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Joseph Bonaparte by  John S. C. Abbott
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LIFE IN EXILE

[319] WHILE Joseph was enjoying his peaceful residence upon the shores of Europe's most beautiful lake, Madame de Stael hastened to inform him of a plot which had been revealed to her for the assassination of the Emperor at Elba. The evidence was conclusive. Joseph was at breakfast with the celebrated tragedian Talma. Both Talma and Madame de Stael were anxious to hasten to Elba to inform the Emperor of his danger. But Joseph sent a personal friend, and two of the assassins were arrested.

At Prangin, in 1815, Joseph learned that Napoleon had landed in France, had advanced as far as Lyons, and was desirous of seeing him [320] in Paris as soon as possible. Joseph's wife, Julie, was then in Paris, having been drawn there by the sickness and death of the mother, Madame Clary. He immediately left his chateau, after having buried all his valuable papers in a box in the forest, setting out secretly at ten o'clock at night, accompanied by the two princesses, his daughters. A few hours after his departure, an armed band, sent by the influence of the Allies, arrived at the chateau to arrest him. Joseph upon his arrival in France, immediately, with characteristic devotion, placed himself entirely at the disposition of the brother he loved so well.

As Joseph traversed France, he was everywhere met with great enthusiasm, the people shouting, "Napoleon the Emperor of our choice;" "The nation desires him alone;" "No aristocracy;" "Away with the old régime."

Before the departure of the Emperor for Waterloo, many distinguished persons, among others Benjamin Constant, who assisted in drawing up the celebrated Additional Act, were introduced to him by Joseph. One day he conducted to the Tuileries the son of Madame de Stael, who bore a letter from his mother to the Emperor, in which, speaking of the [321] Addtional Act, she said, "It is every thing which France can now need; nothing but what it needs, nothing more than it needs."

In speaking of the "Acte Additionel,"  Mr. Alison says, "It excited unbounded opposition in both. the parties which now divided the nation, and left the Emperor in reality no support but in the soldiers of the army." A few paragraphs later, when stating that the "Acte" was submitted to the people to be adopted or rejected by popular suffrage, he says truthfully, though in manifest contradiction to his former statement:

"The 'Acte Additionel'  was approved by an immense majority of the electors; the numbers being fifteen hundred thousand to five hundred."

After the disaster at Waterloo, Joseph was the constant companion of his brother during those few days of anguish: which he remained in Paris. On the 29th of June he left the metropolis to join his brother, who had preceded him, at Rochefort, where the two intended to embark for America in two different ships, the Saale  and the Medusa. After several days of necessary delay, at four o'clock in the afternoon of July 8th Napoleon was rowed out [322] to the Saale, which was anchored at a distance from the quay. But the Bourbons and the Allies were now in power in France, and British guard-ships were doubled along the French coast. No vessel was allowed to leave.

Joseph, who had received letters from his wife informing him of all that had transpired in Paris, proposed that the Emperor should return to land, place himself at the head of the Army of the Loire, summon the population of France to rise en masse, and again appeal to the fortunes of war. But the Emperor could not be persuaded to resort to a measure which would enkindle the flames of civil war in France, and which might also expose the kingdom to dismemberment, since the Allies already held a considerable portion of its territory.

Joseph then urged his brother to embark in a small American vessel which chanced to be in the port, while Joseph, personating Napoleon, whom he strongly resembled, should surrender himself as the Emperor. It was thought that the British cruisers, thus deceived, would allow the American vessel to sail without a very rigid search. But the Emperor declined the offer to escape at the hazard of his brother's captivity. Neither would his pride of charac- [323] ter allow him to seek flight in the garb of disguise. He theretore urged Joseph to leave him to his destiny, and to provide immediately for his own safety.

During the whole of Napoleon's career there were always multitudes ready to lay down their lives at any time for his. protection. The captain of the Medusa, a sixty-gun frigate, offered to grapple the English frigate Bellerophon, of seventy-four guns, and to maintain the unequal and desperate conflict until the Saale  could escape with the Emperor. But as this would be sacrificing many lives to his personal safety, Napoleon declined the magnanimous offer.

Leaving matters in this state of uncertainty, Joseph retired from Rochefort to the country seat of a friend, at the distance of a few leagues. He left his secretary behind, to keep him informed of all that transpired. Two days after he received a letter announcing that the Emperor had taken the fatal resolution to surrender himself to the British Government. Joseph could no longer be of any assistance to his brother, and he decided to leave France as soon as possible. Under the assumed name of M. Bouchard, he embarked at Royan on the 29th [324] of July, with four of his suite, on board the bark Commerce, bound for the United States. The vessel was visited several times by the British cruisers without his being recognized. On the 28th of August, 1815, Joseph landed at New York. Captain Misservey, of the bark, was not aware of the illustrious rank of his passenger, but supposed him to be General Carnot. The Mayor of New York, under the same impression, called upon him as General Carnot, to congratulate him upon his safe passage.

