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This enterprise, however, seemed a folly, an impossibility, for at this
time Robespierre was at the height of his power, and fear weighed
upon the whole republic as a universal agony. No one dared oppose
Robespierre, for a look from his eye, a sign from his hand sufficed to
bring death, to lead to the scaffold.

The calm, peaceful, and united republic for which Robespierre had
toiled, which had been the ultimate end of his bloodthirstiness, was at
last there, but this republic was built upon corpses, was baptized with
streams of blood and tears. And now that the republic had given up
all opposition, now that she bowed, trembling under the hand of her
conqueror, now, Robespierre wanted to make her happy, he wanted to give
her what the storms of past years had ravished from her - he wanted
to give the republic a God! On the tribune of the Convention, on this
tribune which was his throne, rose Robespierre, to tell with grave
dignity to the republic that there was a Supreme Being, that the soul of
man was immortal. Then, accompanied by the Convention, he proceeded to
the Champ de Mars, to inaugurate the celebration of the worship of a
Supreme Being as his high-priest. But amid this triumph, on his way
to the Champ de Mars, Robespierre the conqueror had for the first time
noticed the murmurs of the Tarpeian rock; he had noticed the dark,
threatening glances which were directed at him from all sides. He felt
the danger which menaced him, and he was determined to remove it from
his person by annihilating those who threatened.

But already terror had lost its power, no one trembled before the
guillotine, no one took pleasure in the fall of the axe, in the streams
of blood, which empurpled the Place de la Revolution. The fearful
stillness of death hung round the guillotine, the people were tired
of applauding it, and now and then from the silent ranks of the people
thundered forth in threatening accents the word "tyrant!" which, as the
first weapon of attack, was directed against Robespierre, who, on the
heights of the tribune, was throned with his unmoved, calm countenance.

Robespierre felt that he must strike a heavy, decisive blow against his
foes and annihilate them. On the eighth Thermidor, he denounced a plot
organized by his enemies for breaking up the Convention. Through St.
Just he implicated as leaders of this conspiracy some eminent members
of the committees, and requested their dismissal. But the time was
past when his motions were received with jubilant acclamations, and
unconditionally obeyed. The Convention decided to submit the motion
of Robespierre to a vote, and the matter was postponed to the next
morning's session.

In the night which preceded the contemplated action of the Convention,
Robespierre went to the Jacobin Club and requested assistance against
his enemies in the Convention. He was received with enthusiasm, and
a general uprising of the revolutionary element was decided upon, and
organized for the following morning.

The same night, Tallien, his friends and adherents, met together, and
the mode of attack for the following day, the ninth Thermidor, was
discussed, and the parts assigned to each.

The prisoners in the Carmelite convent did not of course suspect any
thing of the events which were preparing beyond the walls of their
prison. Even Therese de Fontenay was low-spirited and sad; for this day,
the ninth Thermidor, was the last day of respite fixed by her to Tallien
for her liberty.

This was also the last day of respite which had saved Josephine from the
tribunal of the revolution, through the decision of her physician.
Death had spared her head, but now it belonged to the executioner. The
captives feared the event, and they were confirmed in this fear by the
jailer, who, on the morning of the ninth Thermidor, entered the room
which Josephine, the Duchess d'Aiguillon, and Therese de Fontenay
occupied, and who removed the camp-bed which Josephine had hitherto used
as a sofa, to give it to another prisoner.

"How," exclaimed the Duchess d'Aiguillon, "do you want to give this bed
to another prisoner? Is Madame de Beauharnais to have a better one?"

The turnkey burst into a coarse laugh. "Alas! no," said he, with a
significant gesture, "Citoyenne Beauharnais will soon need a bed no
more."

Her friends broke into tears; but Josephine remained composed and quite.
At this decisive moment a fearful self-possession and calmness came over
her; all sufferings and sorrow appeared to have sunk away, all anxiety
and care seemed overcome, and a radiant smile illumined Josephine's
features, for, through a wondrous association of ideas, she suddenly
remembered the prophecy of the negro-woman in Martinique.

"Be calm, my friends," said she, smiling; "weep not, do not consider me
as destined to the scaffold, for I assure you I am going to live: I
must not die, for I am destined to be one day the sovereign of France.
Therefore, no more tears! I am the future Queen of France!"

