When she had been carried to her bedchamber by her husband and an attendant, the Emperor rang for her servants, and, on their arrival, retired in the deepest mental distress. Moreover, during the sleepless night that followed, he rose repeatedly to inquire after his wife's health, and his valet declares that he never saw him in such affliction. It is this suffering on the part of both that makes the separation of Napoleon and Josephine peculiarly pathetic. Despite some serious faults, Josephine was the only woman whom Napoleon ever really loved. It is a proof of his natural tenderness of heart that, steadily resisting the arguments and appeals of his own family, as well as those of the leading statesmen of France, he refused for years to entertain the thought of separation from his wife. Renouncing the natural longing of a father's heart for a son to follow him in a career of glory, he chose at first his brother's child to be his political heir, and only on the death of that little prince did he allow the subject of divorce to be reopened. For the question who should govern the colossal empire after his death was of such paramount importance that it could not be ignored. To secure an heir, and thereby found a permanent dynasty, and by marrying into one of the royal families to put an end to the continual coalitions against him, or to secure at least one ally, these, and not a lack of affection, formed the true reason for Napoleon's conduct. And when at last Josephine acknowledged and accepted the necessity of the sacrifice required, Napoleon's treatment of her, not only in generosity, but in delicate and reiterated proofs of continued friendship, is unsurpassed in either public or private history.
Bedroom Of The Empress Josephine, Fontainebleau.
Not far from the apartments of Napoleon one enters the elaborately decorated rooms occupied by Pope Pius VII on the two occasions when he visited Fontainebleau, - the first time as the Emperor's guest, the second as his prisoner. The Pope owed much to Bonaparte for having restored religion to the French nation. The Revolution had demoralized France.
The Council Hall, Fontainebleau.
For years she had neither had a Sabbath nor recognized a God.
Her churches had been closed and desecrated, and hundreds of priests were languishing in prisons. "No nation can exist without religion," said Napoleon; and straightway caused religious worship to be reestablished throughout France. Opening the dungeon doors he also gave the imprisoned priests their liberty, and bade them go to work again, reclaiming men from sin. In this, however, there was no intolerance, for he proclaimed that not an individual in France, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Jew, should be molested on account of his religion. Still, notwithstanding these beneficent decrees of the First Consul, it was a wonderful act of condescension on the part of a Pope, for the first time in the history of Christendom, to leave the Vatican and travel hundreds of miles into a foreign land to crown Napoleon Emperor of France. Nevertheless, the first visit of Pius VII, made for this purpose, was eminently satisfactory, and on his return from Fontainebleau to Rome he said: "I went to seek religion and I found it. I traversed France through a kneeling people."
Rooms Of Pius VII At Fontainebleau.
But, nine years later, when Napoleon, thus consecrated by the Pope, had become practically sovereign of Europe, Pius VII, having refused to give up to him the temporal power of the Papal States, was by his orders brought from Rome to Fontainebleau, a captive. This time, within these rooms, furnished with so much elegance, the Pontiff lived like an ascetic, spending his days in fasting and prayer. One thinks here of the stormy interviews which must have taken place between the all-powerful Emperor and his prisoner, for during many months the Holy Father would not yield either to the threats or entreaties of Napoleon. Finally, however, on the 19th of January, 1813, after a scene in this apartment, the details of which still remain a mystery, Pius VII consented to renounce his temporal sovereignty. Some have declared that Bonaparte on this occasion became so excited that he used personal violence towards the venerable Pontiff; but this, besides being extremely improbable, was emphatically denied by the Pope himself.