After this last fruitless attempt to re-establish in France the throne of the Bourbons, the royalists, wearied and terrified, had at least for a time to withdraw into obscurity and solitude, and the newly-established empire appeared in still more striking magnificence. The monarchy by God’s grace had been conquered by the empire by the people’s grace, and Napoleon wanted now to show himself to astonished Europe in all the glory of his new dignity. He therefore undertook a journey with his wife through the conquered German provinces; he went to Aix-la-Chapelle, to the city of coronation of the ancient German emperors, and which now belonged to imperial France; he went to Mayence, the golden Mayence of the old Roman days, and which now, after so many streams of bloodshed, had been transferred to France.
This journey of the emperor and empress was one uninterrupted triumphal procession; the population of the old German city applauded, in dishonorable faithlessness, the new foreign ruler; ail the clergy received their imperial majesties at the door of the cathedral, where Germany’s first emperor, Charlemagne, was buried; and, to flatter the Empress Josephine, the clergy caused a miracle to be performed by her hand. There existed in the sacred treasury of the cathedral a casket of gold, containing the most precious relics, but which was never opened to the eyes of mortals, and whose lock no key fitted. Only once a year was this precious, sacred casket of relics shown to the worshipping crowd, and then locked up in the holy shrine. But for Josephine this treasury was condescendingly opened, and to the empress was presented this casket of relics, and behold, the miracle took place! At the touch of the empress the lid of the casket sprang up, and in it were seen the most precious jewels of royalty, amongst which was the seal-ring of Charlemagne. [Footnote: Constant, “Memoires,” vol. iii.] No one was more surprised at this miracle than the clergy!
The neighboring German princes came to ancient Mayence to do homage to Josephine, and to win the favor of the sovereign of France toward their little principalities, and to assure him of their devotedness. Bonaparte already understood how to receive the humble, flattering German princes with the mien of a gracious protector, and to look upon them with the eye of an emperor, to whom not only the nations but also the princes must bow; and Josephine also excited the admiration of genuine princes and legitimate princesses, by the graciousness and grandeur, by the unaffected dignity and ease with which she knew how to represent the sovereign and the empress.
The pope in Paris.
Fate had reserved another triumph for the ruler of France, the Emperor Napoleon—the triumph that the empire by the people’s grace should be converted and exalted into the empire by God’s grace. Pope Pius vii., full of thankfulness that Napoleon had re-established the Church in France, and restored to the clergy their rights, had consented to come to Paris for the sake of giving to the empire, created by the will of the French people, the benediction of the Church, and in solemn coronation to place the imperial crown on the head anointed by the hands of God’s vice-gerent.