His Majesty had this union annulled on the plea of minority, and made a decree forbidding the officers of the civil state to receive, on their registers, the record of the certificate of the celebration of the marriage of Monsieur Jerome with Mademoiselle Patterson. For some time the Emperor treated him with great coolness, and kept him at a distance; but a few days after the interview at Alexandria, he sent him to Algiers to claim as subjects of the Empire two hundred Genoese held as slaves. The young prince acquitted himself handsomely of this mission of humanity, and returned in the month of August to the port of Genoa, with the captives whom he had just released. The Emperor was well satisfied with the manner in which his brother had carried out his instructions, and said on this occasion, that “Prince Jerome was very young and very thoughtless, that he needed more weight in his head, but that, nevertheless, he hoped to make something of him.”
This brother of his Majesty was one among the few persons whom he really loved, although he had often given him just cause for anger.
Their Majesties remained more than a month at Milan, and I had ample leisure to acquaint myself with this beautiful capital of Lombardy. This visit was a continual succession of fetes and gayeties; and it seemed that the Emperor alone had time to give to work, for he shut himself up, as was his custom, with his ministers, while all the persons of his suite and of his household, whose duties did not detain them near his Majesty, were eagerly taking part in the sports and diversions of the Milanese. I will enter into no details of the coronation, as it was almost a repetition of what had taken place at Paris a few months before; and as all solemnities of this sort are alike, every one is familiar with the least details. Amid all these fete days there was one day of real happiness to me: it was that on which Prince Eugene, whose kindness to me I have never forgotten, was proclaimed viceroy of Italy. Truly, no one could be more worthy than he of a rank so elevated, if to attain it only nobility, generosity, courage, and skill in the art of governing, were needed; for never did prince more sincerely desire the prosperity of the people confided to his care. I have often observed how truly happy he was, and what genuine delight beamed from his countenance when he had shed happiness around him.
The Emperor and Empress went one day to breakfast in the environs of Milan, on a little island called Olona. While walking over it, the Emperor met a poor woman, whose cottage was near the place where their Majesties’ table had been set, and he addressed to her a number of questions. “Monsieur,” replied she (not knowing the Emperor), “I am very poor, and the mother of three children, whom I have great difficulty in supporting, because my husband, who is a day laborer, has not always work.”—“How much would it take,” replied his Majesty, “to make you perfectly happy?”—“O Sire, it would take a great deal of money.”—“But how much, my good woman, how much would be necessary?”—“Ah, Monsieur, unless we had twenty louis, we would not be above want; but what chance is there of our ever having twenty louis?”