The Empress Josephine
Louise Muhlbach

Part 9 out of 10

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

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

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

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

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 tremble.

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 emperor.

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; ail
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

"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 ceremony.

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

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 palace.

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

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

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 glory:

"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 cathedral.

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

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

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 consideration.

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

"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,

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



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 side.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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 resolution.

"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

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

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 France.

"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 earth...."

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 follows:

"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

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

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

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 woman.

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 chances.

"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. 230-232.]

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

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 before.

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 happiness.

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 husband.

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 him.

"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 head.

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. 236.]

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

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

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 yon, 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

"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


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