"Ah!" exclaimed the Duchess d'Aiguillon, half angry and half sad, "why
not at once appoint your state dignitaries?"

"You are right," said Josephine, eagerly; "this is the best time to
do so. Well, then, my dear duchess, I now appoint you to be my maid of
honor, and I swear it will be so."

"My God! she is mad!" exclaimed the duchess, and, nearly fainting, she
sank upon her chair.

Josephine laughed, and opened the window to admit some fresh air. She
perceived there below in the street a woman making to her all manner of
signs and gestures. She lifted up her arms, she then took hold of her
dress, and with her hand pointed to her robe.

It was evident that she wished through these signs and motions to convey
some word to the prisoners, whom perhaps she knew, for she repeatedly
took hold of her robe with one hand, and pointed at it with the other.

"Robe?" cried out Josephine interrogatively.

The woman nodded in the affirmative, then took up a stone, which she
held up to the prisoner's view.

"Pierre?" ask Josephine.

The woman again nodded in the affirmative, and then placed the stone
(pierre) in her robe, made several times the motion of falling, then of
cutting off the neck, and then danced and clapped her hands.

"My friends," cried Josephine, struck with a sudden thought, "this woman
brings us good news, she tells us Robespierre est tombe." (Robespierre
has fallen.)

"Yes, it is so," exclaimed Therese, triumphantly; "Tallien has kept his
word; he conquers, and Robespierre is thrust down!"

And, overpowered with joy and emotion, the three women, weeping, sank
into each other's arms.

They now heard from without loud cries and shouts. It was the jailer,
quarrelling with his refractory dog. The dog howled, and wanted to go
out with his master, but the jailer kicked him back, saying: "Away, go
to the accursed Robespierre!"

Soon joyous voices resounded through the corridor; the door of their
cell was violently opened, and a few municipal officers entered to
announce to the Citizeness Madame Fontenay that she was free, and bade
her accompany them into the carriage waiting below to drive her to the
house of Citizen Tallien. Behind them pressed the prisoners who, from
the reception-room, had followed the authorities, to entreat them to
give them the news of the events in Paris.

There was now no reason for the municipal authorities to make a secret
of the events which at this hour occupied all Paris, and which would
soon be welcomed throughout France as the morning dawn of a new day.

Robespierre had indeed fallen! Tallien and his friends had in the
Convention brought against the despot the accusation that he was
striving for the sovereign power, and that he had enthroned a Supreme
Being merely to proclaim himself afterward His visible representative,
and to take all power in his own hands. When Robespierre had endeavored
to justify himself, he had been dragged away from the speaker's tribune;
and, as he defended himself, Tallien had drawn a dagger on Robespierre,
and was prevented from killing the tyrant by a few friends, who by
main force turned the dagger away. Immediately after this scene, the
Convention decided to arrest Robespierre and his friends Couthon and St.
Just; and the prisoners, among whom Robespierre's younger brother had
willingly placed himself, were led away to the Luxemburg. [Footnote:
The next day, on the tenth Thermidor, Robespierre, who in the night had
attempted to put an end to his life with a pistol, was executed
with twenty-one companions. His brother was among the number of the
executed.]

The prisoners welcomed this news with delight; for with the fall of
Robespierre, had probably sounded for them the hour of deliverance, and
they could hope that their prison's door would soon be opened, not to be
led to the scaffold, but to obtain their freedom.

Therese de Fontenay, with the messengers sent by Tallien, left the
Carmelite cloisters to fulfil the promise made by her to Tallien in
her letter, to become his wife, and to pass at his side new days of
happiness and love.

She embraced Josephine tenderly as she bade her farewell, and renewed to
her the assurance that she would consider it her dearest and most sacred
duty to obtain her friend's liberty.

In the evening of the same day, Josephine's camp-bed was restored to
her; and, stretching herself upon it with intense delight, she said
smilingly to her friends: "You see, I am not yet guillotined; I will be
Queen of France." [Footnote: "Memoires sur l'Imperatrice Josephine," ch.
xxxiii.]

