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place of the scene. I took the cashmere with an unsteady hand, and
sought reluctantly for the name of Christine, for I trusted she would at
least have taken it out; but the deathly paleness of the guilty one told
the contrary, and in fact I had no sooner unfolded the shawl, than the
name appeared, embroidered at the narrow edging.

"'Ah!' at last exclaimed the countess, in a triumphant tone, 'I have - '
but as she raised her eyes to the young woman, she was touched by her
despairing look. 'Well, then,' cried she, 'this is one of those mistakes
which so often happen. To-morrow I will return your cashmere. - We have
exchanged cashmeres,' said she, turning to the young lady's father,
who, surprised at seeing her naked shoulders, gazed at his daughter,
not understanding the matter. 'You will have the goodness to send me my
shawl to-morrow,' added she, noticing how the young woman trembled.

"We returned into the ballroom, and the next day the young lady sent to
the Countess de St. Martin her precious shawl.

"Something similar to this happened at the same time to Madame Hamelin.
She was at a ball; when rising from her seat to join in a contra-dance,
she left there a very beautiful black shawl; when she returned,
her shawl was no longer there, but she saw it on the shoulders of a
well-known and distinguished lady. Approaching her, she said:

"'Madame, you have my shawl!'

"'Not at all, madame!'

"'But, madame, this is my shawl, and, as an evidence, I can state the
number of its palms - it has exactly thirteen, a very unusual number!'

"'My shawl has also, by chance, precisely thirteen palms.'

"'But,' said Madame Hamelin, 'I have torn it since I came here. You can
see where it is torn, and by that means I recognize my shawl.'

"'Ah, my goodness! my shawl has also been torn; that is precisely why I
bought it, for I obtained it on that account somewhat cheaper.'

"It is useless to dispute with a person who is determined to follow
Basil's receipt, that 'what is worth taking is worth keeping.' Madame
Hamelin lost her shawl, and had, as a sole consolation, the petty
vengeance of relating to everybody how it was taken, and of pointing
out the thief, who was in the meanwhile perfectly shameless." [Footnote:
Abrantes, "Memoires," vol. ix., pp. 70-76.]

No one, however, had a larger and more choice selection of these
cashmere shawls than Josephine. Mdlle. Ducrest relates that the deceased
empress had more than one hundred and fifty of the most magnificent and
costly cashmere shawls. She had sent to Constantinople patterns from
which she had them made there, as pleasing to the eye as they were
costly and precious. Every week M. Lenormant, the first man-milliner
in Paris, came to Navarra, the country residence of the empress,
and brought his most beautiful shawls for her selection. The empress
possessed several (having a white ground covered with roses, violets,
paroquets, peacocks, and other objects of beauty hitherto unknown in
France) each of which cost from fifteen to twenty thousand francs.

The empress went so far in her passion for cashmeres as to have dresses
made of the same material. One day she had put on one of these dresses,
which was so beautiful, that some gentlemen invited to dinner could not
withhold their admiration. One of them, Count Pourtales, thought that
this splendid material would be well adapted for a gentleman's vest.
Josephine, in her large-heartedness, had a pair of scissors brought; she
then cut her dress into several pieces sufficiently large for a vest,
and divided them among the gentlemen present, so that only the bodice
of the dress remained, with a small piece around the waist But this
improvised spencer over the white richly-embroidered under-dress, was so
exceedingly becoming to the empress, and brought out so exquisitely her
beautiful bust, and slender graceful waist, that it would have been
easy to consider as a piece of coquetry what was simply Josephine's
spontaneous generosity. [Footnote: Mademoiselle Ducrest.]

Josephine, however, did not so assiduously attend to her cashmere shawls
as to forget the unfortunate victims of the infernal machine. On the
contrary, she saw with deep pain how every one was busy in inculpating
others, and in casting suspicions on royalists and Jacobins, so as to
give a pretext to punish them. She noticed that all those who wished to
gain the consul's favor were zealous in spying out fresh culprits, for
it was well known that Bonaparte was inclined to make of all hostile
parties a terrible example, so that, through the severity of the
punishment and the number of the punished, he might deter the
dissatisfied from any further plots.

