In the midst of all these rich uniforms, his was remarkable for its simplicity; but the diamond called the Regent, which had been put in pawn under the Directory, and redeemed a few days since by the First Consul, sparkled on the hilt of his sword.
In the month of May, 1801, there came to Paris, on his way to take possession of his new kingdom, the Prince of Tuscany, Don Louis the First, whom the First Consul had just made King of Etruria. He traveled under the name of the Count of Leghorn, with his wife, who was the infanta of Spain, Maria Louisa, third daughter of Charles the Fourth; but in spite of the incognito, which, from the modest title he had assumed, he seemed really anxious to preserve, especially, perhaps, on account of the poor appearance of his small court, he was, notwithstanding, received and treated at the Tuileries as a king. This prince was in feeble health, and it was said had epilepsy. They were lodged at the residence of the Spanish Embassy, formerly the Hotel Montessori; and he requested Madame de Montessori, who lived in the next house, to reopen a private communication between the houses which had long been closed. He, as well as the Queen of Etruria, greatly enjoyed the society of this lady, who was the widow of the Duke of Orleans, and spent many hours every day in her house. A Bourbon himself, he doubtless loved to hear every particular relating to the Bourbons of France, which could so well be given by one who had lived at their court, and on intimate terms with the royal family, with which she was connected by ties which, though not official, were none the less well known and recognized.
Madame de Montesson received at her house all who were most distinguished in Parisian society. She had reunited the remnants of the most select society of former times, which the Revolution had dispersed. A friend of Madame Bonaparte, she was also loved and respected by the First Consul, who was desirous that they should speak and think well of him in the most noble and elegant saloon of the capital. Besides, he relied upon the experience and exquisite refinement of this lady, to establish in the palace and its society, out of which he already dreamed of making a court, the usages and etiquette customary with sovereigns.
The King of Etruria was not fond of work, and in this respect did not please the First Consul, who could not endure idleness. I heard him one day, in conversation with his colleague, Cambaceres, score severely his royal protege (in his absence, of course). “Here is a prince,” said he, “who does not concern himself much with his very dear and well-beloved subjects, but passes his time cackling with old women, to whom he dilates in a loud tone on my good qualities, while he complains in a whisper of owing his elevation to the chief of this cursed French Republic. His only business is walking, hunting, balls, and theaters.”—“It is asserted,” remarked Cambaceres, “that you wished to disgust the French people with kings, by showing them such a specimen, as the Spartans disgusted their children with drunkenness by exhibiting to them a drunken slave.”