« ElőzőTovább »
bassador had just arrived for the ceremo- | great timidity she evinced, which seemed nial of the morrow, and with the princes to please him. The ladies and gentlemen and princesses of the house of Bonaparte, of her household were presented the next some in full dress, others en deshabille, day, and on the following one the court waited in the grand hall to receive the left Compiègne for St. Cloud. There, on illustrious pair. Between ten and eleven the 1st of April, the civil marriage took signal guns announced their arrival. The place. The religious ceremony-after torches borne by the outriders were ex- the grand state entry into Paris tinguished by the fast-falling torrent, and performed in the great gallery of the but that there glimmered a réverbère here Louvre. It is remarkable that of the sevand there, to whose feeble rays were added eral cardinals who were required to assist those of the tallow candles doing duty for at the civil marriage, all, with the excepan illumination, all around the palace was tion of Cardinals Maury and Fesch, redarkness, notwithstanding the efforts of a quested to be excused from being present company of torchbearers to light the cor- at the nuptial benediction; alleging as a tége up the grand avenue. This untoward reason, that the pope's intervention had disarrangement of a programme thor- not been sought to dissolve the first maroughly studied by all who on the follow-riage. Napoleon refused to admit this as ing day were to take part in the ceremo- a valid excuse, and banished them to difnies created a great commotion in the ferent and distant departments of the palace. However, the empress having empire. He forbade them also to wear alighted, the princes and princesses of his that mark of their dignity the scarlet robe; family, with Prince Schwartzenberg and a high-handed proceeding that obtained one or two others, were hurriedly presented them the sobriquet of "the black cardito her by the emperor. They then retired, nals." together with the king and queen of Na- Accustomed to see the empress Joseples, to partake of a petit souper prepared phine invariably dressed with the most for them in the emperor's private apart- exquisite taste, the shortcomings of Maria ments. Although the presentations occu- Louisa in that respect were the more pied but a few minutes, the keen, scruti- strikingly apparent to Napoleon. Believ nizing eyes of the ladies discovered that ing himself to be a great connoisseur in the toilette of the German princess left such matters, he made a point of presiding much to be desired. Short waists and at the bridal toilette. The crown he se short petticoats were then in high favor, lected for the occasion (there were two) he but Maria Louisa wore a long-waisted saw properly placed on the bride's head dress, and the skirt of her gown, cut after by the mistress of the robes, and the ima fashion discarded in Paris a twelve- perial mantle gracefully arranged on her month or more, was too long by several shoulders. The train was borne by the inches. They remarked also that she was queens of Spain, Naples, Holland, and deficient in grace; that, considering her Westphalia, the grand duchess of Tusyouth, her embonpoint was excessive, and cany, and the Princess Borghese-all that on the whole (as described by Count these ladies, with the exception of the Metternich in a letter to his wife) "her queen of Westphalia (a princess of Bavaface was rather ugly than pretty.' Ma- ria), being royal by the grace of Napoleon. ria Louisa had a broad, full face with the The bridal presents prepared for Maria ugly Hapsburg mouth, and a peculiar up- Louisa were similar, though probably far ward slant in the position of the eyes that exceeding them in value, to those made gave to it a singular expression of affec- by Louis XVI. to Marie Antoinette. The tation. She was of about the middle municipality of Paris offered a complete height, but her figure was not symmetri- toilet service, including an armchair and cal, her arms being small and thin, and massive framed mirror, of silver gilt, of her bust and shoulders largely developed. exquisite design and elaborate workmanBut she was in the bloom of youth-in ship. In the course of the following year itself a charm had a very fair complex- a silver cradle, superbly wrought, was ion, an abundance of light chestnut hair, and a good set of teeth. Naturally she felt much embarrassment at being thus unceremoniously launched, as it were, for criticism into the midst of a group of ladies of the French court. The gallant attentions of the bridegroom were therefore needed to enable her to overcome the
added to this present. The marriage fêtes are said to have surpassed in splendor any that had preceded them in Paris. Yet these grand doings were but the prelude to still grander ones then in preparation. The imperial couple meanwhile returned to Compiègne, which, like all the royal residences of France, had been embel
temporary ball-room erected in the garden of the hôtel took fire. The efforts made to snatch away the burning portion gave movement to the rest of the decorations, and in an instant the whole were on fire, and the fragile ball-room in flames. The empress was safely removed, but several persons perished in the burning building; amongst others the Princess Schwartzenberg. The unfortunate termination of this fête naturally suggested the similar catastrophe at the marriage of Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. Many regarded it as an evil omen. Napoleon himself was struck by it, but blamed the police, who "should have been on the alert," he said, "to prevent any accident occurring." The melancholy event created however but a passing impression, and as fête succeeded fête speedily faded away.