Josephine's compassionate heart was distressed, through sympathy for so
many unfortunate persons, whom wicked men maliciously were endeavoring
to drag into guilt, so as to have them punished; and the injustice which
the judges manifested at every hearing filled her with anger and
horror. Ever ready to help the needy, and to protect the persecuted, she
addressed herself to Fouche, the minister of police, and requested him
to use mildness and compassion. She wrote to him:

"Citizen minister, while trembling at the frightful calamity which has
taken place, I feel uneasy and pained at the fear of the punishments
which hang over the poor creatures who, I am told, belong to families
with which I have been connected in days past. I shall therefore be
appealed to by mothers, sisters, and despairing wives; my heart will be
lacerated by the sad consciousness that I cannot obtain pardon for all
those who implore it.

"The generosity of the consul is great, his affection for me is
boundless, I know it well; but the crime is of so awful a nature that
he will deem it necessary to make an example of extreme severity. The
supreme magistrate was not alone exposed to danger - many others were
killed and wounded by this sad event, and it is this which will make the
consul severe and implacable.

"I conjure you, then, citizen minister, to avoid extending your
researches too far, and not always to spy out new persons who might be
compromised by this horrible machine. Must France, which has been held
in terror by so many executions, have to sigh over new victims? Is
it not much more important to appease the minds of the people than to
excite them by new terrors? Finally, would it not be advisable, so soon
as the originators of this awful crime are captured, to have compassion
and mercy upon subordinate persons who may have been entangled in it
through dangerous sophisms and fanatical sentiments?

"Barely vested with the supreme authority, ought not the first consul
study to win the hearts rather than to make slaves of his people?
Moderate, therefore, by your advice, where in his first excitement he
may be too severe. To punish is, alas, too often necessary! To pardon
is, I trust, still more. In a word, be a protector to the unfortunate
who, through their confession or repentance, have already made in part
penance for their guilt.

"As I myself, without any fault on my part, nearly lost my life in the
revolution, you can easily understand that I take an interest in those
who can perhaps be saved without thereby endangering my husband's life,
which is so precious to me and to France. I therefore earnestly desire
that you will make a distinction between the leaders of this conspiracy
and those who, from fear or weakness, have been seduced into bringing
upon themselves a portion of the guilt. As a woman, a wife, a mother,
I can readily feel for all the heart-rending agonies of those families
which appeal to me.

"Do what you possibly can, citizen minister, to diminish their numbers;
you will thereby spare me much anxiety. I can never be deaf to the cries
of distress from the needy; but in this matter you can do a great
deal more than I can, and therefore pardon what may seem strange in my
pleadings with you.

"Believe in my gratitude and loyalty of sentiment.

"JOSEPHINE." [Footnote: Ducrest, "Memoires," vol. iii., p. 231.]




CHAPTER XXXVI. MALMAISON.


In the Tuileries the first consul, with his wife, resided in all the
pomp and dignity of his new office. There he was the sovereign, the
commander; there he ruled, and, like a king, all bowed to him; the
people humbled themselves and recognized him as their master.

In the Tuileries etiquette and the stiff pomp of a princely court
prevailed more and more. Bonaparte required of his wife that she should
there represent the dignity and the grandeur of her new position;
that she should appear as the first, the most exalted, and the most
unapproachable of women. In the Tuileries there were no more evenings
of pleasant social gatherings, of joyous conversation with friends whom
affection made equals, and who, in love and admiration, recognizing
Bonaparte's ascendency, brought him of their own free choice their
esteem and high consideration. Now, it was all honor and duty; now,
the friends of the past wore servants who, for duty's sake, had to
be subservient to their master, and abide by the rules of etiquette,
otherwise the frown on their lofty ruler's brow would bring them back
within their bounds.

Josephine was pained at these limits set to her personal freedom - at
these claims of etiquette, which did not permit her friends to remain at
her side, but strove to exalt above them the wife of the first consul.
Her sense of modesty ever accepted the pleasant, genial household
affections as more agreeable and more precious than the burdensome
representations, levees, and the tediousness of ceremonial receptions;
her sense of modesty longed for the quiet and repose of retirement, and
she was happy when, at the close of the court festivities, she could
return to Malmaison, there to enjoy the coming of spring, the blossoming
of summer, and the glorious beauty of autumn with its manifold colors.

