Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
THE DUCHESS OF BERRY AND THE COURT OF CHARLES X
BY IMBERT DE SAINT-AMAND
I. THE ACCESSION OF CHARLES X
II. THE ENTRY INTO PARIS
III. THE TOMBS OF SAINT-DENIS
IV. THE FUNERAL OF LOUIS XVIII
V. THE KING
VI. THE DAUPHIN AND DAUPHINESS
VIII. THE ORLEANS FAMILY
IX. THE PRINCE OF CONDE
X. THE COURT
XI. THE DUKE OF DOUDEAUVILLE
XII. THE HOUSEHOLD OF THE DUCHESS OF BERRY XIII. THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE CORONATION XIV. THE CORONATION
XV. CLOSE OF THE SOJOURN AT RHEIMS XVI. THE RE-ENTRANCE INTO PARIS
XVII. THE JUBILEE OF 1826
XVIII. THE DUCHESS OF GONTAUT
XIX. THE THREE GOVERNORS
XX. THE REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL GUARD XXI. THE FIRST DISQUIETUDE
XXII. THE MARTIGNAC MINISTRY
XXIII. THE JOURNEY IN THE WEST
XXIV. THE MARY STUART BALL
XXV. THE FINE ARTS
XXVI. THE THEATRE OF MADAME
XXVIII. THE PRINCE DE POLIGNAC
XXIX. GENERAL DE BOURMONT
XXX. THE JOURNEY IN THE SOUTH
THE DUCHESS OF BERRY AND THE COURT OF CHARLES X
THE ACCESSION OF CHARLES X
Thursday, the 16th of September, 1824, at the moment when Louis XVIII. was breathing his last in his chamber of the Chateau des Tuileries, the courtiers were gathered in the Gallery of Diana. It was four o’clock in the morning. The Duke and the Duchess of Angouleme, the Duchess of Berry, the Duke and the Duchess of Orleans, the Bishop of Hermopolis, and the physicians were in the chamber of the dying man. When the King had given up the ghost, the Duke of Angouleme, who became Dauphin, threw himself at the feet of his father, who became King, and kissed his hand with respectful tenderness. The princes and princesses followed this example, and he who bore thenceforward the title of Charles X., sobbing, embraced them all. They knelt about the bed. The De Profundis was recited. Then the new King sprinkled holy water on the body of his brother and kissed the icy hand. An instant later M. de Blacas, opening the door of the Gallery of Diana, called out: “Gentlemen, the King!” And Charles X. appeared.
Let us listen to the Duchess of Orleans. “At these words, in the twinkling of an eye, all the crowd of courtiers deserted the Gallery to surround and follow the new King. It was like a torrent. We were borne along by it, and only at the door of the Hall of the Throne, my husband bethought himself that we no longer had aught to do there. We returned home, reflecting much on the feebleness of our poor humanity, and the nothingness of the things of this world.”
Marshal Marmont, who was in the Gallery of Diana at the moment of the King’s death, was much struck by the two phrases pronounced at an instant’s interval by M. de Damas: “Gentlemen, the King is dead! The King, gentlemen!”
He wrote in his Memoirs: “It is difficult to describe the sensation produced by this double announcement in so brief a time. The new sovereign was surrounded by his officers, and everything except the person of the King was in the accustomed order. Beautiful and great thought, this uninterrupted life of the depository of the sovereign power! By this fiction there is no break in this protecting force, so necessary to the preservation of society.” The Marshal adds: “The government had been in fact for a year and more in the hands of Monsieur. Thus the same order of things was to continue; nevertheless, there was emotion perceptible on the faces of those present; one might see hopes spring up and existences wither. Every one accompanied the new King to his Pavilion of Marsan. He announced to his ministers that he confirmed them in their functions. Then every one withdrew.”
While the Duchess of Berry was present at the death of Louis XVIII., the Duke of Bordeaux and his sister, Mademoiselle, then, the one four, the other five years of age, remained at the Chateau of Saint Cloud, with the Governess of the Children of France, the Viscountess of Gontaut-Biron. This lady passed the night of the 15th of September in great anxiety. She listened on the balcony, awaiting and dreading the news.
At the moment that the day began to dawn, she heard afar the gallop of a horse that drew near, passed the bridge, ascended the avenue, reached the Chateau, and in response to the challenge of the guard, she distinguished the words: “An urgent message for Madame the Governess.” It was a letter from the new King. Madame de Gontaut trembled as she opened it. Charles X. announced to her, in sad words, that Louis XVIII. was no more, and directed her to made ready for the arrival of the royal family. “Lodge me where you and the governor shall see fit. We shall probably pass three or four days at Saint Cloud. Communicate my letter to the Marshal. I have not strength to write another word.”
“The day was beginning to break,” we read in the unpublished Memoirs of the Governess of the Children of France. “I went to the bed of Monseigneur. He was awakened. He was not surprised, and said nothing, and allowed himself to be dressed. Not so with Mademoiselle. I told her gently of the misfortune that had come upon her family. I was agitated. She questioned me, asking where was bon-papa. I told her that he was still in Paris, but was coming to Saint Cloud; then I added: ‘Your bon-papa, Mademoiselle, is King, since the King is no more.’ She reflected, then, repeating the word: ‘King! Oh! that indeed is the worst of the story.’ I was astonished, and wished her to explain her idea; she simply repeated it. I thought then she had conceived the notion of a king always rolled about in his chair.”
The same day the court arrived. It was no longer the light carriage that used almost daily to bring Monsieur, to the great joy of his grandchildren. It was the royal coach with eight horses, livery, escort, and body-guard. The Duke of Bordeaux and his sister were on the porch with their governess. On perceiving the coach, instead of shouting with pleasure, as was their custom, they remained motionless and abashed. Charles X. was pale and silent. In the vestibule he paused: “What chamber have you prepared for me?” he said sadly to Madame de Gontaut, glancing at the door of his own. The governess replied: “The apartment of Monsieur is ready, and the chamber of the King as well.” The sovereign paused, then clasping his hands in silence: “It must be!” he cried. “Let us ascend.”
They followed him. He passed through the apartments. On the threshold of the royal chamber Madame de Gontaut brought to Charles X. the Duke of Bordeaux and Mademoiselle and he embraced them. The poor children were disconcerted by so much sadness. “As soon as I can,” he said to them, “I promise to come to see you.” Then turning to the company: “I would be alone.” All withdrew in silence. The Dauphiness was weeping. The Dauphin had disappeared. Everything was gloomy. No one spoke. Thus passed the first day of the reign of Charles X.
The next day the King received the felicitations of the Corps de l’Etat. Many addresses were delivered. “All contained the expression of the public love,” said Marshal Marmont in his Memoirs, “and I believe that they were sincere; but the love of the people is, of all loves, the most fragile, the most apt to evaporate. The King responded in an admirable manner, with appropriateness, intelligence, and warmth. His responses, less correct, perhaps, than those of Louis XVIII., had movement and spirit, and it is so precious to hear from those invested with the sovereign powers things that come from the heart, that Charles X. had a great success. I listened to him with care, and I sincerely admired his facility in varying his language and modifying his expressions according to the eminence of the authority from whom the compliments came.”
The reception lasted several hours. When the coaches had rolled away and when quiet was re-established in the Chateau of Saint Cloud, Charles X., in the mourning costume of the Kings, the violet coat, went to the apartment of the Duke of Bordeaux and his sister. The usher cried: “The King!” The two children, frightened, and holding each other by the hand, remained silent. Charles X. opened his arms and they threw themselves into them. Then the sovereign seated himself in his accustomed chair and held his grandchildren for some moments pressed to his heart. The Duke of Bordeaux covered the hands and the face of his grandfather with kisses. Mademoiselle regarded attentively the altered features of the King and his mourning dress, novel to her. She asked him why he wore such a coat. Charles X. did not reply, and sighed. Then he questioned the governess as to the impression made on the children by the death of Louis XVIII. Madame de Gontaut hesitated to answer, recalling the strange phrase of Mademoiselle: “King! Oh! that indeed is the worst of the story.” But the little Princess, clinging to her notion, began to repeat the unlucky phrase. Charles X., willing to give it a favorable interpretation, assured Mademoiselle that he would see her as often as in the past, and that nothing should separate him from her. The two children, with the heedlessness of their age, took on their usual gaiety, and ran to the window to watch the market-men, the coal heavers, and the fishwomen, who had come to Saint Cloud to congratulate the new King.
The griefs of sovereigns in the period of their prosperity do not last so long as those of private persons. Courtiers take too much pains to lighten them. With Charles X. grief at the loss of his brother was quickly followed by the enjoyment of reigning. Chateaubriand, who, when he wished to, had the art of carrying flattery to lyric height, published his pamphlet: Le roi est mart! Vive le roi! In it he said: “Frenchmen, he who announced to you Louis le Desire, who made his voice heard by you in the days of storm, and makes to you to-day of Charles X. in circumstances very different. He is no longer obliged to tell you what the King is who comes to you, what his misfortunes are, his virtues, his rights to the throne and to your love; he is no longer obliged to depict his person, to inform you how many members of his family still exist. You know him, this Bourbon, the first to come, after our disaster, worthy herald of old France, to cast himself, a branch of lilies in his hand, between you and Europe. Your eyes rest with love and pleasure on this Prince, who in the ripeness of years has preserved the charm and elegance of his youth, and who now, adorned with the diadem, still is but ONE FRENCHMAN THE MORE IN THE MIDST OF YOU. You repeat with emotion so many happy mots dropped by this new monarch, who from the loyalty of his heart draws the grace of happy speech. What one of us would not confide to him his life, his fortune, his honor? The man whom we should all wish as a friend, we have as King. Ah! Let us try to make him forget the sacrifices of his life! May the crown weigh lightly on the white head of this Christian Knight! Pious as Saint Louis, affable, compassionate, and just as Louis XII., courtly as Francis I., frank as Henry IV., may he be happy with all the happiness he has missed in his long past! May the throne where so many monarchs have encountered tempests, be for him a place of repose! Devoted subjects, let us crowd to the feet of our well-loved sovereign, let us recognize in him the model of honor, the living principle of our laws, the soul of our monarchical society; let us bless a guardian heredity, and may legitimacy without pangs give birth to a new King! Let our soldiers cover with their flags the father of the Duke of Angouleme. May watchful Europe, may the factions, if such there be still, see in the accord of all Frenchmen, in the union of the people and the army, the pledge of our strength and of the peace of the world!” The author of the Genie du Christianisme thus closed his prose dithyramb: “May God grant to Louis XVIII. the crown immortal of Saint Louis! May God bless the mortal crown of Saint Louis on the head of Charles X.!”
In this chant in honor of the King and of royalty, M. de Chateaubriand did not forget the Duke and Duchess of Angouleme, nor the Duchess of Berry and the Duke of Bordeaux. “Let us salute,” he said, “the Dauphin and Dauphiness, names that bind the past to the future, calling up touching and noble memories, indicating the own son and the successor of the monarch, names under which we find the liberator of Spain and the daughter of Louis XVI. The Child of Europe, the new Henry, thus makes one step toward the throne of his ancestor, and his young mother guides him to the throne that she might have ascended.”
