A plebiscite - Louis Napoleon's political panacea - was ordered Dec. 20, 1851, two weeks after the coup d'etat, to say if the people of France approved or disapproved the usurpation of the prince president. The national approval as expressed in this plebiscite was overwhelming. Each peasant and artisan seemed to fancy he was voting to revive the past glories of France, when expressing his approval of a Prince Napoleon. The more thoughtful voters, like M. de Montalembert, considered that the coup d'etat was a crushing blow struck at Red Republicanism, Communism, the International Society, and disorder generally.

For a while the prince president governed by decrees; then a new legislative body was assembled. Its first duty was to revise the constitution. The republican constitution of 1850 was in the main re-adopted, but with one important alteration. The prince president was to be turned into the Emperor Napoleon III., and the throne was to be hereditary in his family.

After the passage of this measure it was submitted by another plebiscite to the people. The plebiscite is a universal suffrage vote of yes or no, in answer to some question put by the Government to the nation. The question this time was: Shall the prince president become emperor? There were 7,800,000 ayes, and 224,000 noes.

When the news of this overwhelming success reached the Elysee, Louis Napoleon sat so still and unmoved, smoking his cigar, that his cousin, Madame Baiocchi, rushing up to him, shook him, and exclaimed: "Is it possible that you are made of stone?"

Having thus secured his elevation by the almost universal consent of Frenchmen, the new emperor's next step was to insure his dynasty by a marriage that might probably give heirs to the throne. He chose the title Napoleon III. because the son of the Great Napoleon had been Napoleon II. for a few days after his father's abdication at Fontainebleau in 1814. The next heir to the imperial dignities (Lucien Bonaparte having refused anything of the kind for himself or for his family) was Jerome Napoleon, familiarly called Plon-Plon. He was the only son of Jerome Bonaparte and the Princess Catherine of Wuertemberg. But Prince Napoleon, though clever, was wilful and eccentric, and made a boast of being a Red Republican; moreover, his father's Baltimore marriage had made his legitimacy more than doubtful, - at any rate, Louis Napoleon was by no means desirous of passing on to him the succession to the empire; and being now forty-four years old, he was desirous of marrying as soon as possible.

When a boy, it had been proposed to marry him to his cousin Mathilde, and something like an attachment had sprung up between them; but after his fiasco at Strasburg he was no longer considered an eligible suitor either for Princess Mathilde or another cousin who had been named for him, a princess of Baden. Princess Mathilde was married to the Russian banker, Prince Demidorff; but when Louis Napoleon became prince president, he requested her to preside at the Elysee.

The new emperor, or his advisers, looked round at the various marriageable princesses belonging to the smaller courts of Germany. The sister of that Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern whose selection for the throne of Spain led afterwards to the Franco-Prussian war, was spoken of; but the lady most seriously considered was the Princess Adelaide of Hohenlohe. She was daughter of Queen Victoria's half-sister Feodora; and to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as heads of the family, the matter was referred. A recent memoir-writer tells us of seeing the queen at Windsor when the matter was under discussion. The queen and her husband were apparently not averse to the alliance, hesitating only on the grounds of religion and morals; but it is doubtful how far the new emperor went personally in the affair. His inclination had for some time pointed to the reigning beauty of Paris, Mademoiselle Eugenie de Montijo.

This young lady's grandfather was Captain Fitzpatrick, of a good old Scottish family, which had in past times married with the Stuarts. Captain Fitzpatrick had been American consul at a port in southern Spain. He had a particularly charming daughter, who made a brilliant Spanish marriage, her husband being the Count de Teba (or Marquis de Montijo, for he bore both titles). The Montijos were connected with the grandest ducal families in Spain and Portugal, and even with the royal families of those nations.

The Count de Teba died while his two daughters were young, and they were left under the guardianship of their very charming mother. The elder married the Duke of Alva; the younger became the Empress Eugenie.

Eugenie was for some time at school in England at Clifton. She was described by those who knew her there as a pretty, sprightly little girl, much given to independence, and something of a tom boy, - a character there is reason to think she preserved until it was modified by the exigencies of her position.

Mr. George Ticknor, of Boston, frequently mentioned Madame de Teba to his friends as a singularly charming woman. In 1818 he wrote home to a friend in America:

"I knew Madame de Teba in Madrid, and from what I saw of her there and at Malaga, I do not doubt she is the most cultivated and interesting woman in Spain. Young, beautiful, educated strictly by her mother, a Scotchwoman, - who for this purpose carried her to London and kept her there six or seven years, - possessing extraordinary talents, and giving an air of originality to all she says and does, she unites in a most bewitching manner the Andalusian grace and frankness to a French facility in her manners and a genuine English thoroughness in her knowledge and accomplishments. She knows the chief modern languages well, and feels their different characters, and estimates their literature aright. She has the foreign accomplishments of singing, painting, playing, etc., joined to the natural one of dancing, in a high degree. In conversation she is brilliant and original, yet with all this she is a true Spaniard, and as full of Spanish feelings as she is of talent and culture."

Washington Irving, in 1853, thirty-five years later, writing to his nephew, speaks in equal praise of Madame de Teba.

