You have met General Bonaparte in my house. Well--he it is who would supply a father's place to the orphans of Alexander de Beauharnais, and a husband's to his widow. I admire the General's courage, the extent of his information, for on all subjects he talks equally well, and the quickness of his judgment, which enables him to seize the thoughts of others almost before they are expressed; but, I confess it, I shrink from the despotism he seems desirous of exercising over all who approach him. His searching glance has something singular and inexplicable, which imposes even on our Directors; judge if it may not intimidate a woman. Even--what ought to please me--the force of a passion, described with an energy that leaves not a doubt of his sincerity, is precisely the cause which arrests the consent I am often on the point of pronouncing.
--Letters of Josephine
It was a great life, dearie, a great life! Charles Lamb used to study
mathematics to subdue his genius, and I'll have to tinge truth with gray
in order to keep this little sketch from appearing like a red Ruritania
Josephine was born on an island in the Caribbean Sea, a long way from
France. The Little Man was an islander, too. They started for France about
the same time, from different directions--each, of course, totally unaware
that the other lived. They started on the order of that joker, Fate, in
order to scramble Continental politics, and make omelet of the world's
Josephine's father was Captain Tascher. Do you know who Captain Tascher
was? Very well, there is satisfaction then in knowing that no one else
does either. He seems to have had no ancestors; and he left no successor
We know a little less of Josephine's mother than we do of her father. She
was the daughter of a Frenchman whom the world had plucked of both money
and courage, and he moved to the West Indies to vegetate and brood on the
vanity of earthly ambitions. Young Captain Tascher married the planter's
daughter in the year Seventeen Hundred Sixty-two. The next year a
daughter was born, and they called her name Josephine.
Not long after her birth, Captain Tascher thought to mend his prospects by
moving to one of the neighboring islands. His wife went with him, but they
left the baby girl in the hands of a good old aunt, until they could
corral fortune and make things secure, for this world at least.
They never came back, for they died and were buried.
Josephine never had any recollection of her parents. But the aunt was
gentle and kindly, and life was simple and cheap. There was plenty to eat,
and no clothing to speak of was required, for the Equator was only a
stone's throw away; in fact, it was in sight of the house, as Josephine
herself has said.
There was a Catholic church near, but no school. Yet Josephine learned to
read and write. She sang with the negroes and danced and swam and played
leap-frog. When she was nine years old, her aunt told her she must not
play leap-frog any more, but she should learn to embroider and to play the
harp and read poetry. Then she would grow up and be a fine lady.
And Josephine thought it a bit hard, but said she would try.
She was tall and slender, but not very handsome. Her complexion was rather
yellow, her hands bony. But the years brought grace, and even if her
features were not pretty she had one thing that was better, a gentle
voice. So far as I know, no one ever gave her lessons in voice culture
either. Perhaps the voice is the true index of the soul. Josephine's voice
was low, sweet, and so finely modulated that when she spoke others would
pause to listen--not to the words, just to the voice.
Occasionally, visitors came to the island and were received at the old
rambling mansion where Josephine's aunt lived. From them the girl learned
about the great, outside world with its politics and society and strife
and rivalry; and when the visitor went away Josephine had gotten from him
all he knew. So the young woman became wise without school and learned
without books. A year after the memorable year of Seventeen Hundred
Seventy-six, there came to the island, Vicomte Alexander Beauharnais. He
had come direct from America, where he had fought on the side of the
Colonies against the British. He was full of Republican principles.
Paradoxically, he was also rich and idle and somewhat of an adventurer.
He called at the old aunt's, Madame Renaudin's, and called often. He fell
violently in love with Josephine. I say violently, for that was the kind
of man he was. He was thirty, she was fifteen. His voice was rough and
guttural, so I do not think he had much inward grace. Josephine's fine
instincts rebelled at thought of accepting his proffered affection. She
explained that she was betrothed to another, a neighboring youth of about
her own age, whose thoughts and feelings matched hers.
Beauharnais said that was nothing to him, and appealed to the old folks,
displaying his title, submitting an inventory of his estate; and the old
folks agreed to look into the matter. They did so and explained to
Josephine that she should not longer hold out against the wishes of those
who had done so much for her.
And so Josephine relented and they were married, although it can not
truthfully be said that they lived happily ever afterward. They started
for France, on their wedding-tour. In six weeks they arrived in Paris.
