His eyes turned on Napoleon, he sank back on the cushions, and his dying lips murmured yet once more, “Tu serai unomone!”
After the body of the worthy great-uncle had been laid in the grave, Napoleon left Corsica to return to France and to his regiment, for the time of his leave of absence had expired.
For the second time the lips of a dying man had prophesied him a great and brilliant future. His dying father had said that one day the sword of his son Napoleon would make all Europe bow under the yoke; his great-uncle had prophesied he would be a great and exalted personage.
To these prophecies of the dying is to be added Mirabeau’s judgment, which called Napoleon a genius of the first stamp.
But this great and glorious future was yet screened under dark clouds from the eyes of the young lieutenant of artillery, and the blood-dripping hand of the Revolution was first needed to tear away these clouds and to convert the king’s lieutenant of artillery into the Emperor of France!
A page from history.
The dark clouds which hung yet over the future of Napoleon Bonaparte, the lieutenant of artillery, were gathering in heavier and heavier masses over all France, and already were overshadowing the throne of the lilies.
Marie Antoinette had already abandoned the paradise of innocency in Trianon, and when she came there now it was to weep in silence, to cast away the mask from her face, and under the garb of the proud, imperious, ambitious queen to exhibit the pallid, anxious countenance of the woman.
Alas! they were passed away, those days of festivity, those innocent joys of Trianon; the royal farmer’s wife had no more the heart to carry the spindle, to gather eggs from the hens’ nests, and to perform with her friends the joyous idyls of a pastoral life.
The queen had procured for herself a few years of freedom and license by banishing from Versailles and from the Tuileries the burdensome Madame Etiquette, who hitherto had watched over every step of a Queen of France, but in her place Madame Politique had entered into the palace, and Marie Antoinette could not drive her away as she had done with Madame Etiquette.
For Madame Politique came into the queen’s apartments, ushered in by a powerful and irresistible suite. The failure of the crops throughout the land, want, the cries of distress from a famishing people, the disordered finances of the state—such was the suite which accompanied Politique before the queen; pamphlets, pasquinades, sarcastic songs on Marie Antoinette, whom no more the people called their queen, but already the foreigner, L’Autrichienne—such were the gifts which Politique brought for the queen.
The beautiful and innocent days of Trianon were gone, no longer could Marie Antoinette forget that she was a queen! The burden of her lofty position pressed upon her always; and, if now and then she sought to adorn her head with roses, her crown pressed their thorns with deeper pain into her brow.