The nuptials of Bonaparte and Josephine followed, on the 9th of March, 1796; and the witnesses, besides Eugene and Hortense, Josephine’s children, were Barras, Jean Lemarois, Tallien, Calmelet, and Leclerq. The marriage-contract contained, along with the absolutely requisite facts of the case, a very pleasant piece of flattery for Josephine, since, in order to establish an equality of ages between the two parties, Bonaparte had himself put down a year older, and Josephine four years younger, than they really were. Bonaparte was not, as the contract states, born on the 5th of February, 1768 but on the 15th of August, 1769; and Josephine not, as the document represents, on the 23d of July, 1767, but on the 23d of June, 1763.
[Footnote 4: Bourrienne, vol. i., p. 350.]
Josephine acknowledged this gallant act of her young spouse in queenly fashion, for she brought him, as her wedding-gift, his appointment to the command of the Italian army, which Barras and Tallien had granted to her, at her own request.
But, before the young bridegroom repaired to his new scene of activity, there to win fresh laurels and renown, he passed a few happy weeks with his lovely wife and his new family, in the small residence in the Rue Chautereine, which he had purchased a short time before his marriage, and which Josephine had fitted up with that elevated and refined good taste that had always distinguished her.
One-half of Bonaparte’s darling wish was at length fulfilled. He had his house, which was large enough to receive his friends. There was now only a carriage to be procured in order to make the general the “happiest of men.”
But, as the wishes of men always aspire still farther the farther they advance, Bonaparte was no longer content with the possession of a small house in Paris. He now wanted an establishment in the country also.
“Look me up a little place in your beautiful valley of the Yonne,” he wrote about this time to Bourrienne, who was then living on his property near Sens; “and as soon as I get the money, I will buy it. Then I will retire to it. Now, don’t forget that I do not want any of the national domains.”
[Footnote 5: Bourrienne, vol. i., p. 103.]
As for the carriage, the peace of Campo Formio brought the victorious General Bonaparte a magnificent team of six gray horses, which was a present to the general of the French Republic from the Emperor of Austria, who did not dream that, scarcely ten years later, he would have him for a son-in-law.
These superb grays, however, were—excepting the laurels of Arcola, Marengo, and Mantua, the only spoils of war that Bonaparte brought back with him from his famous Italian campaign—the only gift which the general had not refused to accept.
It is true that the six grays could not be very conveniently hitched to a simple private carriage, but they had an imposing look attached to the gilded coach of state in which, a year later, the first consul made his solemn entry into the Tuileries.