Thursday, November 10, 2005

Napoleon and his Brothers

Lady H. has been telling us of some of the conversation which passed at Walcot* while Lucien Buonaparte was there. He was very communicative on the adventures of his own and his brother's life, and anecdotes so authenticated are worth remembering.

When Lucien was living at his villa on the Lago Bracciano, near Rome, he was requested hy his brother Joseph, then king of Naples, to come to him on business of great importance. Joseph told him he wished to consult him on a letter he had just received from Napoleon, offering him the crown of Spain, and desiring him to come and receive it at his hands.

Joseph professed himself very much inclined to decline the new honours offered him, This resolution Lucien did his utmost to confirm; he reminded Joseph of all the difficulties he had found in establishing himself on the throne of Naples. Those were overcome, and the Neapolitans were now perfectly tranquil under his government.

In Spain, he would have the whole to go over again, and would probably find the Spaniards much more disinclined towards him than the Neapolitans had ever been. Joseph accordingly wrote to Napoleon, respectfully declining the crown offered him, and expressing his gratitude for that he already possessed, and his perfect satisfaction. Unfortunately for himself (much against the advice of Lucien) he added, that ' il se rendrait aux ordres de sa Majeste,' and set out to meet Napoleon. He, to use the words of Lucien, 'prepara un de ces grands coups qu'il aimait tant et qui lui ont si souvent reussi.'

Bayonne was the appointed place of meeting, but Napoleon went farther, met Joseph on the road, and got out of his carriage to be the first to congratulate the King of Spain. In one moment Joseph found himself surrounded by the numerous suite of his brother, and had received their homage almost before he knew where he was. This public ceremony having taken place, it was no longer possible to retract.

In those days, when crowns were literally going a-begging, Lucien (by his own account at least) seems to have shown great firmness in rejecting them, not only for himself, but for his family.

At one time, Napoleon sent for one of Lucien's daughters, offering to marry her to the Prince of Spain (Ferdinand), or to the Prince of Wirtemberg (Paul). Lucien determined to refuse both: ' L'un,' he said, 'etait pire que fou; mais il fallait obeir aux ordres supremes de mon frere; et j'envoyai Charlotte a Paris, suivie de ses femmes seulement, et de I'abbe B.'

I have forgot the name, but he was the nephew of Lucien's first wife, and was present when the story was told. When the poor victim arrived at St. Cloud, where the Emperor was, she was immediately presented to him; and as she knelt to pay her obeisance, he said, ' Levez-vi princesse.'

She had the courage to reply, 'Non, sire, je ne suis pas princesse; je ne suis que Charlotte Buonaparte: permittez-moi, sire, de retourner mon pere.''

This permission was granted, and ntended Queen of Spain (afterwards Princess Gabriella) was, when this story was related, living with her parents at Ludlow.

On the day of Napoleon's coronation, Garnerin sent up a balloon to make the news fly. This balloon landed near Lucien's Roman villa, in twenty-six hours exactly from the period at which it was launched from Paris.

Yet, speedy as this communication appears, it might have been still more so; for, at its first setting out balloon was impelled quite in another direction. How soon it took its south-eastern course, cannot, of course, be known.**

Editor’s notes
* Walcot, Salop ; a seat of the Earl of Powia.
** In the journal of De las Casas this circumstance is mentioned as related by Napoleon, who speaks of the time as 'en peu d’heures’.


Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Mr research into Charlotte, who after standing up to Napoleon seems to have had an adventurous life.

3:46 AM  

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