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Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

 

 

Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

Chapter XI.

 

Opposition To Napoleon - The Establishment Of The Empire - King Of Italy

 

     While the preparation for the invasion was going on, the feeling

against England was intensified by the discovery of a plot against the

life of the First Consul.  Georges Cadoudal, a fanatical royalist, who was

accused of being connected with the plot of the 3d Nivose (December 24),

and who had since been in England, had formed a gigantic conspiracy,

having as its object nothing less than the assassination of Napoleon in

broad daylight, in the streets of Paris.

 

     He had secured powerful aid to carry out his plan.  The Bourbon

princess supported him, and one of them was to land on the north coast and

put himself at the head of the royalist sympathizers as soon as the First

Consul was killed.  In this plot was associated Pichegru, who had been

connected with the 18th Fructidor.  General Moreau, the hero of

Hohenlinden, was suspected of knowing something of it.

 

     It came to light in time, and a general arrest was made of those

suspected of being privy to it.  The first to be tried and punished was

the Duc d'Enghien, who had been seized at Ettenheim, in Baden, a short

distance from the French frontier, on the supposition that he had been

coming secretly to Paris to be present at the meetings of the

conspirators.  His trial at Vincennes was short, his execution immediate.

There is good reason to believe that Napoleon had no suspicion that the

Duc d'Enghien would be executed so soon as he was, and even to suppose

that he would have lightened the sentence if the punishment had not been

pushed on with an irregularity and inhumanity that recalls the days of the

Terror.

 

     The execution was a severe blow to Napoleon's popularity, both at

home and abroad.  Fouche's cynical remark was just: "The death of the Duc

d'Enghien is worse than a crime; it is a blunder." Chateaubriand, who had

accepted a foreign embassy, resigned at once, and a number of the old

aristocracy, such as Pasquier and Mole, who had been saying among

themselves that it was their duty to support Napoleon's splendid work of

reorganization, went back into obscurity.  In society the effect was

distressing.  The members of Napoleon's own household met him with averted

faces and sad countenances, and Josephine wept until he called her a child

who understood nothing of politics.  Abroad there was a revulsion of

sympathy, particularly in the cabinets of Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

 

     The trial of Cadoudal and Moreau followed.  The former with several

of his accomplices was executed.  Moreau was exiled for two years.

Pichegru committed suicide in the Temple.

 

     This plot showed Napoleon and his friends that a Jacobin or royalist

fanatic might any day end the life upon which the scheme of reorganization

depended.  It is true he had already been made First Consul for life by a

practically unanimous vote, but there was need of strengthening his

position and providing a succession.  In March, six days after the death

of the Duc d'Enghien, the Senate proposed to him that he complete his work

and take the throne.  In April the Council of State and the Tribunate took

up the discussion.  The opinion of the majority was voiced by Regnault de

Saint-Jean d'Angely: "It is a long time since all reasonable men, all true

friends of their country, have wished that the First Consul would make

himself emperor, and reestablish, in favor of his family, the old

principles of hereditary succession.  It is the only means of securing

permanency for his own fortune, and to the men whom merit has raised to

high offices.  The Republic, which I loved passionately, while I detested

the crimes of the Revolution, is now in my eyes a mere Utopia.  The First

Consul has convinced me that he wishes to possess supreme power only to

render France great, free, and happy, and to protect her against the fury

of factions."

 

     The Senate soon after proceeded in a body to the Tuileries.  "You

have extricated us from the chaos of the past," said the spokesman; "you

enable us to enjoy the blessings of the present; guarantee to us the

future." On the 18th of May, 1804, when thirty-five years old, Napoleon

was first addressed as "sire," and congratulated on his elevation to the

throne of the French people.

 

     Immediately his household took on the forms of royalty.  His mother

was Madame Mere; Joseph, Grand-Elector, with the title of Imperial

Highness; Louis, Constable, with the same title; his sisters were Imperial

Highnesses.  Titles were given to all officials; the ministers were

excellencies; Cambaceres and Le Brun, the Second and Third Consuls, bcame

Arch Chancellor and Arch Treasurer of the Empire.  Of his generals,

Berthier, Murat, Moncey, Jourdan, Massena, Augureau, Bernadotte, Soult,

Brune, Lannes, Mortier, Ney, Davoust, and Bessieres were made marshals.

