Imágenes de páginas

own Spanish army-a body of troops for which Napoleon, on all occasions, expressed as much contempt and distrust as he had been accustomed to do for Joseph's Neapolitan army. But this attempt of Joseph, to select his own governor of Madrid, only subjected him to a new mortification, since it drew from Napoleon the following letter addressed to Berthier, then minister of war:

"Paris, Jan. 17th, 1811. My cousin: Let the king of Spain know, that having giving the government of Madrid to General Belliard, who has continued to serve me well, I do not choose that it should be taken from him, nor. above all, that it should be given to an officer who is not in the service of France; that if it be true that the king has deprived General Belliard of the government of Madrid, he inust restore it to him without delay; that this is my formal order; that, generally speaking, I do not intend any French troops to be under the command of officers in the Spanish service."

Joseph's obsequiousness, in spite of occasional remonstrances, to every wish of his brother, was soon after rewarded by the following gracious epistles:

"Paris, March 20th, 1811. Monsieur mon frère: I hasten to announce to your majesty that the empress, my dear wife, has just been safely delivered of a prince, who, at his birth, received the title of king of Rome; your majesty's constant affection towards me, convinces me that you will share in the satisfaction which I feel at an event of such importance to my family, and to the welfare of my subjects.

This conviction is very agreeable to me. Your majesty is aware of my attachments, and cannot doubt the pleasure with which I seize his opportunity of repeating the assur ances of the sincere esteein and friendship

with which I am, etc., etc."

"March 20th, 1811. [This letter commences with some details as to the birth of the child which the English editor is too modest to translate, but which the French editor gives as affording a proof of the friendly intimacy be tween the brothers] This evening, at eight o'clock, the child is to be privately baptized. Is I do not intend the public christening to take place for the next six weeks, I shall entrust General Defrance, my equerry, who will be the bearer of this letter, with another, in which I shall ask you to stand godfather to your nephew."

Joseph, accordingly, visited Paris on the occasion of the christening, where -if we are to believe a statement of Napoleon's, to be presently quoted-his brother was anxious to have him remain. Joseph is represented in his memoirs as having been induced to go back by promises of money and of an extension of his military authority, neither of which promises was kept. However, when

Napoleon, a year afterwards, was about setting out on his fatal campaign against Russia, from the necessity of having some head to the operations in Spain, he restored, on the 15th of March, 1812, the command in chief to Joseph, with whom, as well as with the French minister of war, the commanding generals were directed to correspond, and who was required to take into his military councils Marshal Jourdan, in retirement since the defeat of Talavera, but now appointed chief of the staff. The marshals, however, were little disposed to give up their independent authority; and as Napoleon, far advanced into Russia, was preparing for the battle of Borodino, news reached him of a defeat at Salamanca, on the 23d of July, 1812, which he ascribed to a spirit of insubordination on the part of Marmont, who had succeeded to Massena's command. Marmont had been obliged to retire before Wellington, now again advancing from Portugal, but instead of waiting to be joined by Joseph, who was marching with the army of the centre to his assistance, and anxious to engross to himself the glory of beating the English-at least, such was the construction which Napoleon put on his conduct-he gave battle and suffered a defeat, of which the consequences were very disastrous. Soult was obliged to abandon the siege of Cadiz, and to withdraw his army from the south of Spain, while Joseph, driven from Madrid, retired to Valencia, then recently taken and held by Suchet, to whom Napoleon had confided the command of the three eastern provinces of Valencia, Aragon, and Catalonia.

Again Joseph came to the conclusion that his kingdom of Spain was a hopeless affair, and that he ought to retire; but, instead of doing so, he dispatched an aide-de-camp to Napoleon, with apologies for himself in relation to the battle of Salamanca and the subsequent events, and with a complaint against Soult, who, it seems, had written a letter, which somehow had fallen into Joseph's hands, expressing suspicions that Joseph was betraying the French cause in the hope of pleasing the Spaniards. getting rid of the French, and retaining his throne with the consent of the English. Joseph, on the other hand, charged Soult with treasonable projects, and insisted on his removal.

