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The Court of the Empress Josephine   By: (1834-1900)

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THE COURT OF THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE

BY

IMBERT DE SAINT AMAND

TRANSLATED BY THOMAS SERGEANT PERRY

ILLUSTRATED

1900

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER

I. THE BEGINNING OF THE EMPIRE

II. THE JOURNEY TO THE BANKS OF THE RHINE

III. THE POPE'S ARRIVAL AT FONTAINEBLEAU

IV. THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE CORONATION

V. THE CORONATION

VI. THE DISTRIBUTION OF FLAGS

VII. THE FESTIVITIES

VIII. THE ETIQUETTE OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE

IX. THE HOUSEHOLD OF THE EMPRESS

X. NAPOLEON'S GALLANTRIES

XI. THE POPE AT THE TUILERIES

XII. THE JOURNEY IN ITALY

XIII. THE CORONATION AT MILAN

XIV. THE FESTIVITIES AT GENOA

XV. DURING THE CAMPAIGN OF AUSTERLITZ

XVI. THE MARRIAGE OF PRINCE EUGENE

XVII. PARIS IN THE BEGINNING OF 1806

XVIII. THE MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCE OF BADEN

XIX. THE NEW QUEEN OF HOLLAND

XX. THE EMPRESS AT MAYENCE

XXI. THE RETURN OF THE EMPRESS TO PARIS

XXII. THE DEATH OF THE YOUNG NAPOLEON

XXIII. THE END OF THE WAR

XXIV. THE EMPEROR'S RETURN

XXV. THE COURT AT FONTAINEBLEAU

XXVI. THE END OF THE YEAR 1807

I.

THE BEGINNING OF THE EMPIRE.

"Two thirds of my life is passed, why should I so distress myself about what remains? The most brilliant fortune does not deserve all the trouble I take, the pettiness I detect in myself, or the humiliations and shame I endure; thirty years will destroy those giants of power which can be seen only by raising the head; we shall disappear, I who am so petty, and those whom I regard so eagerly, from whom I expected all my greatness. The most desirable of all blessings is repose, seclusion, a little spot we can call our own." When La Bruyère expressed himself so bitterly, when he spoke of the court "which satisfies no one," but "prevents one from being satisfied anywhere else," of the court, "that country where the joys are visible but false, and the sorrows hidden, but real," he had before him the brilliant Palace of Versailles, the unrivalled glory of the Sun King, a monarchy which thought itself immovable and eternal. What would he say in this century when dynasties fail like autumn leaves, and it takes much less than thirty years to destroy the giants of power; when the exile of to day repeats to the exile of the morrow the motto of the churchyard: Hodie mihi, eras tibi? What would this Christian philosopher say at a time when royal and imperial palaces have been like caravansaries through which sovereigns have passed like travellers, when their brief resting places have been consumed by the blaze of petroleum and are now but a heap of ashes?

The study of any court is sure to teach wisdom and indifference to human glories. In our France of the nineteenth century, fickle as it has been, inconstant, fertile in revolutions, recantations, and changes of every sort, this lesson is more impressive than it has been at any period of our history. Never has Providence shown more clearly the nothingness of this world's grandeur and magnificence. Never has the saying of Ecclesiastes been more exactly verified: "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!" We have before us the task of describing one of the most sumptuous courts that has ever existed, and of reviewing splendors all the more brilliant for their brevity. To this court of Napoleon and Josephine, to this majestic court, resplendent with glory, wealth, and fame, may well be applied Corneille's lines:

"All your happiness Subject to instability In a moment falls to the ground, And as it has the brilliancy of glass It also has its fragility."

We shall evoke the memory of the dead to revive this vanished court, and we shall consult, one after another, the persons who were eye witnesses of these short lived wonders. A prefect of the palace, M. de Bausset, wrote: "When I recall the memorable times of which I have just given a faint idea, I feel, after so many years, as if I had been taking part in the gorgeous scenes of the Arabian Tales or of the Thousand and One Nights ... Continue reading book >>




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