Hortense - John S. C. Abbott

The Marriage of Hortense


It will be remembered that Hortense had a cousin, Stephanie, the daughter of her father's elder brother, Marquis de Beauharnais. Though Viscount de Beauharnais had espoused the popular cause in the desperate struggle of the French Revolution, the marquis was an undisguised "aristocrat." Allying himself with the king and the court, he had fled from France with the emigrant nobles. He had joined the allied army as it was marching upon his native land in the endeavor to crush out popular liberty and to reinstate the Bourbons on their throne of despotism. For this crime he was by the laws of France a traitor, doomed to the scaffold should he be captured.

The marquis, in his flight from France, had left Stephanie with her aunt Josephine. She had sent her to the school of Madame Campan in company with Hortense and Caroline Bonaparte. Louis Bonaparte was consequently often in the company of Stephanie, and fell desperately in love with her. The reader will recollect the letter which Josephine wrote to Madame Campan relative to Stephanie, which indicated that she had some serious defects of character. Still she was a brilliant girl, with great powers of pleasing when she condescended to use those powers.

Louis Bonaparte was a very pensive, meditative young man, of poetic temperament, and of unsullied purity of character. With such persons love ever becomes an all-absorbing passion. It has been well said that love is represented as a little Cupid shooting tiny arrows, whereas it should be presented as a giant shaking the world. The secrets of the heart are seldom revealed to others. Neither Napoleon nor Josephine were probably at all aware how intense and engrossing was the affection of Louis for Stephanie.

Regenerated France was then struggling, with all its concentrated energies, against the combined aristocracies of Europe. Napoleon was the leader of the popular party. The father of Stephanie was in the counsels and the army of the Allies. Already advances had been made to Napoleon, and immense bribes offered to induce him, in treachery to the people, to restore to the exiled Bourbons the sceptre which the confiding people had placed in his hands. Napoleon, like all men in power, had bitter enemies, who were ever watching for an opportunity to assail him. Should his brother Louis marry a daughter of one of the old nobility, an avowed aristocrat, an emigrant, a pronounced "traitor," doomed to death, should he be captured, for waging war against his native land, it would expose Napoleon to suspicion. His enemies would have new vantage-ground from which to attack him, and in the most tender point.

Under these circumstances Napoleon contemplated with well-founded anxiety the idea of his brother's union with Stephanie. He was therefore the more ready to listen to Josephine's suggestion of the marriage of Louis and Hortense. This union in every respect seemed exceedingly desirable. Napoleon could gratify their highest ambition in assigning to them posts of opulence and honor. They could also be of great service to Napoleon in his majestic plan of redeeming all Europe from the yoke of the old feudal despotisms, and in conferring upon the peoples the new political gospel of equal rights for all men.

Napoleon had perceived this growing attachment just before he set out on the expedition to Egypt. To check it, if possible, he sent Louis on a very important mission to Toulon, where he kept him intensely occupied until he was summoned to embark for Egypt. But such love as animated the heart of Louis is deepened, not diminished, by absence. A naval officer, who was a friend of Louis, and who was aware of his attachment for Stephanie, remonstrated with him against a connection so injudicious.

"Do you know," said he, "that a marriage of this description might be highly injurious to your brother, and render him an object of suspicion to the Government, and that, too, at a moment when he is setting out on a hazardous expedition?"

But Louis was in no mood to listen to such suggestions. It would appear that Stephanie was a young lady who could very easily transfer her affections. During the absence of Louis a match was arranged between Stephanie and the Duke of Baden. The heart of Louis was hopelessly crushed. He never recovered from the blow. These were the two saddened hearts, to whom the world was shrouded in gloom, which met amidst the splendors of the Tuileries.

The genius of Napoleon and the tact of Josephine were combined to unite in marriage the disappointed and despairing lovers, Louis and Hortense. After a brief struggle, they both sadly submitted to their fate. The melancholy marriage scene is minutely described by Constant, one of the officers in the household of Napoleon. The occasion was invested with all possible splendor. A brilliant assembly attended. But as Louis led his beautiful bride to the altar, the deepest dejection marked his countenance. Hortense buried her eyes in her handkerchief and wept bitterly.

