The queen’s fate was the subject of great sympathy in all quarters. When, in one of the sessions of the ministers of the allies, in which the fate of France, of the Bourbons, and of the Bonapartes, was to be the subject of deliberation, the question of making some provision for the emperor’s family came up for consideration, the prince of Benevento exclaimed: “I plead for Queen Hortense alone; for she is the only one for whom I have any esteem.” Count Nesselrode added: “Who would not be proud to claim her as a countrywoman? She is the pearl of her France!” And Metternich united with the rest in her praise.
[Footnote 25: Cochelet, vol. i., p 279.]
But it was in vain that Louise de Cochelet imparted this intelligence to the queen; the entreaties and representations of her friends were powerless to persuade Hortense to leave her retirement and come to Paris.
The following letter of the queen, written to Louise, concerning her affairs, will testify to her beautiful and womanly sentiments. This letter is as follows:
“My dear Louise,—You and all my friends write me the same questions: ‘What do you want? What do you demand?’ I reply to all of you: I want nothing whatever! What should I desire? Is not my fate already determined? When one has the strength to form a great resolution, and when one can firmly and calmly contemplate the idea of making a journey to India or America, it is unnecessary to demand any thing of any one. I entreat you to take no steps that I should be compelled to disavow; I know that you love me, and this might induce you to do so. I am really not to be pitied; it was in the midst of grandeur and splendor that I have suffered! I shall now, perhaps, learn the happiness of retirement, and prefer it to all the magnificence that once surrounded me. I do not believe I can remain in France; the lively interest now shown in my behalf might eventually occasion mistrust. This idea is annihilating; I feel it, but I shall not willingly occasion sorrow to any one. My brother will be happy; my mother can remain in her country, and retain her estates. I, with my children, shall go to a foreign land, and, as the happiness of those I love is assured, I shall be able to bear the misfortune that strikes only at my material interests, but not at my heart. I am still deeply moved and confounded by the fate that has overtaken the Emperor Napoleon and his family. Is it true? Has all been finally determined? Write me on this subject. I hope that my children will not be taken from me; in that case I should lose all courage. I will so educate them that they shall be happy in any station of life. I shall teach them to bear fortune and misfortune with equal dignity, and to seek true happiness in contentment with themselves. This is worth more than crowns. Fortunately, they are healthy. Thank Count Nesselrode for his sympathy. I assure you there are days that are properly called days of misfortune, and that are yet not without a charm; such are those that enable us to discern the true sentiments people hold toward us. I rejoice over the affection which you show me, and it will always afford me gratification to tell you that I return it. HORTENSE.”