lished and refurnished by Napoleon. Fine | Austrian emperor's name. One of the gardens were added to it, and many garlands suspended in the gallery of the needed improvements fully carried out. Josephine had passed the month of nuptial gaieties at Navarre. She now returned to Paris; for Navarre, with its fountains, lakes, and rivers running through its grounds, was found to be a damp and unhealthy residence. A large outlay was required to remedy this inconvenience, and to render the old château, that had long been neglected, a suitable abode for the imperial châtelaine and her retinue. Napoleon suggested that while the works were in hand she should go to Milan, where she was much beloved, and where, in the society of her son and daughter-inlaw, the sadness that preyed on her health and spirits might more readily be dispelled. She preferred an excursion to Switzerland. But at Geneva she was privately told that Napoleon was anxious to keep her at a long distance from the capital, if not actually out of France, in order to soothe the ruffled feelings of Maria Louisa, who had displayed some jealousy on finding that so much consideration was still shown to the "dame de la Malmaison," as she named her rival. Hortense sought an explanation from Napoleon, who was indignant at such intentions being attributed to him. Still he pressed Josephine to go to Milan; but as she did not then feel sufficiently reassured to obey him, she returned to her château of Navarre, and spent there the winter of 1810-11. But whether at Navarre, at La Malmaison, at the baths of Aix, or wherever Josephine was, there was the court of France and its empress. Though her health was beginning to fail and languor was creeping over her spirits, yet Napoleon's youthful bride could not supplant her, nor efface the impression which her goodness, grace, and fascination had made on the minds of those who had once spoken to or seen her. Of this Napoleon had full proof when, after Louis Bonaparte's abdication, he chose to visit Holland and Belgium, accompanied by Maria Louisa, as on a former occasion by Josephine. The latter won golden opinions both for herself and Napoleon; Maria Louisa for neither; but, ill at ease in the part she had to play, and stiff and reserved in her manners, she rather repelled than attracted.
Towards the end of May they returned to Paris, and on the 1st of June began the series of fêtes prepared in their absence. The most memorable of them, owing to the sad catastrophe attending it, was that given by Prince Schwartzenberg in the
The little leisure this unwonted round of dissipation left at Maria Louisa's disposal was occupied in learning to ride in the manège at St. Cloud, and in lessons with the professors whom Napoleon had appointed to teach her dancing, music, and painting. The mot d'ordre at court and in the capital was to study the wishes of the young empress, and to amuse her. But she was not liked by the ladies of the palace, towards whom her demeanor was cold and reserved. Indeed she scarcely knew how to be gracious, being of a dull and sluggish temperament, and having from childhood been hedged about with so much formal etiquette. Napoleon arranged her little evening reunions. Forty or fifty ladies only were admitted to them, and but twelve or fifteen at one time. They included the ladies of the palace and the households of the imperial family. He fancied that this sort of exclusiveness would attract the Faubourg St. Germain. But the Faubourg St. Germain was still French, lively, spirituel, and delighting in epigrammatic conversation. Maria Louisa could not converse, and cared not to hear others. Her receptions therefore were found amazingly dull; besides, no gentlemen were admitted. And what can be imagined duller than a party of ladies, expected to amuse and to feel amused by looking on at the turning round of the empress's ear; a feat she contrived in some way to perform, and seemed delighted to astonish her company by exhibiting her skill in accomplishing it. She however did not care for society. She preferred her tapestry-frame and a quiet chat in her boudoir with the Duchesse de
Montebello (Madame Lannes), the only | 1812, Napoleon and Maria Louisa leave
lady of Napoleon's court with whom she formed any intimacy.