From that hour the alienation commenced. The grief-stricken bride, young, inexperienced, impulsive, made no attempt to conceal the repugnance with which she regarded the husband who had been forced upon her. On the other hand, Louis had too much pride to pursue with his attentions a bride whom he had reluctantly received, and who openly manifested her aversion to him. Josephine was very sad. Her maternal instincts revealed to her the true state of the case. Conscious that the union, which had so inauspiciously commenced, had been brought about by her, she exerted all her powers to promote friendly relations between the parties. But her counsels and her prayers were alike in vain. Louis Bonaparte, in his melancholy autobiography, writes:

"Never was there a more gloomy wedding. Never had husband and wife a stronger presentiment of a forced and ill-suited marriage. Before the ceremony, during the benediction, and ever afterwards, we both and equally felt that we were not suited to each other."

"I have seen," writes Constant, "a hundred times Madame Louis Bonaparte seek the solitude of her apartment and the bosom of a friend, there to shed her tears. She would often escape from her husband in the midst of the saloon of the First Consul, where one saw with chagrin this young woman, formerly glittering in beauty, and who gracefully performed the honors of the palace, retire into a corner or into the embrasure of a window, with some one of her intimate friends, sadly to confide her griefs. During this interview, from which she would return with her eyes her husband would remain pensive and silent at the end of the saloon."

Napoleon at St. Helena, referring to this painful subject, said: "Louis had been spoiled by reading the works of Rousseau. He contrived to agree with his wife only for a few months. There were faults on both sides. On the one hand, Louis was too teasing in his temper, and, on the other, Hortense was too volatile. Hortense, the devoted, the generous Hortense, was not entirely faultless in her conduct towards her husband. This I must acknowledge, in spite of all the affection I bore her, and the sincere attachment which I am sure she entertained for me. Though Louis's whimsical humors were in all probability sufficiently teasing, yet he loved Hortense. In such a case a woman should learn to subdue her own temper, and endeavor to return her husband's attachment. Had she acted in the way most conducive to her interest, she might have avoided her late lawsuit, secured happiness to herself and followed her husband to Holland. Louis would not then have fled from Amsterdam, and I should not have been compelled to unite his kingdom to mine—a measure which contributed to ruin my credit in Europe. Many other events might also have taken a different turn. Perhaps an excuse might be found for the caprice of Louis's disposition in the deplorable state of his health."

The following admirable letter from Josephine to Hortense throws additional light upon this unhappy union:

"I was deeply grieved at what I heard a few days ago. What I saw yesterday confirms and increases my distress. Why show this repugnance to Louis? Instead of rendering it the more annoying, by caprice and inequality of temper, why not endeavor to surmount it? You say he is not amiable. Every thing is relative. If he is not so to you, he may be to others, and all women do not see him through the veil of dislike. As for myself, who am here altogether disinterested, I imagine that I behold him as he is—more loving, doubtless, than lovable. But this is a great and rare quality. He is generous, beneficent, affectionate. He is a good father, and if you so will, he would prove a good husband. His melancholy, and his taste for study and retirement, render him disagreeable to you. But let me ask you, is this his fault? Do you expect him to change his nature according to circumstances? Who could have foreseen his altered fortune? But, according to you, he has not even the courage to bear that fortune. This, I think, is a mistake. With his secluded habits, and his invincible love of retirement and study, he is out of place in the elevated rank to which he has been raised.

"You wish that he resembled his brother. But he must first have his brother's temperament. You have not failed to remark that almost our entire existence depends upon our health, and health upon digestion. If poor Louis's digestion were better, you would find him much more amiable. But as he is, there is nothing to justify the indifference and dislike you evince towards him. You, Hortense, who used to be so good, should continue so now, when it is most requisite. Take pity on a man who is to be pitied for what would constitute the happiness of another. Before you condemn him, think of others who, like him, have groaned beneath the burden of their greatness, and bathed with tears their diadem, which they believed had never been destined for their brow. When I advise you to love, or at least not to repulse Louis, I speak to you as an experienced wife, a fond mother, and a friend; and in these three characters, which are all equally dear to me, I tenderly embrace you."

