. How great, however, was her and
Bonaparte’s surprise, when Mehul, instead of being delighted with this
distinguished appointment, positively refused to accept it!

“I can accept this position only under one condition,” said Mehul,
“which is, that I may be allowed to divide it with my friend Cherubini.”

“Do not speak to me about him,” exclaimed Bonaparte, with animation; “he
is a coarse man, and I cannot tolerate him.”

“He may have had the misfortune to displease you,” replied Mehul,
eagerly, “but he is a master to us all, and especially as regards sacred
music. He now is in a very inferior position; he has a large family, and
I sincerely desire to reconcile him to you.”

“I repeat to you that I do not wish to know any thing about him.”

“In that case I must decline the position,” said Mehul, gravely,
“and nothing will alter my resolution. I am a member of the
Institute--Cherubini is not; I do not wish it to be said that I
have misused the good-will with which you honor me for the sake of
confiscating to my profit every situation, and of despoiling a man of
reputation of the reward to which he is most justly entitled.”

And Mehul, notwithstanding Josephine’s intercession and Bonaparte’s
ill-will, remained firm in his decision; he would not accept the
honorable and distinguished position of first singer at the Grand Opera;
and Bonaparte, after expressing his determination, would not change it.
Neither would he confer upon Cherubini the honor refused by Mehnl. He
therefore commissioned Josephine to name a successor to Paesiello; and
she went to Madame de Montesson, to confer with her on the matter.

Madame de Montesson could suggest no definite plan, but she told
Josephine of a French composer, of the name of Lesueur, who,
notwithstanding his great talents, lived in his native city of Paris
poor and unknown, and who had not succeeded in having his opera, “The
Bards,” represented at the Grand Opera, simply on the ground that he
was a Frenchman, and that every one knew Bonaparte’s strange aversion to
French music.

Josephine’s generous heart at once took sides with Lesueur; her
exquisite tact taught her that the public ought to know that the first
consul would not consult his own personal gratification, when the
question was to render justice to a Frenchman. She therefore recommended
to her husband, with all her ability, the poor composer Lesueur, who was
unknown to fame, and lost in obscurity; she represented his appointment
as such an act of generosity and of policy, that Bonaparte acceded to
her wishes at once, and appointed Lesueur to the office of first master
of the Grand Opera.

And Josephine had the pleasure of seeing that the new opera-leader
justified her expectations. His opera, “The Bards,” was naturally
brought into requisition; it had a brilliant and unexampled success,
and even Bonaparte, at the first representation, forgot his prejudices
against French music, and applauded quite as heartily as if it had been


The sun of happiness which for Josephine seemed to shine so brightly
over Malmaison, had nevertheless its long shadows and its dark specks;
even her gracious countenance was obscured, her heart filled with
sad forebodings, and her bosom stung as if by scorpions hidden under

Josephine had in her immediate circle violent and bitter enemies, who
were ever busy in undermining the influence which she possessed over her
husband, to steal from his heart the love he cherished for her, and to
remove from his side the woman who, by her presence, kept them in the
shade, and who wielded or destroyed the influence which they desired to
have over him.

These enemies were the brothers and especially the sisters of
Bonaparte. Among the brothers of the first consul, Lucien showed to his
sister-in-law the most violent and irreconcilable enmity. He left no
means untried to do her injury, and to convert her into an object of
suspicion, and this because he was convinced that Josephine was the
prime cause of the hostile sentiments of Napoleon against him, and
because he believed that, Josephine once out of the way, Napoleon’s
ear would be open to conviction, and that he, Lucien, the most powerful
citizen, next to his brother, would be the second “first consul.” He
was not aware that Napoleon’s keen eagle eye had fathomed his ambitious
heart; that he was the one who kept Lucien away, because he mistrusted
him, because he feared his ambition, and even looked upon him as capable
of the bold design of casting Napoleon aside, and setting himself up
in his place. Lucien was unaware of the influence which Josephine
frequently exerted over the mind of the first consul, in favor of
himself; that it was she who had pacified Napoleon’s anger at Lucien’s
marriage, contracted without his consent, and prevented him from
annulling it violently. The other brothers of Napoleon, influenced,
perhaps, by the enmity of Lucien, were also disaffected toward their
sister-in-law, and of them all, only Louis, the youngest, the one who
loved the first consul most tenderly and most sincerely, showed toward
her due respect and affection.

His three sisters were still more active in their opposition. Constantly
quarrelling among themselves, they, however, united heartily in the
common feeling of hatred to Josephine. It was she who stood in their
way, who every day excited anew their anger by the position she held at
Napoleon’s side, and in virtue of which the three sisters were thrust
into the background. Josephine, the wife of the first consul, was the
one to whom France made obeisance, upon whom the ambassadors of foreign
powers first waited, and afterward upon the sisters of the first consul.
It was Josephine who took the precedence in solemn ceremonies, and to
whom, by Bonaparte’s commands, they had to manifest respect. And
this woman, who by her eminence placed the sisters of Bonaparte in an
inferior position, was not of nobler or more distinguished blood than
they; she was not young, she was not beautiful, she was not even able to
give birth to a child, for which her husband so intensely longed.

The three sisters might have been submissive to the daughter of a
prince, they might have conceded to her the right of precedence, but the
widow of the Viscount de Beauharnais was not superior to them in rank
or birth; she was far inferior to them in beauty and youth--and yet they
had to give way to her, and see her take the first place!

From these sentiments of jealousy and envy sprang the enmity which the
three sisters of Bonaparte, Madame Elise Bacciocchi, Madame Pauline
Borghese, and Madame Caroline Murat, cherished against Josephine, and
which her gentle words and kind heart could never assuage.

Josephine was in their way--she must therefore fall. Such is the key to
the right understanding of the conduct of the three beautiful sisters
of Napoleon toward the wife of their brother. In their violence they
disregarded all propriety, and shrank from no calumny or malice to
accomplish their ends. It was a constant warfare with intrigues and
malicious suspicions. Every action of Josephine was observed, every step
was watched, in the hope of finding something to render her suspicious
to her husband. On every occasion the three sisters besieged him with
complaints concerning the lofty and proud demeanor of Josephine, and
ridiculed him about his old, childless wife, who stood in the way of
his growing fame! Though Bonaparte in these conflicts always sided with
Josephine against his sisters, yet there probably remained in his heart
a sting from the ridicule which they had directed against him.

This hostility of the Bonaparte family was not unknown to Josephine; her
soul suffered under these ceaseless attacks, her heart was agonized at
the thought that the efforts of her sisters-in-law might finally succeed
in withdrawing from her the love of her husband. She was persuaded that
even in the Bonaparte family she needed a protector, that she must
look for one among the brothers, so as to counteract the enmity of the
sisters; and she chose for this Louis Bonaparte. She entreated Napoleon
to give to his young, beloved brother the hand of her daughter Hortense.
It would be a new bond chaining Bonaparte to her--a new fortress for
her love--if he would but make her daughter his sister-in-law, and his
brother her son-in-law.

Napoleon did not oppose her wishes; he consented that Hortense should be
married to his brother. It is true the young people were not consulted;
for the first time, Josephine’s selfishness got the better of her love
for her child--she sacrificed the welfare of her daughter to secure her
own happiness.

But Hortense loved another, yet she yielded to the entreaties and tears
of her mother, and became the wife of this laconic, timid young man,
whose meagre, unpretending appearance resembled so little the ideal
which her maidenly heart had pictured of her future husband.

Louis on his side had not the slightest inclination for Hortense; he
never would have chosen her for his wife, for their characters were too
different; their inclinations and wishes were not in sympathy with each
other. But through obedience to the wishes of his brother, he accepted
the proffered hand of Josephine’s daughter, and became the husband of
the beautiful, blond-haired Hortense de Beauharnais.

In February, of the year 1802, the marriage of the young couple took
place, and this family event was celebrated with the most magnificent
festivities. Josephine’s joy and happiness were complete--she had thrown
a bridge over the abyss, and was now secure against the hostilities of
her sisters-in-law, by giving up her own daughter.

Every thing was resplendent with beauty and joy at these festivities;
every thing wore an appearance of happiness; only the countenances of
the newly-married couple were grave and sad, and their deep melancholy
contrasted strikingly with the happiness of which they themselves were
the cause. Adorned with diamonds and flowers, Hortense appeared to be a
stranger to all the pomp which surrounded her, and to be occupied only
with her own sad communings. Louis Bonaparte was pale and grave, like
Hortense; he seldom addressed a word to the young wife that the orders
of his brother had given him; and she avoided her husband’s looks,
perhaps to hinder him from reading there the indifference and dislike
she felt for him. [Footnote: “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine, la
Cour de Navarre,” etc., par Mlle. Ducrest, vol. i., p. 49.]

But Josephine was happy, for she knew the noble, faithful, and generous
spirit of the man to whom she had given her daughter; and she trusted
that the two young hearts, now that they were linked together, would
soon love one another. She hoped much more from this alliance; she hoped
not only to find in it a shield against domestic animosities, but also
to give to her husband, even if indirectly, the children he so much
desired--for the offspring of his brother and the daughter of his
Josephine would be nearly the same as his own, and they could adopt
and love them as such. This was Josephine’s hope, the dream of her
happiness, when she gave her daughter in marriage to the brother of her

The fact that the first consul was childless was not only a family
solicitude, it was also a political question. The people themselves had
changed the face of affairs, they had by solemn vote decided to confer
the consulate for life upon Napoleon, who had previously been elected
for ten years only. In other words, the French people had chosen
Bonaparte for their master and ruler, and he now lacked but the title
to be king. Every one felt and knew that this consulate for life was
but the prelude to royalty; that the golden laurel-wreath of the first
consul would soon be converted into a golden crown, so as to secure to
France an enduring peace, and to make firm its political situation.

With her keen political instinct, Josephine trembled at the thought
that the King or Emperor Bonaparte would have to establish for himself
a dynasty--that he would have to appease the apprehensions of France
by offering to the nation a son who would be his legitimate heir and
successor. Thus was the subject of divorce kept hanging over her head
until the conviction was forced upon her mind that some day Napoleon
would be led into sacrificing his love to politics. Josephine was
conscious of it, and consequently the hopes of Napoleon’s future
greatness, which so pleased his brothers and sisters, only made her
sorrowful, and she therefore entreated Bonaparte with tender appeal to
remain content with the high dignity he already possessed, and not to
tempt fate, nor to allow it to bear him up to a dizzy height, from which
the stormy winds of adversity might the more easily prostrate him.

Bonaparte listened to her with a smile, and generally in silence. Once
only he replied to her: “Has not your prophetess in Martinique told you
that one day you would be more than a queen?”

“And the prophecy is already realized,” exclaimed Josephine. “The wife
of the consul for life is more than a queen, for her husband is the
elect of thirty millions of hearts!” Bonaparte laughed, and said

Another time Josephine asked him--“Now, Bonaparte, when are you going to
make me Empress of the Gauls?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “What an idea,” said he; “the little
Josephine an empress!”

Josephine answered him with the words of Corneille--“‘Le premier qui fut
roi fut un soldat heureux’” (the first king was a successful soldier);
and she added, “The wife of this fortunate soldier shares his rank.”

He placed his small, white hand, adorned with rings, under her chin, and
gazed at her with a deep, strange look.

“Now, Josephine,” said he, after a short pause, “your successful soldier
is only, for the present, consul for life, and you are sharing his rank.
Be careful, then, that the wife of the first consul surrounds herself
with all the brilliancy and the pomp which beseem her dignity. No more
economy, no more modest simplicity! The industry of France is at a low
ebb--we must make it rise. We must give receptions; we must prove to
France that the court of a consul can be as splendid as that of a king.
You understand what pomp is--none better than you! Now show yourself
brilliant, magnificent, so that the other ladies may imitate you. But,
no foreign stuffs! Silk and velvet from the fabrics of Lyons!”

“Yes,” said Josephine, with charming tenderness, “and when afterward my
bills become due, you cut them down--you find them too high.”

“I only cut down what is too exorbitant,” said Bonaparte, laughing. “I
have no objection for you to give to the manufacturers any amount
of work and profit, but I do not wish them to cheat you.” [Footnote:
Abrantes, “Memoires” vol. iv.]

Henceforth, the consulate began gradually to exhibit a splendor and pomp
which were behind no princely court, and which relegated, amid the dark
legends of the fabulous past, the fraternity and the equality of the
republic. The absence of pretension, and the simplicity of Malmaison,
were now done away with; everywhere the consul for life was followed by
the splendors of his dignity, and everywhere Josephine was accompanied
by her court.

For now she had a court, and an anteroom, with all its intrigues and
flatteries; and its conspiracies already wove their chains around the
consul and his wife. It was not suddenly, it was not spontaneously, that
this court of the first consul was formed; two years were required
for its organization--two years of unceasing labor on the new code of
regulations, which etiquette dictated from the remembrances of the past
to the palace-officers of the Consul Bonaparte. “How was this in times
past? What was the practice?” Such were the constant questions in the
interior of the Tuileries, and for the answers they appealed to Madame
de Montesson, to the old courtiers, the servants and adherents of
royalty. Instead of creating every thing new, they turned by degrees
to the usages and manners of the past. Always and in all countries
have there been seen at courts caricatures and persons of ill-mannered
awkwardness; at the opening of the court of the first consul it is
probable that these existed, and appeared still more strange to those
who had been used to the manners, traditions, and language of the
ancient court of Versailles. Their awkwardness, however, was soon
overcome; and Josephine understood so well the rare art of presiding at
a court establishment--she was such an accomplished mistress of refined
manners and of noble deportment--she united to the perfect manners of
the old nobility the most exquisite adroitness, and she knew so well how
to adapt all these advantages to every new circumstance--that soon every
one bowed to her sovereignty and submitted to her laws.

