Page images
PDF
EPUB

she resolved not to alter now. The Emperor received her unkindly, and blamed her for having remained in France among his enemies: she merely bowed her head, and left it to time to justify her conduct. The Emperor was speedily appeased, and regarded her with more affection than before.

During the Hundred Days, Hortense was really the empress, and her first act was to obtain from her father a pension for the Duchess of Orleans, mother of Louis Philippe, who had been unable to leave Paris owing to a fracture of her leg. She shortly after extended the same favour to the Duchess of Bourbon, who implored her intercession. Hortense was the queen at the Champ de Mars, and her salons were once again the resort of all the first men in France. Benjamin Constant read there his "Adolphe," while Talleyrand seemed to have no other occupation than inventing fresh social games to amuse the queen and the ladies assembled around her.

We need not dwell on Waterloo: suffice it to say, that Napoleon, when he made up his mind to proceed to Rochefort and embark for America, resided for a while at Malmaison, where he took a last farewell of Hortense and her sons. The queen handed him a belt, which she requested him to wear round his waist: he demanded what it contained, and, after long hesitation, Hortense confessed that she had sewn up her diamonds in it, which she hoped would be of use to him hereafter. At first the Emperor declined to accept the costly gift, but, fearful of wounding his daughter's feelings, he made her the happiest of women-for she had been able to requite a portion of the generosity Napoleon had ever displayed towards her.

The last person the Emperor saw at Malmaison was his mother, and the interview took place in the presence of Talma, who had glided in, under the disguise of a National Guard, to bid farewell to his beloved master. He has recorded for us the parting scene of mother and son, worthy of the most noble days of Sparta; how Madame Letitia stretched forth her hand, with the words, " Adieu, mon fils!" and Napoleon, after looking his mother fixedly in the face for a few seconds, said, with the stoicism of a Red Indian, "Adieu, ma mère!" and slowly quitted the room for ever.

For the second time the Bourbons returned to France, but their resolve was, on this occasion, vengeance. Louis XVIII. re-entered the palace of his ancestors to punish and reward, but the idea of mercy was banished from his thoughts. His whole fury was concentrated on Hortense, whom he had been taught to regard as the head of the conspiracy that brought Napoleon back, and he requested it as a personal favour of Alexander that he should not intercede in her behalf. She was compelled to quit Paris by order of the Prussian general Von Muffling, and proceeded to Geneva, not without danger of her life. But there was no resting-place for her: the French envoy in Switzerland would not tolerate a defenceless woman so near the French frontier, and when asked whither she would proceed, she replied, in her despair, "Throw me into the lake, and there will be an end of all my troubles."

But Hortense soon regained her equanimity, and proceeded to Aix, in Savoy, where the most terrible blow that fate reserved for her fell upon Nov.-VOL. CXXIII. NO. CCCCXCI.

2 B

her. She had lost her cause against her husband, and had been condemned to give up to him her elder son, Napoleon Louis. He sent for the boy, and Hortense surrendered him. All her hopes were thenceforward concentrated in her second son, who has attained a position which she could hardly have entreated for him in her prayers. But Louis Napoleon cannot forget how much he owes to the teaching of that devoted mother, who was his guardian angel, and sacrificed herself so repeatedly for him.

Fate at length appeared weary of persecuting the poor Duchess of St. Leu. She was allowed a few peaceful years in the canton of Thurgau, at her pleasant château of Arenenberg, but they were troubled by painful interludes. In 1821, the Emperor died on the rock of St. Helena; in 1824, Hortense lost her only brother, Eugène. Nothing was then left her to love but her two sons, who prospered in health and strength, although banished from their fatherland, and compelled to lead an inactive life.

At length came the year 1830, and there seemed a chance of revenge for the Napoleons. France hurled down the throne of the Bourbons, but the nation feared the revolution too much to desire a republic. They turned their eyes to the nearest relative of the throne, and Louis Philippe gratified their pride by restoring the tricolor, which reminded them of such mighty deeds. He brought back to Paris the ashes of Napoleon, and replaced his statue on the Place Vendôme, but his nephews must still remain in banishment. For such was the sole condition on which the European powers would recognise the new king, for, as Metternich said, "it was a question of legitimacy, not to suffer a Napoleon again on the throne of France." So Louis Philippe very calmly purchased his recognition by a renewed decree of banishment against the Napoleonides.

