Hortense - John S. C. Abbott

The Death of Josephine


From the sad scenes described in the last chapter, Eugene returned to Italy. Hortense, in the deepest state of dejection, remained for a short time in Paris, often visiting her mother at Malmaison. About five months after the divorce, Napoleon was again married to Maria Louisa, daughter of the Emperor of Austria. The marriage ceremony was first celebrated with great pomp in Vienna, Napoleon being represented by proxy; and again the ceremony was repeated in Paris. It devolved upon Hortense, as the daughter of Napoleon, and the most prominent lady of his household, to receive with smiles of welcome and cordiality of greeting the princess who took the place of her mother. Seldom has it been the lot of a woman to pass through a more painful ordeal. Josephine, that she might be far removed from the tumult of Paris, rejoicing upon the arrival of Maria Louisa, retired from Malmaison to the more distant palace of Navarre. Soon after the marriage, Hortense hastened to join her mother there. There was at this time but little sympathy between Hortense and her husband. The power of a great sorrow in the death of their eldest son had for a short time brought them more closely together. There was, however, but little compatibility in their tastes and dispositions; and Hortense, deeming it her duty to comfort her mother, and finding more congeniality in her society than in that of her husband, made but brief visits to Holland.

It is easy for the prosperous and the happy to be amiable. Hortense was in a state of great physical debility, and almost every hope of her life had been crushed out. The letters of Hortense to Josephine have not been made public. We can only judge of their character from the replies which her mother made. From these it would appear that scarcely did a ray of joy illumine the gloomy path which she was destined to tread. On the 4th of April, 1810, Josephine wrote to Hortense from Navarre:

"I am touched, my dear Hortense, with all the griefs which you experience. I hope that there is no more question of your return to Holland, and that you will have a little repose. I know how much you must suffer from these disappointments, but I entreat you not to allow yourself to be affected by them. As long as any thing remains to me you shall be mistress of your destiny; grief and happiness—you know that I share all with you.

"Take, then, a little courage, my dear daughter. We both of us have much need of it. Often mine is too feeble, and sorrow makes me sick. But I seek fortitude all the time, and with my utmost efforts."

Soon after this Hortense, taking her two children with her, rejoined her husband, King Louis, in Holland. Josephine wrote to her on the 10th of May, from Navarre:

"I have received your letter, my dear Hortense, and I see, with much pain, that your health is not good. I hope that repose will re-establish it; and I can not doubt that the king will contribute to it every thing in his power, by his attentions and his attachments. Every day will lead him to see more and more how much you merit. Take care of yourself, my dear daughter; you know how much I have need of you. My heart has suffered to a degree which has somewhat impaired my health. But fortitude triumphs over sorrow, and I begin to be a little better."

Again, on the 15th, the Empress wrote to Hortense, who was still in Amsterdam:

"I have been extremely anxious on account of your health, my dear Hortense. I know that you have experienced several attacks of fever, and I have need to be tranquilized.

"Your letter of the 10th has just reached me, but it has not given me the consolation I had hoped for. I see in it an abandonment of yourself, which gives me great pain. How many ties are there which should bind you to life! And if you have so little affection for me, is it then, when I am no longer happy, that you can think, with so much tranquillity, of leaving me?

"Take courage, my daughter, and especially be careful of your health. I am confident, as I have already sent you word, that the waters which have been prescribed for you will do you good. Speak of it to the king with frankness. He certainly will not refuse you any thing which may be essential to your health. I am making all my arrangements to go to the springs in the month of June. But I do not think that I shall go to Aix-la-Chapelle, but rather to Aix in Savoy, which place I prefer.

"Diversion of mind is necessary for my health, and I have more hope of finding that in a place which I have never seen, and whose situation is picturesque. The waters of Aix are particularly efficacious for the nerves. I earnestly recommend you to take them instead of those of Plombiéres. We can pass the time together. Reply to me immediately upon this subject. We can lodge together. It will not be necessary for you to take many companions with you. I shall take but very few, intending to travel incognito. To-morrow I go to Malmaison, where I shall remain until I leave for the springs. I see with pleasure that the health of Louis Napoleon is good, and that he has not suffered from the change of air. Embrace him for me, my dear Hortense, and love me as tenderly as I love you.