"I believe I told you," he says, "that I knew the grandfather of the empress, old Mr. Fitzpatrick. In 1827 I was in the house of his son-in-law, Count Teba, at Granada, a gallant, intelligent gentleman, much cut up in the wars, having lost an eye and been maimed in a leg and hand. Some years after, in Madrid, I was invited to the house of his widow, Madame de Montijo, one of the leaders of ton. She received me with the warmth and eagerness of an old friend. She claimed me as the friend of her late husband. She subsequently introduced me to the little girls I had known in Granada, now fashionable belles in Madrid."

In some lines of Walter Savage Landor, Madame de Montijo was addressed as a "lode-star of her sex."

The Marquis de Montijo had been an adherent of Joseph Bonaparte while the latter was king of Spain, and his eye had been put out at the battle of Salamanca. He was a liberal in politics, and his house was always open to cultivated men.

Such was the ancestry of the beautiful young lady who, tall, fair, and graceful, with hair like one of Titian's beauties, was travelling with her mother from capital to capital, after the marriage of her sister to the Duke of Alva, and who spent the winters of 1850, 1851, and 1852 in the French capital. Mademoiselle Eugenie had conceived a romantic admiration for the young prince who at Strasburg and Boulogne had been so unfortunate. Her father had been a stanch adherent of Bonaparte, and she is said to have pleaded with her mother at one time to visit the prisoner at Ham and to place her fortune at his disposal.

This circumstance, when confided to the prince president, disposed him to be interested in the young lady. She and her mother were often at the Elysee, at Fontainebleau, and at Compiegne. Mademoiselle de Montijo was a superb horsewoman, and riding was the emperor's especial personal accomplishment. On one occasion they got lost together in the forest at Compiegne, and then society began to make remarks upon their intimacy.

The emperor was indeed most seriously in love with Mademoiselle de Montijo. It is said, on the authority of M. de Goncourt, that in one of their rides he asked her, with strange frankness, if she had ever been in love with any man. She answered with equal frankness, "I may have had fancies, sire, but I have never forgotten that I was Mademoiselle de Montijo."[1]

[Footnote 1: Pierre de Lano. La Cour de L'Empereur Napoleon III.]

Such a project of marriage was not approved by the emperor's family, it was not favored by his ministers, and the ladies of his court were all astir.

At a ball given on New Year's Day, 1853, by the emperor at the Tuileries, the wife of a cabinet minister was rude and insulting to Mademoiselle de Montijo. Seeing that she looked troubled, the emperor inquired the cause; and when he knew it, he said quietly: "To-morrow no one will dare to insult you again." There is also a story, which seems to rest on good authority, that a few weeks before this, at Compiegne, he had placed a crown of oak-leaves on her head, saying: "I hope soon to replace it with a better one."[2] Like the Empress Josephine, she had had it prophesied to her in her girlhood that she should one day wear a crown.

[Footnote 2: Jerrold, Life of Napoleon III.]

The day after the occurrence at the ball at the Tuileries, the Duc de Morny waited on Madame de Montijo with a letter from the emperor, formally requesting her daughter's hand.

The ladies, after this, removed to the Elysee, which was given to them, and preparations for the marriage went on apace.

In less than a month afterwards Eugenie de Montijo was empress of France.

Here is the emperor's own official announcement of his intended marriage: -

"I accede to the wish so often manifested by my people in announcing my marriage to you. The union which I am about to contract is not in harmony with old political traditions, and in this lies its advantage. France, by her successive revolutions, has been widely sundered from the rest of Europe. A wise Government should so rule as to bring her back within the circle of ancient monarchies. But this result will be more readily obtained by a frank and straightforward policy, by a loyal intercourse, than by royal alliances, which often create false security, and subordinate national to family interests. Moreover, past examples have left superstitious beliefs in the popular mind. The people have not forgotten that for sixty years foreign princesses have mounted the steps of the throne only to see their race scattered and proscribed, either by war or revolution. One woman alone appears to have brought with her good fortune, and lives, more than the rest, in the memory of the people; and this woman, the wife of General Bonaparte, was not of royal blood. We must admit this much, however. In 1810 the marriage of Napoleon I. with Marie Louise was a great event. It was a bond for the future, and a real gratification to the national pride.... But when, in the face of ancient Europe, one is carried by the force of a new principle to the level of the old dynasties, it is not by affecting an ancient descent and endeavoring at any price to enter the family of kings, that one compels recognition. It is rather by remembering one's origin; it is by preserving one's own character, and assuming frankly towards Europe the position of a parvenu, - a glorious title when one rises by the suffrages of a great people. Thus impelled, as I have been, to part from the precedents that have been hitherto followed, my marriage is only a private matter. It remained for me to choose my wife. She who has become the object of my choice is of lofty birth, French in heart and education and by the memory of the blood shed by her father in the cause of the Empire. She has, as a Spaniard, the advantage of not having a family in France to whom it would be necessary to give honors and dignities. Gifted with every quality of the heart, she will be the ornament of the throne, as in the hour of danger she would be one of its most courageous defenders. A pious Catholic, she will address one prayer with me to Heaven for the happiness of France. Kindly and good, she will show in the same position, I firmly believe, the virtues of the Empress Josephine."

The State coaches of the First Empire were regilded for the occasion, the crown diamonds were drawn from the hiding-place where they had lain since Louis Philippe's time, and were reset for the lady who was to wear them, while her apartments at the Tuileries were rapidly prepared.

