I. THE KING
II. THE DUCHESS D'ORLEANS
III. THE PRINCES
I. THE KING.*
June, 28, 1844.
* Louis Philippe.
The King told me that Talleyrand said to him one day:
"You will never be able to do anything with Thiers, although he would make an excellent tool. He is one of those men one cannot make use of unless one is able to satisfy them. Now, he never will be satisfied. It is unfortunate for him, as for you, that in our times, he cannot be made a cardinal."
A propos of the fortifications of Paris, the King told me how the Emperor Napoleon learned the news of the taking of Paris by the allies.
The Emperor was marching upon Paris at the head of his guard. Near Juvisy, at a place in the Forest of Fontainebleau where there is an obelisk ("that I never see without feeling heavy at heart," remarked the King), a courier on his way to meet Napoleon brought him the news of the capitulation of Paris. Paris had been taken. The enemy had entered it. The Emperor turned pale. He hid his face in his hands and remained thus, motionless, for a quarter of an hour. Then, without saying a word, he turned about and took the road back to Fontainebleau.
General Athalin witnessed this scene and recounted it to the King.
A few days ago the King said to Marshal Soult (in presence of others):
"Marshal, do you remember the siege of Cadiz?"
"Rather, sire, I should think so. I swore enough before that cursed Cadiz. I invested the place and was forced to go away as I had come."
"Marshal, while you were before it, I was inside it."
"I know, sire."
"The Cortes and the English Cabinet offered me the command of the Spanish army."
"I remember it."
"The offer was a grave one. I hesitated long. Bear arms against France! For my family, it is possible; but against my country! I was greatly perplexed. At this juncture you asked me, through a trusty person, for a secret interview in a little house situated on the Cortadura, between the city and your camp. Do you remember the fact, Monsieur the Marshal?"
"Perfectly, sire; the day was fixed and the interview arranged."
"And I did not turn up."
"That is so."
"Do you know why?"
"I never knew."
"I will tell you. As I was preparing to go to meet you, the commander of the English squadron, apprised of the matter, I know not how, dropped upon me brusquely and warned me that I was about to fall into a trap; that Cadiz being impregnable, they despaired of seizing me, but that at the Cortadura I should be arrested by you; that the Emperor wished to make of the Duke d'Orleans a second volume of the Duke d'Enghien, and that you would have me shot immediately. There, really," added the King with a smile, "your hand on your conscience, were you going to shoot me?"
The Marshal remained silent for a moment, then replied, with a smile not less inexpressible than that of the King:
"No, sire; I wanted to compromise you."
The subject of conversation was changed. A few minutes later the Marshal took leave of the King, and the King, as he watched him go, said with a smile to the person who heard this conversation:
"Compromise! compromise! To-day it is called compromise. In reality, he would have shot me!"
August 4, 1844.
Yesterday the King said to me:
"One of my embarrassments at present, in all this affair of the University and the clergy, is M. Affre."*
* Archbishop Affre was shot and killed in the Faubourg Saint Antoine on September 25, 1848, while trying to stop the fighting between the troops and insurgents.
"Then why, sire," said I, "did you appoint him?"
"I made a mistake, I admit. I had at first appointed to the archbishopric of Paris the Cardinal of Arras, M. de la Tour d'Auvergne."
"It was a good choice," I observed.
