Queen Hortense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 285 pages of information about Queen Hortense.

CHAPTER X.

PILGRIMAGE THROUGH FRANCE.

The sojourn of the Duchess of St. Leu in England where she arrived with her son after a stormy passage, was for both a succession of triumphs and ovations.  The high aristocracy of London heaped upon her proofs of esteem, of reverence, and of love; every one seemed anxious to atone for the severity and cruelty with which England had treated the emperor, by giving proofs of their admiration and respect for his step-daughter.  All these proud English aristocrats seemed desirous of proving to the duchess and her son that they were not of the same disposition as Hudson Lowe, who had slowly tormented the chained lion to death with petty annoyances.

The Duchess of Bedford, Lord and Lady Holland, and Lady Grey, in particular, were untiring in their efforts to do the honors of their country to Hortense, and to show her every possible attention.  But Hortense declined their proffered invitations.  She avoided all publicity; she feared, on her own and her son’s account, that the tattle of the world and the newspapers might once more draw down upon her the distrust and ill-will of the French government.  She feared that this might prevent her returning with her son, through France, to her quiet retreat on the Lake of Constance, in Switzerland, to her charming Arenenberg, where she had passed so many delightful and peaceful years of repose and remembrance.

Hortense was right.  Her sojourn in England excited, as soon as it became known, in every quarter, care, curiosity, and disquiet.  All parties were seeking to divine the duchess’s intention in residing in London.  All parties were convinced that she entertained plans that might endanger and frustrate their own.  The Duchess de Berri, who resided in Bath, had come to London as soon as she heard of the arrival of the Duchess of St. Leu, in order to inquire into Hortense’s real intention.  The bold and enterprising Duchess de Berri was preparing to go to France, in order to call the people to arms for herself and son, to hurl Louis Philippe from his usurped throne, and to restore to her son his rightful inheritance.  They, therefore, thought it perfectly natural that Hortense should entertain similar plans for her son; that she, too, should purpose the overthrow of the French king in order to place her own son, or the son of the emperor, the Duke de Reichstadt, on the throne.

On the other hand, it had been endeavored to persuade Prince Leopold, of Coburg, to whom the powers of Europe had just offered the crown of Belgium, that the Duchess of St. Leu had come to England in order to possess herself of Belgium by a coup d’etat, and to proclaim Louis Napoleon its king.  But this wise and magnanimous prince laughed at these intimations.  He had known the duchess in her days of magnificence, and he now hastened to lay the same homage at the foot of the homeless woman that he had once devoted

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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