There were at the time two English frigates cruising before the harbor of New York, to search all vessels coming from Europe. One of these frigates bore down upon the Commerce;  but the wind, and the skill of the American pilot, saved the ship from a visit. If the English had succeeded in seizing the person of Joseph, they would have taken him back to England, and thence to Russia, where the Allies had decided to hold him in captivity.

It was not known in America until Joseph's arrival that Napoleon had confided himself to the English. The illustrious exile, much broken in health by care and sorrow, assumed the title of the Count of Survilliers, [325] the name of an estate which he held in France, and sought the retreat of a quiet, private life, as a refuge from the storms by which he had so long been tossed.

After having travelled through many of the States of the Union, and having visited most of the principal cities, he purchased in New Jersey, upon the banks of the Delaware, a very beautiful property, called Point Breeze. Here he lived the sad life of an exile, reflecting upon the ruin and dispersion of his family, and exposed to every species of contumely from the European press, then controlled by the triumphant dynasties of the old feudal oppression. It was for the interest of all these regal courts to convince the world that the Bonapartes were the enemies, not the friends of humanity; that they were struggling, not for the rights of mankind, but to impose upon the world hitherto unheard-of despotism; and that in principles and practice they were the most godless and dissolute of men. In this they succeeded for a time, and there are thousands who still adhere to the senseless calumny. Terrible indeed is the condition of a family when it is for the vital interests of all the crowns of Europe to consecrate their influence, and lavish their [326] money to blacken the character of all its members.

But the noble character of Joseph Bonaparte could not be concealed. His record had been written in ineffaceable lines. His illustrious name, purity of morals, large fortune, simple and cordial manners, and his wide-reaching liberality, endeared him greatly to his neighbors and multiplied his friends. His wife was in such extremely delicate health that it was not deemed safe for her to undertake a voyage across the ocean. But his two daughters, the Princess Zénaide and Charlotte, and subsequently his son-in-law, Charles Bonaparte, elder brother of the present Emperor, Napoleon III., shared with him his exile.

The entire overthrow of the popular governments which had been established by the aid of Napoleon, and the relentless spirit manifested by the conquerors, filled all lands with exiles. Many of the most distinguished men of Europe sought a refuge with Joseph, where they were received with the most generous hospitality. When the tidings reached Point Breeze of the destitution in which Napoleon was living in the dilapidated hut at St. Helena, Joseph immediately placed his whole [327] fortune at the disposal of his brother. It was, however, too late, and the Emperor profited but little from this generous offer. A few years passed wearily away, when in May, 1821, Napoleon, through destitution, insults, and anguish, sank sadly into his grave. General Bertrand, who had so magnanimously accompanied the captive in his imprisonment at Saint Helena, and had shared in all his sufferings, communicated the tidings of the death of the Emperor to Joseph in the following touching letter. General Bertrand had returned from Saint Helena, and his letter was dated London, Sep. tember 10, 1821:

PRINCE,—I write to you for the first time since the awful misfortune which has been added to the sorrows of your family. Your Highness is acquainted with the events of the first years of this cruel exile. Many persons who have visited Saint Helena have informed you of what was still more interesting to you, the manner of living and the unkind treatment which aggravated the influence of a deadly climate.

"In the last year of his life, the Emperor, who for four years had taken no exercise, altered extremely in appearance. He became pale [328] and feeble. From that time his health deteriorated rapidly and visibly. He had always been in the habit of taking baths. He now took them more frequently, and staid longer in them. They appeared to relieve him for the time. Latterly Dr. Antommarchi forbade him their use, as he thought that they only increased his weakness.

"In the month of August he took walking exercise, but with difficulty; he was forced to stop every minute. In the first years he used to walk while dictating. He walked about his room, and thus did without the exercise which he feared to take out-of-doors, lest he should expose himself to insult. But latterly his strength would not admit even of this. He remained sitting nearly all day, and discontinued almost all occupation. His health declined sensibly every month.

"Once in September, and again in the beginning of October he rode out, as his physicians desired him to take exercise; but he was so weak that he was obliged to return in his carriage. He ceased to digest; shivering fits came on, which extended even to the extremities. Hot towels applied to the feet gave him some relief He suffered from these cold fits [329] to the last hour of his life. As he could no longer either walk or ride, he took several drives in an open carriage at a foot pace, but without gaining strength.

"He never took off his dressing-gown. His stomach rejected food, and at the end of the year he was forced to give up meat. He lived upon jellies and soups. For some time he ate scarcely any thing, and drank only a little pure wine, hoping thus to support nature with. out fatiguing the digestion; but the vomiting continued, and he returned to soups and jellies. The remedies and tonics which were tried produced little effect. His body grew weaker every day, but his mind retained its strength. He liked reading and conversation. He did not dictate much, although he did so from time to time up to the last days of his life. He felt that his end was approaching, and frequently recited the passage from 'Zaire,' which closes with this line:

"'A revoir Paris je ne dois plus prétendre.'

