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Queen Hortense and her friends, 1783-1837 (Volume 2) online

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Vol. II


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1783 — 1837


Author of "A Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald/'
" Queen Henrietta Maria/' etc., etc.


Vol. II


Paternoster Row «ftf *T 1907



*8l0 PAGE

Josephine at Malmaison — Her children with her — Madame de
Remusat — Louis Bonaparte demands a separation — Negotia-
tions for the Emperor's re-marriage — Josephine and Hortense
— Hortense's position — Eugene and his wife — Josephine at
Navarre — Hortense at Court — Her return to Holland . . I


1810 — i8n
Hortense in Holland for the last time — At Plombieres — Louis'
abdication — Charles de Flahault — Visit to Aix — Birth of the
King of Rome — And of the future Due de Morny 20


Approaching disaster — A court ball- — Louis and his son — Hortense
at Aix — The training of her children — The Grand Due de
Berg's illness— His mother's alarm — Hortense and Marie
Louise — The Malet riot — Russian disasters — Louis' proposals
— Hortense at Paris and at Aix — Death of Duroc — Of
Madame de Broc — Louis and Eugene de Beauharnais . . 37


Imperial reverses — Paris in danger — Hortense's attitude — Her
flight — At Trianon, Rambouillet, and Navarre — Her schemes
for the future .......... 62


Mademoiselle Cochelet in Paris — The Emperor Alexander — Hor-
tense's letters — She arrives at Malmaison — Eugene at the
Tuileries — Royalists and Bonapartists — Napoleon at Fon-
tainebleau — The Czar and the Beauharnais — Hortense the
fashion — Josephine's death — Hortense becomes Duchesse de
Saint-Leu .......... 77

vi Contents

1814 — 1815


Hortense in adversity — Pozzo di Borgo at Saint-Leu — Madame de
Stael and Madame Recamier — Meeting at Baden with Eugene,
and Madame de Kriidener — Life at Saint-Leu — Accused of
intrigue — Louis claims his son — Hortense's position in Paris
— Visit to the Tuileries — Interview with Wellington — Unrest
in the capital 95


The return from Elba — The news received in Paris — Hortense in
hiding — Napoleon's arrival — His displeasure — The Hundred
Days — Changed conditions of Paris — Public ceremonials —
The Emperor's departure — His parting with Louis Napoleon
— Tidings of defeat — Waterloo — Abdication — In Paris and
at Malmaison 114



Hortense's plans in question — The army offered as her escort —
Labedoyere in Paris — Alexander's changed attitude — Hor-
tense's journey to Geneva — Difficulties in finding a shelter —
Aix — Parting with Prince Napoleon — The winter at Con-
stance — Visit of Prince Eugene — The Queen returns it —
The Landmann's proposal of marriage — Louis Bonaparte's
letter 142


Hortense's position — Louis Napoleon — The Queen's unpublished
memoirs — Desired to leave Constance — Buys Arenenberg —
The ex-King and his sons — M. Lebas appointed tutor to
Prince Louis . . .166

1821 — 1823
Death of the Emperor — Prince Napoleon and his tutor — Madame
Campan at Baden — Life at Arenenberg — M. Coulmann —
The Grand Duchess Stephanie — King Louis at Marienbad —
Letter to the Queen 1 85

Contents vii



Rome — Madame Recamier — Madame Salvage — Prince Eugene's
illness and death — Prince Napoleon and his tutor — The
Grand Duchess again at Arenenberg — Death of the King of
Bavaria — Winters at Rome — The Revolution of 1830 . . 204.



The July Revolution in Paris — Hopes and disappointments — The
two Princes — Condition of Italy — The Queen at Florence
and Rome — Her sons join the insurgents — Her fears and
anxieties — Prince Napoleon's death ..... 227


Prince Napoleon's death — Louis ill — The Austrians at Ancona —
Journey through Italy — The frontier passed — In France —
Hortense in Paris — Louis Philippe — Ordered to leave — Re-
ception in London — Rumours and reports — Passage through
France — Boulogne, Chantilly, Malmaison, and Reuil . . 249