Therese de Fontenay, now Citoyenne Tallien, kept her word. Three days
after obtaining her liberty, she came herself to fetch Josephine out
of prison. Her soft, mild disposition had resumed its old spell over
Tallien, whom the Convention had appointed president of the Committee of
Safety. The death-warrants signed by Robespierre were annulled, and the
prisons were opened, to restore to hundreds of accused life and liberty.
The bloody and tearful episode of the revolution had closed with the
fall of Robespierre, and on the ninth Thermidor the republic assumed a
new phase.

Josephine was free once more! With tears of bliss she embraced her two
children, her dear darlings, found again! In pressing her offspring to
her heart with deep, holy emotion, she thought of their father, who had
loved them both so much, who had committed to her the sacred trust of
keeping alive in the hearts of his children love for their father.

Encircling still her children in her arms, she bowed them on their
knees; and, lifting up to heaven her eyes, moist with tears, she
whispered to them: "Let us pray, children; let us lift up our thoughts
to heaven, where your father is, and whence he looks down upon us to
bless his children."

Josephine delayed not much longer in Paris, where the air was yet damp
with the blood of so many murdered ones; where the guillotine, on which
her husband had died, lifted yet its threatening head. She hastened with
her children to Fontainebleau, there to rest from her sorrows on the
heart of her father-in-law, to weep with him on the loss they both had
suffered.

The dream of her first youth and of her first love had passed away, and
to the father of her beheaded husband Josephine returned a widow; rich
in gloomy, painful experiences, poor in hopes, but with a stout heart,
and a determination to live, and to be at once a father and a mother to
her children.




BOOK II. THE WIFE OF GENERAL BONAPARTE.


CHAPTER XVI. BONAPARTE IN CORSICA.


The civil war which for four years had devastated France had also with
its destruction and its terrors overspread the French colonies, and in
Martinique as well as in Corsica two parties stood opposed to each other
in infuriated bitterness - one fighting for the rights of the native
land, the other for the rights of the French people, for the "liberty,
equality, and fraternity" which the Convention in Paris had adopted
for its motto, since it delivered to the guillotine, on the Place de
la Revolution, the heads of those who dared lay claim for themselves to
this liberty of thought so solemnly proclaimed.

In Corsica both parties fought with the same eagerness as in France, and
the execution of Louis XVI. had only made the contest more violent and
more bitter.

One of these parties looked with horror on this guillotine which had
drunk the blood of the king, and this party desired to have nothing in
common with this French republic, with this blood-streaming Convention
which had made of terror a law, and which had destroyed so many lives in
the name of liberty.

At the head of this party stood the General Pascal Paoli, whom the
revolution had recalled to his native isle from his exile of twenty
years, and who objected that Corsica should bend obediently under the
blood-stained hand of the French Convention, and whose wish it was that
the isle should be an independent province of the great French republic.

To exalt Corsica into a free, independent republic had been the idea of
his whole life. For the sake of this idea he had passed twenty years in
exile; for, after having made Corsica independent of Genoa, he had not
been able to obtain for his native isle that independence for which
he had fought with his brave Genoese troops. During eight years he had
perseveringly maintained the conflict - during eight years he had been
the ruler of Corsica, but immovable in his republican principles; he had
rejected the title of king, which the Corsican people, grateful for
the services rendered to their fatherland, had offered him. He had been
satisfied to be the first and most zealous servant of the island, which,
through his efforts, had been liberated from the tyrannical dominion of
Genoa. But Genoa's appeal for assistance had brought French troops to
Corsica; the Genoese, harassed and defeated everywhere by Paoli's brave
troops, had finally transferred the island to France. This was not what
Paoli wanted - this was not for what he had fought!

Corsica was to be a free and independent republic; she was to bow no
more to France than to Genoa; Corsica was to be free.

In vain did the French government make to General Paoli the most
brilliant offers; he rejected them; he called the Corsicans to the most
energetic resistance to the French occupation; and when he saw that
opposition was in vain, that Corsica had to submit, he at least would
not yield, and he went to England.