From the glittering halls of the Tuileries there soon disappeared the
sword and the uniform, to be replaced by the gold-embroidered dress, the
silk stockings, and the chapeau bras; and on the glassy floors of
the Tuileries generals and marshals appeared as fine cavaliers, who,
submitting to the rules of etiquette, left behind with their regiments
the coarse language of the camp. Many of these young generals and heroes
had married the beautiful but impoverished daughters of the
aristocrats of old monarchical France. These young women, who were the
representatives of the ancient noblesse, brought to the Tuileries the
traditions of their mothers, and distinguished themselves by the ease
of their courtly deportment and their graceful manners; and they thus
unconsciously became the teachers of the other young women, who, like
their husbands, owed their aristocratic name only to the sword and to
their fresh laurels, and not to ancient escutcheons.

In the Tuileries and in St. Cloud there were reception-days,
audience-days, and great and small levees, at which were assembled all
that France possessed of rank, name, and fame, and where the ambassadors
of all the powers accredited at the court of the consul, where all the
higher clergy and the pope’s nuncio, appeared in full dress.

Bonaparte ventured to remove still further from the landmarks of the
revolution, and from its so-called conquests. He restored to France the
church; he reopened the temples of religion, and he also gave back to
the people their priests.

Just as in the days of old monarchical France, every Sunday, and at
every festival, a solemn mass was said at St. Cloud; and in the glass
gallery on the way to the chapel, Bonaparte received petitions
and granted short audiences. France, with the instinct of its old
inclinations and habits, readily returned to this new order of things;
and even those who once had with enthusiasm saluted the Goddess of
Reason, went now, with hands joined in prayer and eyes bent low, to
Notre Dame, to offer again their supplications to the God of Love.

Every thing seemed to return to the old track, every thing was as in the
days preceding the revolution--the re-establishment of the throne, the
national, willing approbation that the republic had become a monarchy,
was, however, still wanting.

Finally, on the 18th of May, 1804, France spoke out the decisive word,
and, by the voice of its representatives the senators, it offered to
Bonaparte the crown, and requested him to ascend as emperor the throne
of France.

Napoleon acceded to these wishes, and, as the senate, in a ceremonious
procession, marshalled by Cambaceres, came to St. Cloud to communicate
to Bonaparte the wish of France, and to offer to him and to Josephine
the dignities of an empire, he accepted it without surprise, and
apparently without joy, and allowed himself to be proclaimed NAPOLEON,

On this memorable day, after Cambaceres, in the name of the senate and
of France, had addressed the first consul as the actual emperor, he
turned to Josephine, who, with that unparalleled admixture of grandeur,
grace, and tender womanly beauty, which were all so especially her own,
was present at this audience at Napoleon’s side.

“Madame,” said Cambaceres, “there remains yet to the senate a pleasant
duty to perform: to bring to your imperial majesty the homage of its
respect and the expression of gratitude of the French people. Yes,
madame, the public sentiment acknowledges the good which you are ever
performing; that you are always accessible to the unfortunate; that you
use your influence with the chief magistrate only to diminish evil, and
to procure a hearing to those who seek it; and that your majesty
with this well-doing combines the most amiable tenderness, rendering
thankfulness a pleasant duty. These noble qualities of your majesty
foretell that the name of the Empress Josephine will be a watchword
of trust and hope; and, as the virtues of Napoleon will ever be to his
followers an example to teach them the difficult art of government,
so also, the lively remembrance of your goodness will teach to their
honorable wives that to strive to dry the tear is the surest means of
ruling the heart. The senate deems itself happy in being the first
to congratulate your imperial majesty, and he who has the honor of
addressing you these sentiments in the name of the senate, dares trust
that you will ever number him among your most faithful servants.”

It was, then, decided! France had accepted her master, and Cambaceres in
his solemn address had already marked out the situation of France and of
her rulers. Bonaparte and Josephine were now their imperial majesties,
the senators were their most faithful servants. What remained to the
people but to call themselves “faithful subjects?”

The people, however, had made known their wishes only through the voice
of the senate; it was the senators who had converted Bonaparte into the
Emperor Napoleon; but the people were also to make their will known in a
solemn manner; they were, through a universal public suffrage, to decide
whether the imperial dignity should be given only for life to Napoleon
the First, Emperor of the French, or whether it should be hereditary in
his family.

France, wearied with storms and divisions, decided with her five
millions of votes for the hereditary imperial dignity in Bonaparte’s
family, and thus the people of France created their fourth dynasty.

Meanwhile Josephine received this new decision of the nation, not with
that disquietude and care which she had formerly experienced.
Bonaparte had given her the deepest and strongest proof of his love
and faithfulness. He had not only withstood the pressure of his whole
family, which had conjured him before his election to the empire to be
divorced from his childless wife, but he had in the generosity of his
love appointed his heirs and successors, and these were to be the sons
of Hortense. The senate had decreed that the imperial dignity should be
transmitted as a heritage to Napoleon’s two brothers Joseph and
Louis, and moreover they had given to Napoleon the right to choose his
successors and heirs from the families of the two brothers.

Napoleon had given to Josephine the strongest proof of affection--he had
declared the son of her daughter Hortense and of his brother Louis, the
little Napoleon Louis, to be his successor and heir, and the idea of
a divorce no longer caused apprehensions before which Josephine need

Bonaparte had appointed the sons of his brother and of Josephine’s
daughter as his heirs, and the heir of the new imperial throne was
already born. Hortense’s youth made it hopeful that she would add to the
new branch of the Napoleonic dynasty new leaves and new boughs.

Josephine could now rejoice in her happiness and her glory; she could
abandon herself to the new splendors of her life with all the enjoyment
of her sensitive and excitable nature. She could now receive with smiles
and with affable condescension the homage of France, for she was not
only empress by a nation’s vote, but she was also empress by the choice
of Napoleon her husband.

The brilliancy of this new and glorious horizon was soon overhung by a
sombre cloud. The execution of the Duke d’Enghien threw its dark shadows
from the last days of the consulate upon the truly royalist heart of
Josephine; and now that heart was to receive fresh wounds through the
royalists, to whom she had remained true with all the memories of
youth, and in whose behalf she had so often, so zealously, and so warmly
interceded with her husband.

A new conspiracy against Napoleon’s life was discovered, and this time
it was the men of the highest ranks of the old aristocracy who were
implicated in it. George Cadoudal, the unwearied conspirator, had, while
in England, planned with the leaders of the monarchical party residing
in France, or who were away from it, a new conspiracy, whose object was
to destroy Bonaparte and to re-establish the monarchy.

But Fate was again on the side of the hero of Arcola. His good star
still protected him. The conspiracy was discovered, and all those
concerned in it were arrested. Among them were the Generals Pichegru and
Moreau, the Counts de Polignac, Riviere, Saint Coster, Charles d’Hozier,
and many others of the leading and most distinguished royalists. They
were now under the avenging sword of justice, and the tribunal had
condemned twenty of the accused to death, among whom were the above
named. The emperor alone had the power to save them and to extend mercy.
But he was this time determined to exhibit a merciless severity, so as
to put an end to the royalists, and to prove to them that he was the
ruler of France, and that the people without a murmur had given him the
power to punish, as guilty of high-treason, those who dared touch their

Josephine’s heart, however, remained true to her memories and her piety;
and, according to her judgment, those who, with so much heroic loyalty,
remained true to the exiled monarchy, were criminals only as they had
imperilled her husband’s life, but criminals who, since their plans were
destroyed, deserved pardon, because they had sinned through devotion to
sacred principles.

Josephine, therefore, opposed Bonaparte’s anger, and begged for pardon
for the son of the former friend of Queen Marie Antoinette, the Count
Jules de Polignac. Bonaparte, however, remained inexorable; he repelled
Josephine with vehemence, reproaching her for asking for the life of
those who threatened his. But she would not be deterred; since Bonaparte
had turned her away with her petitions and prayers, she wanted at least
to give to the wife of the Count de Polignac an opportunity to ask
pardon for her condemned husband. Despite Bonaparte’s wrath, Josephine
led the Countess de Polignac into a corridor through which the emperor
had to pass, when he went from the council-room into his cabinet, and by
this means the countess was fortunate enough, by her tears and prayers,
to save her husband’s life. The Count de Polignac was pardoned; and now
that Bonaparte’s heart had once been opened to mercy, he also granted to
Josephine the lives of Count Riviere and of General Lajolais, in behalf
of whom Hortense had appealed to the emperor. More than twenty of the
conspirators were accused and sentenced, some to death and some to
severe punishment, but one-half of the accused were, thanks to the
prayers of Josephine and of her daughter, pardoned; a few were put to
death, and the rest transported. Pichegru committed suicide in prison;
Moreau received permission to emigrate to America; George Cadoudal
perished on the scaffold.

After this last fruitless attempt to re-establish in France the throne
of the Bourbons, the royalists, wearied and terrified, had at least
for a time to withdraw into obscurity and solitude, and the
newly-established empire appeared in still more striking magnificence.
The monarchy by God’s grace had been conquered by the empire by the
people’s grace, and Napoleon wanted now to show himself to astonished
Europe in all the glory of his new dignity. He therefore undertook a
journey with his wife through the conquered German provinces; he went
to Aix-la-Chapelle, to the city of coronation of the ancient German
emperors, and which now belonged to imperial France; he went to Mayence,
the golden Mayence of the old Roman days, and which now, after so many
streams of bloodshed, had been transferred to France.

This journey of the emperor and empress was one uninterrupted triumphal
procession; the population of the old German city applauded, in
dishonorable faithlessness, the new foreign ruler; all the clergy
received their imperial majesties at the door of the cathedral, where
Germany’s first emperor, Charlemagne, was buried; and, to flatter the
Empress Josephine, the clergy caused a miracle to be performed by her
hand. There existed in the sacred treasury of the cathedral a casket of
gold, containing the most precious relics, but which was never opened to
the eyes of mortals, and whose lock no key fitted. Only once a year was
this precious, sacred casket of relics shown to the worshipping crowd,
and then locked up in the holy shrine. But for Josephine this treasury
was condescendingly opened, and to the empress was presented this casket
of relics, and behold, the miracle took place! At the touch of the
empress the lid of the casket sprang up, and in it were seen the
most precious jewels of royalty, amongst which was the seal-ring of
Charlemagne. [Footnote: Constant, “Memoires,” vol. iii.] No one was more
surprised at this miracle than the clergy!

The neighboring German princes came to ancient Mayence to do homage to
Josephine, and to win the favor of the sovereign of France toward their
little principalities, and to assure him of their devotedness. Bonaparte
already understood how to receive the humble, flattering German princes
with the mien of a gracious protector, and to look upon them with the
eye of an emperor, to whom not only the nations but also the princes
must bow; and Josephine also excited the admiration of genuine princes
and legitimate princesses, by the graciousness and grandeur, by the
unaffected dignity and ease with which she knew how to represent the
sovereign and the empress.


Fate had reserved another triumph for the ruler of France, the Emperor
Napoleon--the triumph that the empire by the people’s grace should be
converted and exalted into the empire by God’s grace. Pope Pius VII.,
full of thankfulness that Napoleon had re-established the Church in
France, and restored to the clergy their rights, had consented to come
to Paris for the sake of giving to the empire, created by the will
of the French people, the benediction of the Church, and in solemn
coronation to place the imperial crown on the head anointed by the hands
of God’s vice-gerent.

Bonaparte received this news with the lofty composure of an emperor who
finds it quite natural that the whole world should bow to his wishes,
and Josephine received it with the modesty and joyous humility of a
pious Christian. She desired above all things the blessing of God and of
the Church to rest upon this crown, whose possession had seemed to her
until now a spoliation, a sacrilege, and about which her conscience so
often reproached her. But when God’s vicegerent, when the Holy Father of
Christendom should himself have blessed her husband’s crown, and should
have made fast on Josephine’s brow the imperial diadem, then all blame
was removed, then the empress could hope that Heaven’s blessing would
accompany the new emperor and his wife!

But was it really Napoleon’s wish that Josephine should take part in
this grand ceremony of coronation? Did he wish that, like him, she
should receive from the hands of the pope the consecrated crown?

Such was the deep, important question which occupied, at the approaching
arrival of the pope, the young imperial court; a question, too,
which occupied Josephine’s mind, and also the whole family, and more
especially the sisters of Bonaparte.

Josephine naturally desired that it should be so, for this solemn
coronation would be a new bond uniting her to her husband, a new
guaranty against the evil which the empress’s foreboding spirit still
dreaded. But for the very same reasons her enemies prepared their
weapons to prevent Josephine from obtaining this new consecration and
this new glory, and harsh and bitter conflicts took place within the
inner circles of the imperial family on account of it, which on both
sides were carried on with the deepest animosity and obstinacy, but
finally to a complete triumph for Josephine.

Thiers, in his “History of the Consulate and of the Empire,” relates the
last scenes in this family quarrel:

“Napoleon vacillated between his affection for his wife and the secret
presentiments of his policy, when an occurrence took place which nearly
caused the sudden ruin of the unfortunate Josephine. Every one was in a
state of agitation about the new monarch--brothers, sisters, and allies!
In the solemnity which seemed to give to each a blessing, all desired to
perform parts adequate to their actual pretensions, and to their hopes
of the future. At the sight of this restlessness, and witnessing the
pretensions and claims to which Napoleon was exposed from one of his
sisters, Josephine, carried away by anxiety and jealousy, gave utterance
to an insulting suspicion against his sister and against Napoleon, a
suspicion which agreed with the most bitter calumnies of the royalist
emigrants. Napoleon grew violently angry, and, as his wrath mastered his
better feelings, he declared to Josephine that he wanted to be divorced
from her; that he would have to be, sooner or later, and that it was
therefore better to announce it on the spot, before other bonds should
unite them still closer together. He sent for his two adopted children,
communicated to them this decision, and thus produced on them a most
painful impression. Hortense and Eugene de Beauharnais declared with
a sad but unwavering determination that they would follow their mother
into the exile which was being prepared for her. Josephine manifested
a resigned and dignified sorrow. The contrast of their sorrow with the
satisfaction which the other portion of the imperial family manifested,
deeply lacerated Napoleon’s heart, and he relented; for he could not
consent to see the companion of his youth and her children, who had been
the objects of his deserved affection, made so unhappy by being forced
into exile. He took Josephine in his arms, told her with emotion that
he could never have the strength to part from her, even if policy itself
should dictate it; and he then promised her that she should be crowned
with him, and at his side should receive from the pope the divine
blessing.” [Footnote: Thiers, “Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire.”
 vol. v., p. 249.]

