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/IDafeers of Tbistor^







Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and fifty-one, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.

Copyright, 1879, by SUSAN ABBOTT MEAD.

MAKIA ANTOINETTE, Madame Roland, and
Josephine are the three most prominent hero-
ines of the French Revolution. The history
of their lives necessarily records all the most
interesting events of that most fearful tragedy
which man has ever enacted. Maria Antoi-
nette beheld the morning dawn of the Revo-
lution; its lurid mid -day sun glared upon
Madame Roland; and Josephine beheld the
portentous phenomenon fade away. Bach of
these heroines displayed traits of character
worthy of all imitation. No one can read
the history of their lives without being enno-
bled by the contemplation of the fortitude
and grandeur of spirit they evinced. To
the young ladies of our land we especially
commend the Heroines of the French Rev-


Chapter Pag*























Its Tiria* temtlM

FlIHE island of Martinique emerges in tropi-
- oal luxuriance from the bosom of the Ca-
ribbean Sea. A meridian sun causes the whole
land to smile in perennial verdure, and all the
gorgeous flowers and luscious fruits of the torrid
zone adorn upland and prairie in boundless pro-
fusion. Mountains, densely wooded, rear their
summits sublimely to the skies, and valleys
charm the eye with pictures more beautiful
than imagination can create. Ocean breezes
ever sweep these hills and vales, and temper the
heat of a vertical sun. Slaves, whose dusky
limbs are scarcely veiled by the lightest cloth-
ing, till the soil, while the white inhabitants,
supported by the indolent labor of these unpaid
menials, loiter away life in listless leisure and
In rustic luxury. Far removed from the dissi-

14 JOSEPHINE. [A.D. 1760

Birth of JoMpUae. Her parent*' doUh

pating influencos of European and American
opulence, they dwell in their secluded island in
a state of almost patriarchal simplicity.

About the year 1760, a young French officer,
Captain Joseph Gaspard Tascher, accompanied
his regiment of horse to this island. While
here on professional duty, he became attached
to a young lady from France, whose parents,
formerly opulent, in consequence of the loss of
property, had moved to the West Indies to re-
trieve their fortunes. But little is known re-
specting Mademoiselle de Sanois, this young
lady, who was soon married to M. Tasoher.
Josephine was the only child born of this union
In consequence of the early death of her mother,
she was, while an infant, intrusted to the care
of her aunt. Her father soon after died, and
the little orphan appears never to have known
a father's or a mother's love.

Madame Renaudin, the kind aunt, who now,
with maternal affection, took charge of the help-
1668 infant, was a lady of wealth, and of great
benevolence of character. Her husband was
the owner of several estates, and lived surround-
ed by all that plain and rustic profusion which
characterizes the abode of the wealthy planter
His large possessions, and his energy of ohar&o-


M. Renaudio. His kind treatment of kU tlT*

ter, gave him a wide influence over the island.
He was remarkable for his humane treatment
of his slaves, and for the successful manner witl
which he conducted the affairs of his plantations
The general condition of the slaves of Martin
ioo at this time was very deplorable ; but or.
the plantations of M. Renaudin there was as
perfect a state of contentment and of happiness
as is consistent with the deplorable institution
of slavery. The slaves, many of them but re-
eently torn from their homes in Africa, were
necessarily ignorant, degraded, and supersti-
tious. They knew nothing of those more ele-
vated and refined enjoyments which the culti-
vated mind so highly appreciates, but which are
so often also connected with the most exquisite
suffering. Josephine, in subsequent life, gave
a very vivid description of the wretchedness of
the slaves in general, and also of the peace and
harmony which, in striking contrast, cheered
the estates of her uncle. When the days' tasks
were done, the negroes, constitutionally light-
hearted and merry, gathered around their cab-
bis with songs and dances, often prolonged late
into the hours of the night. They had never
known any thing better than their present lot
They compared their condition with that of the

16 JOSEPHINE. [A.D. 1763

Gratitude of the ilarac. JMpll1ini nlTenl f iTorlt*

slaves on the adjoining plantations, and exnlted
in view of their own enjoyments. M. and Mad-
ame Renaudin often visited their oabins, spoke
words of kindness to them in then hours of
sickness and sorrow, encouraged the formation
of pure attachments and honorable marriage
among the young, and took a lively interest in
their sports. The slaves loved their kind mas-
ter and mistress most sincerely, and manifested
their affection in a thousand simple ways which
touched the heart.