The red button of the Legion of Honor was scattered in profusion.  The

title of citoyen, which had been consecrated by the Revolution, was

dropped, and hereafter everybody was called monsieur.

 

     Two of Napoleon's brothers, unhappily, had no part in these honors.

Jerome, who had been serving as lieutenant in the navy, had, in 1803,

while in the United States, married a Miss Elizabeth Patterson of

Baltimore.  Napoleon forbade the recording of the marriage, and declared

it void.  As Jerome had not as yet given up his wife, he had no share in

the imperial rewards.  Lucien was likewise omitted, and for a similar

reason.  His first wife had died in 1801, and much against Napoleon's

wishes he had married a Madame Jouberthon, to whom he was deeply attached;

nothing could induce him to renounce his wife and take the Queen of

Etruria, as Napoleon wished.  The result of his refusal was a violent

quarrel between the brothers, and Lucien left France.

 

     This rupture was certainly a grief to Napoleon.  Madame de Remusat

draws a pathetic little picture of the effect upon him of the last

interview with Lucien:

 

     "It was near midnight when Bonaparte came into the room; he was

deeply dejected, and, throwing himself into an arm-chair, he exclaimed in

a troubled voice, 'It is all over!  I have broken with Lucien, and ordered

him from my presence.' Madame Bonaparte began to expostulate.  'You are a

good woman,' he said, 'to plead for him.' Then he rose from his chair,

took his wife in his arms, and laid her head softly on his shoulder, and

with his hand still resting on the beautiful head, which formed a contrast

to the sad, set countenance so near it, he told us that Lucien had

resisted all his entreaties, and that he had resorted equally in vain to

both threats and persuasion.  'It is hard, though,' he added, 'to find in

one's own family such stubborn opposition to interests of such magnitude.

Must I, then, isolate myself from every one?  Must I rely on myself alone?

Well!  I will suffice to myself; and you, Josephine - you will be my

comfort always."

 

     A fever of etiquette seized on all the inhabitants of the imperial

palace of Saint Cloud.  The ponderous regulations of Louis XIV. were taken

down from the shelves in the library, and from them a code began to be

compiled.  Madame Campan, who had been First Bedchamber Woman to Marie

Antoinette, was summoned to interpret the solemn law, and to describe

costumes and customs.  Monsieur de Talleyrand, who had been made Grand

Chamberlain, was an authority who was consulted on everything.

 

     "We all felt ourselves more or less elevated," says Madame de

Remusat.  "Vanity is ingenious in its expectations, and ours were

unlimited.  Sometimes it was disenchanting, for a moment, to observe the

almost ridiculous effect which this agitation produced upon certain

classes of society.  Those who had nothing to do with our brand new

dignities said with Montaigne, 'Let us avenge ourselves by railing at

them.' Jests, more or less witty, and puns, more or less ingenious, were

lavished on these new-made princes, and somewhat disturbed our brilliant

visions; but the number of those who dare to censure success is small, and

flattery was much more common than criticism."

 

     No one was more severe in matters of etiquette than Napoleon himself.

He studied the subject with the same attention that he did the civil code,

and in much the same way.  "In concert with Monsieur de Segur," he wrote

De Champagny, "you must write me a report as to the way in which ministers

and ambassadors should be received. . . . It will be well for you to

enlighten me as to what was the practice at Versailles, and what is done

at Vienna and St. Petersburg.  Once my regulations adopted, everyone must

conform to them.  I am master, to establish what rules I like in France."

 

     He had some difficulty with his old comrades-in-arms, who were

accustomed to addressing him in her the familiar second singular, and

calling him Bonaparte, and who persisted, occasionally, even after he was

"sire," in using the language of easy intimacy.  Lannes was even removed

for some time from his place near the emperor for an indiscretion of this

kind.

 

     In August, 1804, the new emperor visited Boulogne to receive the

congratulations of his army and distribute decorations.  His visit was

celebrated by a magnificent fete.  Those who know the locality of

Boulogne, remember, north of the town, an amphitheatre-like plane, plain,

in the centre of which is a hill.  In this plain sixty thousand men were

camped.  On the elevation was erected a throne.  Hereby stood the chair of

Dagobert; behind it the armor of Francis I.; and around rose scores of

blood-stained, bullet-shot flags, the trophies of Italy and Egypt.  Beside

the emperor was the helmet of Bayard, filled with the decorations to be

distributed.  Up and down the coast were the French batteries; in the port

lay the flotilla; to the right and left stretched the splendid army.