Madame Montesson gave the first ball that took place in honor of the marriage of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense. Invitations were issued for seven hundred persons. Though there was no imperial court at that time, for Napoleon was but First Consul, yet every thing was arranged on a scale of regal splendor. The foreign ambassadors were all present; and the achievements of Napoleon had been so marvellous, and his increasing grandeur was so sure, that all present vied alike in evincing homage to the whole Bonaparte family. A lady who was a guest on the occasion writes:

"Every countenance beamed with joy save that of the bride, whose profound melancholy formed a sad contrast to the happiness which she might have been expected to evince. She was covered with diamonds and flowers, and yet her countenance and manner showed nothing but regret. It was easy to foresee the mutual misery that would arise out of this ill-assorted union. Louis Bonaparte showed but little attention to his bride. Hortense, on her part, seemed to shun his very looks, lest he should read in hers the indifference she felt towards him. This indifference daily augmented in spite of the affectionate advice of Josephine, who earnestly desired to see Hortense in the possession of that happiness and peace of mind to which she was herself a stranger. But all her endeavors were unavailing."

The first child the fruit of this marriage was born in 1803, and received the name of Napoleon Charles. Both Napoleon and Josephine were rendered very happy by his birth. He was an exceedingly beautiful and promising child, and they hoped that parental endearments, lavished upon the same object, would unite father and mother more closely. Napoleon loved the child tenderly, was ever fond of caressing him, and distinctly announced his intention of making him his heir. All thoughts of the divorce were banished, and a few gleams of tremulous joy visited the heart of Josephine. But alas! these joys proved of but short duration. It was soon manifest to her anxious view that there was no hope of any cordial reconciliation between Louis and Hortense. And nothing could soothe the sorrow of Josephine's heart when she saw her daughter's happiness apparently blighted forever.

Napoleon, conscious that he had been an instrument in the bitter disappointments of Hortense and Louis, did every thing in his power to requite them for the wrong. Upon attaining the imperial dignity, he appointed his brother Louis constable of France, and soon after, in 1805, governor-general of Piedmont. In 1806, Schimmelpennink, grand pensionary of Batavia, resigning his office as chief magistrate of the United Netherlands, Napoleon raised Louis to the dignity of King of Holland.

On the 18th of June, 1806, Louis and Hortense arrived in their new dominions. The exalted station to which Hortense was thus elevated did not compensate her for the sadness of separation from her beloved mother, with whom she had been so intimately associated during her whole life. The royal pair took up their residence at the Maison de Bois, a rural palace about three miles from the Hague. Here they received the various deputations, and thence made their public entrée into the capital in the midst of a scene of universal rejoicing. The pensive air of the queen did but add to the interest which she invariably excited. For a time she endeavored to drown her griefs in yielding herself to the festivities of the hour. Her fine figure, noble mien, and graceful manners fascinated all eyes and won all hearts. Her complexion was of dazzling purity, her eyes of a soft blue, and a profusion of fair hair hung gracefully upon her shoulders. Her conversation was extremely lively and vivacious, having on every occasion just the right word to say. Her dancing was said to be the perfection of grace. With such accomplishments for her station, naturally fond of society and gayety, and with a disposition to recompense herself, for her heart's disappointment, in the love of her new subjects, she secured in a very high degree the admiration of the Hollanders.

It was at this time that Hortense composed that beautiful collection of airs called romances which has given her position among the ablest of musical composers. "The saloons of Paris," says a French writer, "the solitude of exile, the most remote countries, have all acknowledged the charm of these most delightful melodies, which need no royal name to enhance their reputation. It is gratifying to our pride of country to hear the airs of France sung by the Greek and by the Russian, and united to national poetry on the banks of the Thames and the Tagus. The homage thus rendered is the more flattering because the rank of the composer is unknown. It is their intrinsic merit which gives to these natural effusions of female sensibility the power of universal success. If Hortense ever experienced matrimonial felicity, it must have been at this time."