The emperor was radiant. He had followed his inclination, and now that his choice was made, it seemed to receive universal approval. The London "Times" said: "Mademoiselle de Montijo knows better the character of France than any princess who could have been fetched from a German principality. She combines by her birth the energy of the Scottish and Spanish races, and if the opinion we hold of her be correct, she is, as Napoleon says, made not only to adorn the throne, but to defend it in the hour of danger."

The Municipal Council of Paris voted six hundred thousand francs to buy her a diamond necklace as a wedding present. Very gracefully she declined the necklace, but accepted the money, with which she endowed an Orphan Asylum.

The wedding-day was Jan. 29, 1853. Crowds lined the streets as the bride and her cortege drove to the Tuileries, where they were received by the Grand Chamberlain and other court dignitaries, who conducted the bride to the first salon. There she was received by Prince Napoleon and his sister, the Princess Mathilde, who introduced her into the salon, where the emperor, with his uncle, King Jerome, surrounded by a glittering throng of cardinals, marshals, admirals, and great officers of State, stood ready to receive her. Thence, at nine o'clock, she was led by the emperor to the Salle des Marechaux and seated beside him on a raised throne. The marriage contract was then read, and signed by the bride and bridegroom and by all the princes and princesses present.

The bride wore a marvellous dress of Alencon point lace, clasped with a diamond and sapphire girdle made for the Empress Marie Louise, and she looked, said a beholder, "the imperial beauty of a poet's vision." The emperor was in a general's uniform. He wore the collar of the Legion of Honor which his uncle the Great Emperor used to wear. He wore also the collar of the Golden Fleece that had once belonged to the Emperor Charles V.

The civil marriage being concluded, the imperial pair and the wedding guests passed into the theatre, where a cantata, composed by Auber for the occasion, was sung. The empress, robed in lace and glittering in jewels, seemed, says an eye-witness, to realize the picture presented of herself in the composer's words: -

  "Espagne bien aimee, 
    Ou le ciel est vermeil, 
  C'est toi qui l'as formee 
    D'un rayon de soleil."[1]

  [Footnote 1: 
  Ah, beautiful Spain, 
    With thy skies ever bright, 
  Thou hast formed her for us 
    From a ray of sunlight.]

When the cantata had been sung, the Grand Master of the Ceremonies conducted the bride, as yet only half married, back to the Elysee.

The next morning all Paris was astir to see the wedding procession pass to the cathedral of Notre Dame. Early in the morning the emperor had repaired to the Elysee, where, in the chapel, he and the empress had heard mass, and after making their confession, had partaken of the Holy Communion. There were two hundred thousand sightseers in Paris that day, in addition to the usual population.

The empress wore upon her golden hair the crown that the First Napoleon had placed upon the head of Marie Louise. The body of the church was filled with men, - ambassadors, military and naval officers, and high officials. Their wives were in the galleries. As the great doors of the cathedral were opened to admit the bridal procession, a broad path of light gleamed from the door up to the altar, adding additional brilliancy to the glittering scene. Up the long aisle the emperor led his bride, flashing with the light of jewels, among them the unlucky regent diamond, which glittered on her bosom. After the Spanish fashion, she crossed her brow, her lips, her heart, her thumb, as she knelt for the nuptial benediction. The ceremony over, the archbishop conducted the married pair to the porch of the cathedral, and they drove along the Quai to the Tuileries.

The first favor the empress asked of her husband was the pardon of more than four thousand unfortunate persons still exiled or imprisoned for their share in the risings that succeeded the coup d'etat.

When Washington Irving heard of the marriage, he wrote: "Louis Napoleon and Eugenie de Montijo, - Emperor and Empress of France! He whom I received as an exile at my cottage on the Hudson, she whom at Granada I have dandled on my knee! The last I saw of Eugenie de Montijo, she and her gay circle had swept away a charming young girl, beautiful and accomplished, my dear young friend, into their career of fashionable dissipation. Now Eugenie is on a throne, and the other a voluntary recluse in a convent of one of the most rigorous Orders." This convent is near Biarritz, where the nuns take vows of silence like the monks of La Trappe.[1] The empress when at Biarritz never failed to visit her former friend, who was permitted to converse with her.

[Footnote 1: Saturday Review, 1885.]

The beautiful woman thus raised to the imperial throne[2] was a mixed character, - not so perfect as some have represented her, but entirely to be acquitted of those grave faults that envy or disappointed expectations have attributed to her. Her character united kind-heartedness with inconsideration, imprudence with austerity, ardent feeling with great practical common-sense. Probably the emperor understood her very little at the time of his marriage, and that she long remained to him an enigma may have been one of her charms. With the impetuosity of her disposition and the intrepidity that had characterized her girlhood, she found it hard to submit to the restraints of her position, and the emperor had occasion frequently to remonstrate with her on her indifference to etiquette and public opinion. It was not until after her visit to Windsor in 1855 that she could be induced to establish court rules at the Tuileries, and to prescribe for herself and others, in public, a strict system of etiquette. But in her private hours, among her early friends, in the circle of ladies admitted to her intimacy, the empress was less discreet. Her impressions were apt to run into extremes; she indulged in whims like other pretty women; yet she was never carried by her romantic feelings or her enthusiasm beyond her power of self-control. Though careless of etiquette in private life, whenever a great occasion came, she could act with imperial dignity.

[Footnote 2: Pierre de Lano.]

Although she often experienced ingratitude, she was always generous. She was as ready to solicit favors and pardons as was the Empress Josephine. Sometimes she was even sorely embarrassed to find arguments in favor of her proteges. "Ah, mon Dieu!" she cried once, when pleading for the pardon of a workman, "how could he be guilty? He has a wife and five children to support; he could have had no time for conspiracy!"