Josephine imbibed from infancy the spirit of
her uncle and aunt She always spoke to ti*
slaves in tones of kindness, and became a uni-
versal favorite with all upon the plantations.
She had no playmates but the little negroes
and she united with them freely in all their
f ports. Still, these little ebon children of bond-
age evidently looked up to Josephine as to a
superior being. She was the queen around
whom they circled in affectionate homage. The
instinctive faculty, which Josephine displayed
through life, of winning the most ardent love
of all who met her, while, at the same time, sh*>
was protected from any undue familiarity, she
seems to have possessed even at that early day
The children, who were her companions in aU

A. D. 1765.] LlFEINMARTINiqtE. 17

Hospitality of M. Renaudln. Society at his bouw

the sports of childhood, were also dutiful subjects
over ready to be obedient to her will.

The social position of M. Rjnaudin, as DIM
of the most opulent and influential gentlemen
of Martinique, necessarily attracted to his hos-
pitable residence much refined and cultivated
society. Strangers from Europe visiting the
island, planters of intellectual tastes, and ladies
of polished manners, met a cordial welcome be-
neath the spacious roof of this abode, where all
abundance was to be found. Madame Renau-
din had passed her early years in Paris, and her
manners were embellished with that elegance
and refinement which have given to Parisian
society such a world-wide celebrity. There
was, at that period, much more intercourse be-
tween the mother country and the colonies than
at the present day. Thus Josephine, though
reared in a provincial home, was accustomed,
from infancy, to associate with gentlemen and
ladies who were familiar with the etiquette of
the highest rank in society, and whose conver-
sation was intellectual and improving.

It at first view seems difficult to account foi
the high degree of mental culture which Jo-
sephine displayed, when, seated by the side of
Napoleon, she was t l 'e Empress of Frano?

18 JOSEPHINE. [A.D. 1765

bity education of Josephine. Her icoomplUhnienU

Her remarks, her letters, her conversational ele-
ganoe, gave indication of a mind thoroughly
furnished with information and trained by se-
vere discipline. And yet, from all the glimpses
we can catch of her early education, it would
eem that, with the exception of the accomplish-
ments of music, dancing, and drawing, she was
left very much to the guidance of her own in-
stinctive tastes. But, like Madame Roland,
she was blessed with that peculiar mental con-
stitution, which led her, of her own accord, to
treasure up all knowledge which books or con-
versation brought within her reach. From
childhood until the hour of her death, she was
ever improving her mind by careful observation
and studious reading. She played upon the
harp with great skill, and sang with a voice of
exquisite melodj . She also read with a correct-
ness of elocution and a fervor of feeling which
ever attracted admiration. The morning of her
childhood was indeed bright and sunny, and
her gladdened heart became so habituated to
joyonsness, that her cheerful spirit seldom failed
her even in the darkest days of her calamity.
Hei passionate love for flowers had interested
her deeply in the study of botany, and she also
became very skillful in embroidery, that aocom


Ccphemle Sbe beoomM JovepUne'i btwont eompcakm

plishment which was onoe deemed an essentia
part of the education of every lady.

Under such influences Josephine became *
child of such grace, beauty, and loveliness of
oharaoter as to attract the attention and the
admiration of all who saw her. There was an
affectionateness, simplicity, and frankness in her
manners which won all hearts. Her most in-
timate companion in these early years was a
young mulatto girl, the daughter of a slave, and
report said, with how much truth it is impossi-
ble to know, that she was also the daughter of
Captain Tascher before his marriage. Her
oame was Euphemie. She was a year or two
older than Josephine, but she attached herself
with deathless affection to her patroness ; and,
though Josephine made her a companion and a
confidante, she gradually passed, even in these
early years, into the position of a maid of honor,
and clung devotedly to her mistress through all
the changes of subsequent life. Josephine, at
this time secluded from all companionship with
joung ladies of her own rank and age, made
this humble but active-minded and intelligent
girl her bosom companion. They rambled to-
gether, the youthful mistress and her maid, LB
perfect harmony From Josephine's more high