"Yes, good. He is insignificant. An honest old man of no account. An easy-going fellow. He was much sought after by the Carlists. Greatly imposed upon. His whole family hated me. He was induced to refuse. Not knowing what to do, and being in haste, I named M. Affre. I ought to have been suspicious of him. His countenance is neither open nor frank. I took his underhand air for a priestly air; I did wrong. And then, you know, it was in 1840. Thiers proposed him to me, and urged me to appoint him. Thiers is no judge of archbishops. I did it without sufficient reflection. I ought to have remembered what Talleyrand said to me one day: 'The Archbishop of Paris must always be an old man. The see is quieter and becomes vacant more frequently.' I appointed M. Affre, who is young; it was a mistake. However, I will re-establish the chapter of St. Denis and appoint as primate of it the Cardinal de la Tour d'Auvergne. The Papal Nuncio, to whom I spoke of my project just now, laughed heartily at it, and said: 'The Abb» Affre will commit some folly. Should he go to Rome the Pope will receive him very badly. He has acted pusillanimously and blunderingly on all occasions since he has been an archbishop. An archbishop of Paris who has any wit ought always to be on good terms with the King here and the Pope yonder.'"
A month or two ago the King went to Dreux. It was the anniversary of the death of the Duke d'Orleans. The King had chosen this day to put the coffins of his relatives in the family vault in order.
Among the number was a coffin that contained all the bones of the princes of the House of Orleans that the Duchess d'Orleans, mother of the King, had been able to collect after the Revolution, when the sepulchre was violated and they were dispersed. The coffin, placed in a separate vault, had recently been smashed in by the fall of an arch. The debris of the arch, stones and plaster, had become mingled with the bones.
The King had the coffin brought and opened before him. He was alone in the vault with the chaplain and two aides-de-camp. Another coffin, larger and stronger, had been prepared. The King himself, with his own hands, took, one after the other, the bones of his ancestors from the broken coffin and arranged them carefully in the new one. He would not permit any one else to touch them. From time to time he counted the skulls and said: "This is Monsieur the Duke de PenthiÀvre. This is Monsieur the Count de Beaujolais." Then to the best of his ability and as far as he was able to he completed each group of bones.
This ceremony lasted from nine o'clock in the morning until seven o'clock in the evening without the King taking either rest or nourishment.
Yesterday, the 15th, after having dined at M. Villemain's, who lives in a country house near Neuilly, I called upon the King.
The King was not in the salon, where there were only the Queen, Madame Adelaide and a few ladies, among them Mme. Firmin-Rogier, who is charming. There were many visitors, among others the Duke de Brogue and M. Rossi, who were of the dinner party at which I had been present, M. de Lesseps, who lately distinguished himself as consul at Barcelona, M. Firmin-Rogier and the Count d'Agout.
I bowed to the Queen, who spoke to me at length about the Princess de Joinvile, who was delivered the day before yesterday, and whose baby arrived on the very day the news of the bombardment of Tangier by its father was received. It is a little girl. The Princess de Joinvile passes the whole day kissing her and saying: "How pretty she is!" with that sweet southern accent which the raillery of her brothers-in-law has not yet caused her to lose.
While I was talking to the Queen, the Duchess d'Orleans, dressed in black, came in and sat beside Madame Adelaide, who said to her: "Good evening, dear Helene."
A moment afterwards, M. Guizot, in black, wearing a chain of decorations, with a red ribbon in his buttonhole and the badge of the Legion of Honour on his coat, and looking pale and grave, crossed the salon. I grasped his hand as he passed and he said:
"I have sought you vainly during the past few days. Come and spend a day with me in the country. We have a lot to talk about. I am at Auteuil, No. 4, Place d'Agueneau."
"Will the King come to-night?" I asked.
"I do not think so," he replied. "He is with Admiral de Mackau. There is serious news. He will be occupied all the evening."
Then M. Guizot went away.
It was nearly ten o'clock, and I also was about to take my departure when one of Madame Adelaide's ladies of honour, sent by the Princess, came and told me that the King desired to speak with me and requested that I would remain. I returned to the salon, which had become almost empty.
A moment later, as ten o'clock was striking, the King came in. He wore no decorations and had a preoccupied air. As he passed by he said to me:
"Wait until I have gone my round; we shall have a little more time when everybody has left. There are only four persons here now and I have only four words to say to them."
In truth, he only tarried a moment with the Prussian Ambassador and M. de Lesseps, who had to communicate to him a letter from Alexandria relative to the strange abdication of the Pacha of Egypt.