In Malmaison were centered all her joys and pleasures. There she could
satisfy all the inclinations of her heart, all the fancies of her
imagination, all the wants of her mind; there she could be the tender
wife and mother, and the faithful friend; there she could receive,
without the annoyance of etiquette, men of learning and art; there she
could cultivate the soil and devote herself to botany, her favorite
study, and to her flowers, the dearest and most faithful friends of her
whole life.

Josephine sought for and found in Malmaison her earthly paradise; there
she was happy, and the care and the secret anguish which in Paris wove
around her heart its network, and every now and then whispered the
nefarious words of divorce and separation, followed her not in the
beautiful and friendly Malmaison; she left all this in Paris with the
stiff Madame Etiquette, who once in the Tuileries had poisoned the
existence of the Queen Marie Antoinette, and now sought to intrude
herself upon the consulate as an ill-tempered sovereign.

But in Malmaison there was no etiquette, none of the dignified coldness
of court-life. There you were allowed to laugh, to jest, and to be
happy. In Malmaison the first consul laid aside his gravity; there his
gloomy brow brightened, and he became again General Bonaparte, the
lover of his Josephine, the confidential companion of his friends, the
harmless individual, who seemed to have nothing to require from Heaven
but the happiness of the passing hour, and who could laugh at a joke
with the same guilelessuess as any other child of the people who never
deemed it necessary to cultivate a close intimacy with the grave and
gloomy Madame Politique.

It is true Malmaison was not Bonaparte's sole country residence. The
city of Paris had presented him with the pleasure-castle of St. Cloud,
the same which Louis XVI. gave to his wife, and where, to the very great
annoyance of the proud Parisians, she had for the first time engraven
on the regulation-tablets, at the entrance of the park, the fatal
words - "De par la Reine."

Now this royal mansion of pleasure belonged to the first consul of
the republic; it was his summer residence, but there he was still the
consul, the first magistrate, and the representative of France; and
he had there to give receptions, hold levees, receive the ministers,
councillors of state, and the foreign ambassadors, and appear in all the
pomp and circumstance of his position.

But in Malmaison his countenance and his being were changed. Here he was
the cheerful man, enjoying life; he was the joyous companion, the modest
land-owner, who with genial delight surveyed the produce of his soil,
and even calculated how much profit it could bring him.

"The first consul in Malmaison," said the English minister, Fox, "the
first consul in St. Cloud, and the first consul in the Tuileries, are
three different persons, who together form that great and wonderful
idea; I should exceedingly like to be able to represent exactly after
nature these three portraits; they must be very much alike, and yet very
different."

It is certain, however, that of these three portraits that of the first
consul in Malmaison was the most amiable, and that of the first consul
of the Tuileries the most imposing.

In Malmaison Bonaparte's countenance was cheerful and free from care;
in the Tuileries he was grave and dignified. On his clouded brow were
enthroned great designs; from the deep, dark eyes shot lightnings ready
to fire a world - to erect or destroy kingdoms. In Malmaison these eyes
with cheerful brilliancy reposed on Josephine; his otherwise earnest
lips welcomed there the beloved of his heart with merry pleasantry and
spirited raillery; there he loved to see Josephine in simple, modest
toilet; and if in the lofty halls of the Tuileries he exacted from the
wife of the first consul a brilliant toilet, the bejewelled magnificence
of the first lady of France, he was delighted when in Malmaison he saw
coming through the green foliage the wife of General Bonaparte in simple
white muslin, with a laughing countenance; and with her sweet voice,
which he still considered as the finest music he ever heard, she bade
welcome to her husband who here was changed into her tender lover.

In Malmaison, Bonaparte would even put off his general's uniform,
and, in his plain gray coat of a soldier, walk through the park in the
neighborhood, resting on the arm of his confidant, Duroc, and would
begin a friendly conversation with the first farmer he met, perfectly
satisfied when in the little man with the gray tightly-buttoned coat, no
one suspected or imagined to see the first consul of the republic.

Every Saturday the first consul hastened to the chateau to pass there,
as he said, his Sunday, his day of rest; and only on Monday morning did
he return to Paris, "to take up his chain again."

How genial and happy were these days of rest! How eagerly did Josephine
labor to make them days of felicity for Bonaparte! how ingenious to
prepare for him new festivities and new surprises! and how her eyes
brightened when she had succeeded in making Bonaparte joyous and
contented!