When Madame de Staél was living in exile in the old Castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire, where she was joined by her beautiful friend Madame Récamier, one of their favorite songs was that exquisite air composed by Queen Hortense upon her husband's motto, "Do what is right, come what may."

The little son of Hortense was twining himself closely around his mother's heart. He had become her idol. Napoleon was then in the zenith of his power, and it was understood that Napoleon Charles was to inherit the imperial sceptre. The warmth of his heart and his daily intellectual development indicated that he would prove worthy of the station which he was destined to fill.

Shortly after the queen's arrival at the Hague, she received a New Year's present from Josephine for the young Napoleon Charles. It consisted of a large chest filled with the choicest playthings which Paris could present. The little boy was seated near a window which opened upon the park. As his mother took one after another of the playthings from the chest to exhibit to him, she was surprised and disappointed to find that he regarded them with so much indifference. His attention seemed to be very much occupied in looking out into the park. Hortense said to him, "My son, are you not grateful to your grandmamma for sending you so many beautiful presents?"

"Indeed I am, mamma," he replied. "But it does not surprise me, for grandmamma is always so good that I am used to it."

"Then you are not amused with all these pretty playthings, my son?"

"Oh yes, mamma, but—but then I want something else."

"What is it, my darling? You know how much I love you. You may be sure that I will give it to you."

"No, mamma, I am afraid you won't. I want you to let me run about barefooted in that puddle in the avenue."

His mother of course could not grant this request, and the little fellow mourned very justly over the misfortune of being a prince, which prevented him from enjoying himself like other boys in playing in the mud.

Hortense, absorbed in her new cares, wrote almost daily to her mother, giving interesting recitals of the child. She did not, however, write as frequently to her father. Josephine wrote to her from Aix-la-Chapelle, under date of September 8th, 1804:

"The news which you give me of Napoleon affords me great pleasure, my dear Hortense; for in addition to the very tender interest I feel for him, I appreciate all the anxieties from which you are relieved; and you know, my dear child, that your happiness will ever constitute a part of mine. The Emperor has read your letter. He has at times appeared to me wounded, in not hearing from you. He would not accuse your heart if he knew you as well as I do. But appearances are against you. Since he may suppose that you neglect him, do not lose a moment to repair the wrongs which are not intentional. Say to him that it is through discretion that you have not written to him; that your heart suffers from that law which even respect dictates; that having always manifested towards you the goodness and tenderness of a father, it will ever be your happiness to offer to him the homage of gratitude.

"Speak to him also of the hope you cherish of seeing me at the period of your confinement. I can not endure the thought of being absent from you at that time. Be sure, my Hortense, that nothing can prevent me from going to take care of you for your sake, and still more for my own. Do you speak of this also to Bonaparte, who loves you as if you were his own child. And this greatly increases my attachment for him. Adieu, my good Hortense. I embrace you with the warmest affections of my heart."

Soon after this Hortense gave birth to her second child, Napoleon Louis. The health of the mother not long after the birth of the child rendered it necessary for her to visit the waters of St. Armand. It seems that little Napoleon Louis was placed under the care of a nurse where Josephine could often see him. The Empress wrote to Hortense from St. Cloud on the 20th of July, 1805:

"My health requires that I should repose a little from the fatigues of the long journey which I have just made, and particularly from the grief which I have experienced in separating myself from Eugene in Italy. I received yesterday a letter from him. He is very well, and works hard. He greatly regrets being separated from his mother and his beloved sister. Alas! there are unquestionably many people who envy his lot, and who think him very happy. Such persons do not read his heart. In writing to you, my dear Hortense, I would only speak to you of my tenderness for you, and inform you how happy I have been to have your son Napoleon Louis with me since my return.