Josephine, therefore, had won a victory over the hostile sisters, but
this defeat made them still more embittered, and though they were now
compelled to recognize Josephine as the imperial wife of their brother,
yet they would retreat only step by step, and at “least secure a place
near the imperial throne, and not be compelled by the empress to stand
behind. Yet this was exactly what was to take place according to the
programme, which prescribed for the festivity in Notre Dame that on the
day of coronation the brothers of the emperor should carry the trail of
his mantle, and that his sisters should at the same time carry the trail
of the empress’s mantle. But the sisters of Napoleon decidedly opposed
this arrangement.

“The emperor, tired of these constant wranglings and domestic strifes,
decided as judge, and declared he would no longer listen to these
unheard-of and unjustifiable pretensions.

“‘Truly,’ said he, to the beautiful Pauline, who, as Princess Borghese,
considered herself justified in making opposition, ‘truly, one would
think, after listening to you, that I have despoiled you of the
inheritance of the most blessed king our father.’” [Footnote: “Histoire
du Consulat,” vol. v., p. 251.]

The ambitious sisters, kept within bounds by the angry voice of their
brother, who now for the first time showed himself their ruling emperor,
had to fall into their places, and abide by the regulations of the

Nothing was wanted now to perfect the sacred celebration which was
to crown all the triumphs and victories of Napoleon, nothing but the
arrival of the pope: the whole imperial family, as well as France,
awaited his advent with impatience.

At last the couriers brought the news that the pope had touched the
French soil, and that the people were streaming toward him to manifest
their respect, and to implore his blessing on their knees; the same
people who precisely ten years before had closed the churches, driven
the priests into exile, and consecrated their bacchanalian worship to
the Goddess of Reason!

At last, on the 25th day of November, the pope entered Fontainebleau,
where the emperor and the empress had hastened to receive him. No sooner
was the pope’s approach announced, than Napoleon mounted his horse and
rode to meet him some distance on the way. In the centre of the road
took place the first interview between the representative of Christendom
and the youngest son of the Church, a son who now sat on the throne of
those who in former times had enjoyed the privilege of being called the
elder sons of the Church.

The pope alighted from his carriage as soon as the emperor was in
sight; Napoleon dismounted and hastened to meet and embrace tenderly
his holiness, and then to ascend with him the carriage, the question of
precedence remaining undecided, as the pope and the emperor entered the
carriage at the same time from opposite sides.

Josephine, surrounded by the official dignitaries, the ministers of
state, and all the generals, received the pope under the peristyle of
the palace of Fontainebleau; and then, after Napoleon had led him into
his room, Josephine, accompanied by her ladies, went to welcome Pius,
not as empress, but as an humble, devout daughter of the Church, who
wished to implore a blessing from the Holy Father of Christendom.
Josephine was deeply moved; her whole being was agitated and exalted at
once by this greatest of all the privileges which destiny had reserved
for her, and by this consecration which she was to receive at the hands
of the vicar of Christ.

As the pope, agreeably affected by this respect and emotion of the
empress, offered her his hand with a genial smile, Josephine, humble as
a little girl, sank down on her knees before him, kissed his hand, and
with streaming eyes implored his benediction. Pius, in his soft, winning
manner, promised to love her as a daughter, and that she should ever
find in him a father.

The empress, deeply moved by this affectionate condescension of the
pope, and impressed by the importance and solemnity of the moment,
bade her ladies withdraw, whilst she, in solitude and silence, as a
confessing child before the priest, should unveil her innermost heart
to the Holy Father. She then sank down upon her knees, and, stammering,
ashamed, with her voice broken by her sobs, acknowledged to the pope
that her marriage to Napoleon had never received, the consecration of
the Church; that, contracted amid the stormy days of the revolution, it
still lacked the blessing hand of the priest, and that her own husband
was to be blamed for this neglect. In vain had she often besought him
that, since he had restored the Church to Prance, he should himself give
to the world a striking example of his own return by having his marriage
blessed by it. But Napoleon refused, although he had been the cause of
Cardinal Caprera giving to the marriage of his sister Caroline Murat,
long after it had been contracted, the blessing of the Church.

Pius heard this confession of his imperial penitent with holy
resentment, and he promised her his aid and protection, assuring her he
would refuse the act of coronation if the ecclesiastical marriage did
not precede it.

No sooner had Josephine left him, than the pope asked for an interview
with the emperor, to whom he declared, with all the zeal of a true
servant of the Church, and the conviction of a devout, God-fearing man,
that he was willing to crown him, and to grant him the blessing of
the Church, for the state of the conscience of emperors had never been
examined before their anointment; but if his wife was to be crowned with
him, he must refuse his co-operation, because in crowning Josephine he
dare not grant the divine sanction to concubinage.

Napoleon, though inwardly much irritated at Josephine, who, as he at
once supposed, had made this confession to the pope in her own interest,
was still willing to abide by the circumstances. He did not wish to
irritate the pope, who as was well known was unyielding in all matters
pertaining to faith; moreover, he could not change any thing in the
already published ceremonial of the day, and thus he consented to have
the ecclesiastical marriage. After this conversation with the pope,
Napoleon went at once to Josephine, and the whole strength of his anger
was spent in violent reproaches against her untimely indiscretion.

Josephine endured these silently, and full of inward satisfaction; she
did not listen to Napoleon’s angry words; she only heard that he was
decided to have his marriage sanctioned by the Church, and now she would
be his wife before God, as she had been before men for the last
ten years. Now at last her fate was decided, and her marriage made
irrevocable; now she would no longer dread that Napoleon would punish
her childlessness by a divorce.

During the night which preceded the day of the coronation, the night
of the 1st of December, the ecclesiastical marriage of Napoleon and
Josephine took place in the chapel of the Tuileries. The only witnesses
were Talleyrand and Berthier, from both of whom the emperor had exacted
an oath of profound silence. Cardinal Fesch, the emperor’s uncle,
performed the ceremony, and pronounced the benediction of the Church
over this marriage, which Bonaparte’s love for Josephine had induced him
to consent to, and which her love endeavored to make indissoluble.

This marriage, which she desired both as a loving woman and as a devout
Christian, was the most glorious triumph which Josephine had ever
obtained over the enmity of her husband’s sisters, for it was a new
proof of the love and faithfulness of this man, whom neither expediency,
nor family, nor state reasons, could remove from her, and who, with
the hand of love, had guided her away from all the dangers which had
surrounded her.



At last, on the 2d of December, came the day which Napoleon had during
many years past longed for within the recesses of his heart; the day
which his ambition had hoped for, the day of his solemn coronation.
And now the victorious soldier was to see all his laurels woven into an
imperial crown--that which Julius Caesar had tried to win, and for which
the republic punished him with death.

But now the republicans were silent: before this new Julius Caesar they
dare not lift up their swords, for the power belonged to him, and that
he knew how to punish had been seen by trembling France not long ago
at the execution of George Cadoudal and his associates, the people
sanctioning those executions.

There was no Brutus there to plunge the dagger into the breast of the
new Cassar. His was the victory, the throne, the crown; and all France
was in joyous excitement at this new triumph, that the pope himself
should come from Rome to Paris so as to place the crown on the head of
an emperor by the grace of the people, and to make of the elect of the
people an elect of God.

The day had scarcely begun to dawn when all the streets of Paris through
which the imperial as well as the papal procession had to move toward
Notre Dame were filled with wave-like masses of human beings, who soon
occupied not only the streets but all the windows and all the roofs of
the houses. Those who were fortunate enough to be provided with cards
of admission into Notre Dame, went at six o’clock in the morning to the
cathedral, for whose adorning during the last fourteen days more than a
thousand workmen had been busy, and who had not yet quite finished their
work, retiring only when the approach of the pope and of his suite was
announced. In the interior of the Tuileries began from the commencement
of the day, on three different sides, a lively movement.

Here, in the apartments which the pope occupied, gathered together the
cardinals, the clergy, and all the church dignitaries who in the pope’s
suite were to proceed to Notre Dame.

There, in the apartments of the emperor, a host of courtiers and
officers waited from early dawn for the moment when the toilet of the
emperor should be completed, and he should go to the great throne-room,
where the empress and the imperial family would await him.

The greatest excitement, however, naturally prevailed in the apartments
of the empress, whose toilet occupied a host of chambermaids and ladies
of the court, and which had already been for months the subject of
thought, labor, and art, for painter and embroiderer, and for all
manner of professions, as well as for the master of ceremonies. For this
imperial toilet-ceremonial was to be in accordance with the traditions
of ancient France, but was not, at the same time, to be a mere imitation
of the coronation-toilet of the Bourbons, whom the revolution had
dethroned, the same revolution which had opened for Napoleon the way to
the throne.

For this important ceremony, therefore, special costumes, somewhat
resembling those of former centuries, had been found. The painter Ingres
had furnished the designs for these costumes, and also plans for the
procession and for the groupings in Notre Dame; he had prepared all this
in pictures of great effect for the emperor’s inspection. But in order
to show to advantage the several costumes, as well as the train of
personages, and the subdivisions of the different groups of the imperial
dignitaries, Ingres had caused small puppets to be dressed in similar
costumes, and arrayed in the order of the procession according to the
prescribed ceremonies for that day; and for weeks the imperial court had
been studying these costumes, and every one’s duty had been to impress
on his mind the position assigned to him for the day of coronation.
[Footnote: Constant, “Memoires,” vol. iii., p. 111.]

The pope’s toilet was the first completed; and at nine o’clock, all
dressed in white, he entered a carriage drawn by eight grays; over it in
gilt bronze were the tiara and the attributes of papacy. In front of the
carriage rode one of his chamberlains upon a white ass, bearing a large
silver cross before God’s vicegerent. Behind it in new carriages came
the cardinals, the prelates, and the Italian officers of the pope’s

While the papal train was moving slowly on the quays of the Seine toward
the cathedral, amid the sounds of bells, and the unceasing, joyful
shouts of the people, all was yet in motion within the apartments of
the emperor and empress. On all sides hurried along the dignitaries and
officers who were to form a part of the imperial procession.

For this day, Napoleon had been obliged to cast off his plain uniform
and substitute the splendid theatrical costume of imperial magnificence.
The stockings were of silk, wrought with gold, embroidered round the
edge with imperial crowns; the shoes were of white velvet, worked and
embroidered with gold; short breeches of white velvet, embroidered with
gold at the hips, and with buttons and buckles of diamonds in the shape
of garters; the vest also was of white velvet, embroidered with gold and
having diamond buttons; the coat was of crimson velvet, with facings of
white velvet along all the seams above and around, and sparkling with
gold; the half-mantle was also crimson, lined with white satin, and
hanging over the left shoulder, while on the right shoulder and upon
the breast it was fastened with a pair of diamond clasps. Sleeves of the
most costly lace fell about the arms; the cravat was of Indian muslin,
the collar likewise of lace; the cap, of black velvet, was adorned with
two plumes and surrounded by a coronet of diamonds, which “the regent”
 used as a clasp. Such was the costume which the emperor wore in the
procession from the Tuileries to Notre Dame. In the vestry of the
cathedral he put on the ample state-robes, that is to say, the robe and
mantle of emperor. [Footnote: Constant, “Memoires,” vol. ii., p. 212.]

The toilet of the empress was no less splendid and brilliant. It
consisted of an elaborate robe with a long train; this robe was of
silver brocade, with gold bees scattered all over; in front it was
embroidered into a maze of gold-leaves; at the lower edge was a gold
fringe; the shoulders alone were bare; long armlets of wrought gold, and
adorned at the upper part with diamonds, enclosed the arm and covered
one-half of the hand. It required all the art and grace of Josephine
to carry this robe, it being without any waist, and, according to the
fashion of the times, extremely narrow, and yet in wearing it to lose
naught of her elegance or condescending dignity. At the upper part of
the dress rose a collar a la Medicis of lace worked in with gold, and
which Josephine had been constrained to wear, so as at least, through
some historic details, to make her toilet correspond to the costume
of the renaissance worn by Napoleon. A gold girdle, adorned with
thirty-nine diamond rosettes, fastened under the breast her tunic-like
dress. In her fondness for the antique, Josephine, instead of diamonds
and pearls, had preferred for bracelets, ear-rings, and necklace,
some choice stones of rare workmanship. Her beautiful thick hair was
encircled and held together by a splendid diadem, a masterpiece of
modern art. This toilet was to be completed, like that of Napoleon,
before the solemn entrance into the cathedral, by putting on the
imperial mantle, which was fastened on the shoulders with gold buckles
and diamond clasps.

At last the imperial toilets were completed; all the dignitaries, as
well as the imperial family, gathered together in the throne-room,
ready for the procession. Holding Josephine by the hand, her countenance
expressing deep emotion, and her eye obscured by the tears shed as a
price for the solemn marriage of that night, Napoleon appeared in
the midst of his brilliant courtiers, and received the impressive,
heart-felt wishes of his family, his brothers and sisters, who pressed
around him and the empress, and who at this moment, forgetting all envy
and jealousy, had only words of thankfulness and assurances of love,
devotedness, and loyalty.

Napoleon replied to them all in the short, comprehensive words which he
addressed to his brother Joseph, whilst with his naming eyes he examined
his brothers and sisters in the brilliant costumes of their dignity and

“Joseph,” said he, “could our father see us now!” [Footnote: Meneval,
“Souvenirs,” vol. i., p. 204.]

From the pomp and solemnity of this important moment the thoughts of the
emperor, for whom the pope was waiting in Notre Dame, wandered far
away to the gloomy, quiet death-bed of his father, whose last hour was
embittered by the tormenting thought of leaving his family unprotected
and with but little means.

