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Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

Chapter IV.

Bonaparte Is Made First Consul - Josephine's Tact In Public Life

Josephine realized fully that if her victory over her brothers-in-law
was complete, it could endure only during her own good behavior - that, if
she ever again gave them reason for complaining of her conduct, she
probably would have to suffer the full penalty of her wrong-doing. She
must have realized, too, that the supreme power she had once exercised
over Napoleon was at an end, that he could get along very well without
her. The absorbing passion of the Italian campaign had become the
comfortable, unexacting affection which would have been so welcome to her
in 1796. The change, if more peaceable, brought its dangers, she well
knew. It meant that if she kept him now, she not only must be
irreproachable in her life, but she must foster his affection by her
devotion, amuse him, stand by him in his ambition; she must be the suitor
now. There was no question in her mind that he was worth it. If there
ever had been, the wonderful enthusiasm of the people on his return from
Egypt would have dissipated the doubt. Her course was evident, and she
adopted it immediately, and applied herself to it with more seriousness
than she ever had given to anything before in her life. Indeed, the only
serious purpose consistently followed which is to be found in Josephine's
life is the resolve taken after the Egyptian campaign, unconsciously, no
doubt, to keep what remained to her of Napoleon's affection, to make
herself necessary to him.

An opportunity to show him how useful she might be in his career came
very soon. The coup d'etat of the 18th and 19th Brumaire (9th and 10th
November, 1799) resulted in Napoleon's being made First Consul in the new
government which took the place of the Directory. The Bonapartes went at
once to the Luxembourg Palace to live, and remained there until February,
when the Tuileries was made the Government House. As the First Lady of
the Land, Josephine was in a position where she could be an infinite harm
or help to her husband. Any flippancy, self-will, or malice in managing
the crowds of people she saw from day to day would have been fatal both to
her and to Napoleon. The tact she showed from the first in playing the
hostess of France was exquisite. That a woman who for thirty-seven years
had been the plaything of fate, who had shown no moral principle or high
purpose in meeting the crises of her life, whose chief aim had always been
pleasure, and whose only weapons had been her sweet temper and her tears,
should preside over the official society of a newly-formed government and
not only make no mistakes, but every day knit the discordant elements of
that society more close, is one of the marvels of feminine intuition and
adaptability.

No doubt but that with Josephine her perfect goodness of heart was at
the bottom of her tact. She had no malice, she much preferred to see even
her enemies happy rather than miserable, and though she might weep and
complain of their unkindness, if she had an opportunity she would do them
a favor. Her goodness impressed everybody. The most disgruntled, after
passing a few moments with the wife of the First Consul, went away
mollified, if not satisfied; and a second visit usually satisfied them.
She flattered the rough soldiers, when Napoleon, always eager to show
attention to the army, presented them to her, by her knowledge of their
deeds. She softened the suspicions of the radical Republicans by her
affectation of sans-culottism and her familiarity with the members of the
Girondin and Terrorist governments. She aroused hope among the
aristocrats that she would secure them favors from the government - was
she not one of themselves? Was not her first husband a viscount and a
victim of the guillotine. She really wanted everybody to be pleased, and
by her mere amiability she came as near as a human being can to pleasing
everybody.

She was wise, too, in her dealings with people. She never pretended
to know anything about politics - that was Napoleon's business; but if she
could do them a favor, she would; and straightway she wrote a note or took
her carriage to intercede, personally, for them. If she was refused, she
explained with much pains just why it was; if she succeeded, she was as
pleased as a child. Hundreds of her little notes soliciting favors, are
to be seen in the collections in Europe. Napoleon allowed her a free hand
in this matter, for he appreciated how purely it was good-will, not any
desire to mix in politics, which animated her. He realized, too, how
valuable to the First Consul it was to have some one who always made a
friend, whether she secured a favor or not.

No doubt much of Josephine's influence was due to her personal charm.
She was never strictly a beautiful woman, but her grace was so exquisite,
her toilet so perfect, her expression so winning, that defects were
forgotten in the delight of her personality. Madame de Remusat, in
describing Josephine, says that without being beautiful, she possessed a
peculiar charm. Her features were fine and harmonious; her expression was
pleasant; her mouth, which was small, concealed skilfully her poor teeth;
her complexion, which was rather dark, was helped out by rouge and powder;
her form was perfect, her limbs being supple and delicate, and every
movement of her body was easy. "I never knew anyone," Mme. de Remusat
writes, "to whom one could apply more appropriately La Fontaine's verse,
'Et la grace, plus belle encore que la beaute.'"