"Nevertheless the hope of leaving this dreadful country often presented itself to his imagination. Some newspaper articles and false reports excited our expectations. We [330] sometimes fancied that we were on the eve of starting for America. We read travels, we made plans, we arrived at our house, we wandered over that immense country, where alone we might hope to enjoy liberty. Vain hopes! vain projects! which only made us doubly feel our misfortunes.

"They could not have been borne with more serenity and courage—I might almost add gayety. He often said to us in the evening, 'Where shall we go? to the Theatre Francais or to the Opera?' And then he would read a tragedy by Corneille, Voltaire, or Racine; an opera of Quinault's, or one of Moliere's comedies. His strong mind and powerful character were perhaps even more remarkable than on that larger theatre where he eclipsed all that is brightest in ancient and in modern history. He often seemed to forget what he had been. I was never tired of admiring his philosophy and courage, the good sense and fortitude which raised him above misfortune.

"At times, however, sad regrets and recollections of what he had done, contrasted with what be might have done, presented themselves. He talked of the past with perfect frankness, persuaded that, on the whole, he [331] had done what he was required to do, and not sharing the strange and contradictory opinions which we hear expressed every day on events which are not understood by the speakers. If the conversation took a melancholy turn, he soon changed it. He loved to talk of Corsica, of his old uncle Lucien, of his youth, of you, and of all the rest of the family.

"Toward the middle of March fever came on. From that time he scarcely left his bed except for about half an hour in the day. He seldom had the strength to shave. He now for the first time became extremely thin. The fits of vomiting became more frequent. He then questioned the physicians upon the conformation of the stomach, and about a fortnight before his death he had pretty nearly guessed that he was dying of cancer. He was read to almost every day, and dictated a few days before his decease. He often talked naturally as to the probable mode of his death, but when he became aware that it was approaching he left off speaking on the subject. He thought much about you and your children.

"To his last moments be was kind and affectionate to us all. He did not appear to suffer so much as might have been expected [332] from the cause of his death. When we questioned him he said that he suffered a little, but that he could bear it. His memory declined during the last five or six days. His deep sighs, and his exclamations from time to time, made us think that he was in great pain. He looked at us with the penetrating glance which you know so well. We tried to dissimulate, but he was so used to reading our faces that no doubt be frequently discovered our anxiety. He felt too clearly the gradual decline, of his faculties not to be aware of his state.

"For the last two hours he neither spoke nor moved. The only sound was his difficult breathing, which gradually but regularly decreased. His pulse ceased. And so died, surrounded by only a few servants, the man who had dictated laws to the world, and whose life should have been preserved for the sake of the happiness and glory of our sorrowing country.

"Forgive, prince, a hurried letter, which tells you so little when you wish to know so much; but I should never end if I attempted to tell all. I must not omit to say that the Emperor was most anxious that his correspondence with the different sovereigns of Europe should be printed. He repeated this to us sev- [333] eral times. In his will the Emperor expressed his wish that his remains should be buried in France; however, in the last days of his life, he ordered me, if there was any difficulty about it, to lay him by the side of the fountain whose waters he had so long drunk."

Joseph loved his brother tenderly, and he never could speak without emotion of the indignities and cruelties Napoleon suffered from that ungenerous Government to whose mercy he had so fatally confided himself. Anxious to do every thing which he thought might gratify the departed spirit of his brother, he implored permission of Austria to visit Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt, that he might [334] sympathize with him in these hours of affliction. The Court of Austria refused his request.

In 1824, Joseph's youngest daughter, the Princess Charlotte, left Point Breeze to join her mother in Europe, where she was to be married to Charles Napoleon Louis Bonaparte, the son of Louis and Hortense, and the elder brother of the present Emperor of the French. The tastes of Joseph inclined him to the country, and to its peaceful pursuits. He had, however, a city residence in Philadelphia, where he usually passed the winters. While thus residing on the banks of the Delaware, sadly retracing the memorable events of the past and recording its scenes, he received a proposition which surprised and gratified him. A deputation of Mexicans waited upon him at Point Breeze, and urged him to accept the crown of Mexico. The former King of Naples and of Spain in the following terms responded to the invitation:

"I have worn two crowns. I would not take a single step to obtain a third. Nothing could be more flattering to me than to see the men who, when I was at Madrid, were unwilling to recognize my authority, come to-day to seek me, in exile, to place the crown upon my head. But I do not think that the throne [335] which you wish to erect anew can promote your happiness. Every day I spend upon the hospitable soil of the United States demonstrates to me more fully the excellence of republican institutions for America. Guard them, then, as a precious gift of Providence; cease your intestine quarrels; imitate the United States and seek from the midst of your fellow-citizens a man more capable than I am to act the grand part of Washington.

When La Fayette in 1824 made his triumphal tour through the United States, he visited Point Breeze to pay his respects to the brother of the Emperor. Upon that occasion the marquis expressed deep regret in view of the course he had pursued at the time of the abdication of Napoleon.

