At Cannes they passed the first night. What recollections did this place recall to Hortense! Here it was that Napoleon had landed on his return from Elba to France; from Cannes he had commenced his march to Paris with a handful of soldiers, and had arrived there with an army. For the people had everywhere received him with exultation; the regiments that had been sent out against the advancing general had everywhere joyously gone over to his standard. Charles de Labedoyere, this enthusiastic adherent of the emperor, had been the first to do this. He was to have advanced against the emperor from Grenoble; but, with the exulting cry, “Vive l’empereur!” the entire regiment had gone over to its adored chieftain. Labedoyere had paid dearly for the enthusiasm of those moments; for, the for-the-second-time restored Bourbons punished his fidelity with death. Like Marshal Ney, Charles de Labedoyere was also shot; like the emperor himself, he paid for the triumph of the hundred days with his liberty and with his life!
Of all these names and events of the past, Hortense thought, while enjoying the first hours of repose in their room at an hotel in Cannes. Leaning back in her chair, her large eyes gazing dreamily at the ceiling above her, she told the attentive prince of the days that had been, and spoke to him of the days in which they were now living—of these days of humiliation and obscurity—of those days in which the French nation had risen, and, shaking its lion’s mane, hurled the Bourbons from their ancestral throne, and out of the land they had hitherto proudly called their own. On driving out the Bourbons, the people had freely chosen another king—not the King of Rome, who, in Vienna, as Duke of Reichstadt, had been made to forget the brilliant days of his childhood—not the son of the Emperor Napoleon. The people of France had chosen the Duke of Orleans as their king, and Louis Philippe’s first act had been to renew the decree of banishment which the Bourbons had fulminated against the Bonapartes, and which declared it to be a capital crime if they should ever dare to set foot on the soil of France.
“The people acted freely and according to their own will,” said Hortense, with a sad smile, as she saw her son turn pale, and wrinkles gather on his brow. “Honor the will of the people, my son! In order to reward the emperor for his great services to the country, the people of France had unanimously chosen him their emperor. The people who give have also the right to take back again. The Bourbons, who consider themselves the owners of France, may reclaim it as an estate of which they have been robbed by the house of Orleans. But the Bonapartes must remember that they derived all their power from the will of the people. They must be content to await the future expression of its will, and then submit, and conform themselves to it.”
[Footnote 62: The duchess’s own words. See La Reine Hortense en Italie, Suisse, France, etc., p. 79.]