 

     Just as the ceremonies were finished, a fleet of over a thousand

boats came sailing into the harbor to join those already there, while out

in the Channel English officers and sailors, with levelled glasses,

watched from their vessels the splendid armament, which was celebrating

its approaching descent on their shores.

 

     On December 1st the Senate presented the emperor the result of the

vote taken among the people as to whether hereditary succession should be

adopted.  There were two thousand five hundred and seventy-nine votes

against; three million five hundred and seventy-five thousand for - a vote

more nearly unanimous than that for the life consulate, there being

something like nine thousand against him then.

 

     The next day Napoleon was crowned at Notre Dame.  The ceremony was

prepared with the greatest care.  Grand Master of Ceremonies de Segur,

aided by the painter David, drew up the plan and trained the court with

great severity in the etiquette of the occasion.  He had the widest

liberty, it even being provided that "if it be indispensable, in order

that the cortege arrive at Notre Dame with greater facility, to pull down

some houses," it should be done.  By a master stroke of diplomacy Napoleon

had persuaded Pope Pius VII. to cross the Alps to perform for him the

solemn and ancient service of coronation.

 

     Of this ceremony we have no better description than that of Madame

Junot:

 

     "Who that saw Notre Dame on that memorable day can ever forget it?

i?  I have witnessed in that venerable pile the celebration of sumptuous

and solemn festivals; but never did I see anything at all approximating in

splendor the spectacle exhibited at Napoleon's coronation.  The vaulted

roof re-echoed the sacred chanting of the priest, priests, who invoked the

blessing of the Almighty on the ceremony about to be celebrated, while

they awaited the arrival of the Vicar of Christ, whose throne was prepared

near the altar.  Along the ancient walls covered with magnificent tapestry

were ranged, according to their rank, the different bodies of the state,

the deputies from every city; in short, the representatives of all France

assembled to implore the benediction of Heaven on the sovereign of on the

people's choice.  The waving plumes which adorned the hats of the

senators, counsellors of state, and tribunes; the!the splendid uniforms of

the military; the clergy in all their ecclesiastical pomp; and the

multitude of young and beautiful women, glittering in jewels, and arrayed

in that style of grace and elegance which is only seen in Paris; -

altogether presented a picture which has, perhaps, rarely been equalled,

and certainly never excelled.

 

     "The Pope arrived first; and at the moment of his entering the

Cathedral, the anthem antem Tu es Petrus was commended. commenced.  His

Holiness advanced from the door with an air at once majestic and humble.

Ere long, the firing of a cannon announced the departure of the procession

from the Tuileries.  From an early hour in the morning the weather had

been ben exceeding unfavorable.  It was cold and rainy,!m and appearances

seemed to indicate that the procession would be anything but agreeable to

those who joined it.  But, as if by the especial favor of Providence, of

which so many instances are observable in the career of Napoleon, the

clouds suddenly dispersed, the sky brightened up and the multitudes who

lined the streets from the Tuileries to the Cathedral, enjoyed the sight

of the procession without being being, as they had anticipated, drenched

by a December rain.  Napoleon, as he passed along, was greeted by

heartfelt expression expressions of enthusiastic love and attachment.

 

     "On his arrival at Notre Dame, Napoleon ascended the throne, which

was erected in front of the grand altar.  Josephine took her place beside

him, surrounded by the assembled sovereigns of Europe.  Napoleon appeared

singularly calm. clam.  I watched him narrowly, with a view of discovering

whether his heart beat more highly beneath the imperial trappings than

under the uniform of the guards; but I could observe no difference, and

yet I was at the distance of only ten paces from him.  The length of the

ceremony, however, seemed to weary him; and I saw him several times check

a yawn.  Nevertheless, he did everything he was required to do, and did it

with propriety.  When the Pope anointed him with the triple unction on his

head and both hands, hands.  I fancied, from the direction of his eyes,

that he was thinking of wiping off the oil rather than of anything else;