"The dynasty of the Bourbons," said he, "can not maintain itself. It too manifestly wounds the national sentiment. We are all persuaded in France that the son of the Emperor alone can represent the interests of the Revolution. Place two million francs at the disposal of our committee, and I promise you [336] that in two years Napoleon II. will be upon the throne of France."

Joseph, however, did not think it best to embark at that time in any new enterprise for the restoration of popular rights to France. The Bourbon throne seemed to be for a time firmly established. Joseph was getting to be advanced in years. The storms of his life had been so severe that he longed only for repose.

The following extracts from the correspondence of Joseph, while he was an exile in America, throw interesting light upon his political principles and upon his social character. General Lamarque was one of the veteran generals of the Empire. After the restoration of the Bourbons, he was highly distinguished for his eloquence in the Tribune as the antagonist of aristocratic privilege. Napoleon, when on his death-bed at Saint Helena, in view of his earnest support of popular rights, both on the battle-field and in the Chamber of Deputies, recommended him for a marshal of France. Those friends of the Empire who had been pros- [337] ecuted for the part they took in the Hundred Days, had found in him a zealous friend. His devotion to the interests of Poland had secured for him the homage of that chivalrous people. The liberal party in France, with great unanimity, regarded him as their leader. Upon the occasion of his funeral, in June, 1832, the Liberals in Paris made a desperate endeavor to overthrow the government of Louis Philippe. The insurgents numbered over one hundred thousand. The attempt was bloodily repulsed by the royalist troops. On the 27th of March, 1824, General Lamarque wrote a letter from Paris to Joseph, from which we make the following extracts:

"MONSIEUR LE COMTE,—The memory of your kindnesses lives as vividly in my heart as on the day in which I received them, and I ever seek occasions to prove this to you. Already I have refuted, in many articles of the journals, the atrocious calumnies which have been published against you, and I ever avow myself to the world as your admirer and grateful friend. Be assured that your reputation is honorable and glorious. Truth has already dispelled many clouds; soon it will shine forth in all its brilliance.

[338] "You do well to consecrate a portion of your time to writing your memoirs. It seems to me that the part most interesting will be your reign in Naples. You were there truly the philosopher upon the throne, which Plato desired for the interests of humanity. I recall your journeys in which you urged upon the nobles love for the people; upon the priests tolerance; upon the military, order and moderation. Not being able to establish political liberty, you wished to confer upon your subjects all the benefits of municipal regime, which you regarded as the foundation of all institutions.

"Under your reign—too short for a nation which has so deeply regretted you—feudalism was destroyed, brigandage disappeared, the system of imposts was changed, order was established in the finances, administration created, the nobles and the people reconciled, new routes opened in all directions, the capital embellished, the army and marine reorganized, the English driven out of the whole realm, and Gaeta, Scylla, Reggio, Manthea, and Amanthea taken.

"Your memoirs will be a lesson for kings. But that they may be received with the relig- [339] ious respect due to a great misfortune, it seems to me that you ought to efface yourself from the scene of the world, that your writings should be like a voice coming from the depths of the tomb, and that you should only ask of your contemporaries not to calumniate and hate the memory of a man who, having attained the height of all dignities, has descended from it with serenity, with resignation, and almost with pleasure. As to Spain, were I in your place, I should say but any word; that word would be regret in not having been able to accomplish for Spain the good which was accomplished for Naples.

"Like you, I have been proscribed. Like you, I have wandered in foreign lands, breathing always wishes for my country. I know how irritable and sensitive one thus is, and how keenly one feels the attacks of his enemies. But upon my return I perceived that in exile we exaggerate the importance of such attacks. Let not the calumnies which reach you, after having traversed the seas, disturb for a moment your domestic happiness, and the calm of your situation. They are the last gusts of the tempest, the last noise of the expiring waves."

[340] In a letter to Francis Leiber, dated July 1, 1829, Joseph writes:

"Walter Scott wrote for the English Government, and from information furnished him by the Government which succeeded that of the Emperor Napoleon. Napoleon found France in delirium. He wished to rescue it from the anarchy of 1793, and from a counter-revolution. That he well understood the national will, his miraculous return from the isle of Elba will prove sufficiently to posterity. The English Cabinet always prevented the surrender of his dictatorship by perpetuating the war. Napoleon was thus under the necessity of assuming the forms of the other governments of Continental Europe, to reconcile them with France. All that which Napoleon did, his nobility (which was not feudal), his family relations, his Legion of Honor, his new realms, etc., he was under the necessity of doing. The English ever forced him to these acts, that he might put himself in apparent harmony with all those governments which he had conquered, and which he wished to withdraw from the seduction of England. Napoleon often said to me, 'Ten years more are necessary in order to give entire liberty. I can not do what I wish, [341] but only what I can. These English compel me to live day by day.'"