Returned soldiers and famed travelers are eagerly welcomed by society;
especially is this so when the traveler brings a Creole wife from the
Equator. The couple supplied a new thrill, and society in Paris is always
eager for a new thrill.
Vicomte Beauharnais and his wife became quite the rage. It was expected
that the Creole lady would be beautiful but dull; instead, she was not so
very beautiful, but very clever. She dropped into all the graceful ways of
polite society intuitively.
In a year, domestic life slightly interfered with society's claims--a son
was born. They called his name Eugene.
Two more years and a daughter was born. They called her name Hortense.
Josephine was only twenty, but the tropics and social experience and
maternity had given ripeness to her life. She became thoughtful and
inclined rather to stay at home with her babies than chase fashion's
Beauharnais chased fashion's butterflies, and caught them, too, for he
came home late and quarreled with his wife--a sure sign.
He drank a little, gamed more, sought excitement, and talked politics
needlessly loud in underground cafes.
Men who are woefully lax in their marriage relations are very apt to
regard their wives with suspicion. If Beauharnais had been weighed in the
balances he would have been found wanton. He instituted proceedings
against Josephine for divorce.
And Josephine packed up a few scanty effects and taking her two children
started for her old home in the West Indies. It took all the money she had
to pay passage.
It was the old, old story--a few years of gay life in the great city, then
cruelty too great for endurance, tears, shut white lips, a firm
resolve--and back to the old farm where homely, loyal hearts await, and
outstretched arms welcome the sorrowful, yet glad return.
Beauharnais failed to get his divorce. The court said "no cause for
action." He awoke, stared stupidly about, felt the need of sympathy in his
hour of undoing, and looked for--Josephine.
She was gone.
He tried absinthe, gambling, hot dissipation; but he could not forget. He
had sent away his granary and storehouse; his wand of wealth and heart's
desire. Two ways opened for peace, only two: a loaded pistol--or get her
First he would try to get her back, and the pistol should be held in
reserve in case of failure.
Josephine forgave and came back; for a good woman forgives to seventy
Beauharnais met her with all the tenderness a lover could command. The
ceremony of marriage was again sacredly solemnized. They retired to the
country and with their two children lived three of the happiest months
Josephine ever knew; at least Josephine said so, and the fact that she
made the same remark about several other occasions is no reason for
doubting her sincerity. Then they moved back to Paris.
Beauharnais sobered his ambitions, and kept good hours. He was a soldier
in the employ of the king, but his sympathies were with the people. He was
a Republican with a Royalist bias, but some said he was a Royalist with a
Josephine looked after her household, educated her children, did much
charitable work, and knew what was going on in the State.
But those were troublous times. Murder was in the air and revolution was
rife. That mob of a hundred thousand women had tramped out to Versailles
and brought the king back to Paris. He had been beheaded, and Marie
Antoinette had followed him. The people were in power and Beauharnais had
labored to temper their wrath with reason. He had even been Chairman of
the Third Convention. He called himself Citizen. But the fact that he was
of noble birth was remembered, and in September of Seventeen Hundred
Ninety-three, three men called at his house. When Josephine looked out of
the window, she saw by the wan light of the moon a file of soldiers
standing stiff and motionless.
She knew the time had come. They marched Citizen Beauharnais to the
In a few feverish months, they came back for his wife. Her they placed in
the nunnery of the Carmelites--that prison where, but a few months before,
a mob relieved the keepers of their vigils by killing all their charges.
Robespierre was supreme. Now, Robespierre had come into power by undoing
Danton. Danton had helped lug in the Revolution, but when he touched a
match to the hay he did not really mean to start a conflagration, only a
He tried to dampen the blaze, and Robespierre said he was a traitor and
led him to the guillotine. Robespierre worked the guillotine until the
bearings grew hot. Still, the people who rode in the death-tumbrel did not
seem so very miserable. Despair pushed far enough completes the circle and
becomes peace--a peace like unto security. It is the last stage: hope is
gone, but the comforting thought of heroic death and an eternal sleep
takes its place.
When Josephine at the nunnery of the Carmelites received from the
Luxembourg prison a package containing a generous lock of her husband's
hair, she knew it had been purchased from the executioner.
Now the prison of the Carmelites was unfortunately rather crowded. In
fact, it was full to the roof-tile. Five ladies were obliged to occupy one
little cell. One of these ladies in the cell with Josephine was Madame
Fontenay. Now Madame Fontenay was fondly loved by Citizen Tallien, who was
a member of the Assembly over which Citizen Robespierre presided. Citizen
Tallien did not explain his love for Madame to the public, because Madame
chanced to be the wife of another. So how could Robespierre know that when
he imprisoned Madame he was touching the tenderest tie that bound his
friend Tallien to earth?
