During his exile outside of France, Eugene had lived with his father and uncles, to whom he was very attached. While he was in Venice he was hurt by the departure of his mother and by the subsequent divorce of his parents. At the age of 20 he returned to France, and from then on his ambition was to bring his family out of exile. To do this he had to find a financial situation for them that would enable his father to pay his debts and be able to return to France and not have any debtors hounding him. The appointment of Fortuné to an ecclesiastical position would have guaranteed the necessary income to support Eugene’s father too.
For fifteen years Eugene had worked at this, and it was one of his preoccupations now while in Paris. His mother did not see things his way and was opposed to the return of his father.
Something I will forever regret is to have paid too much attention to your reluctance to give up your prejudices and in not insisting on the return of my relatives.
We are now punished for not having had the aggressiveness of doing our duty. My uncle, the Abbé would have been the Bishop of Perpignan and perhaps even of Marseille if he had been here. As bishop, he would have taken care of his older brother… The younger brother has a pension of 100 louis so he does not need anyone’s help..
This remark, despite my having made it before was not able to calm your fears and I had the weakness to give in to the fear of distressing you, especially when Eugenie told me that it was this that was the source of all your ill-health
Now it was too late because all the vacant church positions have been filled.
Now the opportunity is lost, all is finished for ever… With my uncle as bishop, his brother would have lived with him in his diocese and he would have found a way to pay something to his creditors. The opportunity is lost forever, a lot of virtue is necessary to be consoled.
In his frustration he irritably reproaches his mother:
Try to at least draw the conclusion that you should not always contradict me in my ideas that are often worth more than those of many others. But let’s drop this distressing subject.
Letter to his mother, 21 August 1817,
Orig.: Chateau des Boisgelin, at St-Martin-des-Pallières