Happy in the ease with which the change in the reign had taken place, and seeing the unanimous manifestations of devotion and enthusiasm by which the throne was surrounded, the Duchess of Berry regarded the future with entire confidence. Inclined by nature to optimism, the young and amiable Princess believed herself specially protected by Providence, and would have considered as a sort of impiety anything else than absolute faith in the duration of the monarchy and in respect for the rights of her son. Had any one of the court expressed the slightest doubt as to the future destiny of the CHILD OF MIRACLE, he would have been looked upon as an alarmist or a coward. The royalists were simple enough to believe that, thanks to this child, the era of revolutions was forever closed. They said to themselves that French royalty, like British royalty, would have its Whigs and its Tories, but that it was forever rid of Republicans and Imperialists. At the accession of Charles X. the word Republican, become a synonym of Jacobin, awoke only memories of the guillotine and the “Terror.” A moderate republic seemed but a chimera; only that of Robespierre and Marat was thought of. The eagle was no longer mentioned; and as to the eaglet, he was a prisoner at Vienna. What chance of reigning had the Duke of Reichstadt, that child of thirteen, condemned by all the Powers of Europe? By what means could he mount the throne? Who would be regent in his name? A Bonaparte? The forgetful Marie Louise? Such hypotheses were relegated to the domain of pure fantasy. Apart from a few fanatical old soldiers who persisted in saying that Napoleon was not dead, no one, in 1824, believed in the resurrection of the Empire. As for Orleanism, it was as yet a myth. The Duke of Orleans himself was not an Orleanist. Of all the courtiers of Charles X., he was the most eager, the most zealous, the most enthusiastic. In whatever direction she turned her glance, the Duchess of Berry saw about her only reasons for satisfaction and security.
THE ENTRY INTO PARIS
The Duchess of Berry took part in the solemn entry into Paris made by Charles X., Monday, 27th September, 1824. She was in the same carriage as the Dauphiness and the Duchess and Mademoiselle of Orleans. The King left the Chateau of Saint Cloud at half-past eleven in the morning, passed through the Bois de Boulogne, and mounted his horse at the Barriere de l’Etoile. There he was saluted by a salvo of one hundred and one guns, and the Count de Chambral, Prefect of the Seine, surrounded by the members of the Municipal Council, presented to him the keys of the city. Charles X. replied to the address of the Prefect: “I deposit these keys with you, because I cannot place them in more faithful hands. Guard them, gentlemen. It is with a profound feeling of pain and joy that I enter within these walls, in the midst of my good people,–of joy because I well know that I shall employ and consecrate all my days to the very last, to assure and consolidate their happiness.” Accompanied by the princes and princesses of his family and by a magnificent staff, the sovereign descended the Champs-Elysees to the Avenue of Marigny, followed that avenue, and entered the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, before the Palace of the Elysee. At this moment, the weather, which had been cold and sombre, brightened, and the rain, which had been falling for a long time, ceased. The King heard two child-voices crying joyously, “Bon-papa.” It was the little Duke of Bordeaux and his sister at a window of an entresol of the Elysee which looked out upon the street. On perceiving his two grandchildren, Charles X. could not resist the impulse to approach them. He left the ranks of the cortege, to the despair of the grand-master of ceremonies. The horse reared. A sergeant-de-ville seized him by the bit. Listen to Madame de Gontaut: “I was frightened, and cried out. The King scolded me for it afterward. I confessed my weakness; to fall at the first step in Paris would have seemed an ill omen. The King subdued his fretful horse, said a few tender words to the children, raised his hat gracefully to the ladies surrounding us. A thousand voices shouted: Vive le Roi! The grand-master was reassured, the horse was quieted, and the King resumed his place. The carriage of the princes and princesses passing at that moment, the little princes saw them–it was an added joy.”
The cortege followed this route: the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, the boulevards to the Rue Saint-Denis, the Rue Saint-Denis, the Place du Chatelet, the Pont au Change, the Rue de la Bailer, the Marche-Neuf, the Rue Neuve-Notre-Dame, the Parvis. At every moment the King reined in his superb Arab horse to regard more at ease the delighted crowd. He smiled and saluted with an air of kindness and a grace that produced the best impression. Charles X. was an excellent horseman; he presented the figure and air of a young man. The contrast naturally fixed in all minds, between his vigorous attitude and that of his predecessor, an infirm and feeble old man, added to the general satisfaction. The houses were decorated with white flags spangled with fleurs-de-lis. Triumphal arches were erected along the route of the sovereign. The streets and boulevards were strewn with flowers. At the sight of the monarch the happy people redoubled their acclamations. Benjamin Constant shouted: “Vive le roi!”–“Ah, I have captured you at last,” smilingly remarked Charles X.
Reaching the Parvis de Notre-Dame, the sovereign, before entering the Cathedral, paused before the threshold of the Hotel-Dieu. Fifty nuns presented themselves before him, “Sire,” said the Prioress, “you pause before the house so justly termed the Hotel- Dieu, which has always been honored with the protection of our kings. We shall never forget, Sire, that the sick have seen at their bedside the Prince who is today their King. They know that at this moment your march is arrested by charity. We shall tell them that the King is concerned for their ills, and it will be a solace to them. Sire, we offer you our homage, our vows, and the assurance that we shall always fulfil with zeal our duties to the sick.” Charles X. replied: “I know with what zeal you and these gentlemen serve the poor. Continue, Mesdames, and you can count on my benevolence and on my constant protection.”
The King was received at the Metropolitan Church by the Archbishop of Paris at the head of his clergy. The Domine salvum, fac regem, was intoned and repeated by the deputations of all the authorities and by the crowd filling the nave, the side-aisles, and the tribunes of the vast basilica. Then a numerous body of singers sang the Te Deum. On leaving the church, the King remounted his horse and returned to the Tuileries, along the quais, to the sound of salvos of artillery and the acclamations of the crowd. The Duchess of Berry, who had followed the King through all the ceremonies, entered the Chateau with him, and immediately addressed to the Governess of the Children of France this note: “From Saint Cloud to Notre-Dame, from Notre-Dame to the Tuileries, the King has been accompanied by acclamations, signs of approval and of love.”
Charles X., on Thursday, the 30th September, had to attend a review on the Champ-de-Mars. The morning of this day, the readers of all the journals found in them a decree abolishing the censorship and restoring liberty of the press. The enthusiasm was immense. The Journal de Paris wrote: “Today all is joy, confidence, hope. The enthusiasm excited by the new reign would be far too ill at ease under a censorship. None can be exercised over the public gratitude. It must be allowed full expansion. Happy is the Council of His Majesty to greet the new King with an act so worthy of him. It is the banquet of this joyous accession; for to give liberty to the press is to give free course to the benedictions merited by Charles X.”
The review was superb. After having heard Mass in the chapel of the Chateau of the Tuileries, the King mounted his horse at half- past eleven, and, accompanied by the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the Duke of Bourbon, proceeded to the Champ-de-Mars. Two caleches followed; the one was occupied by the Dauphiness, the Duchess of Berry, and the Duke of Bordeaux in the uniform of a colonel of cuirassiers,–a four-year old colonel,–the other by the Duchess of Orleans and Mademoiselle of Orleans, her sister-in- law. The weather was mild and clear. The twelve legions of the National Guard on foot, the mounted National Guard, the military household of the King, and all the regiments of the royal guard, which the sovereign was about to review, made a magnificent appearance. An immense multitude covered the slopes about the Champ-de-Mars. Charles X. harvested the effect of the liberal measure that he had first adopted. A thunder of plaudits and cheers greeted his arrival on the ground. At one moment, when he found himself, so to speak, tangled in the midst of the crowd, several lancers of his guard sought to break the circle formed about him by pushing back the curious with the handles of their lances. “My friends, no halberds!” the King called to them. This happy phrase, repeated from group to group, carried the general satisfaction to a climax. A witness of this military ceremony, the Count of Puymaigre, at that time Prefect of the Oise, says in his curious Souvenirs:–
“Charles X. appeared to have dissipated all the dangers that for ten years had menaced his august predecessor.
“On all sides there rose only acclamations of delight in favor of the new King, who showed himself so popular, and whose gracious countenance could express only benevolent intentions. I was present, mingling with the crowd, at the first review by Charles X. on the Champ-de-Mars, and the remarks were so frankly royalist, that any one would have been roughly treated by the crowd had he shown other sentiments.”
The Duchess of Berry was full of joy. She quivered with pleasure. Very popular in the army and among the people, as at court and in the city, she was proud to show her fine child, who already wore the uniform, to the officers and soldiers. She appeared to all eyes the symbol of maternal love, and the mothers gazed upon her boy as if he had been their own. As soon as the little Prince was seen, there was on every face an expression of kindliness and sympathy. He was the Child of Paris, the Child of France. Who could have foretold then that this child, so loved, admired, applauded, would, innocent victim, less than six years later, be condemned to perpetual exile, and by whom?
Charles X. had won a triumph. Napoleon, at the time of his greatest glories, at the apogee of his prodigious fortunes, had never had a warmer greeting from the Parisian people. In the course of the review the King spoke to all the colonels. On his return to the Tuileries he went at a slow pace, paused often to receive petitions, handed them to one of his suite, and responded in the most gracious manner to the homage of which he was the object. An historian not to be accused of partiality for the Restoration has written: “On entering the Tuileries, Charles X. might well believe that the favor that greeted his reign effaced the popularity of all the sovereigns who had gone before. Happy in being King at last, moved by the acclamations that he met at every step, the new monarch let his intoxicating joy expand in all his words. His affability was remarked in his walks through Paris, and the grace with which he received all petitioners who could approach him.” Everywhere that he appeared, at the Hotel-Dieu, at Sainte-Genvieve, at the Madeleine, the crowd pressed around him and manifested the sincerest enthusiasm. M. Villemain, in the opening discourse of his lectures on eloquence at the Faculty of Letters, was wildly applauded when he pronounced the following eulogium on the new sovereign: “A monarch kindly and revered, he has the loyalty of the antique ways and modern enlightenment. Religion is the seal of his word. He inherits from Henry IV. those graces of the heart that are irresistible. He has received from Louis XIV. an intelligent love of the arts, a nobility of language, and that dignity that imposes respect while it seduces.” All the journals chanted his praises. Seeing that the Constitutionnel itself, freed from censorship, rendered distinguished homage to legitimacy, he came to believe that principle invincible. He was called Charles the Loyal. At the Theatre-Francais, the line of Tartufe–
“Nous vivons sous un prince ennemi de la fraude”–
was greeted with a salvo of applause. The former adversaries of the King reproached themselves with having misunderstood him. They sincerely reproached themselves for their past criticisms, and adored that which they had burned. M. de Vaulabelle himself wrote:–
“Few sovereigns have taken possession of the throne in circumstances more favorable than those surrounding the accession of Charles X.”