As the tidings reached the ears of Joseph of the great Revolution of 1830 in France, in which the throne of Charles X. was demolished, he wrote to La Fayette under date of Sept. 7, 1830:

"MY DEAR GENERAL,—General Lallemand, who will hand you this letter, will recall me to your memory. He will tell you with what enthusiasm the population of this country, American and French, have received the news of the glorious events of which Paris has been the theatre. If I had not seen at the head of affairs a name with which mine can never be in accord, I should be with you immediately with General Lallemand. You will recall our interview in this hospitable and free land. My sentiments are as invariable as yours and those of my family. Everything for the French people.

"Doubtless I can not forget that my nephew, Napoleon II. was proclaimed by the Chamber which, in 1815, was dissolved by the bayonets of foreigners. Faithful to the motto of my family, Every thing by France and for [342] France, I wish to discharge my duties to her. You know my opinions, long ago proclaimed. Individuals and families can have only duties to fulfill in their relation to nations. The nations have rights  to exercise. If the French nation should call to the head of affairs the most obscure family, I think that we ought to submit to its will entirely. The nation alone has the right to destroy its work.

"I ask for the abolition of that tyrannic law which has shut out from France a family which had opened the kingdom to all those Frenchmen whom the Revolution had expelled. I protest against any election made by private corporations, or by bodies not having obtained from the nation the powers which the nation alone has the right to confer.

"Adieu, my dear general. My letter proves to you the justice I render to the sentiments you expressed to me during the triumphal( journey you made among this people, where I have seen, for fifteen years, that liberty is not a chimera, that it is a blessing which a nation, moderate and wise, can enjoy when it wishes."

To Maria Louisa, daughter of the Emperor of Austria, and mother of the Duke of Reich- [343] stadt, Joseph wrote the next day, September 10, as follows:

"MADAME MY SISTER,—The events which transpired in Paris at the close of July, and of which we have received intelligence, through the English journals, to the 1st of August, remove the principal difficulties in the way of the return of Napoleon II. to the throne of his father. If the Emperor, his grandfather, lends him the least support, if he will permit that, under my guidance, he may show himself to the French people, his presence alone will re-establish him upon the throne. The Duke of Orleans can rally around him partisans, only in consequence of the absence of the son of your Majesty. It is his re-establishment in France which alone can reunite all parties, stifle the germs of a new revolution, and thus secure the tranquillity of Europe.

"If I were in a position to unfold to your august father the reasons which render this step indispensable on his part at this moment, he could have no doubt of its imperious necessity. His ministry would perceive that the happiness of his grandson, that of France, the tranquillity of Italy, and perhaps of the rest of [344] Europe, depend upon the re-establishment of the throne of Napoleon II. He is the only one chosen by the voice of the nation. He alone can prevent a new revolution the results of which no mortal can foresee. I hope that the many misfortunes which we have encountered have not effaced from the heart of your Majesty the affection she has manifested for me under diverse circumstances. I can only offer to her myself for her son. For a long time I have been disabused of the illusions of human grandeur; but I am more than ever the slave of that which I deem to be my duty."

On the 18th of September, 1830, Joseph wrote a letter to the Emperor of Austria, which he inclosed in a letter of the same date to Prince Metternich. In his letter to Metternich, Joseph wrote:

"I do not doubt, sir, that you desire the welfare of the grandson of the Emperor whom you have so long served, the welfare of Austria, the tranquillity of Europe, and even of France, if these are all reconcilable. I am convinced that they are to-day perfectly reconcilable, and that Napoleon II. restored to the wishes of the French people can alone secure all these results. I offer myself to serve him as a guide. [345] The happiness of my country, the peace of the world, will be the noble ends of my ambition.

"Napoleon II. arriving in France under the national colors, conducted by a man whose sentiments and patriotic affections are well known, can alone prevent the usurpation of the Duke of Orleans, who, being neither called to the throne by the rights of succession nor by the national will, clearly and legitimately expressed, can maintain himself in power only by caressing all parties, and finally becoming sub-ordinate to the one which offers him the best chances of success, whatever may be the means to be employed for that end."

Joseph's letter to the Emperor of Austria contained the following expressions:

"The particular esteem with which the virtues of your Majesty inspire me, embolden me to re-call myself to his recollection under circumstances in which the general welfare appears to the to be in accord with the sentiments of his heart, that he may restore to the wishes of the French people a prince who alone can confer upon them internal peace, and assure the tranquillity of Europe. This peace and tranquillity would be disturbed by the efforts which must be made to sustain in France a govern- [346] ment of usurpation like that of the Duke of Orleans, or even a republic, if the absence of the son of Napoleon, the grandson of your Majesty, should constrain the nation, thus abandoned by the prince of its choice, to surrender itself to another form of government. Sire, if you will entrust to me the son of my brother, that son whom he enjoined, upon his death-bed, to follow my advice in returning to France, I guarantee the success of the enterprise. Alone, with a tri-color scarf, will Napoleon II. be proclaimed.