As a wife she was devoted, not only to the public interests of her husband, but to his personal welfare. She was constantly anxious lest he should suffer from overwork; and her little select evening parties, which some people found fault with, were instituted by her with the chief object of amusing him.

Ben Jonson makes it a reproach against a lady of the sixteenth century that she would not "suffer herself to be admired." No such reproach could be addressed to the Empress Eugenie. Few women conscious of their power to charm will fail to exercise it. In the case of an empress, - young, lively, of an independent and adventurous spirit, and very beautiful, - all who approached her thought better of themselves from her apparent appreciation of their claims to consideration; and, indeed, in her position was it not the duty of the successor of Josephine to be gracious and charming to everybody?

Unfortunately the ladies who most enjoyed the intimacy of the Empress Eugenie were foreigners. She seems to have felt a certain distrust of Frenchwomen; and considering the ingratitude she often met with from those she served, it is hardly surprising that she preferred the intimacy of women who could not look to her for favors.

One of the ladies most intimate with the empress was the wife of Prince Richard Metternich, the Austrian ambassador. This lady seems to have had personal and political ends in view, and to have succeeded in inducing the empress to adopt and further them. That she was a dangerous and false friend may be judged from a speech she made when remonstrated with for countenancing and encouraging a project, favored by the empress, of making a promenade in the forest of Fontainebleau with her court-ladies in skirts which, like those in the old Scotch ballad, should be "kilted up to the knee." "You would not have advised your own empress," it was said to her, "to appear in such a garb." "Of course not," replied the ambassadress; "but my empress is of royal birth. - a real empress; while yours, ma chere, was Mademoiselle de Montijo!"

Brought up in private life, not early trained to the self-abnegation demanded of princesses, the Empress Eugenie did not bring into her new sphere all the aplomb and seriousness about little things which are early inculcated on ladies brought up to the profession of royalty. The career for which she had formed herself was that of a very charming woman; and one secret of her fascination was the sincerity of the interest she took in those around her. She loved to study character, to see into men's souls. She loved to be adored, while irresponsively she received men's homage. She especially liked the society of famous men, and when she was to meet them, she took pains to inform herself on the subjects about which they were most likely to converse.

That Queen Victoria loves her as a sister and a friend, is a testimony to her dignity and goodness; and we have her husband's own opinion of her, published on her fete-day, Dec. 15, 1868, after nearly sixteen years of marriage. The emperor had under his control a monthly magazine called "Le Dix Decembre," in which he often inserted articles from his own pen. The manuscript of this, in his own handwriting, was found in 1870 in the sack of the Tuileries. He omits all mention of his wife's Scotch ancestry, neither does he allude to her school-days in England. He speaks of her as a member of one of the most distinguished families in Spain, extols her father's attachment to the house of Bonaparte, and tells how she and her sister were placed at the Sacre Coeur, near Paris, declaring that "she acquired, we may say, the French before the Spanish language." He goes on to speak of her, not as the leader of a giddy circle of fashion in Madrid, as Washington Irving describes her, but as the thoughtful, studious young girl, with a precocious taste for social problems and for the society of men of letters; and he adds that after her marriage her simple, natural tastes did not disappear. "After her visit to the cholera patients at Amiens," he says, "nothing seemed to surprise her more than the applause that everywhere celebrated her courage. She seemed at last distressed by it.... At Compiegne," he also tells us, "nothing can be more attractive than five o'clock tea a l'imperatrice; though," he adds slyly, "sometimes she is a little too fond of argument."

Assuredly she filled a difficult place, and filled it well; but the court of the Second Empire was all spangles and tinsel. It was composed of men and women all more or less adventurers. It was the court of thenouveaux riches and of a mushroom aristocracy. There were prizes to be won and pleasures to be enjoyed, and it was "like as it was in the days of Noe, until the flood came, and swept them all away."

In the midst of the crowd that composed this court the emperor and the empress shine out as the best. Both wanted to do their duty, as they understood it, to France. Whether it was the emperor's fault or his misfortune, is still undecided; but, with one or two exceptions, he was able to attach to himself only keen-witted adventurers and mediocre men. Among the women, not one who was really superior rose above the crowd. The empress led a giddy circle of married women, as in her youth, according to Washington Irving, she had led a giddy circle of young girls.

The two most able men among the emperor's advisers were his own kinsmen, - Count Walewski, who died in 1868, and the Duc de Morny, a man calm, polished, socially amiable, and so clever that Guizot once said to him: "My dear Morny, you are the only man who could overturn the Empire; but you will never be foolish enough to do it." By his death, in 1865, Louis Napoleon was bereft of his ablest adviser.

Persigny, or Fialin, had been the close personal friend of the emperor in his exile, and took a prominent part in the abortive expedition to Boulogne. In his youth he had led a disreputable life, and was not a man of great intellect, but he was presumed to be devoted to his old comrade. His friendship, however, had not always a happy effect upon the fortunes of his master. In 1872 he made a miserable end of his adventurous life, after having turned against the emperor in his adversity.