One of Josephine's greatest charms was her voice: it was soft, well
modulated, and very musical; it always put Napoleon under a peculiar
spell. She was an excellent reader, and seemed never to tire of reading
aloud. In the intimacy of their apartments she spent much time reading
aloud to Napoleon, and often, when he was sleepless after a hard day, she
would sit by his bed with a book until he fell asleep. Many of those who
heard her read have said that the charm of her voice was such that one
forgot entirely what she was saying and listened simply to the music of
the sound.

Constant says, in describing Josephine: "She was of medium height and
of a rarely perfect form; her movements were supple and light, making her
walk something fairylike, without preventing a certain majesty becoming to
a sovereign; her face changed with every thought of her soul, and never
lost its charming sweetness; in pleasure as in sorrow she was always
beautiful to look upon. There never was a woman who demonstrated better
than she that 'the eyes are the mirror of the soul;' hers were of a deep
blue, and almost always half closed by her long lids, which were slightly
arched and bordered with the most beautiful lashes in the world. Her hair
was very beautiful, long and soft; she liked to dress it in the morning
with a red Madras handkerchief, which gave her a Creole air, most piquant
to see."

Josephine showed her wisdom, from the beginning of the Consulate, in
yielding to Napoleon's wishes about whom she should receive. The First
Consul's notions of official society were severe and well-matured. Nobody
should be admitted that did not support his government. At least, if they
criticised, they must do so quietly. The army must be honored there
before all. The Republicans must be made to feel, of course, that this
was their society. The aristocrats must be encouraged just as far as it
could be done without giving the people alarm. A fusion of all elements
was really what he aimed at, but nobody dared mention that fact.
Josephine's intuition seems to have guided her almost unerringly through
the difficult task of giving just the right amount of encouragement and
attention to each.

Above all, in this new society there must be no irregularities, no
scandals. The government must be respectable. There should be no
speculators, no contractors, no fakirs, no persons of immorality of any
sort; only honest people, and they must behave. Order, decency, and
dignity were to prevail in the Consulate. No more impromptu suppers for
Josephine, no more dinners with Barras and Mme. Tallien and their like, no
more moonlight walks in the garden at Malmaison. La vie Boheme was ended,
and she was wise enough to accept the situation and make the most of it.

For nearly two years the entertainments over which Josephine presided
as wife of the First Consul were very simple. There were balls and
parades and fetes, but they were conducted like such functions in a great
private house, where there is only the necessary etiquette to insure order
and comfort. It was a republican court which was held at the Tuileries
and at Malmaison - for the country home of the Bonapartes had come to be
almost an official residence, so much of their time was spent there and so
many were the visitors who came there. The place was a great delight to
Josephine. She was having the chateau rebuilt and the gardens laid out
over again, and she was indulging her caprices fully in doing it. She
must have a new dining-room, large enough to seat a great diplomatic
dinner party, if necessary. There must be a new billiard room, a new
library, new private apartments, more room for guests and servants, more
stable room. But to build over an old house in this elaborate way was no
easy task, particularly when the proprietor enlarged and changed his plans
each month. The architects warned Bonaparte that it would be cheaper to
pull down the old chateau than to rebuild, but the work was under way, and
it must go on. A year and a half after the repairs began, and before
anything was completed, the bills were sent in - $120,000 had already been
spent. "For what?" demanded the enraged First Consul. Protest as he
would the work had to continue. For years Malmaison was a constant
expense - for Josephine, never satisfied, was always enlarging and
changing. In the end, the chateau was nearly double its original size,
but its exterior never had any real distinction. The interior, however,
was most interesting from the great number of rare and beautiful art
objects which it contained and which, for the most part, Josephine had
either received as gifts or had brought from Italy. There was a wonderful
mantel of white marble, ornamented with mosaic, given to her by the Pope,
and there were vases of Berlin from the King of Prussia. There were rare
specimens of the ancient and modern works of all the Italian painters,
sculptors, potters, metal workers, and there were pictures by all the
great French artists of the day, among them many portraits of Napoleon -
in Egypt, in Italy, crossing the Alps.

Josephine took even more interest in the park and gardens at
Malmaison than in the chateau. She was passionately fond of flowers, and
immediately undertook to cultivate at Malmaison a garden of rare plants,
similar to that which Marie Antoinette had started at the Petit Trianon.
This soon became, at the suggestion of the professional botanists she
called in to assist her in collecting her plants, a veritable Botanical
Garden. She gathered from the world over, and her fancy becoming known,
ambassadors, merchants, and travellers, foreign and French, exerted
themselves to please her. In the end, thanks to the skillful gardeners
she secured, her plants became of large public value and interest. Masson
says that between 1804 and 1814, 184 new species of plants found their way
into the country through Josephine's garden. The eucalyptus, hybiscus,
catalpa, and camelia were first cultivated by her, not to speak of many
varieties of heather, myrtle, geranium, cactus, and rhododendron.

