January 10, 1857

10 January 1857


A romantic halo has been thrown around Josephine's history by reason of her misfortunes and her sufferings. But, in reality, up to the elevation of Napoleon to the Consulate, her life was a series of gross departures from rectitude, and although, measured by the standard of French morality, she had many noble qualities, she had no pretensions to virtue,—"The Court of Napoleon," by Frank B. Goodrich.

Josephine a woman of "loose morality!"—Josephine a woman of "notorious profligacy!" Mr. Goodrich, it were hard to believe it; it were hard to dethrone this magnanimous creature from the pedestal upon which our love has delighted to place her; it were hard to believe her destitute of that, without which all her intellect, all her loveliness, were shorn of their beams—were but ignis fatuus lights, to lead astray those whom they allured! We would fain shut our eyes at this sad blot upon the fair page of her life. But, if it must be so, shall we give one sigh the less to her sorrows, because added to their crushing weight was the crowning grief, that on that fairest of brows was the ineffaceable brand of woman's shame? Shall we pity her the less, in those weary hours of solitude and desertion, that she could not leave to her young daughter the priceless legacy of an unspotted name? Do you tell me that thoughts like these could bring no pang to her French heart? Then so much the more—a thousand-fold—do I pity Josephine; so much the more, a thousand-fold, do I sorrow, that one so magnificently endowed by nature, education, and station, should not have wished to glide amid that corrupt court, brilliant but unapproachable as the pure stars above her.

Alas! that we may only call her beautiful, whom our woman's heart years to call pure!

Source Text:

Fanny Fern, "The Empress Josephine," The New-York Ledger (10 January 1857): 4

To cite this project:

Fanny Fern, "The Empress Josephine," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2018) http://fannyfern.org.