We have dwelt upon them because these letters, like sunbeams, throw a bright light on the new pathway of Josephine’s life—because they are an eloquent and splendid testimony to the love which Josephine had inspired in her young husband, and also to her amiableness, to her sweetness of disposition, to her grace, and to all the noble and charming qualities which procured her so much admiration and affection, and which still caused her to be loved, sought for and celebrated, when she had to descend from the height of a throne, and became the deserted, divorced wife of the man who loved her immeasurably, and who so often had sworn to her that this love would only end with his life!
The court of Montebello.
On the 18th of April were finally signed, in Leoben, the preliminaries of peace between Austria and France, and which finally put an end to this cruel war. Austria was compelled to acknowledge herself defeated, for even the Archduke Charles, who had pushed forward from the Rhine with his army to oppose the conqueror of Wurmser and of Alvinzi, had not been able to arrest Bonaparte in his victorious career.
Bonaparte had publicly declared he would march toward Vienna, and dictate to the Emperor of Germany, in his very palace, terms of peace. He was at the point of carrying into execution this bold plan. Since the battle of Tagliamento, on the 16th of March, the army of the archduke was broken, and he could no longer prevent Bonaparte from marching with his army over Laybach and Trieste into Germany. On the 25th of March, Bonaparte entered into Klagenfurt; and now that he was but forty miles from the capital, the Austrian court began to tremble at the approach of this army of sans-culottes who, under the leadership of General Bonaparte, had been transformed into heroes. She therefore accepted the propositions of peace made by Bonaparte, and, as already said, its preliminaries were signed in Leoben.
Now Bonaparte could rest after such constant and bloody work, now he could again hasten to his Josephine, who was waiting for him in the palace of Serbelloni.
The whole city—all Lombardy—was with her, awaiting him. His journey from Leoben to Milan was a continuous triumph, which, however, reached its culminating point at his entrance into the city. Milan had adorned herself for this day as a bride to receive her hero. From every balcony waved the united French and Italian standards, costly tapestries were hanging down, every window was occupied by beautiful women gayly attired, and who, with large bouquets of flowers and waving handkerchiefs, greeted the conqueror. All the dignitaries of the city went to meet him in processional pomp; from every tower sounded the welcome chimes, and the compact masses of the people in the streets and on the roofs of the houses filled the air with the jubilant shout: “Long live the deliverer of Italy! the conqueror of Austria!”