« AnteriorContinuar »
more than a year, he entered the ante-chamber, where his officers of state were waiting, to announce the birth of his boy. To the excitable Parisians, the event or perhaps the stable peace of which it seemed to be a means and harbinger - gave such delight, that 'they embraced each other in the streets, as if a child was born to each one. Yet, ere that child was four years old, the very men who had been most urgent for the divorce had consulted what seemed to be their own interest by aiding in that return of the Bourbons which it was intended to prevent; the boy himself was taken from his father's control, never to meet again; and Napoleon, writing from Fontainebleau, probably from the very room which five years before he had closed against his devoted wife, thus sorrowfully addressed her:
* All have betrayed me ; yes, all. . . . Remember him who never forgot, and never will forget you.
NAPOLEON.' Josephine replied to this letter, by expressing a wish to follow him, if Maria Louisa should not, to Elba. But ere six weeks had passed, the overtasked heart had ceased to beat. Josephine was where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.'
How far the divorce contributed directly to the downfall of Napoleon has been a question. As is usually the case with those who possess great fondness for popularity, and a fine taste, and a quick perception of what will please, Josephine has probably been somewhat overrated, but she certainly was a superior woman; and though Napoleon sometimes affected to make light of her influence or advice, it is well known that he frequently yielded to it, and usually, if not always, with advantage to himself; but this was an advantage which Maria Louisa could not afford him. Josephine possessed many of the qualities in which Napoleon, notwithstanding his greatness, was deficient; Maria Louisa did not.
The French generally welcomed the alliance with Austria, to which the divorce was a prelude, as a harbinger of peace; still the whole matter was viewed with extreme disapprobation by many who had hitherto been Napoleon's warmest admirers; while to his enemies it gave a weapon, of which they were not slow to make effectual use. Napoleon's comprehensive observation led him to recognize the power and universality of the law, which he characterized as 'the nature of things,' but he sometimes forgot or ignored it. exemplified it nevertheless.
How keenly Napoleon felt the separation from his boy may be conceived, not only from his frequent reference to the subject at St. Helena, but also from a letter written at the time to his brother Joseph, in which he entreats him 'not to lose sight of the child for a moment;' and declares that he would rather see him dead than ‘have him brought up at Vienna, as an Austrian prince.' Yet it was precisely thus that the boy was brought up; for so determined were they with whom he was placed, to obliterate all remembrance of his father, that his first name, 'Napoleon,' was omitted, not only in addressing
him, but even in the State Calendar. Nor was it till a restless curiosity, fed by his infantile recollections, was evidently undermining his health, that his tutors were permitted to make known to him the circumstances of his father's life.
When at the age of ten years he was told of his father's death, he manifested the utmost grief ; but though his uncle Joseph, then living near Bordentown, New-Jersey, wrote to the Austrian Court, imploring permission to ‘visit and console him,' the permission was refused; probably from the fear that he would impress upon the mind of his young nephew ideas to which his self-constituted guardians wished him to remain a stranger. When by the second Revolution the elder branch of the Bourbons were again compelled to flee from France, Joseph addressed to the Chamber of Deputies a protest, in favor of his nephew. But it came too late. It was dated New-York, September 18th, 1839,' but ere it reached its destination, Louis Philippe had been elected to the vacant throne.
How far the youth inherited the magnificent intellect of his father, has been a subject of dispute; but his tastes were so decidedly military, that his life was no doubt shortened by the eagerness with which, as a colonel in the Austrian army, he endeavored to indulge them. His reserve of manner was such that his real views and character could scarcely be ascertained; but his death, which occurred in his twenty-first year, though it occasioned the most profound regret in France, was regarded by the rest of Europe with a feeling not unlike relief.
The retributions of the present life are mercifully intended to deter from wrong, by showing — in ways which all can understand — that even in this world, wrong is, upon the whole, less profitable than right. There are minds over whom higher motives can hold habitual and sufficient sway; but with the generality, a clear perception of the fact that wrong usually fails of its object, would have a more restraining influence than almost any other.
