Paris, September, 1805.
My lord:—Nobody here, except his courtiers, denies that Bonaparte is vain, cruel, and ambitious; but as to his private, personal, or domestic vices, opinions are various, and even opposite. Most persons, who have long known him, assert that women are his aversion; and many anecdotes have been told of his unnatural and horrid propensities. On the other hand, his seeming attachment to his wife is contradictory to these rumours, which certainly are exaggerated. It is true, indeed, that it was to oblige Barras, and to obtain her fortune, that he accepted of her hand ten years ago; though insinuating, she was far from being handsome, and had long passed the period of inspiring love by her charms. Her husband’s conduct towards her may, therefore, be construed, perhaps, into a proof of indifference towards the whole sex as much as into an evidence of his affection towards her. As he knew who she was when he received her from the chaste arms of Barras, and is not unacquainted with her subsequent intrigues particularly during his stay in Egypt—policy may influence a behaviour which has some resemblance to esteem. He may choose to live with her, but it is impossible he can love her.
A lady, very intimate with Princesse Louis Bonaparte, has assured me that, had it not been for Napoleon’s singular inclination for his youthful stepdaughter, he would have divorced his wife the first year of his consulate, and that indirect proposals on that subject had already been made her by Talleyrand. It was then reported that Bonaparte had his eyes fixed upon a Russian Princess, and that from the friendship which the late Emperor Paul professed for him, no obstacles to the match were expected to be encountered at St. Petersburg. The untimely end of this Prince, and the supplications of his wife and daughter, have since altered his intent, and Madame Napoleon and her children are now, if I may use the expression, incorporated and naturalized with the Bonaparte family.
But what has lately occurred here will better serve to show that Bonaparte is neither averse nor indifferent to the sex. You read last summer in the public prints of the then Minister of the Interior (Chaptal) being made a Senator; and that he was succeeded by our Ambassador at Vienna Champagny. This promotion was the consequence of a disgrace, occasioned by his jealousy of his mistress, a popular actress, Mademoiselle George, one of the handsomest women of this capital. He was informed by his spies that this lady frequently, in the dusk of the evening, or when she thought him employed in his office, went to the house of a famous milliner in the Rue St. Honor, where, through a door in an adjoining passage, a person, who carefully avoided showing his face, always entered immediately before or after her, and remained as long as she continued