fine, they could admire the works of poets and artists, and enjoy the
newly, awakened intellectual spirit of the age.
Hortense had firmly made up her mind that, since she had resigned
herself to accept the burden of existence, she would strive to render it
as agreeable as possible, and not to see any of its hateful and
repulsive features, but to turn away from them with a noble and
disdainful pride. She had never even referred to the frightful calumnies
which her mother had privately made known to her, nor had she deemed any
defence or proof of her innocence at all necessary. She felt that there
were certain accusations against which to even undertake defence is to
admit their possibility, and which, therefore, could only be combated by
silence. The slanders that had been flung at her lay in a plane so far
beneath her, that they could not rise high enough to reach her, but fell
powerless at her feet, whence she did not deem it even worth her while
to thrust them.
But Bonaparte continued to feel outraged and wounded by this vile story,
and it annoyed him deeply to learn that these rumors were still spread
abroad, and that his foes still bestirred themselves to keep him ever on
the alert, and, if possible, to dim the lustre of his gloriously-won
laurels by the shadow of an infamous crime.
"There are still rumors abroad of a _liaison_ between me and Hortense,"
said he one day to Bourrienne. "They have even invented the most
repulsive stories concerning her first infant. At the time, I thought
that these calumnies were circulated among the public because the
latter go earnestly desired that I might have a child to inherit my
name. But it is still spoken of, is it not?"
"Yes, general, it is still spoken of; and I confess that I did not
believe this calumny would be s