The writer, who some weeks earlier had expressed himself in terms so dithyrambic as to the consecration, now wrote as follows of this religious and monarchical solemnity:—
"Under what happy auspices did Louis XVI. ascend the throne! How popular he was, succeeding to Louis XV.! And yet what did he become? The present coronation will be the representation of a coronation. It will not be one; we shall see the Marshal Moncey, an actor at that of Napoleon, the Marshal who formerly celebrated the death of the tyrant Louis XVI. in his army, brandish the royal sword at Rheims in his rank as Count of Flanders or Duke of Aquitaine. To whom can this parade really convey any illusion? I should have wished no pomp to-day; the King on horseback, the church bare, adorned only with its ancient arches and tombs; the two Chambers present, the oath of fidelity to the Charter taken aloud on the Bible. This would have been the renewal of the monarchy; they might have begun it over again with liberty and religion. Unfortunately there was little love of liberty, even if they had had at least a taste for glory."
This is not all; the curious royalist, as if disabused as to Bourbon glories, so extolled by him, glorifies, apropos of the coronation of Charles X., the Napoleon whom in 1814 he called disdainfully "Buonaparte," loading him with the most cutting insults:—
"After all, did not the new coronation, when the Pope anointed a man as great as the chief of the second race, by a change of heads alter the effect of the ancient ceremony of our history? The people have been led to think that a pious rite does not dedicate any one to the throne, or else renders indifferent the choice of the brow to be touched by the holy oil. The supernumeraries at Notre-Dame de Paris, playing also in the Cathedral of Rheims, are no longer anything but the obligatory personages of a stage that has become common. The advantage really is with Napoleon, who furnishes his figurants to Charles X. The figure of the Emperor thenceforth dominates all. It appears in the background of events and ideas. The leaflets of the good time to which we have attained shrivel at the glance of his eagles."
Charles X. left Compiegne the 27th of May in the morning, and slept at Fismes. The next day, the 28th, he had just quitted this town and was descending a steep hill, when several batteries of the royal guard fired a salute at his departure; the horses, frightened, took flight. Thanks to the skill of the postilion, there was no accident to the King; but a carriage of his suite, in which were the Duke of Aumont, the Count de Cosse, the Duke of Damas, and the Count Curial, was overturned and broken, and the last two wounded. At noon Charles X. arrived at a league and a half from Rheims, at the village of Tinqueux, where he was awaited by the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, the officers of his civil and military household, the authorities of Rheims, the legion of the mounted National Guard of Paris, etc. He entered the gold carriage,—termed the coronation carriage,—where the Dauphin and the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon took their places beside him. The cortege then took up its march. From Tinqueux to Rheims, the royal coach, gleaming with gold, passed under a long arcade of triumphal arches adorned with streamers and foliage. From the gates of the city to the Cathedral, flowers strewed the sand that covered the ground. All the houses were hung with carpets and garlands; at all the windows, from all the balconies, from all the roofs, innumerable spectators shouted their acclamations; the cortege advanced to the sound of all the bells of the city, and to the noise of a salvo of artillery of one hundred and one guns. The King was received under a dais at the door of the metropolitan church, by the Archbishop of Rheims in his pontifical robes, and accompanied by his suffragans, the Bishops of Soissons, Beauvais, Chalons, and Amiens. The Archbishop presented the holy water to the sovereign, who knelt, kissed the Gospels, then was escorted processionally into the sanctuary. His prie-dieu was placed at fifteen feet from the altar, on a platform, about which was a magnificent canopy hung from the ceiling of the Cathedral.
The Dauphiness had entered her gallery with the Duchess of Berry and the princesses of the blood. The Archbishop celebrated the vespers, and then the Cardinal de La Fare ascended the pulpit and delivered a sermon in which he said:—
"God of Clovis, if there is here below a spectacle capable of interesting Thy infinite Majesty, would it not be that which in this solemnity fixes universal attention and invites and unites all prayers? These days of saintly privilege, in which the hero of Tolbiac, and thirteen centuries after him, the sixty-fifth of his successors have come to the same temple to receive the same consecration, can they be confounded with the multitude of human events, to be buried and lost in the endless annals? To what, O great God! if not to the persistence of Thy immutable decrees, can we attribute, on this earth, always so changing and mobile, the supernatural gift of this miraculous duration?"
The Cardinal covered with praises not only the King, but the Dauphin, the Dauphiness, the Duchess of Berry, the Duke of Bordeaux. He cried:—
"Constantly happy as King, may Charles X. be constantly happy as father!
"May his paternal glances always see about him, shining with a brilliancy that nothing can change, this family so precious, the ornament of his court, the charm of his life, the future of France!
"This illustrious Dauphin, the terror of the genius of evil, the swift avenger of the majesty of kings, conquering hero and peace-maker!
"This magnanimous Princess, the living image of celestial charity, the visible Providence of the unfortunate, the model of heroism as of virtue!
"This admirable mother of the Child of Miracle, who restored hope to the dismayed nation, astonished it by her courage and captivates it by her goodness!
"This tender scion of the first branch of the lilies, the object, before his birth, of so many desires, and now of so many hopes."
The Prince of the Church, amid general emotion, thus closed his discourse:—
"May it be, O Lord! thy protecting will, that if the excess of ills has surpassed our presentiments and our fear, the reality of good may, in its turn, surpass our hopes and our desires.
"Condescend that the lasting succor of Thy grace may guide in an unbroken progress of prosperity and lead to happiness without vicissitude or end, our King, Thy adorer, and his people, who, under his laws, shall be more than ever religious and faithful."
After the sermon, the Archbishop celebrated the Te Deum, to which Charles X. listened standing. Then after having kissed the altar and a reliquary in which was a piece of the true cross, the sovereign returned to his apartments in the Archbishop's palace.
Thus passed the eve of the consecration. The same day M. de Chateaubriand wrote:—
"Rheims, Saturday, the eve of the consecration. I saw the King enter. I saw pass the gilded coaches of the monarch who, a little while ago, had not a horse to mount; I saw rolling by, carriages full of courtiers who had not known how to defend their master. This herd went to the church to sing the Te Deum, and I went to visit a Roman ruin, and to walk alone in an elm grove called the Bois d'Amour. I heard from afar the jubilation of the bells; I contemplated the towers of the Cathedral, secular witnesses of this ceremony always the same and yet so different in history, time, ideas, morals, usages, and customs. The monarchy perished, and for a long time the Cathedral was changed to a stable. Does Charles X., when he sees it again to-day, recall that he saw Louis XVI. receive anointment in the same place where he in his turn is to receive it? Will he believe that a consecration shelters him from misfortune? There is no longer a hand with virtue enough to cure the king's evil, no ampulla with holy power sufficient to render kings inviolable."
Such was the disposition of the great writer, always content with himself, discontented with others. The crowd of royalists, far from showing themselves sceptical and morose, as he was, was about to attend the ceremony of the morrow in a wholly different mood. It had long been ready with its enthusiasm, and awaited with impatience mingled with respect the dawn of the day about to rise.
Sunday, the 29th of May, 1825, the city of Rheims presented, even before sunrise, an extraordinary animation. From four o'clock in the morning vehicles were circulating in the streets, and an hour after people with tickets were directing their steps toward the Cathedral, the men in uniform or court dress, the women in full dress. The sky was clear and the weather cool.
Let us listen to an eye-witness, the Count d'Haussonville, the future member of the French Academy:—
"Need I say that the competition had been ardent among women of the highest rank to obtain access to the galleries of the Cathedral, which, not having been reserved for the dignitaries, could receive a small number of happy chosen ones? Such was the eagerness of this feminine battalion to mount to the assault of the places whence they could see and be seen, that at six o'clock in the morning when I presented myself at the Gothic porch built of wood before the Cathedral, I found them already there and under arms. They were in court dress, with trains, all wearing, according to etiquette, uniform coiffures of lace passed through the hair (what they called barbes), and which fell about their necks and shoulders, conscientiously decolletes. For a cool May morning it was rather a light costume; they were shivering with cold. In vain they showed their tickets, and recited, in order to gain entrance, their titles and their rank; the grenadier of the royal guard, charged with maintaining order until the hour of the opening of the doors, marched unmoved before these pretty beggars, among whom I remember to have remarked the Countess of Choiseul, her sister, the Marchioness of Crillon, the Countess of Bourbon-Bosset, etc. He had his orders from his chief to let no one enter, and no one did."
Finally the doors were opened. At a quarter after six all the galleries were filled. The foreign sovereigns were represented by especial ambassadors: the King of Spain by the Duke of Villa-Hermosa, the Emperor of Austria by Prince Esterhazy, the King of England by the Duke of Northumberland, the Emperor of Russia by the Prince Wolkonski, the King of Prussia by General de Zastrow. These various personages were objects of curiosity to the crowd, as was Sidi-Mahmoud, ambassador of the Bey of Tunis. The rich toilets and dazzling jewels of the ladies of the court were admired; all eyes were fixed on the gallery where were the Dauphiness, the Duchess of Berry, and the Duchess and Mademoiselle d'Orleans, all four resplendent with diamonds. The spectacle was magnificent. An array of marvels attracted attention. Behind the altar the sacred vessels in gold, of antique form, the crown in diamonds surmounted by the famous stone, the "Regent," the other attributes of royalty on a cushion of velvet embroidered with fleurs-de-lis; on the front of the altar the royal mantle, open, not less than twenty-four feet in length; on the altar of green-veined marble, superb candelabra in gold; on the centre of the cross of the church, suspended from the ceiling above the choir and the prie-dieu of the King, an immense canopy of crimson velvet, sown with golden fleurs-de-lis; at the back of the choir, toward the nave, about one hundred and fifty feet from the portal, the gigantic jube with its staircase of thirty steps; upon this the throne; all around a swarm of standards, those of the five companies of the King's body-guard, and the flag of his foot-guards, borne by the superior officers; on the two sides of the stairway, ranged en Echelon, the flags and standards of the regiments of the guard and of the line in camp under the walls of Rheims; a splendor of light, banishing all regret for the sun, from candelabra at the entrance of the choir, from chandeliers in the galleries, from chandeliers full of candles suspended from the ceiling, from tapers on the columns.