Everybody took leave, and then the King came to me, thrust his arm in mine and led me into the large anteroom where he seated himself, and bade me be seated, upon a red lounge which is between two doors opposite the fireplace. Then he began to talk rapidly, energetically, as though a weight were being lifted from his mind:
"Monsieur Hugo, I am pleased to see you. What do you think of it all? All this is grave, yet it appears graver than it really is. But in politics, I know, one has sometimes to take as much into account that which appears grave as that which is grave. We made a mistake in taking this confounded protectorate.* We thought we were doing something popular for France, and we have done something embarrassing for the world. The popular effect was mediocre; the embarrassing effect is enormous. What did we want to hamper ourselves with Tahiti (the King pronounced it Ta‘te) for? What to us was this pinch of tobacco seeds in the middle of the ocean? What is the use of lodging our honour four thousand leagues away in the box of a sentry insulted by a savage and a madman? Upon the whole there is something laughable about it. When all is said and done it is a small matter and nothing big will come of it. Sir Robert Peel has spoken thoughtlessly. He has acted with schoolboy foolishness. He has diminished his consideration in Europe. He is a serious man, but capable of committing thoughtless acts. Then he does not know any languages. Unless he be a genius there are perforce gaps in the ideas of a man who is not a linguist. Now, Sir Robert has no genius. Would you believe it? He does not know French. Consequently he does not understand anything about France. French ideas pass before him like shadows. He is not malevolent, no; he is not open, that is all. He has spoken without reflection. I judged him to be what he is forty years ago. It was, too, forty years ago that I saw him for the first time. He was then a young man and secretary of the Earl of--(I did not quite catch the name. The King spoke quickly). I often visited that house. I was then in England. When I saw young Peel I felt sure that he would go a long way, but that he would stop. Was I mistaken? There are Englishmen, and of the highest rank, who do not understand Frenchmen a bit. Like that poor Duke of Clarence, who afterwards was William IV. He was but a sailor. One must beware of the sailor mind, as I often say to my son Joinville. He who is only a sailor is nothing on land. Well, this Duke of Clarence used to say to me: 'Duke d'Orleans, a war between France and England is necessary every twenty years. History shows it.' I would reply: 'My dear duke, of what use are people of intelligence if they allow mankind to do the same foolish things over and over again?' The Duke of Clarence, like Peel, did not know a word of French.
* The protectorate of Tahiti.
"What a difference between these men and Huskisson! You know, Huskisson who was killed on a railway. He was a masterly man, if you like. He knew French and liked France. He had been my comrade at the Jacobins' Club. I do not say this in bad part. He understood everything. If there were in England now a man like him, he and I would ensure the peace of the world.--Monsieur Hugo, we will do it without him. I will do it alone. Sir Robert Peel will reconsider what he has said. Egad! he said that! Does he even know why or how?
"Have you seen the English Parliament? You speak from your place, standing, in the midst of your own party; you are carried away; you say more often than not what others think instead of what you think yourself. There is a magnetic communication. You are subjected to it. You rise (here the King rose and imitated the gesture of an orator speaking in Parliament). The assembly ferments all round and close to you; you let yourself go. On this side somebody says: 'England has suffered a gross insult;' and on that side: 'with gross indignity.' It is simply applause that is sought on both sides. Nothing more. But this is bad. It is dangerous. It is baleful. In France our tribune which isolates the orator has many advantages.
"Of all the English statesmen, I have known only one who was able to withstand this influence of assemblies. He was M. Pitt. M. Pitt was a clever man, although he was very tall. He had an air of awkwardness and spoke hesitatingly. His lower jaw weighed a hundredweight. Hence a certain slowness which forcibly brought prudence into his speeches. Besides, what a statesman this Pitt was! They will render justice to him one of these days, even in France. Pitt and Coburg are still being harped upon. But it is a childish foolishness that will pass. M. Pitt knew French. To carry on politics properly we must have Englishmen who know French and Frenchmen who know English.