Robespierre sent word to the prison of the Carmelites that Madame Fontenay
and Madame Beauharnais should prepare for death--they were guilty of
plotting against the people.
Now, Tallien came daily to the prison of the Carmelites, not to visit of
course, but to see that the prisoners were properly restrained. A
cabbage-stalk was thrown out of a cell-window, and Tallien found in the
stalk a note from his ladylove to this effect: "I am to die in two days;
to save me you must overthrow Robespierre."
The next day there was trouble when the Convention met. Tallien got the
platform and denounced Robespierre in a Cassius voice as a traitor--the
arch-enemy of the people--a plotter for self. To emphasize his remarks he
brandished a glittering dagger. Other orations followed in like vein. All
orders that Robespierre had given out were abrogated by acclamation. Two
days and Robespierre was made to take a dose of the medicine he had so
often prescribed for others. He was beheaded by Samson, his own servant,
July Fifteenth, Seventeen Hundred Ninety-four.
Immediately all "suspects" imprisoned on his instigation were released.
Madame Fontenay and the widow Beauharnais were free. Soon after this
Madame Fontenay became Madame Tallien. Josephine got her children back
from the country, but her property was gone and she was in sore straits.
But she had friends, yet none so loyal and helpful as Citizen Tallien and
his wife. Their home was hers. And it was there she met a man by the name
of Barras, and there too she met a man who was a friend of Barras; by
name, Bonaparte--Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte was twenty-six. He was five
feet two inches high and weighed one hundred twenty pounds. He was
beardless and looked like a boy, and at that time his face was illumined
by an eruption.
Out of employment and waiting for something to turn up, he yet had a very
His peculiar way of listening to conversation--absorbing everything and
giving nothing out--made one uncomfortable. Josephine, seven years his
senior, did not like the youth. She had had a wider experience and been
better brought up than he, and she let him know it, but he did not seem
* * * * *
Exactly what the French Revolution was, no one has yet told us. Read
"Carlyle" backward or forward and it is grand: it puts your head in a
whirl of heroic intoxication, but it does not explain the Revolution.
Suspicion, hate, tyranny, fear, mawkish sentimentality, mad desire, were
in the air. One leader was deposed because he did nothing, and his
successor was carried to the guillotine because he did too much.
Convention after convention was dissolved and re-formed.
On the Fourth of October, Seventeen Hundred Ninety-five, there was a howl
and a roar and a shriek from forty thousand citizens of Paris.
No one knew just what they wanted--the forty thousand did not explain.
Perhaps it was nothing--only the leaders who wanted power. They demanded
that the Convention should be dissolved: certain men must be put out and
others put in.
The Convention convened and all the members felt to see if their heads
were in proper place--tomorrow they might not be. The room was crowded to
suffocation. Spectators filled the windows, perched on the
gallery-railing, climbed and clung on the projecting parts of columns.
High up on one of these columns sat the young man Bonaparte, silent,
unmoved, still waiting for something to turn up.
The Convention must protect itself, and the call was for Barras. Barras
had once successfully parleyed with insurrection--he must do so again.
Barras turned bluish-white, for he knew that to deal with this mob
successfully a man must be blind and deaf to pity. He struggled to his
feet--he looked about helplessly--the Convention silently waited to catch
the words of its savior.
High up on a column Barras spied the lithe form of the artillery major,
whom he had seen, with face of bronze, deal out grape and canister at
Toulon. Barras raised his hand and pointing to the young officer cried,
"There, there is the man who can save you!"
The Convention nominated the little man by acclamation as commander of the
city's forces. He slid down from his perch, took half an hour to ascertain
whether the soldiers were on the side of the mob or against it--for it was
usually a toss-up--and decided to accept the command. Next day the mob
surrounded the Tuileries in the name of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality.
The Terrorists entreated the soldiers to throw down their arms, then they
reviled and cajoled and cursed and sang, and the women as usual were in
the vanguard. Paris recognized the divine right of insurrection. Who dare
shoot into such a throng!
The young artillery major dare. He gave the word and red death mowed wide
swaths, and the balls spat against the walls and sang through the windows
of the Church of Saint Roche where the mob was centered. Again and again
he fired. It began at four by the clock, and at six all good people, and
bad, had retired to their homes, and Paris was law-abiding. The Convention
named Napoleon, General of the Interior, and the French Revolution became
from that moment a thing that was.