When she first owned Malmaison, the land was in park or in vines, and
there were some long avenues of fine trees. There was none of the
complicated English gardening which was then in fashion. Josephine would
have nothing else. So the fine allees and lawns were destroyed, and
groups of shrubs, long rows of hedges, a brook, lakes, winding paths, a
Swiss village, a temple of love, grottoes, a cascade, an endless variety
of artificial and sentimental devices, took their place. To decorate this
park of Malmaison to Josephine's liking, the government turned over to her
dozens of bronze and marble busts, vases, columns, and statues, some of
them of great value.

One curious and amusing feature of the park was the animals it
contained. Josephine was as fond of pets as of flowers. She always had
one or more dogs from which she was never separated - not even Napoleon
could make her give them up, much as he detested them. At Malmaison, she
gave free rein to her liking. Birds were her chief delight, and she
bought scores. In three years her bill for birds from one dealer was over
$4,500. The lakes were filled with swans, black and white, and ducks from
America and China; in the parks were kangaroos, deer, gazelles, a chamois;
there were monkeys everywhere; and there were no end of trained pets of
all kinds - usually gifts. None of these animals were of any practical
use; to be sure there was a flock of valuable sheep, but these were kept
merely as a decoration to a certain field, the shepherds who guarded them
having been brought in their native costumes from Switzerland.

Josephine's interest in her garden and flowers and animals was beyond
that of the mere prodigal who buys for the sake of buying and loses his
interest in possessing. One of the delights of her life at Malmaison was
visiting daily her animals, in each of which she took the liveliest
interest. Her flowers she watched carefully, and she took great delight
in distributing them. Many gardens in France to-day contain plants and
trees which are said to be grown from cuttings sent to some dead-and-gone
ancestor by Josephine.

During the first two years of the Consulate, in spite of all the
changes going on, Malmaison was the source of much brilliant life. Here
when the news of Marengo reached Paris, Josephine had tents spread, and
gave a great fete in honor of the victory; here gathered all the artists
and writers and musicians of the day; here eminent travellers came. There
was great simplicity in all entertaining, and when only the private circle
of the Consul was present, there was much went on which looked like
romping, Bonaparte and Josephine leading in the games.

The favorite amusement was private theatricals. Bonaparte was very
fond of the drama, had studied it carefully for many years, and he gave
much attention to the performances at Malmaison. The little company there
was very good, Hortense de Beauharnais and Bourrienne, Bonaparte's
secretary, being actors of more than ordinary ability. Something of the
care that was given to the preparation of an entertainment is indicated by
the fact that Talma himself used to come to the rehearsals to criticise.
Theatricals took such a place in the life at Malmaison that finally a
little theatre was built. It would seat perhaps 200 persons, and was
connected with the salons of the chateau by a long gallery.

At the Tuileries, the Bonapartes were in a Government House; at
Malmaison they were at home, and they never anywhere were so gay, so busy,
and so happy together. Certainly in these two years Josephine succeeded
admirably in her purpose of repairing the mischief she had done by her
past indiscretions. It was not alone her tact in society and its value to
him which had won Napoleon. It was that she had been to him an incessant
delight and comfort. She yielded to his will unquestioningly and
willingly, and this pliability was the more welcome because his own family
were in incessant opposition to his wishes. She was always on hand, ready
to walk, to drive, to go with him where he would. She was tireless in her
efforts to please the people he wanted pleased, to carry off successfully
the burdensome functions of official life, to provide the entertainment he
liked. She studied his tastes and foresaw his wants. She tried to please
him in the least detail. Napoleon loved to see her in white, hence she
wore no other kind of gown so often. He like to hear her read, and no
matter how tired she was she would sit at his bedside by the hour, if he
wished, and read uncomplainingly. Little wonder that as the weeks went
Josephine grew dearer and dearer to Napoleon or that she, seeing her hold,
watched carefully that nothing loosen it.

ces as well as among the people, is necessary.
Diminish your enemies. The influence of Rome is beyond calculation. It
was a great mistake to quarrel with that power. Had I been consulted I
should have delayed negotiations as I did with Genoa and Venice. Whenever
your general in Italy is not the centre of everything, you will run great
risks. This language is not that of ambition; I have only too many
honors, and my health is so impaired that I think I shall be forced to
demand a successor. I can no longer get on horse-back. My courage alone
remains, and that is not sufficient in a position like this."