"Look here, I am going to England next month. I shall be very well received: I speak English. And then, Englishmen appreciate the fact that I have studied them closely enough not to detest them. For one always begins by detesting the English. This is an effect of the surface. I esteem them, and pride myself upon the fact. Between ourselves, there is one thing I apprehend in going to England, and that is, a too warm welcome. I shall have to elude an ovation. Popularity there would render me unpopular here. But I must not get myself badly received either. Badly received there, taunted here. Oh! it is not easy to move when one is Louis Philippe, is it, Monsieur Hugo?
"However, I will endeavour to manage it better than that big stupid the Emperor of Russia, who went riding full gallop in search of a fall. There is an addle-pate for you. What a simpleton! He is nothing but a Russian corporal, occupied with a boot-heel and a gaiter button. What an idea to arrive in London on the eve of the Polish ball! Do you think I would go to England on the eve of the anniversary of Waterloo? What is the use of running deliberately into trouble? Nations do not derange their ideas for us princes.
"Monsieur Hugo! Monsieur Hugo! intelligent princes are very rare. Look at this Pacha of Egypt, who had a bright mind and who abdicates, like Charles V., who, although he was not without genius, committed the same foolish action. Look at this idiotic King of Morocco! What a job to govern amid this mob of bewildered Kings. They won't force me into committing the great mistake of going to war. I am being pushed, but they won't push me over. Listen to this and remember it: the secret of maintaining peace is to look at everything from the good side and at nothing from the bad point of view. Oh! Sir Robert Peel is a singular man to speak so wildly. He does not know all our strength. He does not reflect!
"The Prince of Prussia made a very true remark to my daughter at Brussels last winter: 'What we envy France, is Algeria. Not on account of the territory, but on account of the war. It is a great and rare good fortune for France to have at her doors a war that does not trouble Europe and which is making an army for her. We as yet have only review and parade soldiers. When a collision occurs we shall only have soldiers who have been made by peace. France, thanks to Algiers, will have soldiers made by war.' This is what the Prince of Prussia said, and it was true.
"Meanwhile, we are making children, too. Last month it was my daughter of Nemours, this month it is my daughter of Joinville. She has given me a princess. I would have preferred a prince. But, pish! in view of the fact that they are trying to isolate my house among the royal houses of Europe future alliances must be thought of. Well, my grandchildren will marry among themselves. This little one who was born yesterday will not lack cousins, nor, consequently, a husband."
Here the King laughed, and I rose. He had spoken almost without interruption for an hour and a quarter. I had only said a few words here and there. During this sort of long monologue Madame Adelaide passed as she retired to her apartments. The King said to her: "I will join you directly," and he continued his conversation with me. It was nearly half-past eleven when I quitted the King.
It was during this conversation that the King said to me:
"Have you ever been to England?"
"Well, when you do go--for you will go--you will see how strange it is. It resembles France in nothing. Over there are order, arrangement, symmetry, cleanliness, wellmown lawns, and profound silence in the streets. The passers-by are as serious and mute as spectres. When, being French and alive, you speak in the street, these spectres look back at you and murmur with an inexpressible mixture of gravity and disdain: 'French people!' When I was in London I was walking arm-in-arm with my wife and sister. We were conversing, not in a too loud tone of voice, for we are well-bred persons, you know; yet all the passers-by, bourgeois and men of the people, turned to gaze at us and we could hear them growling behind us: 'French people! French people!'"
September 5, 1844.
The King rose, paced to and fro for a few moments, as though violently agitated, then came and sat beside me and said:
"Look here, you made a remark to Villemain that he repeated to me. You said to him:
"'The trouble between France and England a propos of Tahiti and Pritchard reminds me of a quarrel in a caf» between a couple of sub-lieutenants, one of whom has looked at the other in a way the latter does not like. A duel to the death is the result. But two great nations ought not to act like a couple of musketeers. Besides, in a duel to the death between two nations like England and France, it is civilization that would be slain.'