The Cardinals de Clermont-Tonnerre and de La Fare, preceded by the metropolitan chapter, came to seek the King in his apartment in the palace. The Grand Preceptor knocked at the door of the royal chamber; the Grand Chamberlain said in a loud voice:—
"What do you seek?" The Cardinal de Clermont-Tonnerre responded:—
"Charles X., whom God has given us for King."
Then the ushers opened the doors of the chamber. The two cardinals entered and saluted the sovereign, who rose from his chair, bowed, and received the holy water. The Cardinal de Clermont-Tonnerre recited a prayer. The cortege was formed, and in the following order traversed the great covered gallery which had been built along the right side of the Cathedral:—
The metropolitan chapter; the King's foot-guards; the band; the heralds-at-arms; the king-at-arms; the aides de ceremonies; the Grand Master of Ceremonies, Marquis de Dreux-Breze; the four knights of the Order of the Holy Spirit, who were to carry the offerings, viz. the Duke de Vauguyon the wine in a golden vase, the Duke of Rochefoucauld the pain d'argent, the Duke of Luxembourg the pain d'or, the Duke of Gramont the ewers filled with silver medals; the King's pages on the flanks; the Marshal Moncey, Duke of Conegliano, charged with the functions of constable, holding in his hand his naked sword; the Duke of Mortemart, captain-colonel of the foot-guards in ordinary to the King; the Marshal Victor Duke of Bellune, major-general of the royal guard; the Marshal Marquis de Lauriston, the Count de Cosse, and the Duke de Polignac, named by the King to bear his train in the church; then, with his two attendant cardinals, de Clermont-Tonnerre and de La Fare, one at his right, the other at his left, the King.
There was a movement of curiosity, attention, and respect. Charles X. had entered the Cathedral. The moment his foot crossed the threshold, Cardinal de La Fare pronounced a prayer:—
"O God, who knowest that the human race cannot subsist by its own virtue, grant Thy succor to Charles, Thy servant, whom Thou hast put at the head of Thy people, that he may himself succor and protect those subject to him."
Here, then, is Charles X. in that basilica where fifty years before, Sunday, June 11, 1775, he assisted at the coronation of his brother Louis XVI. Then he was seventeen. Ah! what would have been his surprise had it been foretold to him by what strange and horrible series of gloomy and bloody dramas he should himself come to be crowned in this Cathedral of Rheims! What a contrast between the religious pomps of June 11, 1775, and the sacrilegious scaffolds of January 21 and October 16, 1793! What a difference between the royal mantle of the sovereign and the humble costume of the captive of the Temple, between the resplendent toilet of the Queen of France and Navarre and the patched gown of the prisoner of the Conciergerie! What a road travelled between the hosannas of the priests and the insults of the Furies of the Guillotine! What reflections might one make who had been present at both the ceremonies! How much must such an one have been moved were he the King himself, the brother of Louis XVI., Charles X.! But the 29th of May, 1825, all hearts inclined to confidence and joy. Peoples forget quickly, and there were but few to call up sinister memories. The sovereign appeared in his first costume, a camisole of white satin, with a cap rich with diamonds, surmounted by black and white plumes. Despite his sixty-seven years, Charles X. had a fine presence, a slender form, a manner almost youthful. State costumes became him perfectly. He wore them with the elegance of the men of the old court.
Let us listen again to Count d'Haussonville:—
"At the moment Charles X. crossed the nave, clad in a gown of white satin, opened over a doublet of the same color and the same material, a general thrill evoked a thousand little cries of ecstasy from my lady neighbors. With that sensitiveness to grace innate with women, and which never fails to delight them, how could they help applauding the royal and supremely elegant fashion in which Charles X., despite his age, wore this strange and slightly theatrical costume? No one was better adapted than he, in default of more solid qualities, to give a becoming air to the outward manifestations of a royalty that was at once amiable and dignified."
It is half-past seven in the morning. The ceremony begins. Escorted by his two attendant cardinals, the King reaches the foot of the altar and kneels. Mgr. de Latil, Archbishop of Rheims, standing and without his mitre, pronounces this prayer:—
"Almighty God, who rulest all above us, and who hast deigned to raise to the throne Thy servant Charles, we implore Thee to preserve him from all adversity, to strengthen him with the gift of the peace of the Church, and to bring him by Thy grace to the joys of a peace eternal!"
The King is now escorted by the two cardinals to the seat prepared for him in the centre of the sanctuary, under the great dais, a little in advance of the first of the steps that divide the sanctuary from the choir. At his right are the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the Duke of Bourbon, their ducal crowns on their heads.
The Veni Creator having been sung, the Archbishop takes the book of the Gospels, on which he places a piece of the true cross, and holds it open before the monarch. Charles X., seated, his head covered, his hand on the Gospels and the true cross, pronounces in a strong voice the oath of coronation:—
"In the presence of God, I promise to my people to maintain and honor our holy religion, as belongs to the very Christian King and eldest son of the Church; to render good justice to all my subjects; finally, to govern according to the laws of the kingdom and the Constitutional Charter, which I swear faithfully to observe, so help me God and His holy Gospels."
The King next takes two other oaths, the first as sovereign chief and grand master of the Order of the Holy Spirit, the others as sovereign chief and grand master of the military and royal Order of Saint Louis and of the royal Order of the Legion of Honor. He swears to maintain these orders and not to allow them to fail of their glorious prerogatives. Then his gown is removed by the First Gentleman of the Chamber, and he gives his cap to the First Chamberlain. He now bears only the robe of red satin with gold lace on the seams. He is seated. The Marquis of Dreux-Breze, Grand Master of Ceremonies, goes to the altar and takes the shoes of violet velvet sown with golden fleurs-de-lis, and Prince Talleyrand, Grand Chamberlain, puts them on the feet of the King.
Then the Archbishop blesses the sword of Charlemagne, placed on the altar in its scabbard:—
"Exaudi Domine," he says, "grant our prayers, and deign to bless with Thy hand this sword with which Thy servant Charles is girt, that he may use it to protect the churches, the widows, and the orphans, and all Thy servants; and may this sword inspire dread and terror to whoever shall dare to lay snares for our King. We ask it through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The Archbishop draws the sword from the sheath, and places it naked in the hands of the King, who, having lowered it, offers it to God and replaces it upon the altar.
To the ceremony of the sword succeeds the preparation of the holy chrism. The Archbishop has the reliquary opened containing the holy ampulla, which is taken from a little chest of gold; he withdraws from it, by means of a golden needle, a particle which he mingles with the holy chrism on the patin. Meanwhile the choir chants:—
"The holy Bishop Remi, having received from Heaven this precious balm, sanctified the illustrious race of the French in the baptismal waters and enriched them with the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Then the two attendant cardinals undo the openings made in the garments of the King for the anointings, and escort His Majesty to the altar. A large carpet of velvet with fleurs-de-lis is stretched in front, and on this are two cushions of velvet, one over the other. The King prostrates himself, his face against the cushions. The Archbishop, holding the golden patin of the chalice of Saint Remi, on which is the sacred unction, takes some upon his thumb, and consecrates the King, who is kneeling.
The Archbishop then proceeds to the seven anointings: on the crown of the head, on the breast, between the shoulders, on the right shoulder, on the left shoulder, in the bend of the right arm, in the bend of the left arm, making the sign of the cross at each, and repeating seven times: ungo te in regem de oleo sanctificato, in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti. Aided by the attendant cardinals, he then closes the openings in the King's garments.
The Grand Chamberlain advances, and puts upon His Majesty the tunic and dalmatica of violet satin sown with fleurs-de-lis in gold, which the Master of Ceremonies and an aide have taken from the altar. The Grand Chamberlain places over these the royal mantle of violet velvet sown with golden fleurs-de-lis, lined and bordered with ermine. Charles X., clad in the royal robes, kneels. The Archbishop, seated, with the mitre on his head, anoints the palms of his hands, saying: ungentur manus istae de oleo sanctificato. The King then receives the gloves sprinkled with holy water, the ring, the sceptre, the Main de Justice.
The Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the Duke of Bourbon advance. The Archbishop, mitre on head, takes with both hands from the altar the crown of Charlemagne and holds it above the King's head without touching it. Immediately the three princes put out their hands to support it. The Archbishop, holding it with the left hand only, with the right makes the sign, of benediction: coronat te deus corona gloriae atque justitiae. After which he places the crown on the head of the King, saying: accipe coronam regni in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti.
Now that the King is crowned, he ascends the steps of the jube, and seats himself upon the throne. The religious silence, maintained to that moment, is broken by cries of "Long live the King!" which rise from all parts of the Cathedral. The ladies in the galleries wave their handkerchiefs. The enthusiasm reaches a paroxysm. Flourishes of trumpets resound. The people enter the Cathedral amid acclamations. Three salutes are fired by the infantry of the royal guard. The artillery responds from the city ramparts. The bells ring. The heralds-at-arms distribute the medals struck for the coronation. The people rush to get them. The keepers release the birds, which fly here and there beneath the vaulted roof, dazzled, terrified by the shining chandeliers. The Te Deum is sung. High Mass begins. At the offertory the King leaves the throne to go to the altar with the offerings. Reaching the front of the altar, he hands his sceptre to Marshal Soult, Duke of Dalmatia, the Main de Justice to Marshal Mortier, Duke of Treviso. Then, after having presented in succession the offerings,—viz. the wine in a vase of gold, the Pain d'Argent, the Pain d'Or,—he resumes his sceptre and his Main de Justice and returns to the throne.
