Queen Hortense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Queen Hortense.

She first turned to Baden, whose duchess, Stephanie, was so nearly related to her, and from whose husband she might therefore well expect a kindly reception.  But the grand-duke did not justify his cousin’s hopes; he had not the courage to defy the jealous fears of France, and it was only at the earnest solicitation of his wife that he at last consented that Hortense should take up her residence at the extreme end of the grand-duchy, at Constance, on the Lake of Constance; and this permission was only accorded her on the express condition that neither the duchess nor her son should ever come to Carlsruhe, and that his wife, Stephanie, should never visit her cousin at Constance.

Hortense accepted this offer with its conditions, contented to find a place where she could rest after her long wanderings, and let the bleeding wounds of her heart heal in the stillness and peace of beautiful natural scenery.  She passed a few quiet, happy years in Constance desiring and demanding nothing but a little rest and peace, aspiring to but one thing—­to make of the son whom Providence had given her as a compensation for all her sufferings, a strong, a resolute, and an intelligent man.

Her most tender care and closest attention were devoted to the education of this son.  An excellent teacher, Prof.  Lebas, of Paris, officiated as instructor to the young prince.  She herself gave him instruction in drawing, in music, and in dancing; she read with him, sang with him, and made herself a child, in order to replace to her lonely boy the playmate Fate had torn from his side.

While reposing on her chaise-longue on the long quiet evenings, her boy seated on a cushion at her feet, she would speak to him of his great uncle, and of his heroic deeds, and of his country, of France that had discarded them, to be able to return to which was, however, her most ardent wish, and would continue to be while life lasted.  She would then inspire the boy’s soul with the description of the great battles which his uncle had won in Italy, on the Nile, on the Rhine, and on the Danube; and the quiet, pale boy, with the dark, thoughtful eyes, would listen in breathless suspense, his weak, slender body quivering with emotion when his mother told him how dearly his uncle had loved France, and that all his great and glorious deeds had been done for the honor and renown of France alone.

One day, while he was sitting before her, pale and trembling with agitation, his mother pointed to David’s splendid painting, representing Napoleon on the heights of the Alps, the genial conception of which painting is due to Napoleon’s own suggestions.

“Paint me tranquilly seated on a wild horse,” Napoleon had said to David, and David had so painted him—­on a rearing steed, on the summit of a rock which bears the inscription “Hannibal” and “Caesar.”  The emperor’s countenance is calm, his large eyes full of a mysterious brilliancy, his hair fluttering in the wind, the whole expression thoughtful and earnest; the rider heedless of the rearing steed, which he holds firmly in check with the reins.

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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