"This is really what you said, is it not?"
"I was greatly struck by your observation, and this very evening I reproduced it in a letter to a crowned head, for I frequently write all night long. I pass many a night doing over again what others have undone. I do not say anything about it. So far from being grateful to me they would only abuse me for it. Oh! yes, mine is hard work indeed. At my age, with my seventy-one years, I do not get an instant of real repose either by day or by night. I am always unquiet, and how can it be otherwise when I feel that I am the pivot upon which Europe revolves?"
September 6, 1844.
The King said to me yesterday:
"What makes the maintenance of peace so difficult is that there are two things in Europe that Europe detests, France and myself--myself even more than France. I am talking to you in all frankness. They hate me because I am Orleans; they hate me because I am myself. As for France, they dislike her, but would tolerate her in other hands. Napoleon was a burden to them; they overthrew him by egging him on to war of which he was so fond. I am a burden to them; they would like to throw me down by forcing me to break that peace which I love."
Then he covered his eyes with his hands, and leaning his head back upon the cushions of the sofa, remained thus for a space pensive, and as though crushed.
September 6, 1844.
"I only met Robespierre in society once," said the King to me. "It was at a place called Mignot, near Poissy, which still exists. It belonged to a wealthy cloth manufacturer of Louviers, named M. Decr»teau. It was in ninety-one or two. M. Decr»teau one day invited me to dinner at Mignot. I went. When the time came we took our places at table. The other guests were Robespierre and P»tion, but I had never before seen Robespierre. Mirabeau aptly traced his portrait in a word when he said that his face was suggestive of that of 'a cat drinking vinegar.' He was very gloomy, and hardly spoke. When he did let drop a word from time to time, it was uttered sourly and with reluctance. He seemed to be vexed at having come, and because I was there.
"In the middle of the dinner, P»tion, addressing M. Decr»teau, exclaimed: 'My dear host, you must get this buck married!' He pointed to Robespierre.
"'What do you mean, P»tion?' retorted Robespierre.
"'Mean,' said P»tion, 'why, that you must get married. I insist upon marrying you. You are full of sourness, hypochondria, gall, bad humour, biliousness and atrabiliousness I am fearful of all this on our account. What you want is a woman to sweeten this sourness and transform you into an easy-going old fogey.'
"Robespierre tossed his head and tried to smile, but only succeeded in making a grimace. It was the only time," repeated the King, "that I met Robespierre in society. After that I saw him in the tribune of the Convention. He was wearisome to a supreme degree, spoke slowly, heavily and at length, and was more sour, more gloomy, more bitter than ever. It was easy to see that P»tion had not married him."
September 7, 1844.
Said the King to me last Thursday:
"M. Guizot has great qualities and immense defects. (Queerly enough, M. Guizot on Tuesday had made precisely the same remark to me about the King, beginning with the defects.) M. Guizot has in the highest degree, and I esteem him for it profoundly, the courage of his unpopularity among his adversaries; among his friends he lacks it. He does not know how to quarrel momentarily with his partisans, which was Pitt's great art. In the affair of Tahiti, as in that of the right of search, M. Guizot is not afraid of the Opposition, nor of the press, nor of the Radicals, nor of the Carlists, nor of the Legitimists, nor of the hundred thousand howlers in the hundred thousand public squares of France; he is afraid of Jacques Lefebvre. What will Jacques Lefebvre say? And Jacques Lefebvre is afraid of the Twelfth Arrondissement.* What will the Twelfth Arrondissement say? The Twelfth Arrondissement does not like the English: we must stand firm against the English; but it does not like war: we must give way to the English. Stand firm and give way. Reconcile that. The Twelfth Arrondissement governs Jacques Lefebvre, Jacques ]Lefebvre governs Guizot; a little more and the Twelfth Arrondissement will govern France. I say to Guizot: 'What are you afraid of? Have a little pluck. Have an opinion.' But there they all stand, pale and motionless and make no reply. Oh! fear! Monsieur Hugo, it is a strange thing, this fear of the hubbub that will be raised outside! It seizes upon this one, then that one, then that one, and it goes the round of the table. I am not a Minister, but if I were, it seems to me that I should not be afraid. I should see the right and go straight towards it. And what greater aim could there be than civilization through peace?"
