« PreviousContinue »
litan archbishop, The first consul gave a grand dinner to this dignified prelate, and to several of his brethren. After the entertainment, Bonaparte addressed the archbishop by observing, that as he had given directions for the repairing of the archiepiscopal palace, he should very much like to take a ride in the archbishop's carriage, to see the progress which the workmen had made. The prelate bowed to the first consul, and informed him that he had no carriage, otherwise he should be much flattered by conducting him thither. Bonaparte good humouredly said, "how can that *' be? your coach has been waiting at the gate this half hour," and immediately led the venerable archbishop down the steps of the Thuilleries, where he found a plain handsome carriage, with a valuable pair of horses, and a coachman, and footmen dressed in the livery which Bonaparte had just before informed him would be allotted to him, when his establishment was completed. The whole was a present from the private purse of the first consul. Upon their arrival at the palace, the archbishop was agreeably surprised by finding that the most minute, and liberal attention had been paid to his comfort and accommodation.
The clergy seem to be in favour with Bonaparte. When he assisted in the last spring at the inauguration of the archbishop of Paris, in the metropolitan church of Notre Dame, and gave to the restoration of religion "all the cir*' cumstance of pomp1' and military parade, he was desirous of having the colours of his regiment consecrated by the holy prelate, and submitted his wishes to his soldiers.
A few CONSULAR CONVERSION. I ID
A few days afterwards, a deputation waited upon their general Chap. in chief, with this reply, "Our banners have already been' "consecrated by the blood of our enemies at Marengo; *' the benediction of a priest cannot render them more sa"crcd in our eyes, nor more animating in the time of "battle." Bonaparte prudently submitted himself to their praetorian resolution, and the consular colours remain to this hour in the same unchristianlike condition, as when they first waved at the head of their victorious legions. This anecdote will in some degree prove a fact which, notwithstanding the counter reports of english newspapers, I found every where confirmed, that although religion is new to the french, yet that the novelty has at present but little charm for them. I had frequent opportunity of making this remark, as well in the capital as in the departments of the republic through which I passed. In Paris, the Sabbath. can only be considered as a day of dissipation to the lovers of gayety, and a clay of unusual profit to the man of trade. Here, it is true, upon particular festival days, considerable bodies of people are to be seen in the act of worship, but curiosity, and the love of show assemble thenvtogether, if it was otherwise their attendance would be more numerous and regular. The first consul. does not seem 'to possess mudh fashionable influence over the french in matters of religion, otherwise, as he has the credit of attending mass, with very pious punctuality, in his private chapel at Mai Maison, it might be rather expected, that devotion would become a little more familiar to the people.
120 CONSULAR MODESTY. — MADAME BONAPARTE.
Chap. Upon another subject, the profession of the chief magiXIT' strate has been equally unfortunate. To the few ladies who are admitted into his social circles, he has declared himself an enemy to that dress, or undress (I am puzzled to know what to call it) which his friend, David, has, so successfully, recommended, for the purpose of displaying, with the least possible restraint, the fine proportions of the female form. Madame Bonaparte, who is considered to be in as good a state of subordination to her young husband, as the consular regiment is to their young general, contrives to ex? hibit her elegant person to great advantage; by adopting a judicious and graceful medium of dress, by which she tastefully avoids a load of decoration, which repels the eye by too dense a covering, and that questionable airiness of ornament which, by its gracious and unrestrained display, deprives the imagination of more than half its pleasures. Bonaparte is said not to be indifferent to those affections which do honour to the breast which cherishes them, nor to the morals of the people whom he governs.
It is well known that in France, in the house of a new fashionable couple, separate chambers are always reserved for the faithful pair, which after the solemnities of marriage very seldom remain long unoccupied. The first consul considers such separations as unfriendly to morals. A few months since, by a well timed display of assumed ignorance, he endeavoured to give fashion to a sentiment which may in time reduce the number of these family accommodations. The noble palace of St. Cloud was at this time
preparing SEPARATE BEDS. — A COUNTRY SCENE. 121
preparing for him; the principal architect requested of him to Chap. point out.in what part of the palace he would wish to have his XI1' separate sleeping room. "I do not know what you mean," said the young imperial philosopher, "crimes only divide "the husband from his wife. Make as many bed rooms as "you please, but only one for me and Madame Bonaparte.'
I must now quit the dazzling splendour of imperial virtues for the more tranquil, but not less fascinating appearance of retired and modest merit.
It was in the afternoon of one of the finest days in June, when
Madame O , with her nephew, a very amiable young
man, called in their carriage and took me to the chateau of her husband, to whom I had letters of introduction. After passing through a charming country for nine miles, adorned on each side with gardens and country houses, we arrived at the pleasant village of la Reine. As soon as we entered it, the sight of the carriage, and of their benefactress, seemed to enliven the faces of the villagers, who were seated in picturesque groupes at the doors of their cottages. Such animated looks were not lighted up by curiosity, for they had
seen Madame O a thousand and a thousand times, but
because they had seldom seen her without experiencing some endearing proof of her bountiful heart. We left the village to the right, and proceeded through a private road, lined with stately walnut trees, of nearly a mile in length, which led to Monsieur O 's. It was evening; the sky was cloudless, the sun was setting in great glory, and covered the face of this romantic country with the richest glow. Near the
122 COUNTRY SCENE.
Chap. gate of a shrubbery I beheld a very handsome boy, whose XI1' appearance at once bespoke him to be the son of a gentleman,
the animated smile of Madame O , immediately convinced
me that it was her son; "see," said the delighted mother, "it "is my little gardener;" the little graceful rustic had a small spade in his hand, which he threw down, and ran to us. We alighted at the entrance of the garden, into which we entered, under a beautiful covered trcillage, lined with jessamine and honeysuckles. At the end were two elegant young women, waiting, with delight, to receive their mother, from whom they had been separated only a few hours. With this charming family I entered the house, which was handsome but plain. The hospitable owner rose from his sofa, and, after embracing his elegant lady with great affection, lie received me with all the expressions and warmth of a long friendship^ Soon afterwards his servant (a faithful indian) entered,, and spread upon the table, Madeira, Burgundy,, and dried fruits. It was intensely hot: the great window at the end of the room in which we were sitting, opened into the gardens, which appeared to be very beautiful, and abounded with nightingales, which were then most sweetly singing. "They
"are my little musicians," said Monsieur O , " we have
"made a pleasant bargain together, I give them crumbs of *' bread and my bowers to range in, and they give me this "charming music every evening."
Monsieur O was an invalide, the revolution, poignant
vexations, heavy losses, and a painful separation from his native country, for the preservation of his life, and that of his