The thundering roar of cannon and the chimes of bells proclaimed that
the emperor and empress, with their train, were now leaving the palace
to ascend into the wonderful carriage made of gold and glass, and which
was waiting for them at the Pavilion de l’Horloge to proceed toward the

This carriage, prepared expressly for this day’s celebration, was of
enormous size and breadth, with windows on all sides, and entirely alike
in its front and back seats. It therefore happened that their imperial
majesties, on entering the carriage, not thinking of the direction to be
taken, sat down on the front instead of the back seat.

The empress noticed the mistake, and when she laughingly called the
emperor’s attention to it, they both took the back seat without a
suspicion that this little error was a bad omen.

Another little mishap occurred before they entered Notre Dame, which
threw a gloom of sad forebodings and fear over the heart of the empress.

Whilst alighting out of the carriage, the empress, whose hand was
occupied in the holding and carrying her robe and mantle, let slip
from her fingers the imperial ring which the pope had brought her for a
present, and which before the coronation he was to bless, according to
the accustomed ceremonial, and then place it on her finger as a token of
remembrance of the holy consecration. This made Josephine tremble, and
her cheeks turned pale, especially as the ring could nowhere be found.
It had rolled a considerable distance from the carriage, and only after
some minutes did Eugene Beauharnais find it and bring it to his mother,
to her great delight and satisfaction. [Footnote: Aubenas, “Histoire de
l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol. ii., p. 283.]

At last the procession entered Notre Dame, and the brilliant solemnity
began. It is not our purpose to describe here again the ceremony which
has been in all its details portrayed in so many works, and to repeat
the solemn addresses and the different events of this great and
memorable day. It is with Josephine we have to do, and with what
concerns her individual destiny--that alone claims our attentive

One event, however, is to be mentioned. At the moment the emperor took
from the altar the so-called crown of Charles the Great, and with firm
hand placed it on his head--at the moment when he assumed the place of
the ancient Kings of France, a small stone, which had detached itself
from the cupola, fell down, touched his head, leaped on his shoulder,
slipped down his imperial mantle, and rolled over the altar-steps near
to the pope’s throne, where it remained still until an Italian priest
picked it up. [Footnote: Abrantes. “Memoires,” vol. vii., p. 258.]

At the moment of his loftiest grandeur the destiny of his future aimed
its first stone at him, and marked him as the one upon whom its anger
was to fall.

This was the third evil omen of the day; but fortunately Josephine had
not noticed it. Her whole soul was absorbed in the sacred rites; and,
after the emperor had crowned himself, her heart trembled with deep
emotion and agitation, for now the moment had come when she was to take
her part in the solemnity.

The Duchess d’Abrantes, who was quite near Josephine, and an immediate
witness of the whole celebration, depicts the next scene in the
following words: “The moment when the greatest number of eyes were fixed
upon the altar-steps where the emperor stood, was when Josephine was
crowned by him, and was solemnly consecrated Empress of the French. What
a moment! ... what a homage! What a proof of love manifested to her from
him who so much loved her!

“David’s painting, and many other pictures taken during the coronation,
at the very spot and time, have well represented the empress at the
feet of Napoleon, who crowns her; then the pope, the priests, and
even persons who were four hundred miles away--as, for instance, the
emperor’s mother, who was then in Rome, but whom David nevertheless
brings into his picture. But nothing, however, can give us a true
description, or even an approximate idea, of this alike touching and
lofty scene, where a great man by his own efforts ascends a throne, for
on this occasion he was full of gratitude and emotion.

“When the moment had come for Josephine to take her part in the great
drama, the empress rose from the throne and approached the altar, where
the emperor was waiting for her; she was followed by the ladies of the
palace and by her whole court, while the Princesses Caroline, Julie (the
wife of Joseph), the Princess Elise, and Louis Bonaparte, carried the
trail of her robe. One of the most admirable features in the beauty of
the Empress Josephine was not her fine, graceful figure, but the bearing
of her head--the gracious and noble manner in which she moved and
walked. I have had the honor to be introduced to many ‘real princesses,’
as they are termed, in the Faubourg St. Germain, and I can in all
sincerity say that I have never seen one who appeared to me so imposing
as the Empress Josephine. In her, grace and majesty were blended. When
she put on the grand imperial robes there was no woman whose appearance
could be more royal in demeanor, and, in reality, none who understood
the art of occupying a throne as well as she, though she never had been
instructed in it.

“I read all that I have now said in the eyes of Napoleon. He watched
with delight the empress as she moved toward him; and as she knelt
before him, ... as the tears she could not restrain streamed down her
folded hands, which were lifted up to him more than to God, at that
moment, when Napoleon, or, much more, when Bonaparte was for her the
real and visible Providence, there passed over these two beings one of
those fugitive minutes, unique in its kind, and never to be recalled
in a whole life, and which fills to overflowing the void of many long
years. The emperor performed with an unexcelled grace the most minute
details of every part of the subsequent ceremony, especially when the
moment came to crown the empress.

“This ceremony was to be performed by the emperor himself, who, after
he had received the small closed crown surmounted by a cross, placed it
first on his own head, and then afterward on the head of the empress. He
performed these two movements with a most exquisite slowness, which was
indeed admirable. But at the moment when he was to crown her who was for
him, according to a prophecy, ‘the star of happiness,’ he made himself,
if I dare use the expression, coquettish. He arranged this little crown
which was to stand over her coronet of diamonds, and placed it on her
head, then lifted it up to replace it in another way, as if to promise
her that this crown would be light and pleasant to her.” [Footnote:
Abrantes, “Memoires.”]

After this twofold crowning performed by Napoleon himself, the pope,
surrounded by cardinals and prelates, approached the throne, and
arriving upon the platform pronounced in a loud voice, spreading his
hands over their imperial majesties, the ancient Latin formula of
enthronization: “In hoc solio confirme vos Deus, et in regno aeterno
secum regnare faciat Christus.” (God establish you on this throne, and
Christ make you reign with Him in His everlasting kingdom.) He then
kissed the emperor on the cheeks, and turning himself to the audience,
cried with a loud voice: “Vivat imperator in aeternum!”

The immense cathedral resounded with one glad shout of thousands of
voices: “Long live the emperor! long live the empress!” Napoleon, calm
and reserved, answered this acclamation with a friendly motion of the
head. Josephine stood near him, pale, deeply moved, her eyes, full of
tears, fixed on the emperor, as if she would pray to him, and not to
God, for the prosperity and blessing of the future.

Meanwhile the pope had descended from his throne, and while he
approached the altar, the bands played “Long live the emperor,” which
the Abbe Kose had composed for this solemnity. Then the pope, standing
before the altar, intoned the Te Deum, which was at once executed by
four choirs and two orchestras, and which completed the ecclesiastical
part of the ceremony.

This was followed by a secular one. The emperor took, on the Bible
which Cardinal Fesch presented to him, the oath prescribed in the
constitution, and whereby he pledged himself solemnly to maintain “the
most wise results of the revolution, to defend the integrity of the
territory, and to rule only in the interest of the happiness and glory
of the French people.” After he had taken this oath, a herald approached
the edge of the platform, and, according to ancient custom, cried out in
a loud voice: “The most mighty and glorious Emperor Napoleon, Emperor of
the French, is crowned and enthroned! Long live the emperor!”

A tremendous, prolonged shout of joy followed this proclamation: “Long
live the emperor! Long live the empress!” and then an artillery
salute thundered forth from behind the cathedral, and a similar salute
responded from the Tuileries, and from the Invalides, and proclaimed to
all Paris that France had again found a ruler, that a new dynasty had
been lifted up above the French people.

At this moment from the Place de Carrousel ascended an enormous air
balloon surmounted by an ornamental, gigantic crown, and which, on the
wings of the wind, was to announce to France the same tidings proclaimed
to Paris by bell and cannon: “The republic of France is converted into
an empire! The free republicans are now the subjects of the Emperor
Napoleon I.!”

The gigantic balloon arose amid the joyous shouts of the crowd, and soon
disappeared from the gaze of the spectators. It flew, as a trophy of
victory of Napoleon I., all over France. Thousands saw it and understood
its silent and yet eloquent meaning, but no one could tell where it
had fallen, finally, after many weeks, the emperor, who had often asked
after the balloon’s fate, received the wished-for answer. The balloon
had fallen in Rome, upon Nero’s grave!

Napoleon remained silent a moment at this news: a shadow passed over his
countenance; then his brow brightened again, and he exclaimed: “Well, I
would sooner see it there, than in the dust of the streets!”


The prophecy of the old woman in Martinique had now been fulfilled:
Josephine was more than a queen, she was an empress! She stood on life’s
summit, and a world lay at her feet. Before the husband who stood at her
side, the princes and the people of Europe bowed in the dust, and paid
him homage--the hero who by new victories had won ever-increasing fame
and fresh laurels, who had defeated Austria, Prussia, and Russia, and
who had engraven on the rolls of French glory the mighty victories of
Austerlitz, Jena, and Eylau!

Josephine stood on the pinnacle of life; she saw the princes of foreign
states come to France as conquered, as captives, and as allies, to bring
to her husband and to herself the homage of subjects; she saw devoted
courtiers and flatterers; pomp and splendor surrounded her on every

Amid this glory she remained simple and modest--she never gave up her
cheerful gentleness and mildness; she never forgot the days which had
been; she never allowed herself to be exalted by the brilliancy of the
moment to an ambitious pride or to a lofty self-conceit. The friends of
the widow Josephine de Beauharnais always found in the empress Josephine
a thankful, obliging friend, ever ready to appeal to her husband, and
intercede with him in their behalf. To the royalists, when weary of
their long exile, though poor and helpless still loyal to the royal
family--when they returned to France with bleeding feet and wounded
hearts, to implore from the Emperor of the French the privilege of
dying in their native country--to them all Josephine was a counsellor,
a helper, a compassionate protectress. With deep interest she inquired
from them how it fared with the Count de Lille, whom her heart yet
named as the King of France, though her lips dared not utter it. All the
assistance she gave to the royalists, and the protection she afforded
them, oftentimes despite Napoleon’s anger, all the loyalty, the
generosity, and self-denial she manifested, were the quiet sacrifice
which she offered to God for her own happiness, and with which she
sought to propitiate the revengeful spirit of the old monarchy,
loitering perchance in the Tuileries, where she now, in the place of the
wife of the Count de Lille, was enthroned as sovereign.

Josephine’s heart was unwearied and inexhaustible in well-doing and in
liberality; if Napoleon was truly the emperor and the father of the army
and of the soldiers, Josephine was equally the empress and the mother of
the poor and unfortunate.

But she was also, in the true sense of the word, the empress of the
happy. No one understood so well as she did how to be the leader at
festivals, to preside at a joyous company, to give new attractions by
her gracious womanly sweetness and amiableness, or to receive homage
with such beaming eyes, and to make others happy while she herself
seemed to be made happy by them.

Amid this life full of splendor and grandeur there were sad hours,
when the sun was shadowed by clouds, and the eyes of the Empress of the
French filled with such bitter tears as only the wife and the widow of
General Beauharnais could shed.

Three things especially contributed to draw these tears from the eyes of
the Empress Josephine: her jealousy, her extravagance, and, lastly, her
childlessness. Josephine was jealous, for she not only loved Napoleon,
she worshipped him as her providence, her future, her happiness. Her
heart was yet so full of passion, and so young, that it hoped for much
happiness, and could not submit to that resignation which is
satisfied to give more love than it receives, and instead of the
warm, intoxicating cup of love, to receive the cool, sober beverage of
friendship. Josephine wanted not merely to be the friend, but to remain
Napoleon’s beloved one; and she looked upon all these beautiful women
who adorned the imperial court of the Tuileries as enemies who came to
dispute with her the love of her husband.

And, alas! she had too often to acknowledge herself defeated in this
struggle, to see her rivals triumph, and for weeks to retreat into
the background before the victorious one who may have succeeded in
enchaining the inconstant heart of Napoleon, and to make the proud
Caesar bow to her love. But afterward, when love’s short dream had
vanished, Napoleon, penitent, would come back with renewed love to
his Josephine, whom he still called “the star of his happiness;” and
oftentimes, touched by her tears, he sacrificed to her anxiety and
jealousy a love-caprice, and became more affectionate, more agreeable
even, than when he had forsaken her; for then, to prove to her
how unreserved was his confidence, he often told her of his new
love-adventures, and was even indiscreet enough at times to betray all
his gallantries to her.

The second object of the constant solicitude and trials of the empress
was her extravagance. She did not understand how to economize; her
indolent creole nature found it impossible to calculate, to bring
numbers into columns, or to question tedious figures, to see if debt and
purse agreed--if her generous heart must be prevented from giving to
the poor--from rendering assistance to the helpless, or from spending
handfuls for the suffering; to see if her taste for the arts was no
longer to be gratified with pictures, paintings, statues, cameos,
and other objects of vertu, which filled her with so much joy and
admiration; if her elegant manners and fondness for finery and dress
were to be denied all that was costly, all that was fashionable, and
which seemed to have been expressly invented for the adorning of an
empress. And when, in some of those grave, melancholy hours of internal
anxiety, the cruel phantoms of the future reckonings arose before her
and warned her to stop purchasing, Josephine comforted herself with the
idea that it was Napoleon himself who had requested her to be to all the
ladies of his court a pattern of elegance, and to be distinguished above
all by the most brilliant, the choicest, the costliest toilet.

The emperor would often come into the cabinet of the empress, and to the
great astonishment of her ladies-in-waiting would enter into the most
minute details of her dress, and designate the robes and ornaments which
he desired her to wear on some special festivity. It even happened in
Aix-la-Chapelle that Napoleon, who had come into the toilet-room of the
empress and found that she had put on a robe which did not please him,
poured ink on the costly dress of silver brocade, so as to compel her
to put on another. [Footnote: Avrillon, “Memoires,” vol. i., p. 98; and
Constant, “Memoires,” vol. iii., p. 103.]

