I heard her Majesty, the Empress Josephine, relate one day that she had much difficulty in repressing a smile when, among a number of German princesses presented to her, one was announced under the name of Cunegonde [Cunegonde was the mistress of Candide in Voltaire’s novel of Candide.] Her Majesty added that, when she saw the princess take her seat, she imagined she saw her lean to one side. Assuredly the Empress had read the adventures of Candide and the daughter of the very noble baron of Thunder-Ten-Trunck.
At Paris, in the spring of 1806, I saw almost as many members of the Confederation as I had seen in the capitals of Bavaria and Wurtemburg. A French name had the precedence among these names of foreign princes. It was that of Prince Murat, who in the month of March was made Grand-duke of Berg and Cleves. After Prince Louis of Bavaria, arrived the hereditary prince of Baden, who came to Paris to marry a niece of the Empress.
At the beginning this union was not happy. The Princess Stephanie (de Beauharnais) was a very pretty woman, graceful and witty; and the Emperor had wished to make a great lady of her, and had married her without consulting her wishes. Prince Charles-Louis-Frederic was then twenty years of age, and though exceedingly good, brave, and generous, and possessing many admirable traits, was heavy and phlegmatic, ever maintaining an icy gravity, and entirely destitute of the qualities which would attract a young princess accustomed to the brilliant elegance of the imperial court.
The marriage took place in April, to the great satisfaction of the prince, who that day appeared to do violence to his usual gravity, and even allowed a smile to approach his lips. The day passed off very well; but, when the time came for retiring, the princess refused to let him share her room, and for eight days was inexorable.
He was told that the princess did not like the arrangement of his hair, and that nothing inspired her with more aversion than a queue; upon which the good prince hastened to have his hair cut close, but when she saw him thus shorn, she laughed immoderately, and exclaimed that he was more ugly a la Titus than he was before. It was impossible that the intelligence and the kind heart of the princess could fail to appreciate the good and solid qualities of her husband; she learned to love him as tenderly as she was loved, and I am assured that the august couple lived on excellent terms.
Three months after this marriage, the prince left his wife to follow the Emperor, first on the campaign in Prussia, and afterwards in Poland. The death of his grandfather, which happened some time after the Austrian campaign of 1809, put him in possession of the grand duchy, whereupon he resigned the command of his troops to his uncle the Count of Hochberg, and returned to his government, never more to leave it.
I saw him again with the princess at Erfurt, where they told me he had become jealous of the Emperor Alexander, who paid assiduous court to his wife; at which the prince took alarm and abruptly left Erfurt, carrying with him the princess, of whom it must in justice be said that there had been on her part not the slightest imprudence to arouse this jealousy, which seems very pardonable, however, in the husband of so charming a woman.