"Will it be necessary for me to speak of myself to your Majesty to give him confidence in my character? Must I recall to his remembrance that, after the treaty of Luneville, be communicated to me, through an autograph letter to Count Cobentzl, that the opinion he had formed of my moderation was such that he would with pleasure see me placed upon the throne of Lombardy? I refused that throne. I preferred to remain in France. Since then, at Naples, in Spain, has that character been falsified?

"To-day, as then, I am guided by the single sentiment of duty. My ambition limits itself to doing what I ought for France, for the mem- [347] ory of my brother, and to die upon my native soil a witness of the happiness of the grandson of your Majesty, which is inseparable from that of France and from the tranquillity of Europe. I can only contribute to that to-day by my wishes. May your Majesty second them by his powerful influence, and thus consolidate the peace of the world and the eternal glory of his name."

On the same day, September 18, Joseph wrote an earnest appeal to the French Chamber of Deputies. The following extracts will show its character.

"It is impossible that a house, reigning through the principle of divine right, should maintain itself upon a throne from which it has been expelled by the nation. The divorce between the House of Bourbon and the French people has been pronounced, and nothing can destroy the souvenirs of the past. In vain the Duke of Orleans abjures his house in the moment of its misfortunes. A Bourbon himself, returning to France, sword in hand, with the Bourbons, in the train of foreign armies, what matter is it that his father voted for the death of the King, his cousin, that he might take his place? What matter is it that the [348] brother of Louis XVI. named him lieutenant-general of the realm, and regent of his grandson? Is he the less a Bourbon? Has he the less pretension of being entitled to the throne by the right of birth? Is it through the choice of the people, or the right of birth, that he claims to sit upon the throne of his ancestors?

"The family of Napoleon has been elected by three million five hundred thousand votes. If the nation deem it for its interest to make another choice, it has the power and the right to do so; but the nation alone. Napoleon II. was proclaimed king by the Chamber of Deputies in 1815, which recognized in him a right conferred by the nation. That he may be the legitimate sovereign, in the true acceptation of the word, that is to say, legally and voluntarily chosen by the people, there is no need of a new election so long as the nation has not adopted any other form of government. Still the nation is supreme to confirm or reject the titles it has given according to its pleasure. Till then, gentlemen, you are bound to recognize Napoleon II. And until Austria shall restore him to the wishes of France, I offer myself to share your perils, your efforts, your labors, and, upon his arrival, to transmit to him the will, the [349] examples, the last dispositions of his father, dying a victim of the enemies of France upon the rock of Saint Helena. These words the Emperor addressed to me through General Bertrand:

"'Say to my son that he should remember, first of all, that he is a Frenchman. Let him give the nation as much liberty as I have given it equality. Foreign wars did not permit me to do that which I should have done at the general peace. I was perpetually in dictatorship. But I ever had, as the motive in all my actions, the love and the grandeur of the great nation. Let him take my device, Every thing for the French people. It is to that people we are indebted for all that we have been.

"'The liberty of the press is the triumph of truth. It is that which should diffuse general intelligence. Let it speak, and let the will of the great mass of the people be accomplished.'"

Again, on the 26th of September, Joseph wrote to General Lamarque:

"The Duke of Orleans, by his birth, by his connection with the reigning branches of the family of Bourbon, which he in vain attempts to ignore, will soon be suspected by the patriots of France, and by the liberals of Italy and of Spain. The act which places him upon the throne, not emanat- [350] ing from the nation, can not constitute him king of the French. A few capitalists in Paris are not France. He can not therefore have the cordial assent of the liberals of any country. He can not have the support of those who believe in the legitimacy of the elder branch of his house. He can not have the assent of those who have not lost the memory of the votes which the nation gave to Napoleon, and to Napoleon II., whom the Chamber of Deputies proclaimed in 1815.

"The Duke of Orleans, was he not a pupil of Dumourier? Did he not, like Dumourier, desert the cause of the nation? Did he not, in London, in the presence of all the emigrant French nobility, ask pardon and make the amende honorable  for having, for one instant. borne the national colors? Did be not go to Cadiz, sent by the English, to fight the French troops who did not then wear the white cockade of the Bourbons? Did he not enter France in the train of the Allies, sword in hand, with his cousins? Was be not rescued with them, and did he not owe to the disaster at Waterloo his return to France?

"The thirty-two individuals who called him first to the lieutenant-generalship of the realm [351] would have called some one else if they had not been greatly influenced by his rights of birth. Was there no other man in France more worthy to take temporarily the helm of state? General La Fayette, who was at the head of the provisory government, would he not have given to the nation, and to the friends of liberty and of order in the two worlds, stronger guaranties than a prince of the House of Bourbon? The enthronement of the Duke of Orleans can be approved only by the enemies of France. His illegitimacy, both in view of the sovereignty of the people and of the partisans of divine right, is so evident that he can only govern by being submissive to the will of the factions, whom he will be compelled to obey, now one, and now another. The time for representative governments has arrived. Liberty, equality, public order can not exist where those governing are of a different species from those who are governed."

