[Footnote 24: Memoires d’une femme de qualite, vol. i., p. 133.]
The royalists held meetings and formed conspiracies with but little attempt at concealment, and the minister of police, Fouche, whose eyes and ears were always on the alert, and who knew of everything that occurred in Paris, also knew of these conspiracies of the royalists; he did not prevent them, however, but advised caution, endeavoring to prove to them thereby the deep reverence which he himself experienced for the unfortunate royal family.
In the midst of all this confusion and anxiety, Queen Hortense alone preserved her composure and courage, and far from endeavoring, like others, to conceal and secure her treasures, jewelry, and other valuables, she determined to make no change or reduction whatever in her manner of living; she wished to show the Parisians that the confidence of the imperial family in the emperor and his invincibility was not to be shaken. She therefore continued to conduct her household in truly royal style, although she had received from the exhausted state treasury no payment of the appanage set apart for herself and children for a period of three months. But she thought little of this; her generous heart was occupied with entirely different interests than those of her own pecuniary affairs.
She wished to inspire Marie Louise, whom the emperor had constituted empress-regent on his departure for the army, with the courage which she herself possessed. She conjured her to show herself worthy of the confidence the emperor had reposed in her at this critical time, and to adopt firm and energetic measures. When, on the 28th of March, the terror-inspiring news was circulated that the hostile armies were only five leagues from Paris, and while the people were flying from the city in troops, Hortense hastened to the Tuileries to conjure the empress to be firm, and not to leave Paris. She entreated Marie Louise, in the name of the emperor, her husband, and the King of Rome, her son, not to heed the voice of the state council, who, after a long sitting, had unanimously declared that Paris could not be held, and that the empress, with her son and her council, should therefore leave the capital.
But Marie Louise had remained deaf to all these pressing and energetic representations, and the queen had not been able to inspire her young and weak sister-in-law with her own resolution.
“My sister,” Hortense had said to her, “you will at least understand that by leaving Paris now you paralyze its defence, and thereby endanger your crown, but I see that you are resigned to this sacrifice.”
“It is true,” Marie Louise had sadly replied. “I well know that I should act differently, but it is too late. The state council has decided, and I can do nothing!”
In sadness and dejection Hortense had then returned to her dwelling, where Lavalette, Madame Ney, and the ladies of her court, awaited her.