* * * * *
Of course, no one in Paris was so much talked of as the young artillery
officer. Josephine was a bit proud that she had met him, and possibly a
little sorry that she had treated him so coldly. He only wished to be
Josephine was an honest woman, but still, she was a woman. She desired to
be well thought of, and to be well thought of by men in power. Her son
Eugene was fifteen, and she had ambitions for him; and to this end she saw
the need of keeping in touch with the Powers. Josephine was a politician
and a diplomat, for all women are diplomats. She arrayed Eugene in his
Sunday-best and told him to go to the General of the Interior and explain
that his name was Eugene Beauharnais, that his father was the martyred
patriot, General Beauharnais, and that this beloved father's sword was in
the archives over which Providence had placed the General of the Interior.
Furthermore, the son should request that the sword of his father be given
him so that it might be used in defense of France if need be.
And it was so done.
The whole thing was needlessly melodramatic, and Napoleon laughed. The
poetry of war was to him a joke. But he stroked the youth's curls, asked
after his mother, and ordered his secretary to go fetch that sword.
So the boy carried the sword home and was very happy, and his mother was
very happy and proud of him, and she kissed him on both cheeks and kissed
the sword and thought of the erring, yet generous man who once had
carried it. Then she thought it would be but proper for her to go and
thank the man who had given the sword back; for had he not stroked her
boy's curls and told him he was a fine young fellow, and asked after his
So the next day she went to call on the man who had so graciously given
the sword back. She was kept waiting a little while in the anteroom, for
Napoleon always kept people waiting--it was a good scheme. When admitted
to the presence, the General of the Interior, in simple corporal's dress,
did not remember her. Neither did he remember about giving the sword
back--at least he said so. He was always a trifler with women, though; and
it was so delicious to have this tearful widow remove her veil and
explain--for gadzooks! had she not several times allowed the mercury to
drop to zero for his benefit?
And so she explained, and gradually it all came back to him--very slowly
and after cross-questioning--and then he was so glad to see her. When she
went away, he accompanied her to the outer door, bareheaded, and as they
walked down the long hallway she noted the fact that he was not so tall as
she by three inches. He shook hands with her as they parted, and said he
would call on her when he had gotten a bit over the rush.
Josephine went home in a glow. She did not like the man--he had humiliated
her by making her explain who she was, and his manner, too, was
offensively familiar. And yet he was a power, there was no denying that,
and to know men of power is a satisfaction to any woman. He was twenty
years younger than Beauharnais, the mourned--twenty years! Then
Beauharnais was tall and had a splendid beard and wore a dangling sword.
Beauharnais was of noble birth, educated, experienced, but he was dead;
and here was a beardless boy being called the Chief Citizen of France.
Well, well, well!
She was both pleased and hurt--hurt to think she had been humbled, and
pleased to think such attentions had been paid her. In a few days the
young general called on the widow to crave forgiveness for not having
recognized her when she had called on him. It was very stupid in him,
very! She forgave him.
He complimented Eugene in terse, lavish terms, and when he went away
kissed Hortense, who was thirteen and thought herself too big to be kissed
by a strange man. But Napoleon said they all seemed just like old friends.
And seeming like old friends he called often.
Josephine knew Paris and Parisian society thoroughly. Fifteen years of
close contact in success and defeat with statesmen, soldiers, diplomats,
artists and literati had taught her much. It is probable that she was the
most gifted woman in Paris. Now, Napoleon learned by induction as
Josephine had, and as all women do, and as genius must, for life is
short--only dullards spend eight years at Oxford. He absorbed Josephine
as the devilfish does its prey. And to get every thought and feeling that
a good woman possesses you must win her completest love. In this close
contact she gives up all--unlike Sapphira--holding nothing back.
Among educated people, people of breeding and culture, Napoleon felt ill
at ease. With this woman at his side he would be at home anywhere. And
feeling at once that he could win her only by honorable marriage he
decided to marry her.
He was ambitious. Has that been remarked before? Well, one can not always
be original--still I think the facts bear out the statement.
Josephine was ambitious, too, but some way in this partnership she felt
that she would bring more capital into the concern than he, and she
But power had given dignity to the Little Man; his face had taken on the
cold beauty of marble. Success was better than sarsaparilla. Josephine was
aware of his growing power, and his persistency was irresistible; and so
one evening when he dropped in for a moment, her manner told all. He just
took her in his arms, and kissing her very tenderly whispered, "My dear,
together we will win," and went his way. When he wished to be, Napoleon
was the ideal lover; he was master of that fine forbearance, flavored with
a dash of audacity, that women so appreciate. He never wore love to a
frazzle, nor caressed the object of his affections into fidgets; neither
did he let her starve, although at times she might go hungry.
However, the fact remains that Josephine married the man to get rid of
him; but that's a thing women are constantly doing.
The ceremony was performed by a Justice of the Peace, March Ninth,
Seventeen Hundred Ninety-six. It was just five months since the bride had
called to thank the groom for giving back her husband's sword, and fifteen
months after this husband's death. Napoleon was twenty-seven; Josephine
was thirty-three, but the bridegroom swore he was twenty-eight and the
lady twenty-nine. As a fabricator he wins our admiration.
Twelve days after the marriage, Napoleon set out for Italy as
Commander-in-Chief of the army. To trace the brilliant campaign of that
year, when the tricolor of France was carried from the Bay of Biscay to
the Adriatic Sea, is not my business. Suffice it to say that it placed the
name of Bonaparte among the foremost names of military leaders of all
time. But amid the restless movement of grim war and the glamour of
success he never for a day forgot his Josephine. His letters breathe a
youthful lover's affection, and all the fond desires of his heart were
hers. Through her he also knew the pulse and temperature of Paris--its
form and pressure.
It was a year before they saw each other. She came on to Milan and met him
there. They settled in Montebello, at a beautiful country seat, six miles
from the city. From there he conducted negotiations for peace--and she
presided over the gay social circles of the ancient capital. "I gain
provinces; you win hearts," said Napoleon. It was a very Napoleonic
Napoleon had already had Eugene with him, and together they had seen the
glory of battle. Now Hortense was sent for, and they were made Napoleon's
children by adoption. These were days of glowing sunshine and success and
And so Napoleon with his family returned to France amid bursts of
applause, proclaimed everywhere the Savior of the State, its Protector,
and all that. Civil troubles had all vanished in the smoke of war with
foreign enemies. Prosperity was everywhere, the fruits of conquest had
satisfied all, and the discontented class had been drawn off into the army
and killed or else was now cheerfully boozy with success.
Napoleon made allies of all powers he could not easily undo, and proffered
his support--biding his time. Across the English Channel he looked and
stared with envious eyes. Josephine had tasted success and known defeat.
Napoleon had only tasted success. She begged that he would rest content
and hold secure that which he had gained. Success in its very nature must
be limited, she said. He laughed and would not hear of it. For the first
time she felt her influence over him was waning. She had given her all; he
greedily absorbed, and now had come to believe in his own omniscience. He
told her that on a pinch he could get along without her--within himself
he held all power. Then he kissed her hand in mock gallantry and led her
to the door, as he would be alone.
When Napoleon started on the Egyptian campaign, Josephine begged to go
with him; other women went, dozens of them. They seemed to look upon it as
a picnic party. But Napoleon, insisting that absence makes the heart grow
fonder, said his wife should remain behind.
Josephine was too good and great for the wife of such a man. She saw
through him. She understood him, and only honest men are willing to be
understood. He was tired of her, for she no longer ministered to his
vanity. He had captured her, and now he was done with her. Besides that,
she sided with the peace party, and this was intolerable. Still he did not
beat her with a stick; he treated her most graciously, and installing her
at beautiful Malmaison, provided her everything to make her happy. And if
"things" could make one happy, she would have been.
And as for the Egyptian campaign, it surely was a picnic party, or it was
until things got so serious that frolic was supplanted by fear. You can't
frolic with your hair on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine.
Napoleon did not write to his wife. He frolicked. Occasionally his
secretary sent her a formal letter of instruction, and when she at last
wrote him asking an explanation for such strange silence, the Little Man
answered her with accusations of infidelity.
Josephine decided to secure a divorce, and there is pretty good proof that
papers were prepared; and had the affair been carried along, the courts
would have at once allowed the separation on statutory grounds. However,
the papers were destroyed, and Josephine decided to live it out. But
Napoleon had heard of these proposed divorce proceedings and was furious.
When he came back, it was with the intention of immediate legal
separation--in any event separation.