After the benediction, the Grand Almoner goes and takes the kiss of peace from the Archbishop, and then goes and gives it to the King. The Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the Duke of Bourbon, laying aside their ducal crowns, come and receive the kiss from the King.
After the domine salvum fac regem Charles X. again descends from the throne, and returns to the altar. There he removes his crown and retires behind the altar to his confessional, where he remains three minutes. During this time the holy table is prepared. The cloth is held on one side by the Bishop of Hermopolis, First Almoner of the King, and on the other by the Grand Almoner. Charles X. kneels on a cushion before the holy table, which is supported by the Dauphin and the Duke of Orleans. The King receives the communion in both kinds. The whole assembly kneels. The great crown of Charlemagne is handed to Marshal Jourdan, who bears it in front of the King. The Archbishop then places the diamond crown on the King's head, who resumes his sceptre and his Main de Justice, while the choir chants the exaudiat, and returns with his cortege to the Archbishop's palace, passing through the church and the covered gallery. It is half-past eleven in the morning. The ceremony of consecration is finished. It has lasted four hours.
Reaching his apartments, Charles X. passes the sceptre to Marshal Soult, the Main de Justice to Marshal Mortier. The shirt and the gloves touched by the holy unction must be burned. The great officers of the crown then escort the monarch to the royal banquet in the great hall. There he eats under a dais with the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the Duke of Bourbon, with their ducal crowns, and he with the diamond crown upon the head.
The royal insignia have been placed upon the table which is served by the great officers and the officers of the household. The marshals of France stand before the sovereign ready to resume the insignia. Around about are five other tables, where are placed the members of the diplomatic corps, the peers of France, the deputies, the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. The royal banquet lasts half an hour to the sound of military music. In the evening the city of Rheims is everywhere illuminated.
CLOSE OF THE SOJOURN AT RHEIMS
After his coronation Charles X. remained at Rheims during the 30th and 31st of May. On the 30th the ceremony of the Order of the Holy Spirit was celebrated in the Cathedral. The interior presented the same aspect as the day before. At 1 P.M. the order passed in procession through the covered gallery as follows: the usher, the herald, Marquis d'Aguessau, Grand Master of Ceremonies of the order, having at his right the Count Deseze, Commander Grand Treasurer, at his left Marquis de Villedeuil, Commander Secretary, the Chancellor, two columns of Knights of the Holy Spirit. In the right hand column, the Viscount of Chateaubriand, the Duke of San-Carlos, the Prince of Castelcicala, the Viscount Laine, the Marquis of Caraman, the Marquis Dessole, Marshal Marquis of Viomesnil, the Duke d'Avaray, the Marshal Duke of Ragusa, the Marshal Duke of Taranto, the Marshal Duke of Conegliano, the Duke of LEvis, the Duke of Duras, the Duke d'Aumont, the Duke of Luxembourg, the Prince of Hohenlohe, the Duke de La Vauguyon. In the left column, the Marquis of Talaru, the Duke of Doudeauville, the Count of Villele, the Marshal Marquis of Lauriston, the Count Charles de Damas, the Baron Pasquier, the Duke of Blacas d'Aulps, the Marquis of Riviere, the Marshal Duke of Reggio, the Duke of Dalberg, the Prince de Poix, the Duke de Gramont, Prince Talleyrand, the Duke de La Rochefoucauld. Then came the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Bourbon, the King.
The vestments of the monarch, of a silver stuff, were covered by a mantle of the order in black velvet, lined with green silk stitched with gold. His headdress was also in black velvet, surmounted by an aigrette of heron plumes. The knights of the order had their mantles with the Holy Spirit in silver spangles on the shoulder; the grand collar, the facings of their mantles, caught up in front, were of green velvet sown with gold flames. They made their entry into the Cathedral in two columns, which deployed on either side of the altar. The King, who followed them, seated himself on a throne in the choir and they arranged themselves in their stalls to the right and left. The princesses occupied the same gallery as the day before. The clergy chanted the vespers. Then the two columns formed in a double rank and the ceremony commenced. There was a long series of obeisances. The King made twenty himself, eleven before vespers, nine after. The reception began with the ecclesiastical commanders and the laymen came afterwards.
The solemnity was less imposing than that of the coronation. Count d'Haussonville remarked it: "The military array of so many marshals and generals clad in brilliant uniforms, the pomp of the ceremonies to the slow and majestic sound of the organ filling the vast nave of the church, had succeeded, the preceding day, in redeeming for the spectators, and for me particularly, whatever was a little superannuated in the minute observance of a ritual that had come down from the Middle Ages. I felt myself, on the contrary, rather surprised than edified by the character, partly religious, partly worldly, but far more worldly than religious, that I witnessed on the morrow. Most of these gentlemen were known to me. I had met nearly all of them in my mother's or grandmother's salon. I had not been insensible to the fine air given them by the cordon bleu (worn under the frock coat, usually, or on great occasions over a coat covered with gold lace and shining decorations), the traditional object of ambition for those most in favor at court; but they seemed to me to present a constrained figure, as I saw them soberly ranged in the stalls of the canons, clad in a costume of no particular epoch, wrapped in long mantles of motley color, and following, with a distracted air, the phases of a ceremony to which they were so little accustomed that they were constantly rising, sitting down, and kneeling at the wrong time."
The receptions took place as follows: the herald-at-arms of the order called in groups of four the new members from each column, and escorted them to the middle of the sanctuary. There the four knights, abreast, saluted together, first the altar, then the sovereign. Then they advanced in line toward the throne, and after a second obeisance, knelt, placed the right hand on the book of the Gospels spread out on the knees of the monarch, and took the oath. The King decorated each with his own hand. He passed over their coats, from right to left, the cordon bleu with the cross of gold suspended from it, placed the collar on the mantle, gave a book of hours and a decastich to each one, who kissed his hand, rose, and returned to his place.
By a curious coincidence, M. de Chateaubriand and M. de Villele, two inveterate adversaries, were one in the column on the right, the other in that on the left, and the herald-at-arms of the order called both at once to the foot of the throne. Listen to the author of the Memoires d'Outre—Tombe:—
"I found myself kneeling at the feet of the King at the moment that M. de Villdle was taking the oath. I exchanged a few words of politeness with my companion in knighthood, apropos of a plume detached from my hat. We quitted the knees of the King, and all was finished. The King, having had some trouble in removing his gloves to take my hands in his, had said to me, laughing, 'A gloved cat catches no mice.' It was thought that he had spoken to me for a long time, and the rumor spread of my nascent favor. It is likely that Charles X., thinking that the Archbishop had told me of his favorable sentiments, expected a word of thanks and that he was shocked at my silence."
The ceremony of the reception of the knights once finished, the King quitted his throne in the sanctuary, after having made the required obeisances. The completory was next sung. Then all the members of the order re-escorted the monarch to his apartments in the same order and with the same ceremony that he had been escorted to the Cathedral.
After the ceremony, Charles X. held a chapter of the order, in which he named twenty-one cordons bleus: the Dukes d'Uzes, de Chevreuse, de Boissac, de Mortemart, de Fitz-James, de Lorges, de Polignac, de Maille, de Castries, de Narbonne, the Marshal Count Jordan, the Marshal Duke of Dalmatia, the Marshal Duke of Treviso, the Marquis de la Suze, the Marquis de Bre'ze', Marquis de Pastoret, Count de La Ferronays, Viscount d'Agoult, Marquis d'Autichamp, Ravez, Count Juste de Noailles. By an ordinance of the same day he named to be Dukes, the Count Charles de Damas, Count d'Escars, and the Marquis de Riviere.
The next day, May 31, the King after having heard Mass in his apartments,—left the palace at ten o'clock with a brilliant cortege. Preceded by the hussars of the guard, and by the pages, and followed by a numerous staff, he was in the uniform of a general officer, on a white horse, whose saddle of scarlet velvet was ornamented with embroideries and fringe of gold. He had at his right the Dauphin on a white horse, and the Duke of Bourbon on a bay horse; at his left the Duke of Orleans, who wore the uniform of a colonel-general of hussars, and rode an iron-gray horse. Following the cortege was an open carriage; at the back the Dauphiness with the Duchess of Berry at her left, and in front the Duchess of Orleans and Madame of Orleans, her sister-in-law. The route lay through an immense crowd to the Hospital of Saint Marcoul. When he arrived there, the King dismounted and offered up a prayer in the chapel. Then he ascended to the halls, where were assembled one hundred and twenty-one scrofulous patients. He touched them, making a cross with his finger on the brow, while the first physician held the head and the captain of the guard the hand. The King said to each: "May God heal thee! The King touches thee!" Then he thanked the sisters who had charge of the hospital for all the care they gave to the solacing of suffering humanity. The pious sisters knelt at the feet of the sovereign, and begged his benediction, according to an ancient custom. The King gave it to them, and allowed them to kiss his hand. The holy women wept with joy.
Charles X., followed by his cortege, next proceeded to the abbey of Saint Remi, which dates from the eleventh century, and performed his devotions on the tomb of the saint whose shrine had been discovered. Then he remounted and went to review the troops of the camp of Saint Leonard, under the walls of the city, in a vast plain, along the river Vesle, on the right of the road to Chalons. In the midst of this plain rises a grassy hillock, above which was placed the portrait of the King; below, on a background of soil, was this inscription in bluets and marguerites,—
"A moment in the camp—always in our hearts."
Not far from there an altar had been erected under a tent before the royal tent. All the road from Chalons, opposite the lines, was covered with a shouting and cheering crowd. Charles X. was accompanied by the princes and a brilliant staff. The carriage of the princesses followed him. He distributed to the officers, sub-officers, and soldiers the crosses of the Legion of Honor which he had accorded to them. The review, which was magnificent, lasted from noon to 3 P.M. Before returning to the palace, the sovereign visited the bazaar established along the promenade of the lawn. He dismounted, and the princesses descended from their carriage to traverse the shops.
