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With the October number of this time-honored and popular Magazine will be commenced a new series, under entirely new proprietory and editorial management.
It will be the aim of its future conductor not only to sustain its former prestige, but to extend its circle of readers, and make it a welcome guest in every American household. With this view, no labor or expense will be spared in securing the highest order of talent, not alone on this side of the Atlantic, but in both hemi . spheres.
Although a literary Magazine, it will not shrink from discussing the leading events of the day, free from all party or sectarian bias. It will embrace among its miscellaneous contents analytical reviews of new books, and art and dramatic gossip; while the Editor's Table,' with which the readers of Old KNICK' have been so long familiar, will be monthly spread with the choicest literary viands which the market will supply.
It is thus hoped, that even under the depressing influences of a protracted war, the veteran Magazine of the United States will reap a plentiful harvest of subscriptions, and maintain, with added lustre, that position as a first-class monthly which it has held for more than thirty years.
NEW-YORK, August, 1862.
тн Е DIVORCE WHEN Kossuth was passing through Marseilles, in 1851, a laborer looked up from his work, with the remark, “There is nothing impossible to him who wills' - words which the eloquent Magyar frequently repeated as having afforded him the greatest encouragement to persevering effort. Yet the saying, though striking, was not altogether true. An intelligent, patient, persevering 'will,' can do much, but no 'will' is strong enough to set aside the law, Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap;' nor that other law, whose pervading and resistless power even the gigantic intellect of Napoleon acknowledged, when he wrote to Josephine: ‘My master is the nature of things.' It is not 'Will,' but Faith, to which Inspiration says that nothing is impossible;' for faith, in proportion to its reality and perfectness, steadily endeavors to ascertain and obey those immutable laws of right that govern God's whole universe. “Will,' on the contrary, too often disregards those laws, and wherever that is the case, all history and observation show that its triumphs are but temporary.
Thus was it with Napoleon. He willed, and so effectually that for a time every thing seemed to give way before him. Yet even his will, supported as it was by unequalled activity, tact, and foresight, failed eventually of its purpose. Indeed, history furnishes but few instances of the inadequacy of even such a will, more impressive than that which we may gather from his divorce of Josephine.
It has been said that the union was simply one of those mariages de convenance, at that time so common in France; and, in the first place, this may have been to some extent the case. Yet Josephine's hesitation seems to have LX.
arisen chiefly from the difference in their ages. Her exquisite taste and genial manners made her appear younger than she really was, while Napoleon's peculiar character caused him to appear older. Yet she knew that she was six years older than he; and in a letter to an intimate friend, she thus weighs the pros and cons : 'I am rged to marry again, my friends counsel the measure, my aunt almost lays her injunctions upon me, and iny children entreat my compliance. . . . Barres says that if I marry the General, he will contrive to have him appointed to the army of Italy. I admire his courage, the extent of his information, and the quickness of his judgment. But,' continues Josephine, being now past the heyday of youth, can I hope long to preserve that ardor of attachment, which in the General resembles a fit of delirium ? If, after our union, he should cease to love me, will he not reproach me with what he will have sacrificed for my sake?'
But whatever might have been the original motives to the marriage, there can be no doubt that both parties became devotedly attached to each other. Even the machinations of those who sought to lessen the influence of Josephine, by rousing Napoleon's jealousy, were but temporarily successful; and, notwithstanding his occasional unkindness, those who had the best opportuni. ties for judging all agree in describing their domestic happiness as very great. 'A child by Josephine,' said Napoleon, in his retrospect at St. Helena, 'would have rendered my felicity perfect.' The wife's testimony, after several years of marriage, was given thus : 'Notwithstanding this, mon ami, Napoleon is the most fascinating of men.'
