The case of Bonaparte against Monaparte.
Our readers are well aware that Mr. Jerome Bonaparte
, of Baltimore
, upon the death of his father, the late King Jerome, exmonarch of Westphalia
, brought a salt in the French Court to establish his claim to be the legitimate son of his father.
relinquished, in advance, all claim which he might have to any property left by the deceased, his sole object being to establish the validity of his father's first marriage, and thereby vindicate the fame of his mother.
In the pursuit of this object he has manifested a determination of purpose characteristic of the family whose name he bears, and of the nation to which that family originally belonged.
He has done more; he has shown that what he considers his honor is dearer to him than life itself, and that worldly wealth, high place, and an unbounded future for his children, are as nothing in his eyes, compared with the fame of that mother who watched over him in the years of his childhood, when his father and his father's house were disposed to cast him, like an unclaimed foundling, upon the world.
Admirable as such conduct is, it is not more admirable than that of the venerable parent who is the occasion of it.--Married when a young and beautiful girl, the admired of all circles into which she entered, while the youth of a whole nation were ready to prostrate themselves at her feet, to the most worthless scamp that ever disgraced a crown, she was forsaken by him from the basest and most sordid motives, in a strange country, among entire strangers, and was indebted for a refuge in the hour of her distress, to the humanity of a people with whom the nation to which her husband belonged was engaged in a deadly war. Leaving her without the slightest remorse, for a royal bride who brought him a larger dower, this paragon of husbands afterwards had the meanness to offer her an immense estate in Westphalia
, as a balin to her wounded feelings.--She treated his offer with silent contempt, neither answering the letter in which it was conveyed, nor permitting it to be answered by any one else in her name.
She procured a divorce from the Legislature of her native State, and resumed the name she had borne before her ill-starred marriage.--But though in the full flush of her uncommon beauty, she encouraged no suitors, and never once thought of changing her condition.
Her whole thoughts were bent upon the education and future prospects of her son, and the establishment, at some future day, of his right to bear, without shame, the name of his father.
She lived to see her great persecutor overthrown — to hear of his long agony upon the barren rock of St. Helena — to see the nation which he governed expel from her bosom the family which had succeeded to the Bonapartes--to see those who filled the places of this family reduced to exile in their turn — to see another French Republic succeeded by another Empire, with another Bonaparte
at its head.
She has outlived her rival, and her husband — and now, numbering greatly more than the years allotted to man by the Psalmist, she crosses the ocean, with her son, to vindicate her rights and his in a French Court of Justice!
There is something sublime, as well as romantic, in this; and when critics carp at the incidents of a romance as improbable because surprising, we are prone to bid them read the story of Elizabeth Patterson
Of all the offences with which the first Napoleon
has been charged, his conduct with regard to this marriage was the most unjustifiable.
He first endeavored to obtain a divorce from the Pope
; but that Potentate, although so absolutely within his power that he had compelled him to come to Paris
in order to crown him, as one of his predecessors had crowned Charlemagne--although a few years after he arrested him in the very Vatican
and carried him a prisoner to Fontainebleau
— could not be in induced, either by blandishments or threats, to obey this mandate; for it was nothing else.
The marriage, he said, was valid, in the eyes of God and man. Nothing had occurred since its date to impair its binding force.
As the head of the Church
, as a Prince, as a Christian, as a man, he could not consent to perpetrate an act of such gross injustice.
Nor did he ever do it. Foiled in this quarter, an attempt was next made to show that Jerome was a minor, and could not, by the French
law, contract a marriage without the consent of his mother, which he did not obtain.--But it was shown, on the other hand, that though by the French
law a man was not of age until he is twenty-five, for any other purpose, yet for the purpose of contracting marriage he was of age at eighteen. Jerome was nineteen and some months when he married Miss Patterson
, according to the Emperor
's own showing--twenty-two according to his commission as an officer in the Navy, aswoon to by the late General Samuel Smith
, of Baltimore
— the here of Mud Island
— who had examined it.
It is highly probable that the French Court will decide against Mr. Bonaparte
. But there are few men, whose hearts are in the right place, and fewer women, who will not wish him the most complete success.