20 JOSEPHINE. (A.D. 177(1

Popularity of Josephine. Childhood enjoynienW

iy-cultivated mind the lowly-born child derived
intellectual stimulus, and thus each day became
a more worthy and congenial associate. At
years passed on, and Josephine ascended inte
higher regions of splendor, her humble attend-
ant gradually retired into more obscure posi-
tions, though she was ever regarded by her true-
hearted mistress with great kindness.

Josephine was a universal favorite with &\\
the little negro girls of the plantation. They
.looked up to her as to a protectress whom they
loved, and to whom they owed entire homage.
She would frequently collect a group of them
under the shade of the luxuriant trees of that
tropical island, and teach them the dances which
she had learned, and also join with them as a
partner. She loved to assemble them around
her, and listen to those simple negro melodies
which penetrate every heart which can feel the
power of music. Again, all their voices, in sweet
harmony, blended with hers as she taught them
the more scientific songs of Europe. She would
listen with unaffected interest to their tales of
sorrow, and weep with them. Often she inter-
posed in their behalf that their tasks might be
lightened, or that a play-day might be allowed
tnera. Thus she was as much beloved and an-

A.D. 1770.) LIFE JN MAR nw/QUK. 2i

Characteristic traits. The fortune-tellet

mired in the cabin of the poor negro as she was
in her uncle's parlor, where intelligence and re-
finement were assembled. This same charac-
ter she displayed through the whole of her ca-
reer. Josephine upon the plantation and Jo-
sephine upon the throne Josephine surrounded
by the sable maidens of Martinique, and Jo-
sephine moving in queenly splendor in the pal-
aces of Versailles, with all the courtiers of Eu-
rope revolving around her, displayed the same
traits of character, and by her unaffected kind-
ness won the heart ^dke of the lowly and of
the exalted.

About this time an occurrence took place
which has attracted far more attention than
it deserves. Josephine was one day walking
under the shade of the trees of the plantation,
when she saw a number of negro children
gathered around an aged and withered negress,
who had great reputation among the slaves as
a fortune-teller. Curiosity induced Josephine
to draw near the group to hear what the sorcer-
ess had to say. The c Id sibyi, with the cunning
which is characteristic of her craft, as soon as
she saw Josephine approach, whom she knew
perfectly, assumed an air of great agitation,
and, seizing her hand violently, gazed with most

22 JOSEPHINE. [A.D. 1772

Prediction* ot the IbyL Credulity

earnest attention upon the lines traced upon the
palm. The little negresses were perfectly aw.
stricken by this oraonlar display. Josephine^
however, was only amused, and smiling, said,

" So you discover something very extraordi-
nary in my destiny ?"

" Yes !" replied the negress, with an air of
great solemnity.

"Is happiness or misfortune to be my lott*
Josephine inquired.

The negress again gazed upon her hand, and
then replied, "Misfortune;" but, after a mo-
ment's pause, she added, " and happiness too."

"You must be careful, my good woman,'
Josephine rejoined, "not to commit yourself
Your predictions are not very intelligible."

The negress, raising her eyes with an expres-
sion of deep mystery to heaven, rejoined, "I
am not permitted to render my revelations more

In every human heart there is a vein of cre-
dulity. The pretended prophetess had now suo
eeeded in fairly arousing the curiosity of Jose-
phine, who eagerly inquired, "What do you
read respecting me in futurity? Tell me ex-

Again the negress. assuming an air of pro*


More prediction*.

found solemnity, said, " You will not believe
me if I reveal to you your strange destiny."

" Yes, indeed, I assure you that I will," Jo-
sephine thoughtlessly replied. " Come, good
mother, do tell me what I have to hope and
what to fear."

"On your own head be it, then. Listen.
You will soon be married. That union will not
be happy. You will become a widow, and then
you will be Queen of France. Some happy
years will be yours, but afterward you will die
in a hospital, amid civil commotions."