The aide-de-camp, sent on this mis

sion, reached Moscow on the 18th of October, just as Napoleon was commencing his disastrous retreat, and in a very curious letter, written from Paris on the 3d of January, 1813, and published in this collection, he gives an account of his interview with Napoleon, and of the subsequent ruin of the grand army, of which he was an eye-witness. As to Soult's suspicions, and what Napoleon said on that subject, the aide-decamp writes as follows:

"The emperor then proceeded to the duke of Dalmatia's [Soult's] letter; he told me that it had already reached him through another channel, but that he had attached no importance to it; that Marshal Soult was in error, that he (Napoleon) could not attend to such trifles while he was at the head of half a mil lion of men, and engaged in enormous undertakings-these were his expressions; that, however, the duke of Dalmatia's suspicions did not much surprise him; that they are shared by many generals belonging to the army of Spain. who think that your majesty prefers Spain to France; that he was convinced that you had a French heart, but that those who judged you by your public speeches might think otherwise. He added, that Marshal Soult's was the only military head in Spain; that he could not withdraw him without endangering the army; that, on the other hand, he was perfectly easy as to Marshal Soult's intentions, as he had just learned, from the English newspapers, that the marshal was evacuating Andalusia and joining the armies of the centre and of Aragon; that this junction will make them strong enough to take up the offensive; that he had no orders to send; that it was impossible to give orders from such a distance; that he did not disguise from himself the extent of the evil: and that he more than ever regretted that your majesty had not followed his advice not to return to Spain."

Joseph, as we have seen, had been in Paris in the spring of 1811, to attend the christening of the King of Rome, and it was, doubtless, then that this advice was given, from which it seems clear that Joseph had nobody to blame but himself and his own hankerings after royalty, for having continued, at least after that period, mixed up with Spanish affairs.

Thus driven from his capital, and reduced to follow the retreating French army, Joseph continued for near a year longer to squabble with the marshals, and to call himself King of Spain. But every day the French became more and more restricted to a narrower line of operations, and even the communications with France were greatly interrupted. Napoleon, whose grand army had perished in the retreat from Moscow, and who had drawn down an avalanche on himself, was no longer able to afford any assistance. The battle of Vittoria, fought on the 20th of June, 1813, in which Joseph's carriage was taken, he himself escaping with difficulty, drove him and the French army out of Spain. A letter to his wife, dated Yrursun, June 23d, 1813, after a short account of that battle, concludes as follows:

"If the emperor has returned, tell him, as soon as I have placed my army on the frontier, and united it to those of the north and of Aragon, I shall repair to Mortefontaine, as I told you at the time that I ought to have done after Salamanca. Let me have the emperor's answer. Whatever it be, I shall go home. I can do no good here. Tell Clary [the banker, his wife's brother] to transmit, through James and Brocq, a hundred thousand francs to my secretary, M. Presle. Among the killed were M. Thibaud, defending my treasure, and poor Alphonse, whom I loved though I scolded him. [Alphonse was wounded and taken prisoner. He afterwards joined Joseph in America.] Send me back the courier. I shall not stop at Paris, but at Mortefontaine, whether you are there or at a watering-place. Kisses to you and to the children."

This time, being no longer able to help himself, Joseph carried out his threats of retirement. Here ended his unlucky experiments of royalty; and here, too, we must end for the present, reserving, for a concluding article, the history of Napoleon's family relations as developed in the closing part of this correspondence, which, in many points of view, relating as it does to the period of Napoleon's downfall, is the most interesting portion of it.





I AM not a married man, and I do not think that all my lady acquaintances are angels; consequently, I am a miserable old bachelor.

There is absolutely no doubt upon the subject, I am informed by my friends; and so, because I think that something more than the want of wings distinguishes the fair from the other class, and because I spend my life in a suit of apartments, undisturbed by the musical laughter of children-for these reasons, as I have said, I am a crusty, musty, miserable old unmarried misanthrope.

I have been substantially notified of the fact more than once, by Miss Tabitha Ringgold, who lives in the handsome house opposite; and though I am charitable, my friend, I should not be surprised if that fair lady were, at the present moment, directing her private spy-glass into my chamber from behind her white curtain, a corner of which is, I perceive, slightly raised: I would not be at all surprised if Miss Tabitha were there, looking through the open window here, and lamenting the failure of science to discover ear-trumpets, such as might be used to catch a distant conversation.

Miss Tabitha often arranges herself in her best finery, and leans from the window, with nods and smiles, and silent invitations to come in, when I chance to pass. I do not accept these invitations often, as you will understand, if you listen further; but sometimes I do go over, and take a hand at whist in the small parlor; in consequence of which, I am considered, I believe, an admirer of Miss Tabitha, and more than once my cynical and discourteous bachelor companions have gone so far as to declare, that Miss Tabitha has long been engaged in the pleasing occupation of setting her maiden cap at me and my six per cents. Of course I do not give any credit to these scandalous jests and rumors, and I invariably reprove Bob when he gives utterance to them. There is, of course, no truth in the charge, and I'm glad of it. I regret to say that, even if there were not

other objections, I would not solicit the honor of a matrimonial alliance with Miss Tabitha-my affections being engaged.