And then how was it possible to resist the temptation of purchasing
all those beautiful things which were constantly brought to her for
inspection? Josephine loved what was beautiful, tasteful, and artistic;
all works of art which she admired must be purchased, whatever price was
asked; and when the merchants came to offer to the empress their superb
and splendid articles of luxury, how could she have the cruel courage
to repel them? How often did she purchase objects of extraordinary value
for which she had no need, simply to please herself and the merchant!
Every thing that was beautiful and tasteful pleased her, and she must
possess it. No one had a more remarkably fine taste than Josephine, but
the artists, the manufacturers, the merchants, also had fine taste,
and they came to the empress with the best they had; it was therefore
natural that she should purchase from them But unfortunately the happy
moment of the purchase was followed by the unhappy one of the payment,
and the outlay was constantly beyond the income of the empress, whose
treasury, besides, was so often emptied in charities, pensions, and
presents. Then when the merchants urged payment, and the purse was
empty, Josephine had recourse to the emperor, and had to entreat him to
meet her expenses, and then came violent scenes, reproaches, and
bitter words. The emperor was angry, Josephine wept, and payment and
reconciliation followed these scenes. Josephine promised to the emperor
and to herself to be more economical in the future, and no longer to
purchase what she could not pay for, but ever came the temptation, with
all its inviting treasures, and being no saintly Anthony, she would fall
a prey to the temptation.

The third and thickest cloud which often darkened the serene sky of
her happiness after her marriage was, as already said, Josephine’s
childlessness. This was the bitter drop which was mixed in the golden
cup of her joy--this was the sting which, however deeply hid under the
roses, still reached her heart and wounded it painfully. She had no
children who could call Napoleon father, no offspring to prolong the
future of the new dynasty. And therefore the firmer the emperor’s
power became, the higher he stood above all other princes, the more
distressing and the more anxious were the emotions which filled the
heart of Josephine, the louder was the warning voice which ceased not to
whisper to her heart, and which she forgot only now and then under the
glow of Napoleon’s assurances of love, or amid the noise of festivities.
This voice whispered: “You must give place to another. Napoleon will
reject you, to marry a wife of princely birth, who will give an heir to
his empire!”

How Josephine strove to silence these agonizing whisperings of her
heart! With what restlessness of sorrow she rushed into the gayeties and
amusements of a court life! How she sought, in charitable occupations,
in the joys of society, in every thing which was congruous to the life
of a woman, of an empress, to obtain the forgetfulness of her torments!
With what envious attention she listened to the whispers of courtiers,
scrutinized their features, read their looks, to find out if they still
believed in the existence of an empress in the wife of Napoleon! With
what jealous solicitude she observed all the families on European
thrones, and considered what princesses among them were marriageable,
and whether Napoleon’s relations with the fathers of such princesses
were more intimate than those with the other princes!

And then she ever sought to deafen this vigilant, warning voice, by
comforting herself with the thought that the emperor had adopted his
brother’s son, the son of Hortense, and that he had made him his heir,
and consequently the throne and the dynasty were secure in a successor.

But alas! Fate would not leave this last comfort to the unfortunate
empress. In May of the year 1807, Prince Napoleon, the crown prince
of Holland, Napoleon’s adopted son and successor, died of a child’s
disease, which in a few days tore him away from the arms of his
despairing mother.

Josephine’s anguish was boundless, and in the first hours of this
misfortune, which with such annihilating force fell upon her, the
empress, as if in a state of hallucination, gazed into the future,
and, with prophetic voice, exclaimed: “Now I am lost! Now is divorce

Yes, she was lost! She felt it, she knew it! Nothing the emperor did
to pacify her anguish--the numerous expressions of his love, of his
sympathy, of his winning affection--nothing could any longer deceive
Josephine. The voices which had so long whispered in her breast now
cried aloud: “You must give place to another! Napoleon will reject you,
so as to have a son!”

But the emperor seemed still to try to dispel these fears, and, to give
to his Josephine a new proof of his love and faithfulness, he chose
Eugene de Beauharnais, the son of Josephine, for his adopted heir, and
named him Vice-King of Italy, and gave him in marriage the daughter of
the King of Bavaria; he thus afforded to Europe the proof that he still
considered Josephine as his wife, and that he desired to be shown to
her all the respect due to her dignity, for he travelled to Munich in
company with her in order to be present at the nuptials.

This journey to attend her son’s marriage was the last pleasure of
Josephine--her last days of honors and happiness. Once more she saw
herself surrounded by all the splendor and the pomp of her rank; once
more she was publicly honored and admired as the wife of the first and
greatest ruler of the world, the wife of the Emperor Napoleon.

Perhaps Josephine, in these hours of happiness, when as empress, wife,
and mother, she enjoyed the purest and most sacred pleasure, forgot the
sad forebodings and fears of her soul. Perhaps she now believed that,
since Napoleon had adopted her Eugene as his son, and had given to this
son a wife of royal extraction, Fate would be propitious to her; that
the emperor would be satisfied with the son of his choice, and that the
future scions of the royal princess would be the heirs of his throne.

But one word of Napoleon frightened her out of this ephemeral security
into which happiness had lulled her.

Josephine wept as she bade farewell to her son; she was comfortless when
with his young wife Eugene left for Italy. She complained to Napoleon,
in justification of her tears, that she should seldom see her son, that
now he was lost to his mother’s heart.

The emperor, who at first had endeavored to comfort her felt at last
wounded by her sorrow.

“You weep, Josephine,” said he, hastily, “but you have no reasonable
motives to do so; you weep simply because you are separated from your
son. If already the absence of your children causes you so much sorrow,
think then what I must endure! The tenderness which you feel for your
children makes me cruelly experience how unhappy it is for me to have
none.” [Footnote: Avrillon, “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine,” vol.
i., p. 202.]

Josephine trembled, and her tears ceased flowing in the presence of the
emperor, but only to fall more abundantly as soon as he had left her.
Now she wept no longer at her separation from her son; her tears were
still more bitter and painful--she grieved over the coming future; she
wept because those voices which happiness for a moment had deafened, now
spoke more loudly--more fearfully and menacingly shouted: “Napoleon will
reject you! He will choose for himself a wife of royal birth, who will
give an heir to his throne and his empire.”


It was at last decided! The storm which had so long and so fearfully
rolled over Josephine’s head was to burst, and with one single flash
destroy her earthly happiness, her love, her future!

The peace of Vienna had been ratified on the 13th of October, 1809.
Napoleon passed the three long months of peace negotiations in Vienna
and in Schonbrunn, while Josephine, solitary and full of sad misgivings,
lived quietly in the retreat of Malmaison.

Now that peace was signed, Napoleon returned to France with fresh
laurels and new crowns of victory. But not, as usual after so long
an absence, did he greet Josephine with the tenderness and joy of a
home-returning husband. He approached her with clouded brow; with a
proud, cold demeanor; with the mien of a ruling master, before whom all
must bow, even his wife, even his own heart.

At Fontainebleau, whither the emperor in a few, short, commanding
words--in a letter of three lines--had invited the empress, did the
first interview of Josephine and Napoleon take place. She hastened to
meet her husband with a cheerful face and beaming eyes. He, however,
received her coldly, and endeavored to hide his feelings of uneasiness
and shame under a repulsive, domineering manner.

He returned to his home victorious; the whole world lay conquered at
his feet; he was triumphant. He had so deeply humiliated the pride of
Austria that she not only accepted his harsh terms of peace, but, as
once men had appeased the Minotaur by the sacrifice of the most amiable
and most beautiful maiden, so Austria had asked in a low voice whether
the daughter of the emperor, Maria Louisa might not give to the
alliance of Austria and France the consecration of love. Napoleon
eagerly entered into the scheme; and while Josephine, as his married
wife before God and man, stood yet at his side, he already had begun
negotiations, the object of which was to make the daughter of the
Austrian emperor his wife, and before Napoleon returned to France those
negotiations had been brought to a satisfactory result.

The ambitious Maria Louisa was to be the wife of the Emperor of the
French. Nothing more was wanted but that Napoleon should reject his
legitimate wife, whom the pope had anointed! He had but to disenthrone
her who for fifteen years, with true and tender love, had shared his
existence. He had only to be divorced publicly and solemnly, so as
immediately to possess a bride, the daughter of an emperor!

Napoleon came to Fontainebleau to accomplish this cruel task, to break
at once his marriage with Josephine and her heart. He knew what terrible
sufferings he was preparing for her; he himself quailed under the
anguish she was to endure; his heart was full of sorrow and woe, and
yet his resolution was irrevocable. Policy had controlled his heart,
ambition had conquered his love, and the man was determined to sacrifice
his wife to the emperor.

Josephine felt this at the first word he addressed her, at the first
look he gave her, after so long a separation, and her heart shrank
within itself in bitter anguish, while a stream of tears started from
her eyes.

But Napoleon asked not for the cause of these tears; he had not the
courage to wage an open war with this brave, loving heart, and to subdue
her love and despair with the two-edged sword of his state policy and
craftiness. He did not wish to utter the word; he wanted to make her
feel what an abyss was now open between them; all confidential and
social intercourse was to be avoided, so that the empress might become
conscious that love and fellowship of hearts had ceased also.

On the evening after the first interview the empress found that the door
of communication between her apartments and those of the emperor had
been closed. Napoleon did not, as had been his wont, bid her good-night
with a cordial and friendly kiss, but, in the presence of her ladies, he
dismissed her with a cold salutation. The next day the emperor expressly
avoided her society; and when at rare moments he was with her, he was
so taciturn, so morose and cold, that the empress had not the courage to
ask for an explanation, or to reproach him, but, trembling and afraid,
she bowed under the iron pressure of his severe, angry looks.

To prevent their being with each other alone, and to avoid this horrible
solitude, dreaded alike by Napoleon and Josephine, the emperor sent the
next day for all the princes and princesses of his family to come to
Fontainebleau. His sisters, no longer kept in control by the domineering
will of the emperor, made Josephine feel their malice and enmity; they
found pleasure in letting the empress see their own ascendency, their
secure position, and in treating her with coldness and disrespect. The
emperor, instead of guarding Josephine against these humiliations, had
the cruel courage to increase them; for, without reserve or modesty,
and in the very presence of Josephine, he offered the most familiar and
positive attentions to two ladies of his court--ladies whom he honored
with special favor. [Footnote: Thiers, “Histoire du Consulat et de
l’Empire,” vol. xi., p. 323.]

It was death-like agony which Josephine suffered in those days of
Fontainebleau; it was a cruel martyrdom, which she, however, endured
with all the gentleness of her nature, with the devotedness and
uncomplaining anguish of true and genuine love.

Napoleon could not endure this. The sight of this yet beloved pale face,
with its sweet, angelic smile, lacerated his heart and tortured him with
reproaches. He wanted to have festivities and amusements, so as not to
witness this quiet, devoted anguish, so as not to read every day in the
sorrowful, red eyes of Josephine, the story of nights passed in tears.

The court returned to Paris, there to celebrate the new victorious peace
with brilliant feasts. Napoleon, so as to be delivered from the tearful
companionship of Josephine, made the journey on horseback, and never
once rode near her carriage.

In Paris had begun at once a series of festivities, at which German
princes, the Kings of Saxony, of Bavaria, and of Wurtemberg, were
present, to congratulate Napoleon on his victories in Germany. The
Empress Josephine, by virtue of her rank, had to appear at these
receptions; she had, although in the deepest despondency, to wear a
smile on her lip, to appear as empress at the side of the man who met
her with coldness and estrangement, and whom she yet loved with the true
love of a wife! She had to see the courtiers, with the keen instinct of
their race, desert her, leaving around her person an insulting void and
vacancy. Her heart was tortured with anguish and woe, and yet she could
not uproot her love from it; she did not have the courage to speak the
decisive word, and to desire the divorce which she knew hung over her,
and which at any moment might agonize her heart!

Josephine did not possess the cowardice to commit suicide; she was ready
to receive the fatal blow, but she could not plunge the dagger into her
own heart.

Napoleon, unable to endure these tortures, longed to bring them to an
end. He secretly made all the necessary arrangements, and communicated
to the first chancellor, Cambaceres, his irrevocable resolution to be
divorced from the empress. He, however, notified him that he wanted
this act of separation to be accomplished in the most respectful
and honorable form for Josephine, and he therefore, with Cambaceres,
prepared and decided upon all the details of this public divorce.

It only remained now to find some one who would announce to Josephine
her fate, who would communicate to her the emperor’s determination.
Napoleon had not the courage to do it himself, and he wanted to confide
this duty to the Vice-King Eugene, whom for this purpose he had invited
to Paris.

But Eugene declined to become a messenger of evil tidings to his
mother; and when Napoleon turned to Hortense, she refused to give to
her mother’s heart the mortal stroke. The emperor, deeply touched by the
sorrow manifested by the children of Josephine, was not able to repress
his tears. He wept with them over their blasted happiness--their
betrayed love. But his tears could not make him swerve from his

“The nation has done so much for me,” said he, “that I owe it the
sacrifice of my dearest inclinations. The peace of France demands that I
choose a new companion. Since, for many months, the empress has lived
in the torments of uncertainty, and every thing is now ready for a new
marriage, we must therefore come to a final explanation.” [Footnote:
Lavalette, “Memoires,” vol. ii., p. 44.]

But as none could be found to carry this fatal news to Josephine,
Napoleon had to take upon himself the unwelcome task.

Wearied with the tears of the slighted empress, with the reproaches of
his own conscience and with his own sufferings, Napoleon suddenly broke
the sad, gloomy silence which had been so long maintained between him
and his wife; in answer to her tears and reproaches, he told her that it
was full time now to arrive at a final conclusion; that he had resolved
to form new ties; that the interest of the state demanded from them both
an enormous sacrifice; that he reckoned on her courage and devotedness
to consent to a divorce, to which he himself acceded only with the
greatest reluctance. [Footnote: Thiers, “Histoire du Consulat,” vol.
xi., p. 340.]

But Josephine did not hear the last words. At the word divorce she
swooned with a death-like shriek; and Napoleon, alarmed at the sight of
her insensibility, called out to the officers in waiting to help him to
carry the empress into her rooms upon her bed.

Such hours of despair, of bitter pain, of writhing, agonized love did
Josephine now endure! How courageous, yet how difficult, the struggle
against the wretchedness of a rejected love! How angrily and scornfully
she would rise up against her cruel fate! How lovingly, humbly, gently
she would acquiesce in it, as to a long-expected, inevitable fatality!