The old woman then hurried away. Jose-
phine talked a few moments with the young ne-
groes upon the folly of this pretended fortune-
telling, and leaving them, the affair passed from
her mind. In subsequent years, when toiling
through the vicissitudes of her most eventful
life, she recalled the singular coincidence be-
tween her destiny and the prediction, and
seemed to consider that the negress, with pro-
phetic vision, had traced out her wonderful ca-

But what is there so extraordinary in this
narrative 7 What maiden ever consulted a
fortune-teller without receiving the agreeable
unnounoement that she was to wed beauty, and

26 JOSEPHINE. [AD. 1772

Explanation* t the prediction*. How fulfilled

wealth, and rank 7 It was known universally ,
and it was a constant subject of plantation go&
ip, that the guardians of Josephine were con
templating a match for her with the son of
neighboring planter. The negroes did not think
him half worthy of their adored and queenly Jo-
sephine. They supposed, however, that the
match was settled. The artful woman was
therefore compelled to allow Josephine to marry
at first the undistinguished son of the planter,
with whom she couid not be happy. She, how-
ever, very considerately lets the unworthy hus-
band in a short time die, and then Josephine
becomes a queen. This is the old story, which
has been repeated to half the maidens in Chris-
tendom. It is not very surprising that in this
one case it should have happened to prove true.
But, unfortunately, our prophetess went a lit-
tle farther, and predicted that Josephine would
die in a hospital implying poverty and aban-
donment. This part of the prediction proved te
bo utterly untrue. Josephine, instead of dying
in a hospital, died in the beautiful pal ace of Mal-
inaison. Instead of dying in poverty, she was
one of the richest ladies in Europe, receiving
an income of some six hundred thousand dollars
a year The grounds around her palace were


Ftldty of the prediction. Contemplated mtcb

embellished with all the attractions, and hei
apartments furnished with every luxury which
opulence could provide. Instead of dying in
firiendlesaness and neglect, the Emperor Alex-
ander of Russia stood at her bedside ; the most
illustrious kings and nobles of Europe crowded
her court and did her homage. And though
she was separated from her husband, she still
retained the title of Empress, and was the ob-
ject of his most sincere affection and esteem.

Thus this prediction, upon which so much
stress has been laid, seems to vanish in the air
It surely is not a supernatural event that a
young lady, who was told by an aged negress
that she would be a queen, happened actually
to become one.

We have alluded to a contemplated match
between Josephine and the son of a neighbor-
ing planter. An English family, who had lost
property and rank in the convulsions of those
times, had sought a retreat in the island of Mar-
tinique, and were cultivating an adjoining plan-
tation. In this family there was a very pleas-
ant lad, a son, of nearly the same age with Jo-
sephine. The plantations being new to each
other, they were often companions and play-
mates. A strong attachment grew up between


Attachment between Jogephini and WUUam. Tfcolr ieparaUon

them. The parents of William, and the unol
and aunt of Josephine, approved cordially of this
attachment; and were desirous that these youth-
Sal hearts should be united, as soon as the parties
should arrive at mature age. Josephine, in the
ingenuous artlessness of her nature, disguised
not in the least her strong affection for William.
And his attachment to her was deep and endur-
ing. The solitude of their lives peculiarly tend-
ed to promote fervor of character.

Matters were in this state, when the father of
William received an intimation from England
that, by returning to his own country, he might,
perhaps, regain his lost estates. He immedi-
ately prepared to leave the island with his fam-
ily. The separation was a severe blow to these
youthful lovers. They wept, and vowed eternal

It is not surprising that Josephine should
have been in some degree superstitious. The
peculiarity of her life upon the plantation her
constant converse with the negroes, whose minda
were imbued with all the superstitious notions
which they had brought from Africa, united
with those which they had found upon the isl-
and, tended to foster those feelings. Rousseau,
the most popular and universally-read French


RoMeau throwing itone*. Josephioe'i inperstitloa

writer of that day, in his celebrated "Confes-
sions," records with perfect composure that h
was one day sitting in a grove, meditating
whether his soul would probably be saved 01
lost. He felt that the question was of the ut-
most importance. How could he escape from
the uncertainty ! A supernatural voice seemed
to suggest an appeal to a singular kind of au-
gury. " I will," said he, " throw this stone at
that tree. If I hit the tree, it shall be a sign
that my soul is to be saved. If I miss it, it
shall indicate that I am to be lost." He select-
ed a large tree, took the precaution of getting
very near to it, and threw his stone plump
against the trunk. " After that," says the
philosopher, "I never again had a doubt re-
specting my salvation."