This was a terrible blow for their ambition, and the two young men resolved to try their hand elsewhere. Although separated, they kept up an eager correspondence, and when Hortense, in 1830, on her periodical visit to Rome, remained for a while in Florence, the brothers agreed as to their future course. Louis Napoleon accompanied his mother to Rome, and his presence was the signal for effervescence. So far did this proceed, that the Papal government ordered him from the city, and the only friend who stood up for him was the envoy of Russia: we all know how Louis Napoleon repaid this act of kindness in the Crimea.

When the Italian revolution broke out in Modena, the two brothers joined the insurrectionists. Their relations were in a horrible state of suspense about them, and succeeded in getting them removed from the staff of General Menotti; but they joined the insurgents as volunteers. So soon as Hortense heard that the Austrians were on the march, she started in search of her sons, determined to save them or to die. She arrived at Pesaro, after undergoing countless difficulties, and found her sons there; but one of them lay a corpse in a village inn.

But Hortense had no time to bewail him: she must save the last joy left her. With Louis Napoleon she proceeded to Ancona, resolved to embark for Corfu, and throw herself on the mercy of the English. But that chance had to be given up, for Louis Napoleon had scarce reached Ancona ere he was attacked by small-pox, and brought to death's door.

Here was a position: the Austrians were within two days' march, and Hortense could not remove her darling son under a week, said the physicians. But she did not lose her presence of mind: she sent his baggage aboard, and resolved to spread the report that he had followed. In the mean while she kept her son in the innermost apartments, and watched over him herself.

But she had a fearful week to pass through: the Austrian commanderin-chief took up his head-quarters in her palazzo, and malicious fate decreed that his sleeping apartment was next to that in which Louis Napoleon lay in the fever phantasms of small-pox. Whenever he coughed his head was concealed under blankets, and if he spoke it must be in a whisper, through fear of arousing the suspicions of the Austrian, who had solely been prevented paying his respects to the duchess because he was led to believe that she was the patient. At length the physician declared Louis Napoleon in a fit condition to move, and Hortense made a mighty resolve. In the determination to save her son, she decided that she would reach England through France, risking all the consequences of the rupture of her ban. She had already secured a passport through the kindness of an English nobleman, and the only chance of getting her son off was under the disguise of a footman..

They reached France, where a sentence of death awaited them, and passed their first night at Cannes. What reminiscences were connected with that place for Hortense! At Cannes it was that Napoleon landed on his return from Elba : from Cannes he started with a handful of troops on his march to Paris, which city he reached at the head of an army. Labédoyère and Ney had joined him there, and paid bitterly for yielding to their enthusiasm. What guarantee had Hortense that the same fate did not await her and her son? And yet she passed boldly on. been a friend to Louis Philippe's mother, and thought that gratitude might still exist in the world.

She had

It was a melancholy pilgrimage that Hortense undertook. She showed her son Fontainebleau, which had been the scene of her father's greatest triumph and greatest humiliation. Leaning on her son's arm, and wearing a thick veil lest any one should recognise her, the queen surveyed the appointments of the rooms, which were just the same as the imperial family had left them. What a reminiscence must it have been for Hortense when she entered the little chapel in which the mighty Napoleon had held the son, on whose arm she now leaned, over the baptismal font! Could the poor deserted widow believe that this son was once again to perpetuate the glories of Napoleonistic France? Perhaps so; for what will not mothers believe of their sons, though the latter rarely carry out the Alnaschar visions which every parent forms of her child?