Towards the end of 1810 both Maria Louisa and Napoleon were frequently occupied in giving sittings to Canova, who had visited France for the purpose of making a bust of the emperor. The famous sculptor had succeeded so admirably with the celebrated statue of the princess Pauline, as Venus, that he was now commissioned to execute one in white marble of Maria Louisa, as Concord. This he probably found a less perilous undertaking than that of the statue of the goddess of love-not being in danger, as he professed to be on that occasion, of failing to complete his work from falling distractedly in love with his model.
But although 1810 was drawing to a close the marriage fêtes were not yet ended. It was proposed to continue them until the first anniversary of the weddingday. However, the appointment of the Comtesse de Montesquieu, after the forms of the old régime, as gouvernante des enfants de France," reminded the nation that other fêtes were also impending, and on the 20th March, 1811, one hundred and one guns announced the birth of a King of Rome. Napoleon's highest aims seemed to be now attained- the establishment of his dynasty by the birth of an heir to the imperial throne. But dark clouds were beginning to gather on the northern horizon, heralding a tempest that was to lay low and destroy those lofty aims and hopes. The nation, however, regarded the new-born babe as a pledge of enduring peace, and rejoiced in his birth according ly. Never before, surely, was any child christened with so much pomp, ecclesiastical, civil, and military. The fronts of the houses on the line of procession were draped with tapestries, as at the Fête Dieu, and a double row of troops extended from the Tuileries to Notre Dame. All Paris was in the streets, and many persons had come from distant departments to obtain, if possible, but a glimpse of this child, on whom rested the hopes of the nation, and the hopes of its "fourth dynasty," as all unconscious, poor ill-fated child, of the hopes and fears he excited, he lay peacefully slumbering in his gouvernante's lap.
And now the mighty emperor who would seem to have been fulfilling the Mosaic injunction, Deut. xxiv. 5-must prepare for war. One more scene of glory and power has yet to be played, and its theatre is Dresden. On the 9th of March,
St. Cloud (he will have no political intrigues, he says; so takes her with him). A fine army, five hundred thousand strong, preceding and following in detachments, and by different routes, is shortly after encamped around the pleasant capital of Saxony. There, Maria Louisa again meets her father and her family. There too are assembled the kings and princes of the Rhenish Confederation, and with them the timid and humbled Frederick William III. of Prussia. All, professedly, are Napoleon's allies, but in reality his enemies, watching for the favorable moment for throwing off his yoke. But for the nonce, pleasure is the order of the day. The autocrat of the north alone has assumed a defiant attitude, and determines to maintain it. He must take the consequences of his temerity. On the 20th June war is declared, and "Forward" is the order given to Napoleon's mighty host, who with light hearts begin the march to their dreadful doom with the cry "To Moscow! to Moscow!" Maria Louisa accompanies her family to Prague for a month's visit, and General Count Neipperg- destined to play so important a part in her future-is appointed to attend her as chamberlain. On the 1st of July she returned to St. Cloud, and during the disastrous Russian campaign, though France was in so critical a position, she seemed not to feel it. Her German phlegm allowed her to work composedly at her tapestry, to trot about in the park of St. Cloud on her pony, and to follow very contentedly her humdrum daily round of occupations. She evinced but little interest in her son; Madame de Montesquieu seems to have usurped the mother's place in his affections. When she was willing to bestow a caress on him, the tall plume of feathers she was fond of wearing so frightened the child that he would turn from her and cling to his nurse.