It was Josephine's intense anxiety to secure to her husband an heir, acceptable to his family, that led her into the most serious, we might almost say, the only injustice of her life - her persistency in urging upon her daughter Hortense the distasteful marriage with Napoleon's brother Louis. Considering Josephine's superiority, both personal and social, her detractors were but few. Yet of her husband's family, Louis was perhaps the only one who did not regard her with a sort of envious dislike. Louis and Hortense were both favorites with Napoleon ; so that a son of theirs, 'reared,' as he afterward expressed it, 'in the spirit of his own thoughts and dispositions,' might reasonably expect to be loved and adopted as his successor. But Hortense was already attached to Duroc; and Louis, notwithstanding some assertions to the contrary, was so reluctant, that he was with difficulty induced to consent — 'not from any unfavorable opinion of the young lady,' as Louis himself declares in his Memoirs, “but because he was afraid their characters were not suited to each other.' Still the marriage was celebrated, and 'never,'
say the same Memoirs, 'was there a more gloomy ceremony. Never had husband and wife a stronger presentiment of all the horrors of a forced and illsuited marriage.
Their first-born was a boy. He was named · Napoleon;' and so remarkable was his attachment to the Emperor, in so many points did he show a resemblance to his character, that his uncle became extremely fond of him; and removed a load from the heart of Josephine by appearing to acquiesce in the general opinion, that the boy would be his heir.
But a great wrong had been committed, and though for a time it seemed to be successful, the success was only seeming.
Louis was devotedly attached to his children. Hortense was equally so. She was beside considered extremely amiable. Yet some time after the birth of this precious boy, we find Josephine thus writing to her daughter : Why show to Louis this repugnance ? Instead of rendering him more ungracious still, by caprice, by inequality of character, why not rather make efforts to surmount your indifference ?' After alluding to the husband's 'ascetic inclinations, and invincible desire for retirement,' Josephine continues : 'Generous, beneficent, feeling, and, above all, an excellent father, if you so willed he would prove a good husband; but such as he is, that can be no reason for abandoning him. You desire that he should imitate his brother. Give him first of all the same temperament.' But Josephine's remonstrances were as unavailing as theirs had been before the marriage ; for though Hortense accompanied her husband to Holland, she soon returned to Paris; and he, during a long visit to that metropolis, he never saw his wife, except on public occasions. Nay, to such an extent was their estrangement carried, that during Napoleon's residence at Elba, we find Louis sueing in the French courts to have the children taken from their mother's keeping, and consigned to his own, a proceeding which was stopped only by the changes consequent on Napoleon's unforeseen return.
But we anticipate ; for eight years before those events, the talented child, who had so won upon his uncle's love, had died, and that after an illness so short, that before the courier sent to apprize Josephine could reach her, another was on his way to inform her of her grandson's death. Napoleon seemed greatly affected when the tidings reached him; but how shall we describe the grief of Josephine ? For three days she remained alone in her darkened chamber, the portrait of the child, a lock of his hair, and his little toys her only companions. Her daughter's happiness had been sacrificed in vain !
The distress of Napoleon, in view of his own divorce — for though his iron 'will’ would not yield, there is no doubt that the struggle between love and ambition was a severe one - may have served to remind him of that wbich he had caused by annulling the marriage of his brother Jerome with his accomplished wife, Elizabeth Patterson, of Baltimore.
Jerome was in the navy, and it was while his vessel was cruising in our
waters that he met the young lady. The French Minister at Washington took pains to warn both Jerome and the parents of his intended bride, that the match would be exceedingly displeasing to Napoleon ; but they disregarded his remonstrances, and after spending about a year in travelling, the youthful couple sailed to Europe. On her arrival, the lady learned that she would not be permitted to enter France ; and she therefore sailed for England, where, within a month, she gave birth to her son, Jerome Napoleon. Owing to a peculiarity in the registration laws of France, there was a technical invalidity in the marriage, so far as that country was concerned; and no sooner was their arrival known than Napoleon wrote to Pope Pius the Seventh, requesting him to issue a bull to annul it. But the Pontiff, though evidently unwilling to offend his powerful correspondent, replied in a very long letter, showing that he could find no precedent' in Church history that could justify him in so doing.