"The Emperor, without speaking to me about it, sent to him immediately on our arrival at Fontainebleau. I was much touched by this attention on his part. He had perceived that I had need of seeing a second yourself; a little charming being created by thee. The child is very well. He is very happy. He eats only the soup which his nurse gives him. He never comes in when we are at the table. The Emperor caresses him very much. Eugene has given me, for you, a necklace of malachite, engraved in relief. M. Bergheim will hand you one which I purchased at Milan. It is composed of engraved amethysts, which will be very becoming upon your beautiful white skin. Give my most affectionate remembrance to your husband. Embrace for me Napoleon Charles, and rely, my dear daughter, upon the tenderness of your mother,


Hortense and Louis Bonaparte


At midnight, on the 24th of September, 1806, Napoleon left Paris to repel a new coalition of his foes in the campaigns of Jena, Auerstadt, Eylau, and Friedland. Josephine accompanied her husband as far as Mayence, where she remained, that she might more easily receive tidings from him. Just before leaving Paris, Napoleon reviewed the Imperial Guard in the court-yard of the Tuileries. After the review he entered the saloon of Josephine. Throwing down his hat and sword upon the sofa, he took the arm of the Empress, and they together walked up and down the room, earnestly engaged in conversation. Little Napoleon Charles, who was on a visit to his grandmother, picked up the Emperor's cocked hat, placed it upon his head, and putting the sword-belt over his neck, with the dangling sword, began strutting behind the Emperor with a very military tread, attempting to whistle a martial air. Napoleon, turning around, saw the child, and catching him up in his arms, hugged and kissed him, saying to Josephine, "What a charming picture!" Josephine immediately ordered a portrait to be taken by the celebrated painter Gerard of the young prince in that costume. She intended to send it a present to the Emperor as a surprise.

The Empress remained for some time at Mayence and its environs, daily writing to the Emperor, and almost daily, sometimes twice a day, receiving letters from him. These notes were very brief, but always bore the impress of ardent affection.

On the 13th of January, 1806, Eugene was very happily married to the Princess Augusta Amélie, daughter of the Elector of Bavaria. When Josephine heard of the contemplated connection, she wrote to Hortense:

"You know very well that the Emperor would not marry Eugene without my knowledge. Still I accept the public rumor. I should love very much to have her for a daughter-in-law. She is a charming character, and beautiful as an angel. She unites to an elegant figure the most graceful carriage I have ever known."

A few days after, on the 9th of January, she wrote from Munich: "I am not willing to lose a moment, my dear Hortense, in informing you that the marriage of Eugene with the daughter of the Elector of Bavaria is just definitely arranged. You will appreciate, as I do, all the value of this new proof of the attachment which the Emperor manifests for your brother. Nothing in the world could be more agreeable to me than this alliance. The young princess unites to a charming figure all the qualities which can render a woman interesting and lovely. The marriage is not to be celebrated here, but in Paris. Thus you will be able to witness the happiness of your brother, and mine will be perfect, since I shall find myself united to both of my dear children."

The arrangements were changed subsequently, and the nuptials were solemnized in Munich. Napoleon wrote as follows to Hortense:

"Munich, January 9th, 1806.

"MY DAUGHTER,—Eugene arrives to-morrow, and is to be married in four days. I should have been very happy if you could have attended his marriage, but there is no longer time. The Princess Augusta is tall, beautiful, and full of good qualities, and you will have, in all respects, a sister worthy of you. A thousand kisses to M. Napoleon.


The Empress, after remaining some time at Mayence, as the campaign on the banks of the Vistula was protracted, returned to Paris. In a state of great anxiety with regard to her husband, she took up her residence at St. Cloud. Under date of March, 1807, she wrote to her daughter, then queen of Holland, residing at the Hague:

"I have received much pleasure in speaking of you with M. Jansens. I perceive, from what he tells me respecting Holland, that the king is very much beloved, and that you share in the general affection. This renders me happy. My health is very good at the present moment, but my heart is always sad.

"All the private letters which I have seen agree in the declaration that the Emperor exposed himself very much at the battle of Eylau. I frequently receive tidings from him, and sometimes two letters a day. This is a great consolation, but it does not replace him."