It was in such a situation that Bonaparte saw the Austrian force
outside of Mantua, increased to fifty thousand men, and a new commander-
in-chief, Alvinzi, put at its head. The Austrians advanced in two
divisions, one down the Adige, the other by the Brenta. The French
division which met the enemy at Trent and Bassano were driven back. In
spite of his best efforts, Bonaparte was obliged to retire with his main
army to Verona. Things looked serious. Alvinzi was pressing close to
Verona, and the army on the Adige was slowly driving back the French
division sent to hold it in check. If Davidovich and Alvinzi united,
Bonaparte was lost.

"Perhaps we are on the point of losing Italy," wrote Bonaparte to the
Directory. "In a few days we shall make a last effort." On November 14th
this last effort was made. Alvinzi was close upon Verona, holding a
position shut in by rivers and mountains on every side, and from which
there was but one exit, a narrow pass at his rear. The French were in
Verona.

On the night of the 14th of November Bonaparte went quietly into
camp. Early in the evening he gave orders to leave Verona, and took the
road westward. It looked like a retreat. The French army believed it to
be so, and began to say sorrowfully among themselves that Italy was lost.
When far enough from Verona to escape the attention of the enemy,
Bonaparte wheeled to the southeast. On the morning of the 15th he crossed
the Adige, intending, if possible, to reach the defile by which alone
Alvinzi could escape from his position. The country into which his army
marched was a morass crossed by two causeways. The points which it was
necessary to take to command the defile were the town of Arcola and a
bridge over the rapid stream on which the town day. The Austrians
discovered the plan, and hastened out to dispute Arcola and the bridge.
All day long the two armies fought desperately, Bonaparte and his generals
putting themselves at the head of their columns and doing the work of
common soldiers. But at night Arcola was not taken, and the French
retired to the right bank of the Adige, only to return on the 16th to
reengage Alvinzi, who, fearful lest his retreat be cut off, had withdrawn
his army from near Verona, and had taken a position at Arcola. For two
days the French struggled with the Austrians, wrenching the victory from
them before the close of the 17th, and sending them flying towards
Bassano. Bonaparte and his army returned to Verona, but this time it was
by the gate which the Austrians, three days before, were pointing out as
the place where they should enter.

It was a month and a half before the Austrians could collect a fifth
army to send against the French. Bonaparte, tormented on every side by
threatened uprisings in Italy; opposed by the Directory, who wanted to
make peace; and distressed by the condition of his army, worked
incessantly to strengthen his relations, quiet his enemies, and restore
his army. When the Austrians, some forty-five thousand strong, advanced
in January, 1797, against him, he had a force of about thirty-five
thousand men ready to meet them. Some ten thousand of his army were
watching Wurmser and twenty thousand Austrians shut up at Mantua.

Alvinzi had planned his attack skilfully. Advancing with twenty-
eight thousand men by the Adige, he sent seventeen thousand under Provera
to approach Verona from the east. The two divisions were to approach
secretly, and to strike simultaneously.

At first Bonaparte was uncertain of the position of the main body of
the enemy. Sending out feelers in every direction, he became convinced
that it must be that it approached Rivoli. Leaving a force at Verona to
hold back Provera, he concentrated his army in a single night on the
plateau of Rivoli, and on the morning of January 14th advanced to the
attack. The struggle at Rivoli lasted two days. Nothing but Bonaparte's
masterly tactics won it, for the odds were greatly against him. His
victory, however, was complete. Of the twenty-eight thousand Austrians
brought to the field, less than half escaped.

While his battle was waging, Bonaparte was also directing the fight
with Provera, who was intent upon reaching Mantua and attacking the French
besiegers on the rear, while Wurmser left the city and engaged them in
front. The attack had begun, but Bonaparte had foreseen the move, and
sent a division to the relief of his men. This battle, known as La
Favorita, destroyed Provera's division of the Austrian army, and so
discouraged Wurmser, whose army was terribly reduced by sickness and
starvation, that the he surrendered on February 2d.

The Austrians were driven utterly from Italy, but Bonaparte had no
time to rest. The Papal States and the various aristocratic parties of
southern Italy were threatening to rise against the French. The spirit of
independence and revolt which the invaders were bringing into the country
could not but weaken clerical and monarchical institutions. An active
enemy to the south would have been a serious hindrance to Napoleon, and he
marched into the Papal States. A fortnight was sufficient to silence the
threats of his enemies, and on February 19, 1797, he signed with the Pope
the treaty of Tolentino. The peace was no sooner made than he started
again against the Austrians.