"P. S.—Remember me to the king."

For some unexplained reason, Hortense repaired first to the waters of Plombiéres. Her youngest son, Louis Napoleon, was sent to Malmaison, to be with Josephine, who so fondly loved the child that she was quite unwilling to be separated from him. Hortense took her elder child, Napoleon Louis, with her to the springs. Here she was taken very sick. On the 14th of June Josephine wrote her from Malmaison:

"I did not know how much you had suffered, my dear Hortense, until you were better; but I had a presentiment of it, and my anxiety induced me to write to one of your ladies, to indicate to her the telegraph from Nancy, as a prompt resource to call a physician. You ask me what I am doing. I had yesterday a day of happiness. The Emperor came to see me. His presence made me happy, although it renewed my grief. These are emotions such as one could wish often to experience.

"All the time he remained with me I had sufficient fortitude to restrain the tears which I felt were ready to flow. But after he had left, I had no longer power to restrain them, and I found myself very unhappy. He was kind to me, and amiable as ever; and I hope that he will have read in my heart all the affection and all the devotion with which I cherish him.

"I spoke to him of your situation, and he listened to me with interest. He is of opinion that you should not return to Holland, the king not having conducted as he would wish to have him. The opinion of the Emperor is that you should take the waters for the necessary time; that you should then write to your husband that it is the opinion of your physicians that you should reside in a warm climate for some time, and that consequently you are going to Italy. As to your son, the Emperor will give orders that he is not to leave France.

"I hope to see you, perhaps at Aix in Savoy, if the waters at Plombiéres do not agree with you; perhaps in Switzerland, where the Emperor has permitted me to journey. We shall be able to appoint for ourselves a rendezvous where we may meet. Then I will relate to you with the living voice those details which it would require too much time to write. I intend to leave next Monday for Aix in Savoy. I shall travel incognito, under the name of Madame d'Aubery. Your son (Louis Napoleon), who is now here, is very well. He has rosy cheeks and a fair skin."

Immediately upon Josephine's arrival at Aix, she wrote again to Hortense, who was still at Plombiéres, a letter expressive of great anxiety for her health and happiness, and entreating her to come and join her at Aix. "How I regret," she wrote, "not having known, before my departure, the true state of your health. I should have been at Plombiéres to take care of you, and I should not have experienced the anxiety which tortures me at this great distance. My only consolation is to think that you will soon come here. Let me soon see you. Alone, desolate, far from all my friends, and in the midst of strangers, you can judge how sad I am, and all the need I have of your presence."

In July, Louis Bonaparte abdicated the throne of Holland. Hortense wrote to her mother all the details of the event. Josephine engaged a cottage at Aix for herself and Hortense. She wrote to Hortense on the 18th of July:

"I am delighted with the resolution you have taken to come here. I am occupied, in preparing your lodgings, more pleasantly than I could have hoped. A gentleman here has relinquished his house. I have accepted it, for it is delightfully situated, and the view is enchanting. The houses here are very small, but that which you will inhabit is larger. You can ride anywhere in a caléche. You will be very glad to have your own. I have mine, and I ride out in it every day. Adieu, my dear Hortense. I am impatient for the moment when I can embrace you."

As it was not deemed proper for the young princes, the sons of Hortense, to leave France, they were both left at the chateau of St. Cloud, while Hortense visited her mother at Aix. The devoted friend of Hortense, Madame Broc, to whom we have previously alluded, accompanied the ex-queen to Aix. The two friends frequently enjoyed long walks together in that region full of picturesque scenery. Hortense had a very keen appreciation of the beauties of nature, and had attained much excellence as a landscape painter. Aix, from its deep retirement and physical grandeur, became quite a favorite retreat. She had but little heart for any society but that of the solitudes of nature.