and I was so perfectly acquainted with the workings of his countenance,

that I have no hesitation in saying that was really the thought that

crossed his mind at that moment.  During the ceremony of anointing, the

Holy Father delivered that impressive prayer which concluded with these

words: 'Diffuse, 'Diffuse, O Lord, by my hands, the treasures of your

grace and benediction on your servant Napoleon, whom, in spite of our

personal unworthiness, we this day anoint emperor, in your name.' Napoleon

listened to this prayer with an air of pious devotion; but just as the

Pope was about to take the crown, called the Crown of Charlemagne, from

the altar, Napoleon seized it, and placed it on his own head.  At that

moment he was really handsome, and his countenance was lighted up dup with

an expression of which no words can convey an idea.

 

     "He had removed the wreath of laurel which he wore on entering the

church, and which encircles his brow in the fine picture of Gerard.  The

crown was, perhaps, in itself, less becoming to him; but the expression

excited by the act of putting it on, rendered him perfectly handsome.

 

     "When the moment arrived for Josephine to take an active part in the

grand drama, she descended from the throne and advanced towards the altar,

where the emperor awaited her, followed by her retinue of court ladies,

and having her train borne by the Princesses Caroline, Julie, Eliza, and

Louis.  One of the chief beauties of the Empress Josephine was not merely

her fine figure, but the elegant turn of her neck, and the way in which

she carried her head; indeed, her deportment altogether was conspicuous

for dignity and grace.  I have had the honor of being presented to many

real princesses, to use the phrase of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, but I

never saw one who, to my eyes, presented so perfect a personification of

elegance and majesty.  In Napoleon's countenance I could read the

conviction of all I have just said.  He looked with an air of complacency

at the empress as she advanced towards him; and when she knelt down, when

the tears, which she could not repress, fell upon her clasped hands, as

they were raised to Heaven, or rather to Napoleon, both then appeared to

enjoy one of those fleeting moments of pure felicity which are unique in a

lifetime, and serve to fill up a lustrum of years.  The emperor performed,

with peculiar grace, every action required of him during the ceremony; but

his manner of crowning Josephine was most remarkable: after receiving the

small crown, surmounted by the cross he had first to place it on his own

head head, and then to transfer it to that of the empress.  When the

moment arrived for placing the crown on the head of the woman whom popular

superstition regarded as his good genius, his manner was almost playful.

He took great pains to arrange this little crown, which was placed over

Josephine's tiara of diamonds; he put it on, then took it off, and finally

put it on again, as if no to promise her she should wear it gracefully and

lightly."

 

     The fate of France had no sooner been settled, as Napoleon believed,

than it became necessary to decide on what should be done with Italy.  The

crown was offered to Joseph, who refused it.  He did not want to renounce

his claim to that of France, and finally Napoleon decided to take it

himself.  A new constitution was prepared for the country by the French

Senate, and, when all was arranged, Napoleon started on April 1st for

Italy.  A great train accompanied him, and the trip was of especial

interest.  The party crossed the Alps by Mont Cenis, and the road was so

bad that the carriages had to be taken to pieces and carried over, while

the travellers walked.  This trip really led to the fine roads which now

cross Mont Cenis.  At Alessandria Napoleon halted, and on the field of

Marengo ordered a review of the manoeuvres of the famous battle.  At this

review he even wore the coat and hat he had worn on that famous day four

years before.

 

     By the time the imperial party was ready to enter Milan, on May 13,

it had increased to a triumphal procession, and the entry was attended by

most enthusiastic demonstrations.  On May 26 the coronation took place.

The iron crown, used so long for the coronation of the Lombard kings, had

been brought out for the occasion.  When the point in the ceremony was

reached where the crown was to be placed on Napoleon's head, he seized it,

and with his own hands placed it on his head, repeating in a loud voice

the words inscribed on the crown: "God gives it to me; beware who touches

it." Josephine was not crowned Queen of Italy, but watched the scene from

a gallery above the altar.

 

     Napoleon remained in Italy for another month, engaged in settling the

affairs of the country.  The order of the Crown of Iron was created, the

constitution settled, Prince Eugene was made viceroy, and Genoa was joined

to the Empire.

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