[Footnote 26: Cochelet, vol. i., pp. 275-277.]
CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE QUEEN AND LOUISE DE COCHELET.
In the meanwhile, Hortense was still living with her mother in Novara, firmly resolved to remain in her retirement, sorrowing over the fate of the imperial house, but quite indifferent as to her own fate.
But her friends—and even in misfortune Hortense still had friends—and above all her truest friend, Louise de Cochelet, busied themselves all the more about her future, endeavoring to rescue out of the general wreck of the imperial house at least a few fragments for the queen.
Louise de Cochelet was still sojourning in Paris, and the letters which she daily wrote to the queen at Novara, and in which she informed her of all that was taking place in the city, are so true a picture of that strange and confused era, that we cannot refrain from here inserting some of them.
In one of her first letters Louise de Cochelet relates a conversation which she had had with Count Nesselrode, in relation to the queen’s future.
“The Bourbons,” she writes, “have now been finally accepted. I asked Count Nesselrode, whom I have just left: ’Do you believe that the queen will be permitted to remain in France? Will the new rulers consider this proper?’ ‘Certainly,’ he replied, ’I am sure of it, for we will make it a condition with them, and without us they would never have come to the throne at all! It is not the Bourbons, but it is we, it is all Europe, that arranges and regulates these matters. I therefore trust that they will never violate the agreement. Rest assured that the Emperor Alexander will always support the right.’
“All of these strangers here speak of you, madame, with great enthusiasm. Metternich, who doubtlessly recollects your great kindness to his wife and children, inquired after you with lively interest. Prince Leopold is devotedly attached to yourself and the Empress Josephine, and ardently desires to be able to serve you both. Count Nesselrode thinks it would be well for you to write to the Emperor Alexander, as he takes so warm an interest in your affairs.
“The old nobility is already much discontented; it considers itself debased, because it sees itself mixed with so many new elements.”
“Come to Malmaison with the empress,” she writes a few days later, “the Emperor Alexander will then go there at once to meet you; he is anxious to make your acquaintance, and you already owe him some thanks, as he devotes himself to your interests as though they were his own. The Duke of Vicenza, who demeans himself so worthily with regard to the Emperor Napoleon, requests me to inform you that the future of your children depends on your coming to Malmaison.
“The Emperor Napoleon has signed an agreement, that secures the future of all the members of his family; you can remain in France, and retain your titles. You are to have for yourself and children an income of four hundred thousand francs.