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THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE DAYS OF NAPOLEON

By Louise Muhlbach

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


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



CONTENTS.

BOOK I.

THE VISCOUNTESS BEAUHARNAIS.

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

BOOK II.

THE WIFE OF GENERAL BONAPARTE.

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

BOOK III.

THE EMPRESS AND THE DIVORCED.

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




BOOK I. THE VISCOUNTESS BEAUHARNAIS.


CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER II. THE YOUNG MAID.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is it a good or a bad fortune which awaits me?"

The old prophetess slowly shook her head.

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

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

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

"I dare not," said she, "express myself more clearly."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josephine asked these questions to herself, as dreaming and thoughtful
she swung in the hammock and gazed toward the horizon upon the sea,



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