Well, the pair arrived in Paris, and Hortense's first care was to apprise Louis Philippe of her arrival. What a fearful fright the poor old gentleman was in at the news! He could not crush the evil in the bud: he had not the heart to cut heads off: he was altogether too jolly a monarch to deal with a pair of conspirators such as he assumed Hortense and her son to be. And such, perhaps, they were, but it is impossible to say. Mamma behaved with the utmost propriety, and her son was most unfortunately taken ill just at the moment. It was impossible to turn them

out of France, but whenever they could make it convenient, and so on. The king of course saw the Duchess of St. Leu, and, with his tongue in his cheek, debited the most pleasant compliments. It is easy to imagine the agreeable way in which he accosted the fugitive. "Lord bless you!" (or the French equivalent), "I know what exile is, and it won't depend on me if yours is not alleviated." Of course he assured the that the sentence of exile against the Napoleons lay like a stone on his heart, and he magnanimously added, that the time was not far distant when the mere idea of banishment would be unknown in his kingdom.

queen

Hortense listened to all this somewhat in the fashion of a spendthrift who has taken a bill for discount to a Jew who holds his mortgage deeds, and yet she believed his promises. And the only result she obtained was that Louis Napoleon would be permitted to remain in France if he would change his name, but not a word about the owing money. But this Louis Napoleon thought a little too much: he at once agreed with his mother that the sooner they left France, for their honour and safety, the better.

In England the mother and son were comparatively happy, for all the first society of the land welcomed them. Had Hortense wished it, she might have been again a queen-that of fashion-but she had a stern resolve, which she was determined to follow. She would not compromise her son in any way; and she was in the right, for the Duchess of Berry was at that period in Bath, and could not believe but that a Napoleon must be intriguing in behalf of her son. So great, however, was the excitement her public appearance aroused among the crowned heads, that Hortense resolved to return to her pleasant Arenenberg. For this purpose she asked leave to pass through France, which was granted, and the couple visited most of the spots memorable in Napoleon's history.

At Arenenberg, Hortense rested from her sufferings, and spent a few comparatively happy years. Here she wrote the affecting account of her travels through Italy, France, and England, from which we have derived most of the previous details. In 1837, Hortense, the flower of the Napoleonides, died, wearied of her life, her misfortunes, and the exile in which she pined away. She bowed her head and went home to the great dead-to Napoleon and Josephine.

THE HISTORY OF THE FRENCH ARMY.

I.-FROM FRANCIS I. TO LOUIS XIV.

Ar the present moment, when the eyes of Europe are fixed with feverish expectation upon the magnificent army at the head of which Napoleon stands, and people are awaiting with bated breath the fall of the next crushing blow, it may be interesting to our readers to learn the gradual formation of that army, and through what phases it has passed ere it attained its present unexampled position. We purpose, therefore, in a series of papers, to tell the history of the French army, basing our narrative principally on a recently published work, though carefully collating our authorities, and will commence our inquiry with the sixteenth century, as any account of the feudal system subsisting prior to the formation of the regular army would lead us too far.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, then, which was a new era for the military institutions of France as well as for human learning, Louis XII. strove to introduce some order among the unsettled but necessary free-lances, and raise the character of the army generally. Before all, he induced gentlemen to dismount and join the infantry, and loaded with favours those who consented to serve in the train-bands, which he divided into companies of from 100 to 2000 men, so that he might have the means of recompensing, according to their merit or birth, the chiefs he placed at their head.

In 1499, he issued a decree ensuring the troops regular pay, so that they should no longer have an excuse for indulging in pillage-a lucrative mode of payment, which they regarded as one of their most precious privileges. Precautions were taken that the townsmen and villagers among whom they were quartered could promptly obtain justice. It was at first feared lest the rigour of this discipline might disgust the nobility, but it was not so: when they saw their pay assured, they readily ranged themselves under the new banners. To these wise measures Louis XII. partly owed his success in Italy. The victories of Agnadel and Ravenna, gained in spite of, or without the Swiss, over the best troops of Italy and Spain, showed that the value of the French infantry was increased tenfold when they saw themselves no longer despised. With a regular infantry, therefore, the French army was thoroughly organised. The cavalry were numerous and brilliant, the artillery formidable, and from the moment when the nobility dismounted and mixed with the villeins, the infantry was constituted. Bayard, the knight without reproach, was one of the first to offer this salutary example. It was in 1507, before Genoa, that this successful revolution was effected. It is not unimportant to describe the motives that led to this mighty change, especially in Bayard, who had on a previous occasion refused "to place himself in peril and hazard with footmen, one of whom is a cobbler, another a smith, a third a baker-in a word, base mechanics."

* Etudes sur l'Armée Française. Par A. Charpentier, Officier d'Infanterie. Paris J. Corréard.

« PreviousContinue »