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And there he sat, facing them,— the councillors, restive in their seats, and the lady with the tortoise-shell comb and the Minister of Police hidden behind the cornice-taking stock of morals, felonies and misdemeanors as enthusiastically as ever he had of items of ordnance. Quite argumentative he was, too, and disputatious, as he read the measure in hand, very rapidly, as swiftly seizing on its salient points, now commenting with reactionary stubbornness, now with the soundest of common sense, again with humor to relieve the tedium. "Ah! Mr. Lawyer, I have you there"-this with the boyish satisfaction he showed in winning a trick at reversi; and, a moment later, quite arbitrarily, "Come, come, I am not such an idiot as to believe that!" This body of learned men he had gathered together was a steed to be ridden. For all his cajoleries, one never lost the sense of his iron hand on the reins, and a most vise-like clamp of the knee.
"They are taking up," said Fouché behind the acanthus, "the laws for adoption, marriage, and divorce!"
"One would scarcely have known it," said the lady, alarmed by the last subject. "But he seems to be vastly enjoying himself. How he argues!"
"Come, come," he was saying again, as a kind of military "tut, tut!" "Who will plead the cause of the unmarried? Will you, Citizen Cambacèrés?"
And Cambacèrés, a notorious and cautious bachelor, bowed and protested that they were coming dangerously near to taxing celibacy; but Napoleon had returned to the document in his hand.
"Adoption is only a false way of completing an unfruitful marriage," he declared more soberly. "It must not, therefore, be open to the unmarried. Adoption must make the adopted a member of the family. Otherwise you lower it to the level of bastardy."
At the word "unfruitful" the listening lady whispered, to cover her dismay, "Why stay? This is all Greek to me."
"Better stay," answered Fouché. "Soon they will come to more intelligible things-" meaning, "Things, dear lady, that will bear more directly on your own case."
"Also," the rapid voice of Napoleon went on, "you will diminish the number of marriages. For why should people marry if they can have children without the expense and inconvenience of marriage? If adoption is approved, it must be only as a supplement of marriage. And the adopted must in all cases be under age. No especial privileges for you, Citizen Cambacèrés."
Flaws in the section on nullification of marriage next came up; and Cambacèrés now had a case in point.
"Suppose," he protested, "a soldier returns after ten years. He expects to marry his affianced cousin, who is rich, but this cousin's guardian substitutes his own daughter. Where is your 'consent' in such a case?"
"You must not," shot back the First Consul, "consider marriage only as a matter of business. The dower is a mere incident. The true union of husband and wife is the important point." Which noble sentiment was all that Josephine picked out from the confusion of technicalities; and her face accordingly bright
ened. Even in the darkness Fouché could see that. But now Napoleon had nailed another clause.
"This, through omission, is all wrong," he declared. "The bride should realize that she is passing from the guardianship of her father to that of her husband. The official at the ceremony should in all cases exact a promise of obedience; yet you have provided no such formula. Even the priests had one; and though the bride and groom, being human, may not have listened, all the bridal-party heard and were impressed. Write it in.
"Now ought we not to add that the wife should not see persons of whom her husband disapproves?" And the tortoise-shell comb turned to the death's-head. "It is a great advantage, is it not," she said, "personally to make the laws."
But already the unsuspecting husband was deep in another, and more pertinent, subject, the causes for divorce.
"You seize on adultery as the one important cause, when adultery is no phenomenon. In the civil code it has a portentous sound; in real life it seems to be a gallantry, the episode of a masked ball. Yet the way you stress it, one would think it the only cause of marital unhappiness. And you wholly overlook incompatibility, allowing mere separation for that.
"Now nothing is more disastrous than an unhappy marriage or a discreditable divorce; but mere separation can be quite as bad, for often both relatives and children suffer. And the worst of all cases is where the wife continues to lead an immoral life while she still bears her husband's
"Therefore incompatibility, as a cause, has this advantage: If a woman has been unfaithful during her husband's absence, he may use this plea without publicly dishonoring her character.
“Or again, he may know morally, but lack legal proof, that she has committed adultery. To sum up, I hold that separation, which is here allowed, inflicts a worse penalty than divorce, without any compensating advantages. At least so you have constructed your clauses.