Josephine resorted to the same kind of au-
gury to ascertain if William, who had become
a student in the University at Oxford, still re-
mained faithful to her. She not unfr6quently
attempted to beguile a weary hour in throwing
pebbles at tne trees, that she might divine
whether William were then thinking of her
Months, however, passed away, and she re-
ceived no tidings from him. Though she had
often written, her letters remained unanswered

80 JOSEPHINE [A.D. 1775

Deception of friend*. Mutual fidelity

Her feelings were the more deeply wounded,
since there were other friends upon the island
with whom he kept up a correspondence ; but
Josephine never received even a message through

One day, as she was pensively rambling hi a
rove, where she had often walked with her ab-
**ent lover, she found carved upon a tree the
names of William . and Josephine. She knew
well by whose hand they had been cut, and, en-
tirely overcome with emotion, she sat down and
wept bitterly. With the point of a knife, and
with a trembling hand, she inscribed in the bark
these words, peculiarly characteristic of her
depth of feeling, and of the gentleness of hei
spirit : " Unhappy William ! thou hast forgot-
ten me !"

William, however, had not forgotten her.
\gain and again he had written in terms of
the most ardent affection. But the friends of
Josephine, meeting with an opportunity for
natch for her which they deemed far more ad <
vantageons, had destroyed these communica
tions, and also had prevented any of her letters
from reaching the hand of William. Thus each ,
while cherishing the truest affection, deemed the
other faithless.


AleuBder de Re*uh*nutU. illt dkaraotw


|"OSEPHINE was about fourteen years of
** age when she was separated from William
A year passed away, during which she received
not a line from her absent friend. About this
time a gentleman from France visited her uncle
upon business of great importance. Viscount
Alexander de Beauharnais was a fashionable
and gallant young man, about thirty years of
age, possessing much conversational ease and
grace of manner, and accustomed to the most
polished society of the French metropolis. He
held a commission in the army, and had already
signalized himself by several acts of bravery.
His sympathies had been strongly aroused by
the struggle of the American colonists with the
mother country, and he had already aided th
colonists both with his sword and his purse.

Several large and valuable estates in Mar-
tinique, adjoining the plantation of M. Renau-
iin, had fallen by inheritance to this young offi-
cer and his brother, the Marqui of Beauhar-

32 JOSEPHINE. [A.D. 17V6

A new roitor. Motive* for the raarrim^e

nais. He visited Martinique to secure the proof
of his title to these estates. M. Renaudin held
some of these plantations on lease. In the
transaction of this business, Beauharnais spent
much time at the mansion of M. Renaudin.
He, of course, saw much of the beautiful Jo-
sephine, and was fascinated with her grace, and
ner mental and physical loveliness.

The uncle and aunt of Josephine were delight-
ed to perceive the interest which their niece had
awakened in the bosom of the interesting stran-
ger. His graceful figure, his accomplished per-
son, his military celebrity, his social rank, and
his large fortune, all conspired to dazzle their
eyes, and to lead them to do every thing in then-
power to promote a match apparently so eligi-
ble. The ambition of M. Renaudin was moved
at the thought of conferring upon his niece, the
prospective heiress of his own fortune, an estate
so magnificent as the united inheritance. Jose-
phine, however, had not yet forgotten William,
and, though interested in her uncle's guest, for
ome time allowed no emotion of love to flow out
toward him.

One morning Josephine was sitting in the
library in pensive musings, when her uncle came
Into the room to open to her the subject of her


Hie announcement Feelings of Josephine

contemplated marriage with M. Beauharnais.
Josephine was thunderstruck at the communi-
cation, for, according to the invariable custom

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJosephine → online text (page 1 of 16)