* Twelfth District of Paris.
The Duke d'Orleans, a few years ago, recounted to me that during the period which followed immediately upon the revolution of July, the King gave him a seat at his council table. The young Prince took part in the deliberations of the Ministers. One day M. Merilhou, who was Minister of Justice, fell asleep while the King was speaking.
"Chartres," said the King to his son, "wake up Monsieur the Keeper of the Seals."
The Duke d'Orleans obeyed. He was seated next to M. Merilhou, and nudged him gently with his elbow. The Minister was sleeping soundly; the Prince recommenced, but the Minister slept on. Finally the Prince laid his hand upon M. Merilhou's knee. The Minister awoke with a start and exclaimed:
"Leave off, Sophie, you are tickling me!"
This is how the word "subject" came to be eliminated from the preamble of laws and ordinances.
M. Dupont de l'Eure, in 1830, was Minister of Justice. On August 7, the very day the Duke d'Orleans took the oath as King, M. Dupont de l'Eure laid before him a law to sign. The preamble read: "Be it known and decreed to all our subjects," etc. The clerk who was instructed to copy the law, a hot-headed young fellow, objected to the word "subjects," and did not copy it.
The Minister of Justice arrived. The young man was employed in his office.
"Well," said the Minister, "is the copy ready to be taken to the King for signature?"
"No, Monsieur the Minister," replied the clerk.
Explanations. M. Dupont de l'Eure listened, then pinching the young man's ear said, half smilingly, half angrily:
"Nonsense, Monsieur the Republican, you just copy it at once."
The clerk hung his head, like a clerk that he was, and copied it.
M. Dupont, however, laughingly told the King about it. The King did not laugh. Everything appeared to be a serious matter at that time. M. Dupin senior, Minister without a portfolio, had entered the council chamber. He avoided the use of the word and got round the obstacle. He proposed this wording, which was agreed to and has always been used since: "Be it known and decreed to all."
The State carriage of Louis Philippe was a big blue coach drawn by eight horses. The interior was of gold coloured damask. On the doors was the King's monogram surmounted by a crown, and on the panels were royal crowns. The roof was bordered by eight little silver crowns. There was a gigantic coachman on the box and three lackeys behind. All wore silk stockings and the tri-colour livery of the d'Orleans.
The King would enter the carriage first and seat himself in the right hand corner. Then the Duke de Nemours would take his place beside the King. The three other princes would follow and seat themselves, M. de Joinville opposite the King, M. de Montpensier opposite M. de Nemours, and M. d'Aumale in the middle.
The day the King attended Parliament, the grand deputations from both Houses, twelve peers and twenty-five deputies chosen by lot, awaited him on the grand staircase of the Palais Bourbon. As the sessions were nearly always held in winter, it was very cold on the stairs, a biting wind made all these old men shiver, and there are old generals of the Empire who did not die as the result of having been at Austerlitz, at Friedland, at the cemetery at Eylau, at the storming of the grand redoubt at Moskowa and under the fire of the Scottish squares at Waterloo, but of having waited in the cold upon these stairs.
The peers stood to the right and the deputies to the left, leaving the middle of the stairs clear. The staircase was partitioned off with hangings of white drill with blue stripes, which was a poor protection against draughts. Where are the good and magnificent tapestries of Louis XIV.? They were indeed royal; wherefore they were taken down. Drill is a common material and more pleasing to the deputies. It charms and it freezes them.