If the weather was favorable, the whole company in Malmaison, the young
generals, with their beautiful, young, and lively wives, who surrounded
Bonaparte and Josephine, and of whom a great number belonged to their
family, made promenades through the park, then they seated themselves on
a fine spot to repeat stories or to indulge in harmless sociable games,
in which Bonaparte with the most cheerful alacrity took part. Even
down to the game of "catch" and to that of "room-renting" did Bonaparte
condescend to play; and as Marie Antoinette with her husband and her
court played at blindman's-buff in the gardens of Trianon, so Bonaparte
was pleased on the lawns of Malmaison to play at "room-renting."

How often after a dark, cloudy morning, when suddenly at noon the skies
would become clear and the sunshine break through the clouds, would
Bonaparte's countenance gladden with all the spirit of a school-boy, in
the midst of holidays, and, throwing off his coat, laughingly exclaim,
"Now come, one and all, and let us rent the room!"

And then on the large, open lawn, surrounded on all sides by tall trees,
the first consul with his wife, his generals and their young wives,
would begin the exhilarating, harmless child's-play, forgetful of all
care, void of all fear, except that he should lose his tree, and that as
a penniless individual having to rent a room he would have to stand in
the centre before all eyes, just as first consul he stood before all
eyes in the centre of France, and struggled for a place the importance
and title of which were known only to his silent soul. But in Malmaison,
at the game of "room to let," Bonaparte had no remembrance whatever of
the ambitious wishes of the first consul; the whole world seemed to have
set, the memories of his youth passed before his eyes in such beauty,
saluting him with the gracious looks of childhood, as nearly to make him
an enthusiast.

How often, when on Josephine's arm, surrounded by a laughing, noisy
group of friends, and walking through shady paths, on hearing the bells
of the neighboring village chime their vespers, would Bonaparte suddenly
interrupt the conversation and stand still to hear them! With a motion
of the hand he would command silence, while he listened with a smile of
grief to sounds which recalled days long gone by. "These bells remind me
of the days of my boyhood," said he to Josephine; "it seems to me, when
I hear them, that I am still in Brienne."

To keep alive the memories of his school-days in Brienne, he sent for
one of his teachers, the Abbe Dupuis, who had been remarkably kind to
him, and invited him to Malmaison, to arrange there a library, and to
take charge of it; he sent also for the porter of Brienne whose wife he
had so severely prohibited from entering the theatre, and made him the
porter of the chateau.

In bad weather and on rainy days the whole company gathered in the large
drawing-room, and found amusement in playing the various games of cards,
in which Bonaparte not only took much interest, but in which he so
eagerly played, that he often had recourse to apparent bungling, so as
to command success. Adjoining the drawing-room, where conversation and
amusements took place, was a room where the company sang and practised
music, to the delight of Bonaparte, who often, when one of his favorite
tunes was played, would chime in vigorously with the melody, nowise
disturbed by the fact that he never could catch the right tune, and that
he broke out every time into distressing discordance!

But all songs and music subsided, all plays were interrupted, when
Bonaparte, excited perhaps by the approaching twilight, or by some
awakened memory, began to relate one of those tragic, fearful stories
which no one could tell so well as he. Then, with arms folded behind his
back, he slowly paced the drawing-room, and with sinister looks, tragic
manner, and sepulchral voice, he would begin the solemn introduction of
his narrative:

"When death strikes, at a distance, a person whom we love," said he,
one evening, with a voice tremulous with horror, "a certain foreboding
nearly always makes us anticipate the event, and the person, touched by
the hand of death, appears to us at the moment we lose him on earth."

"How very sad and mournful that sounds!" sighed Josephine, as she placed
both her arms on Bonaparte's shoulder, as if she would hold him, and
chain him to earth, that he might not vanish away with every ghost-like
form.