That Napoleon, in the midst of the ten thousand cares of so arduous a campaign, could have found time to write daily to Josephine, and often twice a day, is surely extraordinary. There are not many husbands, it is to be feared, who are so thoughtful of the anxieties of an absent wife.

Early in May the Empress received the portrait, of which we have spoken, of her idolized grandchild, Napoleon Charles, in his amusing military costume. She was intending to send it as a pleasing memorial to the Emperor in his distant encampment.

Just then she received the dreadful tidings that little Napoleon Charles had been taken sick with the croup, and, after the illness of but a few hours, had died. It was the 5th of May, 1807. Josephine was in Paris; Hortense at the Hague, in Holland; Napoleon was hundreds of leagues distant in the north, with his army almost buried in snow upon the banks of the Vistula.

The world perhaps has never witnessed the death of a child which has caused so much anguish. Hortense did not leave her son for a moment, as the terrible disease advanced to its termination. When he breathed his last she seemed completely stunned. Not a tear dimmed her eye. Not a word, not a moan was uttered. Like a marble statue, she sat upon the sofa where the child had died, gazing around her with a look of wild, amazed, delirious agony. With much difficulty she was taken from the room, being removed on the sofa upon which she reclined. Her anguish was so great that for some time it was feared that reason was dethroned, and that the blow would prove fatal. Her limbs were rigid, and her dry and glassy eye was riveted upon vacancy. At length, in the endeavor to bring her out from this dreadful state, the lifeless body of the child, dressed for the grave, was brought in and placed in the lap of its mother. The pent-up anguish of Hortense now found momentary relief in a flood of tears, and in loud and uncontrollable sobbings.

The anguish of Josephine surpassed, if possible, even that of Hortense. The Empress knew that Napoleon had selected this child as his heir; that consequently the terrible divorce was no longer to be thought of. In addition to the loss of one she so tenderly loved, rose the fear that his death would prove to her the greatest of earthly calamities. For three days she could not leave her apartment, and did nothing but weep.

The sad intelligence were conveyed to Napoleon in his cheerless encampment upon the Vistula. As he received the tidings he uttered not a word. Sitting down in silence, he buried his face in his hand, and for a long time seemed lost in painful musings. No one ventured to disturb his grief with attempted consolation.

As soon as Josephine was able to move, she left Paris to visit her bereaved, heart-broken daughter. But her strength failed her by the way, and when she reached Luchen, a palace near Brussels, she was able to proceed no farther. She wrote as follows to Hortense:

"Luchen, May 14th, 1807—10 o'clock P.M.

"I have arrived this moment at the chateau of Luchen, my dear daughter. It is there I write to you, and there I await you. Come to restore me to life. Your presence is necessary to me, and you must also feel the need of seeing me, that you may weep with your mother. I earnestly wish to proceed farther, but my strength has failed me, and moreover I have not had time to apprise the Emperor. I have found strength to come thus far. I hope you also will find strength to come and see your mother."

Hortense immediately repaired to Luchen to seek a mother's sympathy. With Josephine she returned to Paris, and soon after, by the entreaties of her physician, continued her journey to take the waters of a mineral spring in the south of France, seeking a change of climate and of scene. Josephine remained in the depths of sorrow at St. Cloud. On the same day in which Josephine arrived at Luchen, the Emperor wrote to her from the Vistula as follows:

"Finckenstein, May 14th, 1807.

"I can appreciate the grief which the death of poor Napoleon has caused. You can understand the anguish which I experience. I could wish that I were with you, that you might become moderate and discreet in your grief. You have had the happiness of never losing any children. But it is one of the conditions and sorrows attached to suffering humanity. Let me hear that you have become reasonable and tranquil. Would you magnify my anguish?"

Two days after Napoleon wrote the Empress:

"I have received your letter of the sixth of May. I see in it already the injury which you are suffering, and I fear that you are not reasonable, and that you afflict yourself too much from the calamity which has befallen us.