About the first of October Hortense returned, by the advice of the Emperor, to Fontainebleau, where she was reunited to her two sons. Josephine was, in the mean time, taking a short tour in Switzerland. We have previously spoken of Hortense's taste for music, and her skill as a composer. One of the airs, or romances, as they were called, composed by Hortense still retains in Europe perhaps unsurpassed popularity. It was termed familiarly Beau Dunois, or the Knight Errant. Its full title was "Partant pour la Syrie, le jeune et beau Dunois."

Josephine, writing from Geneva to Hortense at Fontainebleau, says: "I have heard sung all over Switzerland your romance of Beau Dunois! I have even heard it played upon the piano with beautiful variations." Josephine soon returned to Navarre, which at that time she preferred to Malmaison, as it was farther removed from the capital, and from the tumult of joy with which the birth of the child of Maria Louisa would be received. On the 20th of March, 1811, all France resounded with acclamations at the birth of the young King of Rome. Hortense, devoting herself to her children, remained in Paris and its environs. In the autumn of this year Josephine left Navarre, and returned to Malmaison to spend the winter there. Hortense and her husband, though much estranged from each other, and living most of the time apart, were still not formally separated, and occasionally dwelt together. The ostensible cause of the frequent absence of Hortense from her husband was the state of her health, rendering it necessary for her to make frequent visits to the springs, and the griefs of her mother requiring often the solace of her daughter's presence.

Louis Bonaparte owned a very beautiful estate, called St. Leu, in France. Early in May, 1812, Napoleon left Paris for the fatal campaign to Moscow. Just before his departure, he called at Malmaison and took an affectionate leave of Josephine. Hortense was at St. Leu, with her children. After a short visit which Josephine made to St. Leu, and which she describes as delightful, she returned to Malmaison, and Hortense went to the springs of Aix-la-Chapelle, taking her two children with her. Here Napoleon Louis was attacked with scarlet fever, which caused his mother and the Empress great anxiety.

Josephine wrote to her, on the 28th of July: "You are very kind not to have forgotten me in the midst of your anxiety for your son. Embrace for me that dear child, and my little Oui Oui" (yes, yes). Again she wrote, two days after: "I hope that our dear Napoleon continues to improve, and that the little Oui Oui is doing well." Eugene, leaving his amiable and much-loved wife and little family at Milan, had accompanied Napoleon on his Russian campaign. During his absence Josephine visited Milan, and there, as everywhere else, won the love of all who saw her. Hortense, with her children, was most of the time in Paris. Eugene, immediately after the terrible battle of Borodino, wrote as follows to Josephine. His letter was dated September 8, 1812.

"MY GOOD MOTHER,—I write you from the field of battle. The Emperor has gained a great victory over the Russians. The battle lasted thirteen hours. I commanded the right, and hope that the Emperor will be satisfied.

"I can not sufficiently thank you for your attentions and kindness to my little family. You are adored at Milan, as everywhere else. They write me most charming accounts of you, and you have won the love of every one with whom you have become acquainted. Adieu! Please give tidings of me to my sister. I will write her to-morrow. Your affectionate son, —EUGENE.

The latter part of October of this year, 1812, Napoleon commenced his awful retreat from Moscow. Josephine and Hortense were much of the time together in a state of indescribable suspense and anguish. At midnight, on the 18th of December, Napoleon arrived in Paris. The disasters in Russia had caused a new coalition of all the dynasties against France. The Emperor of Austria, unmindful of the marriage of his daughter with Napoleon, had joined the coalition with all the military powers of his empire. The majestic army with which Napoleon had invaded Russia was almost annihilated, and nearly two millions of bayonets were now directed against the Republican Empire.