It seemed as if the great problem of the conciliation of order and liberty had been definitely solved. The white flag, rejuvenated by the Spanish war, had taken on all its former splendor. The best officers, the best soldiers of the imperial guard, served the King in the royal guard with a devotion proof against everything. Secret societies had ceased their subterranean manoeuvres. No more disturbances, no more plots. In the Chambers, the Opposition, reduced to an insignificant minority, was discouraged or converted. The ambitious spirits of whom it was composed turned their thoughts toward the rising sun. Peace had happily fecundated the prodigious resources of the country. Finances, commerce, agriculture, industry, the fine arts, everything was prospering. The public revenues steadily increased. The ease with which riches came inclined all minds toward optimism. The salons had resumed the most exquisite traditions of courtesy and elegance. It was the boast that every good side of the ancien regime had been preserved and every bad one rejected. France was not only respected, she was a la mode. All Europe regarded her with sympathetic admiration. No one in 1824 could have predicted 1880. The writers least favorable to the Restoration had borne witness to the general calm, the prevalence of good will, the perfect accord between the country and the crown. The early days of the reign of Charles X. were, so to speak, the honeymoon of the union of the King and France.
THE TOMBS OF SAINT-DENIS
The funeral solemnities of Louis XVIII. seemed to the people a mortuary triumph of Royalty over the Revolution and the Empire. The profanations of 1793 were expiated. Napoleon was left with the willow of Saint Helena; the descendant of Saint Louis and of Louis XIV. had the basilica of his ancestors as a place of sepulture, and the links of time’s chain were again joined. The obsequies of Louis XVIII. suggested a multitude of reflections. It was the first time since the death of Louis XV. in 1774, that such a ceremony had taken place. As was said by the Moniteur:–
“This solemnity, absolutely novel for the greater number of the present generation, offered an aspect at once mournful and imposing. A monarch so justly regretted, a king so truly Christian, coming to take his place among the glorious remains of the martyrs of his race and the bones of his ancestors,–profaned, scattered by the revolutionary tempest, but which he had been able again to gather,–was a grave subject of reflection, a spectacle touching in its purpose and majestic in the pomp with which it was surrounded.”
Through what vicissitudes had passed these royal tombs, to which the coffin of Louis XVIII. was borne! Read in the work of M. Georges d’Heylli, Les Tombes royales de Saint-Denis, the story of these profanations and restorations.
The Moniteur of the 6th of February, 1793, published in its literary miscellany, a so-called patriotic ode, by the poet Lebrun, containing the following strophe:–
“Purgeons le sol des patriotes,
Par des rois encore infectes.
La terre de la liberte
Rejette les os des despotes.
De ces monstres divinises
Que tous lea cercueils soient brises! Que leur memoirs soit fletrie!
Et qu’avec leurs manes errants
Sortent du sein de la patrie
Les cadavres de ses tyrants!”
[Footnote: Let us purge the patriot soil–By kings still infected.–The land of liberty–Rejects the bones of despots.–Of these monsters deified–Let all the coffins be destroyed!–Let their memory perish!–And with their wandering manes–Let issue from the bosom of the fatherland–The bodies of its tyrants!]
These verses were the prelude to the discussion, some months later, in the National Convention, of the proposition to destroy the monuments of the Kings at Saint-Denis, to burn their remains, and to send to the bullet foundry the bronze and lead off their tombs and coffins. In the session of July 31, 1793, Barrere, the “Anacreon of the guillotine,” read to the convention in the name of the Committee of Public Safety, a report, which said:–
“To celebrate the day of August 10, which overthrew the throne, the pompous mausoleums must be destroyed upon its anniversary. Under the Monarchy, the very tombs were taught to flatter kings. Royal pride and luxury could not be moderated even on this theatre of death, and the bearers of the sceptre who had brought such ills on France and on humanity seemed even in the grave to vaunt a vanished splendor. The strong hand of the Republic should pitilessly efface these haughty epitaphs, and demolish these mausoleums which might recall the frightful memory of kings.”
The project was voted by acclamation. The tombs were demolished between the 6th and 8th of August, 1793, and the announcement was made for the anniversary of the 10th of August, 1792, of “that grand, just, and retributive destruction, required in order that the coffins should be opened, and the remains of the tyrants be thrown into a ditch filled with quick-time, where they may be forever destroyed. This operation will shortly take place.”
This was done in the following October. For some days there was carried on a profanation even more sacrilegious than the demolition of the tombs. The coffins containing the remains of kings and queens, princes and princesses, were violated. On Wednesday, the 16th of October, 1798, at the very hour that Marie Antoinette mounted the scaffold,–she who had so wept for her son, the first Dauphin, who died the 4th of June, 1789, at the beginning of the Revolution,–the disinterrers of kings violated the grave of this child and threw his bones on the refuse heap. Iconoclasts, jealous of death, disputed its prey, and they profaned among others the sepulchres of Madame Henrietta of England, of the Princess Palatine, of the Regent, and of Louis XV.
In the midst of these devastations, some men, less insensate than the others, sought at least to rescue from the hands of the destroyers what might be preserved in the interest of art. Of this number was an artist, Alexandre Lenoir, who had supervised the demolition of the tombs of Saint-Denis. He could not keep from the foundry, by the terms of the decree, the tombs of lead, copper, and bronze; but he saved the others from complete destruction– those that may be seen to-day in the church of Saint-Denis. He had them placed first in the cemetery of the Valois, near the ditches filled with quicklime, where had been cast the remains of the great ones of the earth, robbed of their sepulchres. Later, a decree of the Minister of the Interior, Benezech, dated 19 Germinal, An IV., authorizing the citizen Lenoir to have the tombs thus saved from destruction taken to the Museum of French Monuments, of which he was the conservator, and which had been installed at Paris, Rue des Petits Augustins. From thence they were destined to be returned to the Church of Saint-Denis, under the reign of Louis XVIII.
At the height of his power, Napoleon dreamed of providing for himself the same sepulture as that of the kings, his predecessors. He had decided that he would be interred in the Church of Saint- Denis, and had arranged for himself a cortege of emperors about the site that he had chosen for the vault of his dynasty. He directed the construction of a grand monument dedicated to Charlemagne, which was to rise in the “imperialized” church. The great Carlovingian emperor was to have been represented, erect, upon a column of marble, at the back of which statues in stone of the emperors who succeeded him were to have been placed. But at the time of Napoleon’s fall, the monument had not been finished. There had been completed only the statues, which have taken their rank in the crypt. They represent Charlemagne, Louis le Debonnaire, Charles le Chauve, Louis le Begue, Charles le Gros, and even Louis d’Outremer, who, nevertheless, was only a king.
Like the Pharaohs of whom Bossuet speaks, Napoleon was not to enjoy his sepulture. To be interred with pomp at Saint-Denis, while Napoleon, at Saint Helena, rested under a simple stone on which not even his name was inscribed, was the last triumph for Louis XVIII.,–a triumph in death. The re-entrance of Louis XVIII. had been not only the restoration of the throne, but that of the tombs. The 21st of January, 1815, twenty-two years, to the very day, after the death of Louis XVI., the remains of the unhappy King and those of his Queen, Marie Antoinette, were transferred to the Church of Saint-Denis, where their solemn obsequies were celebrated. Chateaubriand cried:–
“What hand has reconstructed the roof of these vaults and prepared these empty tombs? The hand of him who was seated on the throne of the Bourbons. O Providence! He believed that he was preparing the sepulchres of his race, and he was but building the tomb of Louis XVI. Injustice reigns but for a moment; it is virtue only that can count its ancestors and leave a posterity. See, at the same moment, the master of the earth falls, Louis XVIII. regains the sceptre, Louis XVI. finds again the sepulture of his fathers.”
At the beginning of the Second Restoration, the King determined, by a decree of the 4th of April, 1816, that search should be made in the cemetery of the Valois, about the Church of Saint-Denis, in order to recover the remains of his ancestors that might have escaped the action of the bed of quicklime, in which they had been buried under the Terror. The same decree declared that the remains recovered should be solemnly replaced in the Church of Saint- Denis.
Excavations were made in January, 1817, in the cemetery of the Valois, and the bones thus discovered were transferred to the necropolis of the kings.
“It was night,” says Alexandre Lenoir, in his Histoire des Arts en France par les Monuments. “The moon shone on the towers; the torches borne by the attendants were reflected from the walls of the edifice. What a spectacle! The remains of kings and queens, princes and princesses, of the most ancient of monarchies, sought with pious care, with sacred respect, in the ditches dug by impious arms in the evil days. The bones of the Valois and the Bourbons found pele-mele outside the walls of the church, and brought again, after a long exile, to their ancient burial place.”
In a little vault on the left were deposited the coffins containing the bones of earlier date than the Bourbons, and a marble tablet was placed upon it, with the inscription: “Here rest the mortal remains of eighteen kings, from Dagobert to Henry III.; ten queens, from Nantilde, wife of Dagobert, to Marguerite de Valois, first wife of Henry IV.; twenty-four dauphins, princes, and princesses, children and grandchildren of France; eleven divers personages (Hugues-le-grand, four abbes of Saint-Denis, three chamberlains, two constables, and Sedille de Sainte-Croix, wife of the Counsellor Jean Pastourelle). Torn from their violated sepulchres the 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 October, 1793, and 18 January, 1794; restored to their tombs the 19 January, 1817.”
On the right were placed the coffins enclosing the remains of the princes and princesses of the house of Bourbon, the list of which is given by a second marble plaque: “Here rest the mortal remains of seven kings, from Charles V. to Louis XV.; seven queens, from Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of Charles V., to Marie Leczinska, wife of Louis XV.; dauphins and dauphinesses, princes and princesses, children and grandchildren of France, to the number of forty- seven, from the second son of Henry IV. to the Dauphin, eldest son of Louis XVI. Torn from their violated sepulchres the 12, 14, 15, and 16 October, 1793; restored to their tombs the 19 January, 1817.”
Besides these vaults, there is one that bears the title of the “Royal Vault of the Bourbons,” though but a small number of princes and princesses of this family are there deposited. There is where Louis XVIII. was to rest. In 1815, there had been placed in this vault the coffins of Louis XVI. and of Marie Antoinette, recovered on the site of the former cemetery of the Madeleine. On the coffin of the King was carved: “Here is the body of the very high, very puissant, and very excellent Prince, Louis, 16th of the name, by the grace of God King of France and Navarre.” A like inscription on the coffin of the Queen recited her titles.
In 1817, there had been put by the side of these two coffins those of Madame Adelaide and of Madame Victorine, daughter of Louis XV., who died at Trieste, one in 1799, the other in 1800, and whose remains had just been brought from that city to Saint-Denis. There had also been placed in the same vault a coffin containing the body of Louis VII.–a king coming now for the first time, as Alexandre Lenoir remarks, to take a place in the vault of these vanished princes, whose ranks are no longer crowded, and which crime has been more prompt to scatter than has Death been to fill them; also the coffin of Louise de Vaudemont, wife of Henry III., the queen who was buried in the Church of the Capucins, Place Vendome, and whose remains escaped profanation in 1793. In this same vault were also two little coffins, those of a daughter and a son of the Duke and Duchess of Berry, who died, one in 1817, the other in 1818, immediately after birth, and the coffin of their father, assassinated the 13th of February, 1820, on leaving the Opera. Such were the companions in burial of Louis XVIII.