The cry for liberty which, in the year 1790, resounded from France, and
which made the whole world tremble, brought him back from England to
Corsica, and he took the oath of allegiance to free, democratic France.
But the blood of the king had annulled this oath, the Convention's
reign of terror had filled his soul with horror; and, after solemnly
separating himself from France, he had, in the year 1793, convoked a
Consulta, to decide whether Corsica was to submit to the despotism of
the French republic, or if it was to be a free and independent state.
The Consulta chose the latter position, and named Paoli for president as
well as for general-in-chief of the Corsicans.

The National Convention at once called the culprit to its bar,
and ordered him to Paris to justify his conduct, or to receive the
punishment due. But General Paoli paid no attention to the imperious
orders of the Convention, which, as the chief appeared not at its bar,
declared him, on the 15th of May, 1793, a traitor to his country, and
sent commissioners to Corsica to arrest the criminal.

This traitor to the state, the General Pascal Paoli, was then at the
head of the Moderate party in Corsica, and he loudly and solemnly
declared that, in case of absolute necessity, it would be preferable to
call England to their assistance than to accept the yoke of the French
republic, which had desecrated her liberty, since she had soiled it with
the blood of so many innocent victims.

But in opposition to General Paoli rose up with wild clamor the other
party, the party of young, enthusiastic heads, who were intoxicated with
the democratic ideas which had obtained the sway in France, and which
they imagined, so great was their impassioned devotedness to them,
possessed the power and the ability to conquer the whole world.

At the head of this second party, which claimed unconditional adherence
to France, to the members of the Convention - at the head of this
fanatical, Corsican, republican, and Jacobin party, stood the Bonaparte
family, and above them all the two brothers Joseph and Napoleon.

Joseph was now, in the year 1793, chief justice of the tribunal of
Ajaccio; Napoleon, who was captain of artillery in the French army of
Italy, had then obtained leave of absence to visit his family. Both
brothers had been hitherto the most affectionate and intimate admirers
of Paoli, and especially Napoleon, who, from his earliest childhood, had
cherished the most unbounded admiration for the patriot who preferred
exile to a dependent grandeur in Corsica. Even now, since Paoli's return
to Corsica, and Napoleon had had many opportunities to see him, his
admiration for the great chief had lost nothing of its force or
vitality. Paoli seemed sincerely to return this inclination of Napoleon
and of his brother, and in the long evening walks, which both
brothers made with him, Napoleon's mind opened itself, before his old,
experienced companion, the great general, the noble republican, with
a freedom and a candor such as he had never manifested to others. With
subdued admiration Paoli listened to his short, energetic explanations,
to his descriptions, to his war-schemes, to his warm enthusiasm for the
republic; and one day, carried away by the warmth of the young captain
of artillery, the general, fixing his glowing eyes upon him, exclaimed:
"Young man, you are modelled after the antique; you belong to Plutarch!"

"And to General Paoli!" replied Napoleon, eagerly, as he pressed his
friend's hand affectionately in his own.

But now this harmonious concord between General Paoli and the young men
was destroyed by the passion of party views. Joseph as well as Napoleon
belonged to the French party; they soon became its leaders; they were
at the head of the club which they had organized according to the maxims
and principles of the Jacobin Club in Paris, and to which they gave the
same name.

In this Jacobin Club at Ajaccio Napoleon made speeches full of glowing
enthusiasm for the French republic, for the ideas of freedom; in this
club he enjoined on the people of Corsica to adhere loyally to France,
to keep fast and to defend with life and blood the acquired liberty of
republican France, to regard and drive away as traitors to their country
all those who dared guide the Corsican people on another track.

But the Corsican people were not there to hear the enthusiastic speeches
about liberty and to follow them. Only a few hundred ardent republicans
of the same sentiment applauded the republican Napoleon, and cried aloud
that the republic must be defended with blood and life. The majority of
the Corsican people flocked to Paoli, and the commissioners sent by
the Convention from Paris to Corsica, to depose and arrest Paoli, found
co-operation and assistance only among the inhabitants of the cities
and among the French troops. Paoli, the president of the Consulta, was
located at Corte; the messengers of the Convention gathered in Bastia
the adherents of France, and excited them to strenuous efforts against
the rebellious Consulta and the insurgent Paoli. Civil war with all its horrors was there; the raging conflicts of the
parties tore apart the holy bonds of family, friendship, and love.
Brother fought and argued against brother, friend rose up against
friend, and whole families were destroyed, rent asunder by the
impassioned rivalries of sentiment and partisanship. Denunciations and
accusations, suspicions and enmities, followed. Every one trembled at
his own shadow; and, to turn aside the peril of death, it was necessary
to strike. [Footnote: "Memoires du Roi Joseph," vol. i., p. 51.]