"And we must consider the children. I can understand the feelings of those who apply for a divorce after a number of years; but only where there are no children. Marriages are made by convenience, and are only hallowed by time. Still, even with time, certain ties can never be cemented. But I cannot understand the man who applies for divorce when his wife has given him children. Therefore it should be written in that divorce may be allowed for incompatibility or adultery, only if there are no children and only during the first ten years. And no person may claim a second divorce, for that would be debasing marriage.
"And finally, Mr. Secretary, change the wording of this clause I have marked. The way you have it virtually makes the husband say, 'I shall marry and change my mind when I choose, while the wife is tied for life.' It should be assumed that men and women, when they marry, expect to be married for life."
The westering sun shone through the lofty windows, revealing the dancing dust-motes and scattering patterns of gold on the fair olive of the listener's cheek. But still, down
the line he went,-through age-limits, impotence, bastardy, and six-months children.
"When do physicians hold that life enters the body?"
"At six months, monsieur le Premier Consul; but if born then, the child cannot survive."
"Dame! I should hold a child of mine born at six months. Write it in, Mr. Secretary: A husband cannot disavow a child after a period of one hundred and eighty-six days."
Uncle Fesch should have seen him now. Truly he was sitting in palaces, making laws and issuing his mandates, also disposing with a few swift words, of the future of millions of his subjects; and incidentally, Josephine thought, of his destiny and hers. The abbé might have enjoyed it. She did not. "Unfruitful," "divorce," "incompatibility,' "infidelity during a husband's aba husband's absence," "-all the words and phrases her fears had italicized, her heart underwritten in red, now rang in her ears. His judgments had perhaps been detached and impartial; to her each seemed an echo of personal experience, the betrayal of a design. And why did Fouché simper so idiotically! She could stand it no longer. With her handkerchief at her lips, to choke back the sobs, she left the gallery.
No, poor Josephine could not altogether understand her husband; no more indeed than any lady so adorably feminine can understand one so essentially masculine. But if she did not pause to admire, the world did, gasping its huzzas or its equally flattering envy and hatred, as he crowded these shining years of the
Consulate with an array of deeds such as no man, within the same span, ever accomplished before. Conqueror and statesman, the man of business as well, there was no department of national life that did not feel the impress of his hand. As the alcade of a Basque town, the maire of a hamlet paternally looks after the welfare of his children, in short, has a finger in each little local pie, so he with the same industry and curiosity in life, but to an infinitely greater degree, selected ingredients, mixed, rolled, and cut out the dough, fluted the edges, and shoved into the oven all of France's national pies, at the same time keeping an eye on other continental pastry.
In short order, he renovated the educational system, established a school of medicine, normal, polytechnic and agricultural institutions, and one for special training in foreign languages; drew up his scheme for the great University of France, with its branches in different cities; and regulated and coördinated two hundred and fifty colleges and twentythree thousand elementary schools in the different arrondissements.
And he partitioned the arrondissements themselves, established their taxes; also the tariffs, customs, and clearance schedules at the ports to foster commerce. And he brought peace after a bloody seven years' civil war, quelling the revolts in Vendée and Brittany; then in the face of a near-infidel society, he turned to the reorganization of religion. In this, too; he showed no small adroitness, driving a pretty good bargain with the Vatican.
He said to to the Pope: "The French government does not hold
that the Catholic religion is that of the State; but the First Consul and his associate consuls proclaim it as their religion. And it is to be freely practised, along with Hebraism and Protestantism. Each citizen is welcome to worship his God as he chooses."
Thus he cleverly gave the appearance of official sanction without fastening clerical steering-ropes to the helm of State. And with his recognition His Holiness had perforce to be content, particularly since he received modest annual stipends for his clergy. In return, all claim was waived to the vast estates confiscated from the Church during the Revolution. Had these holdings not been legalized, half the peasants' new titles to their little farms would not have been secure; and France would have been unsettled for generations. It was not the least shrewd of his bargains; and he had done much for liberty of conscience.