Ah! do you start a little? Do you look at me with astonishment, and ask, with your eloquent eyes, if I am not uttering a pleasant jest? I engaged― you seem to say with a change of the pronoun--I, the incorrigible old bachelor, the woman-hater, the misanthrope, the miserable, disagreeable, outrageous, old curmudgeon! My affections engaged, when the utmost inquisition of feminine curiosity eternally on the watch, has never discovered the least loop to hang a report upon? Well, my dear friend, perhaps there is some ground for surprise, and your astonishment is not singular. My engagement is certainly not exactly what the world would call binding -and yet it binds me. Such things must frequently result in a matrimonial alliance between the man and the woman


-at least sometimes: now, my engagement will not probably have any such termination. Gossips talk about Corydon, when he goes constantly to visit Chloe, in glossy patent leathers, a flowery waistcoat, hair elegantly curled, and a perfumed handkerchief gently waved in a diamond-decorated hand. They talk a great deal about that young man, and the talk rises into a hubbub, when the watchful eyes perceive the youth finally emerging from the mansion of his love, with beaming eyes, and nose raised high aloft with triumph, while Chloe sends a golden smile toward him as he goes, from behind the curtain of the drawing-room. The gossips, I say, talk about Corydon's engagement for a month thereafter; but the most inveterate and ferocious tattle never occupies itself with my little affair.

I never speak of it, and the object of my affections preserves silence, too; and not even Miss Tabitha suspects our little arrangement. If I tell you all about it now, good friend of many years, I do so, because 'tis scarcely loyal to our friendship to have aught of reserve; but, above all, because my burden of thought and feeling cries aloud for


I linger on the threshold-let me lin.

[ocr errors]

ger a moment longer yet, and ask you, if I have never seemed eccentric to you? Often in passing to your counting-house, you send me a friendly nod as I lean from my window in the sunshine; and, doubtless, you go on to your arduous toils, thinking what a happy fellow I am to afford to be idle, when you and your whole establishment will all day be struggling to balance the books of the firm. You honestly consider me idle at such moments: my friend, I am never busier. You think me solitary: I am surrounded by companions. The street may be wholly deserted; the public square yonder may not tempt a single child to enjoy its green sward and shadow-Miss Tabitha even may be busy at her invisible toilet, and her window deserted-yet I am not alone.

When the real figures of actual, living personages appear, however, they do not, by any means, disturb my reverie. I am not at war with my kind, but often find in the forms of men, women, and children what pleases me, and heightens the zest of my recollections.

"But, my dear Dives," I said with a smile, " suppose the coin which I dropped bought some small articles for the children of Lazarus, and so gave them pleasure far greater than any I could have enjoyed by spending the money?"

"The principle in the thing," replied my friend, sipping his claret and shaking his head, "the principle is bad. As members of society, we are bound to observe the laws of society; and as, in a state of society, we must be governed by the rules and regulations of that society, so I think, as a member of that society, you were rather bound to have this individual sent to prison, as a vagrant on society, than to encourage him in what must eventually render it necessary to make an example of him for the good of society."

I lean upon the sill of my window, and, thrumming idly with my fingers, scan the different wayfarers with smiling attention. I see my friend Dives with his jingling watch-seals, his creaking boots, his spotless shirt bosom, and his dignified look, go by to his warehouse, saluted respectfully by the heads of our two "first families"-the Scribes and Pharisees-who sometimes invite me to their palaces up town. And, as Dives disappears like a moving bank round the corner, I perceive Lazarus, with his maimed limbs, swinging himself by, on his hands, inserted in wooden glovesthe shadow of his low figure mingling with that of Dives. Of course I do not know Lazarus, as I move in good society yet I am glad to see him with his cheerful smile on his pale, thin face; and when he passes on this side of the street, I sometimes drop slily a piece of money into his bosom, and laugh to myself, as I draw back, fancying his puzzled expression. I related this incident at dinner, the other day, to my friend Dives and his guests; but he raised the question, whether such things were advisable, the public charities being amply sufficient for meritorious sufferers; while individual relief encouraged pauperism and idleness.

Those were the words of Dives; and, as my friend the Reverend A. Caiphas asked me at the moment to take wine, the discussion was not resumed. I am obstinate, nevertheless, and shall probably continue to outrage the rules and regulations of "society," if the whim seizes me, when Lazarus passes beneath my window.