Back at Arenenberg — Hortense and her son — His changed position
— Visitors at the chateau — Chateaubriand — Alexandre Dumas
— The Queen's Memoires — Visit to Geneva — Question of
Prince Louis' marriage — His love affairs — J6r6me at Arenen-
berg— Louis' maturing schemes — Parts with the Queen . . 268



The Strasbourg affair — Louis Philippe's clemency — The Queen in
France — Louis Napoleon's letters— The Queen intends to
follow him — Her failing health — Fatal illness — The Prince
returns to Furope— Last weeks at Arenenberg — The Queen's
will — Louis Napoleon's return — Her death .... 293


Vol. II

queen HORTENSE (Girodet) .... Photogravure Frontispiece


the king OF ROME [F. GJrard) 40








' HATEAUBKIANI! (G irudct-Frioson) 272




Queen Hortense and her Friends



Josephine at Malmaison — Her children with her — Madame de Rgmusat
— Louis Bonaparte demands a separation— Negotiations for the
Emperor's re-marriage — Josephine and Hortense — Hortense's
position — Eugene and his wife— Josephine at Navarre — Hortense
at Court— Her return to Holland.

~^HE conclusion of the saddest chapter of her
1 mother's life must have brought relief to Hor-
tense. She had no longer to stand by helplessly,
watching the accomplishment of the sacrifice ; it was
possible to escape from the gaze of those who re-
joiced in Josephine's fall, and to avoid all but friendly
faces. Yet Malmaison, full of memories of what
had perhaps been the happiest years of both mother
and daughter, must have served to accentuate the
sharpness of regret. The Empress, moreover, having
made an effort to go through the last scenes at the
Tuileries with dignity and self-restraint, had now
given way to the full expression of her grief. The
excitement of the crisis, the consciousness that the
eyes of the world were upon her, had borne her up
vol. 11. 1

2 Queen Hortense and her Friends

until the need for self-control was at an end ; but
a reaction had set in, and, in spite of all that
could be done to soothe and cheer her, she was
perpetually in tears. In the presence of her children
she found her chief consolation, and the tie, always
strong, was riveted by misfortune. Both Hortense
and her brother had accompanied her to Malmaison,
and were, as Madame de Remusat reported to her
husband, full of courage. " The Viceroy is gay,"
she added, " and does what he can to give her
strength. They are a real help to her." 1

To Eugene the present condition of his mother
appeared to contain advantages, and he indulged
the belief, as he told his wife, that she would be more
happy and tranquil than before. It is not impossible
that he was right. It was long since Josephine had
been untortured by the dread of the future, and certainty,
even of disaster, is less wearing than doubt. The worst
had befallen ; there was no longer anything to fear.

Whether or not Hortense shared her brother's hopes,
she was not blind to the difficulties attending her
mother's position, and when Madame de Remusat gave
proof of her fidelity by electing to share the fortunes
of her fallen mistress, the Queen placed the situation
before her plainly. She wished, she told the dame du
pa/aisy that she should not arrive at a final determination
without full consideration. M. de Remusat held a post
in the Emperor's household, and such being the case,
would his wife's position not be a false or embarrassing

1 Lettres de Madame de Remusat, t. ii. j>. 284.

Josephine at Malmaison 3

one ? Was it well that she should relinquish the
advantages attached to the service of a new Empress?
" Think, it all over," concluded her mistress's daughter.
" I give you the advice of a friend, and you should
reflect upon it."

Madame de Remusat thanked the Queen, adhering,
however, to the resolution she had formed. The only
danger she foresaw, she added, was that if gossip
concerning the Empress and her household were to be
repeated to the Emperor, it was possible that she might
be suspected by Josephine of being the channel of
communication. Should this occur, she would be
compelled to resign her post. Hortense responded
by the expression of a hope that her mother would
be prudent, kissed the lady-in-waiting, and, on behalf
of the Empress, accepted the sacrifice implied by her
decision. 1

For the present there was no fear that Josephine
would suffer from lack of attention. It was true
that at first some persons had hesitated to pay their
respects to her, lest sympathy displayed towards
his repudiated wife should have compromised them
in the eyes of the Emperor. But when it became
known that attention shown to her would have
the contrary effect, the road to Malmaison became
thronged by crowds of visitors, who, undeterred
by wind and rain, were eager to offer their homage —
and possibly to satisfy their curiosity. All Paris
had been touched by the account of the closing
1 Lettres de Madame de Remusat, t. ii. pp. 284-6.