Fleury was another personal friend of Louis Napoleon, and was probably his best. The prince president had distinguished him when he was only a subaltern in the army. He had enlisted in the ranks, and had done good service in Algeria. In the emperor's last days of failing health he loved to keep Fleury beside him; but the empress was jealous of her husband's friend, and used her influence to have him honorably exiled to St. Petersburg as French ambassador. This post he occupied when the Franco-Prussian war broke out, so that he could be of little help to his master.

Saint-Arnaud had been made a marshal and minister of war, in spite of having been twice turned out of the French army.

M. Rouher had charge of the emperor's financial concerns, and Fould was a man who understood bureau-work, and how to manipulate government machinery.

Whoever might be the emperor's ministers, this little clique of his personal adherents - De Morny, Persigny, Saint-Arnaud, Fleury, Rouher, and Fould - were always around their master, giving him their advice and sharing (so far as he allowed anyone to share) his intimate councils.

The members of the Bonaparte family were an immense expense to the emperor, and gave him no little trouble. They were not the least thirsty among those who thronged around the fountain of wealth and honor; and their importunate demands upon the emperor's bounty led to a perpetual and reckless waste of money. The empress frequently remonstrated with her husband in regard to his lavish largesses and too generous expenditure. Contrary to what has been generally supposed, she was herself orderly and methodical in her expenditures and accounts, always carefully examining her bills, and though by the emperor's express desire she always expended the large amount annually allowed her, she never exceeded that sum.

Unhappily, the revived imperialism of Louis Napoleon was not, like Legitimacy, a cause, but to most persons who supported it, it was a speculation. Adherents had therefore to be attracted to it by hopes of gain, and all services had to be handsomely rewarded.

The emperor's policy in the early years of his reign may be said to have been twofold. He wanted to make France increase in material prosperity, and he wished to have money freely spent within her borders. He set on foot all kinds of improvements in Paris, and all kinds of useful enterprises in the provinces. Work was plenty; money flowed freely; the empire was everywhere popular. But the government of France was the government of one man; and if anything happened to that one man, where would be the government? There seemed no need to ask that question while France was prosperous and Paris gay. France under the Second Empire was quieter than she had been for any eighteen years since the Great Revolution; and for that she was grateful to Napoleon III.

His foreign policy was still more successful. "The Empire is peace," he had early proclaimed to be his motto. At first the idea of a Napoleon on the throne of France had greatly terrified the nations; but by degrees it seemed as if he really meant to be the Napoleon of Peace, as his uncle had been the Napoleon of War. He took every opportunity of reiterating his desire to be on good terms with his neighbors. With respect to England, those who knew him best asserted earnestly that he had always been in sympathy with the country that had sheltered him in exile. Count Walewski, whom he sent over as ambassador to London, was very popular there. He attended the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in his official capacity, and in return for this courtesy England restored to the French emperor his uncle's will, which had been laid up in Doctor's Commons with other wills of persons who had died on English soil. Russia was haughty to the new emperor; but the other courts of Europe accepted him, and most of them did so with considerable alacrity; for was he not holding down Socialism and Internationalism, which they dreaded far more than Napoleonism, and by which they were menaced in their own lands?

The great perplexity of the new emperor was his relation to Italy. He and his brother had taken the oaths of a Carbonaro in that country, in 1831. It is not to this day certain that his brother did not die by a Carbonaro's knife, rather than by the measles. Be that as it may, Louis Napoleon knew that if he failed to keep his promises as to the liberation of Italy, assassination awaited him.

How he endeavored to reconcile his engagements as a Carbonaro with his policy as the French emperor belongs less to the historical gossip of France than to that of Italy. So too the history of the Crimean War seems to belong par excellence to that of Russia. It was undertaken by England and France as allies, joined afterwards by a Sardinian army under General La Marmora, by the Turkish troops under Omar Pasha, and by an Egyptian contingent; but as we are now engaged on the personal history of the emperor and empress, I will rather here tell how Napoleon III., having formed a camp of one hundred thousand soldiers at Boulogne, on the very ground where his uncle had assembled his great army for the invasion of England, decided to ascertain, through his ambassador in London, if it would be agreeable to Prince Albert to visit that camp and see the manoeuvres of his army. Finding that the invitation would be acceptable to the prince, he addressed him the following letter: -

  July 3, 1854.

MON FRERE, - Your Royal Highness knows that putting in practice your own idea, and wishing to carry out to the end the struggle with Russia that we have begun together, I have decided to form an army between Boulogne and St. Omer. I need not tell your Highness how pleased I should be to see you, and how happy I should be to show you my soldiers. I am convinced, moreover, that personal ties will strengthen the union so happily established between two great nations. I beg you to present my respectful homage to the queen, and to receive this expression of the esteem and sincere affection I have conceived for you.

With this, mon frere, I pray God to have you in his holy keeping.


The prince accepted the invitation, addressing the emperor as "Sire et mon frere." The queen entirely approved the visit, and Baron Stockmar predicted much advantage from it, "inasmuch," he said, "as the good or evil destiny of the present time will directly and chiefly depend upon a rational, honorable, and resolute alliance between England and France."

Prince Albert met the emperor at Boulogne, Sept. 4, 1854. The Duke of Newcastle, who was in attendance on Prince Albert, wrote to a friend that tears stood in the emperor's eyes when he received his guest as he stepped upon French soil; and the prince wrote that evening to the queen: -

"The emperor has been very nervous, if we are to believe those who stood near him and who know him well. He was kindly and courteous, and does not look so old nor so pale as his portraits make him, and is much gayer than he is generally represented. The visit cannot fail to be a source of great gratification to him.... I have had two long talks with him, in which he spoke very sensibly about the war and thequestions du jour. People here are sanguine about the results of the expedition to the Crimea, and very sensitive about the behavior of Admiral Sir Charles Napier."

