free ebooks

The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

As he frankly said to Roederer


New

arrangements were accordingly proposed. Lucien and Jerome having, for the present at least, put themselves out of court by their unsatisfactory marriages, Napoleon appeared to accept a reconciliation with Joseph and Louis, and to place them in the order of succession, as the Senate recommended. But he still reserved the right of adopting the son of Louis and of thus favouring his chances of priority. Indeed, it must be admitted that the Emperor at this difficult crisis showed conjugal tact and affection, for which he has received scant justice at the hands of Josephine's champions. "How could I divorce this good wife," he said to Roederer, "because I am becoming great?" But fate seemed to decree the divorce, which, despite the reasonings of his brothers, he resolutely thrust aside; for the little boy on whose life the Empress built so many fond hopes was to be cut off by an early death in the year 1807.

Then there were frequent disputes between Napoleon and Joseph. Both of them had the Corsican's instinct in favour of primogeniture; and hitherto Napoleon had in many ways deferred to his elder brother. Now, however, he showed clearly that he would brook not the slightest interference in affairs of State. And truly, if we except Joseph's diplomatic services, he showed no commanding gifts such as could raise him aloft along with the bewildering rush of Napoleon's fortunes. The one was an irrepressible genius, the other was a man of culture and talent,

whose chief bent was towards literature, amours, and the art of _dolce far niente_, except when his pride was touched: then he was capable of bursts of passion which seemed to impose even on his masterful second brother. Lucien, Louis, and even the youthful Jerome, had the same intractable pride which rose defiant even against Napoleon. He was determined that his brothers should now take a subordinate rank, while they regarded the dynasty as largely due to their exertions at or after Brumaire, and claimed a proportionate reward. Napoleon, however, saw that a dynasty could not thus be founded. As he frankly said to Roederer, a dynasty could only take firm root in France among heirs brought up in a palace: "I have never looked on my brothers as the natural heirs to power: I only consider them as men fit to ward off the evils of a minority."

Joseph deeply resented this conduct. He was a Prince of the Empire, and a Grand Elector; but he speedily found out that this meant nothing more than occasionally presiding at the Senate, and accordingly indulged in little acts of opposition that enraged the autocrat. In his desire to get his brother away from Paris, the Emperor had already recommended him to take up the profession of arms; for he could not include him in the succession, and place famous marshals under him if he knew nothing of an army. Joseph perforce accepted the command of a regiment, and at thirty-six years of age began to learn drill near Boulogne.[312] This piece of burlesque was one day to prove infinitely regrettable. After the disaster of Vittoria, Napoleon doubtless wished that Joseph had for ever had free play in the tribune of the Senate rather than have dabbled in military affairs. But in the spring and summer of 1804 the Emperor noted his every word; so that, when he ventured to suggest that Josephine should not be crowned at the coming coronation, Napoleon's wrath blazed forth. Why should Joseph speak of _his_ rights and _his_ interests? Who had won power? Who deserved to enjoy power? Power was his (Napoleon's) mistress, and he dared Joseph to touch her. The Senate or Council of State might oppose him for ten years, without his becoming a tyrant: "To make me a tyrant one thing alone is necessary--a movement of my family."[313]


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us