Tree At Malmaison Planted By Napoleon And Josephine.
Pont Des Arts And The Institute Of France.
Napoleon's Study And Promenade Solitaire.
Some months later, the duel between Napoleon and united Europe had ended, and the Emperor, after his first abdication, was a prisoner on the island of Elba. It was then that Josephine, astonished to learn that Marie Louise had not followed him into exile, wrote him from Malmaison that, if he desired it, she herself would go to him at once, since she was as thoroughly devoted to his interests as ever. Alas! a few weeks later she died here in the arms of her children Eugene and Hortense, - her last words being "The island of Elba - Napoleon." It is pathetic to remember that the last place visited by Napoleon before leaving Paris for St. Helena was Malmaison. It was after his defeat at Waterloo. His mighty empire was lost. His Austrian wife had abandoned him. His child was in the hands of his enemies. Even Josephine was dead. The world seemed crumbling beneath his feet. Speechless from grief, he walked about these grounds accompanied by Josephine's daughter, Hortense; but finally he requested her to leave him, and retired to the room where Josephine had died, the year before, with his name on her lips. He must have realized then that from the moment he divorced Josephine his star had waned.
"Ah, my poor Josephine! Alas! Alas! She gave her life a willing sacrifice; And I, with my own hands, tore out her heart And mine, and laid them bleeding on the shrine of France. But to what end? That the hell-hounds of Fate, should lick the flames up From that altar's crest, to follow hot Upon my track forever after!"
In the village of Rueil, about a mile from Malmaison, is a humble church in which reposes all that is mortal of the first wife of Napoleon. One afternoon, as I approached it, its bell was softly sending forth a call to prayer. I listened to it with a mournful interest, remembering the words of Bour-rienne, Napoleon's secretary, when he says: "The sound of a bell produced an effect upon Napoleon which I could never explain. When we were at Malmaison and were walking in the road which led to Rueil, how many times has the sound of the village church bell stopped our most serious conversation! He would instantly pause, that the noise of our steps might not cause him to lose a single one of those distant tones which so delighted him."
Beside the altar of this church is the tomb of Josephine. A graceful statue in spotless marble represents the Empress kneeling in the attitude which she assumed, when waiting for Napoleon to put the crown upon her head at the coronation ceremony in the cathedral of Notre Dame, so beautifully portrayed in David's famous painting.
Tomb Of Josephine, Rueil.
It was on the 29th of May, the anniversary of her death, that I stood here, and saw fresh wreaths upon the railing of her tomb (among them, one sent by Eugenie from her place of exile), and on the pavement many lovely flowers, to which I added some that I had plucked at Malmaison.
Napoleon and Josephine, - how different are the sentiments which their memories inspire! Regarding one, the world's opinion is divided; for while by some Napoleon is adored, by others he is execrated. But there is little difference of opinion in regard to Josephine. The whole world gives to her its love and sympathy, and her noblest epitaph might be the words she spoke an hour before her death: "The first wife of Napoleon never caused a single tear to flow."
Whether an admirer of the great Emperor or not, every visitor to Paris goes to the tomb of Napoleon. It is one of the most impressive monuments in the world. Above it is a stately dome whose richly gilded surface glitters in the sun at a height of more than three hundred feet. Within its shadow, on the other side, is the Hotel des Invalides - a home where the veteran soldiers of France may end their days in peace. On crossing the threshold of this mausoleum, the first impression of the place is awe-inspiring. It is a kind of temple, lined from floor to roof with spotless marble. Four marble piers uphold the mighty dome. Directly opposite the entrance rises a magnificent altar, which, with its lofty canopy, is composed of variegated marble, bronze, and gold. The floor is of mosaic in elaborate designs. At the four corners of this grand enclosure are smaller marble-lined apartments, in two of which repose the brothers of the Emperor- Joseph and Jerome.