THE FUNERAL OF LOUIS XVIII
Louis XVIII. died the 16th of September, 1824, at the Chateau of the Tuileries. His body remained there until the 23d of September, when, to the sound of a salvo of one hundred and one guns, it was borne to the Church of Saint-Denis. The coffin remained exposed in this basilica within a chapelle ardente, to the 24th of October, the eve of the day fixed for the obsequies, and during all this time the church was filled with a crowd of the faithful, belonging to all classes of society, who gathered from Paris and all the surrounding communes, to render a last homage to the old King. Sunday, 24th of October, at two o’clock in the afternoon, the body was transferred from the chapelle ardente to the catafalque prepared to receive it. Then the vespers and the vigils of the dead were sung, and the Grand Almoner, clad in his pontifical robes, officiated. The next day, Monday, the 25th of October, the services of burial took place.
The Dauphin and Dauphiness left the Tuileries at 10:30 A.M., to be present at the funeral ceremony. In conformity with etiquette, Charles X. was not present. He remained at the Tuileries with the Duchess of Berry, with whom he heard a requiem Mass in the chapel of the Chateau at eleven o’clock. The Duchess was thus spared a painful spectacle. With what emotion would she not have seen opened the crypt in which she believed she would herself be laid, and which was the burial place of her assassinated husband and of her two children, dead so soon after their birth.
The ceremony commences in the antique necropolis. The interior of the church is hung all with black to the spring of the arches, where fleurs-de-lis in gold are relieved against the funeral hangings. The light of day, wholly shut out, is replaced by an immense quantity of lamps, tapers, and candles, suspended from a multitude of candelabra and chandeliers. At the back of the choir shines a great luminous cross. The Dauphiness, the Duchess of Orleans, the princes and princesses, her children, her sister-in- law, are led to the gallery of the Dauphiness. The church is filled with the crowd of constituted authorities. At the entrance to the nave is seen a deputation of men and women from the markets, and others who, according to the Moniteur, have won the favor of admission to this sad ceremony by the grief they manifested at the time of the King’s death. The Dauphin advances, his mantle borne from the threshold of the church to the choir by the Duke of Blacas, the Duke of Damas, and the Count Melchior de Polignac. The Duke of Orleans comes next. Three of his officers bear his mantle.
A salvo of artillery, responded to by a discharge of musketry, announces the commencement of the ceremony. The Grand Almoner of France says Mass. After the Gospel Mgr. de Frayssinous, Bishop of Hermopolis, ascends the pulpit and pronounces the funeral oration of the King. At the close of the discourse another salvo of artillery and another discharge of musketry are heard. The musicians of the Chapel of the King, under the direction of M. Plantade, render the Mass of Cherubim. At the Sanctus, twelve pages of the King, guided by their governor, come from the sacristy, whence they have taken their torches, salute the altar, then the catafalque, place themselves kneeling on the first steps of the sanctuary, and remain there until after the Communion. The De Profundis and the Libera are sung. After the absolutions, twelve bodyguards advance to the catafalque, which recalls by its form the mausoleums raised to Francis I. and to Henry II. by the architects of the sixteenth century. It occupies the centre of the nave. The cords of the pall are borne by the Chancellor Dambray in the name of the Chamber of Peers, by M. Ravez in the name of the Chamber of Deputies, by the Count de Seze in the name of the magistracy, by Marshal Moncey, Duke of Conegliano, in the name of the army. The twelve bodyguards raise the coffin from the catafalque, and bear it into the royal tomb. Then the King-at-Arms goes alone into the vault, lays aside his rod, his cap, and his coat-of-arms, which he also casts in, retires a step, and cries: “Heralds-at-Arms, perform your duties.”
The Heralds-at-Arms, marching in succession, cast their rods, caps, coats-of-arms, into the tomb, then withdraw, except two, of whom one descends into the vault to place the regalia on the coffin, and the other is stationed on the first steps to receive the regalia and pass them to the one who stands on the steps.
The King-at-Arms begins announcing the regalia. He says: “Marshal, Duke of Ragusa, major-general of the Royal Guard, bring the flag of the Royal Guard.” The marshal rises from his place, takes the flag from the hands of the officer bearing it, advances, salutes first the Dauphin, then the Duke of Orleans, approaches the vault, makes a profound bow, and places the flag in the hands of the Herald-at-Arms, standing on the steps. He passes it to the second, who places it on the coffin. The marshal salutes the altar and the princes and resumes his place.
The King-at-Arms continues the calls. “Monsieur the Duke of Mortemart, captain-colonel of the regular foot-guards of the King, bring the ensign of the company which you have in keeping.” He summons in the same manner the Duke of Luxembourg, the Duke of Mouchy, the Duke of Gramont, the Duke d’Havre, who bring each the standard of the company of the body-guards of which they are the four captains. The call of the other regalia goes on in the following order:–
“Monsieur the Count of Peyrelongue, Equerry in Ordinary of His Majesty, bring the spurs of the King.
“Monsieur the Marquis of Fresne, Equerry in Ordinary of His Majesty, bring the gauntlets of the King.
“Monsieur the Chevalier de Riviere, Master of the Horse of His Majesty, bring the coat-of-arms of the King.
“Monsieur the Marquis of Vernon, charged with the functions of First Equerry, bring the helmet of the King.
“Monsieur the Duke of Polignac, charged with the functions of Grand Equerry of France, bring the royal sword. (The royal sword is presented before the vault only by the point, and is not carried down.)
“Monsieur the Prince de Talleyrand, Grand Chamberlain of France, bring the banner.”
There is seen approaching, the banner in his hand, an old man, slight, lame, clad in satin and covered with embroidery, in gold and jewelled decorations. It is the unfrocked priest who said the Mass of the Champ-de-Mars, for the Fete de la Federation; it is the diplomat who directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time of the murder of the Duke d’Enghien; it is the courtier, who, before he was Grand Chamberlain of Louis XVIII. and Charles X., was that of Napoleon. The banner is presented before the vault only by one end. It is inclined over the opening of the crypt, but is not cast in, salutes, for the last time, the dead King, then rises as if to proclaim that the noble banner of France dies not, and that the royalty sheltered beneath its folds descends not into the tomb.
The King-at-Arms again cries:–
“Monsieur the Duke d’Uzes, charged with the functions of Grand Master of France, come and perform your duty.” Then the maitres de l’hotel, the chambellans de l’hotel, and the first maitre de l’hotel approach the vault, break their batons, cast them in, and return to their places.
The King-at-Arms summons the persons bearing the insignia of royalty.
“Monsieur the Duke of Bressac, bring la main de justice.
“Monsieur the Duke of Chevreuse, bring the sceptre.
“Monsieur the Duke of la Tremoille, bring the crown.”
These three insignia are taken down into the vault, as were the flag and the four standards.
Then the Duke d’Uzes, putting the end of the baton of Grand Master of France within the vault, cries out: “The King is dead!”
The King-at-Arms withdraws three paces, and repeats in a low voice: “The King is dead! the King is dead! the King is dead!” Then turning to the assembly he says: “Pray for the repose of his soul!”
At this moment the clergy and all the assistants throw themselves upon their knees, pray, and rise again. The Duke d’Uzes withdraws his baton from the vault, and brandishing it, calls out: “Long live the King!”
The King-at-Arms repeats: “Long live the King! long live the King! long live the King! Charles, tenth of the name, by the grace of God, King of France and Navarre, very Christian, very august, very puissant, our very honored lord and good master, to whom God grant long and happy life! Cry ye all: Long live the King!” Then the trumpets, drums, fifes, and instruments of the military bands break into a loud fanfare, and their sound is mingled with the prolonged acclamations of the assembly, whose cries “Long live the King! long live Charles X.!” contrast with the silence of the tombs.
“To this outburst of the public hopes,” says the Moniteur, “succeeded the return of pious and mournful duties; the tomb is closed over the mortal remains of the monarch whose subjects, restored to happiness, greeted him on his return from the land of exile with the name of Louis le Desire, and who twice reconciled his people with Europe. This imposing ceremony being ended, the princes were again escorted into the Abbey to their apartments, by the Grand Master, the Master of Ceremonies and his aides, preceded by the Master-at-Arms, and the Heralds-at-Arms, who had resumed their caps, coats-of-arms, and rods. Then the crowd slowly dispersed. We shall not try to express the sentiments to which this imposing and mournful ceremony must give rise. With the regrets and sorrow caused by the death of a prince so justly wept, mingle the hopes inspired by a King already the master of all hearts. This funeral ceremony when, immediately after the burial of a monarch whom God had called to Himself, were heard cries of ‘Long live Charles X.,’–the new King greeted at the tomb of his august predecessor,–this inauguration, amid the pomps of death, must have left impressions not to be rendered, and beyond the power of imagination to represent.”
Reader, if this recital has interested you, go visit the Church of Saint-Denis. There is not, perhaps, in all the world, a spectacle more impressive than the sight of the ancient necropolis of kings. Enter the basilica, admirably restored under the Second Empire. By the mystic light of the windows, faithful reproductions of those of former centuries,–the funerals of so many kings, the profanations of 1793, the restoration of the tombs,–all this invades your thought and inspires you with a dim religious impression of devotion. These stones have their language. Lapides clamabunt. They speak amid the sepulchral silence. Listen to the echo of a far-away voice. There, under these arches, centuries old, the 21st of August, 1670, Bossuet pronounced the funeral oration of Madame Henriette of England. He said:–
“With whatever haughty distinction men may flatter themselves, they all have the same origin, and this origin insignificant. Their years follow each other like waves; they flow unceasingly, and though the sound of some is slightly greater and their course a trifle longer than those of others, they are together confounded in an abyss where are known neither princes nor kings nor the proud distinctions of men, as the most boasted rivers mingle in the ocean, nameless and inglorious with the least known streams.”
Is not the Church of Saint-Denis itself a funeral discourse in stone more grandiose and eloquent than that of the reverend orator? Regard on either side of the nave these superb mausoleums, these pompous tombs that are but an empty show, and since their dead dwell not in them, contemplate these columns that seem to wish to bear to heaven the splendid testimony of our nothingness! There, at the right of the main altar, descend the steps that lead to the crypt. There muse on all the kings, the queens, the princes, and princesses, whose bones have been replaced at hazard within these vaults, after their bodies had been, in 1793, cast into a common ditch in the cemetery of the Valois to be consumed by quicklime. The great ones of the earth, dispossessed of their sepulchres, could they not say, in the region of shades, in the mournful words of the Sermonnaire:–
“Death does not leave us body enough to require room, and it is only the tombs that claim the sight; our body takes another name; even that of corpse, since it implies something of the human form, remains to it but a little time; it becomes a something nameless in any tongue, so truly does everything die in it, even the funeral terms by which its unhappy remains are designated. Thus the Power divine, justly angered by our pride, reduces it to nothingness, and, to level all conditions forever, makes common ashes of us all.”