All France rose with enthusiasm to co-operate with Napoleon in his endeavors to resist the thronging foes. By the middle of April, nearly three hundred thousand men were on the march from France towards Germany, gallantly to meet the onswelling flood of more than a million of bayonets. On the 15th of April, 1813, at four o'clock in the morning, Napoleon left St. Cloud for the seat of war. The terrific campaign of Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, and Leipsic ensued.

Days of darkness were lowering around the Empire. The health of Hortense rendered it necessary for her to go to the springs of Aix in Savoy. Her two children were left with her mother at Malmaison. Under date of June 11, 1813, the Empress wrote to her daughter:

"I have received your letter of the 7th, my dear Hortense. I see with pleasure that you have already been benefited by the waters. I advise you to continue them, in taking, as you do, a few days of repose. Be very tranquil respecting your children. They are perfectly well. Their complexion is of the lily and the rose. I can assure you that since they have been here they have not had the slightest indisposition. I must relate to you a very pretty response on the part of Oui Oui. The Abbé Bertrand caused him to read a fable where there was a question about metamorphosis. Being called to explain the word, he said to the abbé:

"'I wish I could change myself into a little bird, I would then fly away at the hour of your lesson; but I would return when M. Hase (his teacher of German) arrived.'

"'But, prince,' remarked the abbé, 'it is not very polite for you to say that to me.' 'Oh,' replied Oui Oui, 'that which I say is only for the lesson, not for the man.'

"Do you not think, with me, that that repartee was very spirituelle? It was impossible for him to extricate himself from the embarrassment with more delicacy and gracefulness. Your children were with me when I received your letter. They were very happy to receive tidings from their mamma. Continue to write often, my dear daughter, for their sake and for mine. It is the only means to enable me to support your absence."

[Illustration] from Hortense by John S. C. Abbott


While upon this visit to Aix, Hortense was accompanied by her inseparable friend, Madame Broc. One day Hortense and Adéle were ascending a mountain, whose summit commanded a very magnificent view. Their path led over a deep, dark, craggy ravine, which was swept by a mountain torrent, foaming and roaring over the rocks. Alpine firs, casting a gloomy shade, clung to its sides. A frail rustic bridge crossed the chasm. Hortense with light step passed over in safety. Madame Broc followed. A piercing shriek was heard, followed by a crash. As Hortense turned round she saw that the bridge had given way, and her companion was falling, torn and mangled, from rock to rock, till the rushing torrent seized her and whirled her lifeless body down the gulf in its wild waters. There was no possibility of rescue. For a moment the fluttering robes of the unfortunate lady were seen in the midst of the surging flood, and then the body was swept away far down the dismal gorge.

The shock which this frightful accident gave to the nerves of Hortense was like that which she experienced at the death of her son. For a time she seemed stunned by the blow, and reason tottered on its throne. Instead of flying from Aix, she lingered there. As soon as she partially recovered tranquillity, she sought to divert her grief by entering the abodes of sickness, sorrow, and suffering in the neighborhood, administering relief with her own hands. She established a hospital at Aix from her own private funds for the indigent, and, like an angel of mercy, clothed the naked and fed the hungry, and, while her own heart was breaking, spoke words of consolation to the world-weary.

In reference to this event Josephine wrote from Malmaison to Hortense at Aix, under date of June 16, 1813:

"What a horrible accident, my dear Hortense! What a friend you have lost, and by what a frightful calamity! Since yesterday, when I heard of it, I have been so horror-struck as not to be able to write to you. Every moment I have before my eyes the fate of that poor Adéle. Every body is in tears for her. She was so beloved, so worthy of being beloved, by her excellent qualities and by her attachment for you. I can think of nothing but what condition you are in. I am so anxious, that I send my chamberlain, M. Turpin, to you, that he may give me more certain intelligence respecting your health. I shall make haste to leave myself for a short time, that my presence and my care may be useful to you. I feel keenly your grief. It is too well founded. But, my dear daughter, think of your children, who are so worthy of your love. Preserve yourself for them! Think also of your mother, who loves you tenderly.