Who first suggested the divorce is not positively known, but it was probably Napoleon's brother, Lucien, in 1800 — about nine years before it actually occurred. At that time Josephine regarded Fouché as her friend, but he after. ward became a strenuous advocate of the measure. Lucien's motive was the aggrandizement of his family. Fouché's, a wish to prevent the future return of the Bourbons, by the establishment of a new dynasty. Still, though from time to time Josephine saw cause for intense anxiety on the subject, it was not till after Napoleon had seen Maria Louisa that his altered manner, and especially his order to close up the private access between their apartments at Fontainebleau, convinced the unhappy wife that her worst forebodings were about to be realized. 'I was in a state of uncertainty, worse than death,' she afterward remarked to Bourrienne, the friend of her husband's boyhood, and for many years his private secretary, ‘from that time till the day on which he avowed to me what I had long before read in his looks.'
But court etiquette required that she should play the suave and gracious and dignified Empress still; and though her heart was breaking, and she knew that many an eye looked coldly or sadly on, she played it well, compelling her selfish husband's admiration and respect, though she could not win him to relent. 'Napoleon,' says Savary — who had succeeded Fouché as Minister of Police — Napoleon often reflected on the best mode of making this communication to the Empress, but he was reluctant to speak to her. He hinted at it in a few words, but did not explain himself.'
Napoleon's motive in thus persisting in what unquestionably was so distressing to himself as well as to his wife, can best be stated in his own words :
'I must have an heir to my Empire !' Must have! WOULD HAVE, whether PROVIDENCE willed it or not! He did have one. But ere five years had passed away, the sceptre, which he was so determined to transmit, had fallen from his grasp; his idolized boy was a prisoner, studiously surrounded by every influence, every circumstance at could tend to render him unlike his sire. And
-fifty-one years after that sceptre has been regained by a grandson, not of the powerful self-willed Napoleon, but of the wronged, repudiated Josephine.
We never recall these circumstances without remembering the comment of the inspired psalmist, on the success of the stiff-necked Israelites, in obtaining the food for which they had murmured, as they journeyed through the desert : So they did eat, and were well filled : for He gave them their desire. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them.' (Psalm 78: 29–31.)
But to return from this digression. It was er a dinner, "during which;' said Josephine, 'I had not uttered a word; and Bonaparte had spoken but
He dismissed all the attendants, and I remained alone with him. I saw in the expression of his countenance what was passing in his mind; and I knew that my hour was come. He took my hand, pressed it to his heart, and after gazing at me a few moments in silence, said: “Josephine, my Josephine, thou knowest how I have loved thee. To thee do I owe the only moments of happiness I have tasted in this world, but my destiny is not to be controlled. My dearest affections must yield to the interests of France.''
"Say no more,' answered the stricken wife, “I understand you. I expected this, but the blow is not the less severe,' and she sank senseless on the floor. Her husband, after ordering the physician to be called, conveyed her to her chamber, evincing the greatest anxiety. But,' added Josephine, as she related the events of that terrible night, even the interest that he showed seemed but an additional cruelty. Ah! mon Dieu! how much reason had I to fear becoming an Empress !'
A few days after, Josephine thus warned her selfish but still beloved husband of the retribution that awaited him. The warning was unheeded, of course, but it came to pass. 'You speak of an alliance to contract, of an heir to be given to your empire, of a dynasty to be founded. ... These are but pretexts. Your ill-dissembled ambition, as it has been, so will it ever be, the guide of your life; a guide which has led you to victories and a throne, and which now urges you to disaster and to ruin.'
Napoleon was then at the very summit of his power, and for five years that warning seemed perhaps like idle words, but how exactly they were fulfilled the events of succeeding years have afforded solemn though most unexpected proof. We need not follow the sorrowing Josephine to her retreat at Malmaison and Navarre ; nor tell how she sought to regain her tranquillity in the devotion of her children, and the society of her friends; we would rather trace the fortunes of her selfish husband, and the heir for which she had been so cruelly sacrificed. Within four months from the day when the repudiated wife left the imperial residence, closely veiled,' the husband was united to a daughter of one of the oldest and haughtiest dynasties in Europe ; and in a little