The remains of so many sovereigns and princes are no longer even corpses. The corpses have perished as ruins perish. You may no longer see the coffins of the predecessors of Louis XVI. But those of the Martyr-King, of the Queen Marie Antoinette, of the Duke of Berry, of Louis XVIII., are there before you in the crypt. Pause. Here is the royal vault of the Bourbons. Your glance can enter only a narrow grated window, through which a little twilight filters. If a lamp were not lighted at the back, the eye would distinguish nothing. By the doubtful gleam of this sepulchral lamp, you succeed in making out in the gloom the coffins placed on trestles of iron; to the left that of the Duke of Berry, then the two little coffins of his children, dead at birth; then in two rows those of Mesdames Adelaide and Victoire, daughters of Louis XV., those of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, those of the two last Princes of Conde, died in 1818 and in 1830, and on the right, at the very extremity of the vault, that of the only sovereign who, for the period of a century, died upon the throne, Louis XVIII.
The royal vault of the Bourbons was diminished more than half to make room for the imperial vault constructed under Napoleon III. The former entrance, on the steps of which stand the Heralds-at- Arms at the obsequies of the kings, has been suppressed. The coffin of Louis XVIII. was not placed on the iron trestles, where it rests to-day, at the time of his funeral. It was put at the threshold of the vault, where it was to have been replaced by that of Charles X.; for by the ancient tradition, when a king of France dies, as his successor takes his place on the throne, so he, in death, displaces his predecessor. But Louis XVIII. waited in vain for Charles X. in the royal vault of the Bourbons; the last brother of Louis XVI. reposes in the chapel of the Franciscans at Goritz.
Charles X. is not alone in being deprived of his rights in his tomb; the Duke and Duchess of Angouleme and the Count of Chambord were so, and also Napoleon III. The second Emperor and Prince Imperial, his son, sleep their sleep in England; for the Bonapartes, like the Bourbons, have been exiled from Saint-Denis. By a decree of the 18th of November, 1858, the man who had re- established the Empire decided that the imperial dynasty should have its sepulture in the ancient necropolis of the kings. Napoleon III. no more, realized his dream than Napoleon I. He had completed under his reign the magnificent vault destined for himself and his race. But once more was accomplished the Sic vos non vobis, and no imperial corpse has ever taken its place in the still empty Napoleonic vault. The opening situated in the church, near the centre of the nave, is at present closed by enormous flagstones framed in copper bands; and as there is no inscription on these, many people whose feet tread them in visiting the church do not suspect that they have beneath them the stairway of six steps leading down to the vault that was to be the burial place of emperors. “Oh, vanity! Oh, nothingness! Oh, mortals ignorant of their destinies!” It is not enough that contending dynasties dispute each other’s crowns; their covetousness and rivalry must extend to their tombs. Not enough that sovereigns have been exiled from their country; they must be exiled from their graves. Disappointments in life and in death. This is the last word of divine anger, the last of the lessons of Providence.
Born at Versailles, the 9th of October, 1757, Charles X., King of France and Navarre, was entering his sixty-eighth year at the time of his accession to the throne. According to the portrait traced by Lamartine, “he had kept beneath the first frosts of age the freshness, the stature, the suppleness, and beauty of youth.” His health was excellent, and but for the color of his hair–almost white–he would hardly have been given more than fifty years. As alert as his predecessor was immobile, an untiring hunter, a bold rider, sitting his horse with the grace of a young man, a kindly talker, an affable sovereign, this survivor of the court of Versailles, this familiar of the Petit-Trianon, this friend of Marie Antoinette, of the Princess of Lamballe, of the Duchess of Polignac, of the Duke of Lauzun, of the Prince de Ligne, preserved, despite his devotedness, a great social prestige. He perpetuated the traditions of the elegance of the old regime. Having lived much in the society of women, his politeness toward them was exquisite. This former voluptuary preserved only the good side of gallantry.
The Count d’Haussonville writes in his book entitled Ma Jeunesse:–
“I have often seen Charles X. on horseback reviewing troops or following the chase; I have heard him, seated on his throne, and surrounded with all the pomp of an official cortege, pronounce the opening discourse of the session; I have many times been near him at the little select fetes that the Duchess of Berry used to give, of a morning, in the Pavilion de Marsan, to amuse the Children of France, as they were then called, and to extend their acquaintance with the young people of their own age. One day when I was visiting with my parents some exposition of objects of art or flowers in one of the lower halls of the Louvre, I saw him approach my mother–whom he had known in England–with a familiarity at once respectful and charming. He plainly wished to please those whom he addressed, and he had the gift of doing so. In that kind of success he was rarely wanting, especially with women. His physiognomy as well as his manner helped. It was open and benevolent, always animated by an easy, perhaps a slightly commonplace smile, that of a man conscious that he was irresistible, and that he could, with a few amiable words, overcome all obstacles.”
The fiercest adversaries of Charles X. never denied the attraction emanating from his whole personality, the chief secret of which was kindliness. In his constant desire to charm every one that approached him, he had a certain something like feminine coquetry. The Count of Puymaigre, who, being the Prefect of the Oise, saw him often at the Chateau of Compiegne, says:–
“If the imposing tone of Louis XVIII. intimidated, it was not so with Charles X.; there was rather danger of forgetting, pacing the room with him, that one was talking with a king.”
Yet, whatever may be asserted, the new monarch never dreamed of restoring the old regime. We do not believe that for a single instant he had the insensate idea of putting things back to where they were before 1789. His favorite minister, M. de Villele, was not one of the great nobles, and the men who were to take the chief parts in the consecration were of plebeian origin. The impartial historian of the Restoration, M. de Viel-Castel, remarked it:–
“Charles X. by this fact alone, that for three years he had actively shared in affairs and saw the difficulty of them better, by the fact that he was no longer exasperated by the heat of the struggle and by impatience at the political nullity to which events had so long condemned him, had laid aside a part of his former exaggeration. In the lively satisfaction he felt in entering at last, at the age of sixty-seven, upon the enjoyment of the supreme power by the perspective of which his imagination had been so long haunted, he was disposed to neglect nothing to capture public favor, and thus gain the chance to realize the dreams of his life. His kindliness and natural courtesy would have inspired these tactics, even if policy had not suggested them.”
The dignity of the private life of the King added to the respect inspired by his personality. His morals were absolutely irreproachable. His wife, Marie Therese of Savoy, died the 2d of June, 1805; he never remarried, and his conduct had been wholly edifying. The sacrifice he made to God, in renouncing the love of women, after he lost his well-beloved Countess of Polastron by death in 1803, was the more meritorious, because, apart from the prestige of his birth and rank, he remained attractive longer than men of his age. No such scandals as had dishonored the court of nearly all his predecessors occurred in his, and the most malevolent could not charge him with having a favorite. In his home he was a man as respectable as he was attractive, a tender father, a grandfather even more tender, an affectionate uncle, a gentle, indulgent master for his servants. None of the divisions that existed in the family of Louis XVIII. appeared in that of his successor; perfect harmony reigned in the court of the Tuileries.
Of a mind more superficial than profound, Charles X. did not lack either in tact or in intelligence. He sincerely desired to do right, and his errors were made in good faith, in obedience to the mandates of his conscience. Lamartine, who had occasion to see him near at hand, thus sums up his character:–
“A man of heart, and impulsive, all his qualities were gifts of nature; hardly any were the fruit acquired by labor and meditation. He had the spirit of the French race, superficial, rapid, spontaneous, and happy in the hazard of repartee, the smile kindly and communicative, the glance open, the hand outstretched, the attitude cordial, an ardent thirst for popularity, great confidence in his relations with others, a constancy in friendship rare upon the throne, true modesty, a restless seeking for good advice, a conscience severe for himself and indulgent for others, a piety without pettiness, a noble repentance for the sole weaknesses of his life, his youthful amours, a rational and sincere love for his people, an honest and religious desire to make France happy and to render his reign fruitful in the moral improvement and the national grandeur of the country confided to him by Providence. All these loyal dispositions were written on his physiognomy. A lively frankness, majesty, kindness, honesty, candor, all revealed therein a man born to love and to be loved. Depth and solidity alone were wanting in this visage; looking at it, you were drawn to the man, you felt doubts of the King.”
This remark, just enough at the end of Charles X.’s reign, was hardly so at the outset. In 1824 people had no doubts of the man or of the King. The French were content with Charles X., and Charles X. was content with himself.
The new King said to himself that his policy was the right one, because, from the moment of his accession, all hatreds were appeased. With the absolute calm enjoyed by France he compared the agitations, plots, violence, the troubles and the fury of which it had been the theatre under the Decazes ministry. From the day the Right had assumed power, and Louis XVIII. had allowed his brother to engage in public affairs, the victory of royalty had been complete and manifest. Charles X. thought then that the results had sustained him; that foresight, virtue, political sense, were on his side. Needless to say, every one about him supported him in that idea, that he believed in all conscience that he was in the right, obeying the voice of honor and acting like a king and a Christian. Any other policy than his own would have seemed to him foolish and cowardly. To hear his courtiers, one would have said that the age of gold had returned in France; the felicitations offered him took an idyllic tone. The Count of Chabrol, Prefect of the Seine, said to him, January 1, 1825, at the grand reception at the Tuileries:–
“At your accession, Sire, a prestige of grace and power calmed, in the depths of all hearts, the last murmur of the storm, and the peace that we enjoy to-day is embellished by a charm that is yours alone.”
The same day the Drapeau Blanc said:–
“Why is there an unusual crowd passing about the palace of the cherished monarch and princes? It is watching with affection for a glance or smile from Charles! These are the new-year gifts for the people moved by love for the noble race of its kings. This glance, expressing only goodness, this smile so full of grace, they long for everywhere and always before their eyes. His classic and cherished features are reproduced in every form; every public place has its bust, every hut its image; they are the domestic gods of a worship that is pure and without superstition, brought to our families by peace and happiness.” The aurora of Charles X.’s reign was like that of his brother Louis XVI. The two brothers resembled travellers who, deceived by the early morning sun and the limpid purity of the sky, set forth full of joy and confidence, and are suddenly surprised by a frightful tempest. The new James II. imagined that his royalty had brought his trials to an end. It was, on the contrary, only a halt in the journey of misfortune and exile. He believed the Revolution finished, and it had but begun.
THE DAUPHIN AND DAUPHINESS
At the accession of Charles X., the royal family, properly speaking, consisted of six persons only,–the King, the Duke and Duchess of Angouleme, the Duchess of Berry and her two children (the Duke of Bordeaux and Mademoiselle). By the traditions of the monarchy, the Duke of Angouleme, as son and heir of the King, took the title of Dauphin, and his wife that of Dauphiness. The Duchess of Berry, who, under the reign of Louis XVIII. was called Madame the Duchess of Berry, was by right, henceforward, called simply Madame, a privilege that belonged to the Duchess of Angouleme before she was Dauphiness. That is why the Gymnase, the theatre under the special protection of the Duchess of Berry, was called, after the new reign began, the Theatre de Madame.