"Adieu my love. Entirely thine, —NAPOLEON.

Again, after the lapse of four days, he wrote:

"I have received your letter of the tenth of May. I see that you have gone to Luchen. I think that you may rest there a fortnight. That will give much pleasure to the Belgians, and will serve to divert your mind. I see with pain that you are not wise. Grief has bounds which it should not pass. Preserve yourself for your friend, and believe in all my affection."

On the same day the Emperor wrote as follows to Hortense:

"Finckenstein, May 20th, 1807.

"MY DAUGHTER,—Every thing which reaches me from the Hague informs me that you are unreasonable. However legitimate may be your grief, it should have its bounds. Do not impair your health. Seek consolation. Know that life is strewn with so many dangers, and may be the source of so many calamities, that death is by no means the greatest of evils.

"Your affectionate father, —NAPOLEON.

It is to be borne in mind that these brief epistles were written from the midst of one of the most arduous of campaigns. Four days after this, on the 24th, Napoleon wrote to Josephine:

"I have received your letter from Luchen. I see with pain that your grief is still unabated, and that Hortense has not yet arrived. She is unreasonable, and does not merit that one should love her, since she loves only her children. Strive to calm yourself, and give me no more pain. For every irremediable evil we should find consolation. Adieu, my love.

"Wholly thine, —NAPOLEON.

After two days again the Emperor wrote to Josephine:

"I have received your letter of the 16th, and see with pleasure that Hortense has arrived at Luchen. I am indeed grieved by what you tell me of the state of stupor in which she still continues. She should have more fortitude, and should govern herself. I can not conceive why they should wish her to go to the springs. Her attention would be much more diverted at Paris, and she would find there more consolation. Control yourself. Be cheerful, and take care of your health. Adieu, my love. I share deeply in all your griefs. It is painful to me that I am not with you.


It will be remembered that Hortense had another child, then but an infant, by the name of Napoleon Louis. This child subsequently married a daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, and died in a campaign in Italy, as he espoused the popular cause in the endeavor to throw off the yoke of Austria. The third and only surviving child, Louis Napoleon, now Emperor of the French, was not then born.

We have previously alluded in this history to a niece of Madame Campan by the name of Adéle Auguié, who was the intimate friend and companion of Hortense in her school-days. School-girl attachments, though often very ardent, are not generally very lasting. This one, however, proved of life-long duration. Adéle became Madame de Broc. There is an allusion to her in the following letter. We shall hereafter have occasion to refer to her in describing the disaster which terminated her life. It was the latter part of May when Hortense left her mother to journey to the south of France. Soon after her departure Josephine wrote to her as follows:

"St. Cloud, May 27th, 1807.

"I have wept much since your departure, my dear Hortense. This separation has been very painful to me. Nothing can give me courage to support it but the certainty that the journey will do you good. I have received tidings from you, through Madame Broc. I pray you to thank her for that attention, and to request her to write to me when you may be unable to write yourself. I had also news from your son. He is at the chateau of Luchen, very well, and awaiting the arrival of the king. He shares very keenly in our griefs. I have need of this consolation, for I have had none other since your departure. Always alone by myself, every moment dwelling upon the subject of our affliction, my tears flow incessantly. Adieu, my beloved child. Preserve yourself for a mother who loves you tenderly."

Soon after this Josephine went for a short time to Malmaison. On the 2d of June Napoleon wrote to her from that place the following letter, inclosing also one for Hortense.

"MY LOVE,—I have learned of your arrival at Malmaison. I am displeased with Hortense. She does not write me a word. Every thing which you say to me of her gives me pain. Why is it that you have not been able a little to console her? You weep. I hope that you will control your feelings, that I may not find you overwhelmed with sadness. I have been at Dantzic for two days. The weather is very fine, and I am well. I think more of you than you can think of one who is absent. Adieu my love. My most affectionate remembrance. Send the inclosed letter to Hortense."

The letter to Hortense to which Napoleon refers, was as follows:

"Dantzic, June 2d, 1807.