These were long days of pain and distress; but Josephine was not alone
in her sufferings, for the emperor’s heart was also touched with her
quiet endurance, and her deep agony at this separation.

At last the empress came out victorious from these conflicts of heart
and soul, and she repressed her tears with the firm will of a noble,
loving woman! She bade her son Eugene announce to the emperor that she
assented to the divorce on two conditions: first, that her own offspring
should not be exiled or rejected, but that they should still remain
Napoleon’s adopted children, and maintain their rank and position at his
court; secondly, that she should be allowed to remain in France, and,
if possible, in the vicinity of Paris, so that, as she said with a sweet
smile, she might be near the emperor, and still hope in the pleasure of
seeing him.

Napoleon’s countenance manifested violent agitation when Eugene
communicated to him his mother’s conditions; for a long time he paced
the room to and fro, his hands behind his back, and unable to gather
strength enough to return an answer. Then, with a trembling voice,
he said that he not only granted all these conditions, but that they
corresponded entirely with the wishes of his heart, and that he would
add to them a third condition, namely, that Josephine should still be
honored and treated by him and by the world as empress, and that she
should still be surrounded with all the honors belonging to that rank.

There was yet wanting, for the full offering of the sacrifice, the
public and solemn act of divorcement; but before that could take place
it was necessary to make the requisite preparations, to arrange the
future household of the divorced empress, and to prepare every thing for
Josephine’s reception in Malmaison, whither she desired to retire
from the world. The mournful solemnity was put off until the 15th of
December, and until then Josephine, according to the rules of etiquette,
was to appear before the world as the ruling empress, the wife of
Napoleon. Twice it was necessary to perform the painful duty of
appearing publicly in all the pomp of her imperial dignity, and to wear
the heavy burden of that crown which already had fallen from her head.
On the morning of the 3d of December she had to be present at the
chanting of the Te Deum in Notre Dame, in thanksgiving for the peace
of Vienna, and to appear at the ball which the city of Paris that same
evening gave to the emperor and empress.

This ball was the last festivity which Josephine attended as empress,
but even then she received not all the honors which were due to her
as such. Napoleon himself had given orders that the ladies of Paris,
gathered in the Hotel de Ville, with the wife of the governor of the
capital, and the Duchess d’Abrantes at their head, should not, as usual,
meet the empress at the foot of the stairs, but that they should quietly
await her approach in the throne-room, while the marshal of ceremonies
would alone accompany her up the stairs.

The Duchess d’Abrantes, deeply affected by this order of the emperor,
which at once revealed the sad secret of the approaching future, had
reluctantly to submit to this arrangement, which so cruelly broke the
established etiquette. She has herself, in her memoirs, given full
particulars of this evening, and her words are so touching and so full
of sentiment that we cannot refuse to make them known here:

“We, therefore,” says she, [Footnote: Abrantes, “Memoires.” vol. xii.,
p. 289.] “ascended the throne-room, and were no sooner seated, than the
drums began to beat, and the empress entered. I shall never forget that
figure, in the costume which so marvellously suited her... never will
this gentle face, now wrapped in mourning crape, fade away from my
memory. It was evident that she was not prepared for the solitude which
she had found on the grand staircase; and yet Junot, in spite of the
risk of being blamed by the emperor, went to receive her, and he had
even managed that the empress should meet on the stairs a few ladies
who, it is true, did not very well know how they came and what they had
to do there. The empress, however, was not deceived; as she entered the
grand hall and approached the throne on which, in the presence of the
public of the capital, she was to sit probably for the last time....her
feet trembled and her eyes filled with tears. ....I tried to catch her
eyes; I would willingly have sunk at her feet and told her how much I
suffered....She understood me, and looked at me with the most agonizing
gaze which perhaps was ever in her eyes since that now blighted crown
had been placed on her head. That look spoke of agony--it revealed
depths of sorrow!... What must she have suffered on this awful
day!....She felt wretched, dying, and yet she smiled! Oh, what a torture
was that crown!... Junot stood by her.

“‘You were not afraid of Jupiter’s wrath,’ said I to him afterward.

“‘No,’ said he, with a gloomy look, ‘no, I fear him not, when he is

“The drums beat a second time; they announced the emperor’s approach....
A few minutes after he came in, walking rapidly, and accompanied by the
Queen of Naples and the King of Westphalia. The heat was extraordinary,
though it was cold out of doors. The Queen of Naples, whose gracious,
charming smile seemed to demand from the Parisians the salutation,
‘Welcome to Paris,’ spoke to every one, and with the expression of
uncommon goodness. Napoleon, also, who wished to appear friendly, walked
up and down the room, talking and questioning, followed by Berthier, who
fairly skipped at his side, fulfilling more the duties of a chamberlain
than those of a connetable. A trifling circumstance in reference to
Berthier struck me. The emperor, who for some time had been seated on
his arm-chair near the empress, descended the steps of the throne to
go once more around the hall; at the moment he rose I saw him bend down
toward the empress, probably to tell her that she was to accompany
him. He rose up first; Berthier, who had stood behind him, rushed on to
follow his master; the empress was already standing up, when his feet
caught in the train of her mantle, and he nearly fell down, causing the
empress almost to fall. However, he disentangled himself, and, without
one word of excuse to the empress, he followed the emperor. Certainly
Berthier had not the intention to be wanting in respect to the empress;
but he knew the secret--he knew the whole drama soon to be performed....
and assuredly he would not have so acted one year ago as he did
to-day..... The empress had remained standing with a marvellous dignity;
she smiled as if the accident was the result of mere awkward-ness....
but her eyes were full of tears, and her lips trembled....”

At last the 15th of December had come; the day on which Josephine was
to endure the most cruel agony of her life, the day on which she was
solemnly to descend from the throne and bid farewell to her whole
brilliant past, and commence a despised, lonely, gloomy future.

In the large cabinet of ceremonies were gathered on this day, at noon,
the emperor, the Empress Josephine, the emperor’s mother, the King and
Queen of Holland, the King and Queen of Westphalia, the King and Queen
of Naples, the Vice-king Eugene, the Princess Pauline Borghese, the
high-chancellor Cambaceres, and the secretary of civil affairs, St. Jean
d’Angely. Josephine was pale and trembling; her children were agitated,
and hiding their tears under an appearance of quietude, so as to instil
courage into their mother.

Napoleon, standing upright, his hand in that of the empress, read with
tremulous voice:

“My cousin, prince state-chancellor, I have dispatched you an order to
summon you hither into my cabinet for the purpose of communicating to
you the resolution which I and the empress, my much-beloved wife, have
taken. I am rejoiced that the kings, queens, and princesses, my brothers
and sisters, my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, my daughter-in-law
and my son-in-law, who also is my adopted son, as well as my mother, are
here present to hear what I have to say.

“The policy of my empire, the interest and wants of my people, direct
all my actions, and now demand that I should leave children heirs of the
love I have for my people, and heirs of this throne to which Providence
has exalted me. However, for many years past, I have lost the hope of
having children through the marriage of my beloved wife, the Empress
Josephine; and this obliges me to sacrifice the sweetest inclinations of
my heart, so as to consult only the welfare of the state, and for that
cause to desire the dissolution of my marriage.

“Already advanced to my fortieth year, I still may hope to live long
enough to bring up in my sentiments and thoughts the children whom it
may please Providence to give me. God knows how much this resolution has
cost my heart; but there is no sacrifice too great for my courage if it
can be shown to me that such a sacrifice is necessary to the welfare of

“It is necessary for me to add that, far from having any cause of
complaint, I have, contrariwise, but to praise the devotedness and
affection of my much-beloved wife; she has embellished fifteen years
of my life; the remembrance of these years will therefore ever remain
engraven on my heart. She has been crowned at my hands; it is my will
that she retain the rank and title of empress, and especially that she
never doubt my sentiments, and that she ever hold me as her best and
dearest friend.”

When he came to the words “she has embellished fifteen years of my
life,” tears started to Napoleon’s eyes, and, with a voice trembling
through emotion, he read the concluding words.

It was now Josephine’s turn. She began to read the paper which had been
prepared for her:

“With the permission of our mighty and dear husband, I must declare
that, whereas I can no longer cherish the hope of having children to
meet the wants of his policy and the wants of France, I am ready to give
the highest proof of affection and devotedness which was ever given upon

Josephine could proceed no further; sobs choked her voice. She tried to
continue, but her trembling lips could no more utter a word. She handed
to Count St. Jean d’Angely the paper, who, with tremulous voice, read as

“I have obtained every thing from his goodness; his hand has crowned me,
and on the exaltation of this throne I have received only proofs of the
sympathy and love of the French people.

“I believe it is but manifesting my gratitude for these sentiments when
I consent to the dissolution of a marriage which is an obstacle to the
welfare of France, since it deprives her of the happiness of being
one day ruled by the posterity of a great man, whom Providence has so
manifestly favored, as through him to bring to an end the horrors of
a terrible revolution, and to re-establish the altar, the throne, and
social order. The dissolution of my marriage will not, however, alter
the sentiments of my heart; the emperor will always find in me his most
devoted friend. I know how much this action, made incumbent upon him by
policy and by the great interests in view, has troubled his heart; but
we, the one and the other, are proud of the sacrifice which we offer to
the welfare of our country.”

When he had finished, Napoleon, visibly affected, embraced Josephine,
took her hand, and led her back to her apartments, where he soon left
her insensible in the arms of her children. [Footnote: Thiers, “Histoire
du Consulat,” etc., vol. xi., p. 349.]

Napoleon himself, sad and silent, returned to his cabinet, where, in a
state of complete exhaustion, he fell into an easy-chair.

On the evening of the same day he again visited Josephine, to pass a few
hours with her in quiet, undisturbed communion; to speak in tenderness
and love of the future, to weep with her, and, full of deepest emotion
and sincerity, to assure her of his undying gratitude for the past, and
of his abiding friendship for the future.

Josephine passed the night in tears, struggling with her heart,
sometimes breaking into bitter complaints and reproaches, which she
immediately repressed with that gentleness and mildness so much her own,
and with that love which never for a moment departed from her breast.

There remained yet to perform the last, the most painful scene of this
great, tearful drama. Josephine had to leave the Tuileries; she had
forever to retire from the place which she so long had occupied at her
husband’s side; she had to descend into the open grave of her mournful
abandonment; as a widow, to part with the corpse of her love and of the
past, and to put on mourning apparel for a husband who was not yet dead,
but who only rejected her to give his hand and his heart to another

The next day at two o’clock, the moment had come for Josephine to leave
the Tuileries, to make room for the yet unknown wife of the future.
Napoleon wanted to leave Paris at the same moment, and pass a few days
of quiet and solitude in Trianon.

The carriages of the emperor and empress were both ready; the last
farewell of husband and wife, now to part forever, had yet to be said.
M. de Meneval, who was the sole witness of those sad moments, gives of
them a most affecting description, which bears upon its face the merit
of truth and impartiality.

“When it was announced to the emperor that the carriage was ready, he
stood up, took his hat, and said: ‘Meneval, come with me.’

“I followed him through the narrow winding stairs which led from his
room into that of the empress. She was alone, and seemed absorbed in
the saddest thoughts, At the noise we made in entering she rose up and
eagerly threw herself, sobbing, upon the neck of the emperor, who
drew her to his breast and embraced her several times; but Josephine,
overcome by excitement, had fainted. I hastened to ring for assistance.
The emperor, to avoid the renewal of a painful scene, which it was not
in his power to prevent, placed the empress in my arms as soon as he
perceived her senses return, and ordered me not to leave her, and then
he hurried away through the halls of the first story, at whose gate
his carriage was waiting. Josephine became immediately conscious of the
emperor’s absence; her tears and sobs redoubled. Her women, who had
now entered, laid her on a sofa, and busied themselves with tender
solicitude to bring her relief. In her bewilderment she had seized my
hands, and urgently entreated me to tell the emperor not to forget her,
and to assure him of her devotedness, which would outlast every trial.
I had to promise her that at my arrival in Trianon I would wait upon the
emperor and see that he would write to her. It caused her pain to see
me leave, as if my departure tore away the last bond which united her to
the emperor. I left her, deeply affected by so true a sorrow and by so
sincere a devotion. During the whole journey I was deeply moved, and
could not but bewail the merciless political considerations which tore
violently apart the bonds of so faithful an affection for the sake
of contracting a new union, which, after all, contained but uncertain

“In Trianon I told the emperor all that had happened since his
departure, and I conveyed to him the message intrusted to me by the
empress. The emperor was still suffering from the emotions caused by
this farewell scene. He spoke warmly of Josephine’s qualities, of the
depth and sincerity of the sentiments she cherished for him; he looked
upon her as a devoted friend, and, in fact, he has ever maintained for
her a heart-felt affection. The very same evening he sent her a letter
to console her in her solitude. When he learned that she was sad and
wept much, he wrote to her again, complained tenderly of her want of
courage, and told her how deeply this troubled him.” [Footnote: Meneval,
“Napoleon et Marie Louise.--Souvenirs Historiques,” vol. i., pp.

It is true Josephine’s sorrow was bitter, and the first night of
solitude in Malmaison was especially distressing and horrible. But even
in these hours of painful struggle the empress maintained her gentleness
and mildness of character. Mademoiselle d’Avrillon, one of the ladies in
waiting, has given her testimony to that effect:

“I was with the empress during the greater part of the night,” writes
she; “sleep was impossible, and time passed away in conversation.
The empress was moved to the very depth of her heart; it is true, she
complained of her fate, but in expressions so gentle, in so resigned a
manner, that tears would come to her eyes. There was no bitterness
in her words, not even during this first night when the blow which
destroyed her, had fallen upon her; she spoke of the emperor with the
same love, with the same respect, as she had always done. Her grief
was most acute: she suffered as a wife, as a mother, and with all the
wounded sensitiveness of a woman, but she endured her affliction with
courage, and remained unchanged in gentleness, love, and goodness.”
 [Footnote: Avrillon, “Memoires,” vol. ii., p. 166.]