Born at Versailles the 5th of August, 1775, the Duke of Angouleme had just entered on his fiftieth year. A tender and respectful son, an irreproachable husband, a brave soldier, he was lacking in both brilliant and solid qualities. His awkward air, his bashfulness, his myopia, his manners rather bourgeois than princely, were against him. He had nothing of the charm and grace of his father. But when one knew him, it was easy to see that he had unquestioned virtues and real worth. To Charles X. he was a most faithful subject and the best of sons. In contrast with so many heirs apparent, who openly or secretly combat the political ideas of their fathers, he was always the humble and docile supporter of the throne. The Spanish expedition brought him credit. In it he showed courage and zeal. The army esteemed him, and he gave serious attention to military matters. A man of good sense and good faith, he held himself aloof from all exaggerations. At the time of the reaction of the White Terror, he had repudiated the fury of the ultras, and distinguished himself by a praiseworthy moderation. He had great piety, with out hypocrisy, bigotry, or fanaticism. The Count of Puymaigre, in his curious Souvenirs, says:–
“The Duke of Angouleme appeared to me to be always subordinated to the will of the King, and he said to me one day very emphatically that his position forbade any manifestation of personal sentiment, because it was unbecoming in the heir apparent to sustain the opposition. Though very religious, he did not share the exaggerated ideas of what was then called the ‘congregation,’ and I recall that one day he asked me brusquely: ‘Are you a partisan of the missions?’ As I hesitated to reply, he insisted. ‘No, my lord, in nowise; I think that one good cure suffices for a commune, and that missionaries, by treating the public mind with an unusual fervor, often bring trouble with them and at the same time often lessen the consideration due to the resident priest.'”
Married, on the 10th of June, 1799, to the daughter of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, the Duke of Angouleme had no children; but though the sterilty of his wife was an affliction, he never complained of it. He was not known to have either favorites or mistresses. The life of this descendant of Louis XIV. and of Louis XV. was purity itself. There were neither scandals nor intrigues about him. By nature irascible and obstinate, he had modified this tendency of his character by reason and still more by religion. Assiduous in his duties, without arrogance or vanity, regarding his role as Prince as a mission given him by Providence, which he wished to fulfil conscientiously, he had not the slightest mental reservation in favor of restoring the old regime, and showed, perhaps, more favor to the lieutenants of Napoleon than to the officers of the army of Conde, his companions in arms. To sum up, he was not an attractive prince, but he merited respect. The Count of Puymaigre thus concludes the portrait traced by him:–
“The manner, bearing, and gestures of the Duke of Angouleme cannot be called gracious, especially in contrast with his father’s manners; doubtless it is not fair to ask that a prince, any more than another, should be favored by nature, but it is much to be desired that he shall have an air of superiority. The ruling taste of the Dauphin was for the chase. He also read much and gave much time to the personnel of the army. Retiring early, he arose every morning at five o’clock, and lighted his own fire. Far from having anything to complain of in him, I could only congratulate myself on his kindness.”
The Dauphiness, Marie-Theresa-Charlotte of France, Duchess of Angouleme, born at Versailles the 19th of December, 1778, was forty-five years old when her uncle and father-in-law, Charles X., ascended the throne. She was surrounded by universal veneration. She was regarded, and with reason, as a veritable saint, and by all parties was declared to be sans peur et sans reproche.
The Duchess of Angouleme, shunning the notoriety sought by other princesses, preferred her oratory to the salons. Yet her devotion had nothing mean or narrow in it. Despite the legendary catastrophes that weighed upon her, she always appeared at fetes where her presence was demanded. She laughed with good heart at the theatre, and there was nothing morose or ascetic in her conversation. She never spoke of her misfortunes. One day she was pitying a young girl who suffered from chilblains. “I know what it is,” she said; “I have had them.” Then she added, without other comment: “True, the winters were very severe at that time.” She did not wish to say that she had had these chilblains while a prisoner in the Temple, when fuel was refused to her.
But if the Princess never spoke of herself, she never ceased to think of the martyrs for whom she wept. At the Tuileries, she occupied the Pavillon de l’Horloge and the Pavillon de Flore, the first floor apartments that had been her mother’s. She used for her own a little salon hung with white velvet sown with marguerite lilies. This tapestry was the work of the unhappy Queen and of Madame Elisabeth. In the same room was a stool on which Louis XVII. had languished and suffered. It served as prie-dieu to the Orphan of the Temple. There was in this stool a drawer where she had put away the remaining relics of her parents: the black silk vest and white cravat worn by Louis XVI. the day of his death; a lace bonnet of Marie Antoinette, the last work done by the Queen in her prison of the Conciergerie, which Robespierre had had taken from her on the pretext that the widow of the Christian King might kill herself with her needle or with a lace-string; finally some fragments of the fichu which the wind raised from the shoulders of Madame Elisabeth when the angelic Princess was already on the scaffold. The Dauphiness, who usually dined with the King, dined alone on the 21st of January and the 16th of October. She shut herself in the chamber where she had collected these relics and passed the whole day and evening there in prayer.
The charity of the pious Princess was inexhaustible. Almost all her revenue was expended in alms. She would not have receipts signed by those to whom she distributed relief. “The duty of givers,” she said, “is to forget their gifts and the names of those who receive them; it is for those who receive to remember.” Nor did she ever ask the political opinions of those she relieved. To be unfortunate, sufficed to excite her interest. One day Sister Rosalie, charged by the Princess with paying a pension to a man whose ill conduct she had discovered, thought it her duty to notify the benefactress, and suspend the succor. “My sister,” replied the Dauphiness, “continue to pay this man his pension. We must be charitable to the good that they may persevere, and to the bad that they may become better.” Sunday, when the Princess did no work, she passed the evening in detaching the wax seals from letters and envelopes. This wax, converted into sticks, produced one thousand francs a year, which she sent to a poor family. She gave much, but only to Frenchmen and Frenchwomen. She replied to every demand for aid for foreigners that she was sorry not to comply with the request, but she should feel that she was doing an injustice to give to others while there was a single Frenchman in need. On each anniversary of mourning she doubled her alms.
The existence of the Dauphiness at the Tuileries passed with extreme regularity. A very early riser, like her husband, she made her toilet herself, having learned to help herself in her captivity in the Temple. She used to breakfast at six o’clock, and at seven daily attended the first Mass in the chapel of the Chateau. There was a second at nine o’clock for the Dauphin, and a third at eleven for the King. From eight to eleven she held audiences. She retired at ten o’clock, and only prolonged the evening to eleven when, she visited the Duchess of Berry, for whom she had a great affection, and whose children she saw two or three times a day. A devoted companion of Charles X., she always went with him to the various royal chateaux. The Count of Puy maigre says in his Souvenirs:–
“The Dauphiness having by her kindness accustomed me to speaking freely, I used this privilege without embarrassment, but always observing that measure which keeps a man of good society within just limits, equally careful not to put himself ridiculously at ease and not to be so abashed by exaggerated respect as to become insipid. I have always thought that a princess no more than any other woman likes to be bored. I talked much with her in the carriage, seeking to amuse the Princess with a few anecdotes, and I did not fear to discuss serious things with her, on which she expressed her self with real sagacity. When she was accused of want of tact in the numerous receptions of which one had to undergo the monotony, it was often the fault of her immediate companions, who neglected to give her suitable information as to the various persons received. How many times I have hinted to her to speak to some devoted man, who regarded a word from the Princess as a signal favor, to yield to requests, perhaps untimely, to visit some establishment, to receive the humble petitions of a mayor, a cure, or a municipal council. I will not deny that she had a sort of brusqueness, partly due to an exceedingly high voice, and moments of ill humor, transient no doubt, but which nevertheless left a painful impression on those who were subjected to them. Madame the Dauphiness made no mistake as to the state of France; she was not the dupe of the obsequiousness of certain men of the court, and merit was certain to obtain her support whether it had been manifested under the old or the new regime; but she had not the influence she was supposed to have, and I doubt if she tried to acquire it.”
One day the Princess was talking to the Prefect of the Oise about the great noblemen who had possessions in the Department.
“Have they any influence over the people?” she asked him.
“No, Madame, and it is their own fault. M. de La Rochefoucauld is the only one who is popular, but his influence is against you. As to the others, greedy of the benefits of the court, they come to their estates only to save money, to regulate their accounts with their managers, and the people, receiving no mark of their interest, acknowledge no obligation to them.”
“You are perfectly right,” replied the Dauphiness, “that is not the way with the English aristocracy.”
“She saw with pain,” adds M. de Puymaigre, “the marriages for money made by certain men of the court, but not when they allied themselves with an honorable plebeian family; her indignation was justly shown toward those who took their wives in families whose coveted riches came from an impure source.”
The extraordinary catastrophes that had fallen on the daughter of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette had been a great experience for her, and she was not surprised at the recantations of the courtiers. The Hundred Days had, perhaps, suggested even more reflections to her than her captivity in the Temple or her early exile. She could not forget how, in 1815, she had been abandoned by officers who, but the day before, had offered her such protestations and such vows. In the midst of present prosperity she had a sort of instinct of future adversity. Something told her that she was not done with sorrow, and that the cup of bitterness was not drained to the dregs. While every one about her contemplated the future with serene confidence, she reflected on the extreme mobility of the French character, and still distrusted inconstant fortune. The morrow of the birth of the Duke of Bordeaux one of her household said to her:–
“Your Highness was very happy yesterday.”
“Yes, very happy yesterday,” responded the daughter of Louis XVI., “but to-day I am reflecting on the destiny of this child.”
To any one inclined to be deceived by the illusions of the prestige surrounding the accession of Charles X., it ought to have sufficed to cast a glance on the austere countenance of the Orphan of the Temple, to be recalled to the tragic reality of things. The King had for his niece and daughter-in-law an affection blended with compassion and respect. The pious and revered Princess gave to the court a character of gravity and sanctity.
The Duchess of Angouleme and the Duchess of Berry lived on the best of terms, showing toward each other a lively sympathy. Yet there was little analogy between their characters, and the two Princesses might even be said to form a complete contrast, one representing the grave side, the other the smiling side of the court.
Born November 7, 1798, and a widow since February 14, 1820, Madame (as the Duchess of Berry was called after the Duchess of Angouleme became Dauphiness) was but twenty-five when her father-in-law, Charles X., ascended the throne. She was certainly not pretty, but there was in her something seductive and captivating. The vivacity of her manner, her spontaneous conversation, her ardor, her animation, her youth, gave her charm. Educated at the court of her grandfather, Ferdinand, King of Naples, who carried bonhomie and familiarity to exaggeration, and lived in the company of peasants and lazzaroni, she had a horror of pretension and conceit. Her child-like physiognomy had a certain playful and rebellious expression; slightly indecorous speech did not displease her. This idol of the aristocracy was simple and jovial, mingling in her conversation Gallic salt and Neapolitan gaiety. In contrast with so many princesses who weary their companions and are wearied by them, she amused herself and others. Entering a family celebrated by its legendary catastrophes, she had lost nothing of the playfulness which was the essence of her nature. The Tuileries, the scene of such terrible dramas, did not inspire her as it did the Duchess of Angouleme, with sad reflections. When she heard Mass in the Chapel of the Chateau, she did not say to herself that here had resounded the furies of the Convention. The grand apartments, the court of the Carrousel, the garden, could not recall to her the terrible scenes of the 20th of June and the 10th of August. When she entered the Pavillon de Flore, she did not reflect that there had sat the Committee of Public Safety. The Tuileries were, to her eyes, only the abode of power and pleasure, an agreeable and beautiful dwelling that had brought her only happiness, since there she had given birth to the Child of Europe, the “Child of Miracle.”