The Bonaparte brothers opposed General Paoli with violent bitterness;
bloody conflicts took place, in which the national Corsican party
remained victorious. Irritated and embittered by the opposition which
some of the natives themselves were making to his patriotic efforts,
Paoli persecuted with zealous activity the conquered, whom he resolved
to destroy, that they might not imperil the young Corsican independence.
Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte were the leaders of this party, and Paoli
knew too well the energy and the intellectual superiority of Napoleon
not to dread his influence. Him, above all things, him and his family,
must he render harmless, so as to weaken and to intimidate the French
party. He sent agents to Ajaccio, to arrest the whole Bonaparte family,
and at the same time his troops approached the town to occupy it and
make the French commissioners prisoners. But these latter, informed in
time of the danger, had gained time and saved themselves on board the
French frigate lying in the harbor, and with them the whole Bonaparte
family had embarked. Napoleon, on whom the attention of Paoli's agents
had been specially directed, was more than once in danger of being
seized by them, and it was due to the advice of a friend that, disguised
as a sailor, he saved himself in time on board the French frigate and
joined his family. [Footnote: "Memoires de la Duchess d'Abrantes," vol.
i.] The commissioners of the Convention at once ordered the anchor to be
weighed, and to steer toward France.

This frigate, on board of which the Bonaparte family in its flight had
embarked, carried to France the future emperor and his fortune.

The house, the possessions of the Bonaparte family, fell a prey to
the conquerors, and on them they gave vent to their vengeance for
the successful escape of the fugitives. A witness of these facts is
a certificate which Joseph Bonaparte a few months later procured from
Corsica, and which ran as follows:

"I, the undersigned, Louis Conti, procurator-syndic of the district of
Ajaccio, department of Corsica, declare and certify: in the month of
May of this year, when General Paoli and the administration of the
department had sent into the city of Ajaccio armed troops, in concert
with other traitors in the city, took possession of the fortress, drove
away the administration of the district, incarcerated a large portion of
the patriots, disarmed the republican forces, and, when these refused
to give up the commissioners of the National Convention, Paoli's troops
fired upon the vessel which carried these commissioners:

"That these rebels endeavored to seize the Bonaparte family, which had
the good fortune to elude their pursuit:

"That they destroyed, plundered, and burnt everything which belonged to
this family, whose sole crime consisted in their unswerving fidelity to
the republicans, and in their refusal to take any part in the scheme
of isolation, rebellion, and disloyalty, of which Paoli and the
administration of the department had become guilty.

"I moreover declare and certify that this family, consisting of ten
individuals, and who stood high in the esteem of the people of the
island, possessed the largest property in the whole department, and that
now they are on the continent of the republic.

"(Signed) CONTI, Proc.-Synd. Delivered on the 5th of September, 1793,
Year II. of the republic." [Footnote: "Memoires du Roi Joseph," vol. i.,
p. 52.]

Paoli, the conqueror of the French republic, the patriotic enemy of the
Bonaparte family, drove Napoleon Bonaparte from his native soil! The
cannon of the Corsican patriots fired upon the ship on which the future
emperor of the French was steering toward his future empire!

But this future lay still in an invisible, cloudy distance - of one
thing, however, was the young captain of artillery fully conscious:
from this hour he had broken with the past, and, by his dangers and
conflicts, by the sacrifice of his family's property, by his flight from
Corsica, given to the world a solemn testimony that he recognized
no other country, that he owed allegiance to no other nation than to
France. He had proved that his feelings were not Corsican, but French.

The days of his childhood and youth sank away behind him, with the
deepening shadows of the island of Corsica, and the shores which rose
before him on the horizon were the shores of France. There lay his
future - his empire!




CHAPTER XVII. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE BEFORE TOULON.


Whilst Paris, yet trembling, bowed under the bloody rule of the



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