John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

Joseph Bonaparte online

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lustrious brother so long and so gloriously up-
held against the combined dynasties of Europe.
This sublime struggle of the people throughout
Europe, under the banners of Napoleon, against
the old regime of aristocratic oppression, pro-
foundly moved the soul of Joseph. The hon-
ors he received, the flattery at times lavished
upon him, did not corrupt his heart. " Under
the purple," says Napoleon III., " as under the
cloak of exile, Joseph ever remained the same;
the determined opponent of all oppression, of
all privilege, of every abuse, and the earnest
advocate of equal rights and of popular lib-

In his last days, Joseph, whose conversa-
tional powers were remarkable, loved to recall
the scenes of his memorable career. With the
most touching simplicity, and with a charm of
quiet eloquence which moved all hearts, he
held in breathless interest those who were
grouped around him. With pleasure he al-
luded to the comparatively humble origin of
his family, which had counted among the mem-
bers so many kings. He was fond of relating
anecdotes of the brother of whom he was so
proud, and whom he so tenderly loved. One


Character of Joseph.

of these characteristic anecdotes was as fol-

"Joseph," said the Emperor to me one day,

"T ' has infinite ability, has he not?

Well, do you know why he has never accom-
plished any thing great ? It is because grand

thoughts come only from the heart, and T

has no heart"

Though Joseph was a man of extraordinary
gentleness of character and sweetness of dispo-
sition, the cruel treatment of his brother at
Saint Helena he could never allude to without
intense emotion. In speaking of the destitu-
tion of the Emperor in the hovel on that dis-
tant rock, his eyes would fill with tears, and his
voice would tremble under the vehemence of
his feelings.

The course pursued by the Government of
Louis Philippe, the whole internal and exter-
nal policy of that unhappy monarch, arresting
the progress of popular rights at home and de-
grading France abroad, and especially its gross
inconsistency in lavishing honors upon the
memory of Napoleon, and yet persisting in ban-
ishing his descendants, roused his indignation.

We can not conclude this brief sketch more

1 Talleyrand.


Character of J oaeph.

appropriately than in the words of Louis Na-
poleon, written when he was a captive at Ham,
and when his uncle Joseph had just died in ex-
ile at Florence.

"If there existed to-day among us a man
who, as a deputy, a diplomatist, a king, a citizen,
or a soldier, was invariably distinguished for
his patriotism and his brilliant qualities ; if that
man had rendered himself illustrious by his
oratorical triumphs, and by the advantageous
treaties he had concluded for the interests of
France; if that man had refused a crown be-
cause the conditions which it imposed upon
him wounded his conscience ; if that man had
conquered a realm, gained battles, and had ex-
hibited upon two thrones the light of French
ideas ; if, in fine, in good as in bad fortune, he
had always remained faithful to his oaths, to
his country, to his friends ; that man, we may
say, would occupy the highest position in pub-
lic esteem, statues would be raised to him, and
civic crowns would adorn his whitened locks.

" Well ! this man lately existed, with all
these glories, with all these honorable antece-
dents. Nevertheless upon his brow we see
only the imprint of misfortune. His country
has requited his noble services by an exile of


Character of Joseph.

twenty-nine years. "We deplore this, without
being astonished at it There are but two par-
ties in France; the vanquished and the van-
quishers at Waterloo. The vanquishers are in
power, and all that is national is crushed beneath
the weight of defeat."

These words were written in the year 1844.
The Empire is now restored. The decree of
exile against the Bonaparte family is annulled.
The heir of the Emperor sits upon the throne,
recognized by all the nations in the Old World
and the New. The time has come when the
character of Joseph Bonaparte can be, and will
be justly appreciated.


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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 19 of 19)