Queen Hortense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Queen Hortense.
of Istria was all that now afforded enjoyment to the broken-down old hero.  It was with intense delight that he heard the social grandeur and distinctions that had cost him so dear made ridiculous by this half-witted fellow, whose peculiar forte it was to jeer at the pomp that surrounded the governor, and imitate French elegance in a highly-burlesque manner; and when he did this, his poor princely friend’s delight knew no bounds.

On one occasion, after the poor fellow had been entertaining him in this manner, the Duke d’Abrantes threw himself, in his enthusiasm, in his friend’s arms, and invested him with the insignia of the Legion of Honor, by hanging around his neck the grand-cross of this order hitherto worn by himself.  The emperor had given Junot authority to distribute this order to the deserving throughout the provinces of Illyria and Istria, and the governor himself having invested this mad Diogenes with the decoration, there was no one who was competent to deprive him of it.  For weeks this mad fool was to be seen in the streets of Gorizia, parading himself like a peacock, with the grand-cross of the honorable order of the Emperor Napoleon, and, at the same time, uttering the most pointed and biting bon mots at the expense of his own decoration.  The duke often accompanied him in his wanderings through the town, sometimes laughing loudly at the fool’s jests, sometimes listening with earnest attention, as though his utterances were oracles.  Thus this strange couple passed the time, either lounging through the streets together, or seated side by side on a stone by the way, engaged in curious reflections on the passers-by, or philosophizing over the emptiness of all glory and grandeur, and over the littleness and malice of the world, realizing the heart-rending, impressive scenes between Lear and his fool, which Shakespeare’s genius has depicted.

After weeks of anxious suspense, the imperial message, relieving Junot of his authority, and placing the Duke of Otranto in his place, at last arrived.  The poor Duke d’Abrantes left Illyria, and returned to France, where, in the little town of Maitbart, after long and painful struggles, he ended, in sadness and solitude, a life of renown, heroism, and irreproachable integrity.



Gradually, the brilliancy of the sun that had so long dazzled the eyes of all Europe began to wax pale, and the luminous star of Napoleon to grow dim among the dark clouds that were gathering around him.  Fortune had accorded him all that it could bestow upon a mortal.  It had laid all the crowns of Europe at his feet, and made him master of all the monarchies and peoples.  Napoleon’s antechamber in Erfurt and in Dresden had been the rendezvous of the emperors, kings, and princes of Europe, and England alone had never disguised its hostility beneath the mask of friendship, and bent the knee to a hated and feared neighbor.  Napoleon, the master of Europe, whom emperors and kings gladly called “brother,” could now proudly remember his past; he had now risen so high that he no longer had cause to deny his humble origin; this very lowliness had now become a new triumph of his grandeur.

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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