In a letter to General Bernard, on the 29th of September, Joseph uttered the following prophetic sentiment: "You were deceived by your informants when you said that the name of Napoleon was not pronounced by the combatants. It was pronounced by them. It was [352] pronounced by the Army of Algiers. It is to-day pronounced by the people in the departments and will soon be by entire France. The artifices of intrigue and deception are temporary. The national will, sooner or later, must triumph."

La Fayette had been mainly instrumental in placing the Duke of Orleans upon the throne of France. He wrote to Joseph Bonaparte explaining his reasons for this. In allusion to the fact that he was compelled to yield to the pressure of circumstances, he said, "You know that in home affairs, as in foreign affairs, no one can do just what he wishes to have done. Your incomparable brother, with his power, his character, his genius, experienced this himself." He also expressed his strong disapproval of the dictatorship of Napoleon, and of the aristocracy which he introduced. Joseph replied from Point Breeze, under date of January 15, 1831:

"MY DEAR GENERAL,—I have received your letter of the 26th of November. I am satisfied that under the circumstances you did that which you conscientiously thought it your duty to do. You have thought, as have I, and as did the Emperor Napoleon, that a republic could not, at present, be established in France. [353] You have recoiled before the confusion which it would introduce in the interior. You could undoubtedly have found a remedy for that in the family which the nation had called to such high destinies. But the hatred of foreigners against that family which France had chosen, inclined you to a prince between whom and legitimacy there was but a single child.

"My reply is short. Let France preserve peace and liberty with that family. Let such become the national will legitimately expressed, and the conduct of the sixty-two Deputies, who have called the second branch of the House of Bourbon to power, will no longer be discussed by any one. Will this be done? Time alone can tell us.

"The portion of your letter in which you speak of the Napoleonic system as impressed with despotism and aristocracy merits, on my part, a more detailed response. While I render justice to your good intentions, I can not but deplore the situation in which you found yourself when released from the prisons of Aus- [354] tria. That imprisonment did not permit you to judge of the influence exerted upon the national opinion and character by the wretched Reign of Terror. You had only seen the liberal system of America, and you have condemned the all-powerful man who did not transfer that system to France. I remember that one day my brother, in coming from an interview with you, my dear general, said to me these words:

"'I have just had a very interesting conversation with the Marquis de la Fayette upon the subject of the disorderly persons whom the police has sent from Paris. I have said to him that this was done that they might not disturb the tranquillity of good men like himself, whose residence in France appeared to them one of my crimes. The Marquis de la Fayette does not know the character of these people in whom be interests himself. He was in the prisons of despotism when these people made all France to tremble. But France remembers this too well. We are not here in America.'

"Napoleon never doubted your good intentions. But he thought that you judged too [355] favorably of your contemporaries. He was forced into war by the English, and into the dictatorship by the war. These few words are the history of the Empire. Napoleon incessantly said to me, 'When will peace arrive? Then only can I satisfy all, and show myself as I am.'

"The aristocracy of which you accuse him was only the mode of placing himself in harmony with Europe. But the old feudal aristocracy was never in his favor. The proof of this is that he was its victim, and that he expiated, at Saint Helena, the crime of having wished to employ all the institutions in favor of the people; and the European aristocracy contrived to turn against him even those very masses for whose benefit he was laboring. The French nation renders him justice; and the European masses will not be slow to say that Napoleon had ever in view the suffrage of posterity, whose verdict is always in favor of him who has only in view the happiness of his country."

On the 15th of February, 1832, Joseph wrote from Point Breeze to the Duke of Reichstadt as follows:

"MY DEAR NEPHEW,—The bearer of this [356] letter will be the interpreter of my sentiments. He has passed several weeks in my retreat. They have been occupied with the souvenirs of your father, and of your future lot. I was born eighteen months before your father. We were brought up together. Nothing has ever diminished the warm affection which united us. At his death he entrusted to me the care of communicating to you his last wishes. But before my distance from you enabled me to fulfill that duty, his testament had been published in all the leading journals of Europe.

"When, in 1830, the house imposed upon France by foreigners was again expelled by the nation, I hastened to address to the Chamber of Deputies, and to his Imperial Majesty, your grandfather, the inclosed letters. But my distance from France still thwarted my wishes. and the younger branch of that same house was again imposed upon France by a factious minority. Innumerable calumnies, intended to alienate the nation from you, were scattered abroad with profusion. A chamber, control-led by the Government usurping the rights of the nation, proscribed us anew. But the voice of the people called you. Of that I have conclusive evidence.

[357] "Let his Imperial Majesty consent to entrust you to my care; let him send me a passport that I may come to him and to you, I will quit my retreat to respond to his confidence, to yours, to the sentiment which commands me to spare no efforts to restore to the love of the French the son of the man whom I have loved the most of any one upon earth. My opinions are well known in France. They are in harmony with those of the nation. If you enter France with me and a tri-color scarf, you will be received there as the son of Napoleon.

