Empress Josephine eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 585 pages of information about Empress Josephine.

BOOK III.

The empress and the divorced.

     XXX.  Plombieres and Malmaison
    XXXI.  The First Faithlessness
   XXXII.  The 18th Brumaire
  xxxiii.  The Tuileries
   XXXIV.  The Infernal Machine
    XXXV.  The Cashmeres and the Letter
   XXXVI.  Malmaison
  XXXVII.  Flowers and Music
 XXXVIII.  Prelude to the Empire
   XXXIX.  The Pope in Paris
      XL.  The Coronation
     XLI.  Days of Happiness
    XLII.  Divorce
   XLIII.  The Divorced
    XLIV.  Death

BOOK I.

THE VISCOUNTESS BEAUHARNAIS.

CHAPTER I.

Introduction.

“I win the battles, Josephine wins me the hearts.”  These words of Napoleon are the most beautiful epitaph of the Empress Josephine, the much-loved, the much-regretted, and the much-slandered one.  Even while Napoleon won battles, while with lofty pride he placed his foot on the neck of the conquered, took away from princes their crowns, and from nations their liberty—­while Europe trembling bowed before him, and despite her admiration cursed him—­while hatred heaved up the hearts of all nations against him—­even then none could refuse admiration to the tender, lovely woman who, with the gracious smile of goodness, walked at his side; none could refuse love to the wife of the conqueror, whose countenance of brass received light and lustre from the beautiful eyes of Josephine, as Memnon’s statue from the rays of the sun.

She was not beautiful according to those high and exalted rules of beauty which we admire in the statues of the gods of old, but her whole being was surrounded with such a charm, goodness, and grace, that the rules of beauty were forgotten.  Josephine’s beauty was believed in, and the heart was ravished by the spell of such a gracious, womanly apparition.  Goethe’s words, which the Princess Eleonore utters in reference to Antonio, were not applicable to Josephine: 

“All the gods have with one consent brought gifts to his cradle, but, alas! the Graces have remained absent, and where the gifts of these lovely ones fail, though much was given and much received, yet on such a bosom is no resting-place.”

No, the Graces were not absent from the cradle of Josephine; they, more than all the other gods, had brought their gifts to Josephine.  They had encircled her with the girdle of gracefulness, they had imparted to her look, to her smile, to her figure, attraction and charm, and given her that beauty which is greater and more enduring than that of youth, namely loveliness, that only real beauty.  Josephine possessed the beauty of grace, and this quality remained when youth, happiness, and grandeur, had deserted her.  This beauty of grace struck the Emperor Alexander as he

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Empress Josephine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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