“Now, Bourrienne,” said he, “you will be content—she is here! Don’t suppose that I have forgiven her—no not at all! No, I reproached her vehemently, and sent her away. But, what would you have?—when she left me, weeping, I went after her, and, as she descended the stairs with her head drooping, I saw Eugene and Hortense, who went with her, sobbing violently. I have not the heart to look unmoved on any one in tears. Eugene had accompanied me to Egypt, and I have accustomed myself to regard him as my adopted son; he is so gallant, so excellent a young man. Hortense is just coming out into the world of society, and every one who knows her speaks well of her. I confess, Bourrienne, that the sight of her moved me deeply, and the sobbing of those two poor children made me sad as well. I said to myself, ’Shall they be the victims of their mother’s fault?’ I called Eugene back. Hortense turned round and, along with Josephine, followed her brother. I saw the movement, and said nothing. What could I do? One cannot be a mortal man without having his hours of weakness!”
“Be assured, general,” exclaimed Bourrienne, “that your adopted children will reward you for it!”
“They must do so, Bourrienne—they must do so; for it is a great sacrifice that I have made for them!”
[Footnote 11: Bourrienne, vol. iv., p. 119.]
This sacrifice, however, had its recompense immediately, for Josephine had been able to set herself right, and Bonaparte had joyfully become convinced that the accusations of his jealous brothers had been unjust.
Hence it was that Bonaparte’s brothers wished to re move Hortense, since they knew that she was her mother’s main stay; that she, with her gentle, amiable disposition, her tact and good sense, her penetrating and never-failing sagacity, stood like a wise young Mentor at the side of her beautiful, attractive, impulsive, somewhat vain, and very extravagant mother.
It would be easier to set Josephine aside were Hortense first removed; and Josephine they wanted to get out of the way because she interfered with the ambitious designs of Bonaparte’s brothers. Since they could not become great and celebrated by their own merits, they desired to be so through their illustrious brother; and, in order that they might become kings, Bonaparte must, above all things, wear a crown. Josephine was opposed to this project; she loved Bonaparte enough to fear the dangers that a usurpation of the crown must bring with it, and she had so little ambition as to prefer her present brilliant and peaceful lot to the proud but perilous exaltation to a throne.
For this reason, then, Josephine was to be removed, and Bonaparte must choose another wife—a wife in whose veins there should course legitimate royal blood, and who would, therefore, be content to see a crown upon the head of her consort.