In spite of Napoleon's efforts to withhold it, news of the real state of affairs in Russia reached Paris from private sources, and filled all hearts with gloom. Those who needed sympathy and consolation sought and received them from the empress Josephine, to whom Count Ségur by every opportunity sent authentic information. Most unexpectedly, however, on the night of the 12th December Napoleon arrived at St. Cloud, but only to prepare for another campaign. Maria Louisa was appointed regent, Cambacérès and Joseph Bonaparte carrying on the government in her name. The Senate expressed
There her perplexities returned, now urging her to attempt to join Napoleon at Fontainebleau, now alarming her with many fancied difficulties and dangers attending such a step. The abdication being signed, and Elba allotted to Napoleon, and Parma and Placentia to Maria Louisa, the emperor Francis despatched Prince Paul Esterhazy to inform his daughter of it, and to attend her to Rambouillet, where he proposed to meet her. Escorted by twenty-five Cossacks she arrived there on the 13th of April, still anxious and doubtful, and unable to decide on the best course to pursue. On the 15th Francis and his minister, Metternichnow created a prince of the empiremade their appearance, and a long private interview took place. The nature of the communications made to her did not transpire. She however seemed much distressed by them, and announced to her attendants that she purposed returning to Vienna, vid Switzerland and the Tyrol.
a wish that she and the King of Rome | A Russian general and an escort of Cosshould be crowned, in order that an oath sacks then conducted her to Orleans. might bind France to the heir to the throne. Napoleon replied that his treasure was wholly needed at that moment for supplies for his armies. Perhaps Josephine's "ineffaceable title" was to his mind an obstacle also. On the 15th of April, 1813, he left France for the army. His victories of Bautzen and Wurtzchen led to an armistice and the Congress of Prague; but hostilities were renewed on the 15th of August, Austria then joining the allies. Maria Louisa desired to mediate. Napoleon smiled - rancor and bitter antagonism had long subsisted between him and Austria, and was far too intense to allow either one or the other to be moved by a weak woman's tearful entreaties. Victory attended Napoleon's arms at Dresden; but cavalry was wanting to follow it up. Reverses ensued, defections also of the confederate princes, and at Leipzig the Saxon and Wurtemberg troops crossed over to the enemy on the field of battle. A skirmish or two, while retreating, when he put to the rout one of his deserting generals, ended this unfortunate campaign, and on the 9th of November the emperor once more reached St. Cloud.
Another army is wanted. The Senate assembles, and authorizes a levy of two hundred and eighty thousand conscripts. The troops are recalled from Spain; Ferdinand VII. returns to it; the pope is liberated and leaves for Rome. The New Year's day reception is numerously and brilliantly attended, the regency is renewed, and Joseph Bonaparte named lieutenant-general of the kingdom. Napoleon confides his wife and son to the protection of the National Guard during his absence. But he is destined to return to them no more, and embraces them for the last time on the morning of the 25th of January, when he sets out with a mere handful of veteran troops to join his youthful army. This short but wonderful campaign ended, as all know, with the entry of the allies into Paris on the 25th of March. Napoleon had directed-subject, however, to the course of events that the empress and the ministry should remove to Blois. Joseph advised her to remain in Paris to uphold her son's rights; but her father promising not to neglect them, she left forthwith-repenting having done so as soon as Blois was reached. At times she seemed desirous of sharing the fate and fortunes of Napoleon, but finally placed herself under the protection of the allies.
While awaiting the arrival of an Austrian guard of honor she received a visit from the emperor Alexander, who breakfasted with her. On the following day the king of Prussia arrived at Rambouillet; he, however, remained but a few minutes. Both wished to see the king of Rome, now called Prince of Parma. His little Majesty received them ungraciously, telling his nurse "qu'ils n'étaient pas beaux." Such visits, under the then existing circumstances, certainly showed a great want of delicacy of feeling, both in those who paid, and the lady who received them. A few days after, Maria Louisa left Rambouillet. The account of her journey, as given by one who accompanied her, reads like that of an excursion leisurely taken for pleasure. At the numerous places she stopped at arrangements had been made for her visiting every point of interest, and apparently much of her trouble was forgotten in the pleasurable excitement of travel. At Vi enna she was welcomed by her family and the people with extravagant signs of joy, as a victim snatched from the jaws of a monster; while about the same time 2nd of June, 1814-the empress Josephine, broken in health and broken-hearted at the fate of Napoleon, died suddenly at Malmaison.