The Queen arrived first with the princesses, but without the Duchess d'Orleans, who came separately with the Count de Paris. These ladies walked quickly upstairs, bowing to right and left, without speaking, but graciously, followed by a swarm of aides-de-camp and grim turbaned old women whom M. de Joinville called "the Queen's Turks"--Mmes. de Dolokieu, de Chanaleilles, etc.
At the royal session of 1847, the Queen gave her arm to the Duchess de Montpensier. The princess was muffled up on account of the cold. I could see only a big red nose. The three other princesses walked behind, chatting and laughing. M. Anatole de Montesquiou came next in the much worn uniform of a major-general.
The King arrived about five minutes after the Queen; he walked upstairs even more quickly than she had done, followed by the princes running like schoolboys, and bowed to the peers on the right and the deputies on the left. He tarried a moment in the throne-room and exchanged a few greetings with the members of the two deputations. Then he entered the large hall.
The speech from the throne was written on parchment, on both sides of the sheet, and usually filled four pages. The King read it in a firm, well modulated voice.
Marshal Soult was present, resplendent with decorations, sashes, and gold lace, and complaining of his rheumatism. M. Pasquier, the Chancellor, did not put in an appearance. He had excused himself on the plea of the cold and of his eighty years. He had been present the year before. It was the last time.
In 1847 I was a member of the grand deputation. While I strolled about the waiting room, conversing with M. Villemain about Cracow, the Vienna treaties and the frontier of the Rhine, I could hear the buzzing of the groups around me, and scraps of conversation reached my ears.
COUNT DE LAGRANGE.--Ah! here comes the Marshal (Soult).
BARON PEDRE LACAZE.--He is getting old.
VISCOUNT CAVAIGNAC.--Sixty-nine years!
MARQUIS DR RAIGECOURT.--Who is the dean of the Chamber of Peers at present?
DUKE DE TREVISE.--M. de Pontecoulant, is he not?
MARQUIS DE LAPLACE.--NO, President Boyer. He is ninety-two.
PRESIDENT BARTHE.--He is older than that.
BARON D'OBERLIN.--He no longer comes to the Chamber.
M. VIENNET.--They say that M. Rossi is returning from Rome.
DUKE DE FESENZAC.--Well, I pity him for quitting Rome. It is the finest and most amiable city in the world. I hope to end my days there.
COUNT DE MONTALEMBERT.--And Naples!
BARON THENARD.--I prefer Naples.
M. FULCHIRON.--Yes, Naples, that's the place. By the by, I was there when poor Nourrit killed himself. I was staying in the house next to his.
BARON CHARLES DUPIN.--He took his life? It was not an accident?
M. FULCHIRON.--Oh! it was a case of suicide, sure enough. He had been hissed the previous day. He could not stand that. It was in an opera composed expressly for him--"Polyceucte." He threw himself from a height of sixty feet. His voice did not please that particular public. Nourrit was too much accustomed to sing Gl½ck and Mozart. The Neapolitans said of him: "Vecchico canto."
BARON DUPIN.--Poor Nourrit! why did he not wait! Duprez has lost his voice. Eleven years ago Duprez demolished Nourrit; to-day Nourrit would demolish Duprez.
MARQUIS DE BOISSY.--How cold it is on this staircase.
COUNT PHILIPPE DE SEGUR.--It was even colder at the Academy the other day. That poor Dupaty is a good man, but he made a bad speech.
BARON FEUTRIER.--I am trying to warm myself. What a frightful draught! It is enough to drive one away.
BARON CHARLES DUPIN.--M. Fran¡ais de Nantes had conceived this expedient to rid himself of those who came to solicit favours and abridge their solicitations: he was given to receiving people between two doors.