When Mantua fell, and Austria saw herself driven from Italy, she had
called her ablest general, the Archduke Charles, from the Rhine, and given
him an army of over one hundred thousand men to lead against Bonaparte.
The French had been reenforced to some seventy thousand, and though twenty
thousand were necessary to keep Italy quiet, Bonaparte had a fine army,
and he led it confidently to meet the main body of the enemy, which had
been sent south to protect Trieste. Early in March he crossed the
Tagliamento, and in a series of contests, in which he was uniformly
successful, he drove his opponent back, step by step, until Vienna itself
was in sight, and in April an armistice was signed. In May the French
took possession of Venice, which had refused a French alliance, and which
was playing a perfidious part, in Bonaparte's judgment, and a republic on
the French model was established.

Italy and Austria, worn out and discouraged by this "war of
principle," as Napoleon called it, at last compromised, and on October
17th, one year, seven months, and seven days after he left Paris, Napoleon
signed the treaty of Campo Formio. By this treaty France gained the
frontier of the Rhine and the Low Countries to the mouth of the Scheldt.
Austria was given Venice, and a republic called the Cisalpine was formed
from Reggio, Modena, Lombardy, and a part of the States of the Pope.

The military genius that this twenty-seven-year-old commander had
shown in the campaign in Italy bewildered his enemies and thrilled his
friends.

"Things go on very badly," said an Austrian veteran taken at Lodi.
"No one seems to know what he is about. The French general is a young
blockhead who knows nothing of the regular rules of war. Sometimes he is
on our right, at others on our left; now in front, and presently in our
rear. This mode of warfare is contrary to all system, and utterly
insufferable."

It is certain that if Napoleon's opponents never knew what he was
going to do, if his generals themselves were frequently uncertain, it
being his practice to hold his peace about his plans, he himself had
definite rules of warfare. The most important of these were:

"Attacks should not be scattered, but should be concentrated."

"Always be superior to the enemy at the point of attack."

"Time is everything."

To these formulated rules he joined marvelous fertility in stratagem.
The feint by which, at the beginning of the campaign, he had enticed
Beaulieu to march on Genoa, and that by which, a few days later, he had
induced him to place his army near Valenza, were masterpieces in their
way.

His quick-wittedness in emergency frequently saved him from disaster.
Thus, on August 4th, in the midst of the excitement of the contest,
Bonaparte went to Lonato to see what troops could be drawn from there. On
entering he was greatly surprised to receive an Austrian parlementaire,
who called on the commandant of Lonato to surrender, because the French
were surrounded. Bonaparte saw at once that the Austrians could be
nothing but a division which had been cut off and was seeking escape; but
he was embarrassed, for there were only twelve hundred men at Lonato.
Sending for the man, he had his eyes unbandaged, and told him that if his
commander had the presumption to capture the general-in-chief of the army
of Italy he might advance; that the Austrian division ought to have known
that he was at Lonato with his whole army; and he added that if they did
not lay down their arms in eight minutes he would not spare a man. This
audacity saved Bonaparte, and won him four thousand prisoners with guns
and cavalry.

His fertility in stratagem, his rapidity of action, his audacity in
attack, bewildered and demoralized the enemy, but it raised the enthusiasm
of his imaginative Southern troops to the highest pitch.

He insisted in this campaign on one other rule: "Unity of command is
necessary to assure success." After his defeat of the Piedmontese, the
Directory ordered him, May 7, 1796, to divide his command with Kellermann.
Napoleon answered:

"I believe it most impolitic to divide the army of Italy in two
parts. It is quite as much against the interests of the republic to place
two different generals over it. . . .

"A single general is not only necessary, but also it is essential
that nothing trouble him in his march and operations. I have conducted
this campaign without consulting any one. I should have done nothing of
value if I had been obliged to reconcile my plans with those of another.
I have gained advantage over superior forces and when stripped of
everything myself, because persuaded that your confidence was in me. My
action has been as prompt as my thought.

"If you impose hindrances of all sorts upon me, if I must refer every
step to government commissioners, if they have the right to change my
movements, of taking from me or of sending me troops, expect no more of
any value. If you enfeeble your means by dividing your forces, if you
break the unity of military thought in Italy, I tell you sorrowfully you
will lose the happiest opportunity of imposing laws on Italy.

"In the condition of the affairs of the republic in Italy, it is
indispensable that you have a general that has your entire confidence. If
it is not I, I am sorry for it, but I shall redouble my zeal to merit your
esteem in the post you confide to me. Each one has his own way of
carrying on war. General Kellermann has more experience and will do it
better than I, but both together will do it very badly.

"I can only render the services essential to the country when
invested entirely and absolutely with your confidence."

He remained in charge, and throughout the rest of the campaign
continued to act more and more independently of the Directory, even
dictating terms of peace to please himself.