The Duchess of Berry thought that a palace should be neither a barracks nor a convent nor a prison, and that even for a princess there is no happiness without liberty. She loved to go out without an escort, to take walks, to visit the shops, to go to the little theatres, to make country parties. She was like a bird in a gilded cage, which often escapes and returns with pleasure only because it has escaped. She was neither worn out nor blasee; everything interested her, everything made her gay; she saw only the good side of things. In her all was young–mind, character, imagination, heart. Thus she knew none of those vague disquietudes, that causeless melancholy, that unreasoned sadness, from which suffer so many queens and so many princesses on the steps of a throne.
Gracious and simple in her manners, modest in her bearing, more inclined to laughter and smiles than to sobs and tears, satisfied with her lot despite her widowhood, she felt happy in being a princess, in being a mother, in being in France. Flattered by the homage addressed to her on all sides, but without haughty pride in it, she protected art and letters with out pedantry, rejuvenated the court, embellished the city, spread animation wherever she was seen, and appeared to the people like a seductive enchantress. Those who were at her receptions found themselves not in the presence of a coldly and solemnly majestic princess, but of an accomplished mistress of the house bent on making her salon agreeable to her guests. There was in her nothing to abash, and by her gracious aspect, her extreme affability, she knew how to put those with whom she talked at their ease, while wholly preserving her own rank. She was not only polite, she was engaging, always seeking to say something flattering or kindly to those who had the honor to approach her. If she visited a studio, she congratulated the artist; in a shop she made many purchases and talked with the merchants with a grace more charming to them, perhaps, than even her extreme liberality. If she went to a theatre, she enjoyed herself like a child. The select little fetes given by her always had a character of special originality and gaiety.
The Dauphiness had a higher rank at court than Madame, because she was married to the heir of the throne. But as she took much less interest in social matters, she did not shine with so much eclat. The Duchess of Berry was the queen of elegance. In all questions of adornment, toilet, furniture, she set the fashion. A commission as “tradesman of Madame” was the dream of all the merchants. Sometimes, on New Year’s Day, her purchases at the chief shops were announced in the Moniteur. There were hardly any chroniques in the journals under the Restoration. A simple “item” sufficed for an account of the most dazzling fetes. If the customs of the newspapers had been under the reign of Charles X. what they are now, the Duchess of Berry would have filled all the “society notes,” and the objective point of every “reporter,” to use an American expression, would have been the Pavillon de Marsan, the “Little Chateau,” as it was then called. There indeed shone in all their splendor the stars of French and foreign nobility, the women who possessed all sorts of aristocracy–of birth, of fortune, of wit, and of beauty. This little circle of luxury and elegance excited less jealousy and less criticism than did the intimate society of Marie Antoinette in the last part of the old regime, because in the Queen’s time, to frequent the Petit Trianon was the road to honors, while under Charles X. the intimates of the Pavillon de Marsan did not make their social pleasures the stepping-stone to fortune.
The Duchess of Berry never meddled in politics. Doubtless her sympathies, like those of the Dauphiness, were with the Right, but she exercised no influence on the appointment of ministers and functionaries. Charles X. never consulted her about public affairs; the idea would never have occurred to the old King to ask counsel of so young and inexperienced a woman.
It is but justice to the Princess to say that while wholly inclined toward the Right, she had none of the exaggeration of the extremists in either her ideas or her attitude, and that, repudiating the arrogance and prejudices of the past, she never, in any way, dreamed of the resurrection of the old regime. She was liked by the army, being known as a good rider and a courageous Princess. When she talked with officers she had the habit of saying things that went straight to their hearts. There was no difference in her politeness to the men of the old nobility or to the parvenus of victory. The former servitors of Napoleon were grateful for her friendliness to them, and perhaps they would always have respected the white flag–the flag of Henry IV., had it been borne by the gracious hand of his worthy descendant. To sum up, she was what would be called to-day a very “modern” Princess; her role might well have been to share the ideas and aspirations of the new France.
The Duchess of Berry led a very active life. When she came to France she was in the habit of rising late. But her husband, who believed the days to be shorter for princes than for other men, showed that he disliked this, and after that the Princess would not remain in bed after six o’clock, winter or summer. As soon as she was ready she summoned her children, and for half an hour gave them her instructions. On leaving them, she went to hear Mass, and then breakfasted. Next came the walks, almost always with a useful object in view. Sometimes it was a hospital to which Madame carried relief, some times an artist’s studio, a shop, an industrial establishment that she encouraged by her purchases and her presence. On her return she busied herself with the tenderest and most conscientious care in the education of the two daughters whom her husband had left to her, and who have since become, one the Baroness of Chorette, the other the Princess of Lucinge. Audiences took up the remainder of the morning, sometimes lasting to dinner time. When some one said to her one day that she must be very tired of them, she replied: “During all that time I am told the truth, and I find as much pleasure in hearing it as people of society do in reading romances.”
Madame was very charitable. She devoted to the poor an ordinary and an extraordinary budget. The tenth of her revenue was always applied to the relief of the unfortunate, and was deposited by twelfths, each month, with her First Almoner. This tithe was distributed with as much method as sagacity. A valet de chambre, each evening, brought to the Princess the day’s petitions for relief. Madame classified them with her own hand in alphabetical order, and registered and numbered them. Whatever the hour, she never adjourned this task to the morrow. The private secretary then went over these petitions and presented an analysis of them to the Princess, who indicated on the margin what she wished to give. This was the ordinary budget of the poor, the tenth of Madame’s revenue. But she had, besides, an extraordinary budget of charity for the unfortunate who were the more to be respected because they concealed themselves in obscurity and awaited instead of seeking help. It often happened that the Princess borrowed in order to give more. The total of her revenues amounted to 1,730,000 francs,–1,500,000 francs from the Treasury, 100,000 francs in Naples funds, coming from her dower, and 130,000 francs from her domain of Rosny. Madame expended all in alms or in purchases intended to encourage the arts and commerce.
The Duchess of Angouleme and the Duchess of Berry each had in the environs of Paris a pleasure house, which was their Petit Trianon, where they could lead a simpler life, less subject to the laws of etiquette than in the royal Chateaux. That of the Dauphiness was Villeneuve-l’Etang; and that of Madame, Rosny. The first had been bought of Marshal Soult by the Duchess of Angouleme in 1821. When she rode from Paris, this was always her destination. When she lived at Saint Cloud, she often set out on foot in the early morning alone, and followed across the park a little path known as the “road of the Dauphiness,” to a little gate of the Chateau of Villeneuve-l’Etang, of which she carried the key.
Rosny is a chateau situated in the Department of Seine-et-Oise, seven kilometres from Mantes, where Sully, the famous minister of Henry IV., was born, and which had been bought in 1818 by the Duke of Berry. It was the favorite resort of Madame. She went there often and passed a great part of the summer. There she lived the life of a simple private person, receiving herself those who came to offer homage or request aid. The village of Rosny profited by the liberality of the Chateau, La Quotidienne said in an article reproduced by the Moniteur:–
“Since Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Berry has owned the estate of Rosny, her sole occupation has been to secure the happiness of this country. Every journey she makes is marked by some act of goodness. Besides the Hospital of Saint-Charles, a monument of her beneficence and piety, which is open to all the sick of the country, she sends out relief to the homes of the needy every day. The houses that rise in the village replace wretched huts, and give a more agreeable and cheerful aspect to the place. The children of either sex, the object of her most tender solicitude, are taught at her expense. At every journey Madame honors them with a visit and encourages them with prizes which she condescends to distribute herself.”
In his Souvenirs Intimes the Count de Mesnard, First Equerry of the Duchess of Berry, writes:–
“The King, Charles X., did not recognize in his daughter-in-law nearly the solidity that she had. He believed her to be light- minded, and only looked upon her as a great child, though he loved her much and her gaiety pleased him beyond measure, being himself of a gay nature. You may have heard that one day Madame rode in an omnibus. That is not correct. But it is true that one day Her Royal Highness said to the King:–
“‘Father, if you will wager ten thousand francs, I will ride in an omnibus to-morrow.’
“‘It’s the last thing I should do, my dear,’ replied His Majesty. ‘You are quite crazy enough to do it.'”
M. de Mesnard adds this reflection: “What the King regarded as folly was only the appearance of it. There was in Madame a rich fund of reason, justice, and humanity. Independently of all the acts of beneficence daily done here, Madame employs still more considerable sums in the support of young girls in the convents of Lucon and Mantes, and in several other establishments. There are in the colleges a large number of young people of families of modest fortune, whose expenses she pays. The Hospital of Rosny alone costs Madame from twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand francs a year. The exhaustless bounty of this august Princess extends to all. There is no sort of aid that Her Royal Highness does not take pleasure in according: subscriptions without interest for her, for concerts that she will not hear, for benefit performances that she will not see, everything gets a subscription from her, and it all costs more than is convenient with the Princess’s revenue. Sometimes it happens that her funds are exhausted, and as her benevolence never is, embarrassment follows.”
Apropos of this the Count de Mesnard relates a touching anecdote. One winter exceedingly cold, the Duchess of Berry was about to give a fete in the Pavillon de Marsan. During the day she had supervised the preparations. Things were arranged perfectly, when all at once her face saddened. She was asked respectfully what had displeased her. “What icy weather!” she cried. “Poor people may be dying of cold and hunger to-night while we are taking our delights. That spoils my pleasure.” Then she added emphatically: “Go call the Marquis de Sassenay” (her Treasurer).
The Marquis came promptly.
“Monsieur,” said the good Princess, “you must write instantly to the twelve mayors of Paris, and in each letter put one thousand francs to be expended in wood, and distributed this very night to the poor families of each arrondissement. It is very little, but it may save some unfortunates.”
The Treasurer responded: “Madame, I should be eager to obey the orders of Her Royal Highness, but she has nothing, or almost nothing, in her treasury.”
A feeling of discontent was strongly depicted on the face of Madame, who was about to give expression to it, when M. de Mesnard hastened to say that the funds of the First Equerry were in better state than those of the Treasurer, and remitted to the latter the twelve thousand francs, which were distributed to the poor that evening according to the Princess’s wishes.
The Duchess of Berry had the double gift of pleasing and making herself loved. All the persons of her household, all her servitors, from the great nobles and great ladies to the domestics and the chamber-maids, were deeply devoted to her. Poor or rich, she had attentions for all. Listen to the Count de Mesnard:–
“Madame is incessantly making presents to all who approach her. At New Year’s her apartments are a veritable bazaar furnished from all the shops of Paris; her provision, made from every quarter, is universal, from bon-bons to the most precious articles– everything is there. Madame has thought of each specially; the people of her own service are not forgotten any more than the ladies and officers of her household; father, mother, children, every one, is included in the distribution. The royal family naturally comes first; next, the numerous relatives of the Palais Royal, of whom she is very fond; then her family at Naples, which is also numerous; and finally all of us, masters and servants, we all have our turn.”
