But Napoleon was unrelenting. His family should not appear before the people as disregarding the sanctity of the marriage bond. For state reasons he had separated from his wife, and for state reasons he could not give his consent to the dissolution of the union of his brother and step-daughter. They must, therefore, continue to drag the chain that united them; and they did, but with angry hearts.
Louis returned to Holland in a more depressed state of mind than ever; while Hortense and her two children, in obedience to Napoleon’s express command, remained in Paris for some time. They were to attend the festivities that were soon to take place at the imperial court in honor of the marriage of the emperor with the Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. The daughter of the divorced empress, with the emperor’s sisters, had been selected to carry the train of the new empress on the marriage-day. Napoleon wished to prove to France and to all Europe that there was no other law in his family than his will, and that the daughter of Josephine had never ceased to be his obedient daughter also. Napoleon wished, moreover, to retain near his young wife, in order that she might have at her side a gentle and tender mentor, the queen who had inherited Josephine’s grace and loveliness, and who, in her noble womanhood, would set a good example to the ladies of his court. Hortense mutely obeyed the emperor’s command; on the 1st of April, 1810, the day of the union of Marie Louise with the emperor, she, together with his sisters, bore the train of the new empress. She alone did this without making any resistance, while it was only after the most violent opposition to Napoleon’s command that his sisters, Queen Caroline of Naples, the Duchess Pauline of Guastalla, and the Grand-duchess Elise of Tuscany, consented to undergo the humiliation of walking behind their new sovereign as humble subjects. And the emperor’s sisters were not the only persons who regarded the imperial pair with displeasure on the day of the marriage celebration. Only a small number of the high dignitaries of the Church had responded to the invitation of the grand-master of ceremonies, and attended the marriage celebration in the chapel in the Tuileries.
The emperor, who did not wish to punish his sisters for their opposition, could at least punish the absence of the cardinals, and he did this on the following day. He exiled those cardinals who had not appeared in the chapel, forbade them to appear in their red robes thenceforth, and condemned them to the black penitent’s dress.
The people of Paris also received the new empress with a languid enthusiasm. They regarded the new “Austrian” with gloomy forebodings; and when, on the occasion of the ball given by Prince Schwartzenberg in honor of the imperial marriage, a short time afterward, the fearful fire occurred that cost so many human lives and destroyed so much family happiness, the people remembered with terror that other misfortune that had occurred on the day of the entry of Marie Antoinette into Paris, and called this fire an earnest of the misfortunes which the “Austrian” would bring upon France and the emperor.