Josephine had accepted her fate, and, descending from the imperial
throne whose ornament she had long been, retired into the solitude and
quietness of private life.

But the love and admiration of the French nation followed the empress to
Malmaison, where she had retreated from the world, and where the regard
and friendship, if not the love of Napoleon himself, endeavored to
alleviate the sufferings of her solitude. During the first days after
her divorce, the road from Paris to Malmaison presented as animated a
scene of equipages as in days gone by, when the emperor resided there
with his wife. All those whose position justified it, hastened
to Malmaison to pay their respects to Josephine, and through the
expressions of their sympathy to soften the asperities of her sorrow.
Doubtless many came also through curiosity, to observe how the empress,
once so much honored, endured the humiliation of her present situation.
Others, believing they would exhibit their devotedness to the emperor if
they should follow their master’s example, abandoned the empress, as he
had done, and took no further notice of her.

But the emperor soon undeceived the latter, manifesting his
dissatisfaction by his cold demeanor and repelling indifference toward
them, whilst he loudly praised all those who had exercised their
gratitude by visiting Malmaison, and in expressing their devotedness to
the empress.

He himself went beyond his whole court in showing attention and respect
to Josephine. The very next day after their separation, the emperor went
to Malmaison to visit her, and to take with her a long walk through the
park. During the following days he came again, and once invited her and
the ladies of her new court to a dinner in Trianon.

Josephine might have imagined that nothing had been altered in her
situation, and that she was still Napoleon’s wife. But there were
wanting in their intercourse those little, inexpressible shades of
confidence which her exquisite tact and her instinctive feelings felt
yet more deeply than the more important and visible changes.

When Napoleon came or went, he no longer embraced her, but merely
pressed her hand in a friendly manner, and often called her “madame”
 and “you;” he was more formal, more polite to her than he had ever been

And then his daily visits ceased; in their place came his letters, it is
true, but they were only the letters of a friend, who tried to comfort
her in her misfortune, but took no sympathetic interest in her distress.

Soon these letters became more rare, and when they did come they were
shorter. The emperor had to busy himself with other matters than with
the solitary, rejected woman in Malmaison; he had now to occupy his
thoughts with his young and beautiful bride--with Maria Louisa, the
daughter of the Emperor of Austria, who was soon to enter Paris as the
wife of Napoleon, the Emperor of France.

Bitter and painful indeed were those first days of resignation for
Josephine; harsh and unsparing were the conflicts she had to fight with
her own heart, before its wounds could be closed, and its pains and its
humiliations cease to torment her!

But Josephine had a brave heart, a strong will, and a resolute
determination to control herself. She conquered herself into rest and
resignation; she did not wish that the emperor, the happy bridegroom,
should ever hear of her red, weeping eyes, of her lamentations and
sighs; she did not wish that, in the golden cup which the husband of
the emperor’s young daughter was drinking in the full joyousness of a
conqueror, her tears should commingle therein as drops of gall.

She controlled herself so far as to be able with smiling calmness
to have related to her how Paris was celebrating the new marriage
festivities, how the new Empress of the French was everywhere received
with enthusiasm. She was even able to inquire, with an expression of
friendly sympathy, after Maria Louisa, the young wife of sixteen,
who had taken the place of the woman of forty-eight, and from whom
Josephine, in the sincerity of her love, required but one thing, namely,
to make Napoleon happy.

When she was told that Napoleon loved Maria Louisa with all the passion
of a fiery lover, Josephine conquered herself so as to smile and thank
God that she had accepted her sacrifice and thus secured Napoleon’s

But the emperor, however much he might be enamored of his young wife,
never forgot the bride of the past, the beloved one of his youth, of
whom he had been not only captivated, but whom he had loved from the
very depths of his soul. He surrounded her, though from a distance, with
attentions and tokens of affection; he would often write to her; and at
times, when his heart was burdened and full of cares, he would come to
Malmaison, and visit this woman who understood how to read in his face
the thoughts of his heart, this woman whose soft, gracious, and amiable
disposition--even as a tranquillizing and invigorating breeze after
a sultry day--could quiet his excited soul; to this woman he came for
refreshment, for a little repose, and sweet communion.

It is true those visits of the emperor to his divorced wife were made
secretly and privately, for his second wife was jealous of the affection
which Napoleon still retained for Josephine; she listened with gloomy
attention to the descriptions which were made to her of the amiableness,
of the unwithered beauty of Josephine; and one day, after hearing that
the emperor had visited her in Malmaison, Maria Louisa broke out into
tears, and complained bitterly of this mortification caused by her

Napoleon had to spare this jealous disposition of his young wife, for
Maria Louisa was now in that situation which France and its emperor had
expected and hoped from this marriage; she was approaching the time when
the object for which Napoleon had married her was to be accomplished,
when she was to give to France and the Bonaparte dynasty a legitimate
heir. It was necessary, therefore, to be cautious with the young
empress, and, on account of her interesting situation, it was expedient
to avoid the gloomy sulkiness of jealousy.

By the emperor’s orders, and under pain of the punishment of his wrath,
no one dared speak to Maria Louisa of the divorced empress, and Napoleon
avoided designedly to give her an occasion of complaint. He went no
longer to Malmaison; he even ceased corresponding with his former wife.

Only once during this period he had not been able to resist the longing
of visiting Josephine, who, as he had heard, was sick. The emperor,
accompanied only by one horseman, rode from Trianon to Malmaison. At the
back gate of the garden he dismounted from his horse, and, without being
announced, walked through the park to the castle. No one had seen him,
and he was about passing from the front-room into the cabinet of
the empress by a side-door, when the folding-doors leading from this
front-room into the cabinet opened, and Spontini walked out.

Napoleon, agitated and vexed at having been surprised, advanced with
imperious mien toward the renowned maestro, who was quietly approaching

“What are you doing here, sir?” cried Napoleon, with choleric

Spontini, however, returned the emperor’s haughty look, and, measuring
him with a deep, flaming glance, asked, With a lofty assurance: “Sire,
what are you doing here?”

The emperor answered not--a terrible glance fell upon the bold
maestro, without, however, annihilating him: then Napoleon entered into
Josephine’s cabinet, and Spontini walked away slowly and with uplifted

Spontini, the famous composer of the “Vestals,” whose score he had
dedicated to the Empress Josephine, remained after her divorce a true
and devoted admirer of the empress; and in Malmaison, as well as in the
castle of Navarra, he showed himself as faithful, as ready to serve, as
submissive, as he had once been in the Tuileries, or at St. Cloud, in
the days of Josephine’s glory. He often passed whole weeks in Navarra,
and even undertook to teach the ladies and gentlemen of the court the
choruses of the “Vestals,” which the empress so much liked.

Josephine had, therefore, for the renowned maestro a heart-felt
friendship, and she took pleasure in boasting of the gratitude and
loyalty of Spontini, in contrast with the sad experiences she had made
of man’s ingratitude. [Footnote: Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine,”
 par Mlle. Ducrest,” vol. i., p. 287.]

The emperor, as already said, avoided to trouble his young wife by
exciting her jealousy; and though he did not visit Malmaison, though
for a time he did not write to Josephine, yet he was acquainted with the
most minute details of her life, and with all the little events of her
home; and he took care that around her every thing was done according
to the strictest rules of etiquette, and that she was surrounded by the
same splendor and the same ceremonies as when she was empress.

At last the moment had come which was to give to Josephine her most
sacred and glorious reward. The cannon of the Invalides, with their one
hundred and one thunders, announced that Maria Louisa had given birth
to a son, and Prince Eugene was the first who brought this news to his
mother in Navarra.

Josephine’s countenance beamed with satisfaction and joy when she
learned from the lips of her son this news of the birth of the King of
Rome; she called her whole court together to communicate herself
this news to the ladies and gentlemen, and to have them listen to the
descriptions which Eugene, with all heartiness, was making of the
scenes which had taken place in the imperial family circle during the
mysterious hours of suspense and expectation.

But when Eugene repeated the words of Napoleon’s message which he sent
through him to Josephine, her countenance was illumined with joy and
satisfaction, and tears started from her eyes--tears of purest joy, of
most sacred love!

Napoleon had said: “Eugene, go to your mother; tell her that I am
convinced no one will be more pleased with my happiness than she. I
would have written to her, but I should have had to give up the pleasure
of gazing at my son. I part from him only to attend to inexorable
duties. But this evening I will accomplish the most agreeable of all
duties--I will write to Josephine.” [Footnote: Ducrest, vol. i., p.

The emperor kept his word. The same evening there came to Malmaison an
imperial page, with an autograph letter from Napoleon to Josephine.
The empress rewarded this messenger of glad tidings with a costly
diamond-pin, and then she called her ladies together, to show them the
letter which had brought so much happiness to her heart, and which also
had obscured her eyes with tears.

It was an autograph letter of Napoleon; it contained six or eight lines,
written with a rapid hand; the pen, too hastily filled, had dropped
large blots of ink on the paper. In these lines Napoleon announced to
Josephine the birth of the King of Rome, and concluded with these words:
“This child, in concert with our Eugene, will secure the happiness of
France, and mine also.”

These last words were to Josephine full of delight. “Is it, then,
possible,” exclaimed she, joyously, “to be more amiable and more tender,
thus to sweeten what this moment might have of bitterness if I did not
love the emperor so much? To place my son alongside of his is an act
worthy of the man who, when he will, can be the most enchanting of men.”
 [Footnote: Ducrest, vol. i., p. 238.]

And this child, for which so much suffering had been endured, for which
she had offered her own life in sacrifice, was by Josephine loved even
as if it were her own. She was always asking news from the little King
of Rome, and no deeper joy could be brought to her heart than to speak
to her of the amiableness, the beauty, the liveliness of this little
prince, who appeared to her as the visible reward of the sacrifice which
she had made to God and to the emperor.

One intense, craving wish did Josephine cherish during all these
years--she longed to see Napoleon’s son; she longed to press to her
heart this child who was making her former husband so happy, and on
which rested all the hopes of France.

Finally Napoleon granted her desire. Privately, and in all secrecy, for
Maria Louisa’s jealousy was ever on the watch, and she would never have
consented to allow her son to go to her rival; without pomp, without
suite, the emperor took a drive with the little three-year-old King of
Rome to the pleasure-castle of Bagatelle, whither he had invited the
Empress Josephine through his trusty chamberlain Constant.

Josephine herself has described her interview with the little King of
Rome in a very touching and affecting letter which she addressed the
next day to the emperor, and which contains full and interesting details
of the brief interview she had with the son of Maria Louisa. We cannot,
therefore, abridge this letter, nor deny ourselves the pleasure of
transcribing it:

“Sire, although deeply moved by our interview of yesterday, and
preoccupied with the beautiful and lovely child you brought me,
penetrated with gratitude for the step taken by you for my sake, and
whose unpleasant consequences, I may well imagine, could fall only upon
you; I felt the most pressing desire to converse with you, to assure
you of my joy, which was too great to be at once exhibited in a suitable
manner. You, who to meet my wishes exposed yourself to the danger of
having your peace disturbed, will fully understand why I thus long to
acknowledge to you all the happiness your inestimable favor has produced
within me.

“Truly, it was not out of mere curiosity that I wished to see the
King of Rome; his face was not unknown to me, for I had seen striking
portraits of him. Sire, I wanted to examine the expression of his
features, listen to the tone of his voice, which is so much like yours;
I wanted to see you--how you would caress the child, and then I longed
also to return to him the caresses which my son Eugene received from
you. If I recall to your remembrance how deaf my son was once to you,
it is that you should not be surprised at the partiality which I cherish
for the son of another, for it is your son, and you will find neither
insincerity nor exaggeration in feelings which you fully appreciate,
since you yourself have nurtured similar ones.

“The moment I saw you enter with the little Napoleon in your hand
was undoubtedly one of the happiest of my eventful life. That moment
surpassed all the preceding ones, for never have I received from you a
stronger proof of your affection to me. It was no passionate love
which induced you to fulfil my wishes, but it was a sincere esteem
and affection, and these feelings are unchangeable, and this thought
completes my happiness.

“It was not without trembling that I thought of the dissolution of our
marriage-ties, for it was reasonable for me to apprehend that a young,
beautiful wife, endowed also with the most enviable gifts, would soon
make you forget one who lacks all these advantages, and who then would
be far away from you. When I called to mind all the amiable qualities
possessed by Maria Louisa, I could not but tremble at the thought that
I should soon be indifferent to you, but surely I was then ignoring the
loftiness and generosity of your soul, which still preserves the memory
of its extraordinary devotedness, and of its tenderness toward me, a
devotedness and tenderness whose superabundance was proportioned to
those eminent qualities which have surprised Europe, and which cause you
to be admired by all those who come near you, and which even constrain
your enemies to render you justice!

“Yes, I acknowledge to you, sire, you have once more found the means of
astonishing me, and to fill me with admiration, accustomed as I am to
admire you; and your whole conduct, so well suited to my position, the
solicitude with which you surround me, and finally the step you took
yesterday in my behalf, prove to me that you have far surpassed all the
favorable and charming impressions which I have ever cherished for you.

“With what fondness I pressed the young prince to my heart! How his
face, radiant with health, filled me with delight, and how happy I was
to see him so amused and so contented as he watched us both! In fact, I
entirely forgot I was a stranger to this child; I forgot that I was not
his mother while partaking his sweet caresses. I then envied no man’s
happiness; mine seemed far above all bliss granted to poor mortals
here below. And when the time came to part from him, when I had to tear
myself from this little being whom I had barely learned to know, I felt
in me a deep anguish, as deep as if all the sorrows of humanity had
pierced me through.

“Have you, as I did, closely noticed the little commanding tone of your
son when he made known to me his wish that he wanted me to be in the
Tuileries with him? And then his little pouting mien when I answered
that this could not be?

“‘Why,’ exclaimed he, in his own way, ‘why, since papa and I wish it?’