The prince adds in his letter, the same evening: -

"The emperor thaws more and more. This evening after dinner I withdrew with him to his sitting-room for half an hour before rejoining his guests, in order that he might smoke his cigarette, - in which occupation, to his amazement, I could not keep him company. He told me that one of the deepest impressions ever made on him was, when having gone from France to Rio Janeiro and thence to the United States, and being recalled to Europe by the rumor of his mother's serious illness, he arrived in London directly after King William's death, and saw you going to open parliament for the first time."

Subsequently the prince tells the queen, -

"We discussed all topics of home and foreign policy, material and personal, with the greatest frankness, and I can say but good of what I heard.... He was brought up in the German fashion in Germany, - a training which has developed a German turn of mind. As to all modern political history, so far as this is not Napoleonic, he is without information; so that he wants many of the materials for accurate judgment."

Dickens, who was at Boulogne on this occasion, thus tells of Prince Albert's arrival: -

"The town looks like one immense flag, it is so decked out with streamers; and as the royal yacht approached yesterday, the whole range of the cliff-tops was lined with troops, and the artillerymen, matches in hand, stood ready to fire the great guns the moment she made the harbor, the sailors standing up in the prow of the yacht, the prince, in a blazing uniform, left alone on the deck for everybody to see, - a stupendous silence, and then such an infernal blazing and banging as never was heard. It was almost as fine a sight as one could see, under a deep blue sky."

While the guest of the emperor, Prince Albert expressed to him the queen's hope that they should see him in England, and that she should make the acquaintance of the empress.

The prince, an excellent judge of character, in a subsequent memorandum concerning his impressions, says, -

"The emperor appeared quiet and indolent from constitution, not easily excited, but gay and humorous when at his ease. His French is not without a little German accent, and his pronunciation of German is better than of English.... He recited a poem by Schiller on the advantages to man of peace and war, which seemed to have made a deep impression upon him, and appeared to me to be not without significance with reference to his own life. His court and household are strictly kept and in good order, more English than French. The gentlemen composing his entourage are not distinguished by birth, manners, or education. He lives on a familiar footing with them, although they seemed afraid of him. The tone was rather that of a garrison, with a good deal of smoking.... He is very chilly, complains of rheumatism, and goes early to bed, takes no pleasure in music, but is proud of his horsemanship."

Speaking again of the emperor's lack of information as to the history of politics, Prince Albert says: -

"But he is remarkably modest in acknowledging these defects, and in not pretending to know what he does not. All that relates to Napoleonic politics he has at his finger's ends. He also appears to have thought much and deeply on politics, yet more like an amateur politician, mixing many very sound and very crude notions together. He admires English institutions, and regrets the absence of an aristocracy in France, but might not be willing to allow such an aristocracy to control his own power, whilst he might wish to have the advantage of its control over the pure democracy."

The emperor closely questioned the prince about the working of the English government and the queen's relations to her ministers. Prince Albert writes, -

"He said that he did not allow his ministers to meet or to discuss matters together; that they transacted their business solely with him. He seemed astonished when I told him that every despatch went through the queen's hands and was read by her, as he only received extracts made from them, and indeed appeared to have little time or inclination generally to read. When I observed to him that the queen would not be content without seeing the whole of the diplomatic correspondence, he replied that he found a full compensation in having persons in his own employ and confidence at the different posts of importance, who reported solely to him. I could not but express my sense of the danger of such an arrangement, to which no statesman, in England at least, would submit."

I have quoted this memorandum of Prince Albert's, because it points out the perils which led to the downfall or the Empire, - the emperor's bad entourage; his personal government, assisted only by private confidential relations with irresponsible persons; his mixture of crude and sensible ideas of government; his indolence; and his tendency to let things slide out of his own hands.

"Upon the whole," concluded the prince, "my impression is that neither in home nor foreign politics would the emperor naturally take any violent step, but that he appears in distress for means of governing, and is obliged to look about him from day to day. Having deprived the people of any active participation in the government, and reduced them to the mere position of spectators, they grow impatient, like a crowd at a display of fireworks, whenever there is any cessation in the display. Still, he appears the only man who has any hold on France, relying on the name of Napoleon. He said to the Duke of Newcastle:

'Former Governments have tried to reign by the support of one million of the educated classes; I claim to lay hold of the other twenty-nine.' He is decidedly benevolent, and anxious for the good of the people, but has, like all rulers before him, a bad opinion of their political capacity."

Strange to say, in the midst of war the Universal Exposition of 1855 took place in Paris. The winter was horribly severe, and the armies in the Crimea suffered terribly. The emperor was extremely desirous to go himself to the seat of war, but was urged by every one about him to remain at home. All kinds of good reasons were put forward for this advice, but probably not the one subsequently advanced by one of his generals after the campaign of Italy in 1859. "It used to be said that the presence of the First Napoleon with his army was worth a reinforcement of forty thousand men. The army now feels that the presence of the Third Napoleon equals the loss of about the same number."