No one, we think, has made a more exact portrait of the Duchess of Berry than the Count Armand de Pontmartin, who is so familiar with the Restoration. In his truthful and lively Souvenirs d’un vieux critique, how well he presents “this flower of Ischia or of Castellamare, transplanted to the banks of the Seine, under the gray sky of Paris, to this Chateau des Tuileries, which the revolutions peopled with phantoms before making it a spectre.”
How really she was “this good Duchess, so French and so Neapolitan at once, half Vesuvius, half school-girl, whom nothing must prevent us from honoring and loving.” The chivalric and sentimental rhetoric of the time, the elegies of the poets, the noble prose of Chateaubriand, the tearful articles of the royalist journals, have condemned her to appear forever solemn and sublime. It was sought to confine her youth between a tomb and a cradle. But as M. de Pontmartin so finely remarks: “At the end of two or three years her true nature appears beneath this artificial drapery. Amusements recommence, distractions abound. The Princess is no longer a heroine; she is a sprite. The beach of Dieppe sings her praises better, a thousand times better, than the chorus of courtiers. She loves pleasure, but she wishes every pleasure to be a grace or a benefit. She creates a mine of gold under the sand of the Norman coast; she pacifies political rancor and soothes the wounds of the grumblers of the Grand Army. She makes popular the name of Bourbon, which had suffered from so much ingratitude. The Petit-Chateau, as her delightful household was called, renews the elegant manners, the exquisite gallantries of the court of Anne of Austria, and offers to the romancers the models of which Balzac, later, made so much too free use. There I see our amiable Duchess in her true element, not on the kind of Sinai on which the writers of the white flag have perched her, prodigal in their imitations of Bossuet,–between Jeanne d’Arc and Jeanne Hachette, between Valentine de Milan and the Widow of Malabar.”
To sum up, the Duchess of Berry was to the court of Charles X. what the Duchess of Burgundy was to that of Louis XIV. Her lovely youth brightened everything. Let us do her this justice: despite a character in appearance frivolous, she carried to a kind of fanaticism the love of France and passion for French glory. There was one thing that the gracious widow took very seriously,–the rights of her son. She would have risked a thousand deaths to defend that child, who represented in her heart the cause of the fatherland. Where he was concerned there was in the attitude of this frail young woman something firm and decided. To a sagacious observer, the amazon was already manifest under the lady of society. She was like those officers who shine equally at the ball and on the field of battle. Recognizing in her more than one imperfection, she cannot be denied either courage, or intelligence, or heart. By her qualities as by her defects she was of the race of Henry IV. But she was more frank and more grateful than the Bearnais. Doubtless she did not have the genius, the prodigious ability, the fine and profound political sense, of that great man; but her nature was better, her generosity greater, her character more sympathetic.
THE ORLEANS FAMILY
At the accession of Charles X., Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, chief of the younger branch of the Bourbons, born at Paris, October 6th, 1773, was not yet fifty-seven years old. He married November 25th, 1809, Marie-Amelie, Princess of the Two Sicilies, whose father, Ferdinand I., reigned at Naples, and whose mother, the Queen Marie-Caroline, sister of Marie Antoinette, died at Venice, September 7th, 1814. Marie-Amelie, born April 26th, 1782, was forty-two years old when Charles X. ascended the throne. Of her marriage with the Duke of Orleans there were born five sons and four daughters:–
1. Ferdinand-Philippe-Louis-Charles-Henri-Roulin, Duke of Chartres, born at Palermo, September 3d, 1810. (When his father became King, he took the title of Duke of Orleans, and died from a fall from his carriage going from the Tuileries to Neuilly on the Chemin de la Revolte, July 13th, 1842.)
2. Louise-Marie-Therese-Caroline-Elisabeth, Mademoiselle d’Orleans, born at Palermo the 3d of April, 1812. (She married the King of the Belgians, Leopold I., August 9th, 1832, and died October 11th, 1850.)
3. Marie-Christine-Caroline-Adelaide-Francoise-Leopoldine, Mademoiselle de Valois, born at Palermo, April 12th, 1813. (She was designated by the name of the Princess Marie, distinguished herself in the arts, made the famous statue of Jeanne d’Arc, married October 17th, 1837, the Duke Frederic William of Wurtemberg, and died January 2d, 1839.)
4. Louis-Charles-Philippe-Raphael, Duke of Nemours, born at Paris, October 25th, 1814.
5. Marie-Clementine-Caroline-Leopoldine, Mademoiselle de Beaujolais, born at Neuilly June 3d, 1817. (She was designated by the name of the Princess Clementine, and married, April 20th, 1843, the Prince August, of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.)
6. Francois-Ferdinand-Philippe-Louis-Marie, Prince de Joinville, born at Neuilly, August 14th, 1818.
7. Charles-Ferdinand-Louis-Philippe-Emmanuel, Duke of Penthievre, born at Paris, January 1st, 1820. (He died July 25th, 1828.)
8. Henri-Eugene-Philippe-Louis, Duke d’Aumale, born at Paris, January 16th, 1822.
9. Antoine-Marie-Philippe-Louis, Duke of Montpensier, born at Neuilly, July 5th, 1824.
The Duke of Orleans had a sister who lived with him at the Palais Royal, and was reputed to be his Egeria. She was Louise-Marie- Adelaide-Eugenie, Mademoiselle d’Orleans, as she was called under the Restoration. Born August 23d, 1777, she had been educated by Madame de Genlis, with her brother, and was said to be attached to the ideas of the Liberal party. (It was she who in 1830 decided Louis-Philippe to accept the crown, took the name of Madame Adelaide, and died, unmarried, some days before the revolution of the 24th of February, 1848.)
Marie-Amelie, Duchess of Orleans, was the sister of the Prince Royal of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinand, father of the Duchess of Berry, and the niece was very fond of her aunt. The two Princesses were united by other bonds than those of blood. During all her infancy the Duchess of Berry had lived with her aunt at Palermo and Naples. Both were descended in direct line from the great Empress, Maria Theresa. Both had greatly loved the Queen Marie- Caroline, of whom one was the granddaughter, the other the daughter. Both professed great admiration for the Martyr-Queen, Marie Antoinette, of whom one was the grand-niece, the other the niece. The devotion and family feeling of the Duchess of Orleans won every one’s sympathy for her, and the Duchess of Berry had a respectful attachment for her. Their relations were as constant as they were friendly. There existed between the Palais Royal and the Pavilion de Marsan, dwellings so near each other, a friendship and neighborliness that left nothing to be desired.
The Duke of Bordeaux and his sister, Mademoiselle, were very fond of their little Orleans cousins. There was a certain pleasure in thinking that the Duke of Chartres might one day become the husband of Mademoiselle. This young Prince, already very amiable and sympathetic, was the favorite of the Duchess of Berry. She said to herself that he would be the son-in-law of her dreams. Every time that she went to the Palais Royal, where her visits were incessant, she was received with transports of affection. Nowhere did she enjoy herself more. Louis-Philippe treated her with deference and courtesy. She believed sincerely in his friendship, and any one who had shown in her presence the least doubt of the loyalty of her aunt’s husband would not have ventured to complete the phrase expressing it. The Duchess of Berry was to preserve this confidence until the Revolution of 1830.
Charles X. had a kindly feeling, founded on very real sympathy, for the Duke of Orleans and all his family. During the Emigration, as under the reign of Louis XVIII., he had always maintained very cordial relations with the Duke, and had tried to efface the bad memories of Philippe Egalite. Charles X. was as confiding as Louis XVIII. was distrustful. Optimist, like all good natures, the new King would not believe evil. He attributed to others his own good qualities. Louis XVIII. always had suspicions as to the Duke of Orleans. “Since his return,” he said, in 1821, “the Duke of Orleans is the chief of a party without seeming to be. His name is a threatening flag, his palace a rallying-place. He makes no stir, but I can see that he makes progress. This activity without movement is disquieting. How can you undertake to check the march of a man who makes no step?” Every time the Duke attempted to bring up the question of exchanging his title of Most Serene Highness for that of Royal Highness, the King stubbornly resisted. “The Duke of Orleans is quite near enough to the throne already,” he replied to all solicitations. “I shall be careful to bring him no nearer.”
This refusal was very depressing to the Duke. One circumstance rendered it still more annoying. As a king’s daughter, his wife was a Royal Highness. By this title she enjoyed honors denied to her husband. When she was present at court with him she was first announced, both doors of the salon being opened: “Her Royal Highness, Madame the Duchess of Orleans.” Then one door having been closed, the usher announced: “His Most Serene Highness, Monseigneur the Duke of Orleans.” This distinction was very disagreeable to the Duke. Charles X. hastened to abolish it. September 21st, 1824, he accorded the title of Royal Highness to the Duke of Orleans, and three days later he conferred this title, so much desired, on the children of the sister of the Duke. The latter showed his great pleasure. Though he might favor liberalism and give pledges to democracy, he remained a Prince to the marrow of his bones. He loved not only money, but honors, and attached extreme importance to questions of etiquette. The memories of his childhood and his early youth bound him to the old regime and despite appearances to the contrary, this Prince, so dear to the bourgeois and to the National Guard, was always by his tastes and aspirations a man of Versailles.
Charles X. would gladly have said to the Duke of Orleans, as Augustus to Cinna, speaking of his benefits:–
“Je t’en avais comble, je t’en veux accabler.”
He was not content with according him a title of honor; he gave him something much more solid, by causing to be returned to him, with the consent of the Chambers, the former domain and privileges of the House of Orleans. This was not easy. It required not only the good-will of the Chateau, but the vote of the Chambers, and the majority was hardly favorable to the Duke of Orleans, of whom it cherished the same suspicions as Louis XVIII. The Duchess of Berry pleaded warmly the cause of her aunt’s husband, and conspired with Charles X. against the Right, the members of which in this case believed it a service to royalty to disobey the King. The opposition to the project seemed likely to be so strong, that the government was obliged to commit a sort of moral violence upon the Chamber of Deputies. The King directed his ministers to join in some way the question of the apanages of the House of Orleans with the disposition of his own civil list. The King thought that the sentiments of the Chamber for himself and his family would make them adopt the whole en bloc. It was a device of his kindliness, a sort of smuggling in the King’s coach, as was said by M. de Labourdonnaye. A large number of deputies demanded a division of the question. The ministers had to make great efforts and mount the tribune many times to defend the measure, which passed only by a very feeble majority. The Duke of Orleans, now at the very height of his desires, thanked Charles X. with effusion.
Nor was this all; from the millions of indemnity to the emigres, the Duke of Orleans drew 14,000,000 francs. The opposition chiefs of the Left imitated the Prince and profited largely by the law that they had opposed and condemned. The Duke of Choiseul obtained 1,100,000 francs, the Duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt 1,400,000 francs, M. Gaetan de La Rochefoucauld 1,429,000 francs, General Lafayette himself 1,450,000 francs.