At five o'clock the cortege, which had set out at 10 A.M., returned to the palace. On each of the four nights that Charles X. passed at Rheims, the streets of the city were illuminated. It was clear weather, and by the light of the illuminations, amid the crowd in the streets, there were everywhere to be seen the generals, the officers of the King's household, and the great personages of the court in grand uniform. Charles X. set out from Rheims the morning of June 1, and the city, after some days of dazzling pomp, resumed its accustomed calm. Things had passed off well, and the monarch was fully satisfied.
The poets had tuned their lyres. Barthelemy, himself, the future author of the Nemesis, celebrated in enthusiastic verses the monarchical and religious solemnity; Lamartine, future founder of the Second Republic, published Le Chant du Sucre ou la Veille des Armes; Victor Hugo, the future idol of the democracy, sang his dithyrambic songs. Yet, in this concert of enthusiasm there were some discordant notes. Beranger circulated his ironic song Le Sacre de Charles le Simple.
As for Chateaubriand, the most illustrious of the royalist writers, he was to close his chapter of the MSmoires d'outre-tombe as follows:—
"So I have witnessed the last consecration of the successors of Clovis. I had brought it about by the pages in which in my pamphlet, LE ROI EST MART! VIVE LE ROI! I had described it and solicited it. Not that I had the least faith in the ceremony, but as everything was wanting to legitimacy, it had to be sustained by every means, whatever it might be worth."
THE RE-ENTRANCE INTO PARIS
Charles X. made a solemn re-entrance into Paris, June 6, 1825. According to the Moniteur, Paris was divided between a lively desire for the day to come and fear that the weather, constantly rainy, should spoil the splendor of the royal pomp. At the barrier of La Villette there had been erected amphitheatres and a triumphal arch. The streets were hung with white flags and the arms of the sovereign, with the inscription: "Long live Charles X.! Long live our well-beloved King!" The Rue Saint Denis, the Rue du Roule, the Rue Saint Honore, presented a picturesque spectacle. The merchants of these business streets had converted the facades of their houses into an exposition of the rich tissues of their shops, and the cortege was thus to traverse a sort of bazaar. What a pity if the rain was going to spoil so many fine preparations! By a good luck, on which every one congratulated himself, the weather in the morning ceased its gloomy look, and a merchant of the Rue Saint Denis inscribed on his balcony these two celebrated lines,—
"Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane, Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet."
At 1 P.M. a salvo of one hundred and one guns announced the arrival of the monarch at the barrier of La Villette. The Prefect of the Seine addressed him an allocution and presented him the keys of the city. The King responded: "I feel a great satisfaction in re-entering these walls. I always recall with lively emotion the reception given me eleven years ago when I preceded the King, my brother. I return here, having received the holy unction that has given me new strength. I consecrate it all, and all that I have of life and all my resources, to the happiness of France. It is my firm resolve, gentlemen, and I give you the assurance of it."
The cortege then took up its march. It was formed of a squadron of gendarmerie, several squadrons of the lancers and cuirassiers of the royal guard, the mounted National Guard of Paris, the staff of the garrison and of the first military division, a numerous group of general and superior officers.
The Count d'Haussonville wrote on the subject:—
"I was in the cortege, and as the staff of the National Guard followed pretty close to the royal carriage, I had occasion to note how far below what had been hoped was the reception at the gate of La Villette, where a triumphal arch had been erected. Some groups, plainly soldiers, after the discourse of the Prefect of Paris and the response of the King, uttered some huzzas that found no echo. When we approached the boulevards, the public warmed up a little. The windows were lined with women, of whom the greater number waved their handkerchiefs in sign of welcome. Around Notre-Dame, whither the cortege proceeded on its way to the Tuileries, the crowd was enormous behind the line of soldiers charged with restraining it. There was nothing offensive in their remarks; neither was there any emotion or sympathy. The magnificence of the equipages and the costumes, the beauty of the military uniforms, particularly of the CORPS D'ELITE, such as the Hundred Swiss and the body-guard, were the only things spoken of. The spectators sought to guess and name to each other the prominent persons."
During the passage the King received bouquets offered him by the market men and women, as well as by a number of workmen's corporations preceded by their banners. At the entrance of the Cathedral he was congratulated by the Archbishop of Paris at the head of the clergy. A te Deum was sung and the Marche du Sacre of Lesueur was played. Then the King returned to his carriage and directed his course to the Tuileries.
As the cortege drew near to the Chateau, the welcome grew more and more cordial. The balconies of many of the houses were draped. Women of the court, in rich toilet, threw bouquets and flowers to the King. The Count d'Haussonville says:—
"The untiring good grace with which the King returned the salutations of the crowd, and by gestures full of Bonhomie and affability, responded to the cries of persons whom he recognized as he passed, added every moment to his personal success. In fact, when, June 6, 1825, at evening, he descended from the magnificent coronation coach, to mount the stairs of the palace of his fathers, Charles X. had reason to be content with the day. I doubt whether among the witnesses of the splendid fetes that had followed without interruption at Rheims and at Paris, there were many who would not have been strongly surprised if there had been announced to them by what a catastrophe, in five years only, an end was to be put to the reign inaugurated under the happiest auspices."
The 8th of June, the city of Paris offered to the King a fete at which there were eight thousand guests. The sovereign made his entry, having the Dauphiness on his right, and on the left the Duchess of Berry, who opened the ball. A cantata was sung with words by Alexandre Soumet, and the music by Lesueur.
The 10th of June, the King went to the Opera with the Dauphin, the Dauphiness, and the Duchess of Berry. The back of the stage opened and showed, in an immense perspective, the most illustrious kings of France; at the farthest line were the statue of Henry IV., Paris, its monuments, the Louvre. The 19th of June, Charles X. again accompanied by the family went to the Theatre-Italien. Il Viaggio A Reims was played. Le Moniteur, apropos of this work, said:—
"It is an opera of a mould which, under the forms of the Opera Buffa, presents some ideas not destitute of comedy, in which homage of love and respect is at times expressed with an art that French taste cannot disavow. The author, M. Bellochi, has conceived the praiseworthy idea of introducing personages of all the nations of Europe, joining with the French in their prayers for the happiness of our country and of the august family that governs us. The composer is M. Rossini. The Morceaux are worthy of the reputation of this celebrated master. Madame Pasta displayed all the resources of her admirable talent. Bouquets of roses and lilies were distributed to the ladies."
There was an endless series of fetes, receptions, balls at court, at the houses of the ministers of the foreign ambassador, theatrical representations retracing the incidents of the coronation. The cities of the provinces imitated the example of Paris. All this movement stimulated business, and France appeared happy. But to an acute observer it was plain that the pomps of the coronation and the fetes that followed it pleased the people of the court more than the bourgeoisie. The Count d'Haussonville says, apropos of the nobility at that time:—
"I had the feeling—educated as I was at college, and provided early with a sort of precocious experience, the precious fruit of public education—that the nobility was a world a little apart. I instinctively perceived how much the preoccupations of the persons with whom I was then passing my time were of a nature particular, special to their class, not opposed—that would be saying too much certainly—but a little foreign to the great currents that swayed the opinion of their contemporaries. They had their way of loving the King and their country which was not very comprehensible, nor even, perhaps, very acceptable, to the mass of the people and the bourgeois classes, who were rather inclined to remain cold or even sullen in the presence of certain manifestations of an ultra-royalism, the outward signs of which were not always at this time entirely circumspect."
To one regarding the horizon attentively there were already some dark spots on the bright azure of the heavens. The struggles of the rival classes of French society existed in a latent state. The white flag had not made the tricolor forgotten. Charles X., consecrated by an archbishop, did not efface the memory of Napoleon crowned by a pope, and beneath royalist France were pressing upward already Bonapartist France and Revolutionary France.
THE JUBILEE OF 1826
The dominant quality of Charles X., his piety, was the one that was to be most used against him. There was in this piety nothing morose, hypocritical, fanatical, and not an idea of intolerance or persecution mingled with it. Conviction and feeling united in the heart of the King to inspire him with profound faith. In 1803, before the death-bed of a beloved woman, he had sworn to renounce earthly for divine love, and from that time he had kept his vow. The woman by whom this conversion was made was the sister-in-law of the Duchess of Polignac, Louise d'Esparbes, Viscountess of Polastron. The Duchess of Gontaut recounts in her unpublished Memoirs the touching and pathetic scene of the supreme adieu of this charming woman and of Charles X., then Count d'Artois. It was in England during the Emigration. The Viscountess of Polastron was dying with consumption, and the approach of the end reawakened in her all the piety of her childhood. A holy priest, the Abbe de Latil, demanded the departure of the Prince. "I implore Monseigneur," he said, "to go into the country; you shall see the poor penitent again; she herself desires it, having one word to say to you, one favor to ask, but it cannot be until at the moment of death."
The Prince, who, even at the time of his greatest errors, had never ceased to love and honor religion, obeyed the command of the priest. He awaited in cruel anguish the hour when he should be permitted to return. It was authorized only when death was very near. The Duchess of Gontaut says:—
"The doors of the salon were opened. Monsieur dared not approach; I was near the dying woman and held her hand; it was trembling. She perceived Monsieur. He was about to rush toward her. 'Come no nearer,' said the Abbe, in a firm voice. Monsieur did not venture to cross the threshold. The agitation redoubled; the agony increased. She raised her hands to heaven, and said:—
"'One favor, Monseigneur, one favor—live for God, all for God.'
"He fell upon his knees, and said: 'I swear it, God!' She said again, 'All for God!' Her head fell on my shoulder; this last word was her last breath: she was no more. Monsieur raised his arms to heaven, uttered a horrible cry: the door was closed."