We have seen that Queen Victoria had expressed a wish to welcome the emperor and empress at Windsor Castle. It was on April 16, 1855, that the imperial pair reached England, and were received by Prince Albert on board their yacht. They met with a hearty national greeting on their way to London. In London itself crowds lined the streets. "It was," says an eye-witness, "one bewildering triumph, in which it was estimated that a million of people took part." The "Times" reporter noticed that as the emperor passed his old residence in King Street, St. James's, he pointed it out to the empress as the place where he was living when the events of 1848 summoned him to Paris.

"Only seven years before," observes his biographer, Mr. Jerrold, "he was wont to stroll unnoticed, with his faithful dog at his heels, from this house to the news-vendor's stall by the Burlington Arcade, to get the latest news from revolutionary France; now he was the guest of the English people, on his way through cheering crowds to Windsor Castle, where the queen was waiting in the vestibule to receive him." The same rooms were prepared for him that had been given to Louis Philippe and to the Emperor Nicholas. Queen Victoria tells us in her diary, -

"I cannot say what indescribable emotions filled me, - how much all seemed like a wonderful dream.... I advanced and embraced the Emperor, ... and then the very gentle, graceful, and evidently nervous empress. We presented the princes and our children (Vicky, with very alarmed eyes, making very low courtesies). The emperor embraced Bertie, and then he went upstairs, Albert leading the empress, who, in the most engaging manner, refused to go first, but at length, with graceful reluctance, did so, the emperor leading me and expressing his great gratification in being here and seeing me, and admiring Windsor."

At dinner, on the day of his arrival, the new ruler of France seems to have charmed the queen. "He is," she records in her journal, "so very quiet. His voice is low and soft. Et il ne fait pas des phrases."

When the war was talked about, the emperor spoke of his wish to go out to the Crimea, and the queen noticed that the empress was as eager as himself that he should go. "She sees no greater danger for himthere," she adds, "than in Paris. She said she was seldom alarmed for him except when he went out quite alone of a morning.... She is full of courage and spirit, and yet so gentle, with such innocence andenjouement, that the ensemble is most charming. With all her great liveliness she has the prettiest and most modest manner."

The queen little guessed what commotion and excitement had gone on before dinner in the private apartments of the emperor and empress, when it was discovered that the case containing all the beautiful toilet prepared for the occasion had not arrived. The emperor suggested to his wife to retire to rest on the plea of fatigue after the journey, but she decided to borrow a blue-silk dress from one of her ladies-in-waiting, in which, with only flowers in her hair, she increased the queen's impression of her simplicity and modesty.

During the visit the emperor asked the queen where Louis Philippe's widow, Queen Marie Amelie, was living. She had been at Windsor Castle only a few days before, and the queen had looked sorrowfully after her as she drove away, with shabby post-horses, to her residence near Richmond. The emperor begged her Majesty to express to Louis Philippe's widow his hope that she would not hesitate to pass through France on any journey she might make to Spain.

There was a review of the household troops, commanded by Lord Cardigan, who had led the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, and who rode the same charger. The emperor rode a fiery, beautiful chestnut, and his horsemanship was much admired. That evening there was a State ball at Windsor Castle, and the queen danced a quadrille with the emperor. The queen wrote that evening in her journal: "How strange to think that I - the granddaughter of George III. - should dance with the Emperor Napoleon, nephew of England's greatest enemy, now my nearest and most intimate ally, in the Waterloo Room, and that ally living in this country only six years ago in exile, poor and unthought of!"

She adds, speaking of the empress: "Her manner is the most perfect thing I have ever seen, so gentle and graceful and kind, and the courtesy is charming, - so modest and retiring withal."

The next day came a council attended by the emperor, Prince Albert, ministers, and diplomatists, which lasted so very long that the queen herself knocked at the door and reminded them that at four o'clock the emperor was to be invested with the Order of the Garter.

After this ceremony was over, the emperor remarked to the queen that he had now sworn fidelity to her Majesty, and would carefully keep his oath.

At dinner that day the talk fell on assassination. The emperor was shot at by a Carbonaro only a few days after his return from Windsor, and four years later by Orsini.

Before leaving England the emperor attended a banquet given to him by the Lord Mayor. At Windsor he read his speech (in English) to the queen and prince, who pronounced it a very good one.

Next day the royalties went to see the Crystal Palace, at Sydenham. There they were surrounded by sight-seeing throngs, and in such a crowd there was every chance for a pistol-shot from some French or Italian refugee. "I own I felt anxious," writes the queen; "I felt as I walked, leaning on the emperor's arm, that I was possibly a protection to him."

Afterwards she writes, -

"On all, this visit has left a permanent satisfactory impression. It went off so well, - not a contre-temps ... fine weather, everything smiling, the nation enthusiastic and happy in the alliance of two great countries whose enmity would be fatal.... I am glad to have known this extraordinary man, whom it is certainly not possible not to like when you live with him, and not, even to a considerable extent, to admire.... I believe him capable of kindness, affection, friendship, gratitude. I feel confidence in him as regards the future. I think he is frank, means well to us, and, as Stockmar says, that we have insured his sincerity and good faith to us for the rest of his life."

Nearly a year after this visit, when the emperor and empress had been married about three years, the Prince Imperial was born, March 16, 1856. A few hours after his birth he was christened Napoleon Eugene Louis Jean Joseph. Pope Pius IX. was his godfather, the Queen of Sweden his godmother. For many hours the empress, like her imperial predecessor Marie Louise, was dangerously ill.