I am running on pretty much at random, and shall not, at this rate, get to my story. But I take so much interest in my window observations, that I am led to weary you with them. A word more, and I shall get regularly to my


Besides Dives and Lazarus, I see many other figures pass on the street. I see Strephon go by in the tightest boots, the finest kid gloves, and the glossiest hat, escorting Miss Almira, the daughter of old Two-per-cent; and I stand, or rather lean, in silent admiration of her gorgeous appearance, as she sails by, rustling in silks and satins, with a bird of paradise upon her bonnet. She has chosen to walk on account of the sunshine, and the great carriage, with its liveried driver and footman, rolls by, unoccupied. It is a pity that the poor girl yonder slinking round the corner, and looking so faint and weak, cannot ride a little in it; and I fancy Strephon might procure this favor for her, as the weak girl exchanges a look with him, which seems to indicate acquaintance. The three figures pass on, and disappear; but somehow, the look of the pale, weak girl dwells in my memory, and haunts me. Well, I weary you, good friend, and another

for lost time, vanishes round the corner, singing "Lucy Neal," or "Lily Dale," or some other melody dear to the hearts of organ-grinders.

This brief and flitting exchange of friendly attentions, between myself and the child, takes place every morning, and, when she disappears, I close my window, and leaning back in my favorite chair, the red velvet yonder, light my old meerschaum and ponder. I generally remain thus, silent and motionless, for an hour before I commence reading the newspapers, over whose contents it is my habit to growl and vituperate.

One of them wears a blue dress, and a white chip hat, secured beneath her chin by a pink ribbon—and, thus accoutred, she passes, every morning, to school, directly opposite my window.

I am going now to tell you what I think about in these morning reveries, and to explain the circumstances which attended my engagement, which en

As I gaze, with my shoulders drooping, my fingers inveterately thrumming, my eyes half-closed, and my lips wreath-gagement unfortunately interferes with any matrimonial views in connection with my friend, Miss Tabitha. I see that the corner of her curtain has fallen, and so we are entirely to ourselves.

ed with smiles, a little sad, perhaps, in their expression, I see my little friend come tripping along by the row of elms, cased in their square boxes, and I am pleased to see her bright figure, lit up by the sunlight which dances on her curls, her straw hat, her checkered flag satchel, gaily swung upon the bare arm, and the little boots of crimson morocco, tightly fitting to her delicate ankles. I wait for her, and look for her appearance, and when she comes, I follow her with my eyes, as she arrives opposite, and then disappears round the corner. She is different from some other young ladies of my acquaintance, who pass on a similar errand. These latter look up as they pass, at my grizzled hair, my gray mustache, my carelessly thrumming fingers, and I know very well, that at such times, they are thinking who on earth the old fellow at the window can be; the curious old fellow, always leaning from the very same opening, in the very same way, and smiling as he beats his tattoo, with the very same idle and dreamy expression.

My little friend of the blue dress and white chip hat does not treat me quite so cavalierly. As she passes, every morning, she raises her blue eyes, and smiles in the most winning way, nodIding her head in token of recognition, and thus causing a profusion of brown curls to ripple around the brightest cheeks in the world. Having thus indicated the pleasure she experiences in seeing me smiling and well, my little friend kisses her hand, laughing, and tripping on more rapidly, to make up

word ends my window pictures. In addition to the figures I have mentioned, my observant eyes descry the merry forms of children dancing over the velvet sward of the public squarerolling their hoops, playing by the fountain, and shouting at their play. Their sweet faces please me; and the bright eyes seem to make the day more brilliant, the deep blue sky of a softer azure. It is only in the afternoon that I see them, for in the morning they are at school.



I reached the age of twenty-five without ever having been in love.

I do not deny, that two or three times I had fancied myself smitten by the charms of young ladies, with pretty lips and rosy faces. I am sure, however, that I by no means loved them, and that, simply because their smiles or frowns neither pleased nor grieved me in any considerable measure-an excellent test, in my opinion, and one which quite satisfies me.

I tranquilly pursued my daily occupation, which was that of a clerk, with a moderate salary, in the house of Wopper & Son, now dissolved; and after my routine in the counting-house, generally spent my evenings in strolling about and reflecting upon my prospects. I was an orphan, and there were very few congenial companions at the house where I boarded, so I was left pretty much to myself, and was not embarrassed in the selection of amusements, by any one's suggestions.

Thrown thus upon my own resources, I looked around for something to interest and occupy my mind, and I found this object of interest in a girl whom I met regularly every morning at the corner yonder, where my present little friend disappears on her way to


« AnteriorContinuar »