The Count d'Artois was then but forty-five, but from that day he never gave occasion for the least scandal, and led an exemplary life. As Louis XIV. had held in profound esteem the courageous prelates who adjured him to break with his mistresses, Charles X. was attached to the truly Christian priest who had converted him by the death-bed of the Viscountess of Polastron. The Abbe de Latil, the obscure ecclesiastic of the Emigration, became, under the Restoration, the Archbishop of Rheims and Cardinal. It was not without profound emotion that the very Christian King saw himself consecrated by the priest who twenty-two years before had caused him to return to virtue. This memory was imposed on the mind and heart of the monarch, and under the vault of the ancient Cathedral, he certainly thought of Madame de Polastron, as of a good angel, who, from the height of heaven, watched over him, and who, by her prayers, had aided him to traverse so many trials, to reach the religious triumph of the coronation.
Charles X. was happy then. Profoundly sincere in his ardent desire to make France happy, he believed himself at one with God and with his people, and rejoiced in that supreme good, so often wanting to sovereigns,—peace of heart. Could he be reproached for having taken the ceremony of his coronation seriously? A king who does not believe in his royalty is no more to be respected than a priest who does not believe in his religion. Charles X. was convinced, as the Archbishop of Rheims had said in his letter of 29th May, 1825, that kings exercise over their subjects the power of God Himself, and that they have that sacred majesty, upon which, in the fine expression of Bossuet, God, for the good of things human, causes to shine a portion of the splendor of divine majesty.
This disposition of mind in Charles X. fortified his piety, so that, at the time of the jubilee of 1826, he seized eagerly the opportunity to affirm his religious faith, and to return thanks to the God of his fathers, who at this epoch of his life was loading him with favors.
The jubilee is a time of penitence and pardon, when the Pope accords plenary indulgence to all Catholics who submit to certain practices and assist at certain pious ceremonies. The grand jubilee was formerly celebrated only once in a hundred years; afterwards it took place every fifty, and then every twenty-five years. 1825 was the time of its first celebration in the nineteenth century, and it drew to Rome that year more than ten thousand pilgrims. The Pope had celebrated the close of it the 24th of December, 1825, but yielding to the prayers of several Catholic powers, he accorded to them, by special bulls, the privilege of celebrating the same solemnity in 1826.
The opening of the French jubilee took place February 15, 1826, at Notre-Dame de Paris. The papal bull, borne on a rich cushion, was remitted to the Archbishop for public reading. The nuncio chanted the Veni Creator. Mass was said by the Cardinal, Prince of Croi, Archbishop of Rouen, Grand Almoner of France. The relics of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul were borne around the Place du Parvis, in the midst of a cortege, in which were present the marshals of France, the generals, and the four princesses. The order of the Archbishop of Paris prescribed four general processions. The first took place with great pomp the 17th of March, 1826. The King and the royal family, the princes and princesses of the blood, all the court, the marshals, a multitude of high functionaries, peers of France, deputies, officers, assisted at this ceremony in which appeared the Archbishop of Paris and his grand vicars, the metropolitan chapter, the pupils of all the seminaries in surplice, the priests of all the Paris churches with their sacerdotal armaments. It was a veritable army of ecclesiastics that traversed the capital. In the midst of the cortdge, the reliquary containing the relics of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was the object of the devotion of the faithful. Surrounded by the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, the young Duke of Chartres, the great officers of the crown, of the Hundred Swiss, and of the body-guard, Charles X., in a costume half religious, half military, walked between a double hedge formed by the royal guard and the troops of the line. The Place du Parvis-Notre-Dame was hung with draperies in fleur-de-lis, and all the streets to be traversed by the procession had been draped and sanded. The first stop of the cortege was under the peristyle of the Hotel-Dieu, where an altar had been erected; the second, at the Church of the Sorbonne; the third, at that of Sainte Genevieve. The two other processions had no less eclat, and their pauses being fixed in the churches of the principal parishes, they passed through the busiest and most populous quarters of Paris.
The fourth and last procession, that of the 3d of May, was the most important of all. It was to close by an expiatory ceremony in honor of Louis XVI., by the laying and benediction of the corner-stone of the monument voted by the Chamber of 1815, and which still awaited its foundation. It is at the very place where the unfortunate sovereign had been executed that the monument was to be constructed. The cortege left Notre-Dame and directed its course first to the Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois. The Chamber of Peers, the Chamber of Deputies, all the functionaries, all the authorities of the Department of the Seine, followed the King and Dauphin, who advanced, accompanied by the ministers, the marshals, the officers of their houses, cordons bleus, cordons rouges. Never since the end of the old regime had such a multitude of priests been seen defiling through the streets of Paris. The pupils of all the seminaries, the almoners of all the colleges, the priests of all the parishes and all the chapels, stretched out in an endless double line, at the end of which appeared the Nuncio of the Pope, Cardinals de Latil, de Croi, and de La Fare, the Archbishop of Paris, and a crowd of prelates. After the station of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, there was a second at Saint-Roch, then a third and last at the Assumption. When the special prayers of the close of the jubilee had been said at this last parish, the immense cortege resumed its march to the place where Louis XVI. had brought his head to the sacrilegious scaffold. The day chosen for the expiatory solemnity was the 3d of May, the anniversary of the return of Louis XVIII. to Paris in 1814, and then a political idea was connected with the religious ceremony. A vast pavilion surmounted by a cross hung with draperies in violet velvet, and enclosing an altar, which was reached on four sides by four stairways of ten steps each, occupied the very place where, the 10th of January, 1793, the scaffold of the Martyr-King had been erected, in the middle of the Place called successively the Place Louis XV. and the Place de La Concorde, and which was thenceforth to be called the Place Louis XVI.
The account in the MONITEUR says:—
"A first salvo of artillery announced the arrival of the procession. It presented as imposing a tableau as could be contemplated. This old French nation—the heir of its sixty kings at the head—marched, preceded by the gifts made by Charlemagne to the Church of Paris, and the religious trophies that Saint Louis brought from the holy places. The priests ascend to the altar. Three times in succession they raise to heaven the cry for pardon and pity. All the spectators fall upon their knees. A profound, absolute silence reigns about the altar and over all the Place; a common sorrow overwhelms the people; the King's eyes are filled with tears."
In this multitude the absence of the Dauphiness, the daughter of Louis XVI., is remarked. The Orphan of the Temple had made it a law for herself never to cross the place where her father had perished. She went to the expiatory chapel of the Rue d'Anjou-Saint-Honore, to pass in prayer the time of the ceremony.
M. de Vaulabelle makes this curious comparison:—
"Behind Charles X. there knelt his Grand Chamberlain, Prince Talleyrand, covered with gleaming embroideries, orders, and cordons. It was the ecclesiastical dignitary whom Paris had beheld celebrating the Mass of the Federation on the Champ-de-Mars, the wedded prelate who, as Minister of the Directory, had for some years observed as a national festival the anniversary of this same execution, now the subject of so many tears."
Religious people rejoiced at the ceremony that was celebrated; but the Voltairians and the enemies of royalty complained bitterly at the sight of the quays, the streets, the squares of the capital furrowed by long files of priests, chanting psalms and litanies, dragging devout in their suite the King, the two Chambers, the judiciary, the administration, and the army. Yet was it not just that Charles X. should cause an expiatory ceremony to be celebrated at the place where his unfortunate brother had been guillotined? Was not that for a pious sovereign the accomplishment of a sacred duty? It matters not; there were those who reproached him with this homage to the most memorable of misfortunes. They would have forbidden to Charles X. the memory of Louis XVI. Yet a king could hardly be asked to have the sentiments of a conventionnel, of a regicide. In their systematic and bitter opposition, the adversaries of the Restoration imputed to the royal family as a crime its very virtues and its piety.
Charles X. was not unaware of this half-expressed hostility. That evening he wrote to M. Villele, President of the Council of Ministers:—
"In general I have been content with the ceremony and the appearance of the people; but I wish to know the whole truth, and I charge you to see M. Delavau, and to know from him if the reality corresponds to appearances, if there was any talk against the government and the clergy. I wish to know all, and I trust to you to leave me in ignorance of nothing."
M. de Villele was not a flatterer. He responded discreetly, but without concealing the truth:—
"The aspect of the people," he wrote, "permitted the thoughts agitating its spirit to be recognized. We were following the King at a slight distance and could judge very well of it. It was easy to read in all eyes that the people were hurt at seeing the King humbly following the priests. There was in that not so much irreligion as jealousy and animosity toward the role played by the clergy."
It might have been asked, in these circumstances, whether the criticisms of the opposition were just. If a ceremony was to be observed, such, as the laying and blessing the corner-stone of an expiatory monument, it must be religious. If it were religious, was not the presence of the clergy in large numbers natural?
At heart, there was something noble and touching in the thought of Charles X., and the true royalists sincerely respected it. Prom the monarchical point of view, a monument to Louis XVI. had much more raison d'etre than the obelisk since erected in its place, which represents nothing, and has, moreover, the inconvenience of obstructing the fine perspective of the Champs Elysees and the Tuileries. But there were two camps in France, and these processions, expiations, prayers, which, according to the royalist journals, opened a new era of sanctity, glory, and virtue, exasperated the Voltairians. The opposition determined to make of the King's piety a weapon against royalty.
And yet, we repeat, this piety had nothing about it not worthy of respect. As the Abbe Vedrenne remarks in his Vie de Charles X., this Prince "had a perfect understanding of the duties and convenances of his rank, never refused his presence at fetes where it was desirable, never seemed to blame or fear what a sensible indulgence did not condemn; he loved the charm of society, and increased it by his kindliness, but he was not dazzled by it. He remained to the end the most amiable prince in Europe, but he was also the severest. A surprising thing in a convert, his religion was always full of true charity for others. He excused those who neglected their Christian duties, remembering his delay in practising his own, without ever compromising his own beliefs. He sincerely respected the good faith of those who did not share them. This faith, this piety—a legacy from love—which he guarded so faithfully, was the consolation of his long misfortunes and the principle of his unchanging serenity. It banished even the idea of hatred from his heart. Never did any one forgive as he did."
It must not be forgotten that the pamphleteers and song-writers of the Restoration, violent, unjust, and even cruel as they were toward Charles X., never breathed an insinuation against the purity of his morals. His life was not less exemplary than that of his son, the Dauphin, or of his niece and daughter-in-law, the Orphan of the Temple. Despite the great piety of the sovereign, the court was not melancholy or morose. Charles X. had a foundation of benevolence and gaiety to his character. He was not surprised to see committed about him the gentle trespasses of love, of which he had been himself guilty in youth, and he had become—the very ideal of wisdom—severe for himself, indulgent for others.
THE DUCHESS OP GONTAUT
The Governess of the Children of France was the Viscountess of Gontaut, who, as a recompense for the manner in which she had accomplished her task, was made Duchess by Charles X. in 1826. Here is the opening of her unpublished Memoirs:—
"January, 1853. To Madame the Countess and Monsieur the Count Georges Esterhazy. My dear children, you have shown a desire to know the events of my long life. Wishing to teach them to your children, I yield to this amiable and tender purpose, promising myself, meanwhile, to resist the too common charm of talking pitilessly about myself. I shall search my memory for souvenirs of the revolutions I have often witnessed to give interest to my tales. One writes but ill at eighty, but one may claim indulgence from hearts to which one is devoted."
The amiable and intelligent octogenarian had no need of indulgence. Her Memoirs possess irresistible attraction, grace, exquisite naturalness, and we are convinced that when they are published—as they must be sooner or later—they will excite universal interest.
Born at Paris in 1773, the Duchess of Gontaut was the daughter of Count Montault-Navailles and of the Countess, NEE Coulommiers. All her memories of childhood and early youth were connected with the old court. She had seen Marie Antoinette in all her splendor, Versailles when it was most dazzling, and she was, formed in the elegant manners of that charm ing world whose social prestige was so great. At seven she was held at the baptismal font by the Count of Provence (the future Louis XVIII.) and by the wife of this Prince.
"I had for this ceremony," she says, "a GRAND HABIT and a GRAND PANIER. I was so proud of them that I caused much amusement at the Queen's, whither my mother took me after the baptism. Being connected with the Duchess of Polignac, she often took me to Versailles; there I saw Madame Royale, younger than I, and the poor, little, handsome, delightful Dauphin. The Queen, wishing to give them a little fete, organized a children's spectacle, in which I was entrusted with a part. The piece chosen was Iphigenie en Aulide. Mademoiselle de Sabran and her brother, as well as a young Strogonoff, were, it is said, perfect actors. Armand de Polignac had a little part. Tragedy was not my forte. But in the second piece I achieved a little success, which the Chevalier de Boufflers was kind enough to celebrate in a very bright couplet, sung at the close. He gave me the name of the Little White Mouse. After that the Queen called me her little white mouse, and showed me a thousand kindnesses. After the play there was a children's supper; the princes waited on, us and were much diverted by our enjoyment; Louis XVI. stood behind my chair for a moment, and even gave me a plate. The Queen sent me home in her sedan chair; footmen carried great torches; the body-guard presented arms to us. So much honor would, perhaps, have turned my head, but for my prudent mother who knew how to calm it."
The sorrows of exile followed rapidly on the first enchantments of life. It was in England, during the Emigration, that the future Governess of the Children of France married M. de Saint-Blanchard, Viscount de Gontaut-Biron. She was then residing at Epsom, where she lived on the proceeds of little pictures which she painted. She gave birth to twin daughters October 9th, 1796. "I nursed them both," she says, "our means not permitting us to have two nurses in one little household, and I felt strong enough for this double task. Brought into the world at seven and one-half months, their frail existence required my care night and day." In 1797, Madame de Gontaut visited Paris under a false name, and after this journey, on which she ran many risks, she returned to England, where she was the companion in exile of the princes. Monsieur, the Count d'Artois, the future Charles X., was then pursued by his creditors. The Castle of Holyrood, privileged by law, sheltered its occupants from all legal process. That is why the Prince Regent offered its hospitality to the brother of Louis XVIII., seeking in every way to soften the severity of the old palace.
"But the saying is true," adds Madame de Gontaut, "that there are no pleasant prisons. The Castle of Holyrood, as well as the park, was spacious. The governor visited there, and also several Scotch families, very agreeable socially. Monsieur could not 'leave the limits' except on Sunday, when the law allows no arrest. He had a carriage that he loaned to us, reserving it only for Sunday, when he was out from morning to night. To these excellent Scotch people a visit from him was an honor, a festival. Our little society comedies amused Monsieur as much as us; I always had, unluckily, a part that I never knew; I could never in my life learn anything by heart; I listened, filled my mind with the subject, and went ahead, to the great amusement of the audience and the despair of my fellow-players." After a while the suits against the Prince came to an end, and he could quit Holyrood, his debtor's prison.
Madame de Gontaut made a very good figure at Louis XVIII.'s little court at Hartwell. By her wit and her tact, she won the friendship of all the royal family, and much sympathy in high English society. She returned to France with Louis XVIII., and no lady of the court was regarded with greater respect. At the time of the marriage of the Duke of Berry, she became lady companion to the new Duchess, whom she went to meet at Marseilles.
The King, Monsieur, the Duke and Duchess of Berry, all showed equal confidence in Madame de Gontaut, and her nomination as Governess of the Children of France was received with general approval and sympathy. A woman of mind and heart, she performed her task with as much zeal as intelligence, and though strict with her two pupils, she made herself beloved by them. She especially applied herself to guard them against the snares of flattery. On this subject she relates a characteristic anecdote. One day a family that had been recommended to her asked the favor of seeing, if only for a moment, the Duke of Bordeaux and his sister. The two children, vexed at having to leave their play, were not communicative, and nevertheless received an avalanche of compliments. The visitors were in ecstasy over their gentleness, their beauty. They admired even their hair. These exaggerations embarrassed the children, who were full of frankness and directness, and displeased Madame de Gontaut. She quickly closed the interview. As the visitors were going out, a half-open door allowed the little Prince and Princess to overhear their observations. "It was not worth while to come so far to see so little," said an old lady, in an irritated tone. "Oh, as to that, no," said a big boy, "they hardly had two words of response for all the compliments that papa and mamma strained themselves to give them. You made me laugh, papa, when you said, 'What fine color, what pretty hair!' She's as pale as an egg and cropped like a boy."—"That's true," said the old lady, "she needs your medicines, doctor; and then they are very small for their age."—"Did you see the governess?" resumed the big boy. "She did not seem pleased when you complimented her on the docility of her pupils, and I could see that they were teasing each other." The Duke of Bordeaux and his sister, who heard all this, were petrified. "They are very wicked!" they cried. "They are simply flatterers," replied Madame de Gontaut. Little Mademoiselle resumed: "After having praised us without end, and telling us a hundred times that we were pretty,—for I heard it all perfectly,—to want to give me medicine because I was so homely and ill-looking! Oh, this is too much! I know now what flattery is,—to say just the contrary of the truth. But it's a sin. I shall always remember it!"
Madame de Gontaut succeeded beyond her hopes in the task confided to her. Morally and physically the little Prince and Princess were accomplished children.
The moment was approaching when the Duke of Bordeaux, born September 20, 1820, was about to begin his seventh year. That was the period fixed by the ancient code of the House of France for the young Prince to pass from the hands of women to those of men, who were thereafter to direct his education. On the 15th of October, 1826, the transfer was made of the Duke of Bordeaux to his governor, the Duke de Riviere, at the Chateau of Saint Cloud, in the Hall of the Throne, in the presence of all the members of the family, the first officers of the crown, etc. The child, brought by his governess before the King, was stripped of his clothing and examined by the physicians, who attested his perfect health. When he was clad again, the King called the new governor and said to him: "Duke de Riviere, I give you a great proof of my esteem and confidence in remitting to you the care of the child given us by Providence—the Child of France also. You will bring to these important functions, I am sure, a zeal and a prudence that will give you the right to my gratitude, to that of the family, and to that of France."
Charles X. then turned to Madame de Gontaut, whom he had just named Duchess in witness of his gratitude and satisfaction. "Duchess of Gontaut," he said, "I thank you for the care you have given to the education of this dear child." Then, pointing to Mademoiselle, "Continue and complete that of this child, who is just as dear to me, and you will acquire new claims on my gratitude." The little Princess then seized the hands of her governess with such effusion that the latter could hardly restrain her tears.
That evening the Duchess of Gontaut addressed to the Duke de Riviere a letter in which she depicted the character of the child she had brought up with such care:—
"I have always followed the impulses of my heart," she wrote, "in easily performing a task for which that was all that was needed. Monseigneur and Mademoiselle believe me blindly, for I have never deceived them, even in jest. A pleasantry that a child's mind cannot understand embarrasses him, destroys his ease and confidence, humiliates and even angers him, if he believes that he has been deceived. Monseigneur has more need than most children of this discretion. The directness and generosity of his character incline him to take everything seriously. When he thinks he sees that any one is being annoyed, the one oppressed straightway becomes the object of his lively interest; he will take up his defence warmly and will not spare his rebukes; he shows on these occasions an energy quite in contrast with the natural timidity of his character. With such a child, I have had to avoid even the shadow of injustice. He loves Mademoiselle, is gentle, kind, attentive to her. I have always carefully shunned for Their Royal Highnesses the little contests of childhood; however unimportant they may seem at first, they end by embittering the disposition."
We commend to mothers and teachers the letter of the Duchess of Gontaut. It is a veritable programme of education, conceived with high intelligence and great practical sense. What more just than this reflection: "The method of teaching by amusement is fashionable, and appears to me to lead to a very superficial education. That is not what I have sought. Let the teacher explain readily, but let him allow the pupil to take some pains, for he must learn early the difficulties of life and how to overcome them. A child prince, exposed to flattery, runs the risk of thinking himself a prodigy. To obviate this Monseigneur and Mademoiselle have often been subjected to little competitions with children of their age. I have sought by this means to give them the habit of witnessing success without envy, and to gain it without vanity." And what a fine and noble thing is this. "I have tried on all occasions to lead the mind of Monseigneur to the moral teaching of religion; I have used it as a restraint; I have presented it as a hope."
The Duchess of Gontaut was proud of her pupil:—
"It will require time," she says, in this same letter, "kindness, and tenderness to gain the confidence of Monseigneur. His features show his soul; he talks little of what he undergoes; he has much sensibility, but a power over himself remarkable at his age; I have seen him suffer without complaint. The efforts that he has made to overcome a timidity that I have tried hard to conquer, have been noteworthy. I have been able to make him understand the necessity, for a prince, of addressing strangers in a noble, gracious, and intelligible fashion. I have always sought to remove all means and all pretext for concealing his faults; bashfulness leads imperceptibly to dissimulation and falsehood. I am happy in affirming that Monseigneur is scrupulously truthful. I have believed it requisite, by reason of the vivacity of his disposition, and the high destiny awaiting him, to constrain him to reflect before acting. The word JUSTICE has a real charm for him; I have never seen a heart more loyal."
The woman who wrote these lines so firm and honest, so sensible and forcible, was no ordinary woman. In contrast with so many emigres who had learned nothing and forgotten nothing, she had learned much and retained it. The difficulties and bitternesses of exile were an excellent school for her. She remained French always,—in ideas, tastes, feelings. Sincerely royalist, but with no exaggeration, she took account perfectly of the requirements of modern society. Very devoted to her princes, she knew how to tell them the truth. She spoke frankly to Charles X., whom she had known from an early day, and had seen in such diverse situations.
It is to be regretted that the King did not consult her oftener. She would have saved him from many errors, notably from the fatal ordinances which she disapproved. She was a woman not merely of heart, but of head. Her Memoirs are the more interesting, that not the least literary pretension mingles with their sincerity. They have a character of intimacy that doubles their charm. This talk of a venerable grandmother with her grandchildren is not only solid and instructive, it is agreeable and gracious, tender and touching.
THE THREE GOVERNORS
In the space of three years, from 1826 to 1828, Charles X. named three governors for the Duke of Bordeaux. One, the Duke of Montmorency, never entered on his duties. The others were the Duke de Riviere and the Baron de Damas. The Duke of Montmorency was named in anticipation the 8th of January, 1826, although his task did not begin until the 29th of September. Mathieu de Montmorency, first Viscount and then Duke, was born in 1766. After having been through the war in America, he had adopted the ideas of Lafayette, and had been distinguished by his extreme liberalism. He took the oath of the Jeu de Paume, and was the first to give up the privileges derived from his birth on the celebrated night of the 4th of August. The 12th of July, 1791, he was one of the deputation that attended the solemn transfer of the ashes of Voltaire, and, August 27th, he sustained the proposition to decree the honors of the Pantheon to Jean Jacques Rousseau. In his Petit Almanach des Grands Hommes de la Revolution, Rivarol wrote, not without irony:—
"The most youthful talent of the Assembly, he is still stammering his patriotism, but he already manages to make it understood, and the Republic sees in him all it wishes to see. It was necessary that Montmorency should appear popular for the Revolution to be complete, and a child alone could set this great example. The little Montmorency therefore devoted himself to the esteem of the moment, and combated aristocracy under the ferrule of the Abbe Sieyes."
Mathieu de Montmorency did not adhere to his revolutionary ideas. After the 10th of August, 1792, he withdrew to Switzerland, at Coppet, near his friend Madame de Stael. Under the Empire he held himself apart. He had become as conservative as he had been liberal, as religious as he had been Voltairian. Under the Restoration, he was one of the most convinced supporters of the throne and the altar. Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1821, he showed himself a distinguished diplomat, and during the session of 1822 made the Amende Honorable for what he called his former errors.
As he had always been sincere in his successive opinions, the Duke of Montmorency deserved general esteem. His profound piety, his unchanging gentleness, his exhaustless charity, made him a veritable saint. He was the complete type of the Christian nobleman. His name, his character, the very features of his countenance, were all in perfect harmony. The adversaries of the Revolution could not refrain from honoring this good man. On receiving the title of governor to the Duke of Bordeaux, he felt rewarded for the devotion and virtue of his whole life. But he regarded this grave employment as a heavy burden, "an immense and formidable honor, the terror of his feebleness, and the perpetual occupation of his conscience." This was the thought expressed in his reception discourse at the French Academy. The Count Daru replied to him. At the same session M. de Chateaubriand read a historic fragment. It was the first time since leaving the ministry that the celebrated writer had appeared in public, and he chose to do so to adorn the triumph of him whose rival he had been.
The Duke Mathieu de Montmorency died six months before he was to enter upon his functions as governor to the Duke of Bordeaux. It was Good Friday of the year 1826, at three o'clock in the afternoon. Before the tomb in the Church of Saint Thomas Aquinas, his parish, the Duke was praying like a saint, when suddenly he was seen to waver, and then to fall. Those near him ran to him, raised him; he was dead. The news had hardly spread when the church was filled with a crowd of poor people, who wept hot tears over the loss of their benefactor. On the morrow the Duchess of Broglie wrote to Madame REcamier, for whom the deceased had had an almost mystic tenderness:—
"Holy Saturday. Oh, my God! my God! dear friend, what an event! I think of you with anguish. All the past comes up before me. I thought I could see the grief of my poor mother, and I think of yours, my dear friend, which must be terrible. But what a beautiful death! Thus he would have chosen it—the place, the day, the hour! The hand of God, of that saviour God, whose sacrifice he was celebrating, is here!"
Father Macarthy said, in a sermon preached in the Chapel of the Tuileries:—
"Happy he, O God, who comes before Thy altar, on the day of Thy death, at the very hour when Thou didst expire for the salvation of the world, to breathe out his soul at Thy feet, and be laid in Thy tomb!"
Lastly, the Duke de Laval-Montmorency wrote to Madame Recamier:—
"I say it to you, my dear friend, I avow it without false modesty, I never have had any merit or any honor in life, save from action in common with my angelic friend. He alone is happy; he is so beyond doubt; from heaven he sees our tears, our desolation, our homage; he will be our protector on high as he was our friend, our support, upon the earth."
The death of the virtuous Duke caused Charles X. great grief. He said: "There are in me two persons, the king and the man, and I know not which is the most affected."
M. de Chateaubriand desired—and the desire was quite natural—to replace the Duke of Montmorency in the office of governor of the Duke of Bordeaux, but the wish was not gratified. In his Life of Henry of France, M. de PEne makes the following reflections on this point:—
"Chateaubriand lacked neither the knowledge nor the virtue to be the Fenelon of a new Duke of Burgundy. The eclat of his literary renown, the political sense of which he had given proof in the Spanish war, the popularity that surrounded him, were certainly arguments in his favor. But looking at things coolly, it was clear that an irregular genius was not suited for the part of Mentor, when he still had all the wayward impulses of Telemaque."
The choice of Charles X. fell on one of his oldest and most faithful friends, the Lieutenant-General Duke Charles de Riviere. He was a soldier of great valor, of gentle disposition, full of modesty and kindness, believing devoutly and practising the Christian religion, a descendant of those old knights who joined in one love, God, France, and the King.
Born the 17th of December, 1763, M. de Riviere had been the companion and servitor of the princes in exile and misfortune, and they had confided to him the most difficult and dangerous missions. He was secretly in France in 1794, and was arrested and condemned to death as implicated in the Cadoudal case. At his trial, he was shown, at a distance, the portrait of the Count d'Artois, and asked if he recognized it. He asked to see it nearer, and then having it in his hands, he said, looking at the president: "Do you suppose that even from afar I did not recognize it? But I wished to see it nearer once more before I die." And the martyr of royalty religiously kissed the image of his dear prince.
Josephine intervened, and secured the commutation of the sentence, as well as that of the Duke Armand de Polignac. Napoleon, who admired men of force, caused to be offered to M. de Riviere his complete pardon, and a regiment or a diplomatic post, at choice. The inflexible royalist preferred to be sent to the fort of Joux, where Toussaint Louverture had died, and remained a prisoner up to the time of the marriage of the Empress Marie Louise.
Under the Restoration, M. de Riviere, who was Marquis and was made Duke only in 1825, became lieutenant-general, Peer of France, ambassador at Constantinople, captain of the body-guards of Monsieur. At the time of his accession, Charles X. did for his faithful servitor what had never before been done; he created for him a fifth company of the King's body-guards. "My dear Riviere," he said, "I have done my best for you, but we shall both lose by it; you used to guard me all the time, now you can guard me but three months in the year." The 30th of May, 1825, the morrow of the coronation and the day of the reception of the Knights of the Holy Spirit, Charles X. conferred the title of duke on his devoted friend. "By the way, Riviere, I have made you a duke." It recalled the words of Henry IV. to Sully in like circumstances.
When he chose the Duke de Riviere as governor of the Duke of Bordeaux, the King said to Madame de Gontaut: "In naming Riviere, I have followed, I confess, the inclinations of my heart; I am under obligations to him; he has incessantly exposed himself for our cause; he has borne captivity, poverty; I love him, and I am used to him."
The new governor, who was very modest, was frightened at the task confided to him.
"You congratulate me," he wrote to a friend; "console me, rather, pity me. An employment so grave must be a heavy burden. I am easy about the instruction my royal pupil will receive; the wise prelate named by the King as his preceptor will be a powerful auxiliary for me. But my share is still too great. It requires something more than fidelity for such a place,—firmness without roughness, unlimited patience, address, intelligence. I am frightened at the mission I have to fill. I begged the King to release me. He insisted. I asked him to make it a command; he replied: 'I will not command you, but you will give me great pleasure.' I did not conceal from the King that I should have preferred to remain captain of his guards; he answered: 'Well, you made that place for yourself; make this for me.' How could one resist such language from the lips of such a prince? There was but one choice to make,—to do all that he wished."
Charles X. named as sub-governors two distinguished military men, the Colonel Marquis de Barbamcois and the Lieutenant-Colonel Count de Maupas. He named as preceptor Mgr. Tharin, Bishop of Strasbourg, and as sub-preceptor the Abbe Martin de Noirlieu and M. de Barande. The Bishop of Strasbourg was a pious and learned priest, of great benevolence and extreme affability. But his appointment exasperated the Opposition, because he had formerly taken up the defence of the Order of the Jesuits against the attacks of M. de Montlosier. All the liberal sheets cried aloud. Le Journal des Debates, furious that its candidate to the succession of the Duke de Montmorency, M. de Chateaubriand, had not been named, wrote, regarding the appointment of Mgr. Tharin:—
"Such imprudence amazes, such blindness is pitiable. It awakens profound grief to see this chariot rush toward the abyss with no power to restrain it."
The Duke de Riviere gave himself up entirely to the task confided to him. He never quitted the young prince. He slept in his room and watched over him night and day. In the month of February, 1828, he fell ill. The princes and princesses visited him frequently. The sovereign himself, putting aside for this faithful friend the etiquette which forbade him to visit any one out of his own family, went constantly to see him and remained long with him. The Duke had no greater consolation, after that of his religion, than the visit of his King. He said to his family as the hour of the expected visit approached, "Do not let me sleep," and if he felt himself getting drowsy, "For pity's sake," he said, "awaken me if the King comes; it is the best remedy for my pains." Charles X. could hardly restrain his tears; on leaving the room he gave way to his grief. The little Duke of Bordeaux, also, was much saddened.
One day, when he was told that the sick man had passed a bad night, he said to his sister: "Let's play plays that don't amuse us to-day."
Another day, when it was reported that his governor was a little better: "In that case," he cried, "general illumination," and he went in broad day, and lighted all the candles in the salon. The Duke de Riviere died the 21st of April, 1828; by order of the King, his son lived from that time with the Duke of Bordeaux, and received lessons from the preceptors of the young Prince.
The Liberals wished the successor of the Duke to be one of their choice. They maintained that the son of France belonged to the nation, and that it had too much interest in his education to permit the parents alone to dispose of it, as in ordinary families. The ministry wished to be consulted. Charles X. replied that he took counsel with his ministers in all that concerned the public administration, but that he should maintain his liberty as father of a family in the choice of masters for his grandson.
The King named the Lieutenant-General Baron de Damas (born in 1785, died in 1858). He was a brave soldier and a good Christian. M. de Lamartine said that he had "integrity, obstinate industry, virtue incorruptible by the air of couits, patriotic purpose, cool impartiality, but no presence and no brilliancy," and that "his piety was as loyal and disinterested as his heart." He had been Minister of War, and of Foreign Affairs, and distinguished himself under the Duke of Angouleme, during the Spanish Expedition. But under the Revolution and the Empire, he had served in the Russian army, and this did not render him popular. The Abbe Vedrenne, in his VIE DE Charles X., wrote:—
"To watch over the person of the son of France, not quitting him night or day; to make sure that the rules of his education are followed in the employment of his time, in the routine of his lessons; to let no one save persons worthy of confidence come near him; to ward off all dangers, and notify the King of the least indisposition,—such is the duty of the governor. It requires more prudence than learning, more probity than genius. M. de Damas was a royalist too tried, too fervent a Christian, for his nomination not to provoke many murmurs. His place, moreover, had been desired by so many people, that there was no lack of those who were displeased and jealous. There was a general outcry over his incapacity and ignorance. One would have thought that he was to perform the task of a Bossuet and a Fenelon, while in reality he filled the place of a Montausier or a Beauvilliers. Had he not their virtues, and especially their devotion?"
The Duchess of Gontaut thus relates the first interview of the young Prince with his new governor: "Monseigneur was a little intimidated, when the Baron, coming up near to him, made a profound bow, and said: 'Monseigneur, I commend myself to you.' To which Monseigneur, not knowing what to say, said nothing, and as no one spake a word, the King dismissed us. When the Duke of Bordeaux learned that M. de Damas had six or seven boys nearly his age and only one girl, and that the girl would not be any trouble, his gaiety returned." The little Prince got used to his new governor, who had the most solid qualities, and who performed his task with the same devotion and zeal as his predecessor.
THE REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL GUARD
Charles X. was always much beloved by the court, but less so by the city. In vain, in his promenades, he sought the salutations of the crowd, and exerted himself by his affability to provoke acclamations; the public remained cold, and the monarch returned to the Tuileries, saddened by a change in his reception which he charged to the tactics of the liberal party and the calumnies of the journals. The anti-religious opposition went on increasing, and tried to persuade the crowd that the King was aiming at nothing less than placing his kingdom under the direction of the Jesuits.
The person of the sovereign was still respected, but the men who had his confidence were the object of the most violent criticisms. A coalition of the Extremists and the Left fought savagely against the Villele ministry, which was reproached particularly for its long duration.
From 1827, Orleansism, which Charles X. did not even suspect, existed in a latent state, and sagacious observers could perceive the dangers of the near future. A review of the National Guard of Paris was a forerunner of them.
Each year the 12th of April, the anniversary of the re-entrance of Monsieur to Paris in 1814, the National Guard alone was on duty at the Tuileries. This privilege was looked upon as the reward of the devotion it had then shown to the Prince, whose sole armed force it was for several weeks. In 1827, the 12th of April fell on Holy Thursday, a day given over wholly by the sovereign to his religious duties. In consequence, he decided that the day of exceptional service reserved to the National Guard should be postponed to Monday, the 16th. The morning of that day, detachments from all the legions, including the cavalry, assembled in the court of the Chateau, and were received by Charles X. He received a warm welcome, such as he had not been used to for a long time, and the crowd joined its shouts to the huzzas of the Guard. Charles X., filled with delight, said to the officers who joined him as the troops filed by: "I regret that the entire National Guard is not assembled for the review." Then the officers replied that their comrades would be only too happy if the King would consent to review the whole Guard. Marshal Oudinot, Duke of Reggio, who was the commandant-in-chief, warmly supported this desire, and the sovereign responded by promising for April 29 the review thus urged.
Charles X. believed he had returned to the pleasant time of his popularity. He wished to confirm it by withdrawing a law as to the press, proposed in the Chambers, and vviuch, though called by the ultras a "law of love and justice," encountered bitter opposition even in the Chamber of Peers. The law was withdrawn April 17, the very day that the Moniteur announced the promise given the day before for the review of the 29th. On learning of the withdrawal of the unpopular law, the liberals uttered cries of joy and triumph. Columns of working printers traversed the streets with cries of "Long live the King! Long live the Chamber of Peers! Long live the liberty of the press!" In the evening Paris was illuminated. A victory over a foreign foe would not have been celebrated with greater transports of enthusiasm. The ministry was disquieted by these wild manifestations of delight, which, in reality, were directed against it. It tried in vain to induce the King to countermand the review of the 29th. M. de Chateaubriand wrote to Charles X. a long letter to beg him to change his ministry. It contained the following passage:—
"Sire, it is false that there is, as is said, a republican faction at present, but it is true that there are partisans of an illegitimate monarchy; now these latter are too adroit not to profit by the occasion, and mingle their voices on the 29th with that of France, to impose on the nation. What will the King do? Will he surrender his ministers to the popular demand? That would be to destroy the power of the State. Will he keep his ministers? They will cause all the unpopularity that pursues them to fall on the head of their august master." Chateaubriand closed as follows:—
"Sire, to dare to write you this letter, I must be strongly persuaded of the necessity of reaching a decision. An imperative duty must urge me. The ministers are my enemies. As a Christian I forgive them, as a man I can never pardon them. In this position I should never have addressed the King, if the safety of the monarchy were not involved."
All this urging was futile. Charles X. did not change his ministry, and the review took place on the Champ-de-Mars on the day appointed.
It is Sunday, April 29th, 1827. The weather is magnificent. The springtime sun gives to the capital a festive air. All the people are out. The twelve legions and the mounted guards—more than twenty thousand men—are under arms awaiting the King on the Champ-de-Mars. An enormous crowd occupies the slope. At one o'clock precisely, Charles X., mounted on a beautiful horse, which he manages like a skilled horseman, leaves the Tuileries with a numerous escort, including the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, the young Duke of Chartres, and a number of generals. The princesses follow in an open caleche. Everything appears to be going perfectly. The National Guards have pledged themselves to satisfy the King by their conduct. A note has been read in the ranks in these words: "Caution to the National Guards, to be circulated to the very last file. The rumor is spread that the National Guards intend to cry 'Down with the ministers! Down with the Jesuits!' Only mischief-makers can wish to see the National Guard abandon its noble character."
A general movement of curiosity on the Champ-de-Mars is noticed. Charles X. arrives. He has a serene brow, a smile upon his lips. It hardly seems possible that before the end of the year he will be a septuagenarian; he would be taken for a man of fifty, powdered. An immense cry of "Long live the King," raised by the National Guards, is repeated by the crowd. The monarch, radiant, salutes with glance and hand.