The Emperor, however, was not a man to be baffled. He wished to ally himself with royalty; and knowing the power of non-intercourse for the dim. inution of affection, he prevented the young husband from seeing his wife, by sending him first to Algiers, then to the West-Indies, while he influenced the obsequious Senate of France to proclaim the marriage invalid. Jerome who, though young and thoughtless, really loved his wife, and longed to see his boy, used every effort to mollify his brother; but finding that impossible, he at length yielded to the evil influences by which he was artfully surrounded, and in less than four years from the date of his first marriage, was united to a Princess of Würtemberg. His repudiated wife, meanwhile, returned to America with her child. What were their feelings, when they heard of Napoleon's divorce, and then of the downfall that showed its futility, we may imagine rather than describe.
A SIMILAR instance of the futility of wrong may be remarked in the history of 'Bluff King Hal.' It is well known that Henry divorced his first wife, the admirable Catharine of Aragon; and illegitimatized both her daughter and that of his accomplice and victim, the weak-principled but ill-used Anne Boleyn, that he might secure a male successor to his growing honors. Yet of the five ladies who succeeded the injured Catherine, as his consorts, but one presented him with a son; and though at the age of nine years that son ascended the throne, as successor to his abominable sire, he could scarcely be said to reign, for he was almost if not quite a prisoner in the hands of the selfish junta that, under the name of the regency, governed both him and England, till his early death caused the succession to devolve first on the daughter of Catherine, and then on that of Anne.
En passant, we may briefly notice another circumstance connected with Napoleon's family, and bearing upon our subject. It is well known that, with the exception of Louis, all of Napoleon's immediate relatives favored the
divorce, as opening the way for an alliance with one of royal blood; but, among them all, none were more urgent than his sister, the beautiful but imperious Pauline.
Josephine had awakened the envy of Pauline; and during the brief period that elapsed between her sorrowful departure from the imperial palace, and the arrival of her successor, Pauline took up her residence there, and queened' it to her heart's content. As Maria Louisa approached, Pauline thought it advisable to withdraw; but when presented to her new sister-in-law, at Brussels, she indulged her spleen by making a derisive gesture behind her back. Napoleon, whose eyes were every where, happened to observe her, and though he was exceedingly attached to her, thought it necessary to evince his displeasure. The next morning, Pauline received a peremptory order, banishing her from court, and remained in exile till her brother's downfall, five years after, deprived her of all opportunity to enter that palace again. Josephine never did enter it, but it was not for lack of opportunity, for after the return of the Bourbons, Louis the Eighteenth expressed an earnest wish that she should be presented at his court.
The frequent traces of a belief in life's repayments among the oldest writings of antiquity, is regarded by Creuzer as one of the evidences that 'even Homer and Hesiod were not altogether ignorant of the ancient,' or patriarchal
theology.' Other antiquarians mention the fact as showing that even the various mythologies were originally intended mainly as 'allegorical expositions of truths;' and insist that any notion which influences the belief and conduct of men for centuries, must have some BROAD FOUNDATION in human nature.'
In the Greek mythology, Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, is represented by some as the daughter of Night, and the grand-daughter of Chaos; by some as the daughter of Justice, and by others as the offspring of Jupiter and Necessity - a variety of opinions, which shows that while all recognized life's retributions as a fact, they were perplexed as to their origin.
Some regarded their origin as involved in utter obscurity; others looked upon them as matter of cause and effect ; while still others ascribed them to fate, or to supernatural interference.
From the offices ascribed to Nemesis, we may see what the ancients regarded as the object of life's recoils. She was 'the tamer of the passions,' the monitress of the tempted, the avenger, the foe to pride and haughtiness.' The ell measure and the cup with which she was usually represented, signified 'repayment accommodated to the action;' the fact that she was rarely winged suggested the delay or slowness of that repayment, while the bridle in her left hand showed that her promise was to deter and restrain. A significant illustration of the light in which this subject was regarded, may be found in the fact, that the statue of Nemesis, near Marathon, was made by Phidias, of the marble which the Persians brought with them, for the purpose of erecting a trophy, when they should have subjugated Greece. From the great number of coins and gems on which the figure of Nemesis is found engraved, we may