Bonaparte turned to her with a genial smile, and shook his head at her,
so as to assure her of his existence and his love. Then he began his
story with all the earnestness and tragic power of an improvisator
of ancient Rome. He told how once Louis XIV., in the great gallery of
Versailles, received the bulletin of the battle of Friedlingen, and how,
unfolding it, he read to the assembled court the names of the slain and
of the wounded. Quietness reigned in the splendidly-illumined gallery;
and the courtiers in their embroidered coats, who, ordinarily, were
so full of merriment and so high-spirited, had, all at once, become
thoughtful. They gathered in a circle around the monarch, from whose
lips slowly, like falling tears, fell one by one the names of the
killed. Here and there the cheeks of their relatives turned pale.
Suddenly the Count de Beaugre saw appear, at the farther end of the
gallery, stately and ghost-like, the blood-stained figure of his son,
who, with eyes wide open, stared at his father, and saluted him with a
slight motion of the head, and then glided away through the door. "My
son is dead!" cried Count de Beaugre - and, at the very same moment,
the king uttered his name as one of the slain!" [Footnote: Bourrienne,
"Memoires," vol. iii., p. 225.]

"Ah! may I never see such a ghost-like figure," murmured Josephine,
drawing closer to her husband. "Bonaparte, promise me that you will
never go to war again; that you will keep peace with all the world, so
that I may have no cause of alarm!"

"And to tremble at my ghost," exclaimed Bonaparte, laughing. "Look at
this selfish woman, she does not wish me a hero's death, lest I should
appear to her here in the shape of a bloody placard!"

With her small bejewelled hand Josephine closed his mouth, and ordered
lights to be brought; she asked Lavalette to play a lively dancing-tune,
and cried out to the joyous youthful group, at the head of whom were
Hortense and Eugene, to fall in for a dance.

"Nothing more charming," writes the Duchess d'Abrantes, "could be seen
than a ball in Malmaison, made up as it was of the young ladies whom the
military family of the first consul brought together, and who, without
having the name of it, formed the court of Madame Bonaparte. They were
all young, many of them very beautiful; and when this lovely group were
dressed in white crape, adorned with flowers, their heads crowned with
wreaths as fresh as the hues of their young, laughing, charming faces,
it was indeed a bewitching sight to witness the animated and lively
dance in these halls, through which walked the first consul, surrounded
by the men with whom he discussed and decided the destinies of Europe."
[Footnote: Abrantes, "Memoires," vol. iii., p. 329.]

But the best and most exciting amusement in Malmaison was the theatre;
and nothing delighted Bonaparte so much as this, where the young troop
of lovers in the palace performed little operas and vaudevilles,
and went through their parts with all the eagerness of real actors,
perfectly happy in having the consul and his wife for audience. In
Malmaison, Bonaparte abandoned himself with boundless joy to his
fondness for the theatre; here he applauded with all the gusto of an
amateur, laughed with the laisser-aller of a college-boy at the harmless
jokes of the vaudevilles, and here also he took great pleasure in the
dramatic performances of Eugene, who excelled especially in comic roles.

Bonaparte had a most convenient stage constructed in Malmaison for his
actors; he had the most beautiful costumes made for each new piece, and
the actors Talma and Michet had to come every week to the chateau, to
give the young people instruction in their parts. The ordinary actors
of this theatre in the castle were Eugene and Hortense, Caroline Murat,
Lauriston, M. Didelot, the prefect of the palace, some of the officers
attached to the establishment, and the Count Bourrienne, the friend of
Bonaparte's youth, who now had become the first secretary of the consul.
The pieces which Bonaparte attended with the greatest pleasure were the
"Barber of Seville," and "Mistrust and Malice." The young and amiable
Hortense made an excellent Rosine in the "Barber of Seville," and
Bonaparte never failed to clap his hands in hearty applause to Hortense,
when Josephine with cheerful smiles would thank him, for she seemed as
proud of her daughter's talent as of her husband's applause.

Bourrienne, in his memoirs, gives a faithful description of those
evening theatrical performances, and of the happy life enjoyed in
Malmaison; he lingers with a sober joy over those beautiful and innocent
memories of other days.

"Bonaparte," says he, "found great pleasure in our dramatic
entertainments; he loved to see comedies represented by those who
surrounded him, and oftentimes paid us flattering compliments. Though it
amused me as much as it did the others, yet I was more than once obliged
to call Bonaparte's attention to the fact that my other occupations did
not give me time enough to learn my parts. He then, in his flattering
way, said: 'Ah, Bourrienne, let me alone. You have so excellent a



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