Empress Josephine eBook

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

From this day, Josephine knew every thing of importance in Paris; from this time she could point out to her children the means to pursue so as to win to their parents influential and powerful friends, so that they might one day be delivered from their captivity.  Fortune was love’s messenger between Josephine and her children; a beam of happiness had penetrated both cells, where lived Alexandre de Beauharnais and Josephine, and they owed this gleam only to the lapdog mail.

CHAPTER XIV.

In prison.

Since France had become a democratic republic, since the differences in rank were abolished, and liberty, equality, and fraternity alone prevailed, the aristocracy was either beyond the frontiers of France or else in the prisons.  Outside of the prison were but citoyens and citoyennes; inside of the prison were yet dukes and duchesses, counts and countesses, viscounts and viscountesses; there, behind locks and bars, the aristocracy was represented in its most glorious and high-sounding names.

And there also, within these walls, was the proud, strict dame, whom Marie Antoinette had once, to her misfortune, driven away from the Tuileries, and who had not been permitted to possess a single foot of ground in all France—­there, within the prison with the aristocrats, lived also Madame Etiquette.  She had to leave the Tuileries with the nobility, and with the nobility she had entered into the prisons of the Conciergerie and of the Carmelite Convent.  There she ruled with the same authority and with the same gravity as once in happier days she had done in the king’s palace.

The republic had mixed together the prisoners without any distinction, and in the hall, where every morning they gathered together to attend to the roll-call of the condemned who were to report for the guillotine; in the narrow rooms and cells, where they passed the rest of the day, the republic had made no distinction between all these inmates of the prison, dukes and simple knights, duchesses and baronesses, princesses of the blood and country nobility of inferior degree.  But etiquette was there to remedy this unseemliness of fate and to re-establish the natural order of things—­etiquette, which had enacted rules and laws for the halls of kings, enforced them also in the halls of prisons.  Only for the ladies of the most ancient nobility, the duchesses and princesses of the blood, in the prison-rooms, as once in the king’s halls, the small stool (tabouret) was reserved, and they were privileged to occupy the rush-bottomed seats which were in the prisons, and which now replaced the tabouret.  No lady of inferior rank would consent to sit down in their presence unless these ladies of superior rank had expressly requested and entitled their inferior companions of misfortune to do so.  When, at the appointed hour, the halls were abandoned for the general promenade in the yards of the Conciergerie, or in

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Empress Josephine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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