Maria Louisa soon became aware that she and her son were prisoners, rigidly restricted from passing beyond the park of Schoenbrunn. The queen of Sicily, her
maternal grandmother and the sister of Marie Antoinette, was indignant at the manœuvres set on foot to detach her from Napoleon. "She should tie the sheets of her bed to the windows some night and escape in disguise. I would," she said; "for marriage is for life." She herself had, secretly, just fled from Sicily. But Maria Louisa had not her grandmother's energy. Tired of Schoenbrunn, she asked leave of her father to go to the baths of Aix. It was granted, and Count Neipperg attended her; but she could not take her son. The count was the illegitimate son of the Countess Neipperg, and was born in France in 1775. He was married to a woman whom he had seduced from her first husband, and who, with four or five children, was then living in retirement at Wurtemberg. He was reputed brave; having been wounded in battle and lost an eye. He was still a handsome man, of fascinating manners and distinguished air. Over the weak and irresolute Duchess of Parma he soon obtained complete ascendency. Through his influence she was led to subscribe to all the conditions with which the Congress hampered the grant - for her life only--of the sovereignty of the duchies of Parma and Placentia. "None of the race of Bonaparte," the allies declared, "could be allowed to bear sway in Europe." Therefore she renounced in her son's name his right to succeed her, and consented that he should be deprived of his baptismal name of Napoleon; that he should be brought up at the Austrian court, should be called Francis, Duke of Reichstadt, and that she should see him but once a year. All let ters from Napoleon were to be transmitted to her father, and although she did not consent to a divorce, she said "she would write and ask him to consent to a separation à l'aimable.”
These arrangements were about being completed when the startling news of Napoleon's return to France put an end to the Congress. On the morning following his arrival at the Tuileries the sweetscented violets, the first flowers of the spring, were brought in by the people in such quantities, as a symbol of their fidelity to him, that the gardens were covered with them, and the palace itself filled with their fragrant perfume. Confidently expecting Maria Louisa would rejoin him, every lady and élégante of the empire
wore on her dress, or carried in her hand, as a token of welcome, a bouquet of the large Parma violets. But if her affections were ever given to Napoleon, they were his no longer. Count Neipperg had supplanted him. His countess had obligingly died some few months before, after only two days' illness, leaving the count free to mingle gallantry with his duties as counsellor to the young duchess. But the spring and its fragrant flowers passed away, and when the summer sun shone on the Tuileries gardens their parterres were strewed with lilies, and the ladies' faded violet bouquets had given place to the flower that had become the fashion of the day. Waterloo decided the fate of Maria Louisa as well as that of Napoleon; and while he was on his way to perish at St. Helena, she was put into possession of her duchies, Count Neipperg being named her first minister, also grand master of her household. Of the liaison that ensued children were born before the death of Napoleon. When that event occurred a morganatic marriage_gave a tardy sanction to their union. The count was the absolute ruler of the duchies; but his administration is said to have been marked by great ability, moderation, and tolerance. He died of a painful disease in 1829, much regretted by the people. He was an irreparable loss to the duchess, who as a testimony of her grief and affection erected a magnificent monument to his memory. But she was incapable of taking up the reins of power after him. The people revolted, and she fled from Parma. Austrian troops escorted her back; but she was an object of deep resentment to her subjects, who, as she could not govern them, fell under the oppressive yoke of Austria.
In 1832 the death of the melancholy young Duke of Reichstadt occurred at Schoenbrunn, of consumption, in his 21st year. Maria Louisa died in 1847, aged 56. As Duchess of Parma she was merely an instrument of Austrian misrule in It aly. The very slight interest the French at any time took in her ceased altogether when, renouncing all claims on France, she again became an Austrian archduchess and her son was made an Austrian prince. She is now well-nigh forgotten, while Josephine's memory remains as imperishable in France as Napoleon's.
CATHERINE CHARLOTTE JACKSON.