Thus blow after blow fell upon the heart of poor Hortense. Two days after the above date Josephine wrote again, in reply to a letter from her daughter:

"Your letter has reanimated me, my dear Hortense. In the dejection in which I was, I experienced true consolation in seeing your hand-writing, and in being assured by yourself that you try to conquer your grief. I fully realize how much it must cost you. Your letter, so tender, so touching, has renewed my tears. Ever since this frightful accident I have been sick. Alas! my dear daughter, you did not need this new trial.

"I have embraced your children for you. They also are deeply afflicted, and think of you very much. I am consoled in thinking that you will not forget us. I thank you for it, my dear Hortense, my daughter tenderly beloved."

Again, a few days after, this affectionate mother wrote to her grief-stricken child:

"I can not permit your courier to leave without transmitting to you intelligence from me; without letting you know how much I think of you. I fear that you may surrender yourself too much to the grief which you have experienced. I shall not feel reassured until M. Turpin shall have returned. Think of your charming children, my dear Hortense. Think also of a mother who adores you, and whom your life alone attaches to the world. I hope that all these motives will give you courage to support with more resignation the loss of a friend so tender.

"I have just received a letter from Eugene. He fully shares your grief, and desires that you should go and pass some time with him, if you have sufficient strength. I should be happy to know that you were with him. Your children are enjoying perfect health. They are truly interesting. It would, indeed, touch your feelings if you knew how much they think of you. Life is very precious, and one clings to it when one has such good children. Adieu! my daughter. Think often of a mother who loves you tenderly, and who tenderly embraces you."

As nothing can more clearly reveal than do these confidential letters the character of Hortense, and the domestic relations of this illustrious and afflicted family, I insert them freely. They give us a rare view of, those griefs of our suffering humanity which are found in the palace no less than in the cottage. On the 29th of June, Josephine wrote again to Hortense:

"M. De Turpin has brought me your letter, my dear daughter. I see with pain how sad and melancholy you still are. But it is, at least, a great consolation to me to be assured that your health has not severely suffered. Take courage, my dear Hortense. I hope that happiness will yet be your lot. You have passed through many trials. Have not all persons their griefs? The only difference is in the greater or less fortitude of soul with which one supports them. That which ought particularly to soothe your grief is that every one shares it with you. There are none who do not regret our poor Adéle as much for themselves as for you.

"Your children mourn over your sorrows. Every thing announces in them an excellent character, and a strong attachment for you. The more I see of them the more I love them. Nevertheless, I do not spoil them. Feel easy on their account. We follow exactly what you have prescribed for their regimen and their studies. When they have done well during the week, I invite them to breakfast and dine with me on the Sabbath. The proof that they are in good health is that they have grown much. Napoleon had one eye slightly inflamed yesterday from the sting of a gnat. He was not, however, on that account, less well than usual. To-day it is no longer manifest. It would not be worth mentioning, were we not in the habit of rendering you an exact account of every thing which concerns them."

On the 6th of August Josephine wrote as follows:

"The beautiful days of summer have at last come with the month of August. I hope that they will strengthen you, my dear daughter. Your lungs will feel the influence of them, and the baths will do you much more good. I see with pleasure that you have not forgotten the years of your childhood, and you are very kind to your mother in recalling them to her. I did right in making happy, too, children so good and so affectionate, and they have since abundantly recompensed me for it. Your children will do the same for you, my dear Hortense. Their hearts resemble yours. They will never cease to love you. Their health is wonderfully good, and they have never been more fresh and vigorous.

"The little Oui Oui is always gallant and amiable to me. Two days ago, in seeing Madame Tascher leave us, who went to join her husband at the springs, he said to Madame Boucheporn:

"'She must love her husband very much indeed, to be willing, for him, to leave my grandmother!'

"Do you not think that was charming? On the same day he went to walk in the woods of Butard. As soon as he was in the grand avenue, he threw his hat in the air, shouting, 'Oh, how I love beautiful nature!'