“Yes, this already reveals that he will understand how to command, and
I heartily rejoice to discern traits of character which, in a private
individual, might be pregnant with evil consequences, but which are
becoming to a prince who is destined to rule in a time that is so near a
long and terrible revolution. For after the downfall of all order, such
as we have outlived, a sovereign cannot hope to maintain peace in his
kingdom merely through mildness and goodness. The nation over which he
rules, and which yet stands on the hot soil of a volcano, must have the
assurance that crime no sooner lifts its head than swift punishment will
reach it. As you yourself have told me a thousand times: ‘When once fear
has been instilled, one must not by arbitrariness, but through strict
impartiality, strive to be loved.’

“You have often used your privilege of granting pardon, but you have
more frequently proved that you would not tolerate a violation of the
laws enacted by you. Thus you have subdued and mastered the Jacobins,
quieted the royalists, and satisfied the party of moderation. Your son
will now have your example before him, and, happier than you, will be
able to go further in manifesting clemency toward the guilty.

“I had with him a conversation which establishes the deep sensitiveness
of his heart.

“He was delighted with my charivari, and then he said to me:

“‘Ah, how beautiful that is! but if it were given to a poor man he would
be rich, would he not, madame?’

“‘Certainly he would,’ I replied. “‘Well, then,’ said he, ‘I have seen
in the woods a poor man; allow me to send for him. I have no money
myself, and he needs a good coat.’

“‘The emperor,’ I replied, ‘will find a pleasure in gratifying your
wishes. Why does not your imperial highness ask him for his purse?’

“‘I have asked him already, madame. He gave it to me when we left Paris,
and we have given all away. But as you look so good, I thought you would
do what was so natural.’

“I promised to be useful to that poor man, and I will certainly keep my
word. I have given orders to my courier to find the unfortunate person,
and bring him to-morrow to Malmaison, where we will see what can be
done for him. For it will indeed be sweet for me to perform a good work
counselled by a child three years old. Tell him, I pray you, sire, that
this poor man is no longer poor!

“I have thought you would be pleased to gather these details from a
conversation which passed between us in a low voice, while you were busy
at the other end of the drawing-room, examining an atlas. You will also
perceive by this, how fortunate it is for the King of Rome to have
a governess, who knows how to inspire him with such feelings of
compassion, the more touching that they are seldom found in princes. For
princes in general have been accustomed to a constant flattery, which
induces them to imagine that every thing in the world is for them, and
that they can entirely dismiss the duty of thinking about others. In
fact the eminent qualities of Madame de Montesquiou make her worthy of
the important and responsible charge you have committed to her care, and
the sentiments of the prince justify the choice you have made. Will
he not be good and benevolent, who is brought up by goodness and
benevolence themselves?

“I am, however, afraid that his imperial highness, notwithstanding the
orders made to him by you, has spoken of this interview, which was to
remain secret. I recommended him not to open his mouth, and I assured
him that if any one knew that he had come to Bagatelle it would be
impossible for him to come here again.

“‘Oh, then, madame,’ replied he, ‘be not alarmed, I will say nothing,
for I love you; promise me, however, if I am obedient, to come soon and
visit me.’

“Ah! I assured him, that I desired this more than he did himself, and I
have never spoken more truly.

“Meanwhile, I am conscious that those interviews, which fill me with
extreme joy, cannot often be repeated, and I must not abuse your
goodness toward me by claiming your presence too often. The sacrifice
which I make to your mental quietude is another proof of my intense
desire to render you happy. This thought will comfort me while waiting
to be able to embrace my adopted son. Do you not find this exchange of
children very sweet? As regards myself, sire, what distresses me is,
that I can only give to your son this name, without being able to be
useful to him! And, again, how different is my position from that which
you held toward Eugene! The longer, the kinder you are to him, the less
can I show you my gratitude! However, I rely upon the vice-king that he
will be a comfort to you, amid the sorrows which your family causes you.
If, unfortunately, what you surmise about the King of Naples were to
happen, then Eugene would become still more useful to you than ever, and
I dare trust he would prove worthy of you by his conduct in war as well
as by his sincere devotedness to your service.

“You have now received quite a long letter from me! The sentiment of
delight in talking about our two sons has carried me away, and this
sentiment will make me excusable for having so long intruded upon you.
As sorrow needs concentration, so joy needs expansion. This, sire,
explains this letter, long as a volume, and which I cannot close
with-out once more expressing my deepest gratitude.

“JOSEPHINE.” [Footnote: Ducrest, “Memoires,” vol. iii., p. 294.]


Happy the man to whom it is granted to close a beautiful and worthy life
with a beautiful and worthy death! Happy Josephine, for whom it was not
reserved like the rest of the Bonapartes to wander about Europe seeking
for a refuge where they might hide themselves from the persecutions and
hatred of the princes and people! To her alone, of all the Napoleonic
race, was reserved the enviable fate to die under the ruins of the
imperial throne, whose fragments fell so heavily upon her heart as to
break it.

For France the days of fear had come, for Napoleon the days of
vengeance. The nations of Europe had at last risen with the strength of
the lion that breaks his chains and is determined to obtain liberty by
devouring those who deprived him of it, and so those irritated nations
had with the power of their wrath forced their princes, who had been so
obediently submissive to Napoleon, to declare war and to fight against
him for life or death.

The conflicts, battles, and endless victories of the constantly defeated
Austrians, Prussians, Russians, and English, belong to history--this
everlasting tribunal where the deeds of men are judged, and where they
are written on its pages to be for ages to come as lessons and examples
of warning and encouragement.

Josephine, the lonely and rejected one, had nothing to do with those
fearful events which shook France; she played no active part in the
great drama which was performed before the walls of Paris, and which
closed with the fall of the hero whom she had so warmly and so truly

Josephine, during those days of horror and of decisive conflicts, was in
her pleasure-castle of Navarra. Her daughter, Queen Hortense, with her
two sons, Napoleon Louis and Louis Napoleon, was with her. There she
learned the treachery of the marshals, the capitulation of Marmont, the
surrender of Paris, and the entrance of the foreign foe into the capital
of France.

But where was Napoleon? Where was the emperor? Did Josephine know
anything of him? Why did he not come to the rescue of his capital, and
drive the foe away?

Such were the questions which afflicted Josephine’s heart, and to
which the news, finally re-echoed through Paris, gave her the fearful

Napoleon had come too late, and when he had arrived in Fontainebleau
with the remnants of the army defeated by Blucher, he learned there that
Marmont had capitulated, and that the allies had already entered Paris,
and all was lost.

The deputies of the senate and Napoleon’s faithless marshals came from
Paris to Fontainebleau to require from him that he should resign his
crown, and that he should save France by the sacrifice of himself
and his imperial dignity. These men, lately the most humble, devoted
courtiers and flatterers of Napoleon, who owed to him everything--name,
position, fortune, and rank--had now the courage to approach him with
lofty demeanor and to request of him to depart into exile.

Napoleon, overcome by all this misfortune and treachery which fell upon
him, did what they required of him. He abdicated in favor of his son,
and left Paris, left France, to go to the small island of Elba, there to
dream of the days which had been and of the days which were coming, when
he would regain his glory and his emperor’s crown.

Amid the agonies, cares, and humiliations of his present situation,
Napoleon thought of the woman whom he had once named the “angel of his
happiness,” and who he well knew would readily and gladly be the angel
of his misfortune. Before leaving Fontainebleau to retire to the island
of Elba, Napoleon wrote to Josephine a farewell letter, telling her
of the fate reserved for him, and assuring her of his never-ending
friendship and affection. He sent this letter to the castle of Navarra
by M. de Maussion, and the messenger of evil tidings arrived there in
the middle of the night.

Josephine had given orders that she should be awakened as soon as any
one brought news for her. She immediately arose from her bed, threw a
mantle over her shoulders, and bade M. de Maussion come in.

“Does the emperor live?” cried she, as he approached. “Only answer me
this: does the emperor live?”

Then, when she had received this assurance, after reading Napoleon’s
letter, and learning all the sad, humiliating news, pale, and trembling
in all her limbs, she hastened to her daughter Hortense.

“Ah, Hortense,” exclaimed she, overcome and falling into an arm-chair
near her daughter’s bed, “ah, Hortense, the unfortunate Napoleon! They
are sending him to the island of Elba! Now he is unhappy, abandoned,
and I am not near him! Were I not his wife I would go to him and
exile myself with him! Oh, why cannot I be with him?” [Footnote: Mlle.
Cochelet, “Memoires,” vol. ii.]

But she dared not! Napoleon, knowing her heart and her love, had
commissioned the Duke de Bassano expressly to tell the Empress Josephine
to make no attempt to follow him, and “to respect the rights of

This other, however, had not been pleased to claim the right which
Josephine was to respect. Napoleon left Fontainebleau on the 21st of
April, 1814, to go to the island of Elba. It was his wish to meet there
his wife and his son. But Maria Louisa did not come; she did not obey
her husband’s call; she descended from the imperial throne, and was
satisfied to be again an archduchess of Austria, and to see the little
King of Rome dispossessed of country, rank, father, and even name. The
poor little Napoleon was now called Frank--he was but the son of the
Archduchess Maria Louisa; he dared not ask for his father, and yet
memory ever and ever re-echoed through his heart the sounds of other
days; this memory caused the death of the Duke de Reichstadt, the son of

Napoleon had gone to Elba, and there he waited in vain for Maria Louisa,
to fill whose place Josephine would have gladly poured her heart’s

But she dared not! she submitted faithfully and devotedly to Napoleon’s
will. To her he was, though banished, humiliated, and conquered, still
the emperor and the sovereign; and her tearful eyes gazed toward the
solitary island which to her would have been a paradise could she but
have lived there by the side of her Napoleon!

But she had to remain in France; she had sacred duties to perform; she
had to save out of the wreck of the empire at least something for her
children! For herself she wanted nothing, she desired nothing; but the
future of her children had to be secured.

Therefore, Josephine gathered all her courage; she pressed her hands on
the mortal wounds of her heart, and kept it still alive, for it must not
yet bleed to death; her children yet claimed her care.

Josephine, therefore, left the castle of Navarra for that of Malmaison,
thus fulfilling the wishes of the Emperor Alexander, who desired to know
Josephine’s wishes in reference to herself and to her children, and who
sincerely wished to become acquainted with her, that he might offer her
his homage, and transfer to her the friendship he once cherished for

Josephine received in Malmaison the first visit of Alexander, and
from this time he came every day, to the great grief of the returned
Bourbons, who felt bitterly hurt at the homage thus publicly offered
before all the world by the conqueror of Napoleon to the divorced
Empress Josephine, who, in the eyes of the proud Bourbons, was but the
widow of General de Beauharnais.

Notwithstanding this, the rest of the princes of the victorious allies
followed the example of Alexander. They all came to Malmaison to visit
the Empress Josephine; so that again, as in the days of her imperial
glory, she received at her residence the conquerors of Europe, and saw
around her emperors and kings. The Emperor Alexander, with his brothers;
the King Frederick William, with his sons; the Duke of Coburg, and
many others of the little German princes, were guests at her table,
and endeavored, through the respect they manifested to her, and the
expressions of their esteem and devotedness, to turn away from her the
sad fate which had come upon all the Bonapartes.

But her heart was mortally wounded. “I cannot overcome the fearful
sadness which has seized me,” said she to Mlle. Cochelet, the friend
of her daughter Hortense; “I do all I can to hide my cares from my
children, but I suffer only the more.” [Footnote: Mlle. Cochelet.
“Memoires,” vol. ii.]

“You will see,” said she to the Duchess d’Abrantes, who had visited her
at Malmaison, “you will see that Napoleon’s misfortune will cause my
death. My heart is broken--it will not be healed.” [Footnote: Abrantes,
“Memoires,” vol. xvii.]

She was right, her heart was broken, it would not be healed! It seemed
at first but merely an indisposition which seized the empress, and which
obliged her to decline the announced visit of the Emperor Alexander,
nothing but a slight inflammation of the neck, accompanied by a little
fever. But the disease increased hour after hour. On the 27th of May,
Josephine was obliged to keep her bed; on the 29th her sufferings in
the neck were so serious that she nearly suffocated, and her fever had
become so intense that she had but few moments of consciousness. In her
fancy she often called aloud for Napoleon, and the last word which her
dying lips uttered was his name.

Josephine died on the 29th of May, 1814. That love which had illumined
her life occasioned her death, and will sanctify her name for ever as
with a saintly halo.

She was buried on the 2d of June in the church at Rueil. It was a solemn
funeral procession, to which all the kings and princes assembled in
Paris sent their substitutes in their carriages; but the most beautiful
mourning procession which followed her to the grave were the tears,
the sighs of the poor, the suffering of the unfortunate, for all whom
Josephine had been a benefactress, a good angel, and who lost in her a
comforter, a mother.

In the church of Rueil, Eugene and Hortense erected a monument to their
mother; and when in 1837 Queen Hortense, the mother of the Emperor
Napoleon III., died at Arenenberg, her corpse was, according to her last
wishes, brought to Rueil and laid at her mother’s side. Her son erected
there a monument to her; and this son, the grandchild of Josephine, is
now the Emperor of the French, Napoleon III. Josephine’s sacrifice has been in vain. Napoleon’s dynasty, for
whose sake she sacrificed happiness, love, and a crown, has not been
perpetuated through the woman to whom Josephine was sacrificed--not
through Maria Louisa, who gave to France and to the emperor a son, but
through the daughter of Josephine, who gave to Napoleon more than a son,
her love, her heart, and her life!

Providence is just! Upon the throne from which the childless empress was
rejected, sits now the grandchild of Josephine, and his very existence
demonstrates how vain are all man’s calculations and desires, and how
like withered leaves they are carried away and tossed about by the
breath of destiny!

It was not the emperor’s daughter who perpetuated Napoleon’s dynasty,
but the widow of General Beauharnais, Josephine Tascher de la Pagerie.

Josephine, therefore, is avenged in history; she was also avenged
in Napoleon’s heart, for he bitterly lamented that he had ever been
separated from her. “I ought not to have allowed myself to be separated
from Josephine,” said he, a short time before his death in St.
Helena, “no, I ought not to have been divorced from her; that was my


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