It was in this Italian campaign that the almost superstitious
adoration which Napoleon's soldiers and most of his generals felt for him
began. Brilliant generalship was not the only reason for this. It was
due largely to his personal courage, which they had discovered at Lodi. A
charge had been ordered across a wooden bridge swept by thirty pieces of
cannon, and beyond was the Austrian army. The men hesitated, Napoleon
sprang to their head and led them into the thickest of the fire. From
that day he was known among them as the "Little Corporal." He had won them
by the quality which appeals most deeply to a soldier in the ranks -
contempt of death. Such was their devotion to him that they gladly
exposed their lives if they saw him in danger. There were several such
cases in the battle of Arcola. The first day, when Bonaparte was exposing
himself in an advance, his aide-de-camp, Colonel Muiron, saw that he was
in imminent danger. Throwing himself before Bonaparte, the colonel
covered him with his body, receiving a wound which was destined for the
general. The brave fellow's blood spurted into Bonaparte's face. He
literally gave his life to save his commander's. The same day, in a final
effort to take Arcola, Bonaparte seized a flag, rushed on the bridge, and
planted it there. His column reached the middle of the bridge, but there
it was broken by the enemy's flanking fire. The grenadiers at the head,
finding themselves deserted by the rear, were compelled to retreat; but,
critical as their position was, they refused to abandon their general.
They seized him by his arms, by his clothes, and dragged him with them
through shot and smoke. When one fell out wounded, another pressed to his
place. Precipitated into the morass, Bonaparte sank. The enemy were
surrounding him when the grenadiers perceived his danger. A cry was
raised, "Forward, soldiers, to save the General!" and immediately they
fell upon the Austrians with such fury that they drove them off, dragged
out their hero, and bore him to a safe place.

His addresses never failed to stir them to action and enthusiasm.
They were oratorical, prophetic, and abounded in phrases which the
soldiers never forgot. Such was his address at Milan:

"Soldiers! you have precipitated yourselves like a torrent from the
summit of the Apennines; you have driven back and dispersed all that
opposed your march. Piedmont, liberated from Austrian tyranny, has
yielded to her natural sentiments of peace and amity towards France.
Milan is yours, and the Republican flag floats throughout Lombardy, while
the Dukes of Modena and Parma owe their political existence solely to your
generosity. The army which so haughtily menaced you, finds no barrier to
secure it from your courage. The Po, the Ticino, and the Adda have been
unable to arrest your courage for a single day. Those boasted ramparts of
Italy proved insufficient. You have surmounted them as rapidly as you
cleared the Apennines. So much success has diffused joy through the bosom
of your country. Yes, soldiers, you have done well; but is there nothing
more for you to accomplish? Shall it be said of us that we knew how to
conquer, but knew not now to profit by victory? Shall posterity reproach
us with having found a Capua in Lombardy? But I see you rush to arms;
unmanly repose wearies you, and the days lost to glory are lost to
happiness.

"Let us set forward. We have still forced marches to perform,
enemies to conquer, laurels to gather, and injuries to avenge. Let those
tremble who have whetted the poniards of civil war in France; who have,
like dastards, assassinated our ministers, and burned our ships in Toulon.
The hour of vengeance is arrived, but let the people be tranquil. We are
the friends of all nations, particularly the descendants of the Brutuses,
the Scipios, and those illustrious persons we have chosen for our models.
To restore the Capitol, replace with honor the statues of the heroes who
rendered it renowned, and rouse the Roman people, become torpid by so many
ages of slavery - shall, will, be the fruit of your victories. You will
then return to your homes, and your fellow-citizens when pointing to you
will say, 'He was of the army of Italy.'"

Such was his address in March, before the final campaign against the
Austrians:

"You have been victorious in fourteen pitched battles and sixty-six
combats; you have taken one hundred thousand prisoners, five hundred
pieces of large cannon and two thousand pieces of smaller, four equipages
for bridge pontoons. The country has nourished you, paid you during your
campaign, and you have beside that sent thirty millions from the public
treasury to Paris. You have enriched the Museum of Paris with three
hundred chefs-'aeuvre of ancient and modern Italy, which it has taken
thirty ages to produce. You have conquered the most beautiful country of
Europe. The French colors float for the first time upon the borders of
the Adriatic. The kings of Sardinia and Naples, the Pope, the Duke of
Parma have become allies. You have chased the English from Leghorn,
Genoa, and Corsica. You have yet to march against the Emperor of
Austria."

His approval was their greatest joy. Let him speak a word of praise
to a regiment, and they embroidered it on their banners. "I was at ease,
the Thirty-second was there," was on the flag of that regiment. Over the
Fifty-seventh floated a name Napoleon had called them by, "The terrible
Fifty-seventh."