"MY DAUGHTER,—You have not written me a word in your well-founded and great affliction. You have forgotten every thing as if you had no other loss to endure. I am informed that you no longer love; that you are indifferent to every thing. I perceive it by your silence. This is not right, Hortense. It is not what you promised me. Your child was every thing to you. Had I been at Malmaison, I should have shared your anguish. But I should also have wished that you would restore yourself to your best friends. Adieu, my daughter. Be cheerful. We must learn resignation. Cherish your health, that you may be able to fulfill all your duties. My wife is very sad in view of your condition. Do not add to her anguish."

The next day, June 3d, the Emperor wrote to Josephine:

"All the letters which come to me from St. Cloud say that you weep continually. This is not right. It is necessary to control one's self and to be contented. Hortense is entirely wrong. What you write me about her is pitiful. Adieu, my love. Believe in the affection with which I cherish you."

The next day Josephine wrote from the palace of St. Cloud to Hortense, who was then at the waters of Cauterets:

"Your letter has greatly consoled me, my dear Hortense, and the tidings of your health, which I have received from your ladies, contribute very much to render me more tranquil. The Emperor has been deeply affected. In all his letters he seeks to give me fortitude, but I know that this severe affliction has been keenly felt by him.

"The king arrived yesterday at St. Leu. He has sent me word that he will come to see me to-day. He will leave the little one with me during his absence. You know how dearly I love that child, and the solicitude I feel for him. I hope that the king will follow the same route which you have taken. It will be, my dear Hortense, a consolation to you both to see each other again. All the letters which I have received from him since his departure are full of his attachment for you. Your heart is too affectionate not to be touched by this. Adieu, my dear child. Take care of your health. Mine can never be established till I shall no longer suffer for those whom I love. I embrace you tenderly.


Two days after this, on the 6th, the Emperor wrote the Empress:

"I am very well, my love. Your letter of yesterday gave me much pain. It appears that you are continually sad, and that you are not reasonable. The weather is very bad. Adieu, my love. I love you and desire to hear that you are cheerful and contented."

On the 11th of June, Josephine again wrote to Hortense:

"Your son is remarkably well. He amuses me much; he is so pleasant. I find he has all the endearing manners of the poor child over whose loss we weep."

Again she wrote, probably the next day, in answer to a letter from Hortense:

"Your letter has affected me deeply, my dear daughter. I see how profound and unvarying is your grief. And I perceive it still more sensibly by the anguish which I experience myself. We have lost that which in every respect was the most worthy to be loved. My tears flow as on the first day. Our grief is too well-founded for reason to be able to cause it to cease. Nevertheless, my dear Hortense, it should moderate it. You are not alone in the world. There still remains to you a husband and a mother, whose tender love you well know, and you have too much sensibility to regard all that with coldness and indifference. Think of us; and let that memory calm another well grounded and grievous. I rely upon your attachment for me and upon the strength of your mind. I hope also that the journey and the waters will do you good. Your son is remarkably well. He is a charming child. My health is a little better, but you know that it depends upon yours. Adieu. I embrace you.


On the 16th of June, Napoleon again wrote to Hortense from his distant encampment:

"MY DAUGHTER,—I have received your letter dated Orleans. Your griefs touch my heart, but I could wish that you would summon more fortitude. To live is to suffer, and the sincere man suffers incessantly to retain the mastery over himself. I do not love to see you unjust towards the little Napoleon Louis, and towards all your friends. Your mother and I had cherished the hope of being more than we are in your heart I have gained a great victory on the 14th of June. (Victory of Friedland) I am well and love you very much. Adieu, my daughter. I embrace you with my whole heart."

The above extracts from the private correspondence of Napoleon and Josephine reveal, more clearly than any thing else could possibly do, the anguish with which Hortense was oppressed. They also exhibit, in a very interesting light, the affectionate relationship which existed between the members of the Imperial family. The authenticity of the letters is beyond all possible question. How much more charitable should we be could we but fully understand the struggles and the anguish to which all human hearts are exposed.