Such were the reasons with which her relatives, even the grandfather of her two children, sought to persuade her to a voyage to Martinique—bitter though the anguish would be for them to be deprived of the presence of the gentle, lovely young woman, whose youthful freshness and grace had like sunshine cheered the lonely house in Fontainebleau; to see also part from them the little Hortense, whose joyous voice of childhood had now and then recalled the faithless son to the father’s house, and which was still a bond which united Josephine with her husband and with his family.
Josephine had to give way before these arguments, however much her heart bled. She had long felt how much of impropriety and of danger there was in the situation of a young woman divorced from her husband, and how much more dignified and expedient it would be for her to return to her father’s home and to the bosom of her family. She therefore took a decided resolution; she tore herself away from her relatives, from her beloved son, whom she could not take with her, for he belonged to the father. With a stream of painful tears she bade farewell to the love of youth, to the joys of youth, from which naught remained but the wounds of a despised heart, and the children who gazed at her with the beloved eyes of their father.
In the month of July of the year 1788, Josephine, with her little five-year-old daughter Hortense, left Fontainebleau, went to Havre, whence she embarked for Martinique.
Lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte.
While the Viscountess Josephine de Beauharnais was, during long years of resignation, enduring all the anguish, humiliations, and agonies of an unhappy marriage, the first pain and sorrow had also clouded the days of the young Corsican boy who, in the same year as Josephine, had embarked from his native land for France.
In the beginning of the year 1785, Napoleon Bonaparte had lost his father. In Montpellier, whither he had come for the cure of his diseased breast, he died, away from home, from his Letitia and his children. Only his eldest son Joseph stood near his dying couch, and, moreover, a fortunate accident had brought to pass that the poor, lonely sufferer should meet there a friendly home, where he was received with the most considerate affection. Letitia’s companion of youth, the beautiful Panonia Comnene, now Madame de Permont, resided in Montpellier with her husband, who was settled there, and with all the faithfulness and friendship of a Corsican, she nursed the sick husband of her Letitia.