His displeasure was a greater spur than his approval. He said to a
corps which had retreated in disorder: "Soldiers, you have displeased me.
You have shown neither courage nor constancy, but have yielded positions
where a handful of men might have defied an army. You are no longer
French soldiers. Let it be written on their colors, 'They no longer form
part of the Army of Italy.'" A veteran pleaded that they be placed in the
van, and during the rest of the campaign no regiment was more
distinguished.

The effect of his genius was as great on his generals as on his
troops. They were dazzled by his stratagems and manoeuvres, inspired by
his imagination. "There was so much of the future in him," is Marmont's
expressive explanation. They could believe anything of him. A remarkable
set of men they were to have as followers and friends - Augereau, Massena,
Berthier, Marmont, Junot.

The people and the government in Paris had begun to believe in him,
as did the Army of Italy. He not only sent flags and reports of victory;
he sent money and works of art. Impoverished as the Directory was, the
sums which came from Italy were a reason for not interfering with the high
hand the young general carried in his campaigns and treaties.

Never before had France received such letters from a general. Now he
announces that he has sent "twenty first masters, from Correggio to
Michael Angelo;" now, "a dozen millions of money;" now, two or three
millions in jewels and diamonds to be sold in Paris. In return he asks
only for men and officers "who have fire and a firm resolution not to make
learned retreats."

The entry into Paris of the first art acquisitions made a profound
impression on the people:

"The procession of enormous cars, drawn by richly caparisoned horses,
was divided into four sections. First came trunks filled with books,
manuscripts, . . . including the antiques of Josephus, on papyrus, with
works in the handwriting of Galileo. . . . Then followed collections of
mineral products. . . . For the occasion were added wagons laden with iron
cages containing lions, tigers, panthers, over which waved enormous palm
branches and all kinds of exotic shrubs. Afterwards rolled along chariots
bearing pictures carefully packed, but with the names of the most
important inscribed in large letters on the outside, as, The
Transfiguration, by Raphael; The Christ, by Titian. The number was great,
the value greater. When these trophies had passed, amid the applause of
an excited crowd, a heavy rumbling announced the approach of massive carts
bearing statues and marble groups: the Apollo Belvidere; the Nine Muses;
the Laocoon. . . . The Venus de Medici was eventually added, decked with
bouquets, crowns of flowers, flags taken from the enemy, and French,
Italian, and Greek inscriptions. Detachments of cavalry and infantry,
colors flying, drums beating, music playing, marched at intervals; the
members of the newly established Institute fell into line; artists and
savants; and the singers of the theatres made the air ring with national
hymns. This procession marched through all Paris, and at the Champ de
Mars defiled before the five members of the Directory surrounded by their
subordinate officers."

The practice of sending home works of art, begun in the Italian
campaign, Napoleon continued throughout his military career, and the art
of France owes much to the education thus given the artists of the first
part of this century. His agents ransacked Italy, Spain, Germany, and
Flanders for chefs-d'oeuvre. When entering a country one of the first
things he did was to collect information about its chief art objects, in
order to demand them in case of victory, for it was by treaty that they
were usually obtained. Among the works of art which Napoleon sent to
Paris were twenty-five Raphaels, twenty-three Titians, fifty-three
Rubenses, thirty-three Van Dykes, thirty-one Rembrandts.

In Italy rose Napoleon's "star," that mysterious guide which he
followed from Lodi to Waterloo. Here was born that faith in him and his
future, that belief that he "marched under the protection of the goddess
of fortune and of war," that confidence that he was endowed with a "good
genius."

He called Lodi the birthplace of his faith. "Vendemiaire and even
Montenotte did not make me believe myself a superior man. It was only
after Lodi that it came into my head that I could become a decisive actor
on our political field. Then was born the first spark of high ambition."

Trained in a religion full of mysticism, taught to believe in signs,
guided by a "star," there is a tinge of superstition throughout his
active, practical, hardworking life. Marmont tells that one day while in
Italy the glass over the portrait of his wife, which he always wore, was
broken.

"He turned frightfully pale, and the impression upon him was most
sorrowful. 'Marmont,' he said, 'my wife is very ill or she is
unfaithful.'" There are many similar anecdotes to show his dependence upon
and confidence in omens.

In a campaign of such achievements as that in Italy there seems to be
no time for love, and yet love was never more imperative, more absorbing,
in Napoleon's life than during this period.