"Not a day passes in which some one is not amused by his amiability. The children animate all around me. Judge if you have not rendered me happy in leaving them with me. I can not be more happy until the day when I shall see you."

Disaster now followed disaster as the allied armies, in resistless numbers, crowded down upon France. The carnage of Dresden and Leipsic compelled the Emperor, in November, to return to Paris to raise reinforcements. Though he had been victorious in almost every battle, still the surging billows of his foes, flowing in upon him from all directions, could not be rolled back.

Maria Louisa was in a state of great embarrassment, and dreaded to see her husband. Her father, the Emperor of Austria, at the head of an immense army, was marching against France. When Napoleon, returning from the terrific strife, entered her apartment, Maria Louisa threw herself into his arms, and, unable to utter a word, burst into a flood of tears. Napoleon, having completed his arrangements for still maintaining the struggle, on the 25th of January, 1814, embraced his wife and child, and returned to the seat of war. He never saw wife or child again.

As his carriage left the door of the palace, the Emperor, pressing his forehead with his hand, said to Caulaincourt, who accompanied him, "I envy the lot of the meanest peasant of my empire. At my age he has discharged his debts to his country, and may remain at home enjoying the society of his wife and children, while I—I must fly to the camp and engage in the strife of war. Such is the mandate of my inexplicable destiny."

After a moment's reverie, he added, "My good Louise is gentle and submissive. I can depend on her. Her love and fidelity will never fail me. In the current of events there may arise circumstances which will decide the fate of an empire. In that case I hope that the daughter of the Caesars will be inspired by the spirit of her grandmother, Maria Theresa."

The struggle which ensued was short but awful. In the midst of these terrific scenes Napoleon kept up an almost daily correspondence with Josephine. On one occasion, when the surgings of the battle brought him within a few miles of Malmaison, he turned aside and sought a hurried interview with his most faithful friend. It was their last meeting. Napoleon took the hand of Josephine, and, gazing tenderly upon her, said:

"Josephine, I have been as fortunate as ever was man upon the face of this earth. But in this hour, when a storm is gathering over my head, I have not in this wide world any one but you upon whom I can repose."

Soon after this, as the seat of war approached nearer to Paris, Josephine found it necessary to retire to Navarre. She wrote to Hortense, on the 28th of March: "To-morrow I shall leave for Navarre. I have but sixteen men for a guard, and all wounded. I shall take care of them; but in truth I have no need of them. I am so unhappy in being separated from my children that I am indifferent respecting my fate."

At eight o'clock in the morning of the 29th Josephine took her carriage for Navarre. The Allies were rapidly approaching Paris, and a state of indescribable consternation filled the streets of the metropolis. Several times on the route the Empress was alarmed by the cry that the Cossacks were coming. The day was dark and stormy, and the rain fell in torrents. The pole of the carriage broke as the wheels sunk in a rut. Just at that moment a troop of horsemen appeared in the distance. The Empress, in her terror, supposing them to be the barbarous Cossacks, leaped from the carriage and fled through the fields. Was there ever a more cruel reverse of fortune? Josephine, the Empress of France, the admired of all Europe, in the frenzy of her alarm, rushing through the storm and the rain to seek refuge in the woods! The troops proved to be French. Her attendants followed and informed her of the mistake. She again entered her carriage, and uttered scarcely a word during the rest of her journey. Upon entering the palace of Navarre, she threw herself upon a couch, exclaiming:

"Surely Bonaparte is ignorant of what is passing within sight of the gates of Paris, or, if he knows, how cruel the thoughts which must now agitate his breast."

In a hurried letter which the Emperor wrote Josephine from Brienne, just after a desperate engagement with his vastly outnumbering foes, he said:

"On beholding the scenes where I had passed my boyhood, and comparing my peaceful condition then with the agitation and terrors I now experience, I several times said, in my own mind, 'I have sought to meet death in many conflicts. I can no longer fear it. To me death would now be a blessing. But I would once more see Josephine.'"

