The story of Napoleon III Emperor of France from 1852 to 1870 is well told through the life story of Eugenie, his Empress, whom he married for love, rather than political connections. Although their 20 year reign included many triumphs, it ended disastrously as a result the Franco-Prussian War. Eugenie outlived her husband by nearly 50 years and saw France through a difficult and tumultuous half-century.
EUGENIE, EMPRESS OF THE FRENCH.
In a recent interview at her villa in the Riviera, the ex-Empress Eugenie is reported to have said: "I have lived; I have been; I do not ask more. I ask not to be remembered. Between my past and my present there exists not half a century, but ten centuries. Men have changed, times have changed. It is a dream that is dissipated."
It is a fascinating story, as told in these pages, the career of this granddaughter of a Scotch wine-merchant, who by the power of her personal charm, the incentive of her ambition, and the boldness of her resolution, achieved her purpose, though stigmatized an upstart and adventuress, and eventually driven from the throne and doomed to spend her remaining days brooding over the loss of her power and her beauty; over France's crushing defeat in what the short-sighted Empress lightly termed "my war"; over her folly in urging Napoleon into the war; sorrowing over his death, and chiefly, lamenting the death of her son at the hands of Zulu savages in that far-away land whither she had urged him to go. Hers is an adventurous, a romantic, in every way an extraordinary, life-story. It shows what one of determined will and fixed purpose may do.
But was it worth the doing? In these days, looking back over her career, all she can say is: "I am the past. I am the distant horizon where exists a mirage, a shadow, a phantom, a living sorrow. I am an old woman, poor in everything that makes a woman rich. My husband, my son—that brave boy—they are gone. My eyes no longer turn to the future. I live only in my youth. There is nothing for me but to wait. My dreary winter is nearly over."
Poor Eugenie! That she still clings to the hope of seeing a descendant of Napoleon on the throne of France is evidenced by a letter to an old soldier who recently appealed to her for help, in which she says: "As her majesty admits that every old soldier of the empire has remained faithful to the sacred cause, to the imperial eagles, it is necessary so that her majesty may be assured of a devotion of which she—or rather the legitimate heir to the throne—will perhaps have need sooner than one thinks, that she receives from you a letter in which she will find the expression of your unshakable devotion to the memory of Napoleon III and to the Imperial cause, as well as the expression of your mistrust of the present regime."
CHICAGO, July, 1910.
The following is a chronological statement of the principal events during the career of Empress Eugenie and Louis Napoleon:
|1808||Birth of Louis Napoleon.|
|1826||Birth of Eugenie.|
|1815-30||Napoleon in exile.|
|1831||Revolt against the Pope.|
|1840||Descent upon France and Capture.|
|1848||Member of the National Assembly.|
|1853||Marriage of Eugenie and Napoleon.|
|1856||Birth of the Prince Imperial.|
|1859||War with Austria.|
|1862||Interference with Mexico.|
|1870||War with Germany.|
|1870—71||Capture and Imprisonment.|
|1873||Death of Napoleon.|
|1879||Prince Imperial killed in Africa.|