4 Queen Hortense and her Friends

scenes at the Tuileries, and especially by the fact
that Napoleon had shed tears. " That pleases us
women," observed Madame de Remusat. " Men's
tears, and above all those of kings, never fail in
their effect. " !

It was, indeed, of a superfluity of sympathy rather
than of its absence that those watching Josephine with
the anxious eyes of affection were inclined to complain.
Her wound was too fresh not to be reopened by a
touch, however well meant, and Napoleon's letters in
particular had an effect upon her the reverse of
soothing. Her lady-in-waiting was of opinion that he
should be asked to moderate his expressions of grief,
for when he displayed sadness the Empress — so much
more worthy of compassion than he — fell into a con-
dition of despair causing it almost to appear that her
brain was affected. Madame de Remusat was not a
specially soft-hearted woman, nor was her affection for
her mistress the blind adoration Josephine had inspired
in other members of the Imperial household 2 ; never-
theless, it is evident that the tragedy of the situation
nad moved her strongly. " The Empress," she said,
" was gentle, affectionate, all that was necessary to
rend the heart. She uttered not a word too much,
gave vent to no bitterness, but displayed the sweet-
ness of an angel." At the same time she was in
danger of falling into a condition of apathy from

1 1 ettres de Madame de Remusat, t. ii. p. 283.

- " Ce iiit un concert de lamentations a ne pouvoir exprimer, lorsque
cette iemnie ailoree traversa le court espace qui la separait de sa
voiture." — Constant, t. iv. 224.

At Trianon 5

which, in her attendant's opinion, measures should
be taken to rouse her.

" It seems to me at times," she would say, " that I
am dead, and there remains in me nothing but a vague
power of feeling that I no longer exist."

It was a state of which the pathos must have been
acutely felt by the daughter who loved her. Standing
close at her side, no suffering inflicted upon Josephine
left her untouched ; and, her mother's constant com-
panion, she shared with her the sorrow of these first
days of abandonment. With the Empress, too,
Hortense was bidden by Napoleon to dine at Trianon,
and saw her seated as an invited guest where she had
presided as mistress. The position might have been
expected to accentuate to an unbearable degree the
change in her fortunes ; but it was not Josephine's
habit to refuse compensations, and so full of gladness
was she at the meeting that, according to a wondering
looker-on, it might have been thought that no parting
had taken place. 1

Meantime, Hortense had not been without more
personal subjects of preoccupation than even those
furnished by her mother's affairs. Her attitude
towards her husband had been unusually conciliatory,
since, in spite of the slight implied by Louis' avoidance
of his own house, she had paid him a formal visit at
that of his mother. With Madame Mere at hand to
fan the flame of his antipathy, he was, however, not
only in no mood to suspend hostilities, but lost no time
1 Memoires de Mademoiselle d'Avrillon, t. ii. p. 160.

6 Queen Hortense and her Friends

in taking steps to enable him to follow his brother's
example. As early as December i 7 he had addressed a
formal petition to the Emperor in order to obtain the
necessary permission, entreating that Napoleon would
bestow his approval upon a separation, cause his elder
son to be placed in his hands, the custody of the
younger remaining with the Queen ; and finally re-
quested that, in accordance with the statute dealing
with the Imperial family, the prescribed family council
should be called together, so that his wishes might be
carried into effect.

It is noticeable that in this document no grievances
were alleged, no motives for the line of conduct it
indicated were supplied. The King desired a separation,
and that was all. Hortense must have concurred in
that desire ; but her counsellors at this time induced
her to move warily, and she seems to have played a
passive part, refraining from associating herself in her
husband's demand for freedom. It is possible that
in thus acting she was governed by a knowledge that
any pressure to be brought upon the Emperor would
be useless, and that opposition to his will would be
merely to irritate him uselessly, and would bring her
no nearer to the liberty she coveted.

The moment, as she was probably aware, was not
one when Napoleon would be inclined to subordinate
other and more important considerations to his
brother's private gratification. It is unnecessary to
enter into the political questions at issue between
France and Holland during this winter and spring,

Napoleon and Louis Bonaparte 7

but it should be borne in mind that they had
reached a point placing the brothers in an attitude
of antagonism bordering upon open strife, Louis being
not even permitted to return to the dominions he
nominally ruled. Napoleon had formed the project
of annexing Holland, and of rendering it a province
of France, and under these circumstances the King's
attempt to make his sovereignty independent was
foredoomed to failure. The conqueror in so many
fights was not likely to allow his younger brother
to win the victory.

The question of Louis' divorce was quickly decided.
The family council, when summoned, acted, as might
have been anticipated, as the Emperor's mouthpiece.
Its deliberations resulted in a declaration that it was
impossible to pronounce upon a demand when no
grounds for it had been set forth ; that a formal
deed of separation was inexpedient, and also super-
fluous, since it would bestow upon husband and wife
no greater an amount of liberty than could be secured
by other means. In any case causes for the King's
request must be produced before any step could be
taken in the matter.

So far there was a certain show of justice and of
impartiality in the course pursued. But on the very
same day that the family council met, Napoleon
accorded Hortense permission to remain in Paris, re-
taining possession of Saint-Leu and the hotel in the
rue Cerutti ; whilst a sufficient income was assured
to her, and she was left the guardianship of both her

8 Queen Hortense and her Friends

children. Notwithstanding the recent defeat suffered
by the Beauharnais, or perhaps by reason of it,
they were high in favour with the Emperor, and
his step-daughter had, for the moment, won all along
the line.

Meanwhile, negotiations were on foot for the Em-
peror's re-marriage, and Paris was in a state of expecta-
tion, with little attention to spare for subjects of less
importance than the absorbing question of the hour.
No time was to be lost ; and many were rejoicing
that the preliminary step had at length been taken,
and that hopes of a direct heir to the popular idol
could be entertained. Others, however, remembered
with regret Josephine and her soft and winning ways.
The army, in especial, remained faithful to her. There
were veterans who could recall the early days of
her marriage at the time that she had come to join
Napoleon in Italy, and when disaster overtook him
they shook their heads.

" He should not have left la vieille" they would
say ; " she brought him, and also us, good luck." 1

Nevertheless, the question of the Emperor's fresh
choice was the pressing one of the moment, and in
its solution the Beauharnais strangely intermeddled.
Writing to her husband on January 3, Madame de
Metternich, wife of the Austrian Ambassador, gave
a description of a singular visit she had paid to

1 Parquin, Souvenirs.

Josephine and the Austrian Match 9

" When 1 arrived," she said, " only the Viceroy
was in the salon, who is the best of human beings —
he is the Queen of Holland as a man. He spoke
much of you, and in the middle of our conversation
the Queen came in, rejoicing that we had so soon
renewed our acquaintance. Then, taking me apart,
she said, ' You know we are all Austrian at heart ; but
you would never guess that my mother has had the
courage to advise the Emperor to ask for your Arch-
duchess.' I had not recovered from my astonishment
when the Empress entered, and after talking to me of
all that has happened, and of all she had suffered, said
to me, ' I have a project that occupies me exclusively,
and of which the success alone makes me hope that the
sacrifice I have just made will not be entire loss. It is
that the Emperor should marry your Archduchess.
I spoke of it to him yesterday, and he said his choice is
not yet made. But,' she added, ' I think, were he
certain of being accepted by you, it would be.' . . .
She said that the Emperor was to lunch with her to-
day, and that she would then tell me something
more positive." '

The picture of Josephine finding consolation in
the thought of a fresh marriage for the husband
who had forsaken her is a strange one, but there is no
reason to suspect her of any want of good faith. That
Hortense should have consented to share in furthering
her stepfather's matrimonial projects is perhaps still
more difficult to account for, and can only be explained
1 Mcmoircs dc Mcttcrnich, t. ii. pp. 314-S.

io Queen Hortense and her Friends

by the fact that in the eyes of those surrounding him
he was the supreme controller of every law, whether
human or divine.