Immediately after Josephine's arrival at Navarre, she wrote to Hortense, urging that she should join her at that place. In the letter she said:

"I can not tell you how sad I am. I have had fortitude in afflicted positions in which I have found myself, and I shall have enough to bear my reverses of fortune; but I have not sufficient to sustain me under absence from my children, and uncertainty respecting their fate. For two days I have not ceased to weep. Send me tidings respecting yourself and your children. If you can learn any thing respecting Eugene and his family, inform me."

Two days after this, Hortense, with her two sons, joined her mother at Navarre. Paris was soon in the hands of the Allies. The Emperor Alexander invited Josephine and Hortense to return to Malmaison, where he established a guard for their protection. Soon after Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau. Upon the eve of his departure for Elba, he wrote to Josephine:

"I wrote to you on the 8th. Possibly you have not received my letter. It may have been intercepted. At present communications must be re-established. I have formed my resolution. I have no doubt that this billet will reach you. I will not repeat what I said to you. Then I lamented my situation. Now I congratulate myself thereon. My head and spirit are freed from an enormous weight. My fall is great, but at least is useful, as men say. Adieu! my dear Josephine. Be resigned as I am, and ever remember him who never forgets and never will forget you."

Josephine returned to Malmaison, and Hortense repaired to Rambouillet, to join Maria Louisa in these hours of perplexity and disaster. As soon as Maria Louisa set out under an Austrian escort for Vienna, Hortense rejoined her mother at Malmaison. Alexander was particularly attentive to Josephine and Hortense. He had loved Napoleon, and his sympathies were now deeply excited for his afflicted family. Through his kind offices, the beautiful estate of St. Leu, which Louis Bonaparte had owned, and which he had transferred to his wife, was erected into a duchy for her advantage, and the right of inheritance was vested in her children. The ex-Queen of Holland now took the title of the Duchess of St. Leu.

On the 10th of May the Emperor Alexander dined with Josephine at Malmaison. Grief, and a season unusually damp and cheerless, had seriously undermined her health. Notwithstanding acute bodily suffering, she exerted herself to the utmost to entertain her guests. At night she was worse and at times was delirious. Not long after this, Alexander and the King of Prussia were both guests to dine at Malmaison. The health of Josephine was such that she was urged by her friends not to leave her bed. She insisted, however, upon dressing to receive the allied sovereigns. Her sufferings increased, and she was obliged to retire, leaving Hortense to supply her place.

The next day Alexander kindly called to inquire for her health. Hour after hour she seemed to be slowly failing. On the morning of the 28th she fell into a lethargic sleep, which lasted for five hours, and her case was pronounced hopeless. Eugene and Hortense were at her side. The death-hour had come. The last rites of religion were administered to the dying. The Emperor Alexander was also in this chamber of grief. Josephine was perfectly rational. She called for the portrait of Napoleon, and, gazing upon it long and tenderly, breathed the following prayer:

"O God, watch over Napoleon while he remains in the desert of this world. Alas! though he hath committed great faults, hath he not expiated them by great sufferings? Just God, thou hast looked into his heart, and hast seen by how ardent a desire for useful and durable improvements he was animated. Deign to approve this my last petition, and may this image of my husband bear me witness that my latest wish and my latest prayer were for him and for my children."

Her last words were "Island of Elba—Napoleon." It was the 29th of May, 1814. For four days her body remained laid out in state, surrounded with numerous tapers. "Every road," writes a French historian, "from Paris and its environs to Ruel was crowded with trains of mourners. Sad groups thronged all the avenues; and I could distinguish tears even in the splendid equipages which came rattling across the court-yard."

More than twenty thousand persons—monarchs, nobles, statesmen, and weeping peasants—thronged the chateau of Malmaison to take the last look of the remains of one who had been universally beloved. The funeral took place at noon of the 2d of June. The remains were deposited in the little church of Ruel. A beautiful mausoleum of white marble, representing the Empress kneeling in her coronation robes, bears the simple inscription: