A universal jubilee of delight had seized upon the French. Each individual saw in Bonaparte renown and greatness reflected on himself. Every one regarded him as the most brilliant impersonation of his own inner personality, and, therefore, felt drawn toward him with a sort of reverential exultation.
Josephine gave herself up with her whole soul to the enjoyment of these glorious occasions. While Bonaparte, almost completely overwhelmed and disturbed, could have held aloof from these ovations of the people of Paris, they, on the contrary, filled the heart of his wife with pride and joy. While in the theatre, he shrank back, abashed, behind his wife’s chair when the audience, learning his presence, filled their noisy plaudits and clamored to have a glimpse at him, Josephine would thank the crowd on his behalf with a bewitching smile, and eyes swelling with tears for this proof of their regard, which to her seemed but a natural and appropriate tribute to her Achilles, her lion-hearted hero. But Bonaparte did not allow himself to be blinded by these demonstrations; and one day, when popular enthusiasm seemed as though it would never end, and the crowd were untiring in their cries of “Vive Bonaparte!” while Josephine turned her face toward him, glowing with delight, and called out, exultingly—“See, how they love you, these good people of Paris!” he replied, with an almost melancholy expression “Bah! The crowd would be just as numerous and noisy if they were conducting me to the scaffold!”
However, these festivals and demonstrations at length subsided, and his life resumed its more tranquil course.
Bonaparte could now once more spend a few secluded days of rest and calm enjoyment in his (by this time more richly-decorated) dwelling in the Rue Chautereine, the name of which the city authorities had changed to Rue de la Victoire, in honor of the conqueror at Arcola and Marengo. He could, after so many battles and triumphs, afford to repose a while in the arms of love and happiness.
Nevertheless, this inactivity soon began to press heavily on his restless spirit. He longed for new exploits, for fresh victories. He felt that he was only at the commencement, and not at the end of his conquering career; he constantly heard ringing in his ears the notes of the battle-clarion, summoning him to renewed triumphs and to other paths of glory. Love could only delight his heart, but could not completely satisfy it. Repose he deemed but the beginning of death.
“If I remain here inactive any longer, I am lost,” said he. “They retain the resemblance of nothing whatever in Paris; one celebrity blots out another in this great Babylon; if I show myself much oftener to the public, they will cease to look at me, and if I do not soon undertake something new, they will forget me.”
And he did undertake something new, something unprecedented, that filled all Europe with astonishment. He left the shores of France with an army to conquer, for the French Republic, that ancient land of Egypt, on whose pyramids the green moss of long-forgotten ages was flourishing.