"When you were born in Paris, the 20th of March, 1811, your father had become, through the love of the French people as well as through the obstinacy of the English oligarchy making war upon him, the most powerful prince in Europe. The English oligarchy foresaw the prosperity which France, governed in accordance with the liberal doctrines of the age, would attain if she had peace. That oligarchy feared the contagion of the example upon other states. Therefore it did not cease to employ the immense resources which the monopoly of the commerce of the world placed at its disposal to excite against Napoleon ene- [358] mies at home and abroad, and to stifle, at its birth, the union of the peoples and the kings for the reform of the anti-social privileges of the oligarchy. It therefore provoked incessant war, and thus rendered France every day more powerful, through the victories she obtained under the direction of your father, whom it accused of the calamities inseparable from a war kindled by itself, and with the sole object of maintaining its unjust privileges.

"It was at the close of a strife incessantly renewed, excited by the Government of a nation sufficiently rich to pay the soldiers of the others, and sheltered by its insular position against all attempts against itself, that, after the triumphs of twenty years, your father succumbed beneath the united efforts of the Allies of England, who perceived too late their fatal errors.

"Napoleon was the friend both of the peoples and of the kings. He wished to reconcile them to each other. He wished to save other states from the misfortunes which a bloody revolution had inflicted upon France. These were the reforms which he desired, voluntary ameliorations, commended by the increasing civilization of the world, and the widely- [359] extended interests of all classes, and not violent commotions, which always pass beyond the end desired. His greatest vengeance against England did not exceed that which the advocates of the bill of reform seek for to-day.

"I think that now you are placed in a position to continue the work with which a divine genius inspired your father. France will accept you with enthusiasm. Factions will subside. The power with which your father was invested is no longer needful for the accomplishment of his designs. It was war which elevated upon the thrones of Europe the princes of his family. But it was not that he might give them thrones that he engaged in war. They were military positions occupied during the general struggle which the oligarchies had decided never to close but by the abasement of France. It was necessary to allow the conquered countries to be invaded by the republican system for which they were not prepared, or to cause them to be governed by men of whose devotion to France and to himself he was fully assured. And where could be find better guaranties than in his brothers, whom nature, as well as the favors which they had received from the nation, had destined to [360] share his adverse as well as his good-fortune, both inseparable from that of France?

"To-day time has borne its fruits. Nations are more enlightened respecting their interests. They know well that the most happy nation is that in which the greatest number of men enjoy the most prosperity; which obeys a supreme magistrate whom it loves, and who him. self has not the baleful power to' abuse the life, the property, the liberty of the people, whom be represents only that he may protect the rights which they have entrusted to him. Such were the opinions, and especially the instinct, of your father. Every thing for the people! And at the general pacification which he desired with all his heart, Every thing by the people, and for the people. He did not live long enough.

"May I live long enough to see you return to our country, restored to herself; the worthy heir of his heart, all French, of his generous intentions. As for his immense genius, it is no longer necessary for France or for Europe. You are destined, by your birth, to unite peoples and kings, and to reconcile the old and the new civilization; to prevent new upheavings, to moderate all political passions, and thus to bring forward that prosperity of indi- [361] viduals. and of nations which can only arise from justice, from the free development of all rights from the equilibrium of all duties.

"Your father was accustomed to say to me, 'When will the time arise when justice alone shall reign? When shall I finish my dictatorship? We do not yet see that time. The English oligarchy will not have It so. My son perhaps will see it. May that presage be soon accomplished.'

"This is also the fondest wish of my heart. Receive it with the tenderness of the old friend of your glorious father, at Point Breeze, State of New Jersey, in the United States of America, where I live as happy as one can be far from his country, in the most prosperous land upon the earth, under the name which I have adopted, of the Count of Survilliers."

The elder brother of the present Emperor, Napoleon III., who had married the youngest daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, died in Italy in March, 1831. With his younger brother, Louis Napoleon, he had joined the Italians in their endeavor to throw off the yoke of Austria. The young prince, who had developed very noble character, fell a victim to the fatigues of the campaign. By the vote of the French people, the Duke of Reichstadt was the first heir to [362] the throne of the Empire. In case of his death, the crown passed to Joseph Bonaparte. As Joseph had no children, his decease would transfer the sceptre to his brother, Louis Bonaparte, and from Louis it would pass to Louis Napoleon, his only surviving son.

When, in 1832, Joseph heard of the dangerous sickness of the Duke of Reichstadt, whose death, as we have mentioned, would constitute Joseph first heir to the throne, he with some hesitancy decided to leave his peaceful retreat at Point Breeze and repair to England. He hoped to obtain permission to visit his dying nephew in Vienna, and then to re-unite himself in Italy with his wife, and with his revered mother, who was still living. Upon his landing in Liverpool he received the sad tidings that the Duke of Reichstadt had breathed his last on the 22nd of July. He was twenty-one years of age, tall, graceful, affectionate, and of marvellous beauty. His mother and other friends wept at the side of his couch. Devoutly he partook of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and, with a smile lingering upon his cheek, fell asleep. We trust

"Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep,

From which none ever wake to weep."


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