He came back and held out haughtily for three days, addressing her as
"Madame," and refusing so much as to shake hands. After the three days he
sued for peace and cried it out on his knees with his head in her lap. It
was not genuine humility, only the humility that follows debauch. Napoleon
had many kind impulses, but his mood was selfish indifference to the
rights or wishes of others. He did not hold hate, yet the thought of
divorce from Josephine was palliated in his own mind by the thought that
she had first suggested it. "I took her at her word," he once said to
Bertram, as if the thing were pricking him.
And so matters moved on. There was war, and rumors of war, alway; but the
vanquished paid the expenses. It was thought best that France should be
ruled by three consuls. Three men were elected, with Napoleon as First
Consul. The First Consul bought off the Second and Third Consuls and
replaced them with two wooden men from the Tenth Ward.
Josephine worked for the glory of France and for her husband: she was
diplomat and adviser. She placated enemies and made friends.
France prospered, and in the wars the foreigner usually not only paid the
bills, but a goodly tribute beside. Nothing is so good as war to make
peace at home. An insurrectionist at home makes a splendid soldier abroad.
Napoleon's battles were won by the "dangerous class." As the First Consul
was Emperor in fact, the wires were pulled, and he was made so in name.
His wife was made Empress: it must be so, as a breath of disapproval might
ruin the whole scheme. Josephine was beloved by the people, and the people
must know that she was honored by her husband. With a woman's intuition,
Josephine saw the end--power grows until it topples. She pleaded,
begged--it was of no avail--the tide swept her with it, but whither,
whither? she kept asking.
Meantime Hortense had been married to Louis, brother of Napoleon. In due
time Napoleon found himself a grandfather. He both liked it and didn't. He
considered himself a youth and took a pride in being occasionally mistaken
for a recruit, and here some newspaper had called him "granddaddy," and
people had laughed! He was not even a father, except by law--not
Nature--and that's no father at all, for Nature does not recognize law. He
joked with Josephine about it, and she turned pale.
There is no subject on which men so deceive themselves as concerning their
motives for doing certain things. On no subject do mortals so deceive
themselves as their motives for marriage. Their acts may be all right, but
the reasons they give for doing them never are. Napoleon desired a new
wife, because he wished a son to found a dynasty.
"You have Eugene!" said Josephine.
"He's my son by proxy," said Napoleon, with a weary smile.
All motives, like ores, are found mixed, and counting the whole at one
hundred, Napoleon's desire for a son after the flesh should stand as
ten--other reasons ninety. All men wish to be thought young. Napoleon was
forty, and his wife was forty-seven. Talleyrand had spoken of them as Old
Mr. and Mrs. Bonaparte.
A man of forty is only a giddy youth, according to his own estimate. Girls
of twenty are his playfellows. A man of sixty, with a wife forty, and
babies coming, is not old--bless me! But suppose his wife is nearly
seventy--what then! Napoleon must have a young wife. Then by marrying
Marie Louise, Austria could be held as friend: it was very necessary to do
this. Austria must be secured as an ally at any cost--even at the cost of
Josephine. It was painful, but must be done for the good of France. The
State should stand first in the mind of every loyal, honest man: all else
So Josephine was divorced, but was provided with an annuity that was
preposterous in its lavish proportions. It amounted to over half a million
dollars a year. I once knew a man who, on getting home from the club at
two o'clock in the morning, was reproached by his wife for his shocking
condition. He promptly threw the lady over the banisters. Next day he
purchased her a diamond necklace at the cost of a year's salary, but she
could not wear it out in society for a month on account of her black eye.
Napoleon divorced Josephine that he might be the father of a line of
kings. When he abdicated in Eighteen Hundred Fifteen, he declared his son,
the child of Marie Louise, "Napoleon the Second, Emperor of France," and
the world laughed. The son died before he had fairly reached manhood's
estate. Napoleon the Third, son of Hortense, Queen of Holland, the
grandson of Josephine, reigned long and well as Emperor of France. The
Prince Imperial--a noble youth--great-grandson of Josephine, was killed in
Africa while fighting the battle of the nation that undid Napoleon.
Josephine was a parent of kings: Napoleon was not.
When Bonaparte was banished to Elba, and Marie Louise was nowhere to be
seen, Josephine wrote to him words of consolation, offering to share his
She died not long after--on the Second of June, Eighteen Hundred Fourteen.
After viewing that gaudy tomb at the Invalides, and thinking of the
treasure in tears and broken hearts that it took to build it, it will rest
you to go to the simple village church at Ruel, a half-hour's ride from
the Arc de Triomphe, where sleeps Josephine, Empress of France.