These things accomplished, between his studies of the Code, his making of treaties and reviewing of armies, on off days he began the Oise and Schelde canals, to enrich his new province of Belgium; deepened and widened great harbors to hold his flotillas and the less menacing fleets of commerce; built huge reservoirs, and constructed great roads over the Alpine passes and from the Coast into the heart of Germany.
Paris, his adopted city, was not neglected. Down came the old rookeries that had disturbed the sous-lieutenant's sense of order. Down, too, tumbled the convents which had echoed to the tumult of
conspirators. In their place came noble arcades and thoroughfares named after his battles; while monuments rose in the squares, churches were restored, the Madeleine opened, and new galleries connected the Tuileries and the Louvre to house his captured masterpieces.
And if his brain did not devise each of these mighty works down to the last detail, his were the conceptions; his, too, the energizing of the architects, engineers, and experts he had mobilized. A part of his time even went to superintendence. Mornings, the curious might see him ordering away with a short swift gesture the caps of liberty in all the palaces and their replacement with the golden bees; watching the bronze of his cannon go up on the Vendôme Column; or pointing out the proper spot for a new bridge to span the Seine. Strangers would come upon him emerging from a conduit, though he was more sensitive than most to smells; again on the quickstep about Paris, a crowd of generals and gamins at his heels; or studying a roll of plans, his green grenadier's coat covered with pulverized mortar, his eyes bright with dreams. So, no penniless subaltern now, down at heel, and envying those who could ride, but builder and breaker of kings, he strode all over Paris, making beautiful her ways.
He was the gardener, causing all France to bloom, but a very practical gardener, for in passing he gagged the press, made the legislative bodies his tools, and stiffened with girders— wrought of dictatorial steel but cooled in the cold waters of practicality-many a republican institution. For one cannot with success
mix either policies or systems. Too much of the gas of a perverted liberalism creeping in the foundry may ruin the best of girders. And if one is fitted by Nature to be such an excellent energizer and superintendent, it is only human to work toward a vast centralization of power. It is sufficient, at least for admiration, that he carried out the system so unfalteringly; with a force and efficiency nothing short of superb.
Meantime, England found that the fine eyes in that noble head could do something besides glow over platoons and architectural plans. They could blaze with wrath at a proud British ambassador. The First Consul had made overtures for peace and the consequent recognition of the new régime; and the third silly George, ignoring the upstart, had haughtily consented, provided the French would "restore their legitimate princes!"
"Fine!" Napoleon retorted in effect. "Now apply the principle at home; and welcome the Stuarts back!" Then he turned on the the startled ambassador. "I see you want war. Very well, you may have it. Only it will be no mere rattling of the scabbard. The saber will be out!"
First man in the first land of Europe, overlord of Italy and Switzerland, Belgium and Holland, with Spain, Portugal, Germany following his cue-truly the sun was riding high in its splendor! And to ratify this splendor, as if there were any need for it, by a vote of three and a half million to seventy-five hundred, they made him consul for life-on his way to the throne.
But as the sun, if it be at its zenith, shortly must turn toward the West, so Letizia, alone of all those about him, glimpsed even then signs of the sun's going down-blood-red.
His mother had much time to think on these things as she sat in Joseph's house in the Rue Rocher, gazing down on the human tides of Paris, and longing for those of her beloved gulf, with the sparkle, in the distance, of old Monte Rotondo. Still, she seldom spoke of her fears, indeed only once to Fesch, when he brought word of some fresh disagreement between Napoleon and his sisters and brothers.
"Napoleon is so heady and strong," she began, only to stop and exclaim impatiently as her hands searched in her lap for the sewing which, these days, was never there: "Per dio! why does not Julie discharge some of those pestering servants?"
"I should say it was pretty comfortable, having them," returned the abbé, who had no pleasant memories of the days in Marseilles.
"Perhaps; but they will never let me do anything for any one. Still, for whom could I do? Even Jérôme is grown up; and as for Napoleon, he wants to do everything for everybody; wive them and shrive them, even bury them.
"And that is the trouble; it is that that makes him really lonely. Others seem such shadows beside him, even his brothers and sisters. Lucien and Joseph are clever enough; but they appear at a disadvantage, Napoleon thinks and acts so quickly; and sometimes, I am sure, he considers them fools. Naturally they