But how was he to be received? With what title was Napoleon’s step-son, the Viceroy of Italy, to be addressed? It would have been altogether too ridiculous to repeat the absurdity contained in Hortense’s letters-patent, and call Eugene “Viscount de Beauharnais;” but to accord him the royal title would have compromised the dignity of the legitimate dynasty. A brilliant solution of this difficult question suggested itself to King Louis. When the Duke d’Aumont conducted Prince Eugene to the royal presence, the king advanced, with a cordial smile, and saluted him with the words, “M. Marshal of France, I am happy to see you.”
Eugene, who was on the point of making his salutation, remained silent, and looked over his shoulder to see whom the king was speaking with. Louis XVIII. smiled, and continued: “You, my dear sir, are a marshal of France. I appoint you to this dignity.”
“Sire,” said Eugene, bowing profoundly, “I am much obliged to your majesty for your kind intentions, but the misfortune of the rank to which destiny has called me will not allow me to accept the high title with which you honor me. I thank you very much, but I must decline it.”
[Footnote 34: Memoires d’une Femme de Qualite, vol. i., p. 267.]
The king’s stratagem had thus come to grief, and Eugene left the royal presence with flying colors. He was not under the necessity of accepting benefits from the King of France, for his step-father, the King of Bavaria, made Eugene a prince of the royal house of Bavaria, and created for him the duchy of Leuchtenberg. Hither Eugene retired, and lived there, surrounded by his wife and children, in peace and tranquillity, until death tore him from the arms of his sorrowing family, in the year 1824.
MADAME DE STAEL.
The restoration, that had overthrown so many of the great, and that was destined to restore to the light so many names that had lain buried in obscurity, now brought back to Paris a person who had been banished by Napoleon, and who had been adding new lustre and renown to her name in a foreign land. This personage was Madame de Stael, the daughter of Necker, the renowned poetess of “Corinne” and “Delphine.”
It had been a long and bitter struggle between Madame de Stael and the mighty Emperor of the French; and Madame de Stael, with her genius and her impassioned eloquence, and adorned with the laurel-wreath of her exile, had perhaps done Napoleon more harm than a whole army of his enemies. Intense hatred existed on both sides, and yet it had depended on Napoleon alone to transform this hatred into love. For Madame de Stael had been disposed to lavish the whole impassioned enthusiasm of her heart upon the young hero of Marengo and Arcola—quite disposed to become the Egeria of this Numa Pompilius. In the warm impulse of her stormy imagination, Madame de Stael, in reference to Bonaparte, had even, in a slight measure, been regardless of her position as a lady, and had only remembered that she was a poetess, and that, as such, it became her well to celebrate the hero, and to bestow on the luminous constellation that was rising over France the glowing dithyrambic of her greetings.