In spite, however, of the Emperor's decree that the
Carnival was to be a brilliant one, in spite of balls and
fetes, a shadow seemed to hang over the town. Caro-
line Murat, presiding at the Tuileries, was not
liked, her manners comparing unfavourably with
those, gracious and gentle, of the woman she re-
placed ; and though Hortense did her best to carry
out the Emperor's wishes, she must have done
so with a heavy heart. She will have commanded
the sympathy of those around her, for she shared in
her mother's popularity. " She was loved and loved
truly," says the Duchesse d'Abrantes, writing of this
period, when no interested motives would have been
an incentive to a display of affection towards Jose-
phine's daughter ; " you saw it when people met
at her house. They were at their ease there ; she
made every one so. There was music, conversa-
tion, billiards, drawing — in short, one was amused,
which was never the case at the house of the Queen
of Naples, except on the days when she gave
balls." l

Attached to the household of Madame Mere the
Duchess should be a witness unprejudiced in favour of
her mistress's unloved daughter-in-law. Hortense
possessed a rare and valuable gift — the " genie de
maitresse de maison."

1 M empires de la Duchesse d'Abrantes, t. vii. p. 585,

Louis Bonaparte and his Son 1 1

The presence of her husband in Paris must have
been a source of some disquiet to the Queen during
this spring, more especially in relation to her children.
The claim he had put forward to the custody of the
elder boy had given an indication of possible trouble
in the future, and he continued, in spite of his defeat,
to vindicate his rights as a father. Prince Napoleon
Louis was constantly taken to visit him, the King
exerting himself to provide amusements for the child,
and likewise taking thought for the more serious
matter of his education. Though he had not yet
completed his sixth year, he would in fifteen months
reach the age when Princes of the Imperial family
were consigned to the guardianship of the Em-
peror, and Louis was anxious to place him pro-
visionally in hands he could trust. It was upon
M. de Bonald, known to him by his writings, that
the King's choice fell, in virtue of the theocratic
principles there maintained. Bonald, however, wisely
declined a difficult post, and the little Prince was
left for the present in the charge of his gouvernante,
Madame Boubers.

Meantime, Hortense was to be deprived of the
comfort and support always derived from her brother's
presence. Having done all that was possible to set his
mother's future arrangements upon a satisfactory foot-
ing, Eugene was free to return to Italy until such time
as his presence would be required, with that of his
wife, to assist at the festivities in honour of the
Emperor's approaching marriage.

12 Queen Hortense and her Friends

To escape temporarily from Paris must have been
a relief to the Viceroy ; to find himself once more
at home was a consolation for much. Every letter
that had reached him from Milan had shown with
what vehemence the Princesse Augusta's sympathies
were engaged upon the side of her husband's family,
and with how cheerful a courage she faced the results
of the Beauharnais disaster. " Blotted out of the list
of the great," she wrote on December 13, when the
news was still fresh, "we shall be inscribed upon that
of the happy. Is not that better ? " * And again, when
her husband's return was shortly expected, " I am
young," she wrote, " but events have taught me to
value greatness at its proper worth ; so do not torment
yourself on my account, and think only of the joy I
am soon to feel in kissing you and in telling you by
word of mouth that I love nothing in this world like
my Eugene." 2

In February the Viceroy was able to inform her
that his mother had arrived at the Elysee ; that the
Emperor had visited her the same evening ; that her
business affairs were concluded, his own shortly to be
so; and as, to judge by appearances, those of his sister
would not be settled according to her wishes, there
would be nothing to prevent his starting for Italy —
" that is to say, doing what is most agreeable to my
heart." 3 On February 9, " in spite of the tears of my

1 Memoircs du Prince Eugene, t. vi. p. 289.

2 Ibid. t. vi. p. 315.

' Ibid. t. vi. p. 314,

Napoleon's Displeasure 13

sister and the Empress," he was able to announce that
he was to leave Paris in two days.

Of the wishes of Hortense, which, according to her
brother, had so little chance of realisation, it is possible
to do no more than to form a conjecture. Her future
lay uncertain before her, whilst the disagreements
between her husband and his brother were growing daily
more threatening to Louis' position as King of Holland.
It is said that when the Emperor had declared to
the legislative body in December that changes would
shortly be necessary in that kingdom, his stepdaughter
demanded an explanation of language which appeared
to contain a menace.

" Ma foi" the Emperor had answered, " understand
it in a way to cause you alarm. Your husband is
ungrateful. Holland should act with France. If he
forces me to take extreme measures, I shall go so far

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