"Oh, my adorable wife," he wrote Josephine in April, "I do not know
what fate awaits me, but if it keeps me longer from you, I shall not be
able to endure it; my courage will not hold out to that point. There was
a time when I was proud of my courage; and when I thought of the harm that
men might do me, of the lot that my destiny might reserve for me, I looked
at the most terrible misfortunes without a quiver, with no surprise. But
now, the thought that my Josephine may be in trouble, that she may be ill,
and, above all, the cruel, fatal thought that she may love me less,
inflicts torture in my soul, stops the beating of my heart, makes me sad
and dejected, robs me of even the courage of fury and despair. I often
used to say, 'Man can do no harm to one who is willing to die;' but now,
to die without being loved by you, to die without this certainty, is the
torture of hell; it is the vivid and crushing image of total annihilation.
It seems to me as if I were choking. My only companion, you who have been
chosen by fate to make with me the painful journey of life, the day when I
shall no longer possess your heart will be that when for me the world
shall have lost all warmth and all its vegetation. . . . I will stop, my
sweet pet; my soul is sad. I am very tired, my mind is worn out, I am
sick of men. I have good reason for hating them. They separate me from
my love."

Josephine was indifferent to this strong passion. "How queer
Bonaparte is!" she said coldly at the evidences of his affection which he
poured upon her; and when, after a few weeks separation, he began to
implore her to join him she hesitated, made excuses, tried in every
possible way to evade his wish. It was not strange that a woman of her
indolent nature, loving flattery, having no passion but for amusement,
reckless expenditure, and her own ease, should prefer life in Paris.
There she shared with Madame Tallien the adoration which the Parisian
world is always bestowing on some fair woman. At opera and ball she was
the centre of attraction; even in the street the people knew her. Notre
Dame des Victoires was the name they gave her.

In desperation at her indifference, Napoleon finally wrote her, in
June, from Tortona:

"My life is a perpetual nightmare. A black presentiment makes
breathing difficult. I am no longer alive; I have lost more than life,
more than happiness, more than peace; I am almost without hope I am
sending you a courier. He will stay only four hours in Paris, and then
will bring me your answer. Write to me ten pages; that is the only thing
that can console me in the least. You are ill; you love me; I have
distressed you; you are with child; and I do not see you. . . . I have
treated you so ill that I do not know how to set myself right in your
eyes. I have been blaming you for staying in Paris, and you have been ill
there. Forgive me, my dear; the love with which you have filled me has
robbed me of my reason, and I shall never recover it. It is a malady from
which there is no recovery. My forebodings are so gloomy that all I ask
is to see you, to hold you in my arms for two hours, and that we may die
together. Who is taking care of you? I suppose that you have sent for
Hortense; I love the dear child a thousand times better since I think that
she may console you a little. As for me, I am without consolation, rest,
and hope until I see again the messenger whom I am sending to you, and
until you explain to me in a long letter just what is the matter with you,
and how serious it is. If there were any danger, I warn you that I should
start at once for Paris. . . . You! you! - and the rest of the world will
not exist for me any more than if it had been annihilated. I care for
honor because you care for it; for victory, because it brings you
pleasure; otherwise, I should abandon everything to throw myself at your
feet."

After this letter Josephine consented to go to Italy, but she left
Paris weeping as if going to her execution. Once at Milan, where she held
almost a court, she recovered her gayety, and the two were very happy for
a time. But it did not last. Napoleon, obliged to be on the march, would
implore Josephine to come to him here and there, and once she narrowly
escaped with her life when trying to get away from the army.

Wherever she was installed she had a circle of adorers about her, and
as a result she neglected writing to her husband. Reproaches and
entreaties filled his letters. He begged her for only a line, and he
implored her that she be less cold.

"Your letters are as cold as fifty years of age; one would think they
had been written after we had been married fifteen years. They are full
of the friendliness and feelings of life's winter, . . . What more can you
do to distress me? Stop loving me? That you have already done. Hate me?
Well, I wish you would; everything degrades me except hatred; but
indifference, with a calm pulse, fixed eyes, monotonous walk! . . . A
thousand kisses, tender, like my heart."

It was not merely indolence and indifference that caused Josephine's
neglect. It was coquetry frequently, and Napoleon, informed by his
couriers as to whom she received at Milan or Genoa, and of the pleasures
she enjoyed, was jealous with all the force of his nature. More than one
young officer who dared pay homage to Josephine in this campaign was
banished "by order of the commander-in-chief." Reaching Milan once,
unexpectedly, he found her gone. His disappointment was bitter.

"I reached Milan, rushed to your rooms, having thrown up everything
to see you, to press you to my heart - you were not there; you are
traveling about from one town to another, amusing yourself with balls. . .
. My unhappiness is inconceivable. . . . Don't put yourself out; pursue
your pleasure; happiness is made for you."

It was between such extremes of triumphant love and black despair
that Napoleon lived throughout the Italian campaign.

 

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