The Crimean War had by that time virtually come to a triumphant end. The emperor had at last an heir; all things appeared to smile upon him. A general amnesty was issued to all political offenders. The emperor became godfather and the empress godmother to all legitimate children born in France upon their son's birthday, and finally the little prince had a public baptism at Notre Dame, followed by a ball of extraordinary magnificence, given by the city of Paris to the mother of the heir-apparent, at the Hotel-de-Ville.

The chief trouble that menaced the imperial throne at this period was the extraordinary lavishness which the emperor's entourage of speculative adventurers encouraged him to incur in all directions; the recklessness of speculation; the general mania for gain that went on around him. There had also been terrible inundations in France, and a bad harvest. Many things also that disgusted and disquieted the emperor were going on among the persons who surrounded him, - persons in whom he had placed confidence; and it was one of his good qualities that he was always slow to believe evil. Still, these things were forced on his attention, and greatly disturbed him.

His little son was from the first his idol. Here is a letter he wrote to Prince Albert, acknowledging Queen Victoria's congratulations: -

"I have been greatly touched to learn that all your family have shared my joy, and all my hope is that my son may resemble dear little Prince Arthur, and that he may have the rare qualities of your children. The sympathy shown on the late occasion by the English people is another bond between the two countries, and I hope my son will inherit my feelings of true friendship for the royal family of England, and of affectionate esteem for the great English nation."

A few months later, the future Emperor Frederick, then recently engaged to the Princess Royal of England, visited Paris. He was attended by Major Baron von Moltke, who described the emperor, empress, and their court in letters to his friends. "The empress," he says, "is of astonishing beauty, with a slight, elegant figure, and dressing with much taste and richness, but without ostentation. She is very talkative and lively, - much more so than is usual with persons occupying so high a position. The emperor impressed me by a sort of immobility of features, and the almost extinguished look of his eyes."

This look, by the way, was cultivated by the emperor. When his early playfellow, Madame Cornu, saw him after twelve years' separation, her first exclamation was: "Why! what have you done to your eyes?"

"The prominent characteristic of the emperor's face," continues Von Moltke, "is a friendly, good-natured smile which has nothing Napoleonic about it. He mostly sits quietly with his head on one side, and events have shown that this tranquillity, which is very imposing to the restless French nation, is not apathy, but a sign of a superior mind and a strong will. He is an emperor, and not a king.... Affairs in France are not in a normal condition, but it would be difficult to say how, under present circumstances, they could be improved.... Napoleon III. has nothing of the sombre sternness of his uncle, neither his imperial demeanor nor his deliberate attitude. He is a quite simple and somewhat small man, whose always tranquil countenance gives a strong impression of amiability. He never gets angry, say the people round him. He is always polite.... He suffers from a want of men of ability to uphold him. He cannot make use of men of independent character, who insist on having their own notions, as the direction of affairs of State must be concentrated in his hands. Greater liberty ought to be conceded in a regulated state of society, but in the present state of France there must be a strong and single direction, which is, besides, best adapted to the French character. Freedom of the Press is for the present as impossible here as it would be at the headquarters of an army in the field if the Press wished to discuss the measures taken by the general in command. Napoleon has shown wisdom, firmness, self-confidence, but also moderation and clemency; and though simple in his dress, he does not forget that the French people like to see their sovereigns surrounded by a brilliant court."

Of the imperial baby in his nurse's arms, on whom the father looked with a face radiant with pride and joy, Von Moltke remarks: "Truly, he seems a strapping fellow."

The little prince grew up a very promising lad. He was his father's idol. Louis Napoleon never could be brought to give him any sterner reproof than "Louis, don't be foolish, - ne fais pas des betises. " Discipline was left to his mother, and it was popularly thought that she was much less wrapped up in the child than his father was. His especial talent was for drawing and sculpture. Some of his sketches, of which fac-similes are given in Jerrold's "Life of Napoleon III.," are very spirited, and when he could get a lump of wet clay to play with, he made busts of the persons round him which were excellent likenesses.

The emperor's rooms at the Tuileries were rather low and dark, but he selected them because they communicated with those of the empress in the Pavillon de Flore, by a narrow winding staircase. Often in the day would she come down to him, or he ascend to her.

His study was filled with Napoleonic relics, and littered with political and historical papers. He kept a large room with models of new inventions, which were a great delight to him and to his son. He was fond of wood-turning, and Thelin and he would often make pretty rustic chairs for the park at Saint-Cloud.

For some years before his overthrow he was growing very feeble, and always carried a cane surmounted with a gold eagle. Commonly too some chosen friend, generally Fleury, gave him his arm, but he always walked in silence. In the afternoon he would drive out, and sometimes horrify the police by getting out of his carriage and walking alone in distant quarters of the city.

On one occasion he had a difference of opinion with one of his friends, who assured him that if he insisted on planting an open space in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine with flowers, and protected it by no railing, the flowers would very speedily be destroyed. His pleasure and exultation were very great when he found he had been right, and that not a flower had been plucked or broken.

The emperor was generally gay and ready to converse at table, but he made it a rule never to criticise or discuss living persons himself, or allow others to do so in his hearing.

There was much decorum at court so far as his influence extended in the imperial circle, but there were plenty of scandals outside of it; and as to money matters, even Persigny and Fleury - one the friend of the emperor for five-and-twenty years, and the other devotedly attached to him - could not restrain themselves from cheating him and tricking him whenever they could.