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ART. VII.-Lettres de Napoléon à Joséphine, pendant la première Campagne d'Italie, le Consulat et l'Empire; et Lettres de Joséphine à Napoléon et à sa Fille. 2 tomes. 8vo. Paris. 1833. THESE letters are undoubtedly authentic; but-strange to add-they are worth nearly as little as if they were forgeries. We had no conception that authentic and confidential letters from Buonaparte to his wife could be so utterly valueless. They contain neither facts, nor sentiments, nor traits of character, nor domestic incidents, nor even gossip. Almost the only thing we learn from them is, that Buonaparte had little confidence in Josephine, and held her in a degree of estimation so low as to approach to contempt. Yet they are published by Madame Louis Buonaparte, ci-devant la Reine Hortense, with the professed object of doing justice to her mother's memory against some slanderous insinuations to which Buonaparte gave utterance in the Mémorial de St. Hélène. This Reine Hortense must be a very silly woman. We knew very well that Buonaparte was guilty of the deplorable indelicacy of amusing his followers at St. Helena with anecdotes about both his wives, and that some of these stories were not much to the credit of either the understanding or the character of poor Josephine; but her daughter would have shown better taste-even if she had the means of complete refutation-in leaving these petty scandals to rot forgotten, amidst the mass of falsehood in which they are imbedded, and, above all, more sense in not publishing, as a vindication of her mother, a mass of trumpery notes, which have no relation whatsoever to the points in dispute, and which, on the whole, tend, we rather think, to justify the tone in which Buonaparte is represented as having spoken of her. They prove, indeed, that he was or pretended to be passionately fond of her, during the first Italian campaign, but it was a fondness so childish, so ludicrous even, considering the age and preceding history of the object of such Philandering, that it does little credit to either party. A letter from before Mantua, 18th July, 1796, tells her,

I am very uneasy to know how you are-what you are doing.—I have been in the village of Virgil-on the shores of his lake-by a silvery moonshine, and not a moment without thinking of Josephine.' -vol. i. p. 51.

Again, next day,

A thousand kisses, as burning as my heart-as pure as you !—I sent for the courier; he told me that he had seen you, and that you told him that you had no commands for him.-Oh fie-naughty, ugly, cruel, tyrannical, pretty little monster! You laugh at my threats, at my folly. Ah, you know that if I could put you into my heart, you should remain there in prison.'-vol. i. p. 55.


We shall give the whole of a letter from Mona, 17th September, 1796, which exhibits at once the trivial affectation of a boyish passion, and the slight way in which he slurs over the events which a man of sense would most dwell upon to a wife whom he respected.

I write, my dear love, very often, and you hardly ever. You are naughty, ugly-as frightful as faithless, (laide autant que légère.) It is shocking to deceive a poor husband so-a tender lover! Must he lose his rights because he is absent, overwhelmed with business, fatigue, and trouble?-Without his Josephine-without the certainty of her love, what remains for him upon earth ?-How could he live in this world? We had yesterday a very bloody affair-the enemy suffered considerably and was completely beaten. We have taken the faubourg of Mantua. Adieu, my adorable Josephine! One of these nights I shall force open your doors as if I were jealous, and there I am-in your arms.

'Mille baisers amoureux!'

And all this to a middle-aged lady, who had been a widow some years before she became the object of this romantic flame, and from a man engaged in the highest, and the most important, and the most hazardous concerns !-No real confidence-no interchange of mind-not one touch of true feeling-no communication of serious thoughts-no identity of interests-nothing that marks the mutual respect and affection which dignify and bless the married state; but-instead-we have these boyish tirades, which betray, by their gross exaggeration, the insincerity of the man and the silliness of the woman. Our readers will have observed the playful delicacy with which the husband talks of a favoured lover, and the significant hint that his love and jealousy may prompt him to make an unexpected visit. This might pass for a clumsy badinage, but we find that Buonaparte continues to harp upon it.—

Verona, 13th Nov. 1796.

⚫ No-I don't love you at all-no, I don't love you at all-on the contrary, I detest you! You are ugly-awkward-stupid-a very cinder-wench!-You don't write to me-you don't love your husband, you know the pleasure he takes in you-and yet you won't throw away six lines on him!-What are you about, madam, all day? What important business prevents your writing to your dear, dear love?— What new affection supersedes the love-the constant tender love you promised me? Who is the new and dandy (merveilleur) lover who absorbs all your time-engrosses all your leisure, and drives your husband out of your head?-Take care, Josephine-one fine night your doors will be burst open, and there I am.-I hope, before long, to clasp you in my arms, and to cover you with kisses burning as if under the equator,'-p. 83.

It turns out, ridiculously enough, after all this warning-these menaces of midnight visits, and these promises of equatorial kisses, that the poor husband did really, one fine night, leave his army unexpectedly, and make his way to my lady's chamber,' like 'a goosy gander' as he found he was, for Madame, instead of pining in her lonely bed, was, it seems, gone upon a party of pleasure to Genoa, or some neighbouring town, without apprising the poor husband.' He was evidently somewhat surprised and chagrined at the untoward result of his amorous escapade, and, like a true Celadon, hints that it is enough to make a man commit suicide. 'Milan, 27th Nov. 1796.

'I arrive at Milan-I rush into your apartment-I had left all to see you, to embrace you-you were not there-you were gone to look for amusement elsewhere-you absent yourself just when I am expected; you are tired of your dear Napoleon; you loved him by a caprice, and your inconstancy restores you to a state of indifference. Familiar with danger, I know the remedy for the cares and misfortunes of life. The misfortune I have suffered is incalculable-and it is unmerited. I shall stay here two days, but don't put yourself to any trouble-pursue your amusements-pleasure is made for you-the gay world is but too happy, if it pleases you-your husband only is very, very unhappy.'

We dare say that this unlucky excursion was perfectly innocent on the part of Josephine, but it is clear that the poor husband' was somewhat offended, and his subsequent letters, though still affectionate, are no longer quite as burning as the equator. We cannot conceive why the queen Hortense should think the publication of this little matrimonial fracas necessary to the defence of her mother's character. It seems, however, to have had no permanent consequences, for after sulking a little, Buonaparte returned to his usual style. The apparent absurdity of that style may be, we think, satisfactorily explained by reference to his wife's position and character. We do not wish to revive the old scandals about Madame de Beauharnais; we need only observe, that she was an amiable and interesting woman, of good family and agreeable manners, and that when Barras, then President of the Directory, began-what Buonaparte afterwards endeavoured to complete the restoration of a better tone of society in Paris, Madame de Beauharnais became a kind of authority in the fashionable world, and a principal ornament of the directorial court. The same day (March, 1796) conferred on General Buonaparte the hand of Madame Beauharnais, and the command of the army of Italy. It is very possible that her new husband really loved her-it is certain that he was indebted to her influence for his brilliant station and still more brilliant prospects-every

motive would incline him to live on cordial terms with her-he knew that, with a great deal of good nature at bottom, she was frivolous, capricious, and giddy-too vain not to be flattered, too indiscreet to be trusted Buonaparte therefore, like Brutus, showed his prudence by acting like a fool. As he could not venture to place a real confidence in this light-hearted and light-headed lady, he compensated her vanity by those extravagant hapsodies of love, which, agreeable to any woman from a young hero of twenty-eight, are peculiarly so to one déjà sur le retour. This seems to have been the whole secret of his early management of the lady, and the only rational explanation of such puerile absurdities as we have just quoted.

The amatory enthusiasm, however, began to wear out, as he felt himself stronger in public opinion-there are no letters from Egypt, and the notes (there is hardly one which deserves to be called a letter) of the first consul subside into a concise, but goodhumoured familiarity, and evince a real kindness for his two stepchildren Eugene and Hortense Beauharnais, whom he seldom omits to mention. This is creditable to Buonaparte's goodnature and good sense-when we recollect that he returned from Egypt with the avowed, and not unjustifiable intention of divorcing his wife for her conduct during his absence. Having been persuaded -chiefly, we believe, by political considerations, and by the still subsisting influence of Barras-to abandon that course, he very wisely put the best face on the matter, and continued to live with her in a friendly familiarity, which on the birth of her grandchildren, in whom he saw the future heirs of his power, warmed into cordiality, and a more rational kindness than he had ever before shown. We shall select a few specimens.

'The First Consul to Josephine at Plombiers.

'Malmaison, 27th June, 1803. 'Your letter-good little woman-tells me that you are out of order. Corvisart (the first physician) says, however, that it is a good sign-that the baths have the desired effect, and will soon restore you. Nevertheless it is really painful to my heart to know that you are suffering.

I went yesterday to see the manufactories of Sèvres and St. Cloud.

'Say a thousand kind things to all about you. YOURS FOR LIFE. BONAPARTE.'

His letters, after he assumed the crown, became shorter, but more frequent, and are, if possible, still more insignificant. They confirm, however, by slight incidental allusions, the statement which we bave had from so many other quarters, that her exaltation to the imperial dignity was the source of anxiety and unhappiness to Josephine;

Josephine; whether, as some say, the murder of the Duke d'Enghien, or, as others think, jealousy and some vague anticipations of a divorce, or, as is most probable, both these causes operated to prey upon her mind, it certainly appears that from that time Buonaparte's chief exhortations to her are to keep up her spirits to dry her tears-to enjoy society, and to fulfil, with at least an appearance of content, her new duties. His first letter from Berlin, after the wonderful campaign of Jena, is a striking instance of the kind and quality of the attention he paid her.

1 Nov. 1806.

Talleyrand is just arrived, and tells me, my dear (mon amie), that you do nothing but weep. What can be the matter? You have your daughter, your grandchildren, and good news. That is surely enough to make you happy. The weather is magnificent-not one drop of rain has fallen during the whole campaign. I am very well, and everything goes right. Adieu, my love! I have received a letter from M. Napoleon (the grandchild), but I suppose it was not written by him, but his mother. A thousand kind things to everybody.-N.' Again,―

Warsaw, 16th January, 1807.

'I am grieved at what I hear of your spirits. Why in tears-why in grief? I shall soon return-never doubt my affection. If you wish to be still dearer to me, show some courage and strength of mind. I am mortified to think that my wife can distrust my distances,' And again, two days after,

They tell me that you are for ever in tears-fie, fie, that is wrong! Take courage and show yourself worthy of me. Hold your courts in Paris with suitable dignity; but, above all, be happy. I am well, and love you sincerely, but if you are for ever crying, I shall think you have no firmness of mind. I don't love cowards-(les laches)-an empress should have courage.-N.'

We were, at first, a good deal surprised at the number and nothingness of the notes which, at some of the most critical moments of his career, Buonaparte took the trouble of writing to the empress. We found some difficulty in reconciling the frequency of these communications with their inanity. They seem all composed on one plan: each has two principal topics-his own personal health, which is always good, and the weather, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad; but he generally throws in a slight hint about the army, which is always superbe and successful. As to this latter business, it is observable that his greatest victories are sometimes only alluded to in a parenthesis of three words; while, on the other hand, in cases where the success was really more doubtful, he insists, with unusual earnestness, on the prosperous position of his affairs. The explanation of the enigma


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