M. Thiers at this time had a veritable court of deputies about him. After the session he walked out in front of me. A gigantic deputy, whose back only I could see, stepped aside, saying: "Make way for historical men!" And the big man let the little man pass.
Historical? May be. In what way?
II. THE DUCHESS D'ORLEANS.
Madame the Duchess d'Orleans is a rare woman, of great wit and common sense. I do not think that she is fully appreciated at the Tuileries. The King, though, holds her in high esteem and often engages in long conversations with her. Frequently he gives her his arm to escort her from the family drawing-room to her apartments. The royal daughters-in-law do not always appear to act as kindly towards her.
February 26, 1844.
Yesterday the Duchess d'Orleans said to me:
"My son is not what one would call an amiable child. He is not one of those pretty little prodigies who are an honour to their mothers, and of whom people say: 'What a clever child! What wit! What grace!' He has a kind heart, I know; he has wit, I believe; but nobody knows and believes this save myself. He is timid, wild, uncommunicative, easily scared. What will he become? I have no idea. Often at his age a child in his position understands that he must make himself agreeable, and, little as he is, sets himself to play his role. Mine hides himself in his mother's skirt and lowers his eyes. But I love him, just as he is. I even prefer him this way. I like a savage better than a comedian."
The Count de Paris has signed the birth certificate of the Princess Fran¡oise de Joinville. It was the first time that the little prince had signed his name. He did not know what was wanted of him, and when the King handed him the certificate and said "Paris, sign your name," the child refused. The Duchess d'Orleans took him on her knee and whispered something to him. Then the child took the pen, and at the dictation of his grandfather wrote upon the certificate L. P. d. O. He made the O much too large and wrote the other letters awkwardly, and was very much embarrassed and shy.
He is charming, though, and adores his mother, but he hardly knows that his name is Louis Philippe d'Orleans. He writes to his comrades, to his tutor, and to his mother, but he signs his little missives "Paris." It is the only name he knows himself by.
This evening the King sent for M. Regnier, the prince's tutor, and gave him orders to teach the Count de Paris to sign his name.
The Count de Paris is of a grave and sweet disposition; he learns well. He is imbued with a natural tenderness, and is kind to those who suffer.
His young cousin of Wurtemberg, who is two months older, is jealous of him; as his mother, the Princess Marie, was jealous of the mother of the Count de Paris. During the lifetime of the Duke d'Orleans little Wurtemberg was long the object of the Queen's preferences, and, in the little court of the corridors and bedchambers, it was the custom to flatter the Queen by comparisons between the one and the other that were always favourable to Wurtemberg. To-day that inequality has ceased. The Queen, by a touching sentiment, inclined towards little Wurtemberg because he had lost his mother; now there is no reason why she should not lean towards the Count de Paris, seeing that he has lost his father.
Little Michel Ney plays with the two princes every Sunday. He is eleven years old, and the son of the Duke d'Elchingen. The other day he said to his mother:
"Wurtemberg is an ambitious fellow. When we play he always wants to be the leader. Besides, he insists upon being called Monseigneur. I don't mind calling him Monseigneur, but I won't let him be leader. One day I invented a game, and I said to him: 'No, Monseigneur, you are not going to be the leader. I will be leader, for I invented the game, and Chabannes will be my lieutenant. You and the Count de Paris will be soldiers.' Paris was willing, but Wurtemberg walked away. He is an ambitious fellow."
Of these young mothers of the Chíteau, apart from the Duchess d'Orleans, Mme. de Joinville is the only one who does not spoil her children. At the Tuileries, everybody, even the King himself, calls her little daughter "Chiquette." The Prince of Joinville calls his wife "Chicarde" since the pierrots' ball, hence "Chiquette." At this pierrots' ball the King exclaimed: "How Chicarde is amusing herself!" The Prince de Joinville danced all the risqu»e dances. Mme. de Montpensier and Mme. LiadÀres were the only ones who were not decolletees. "It is not in good taste," said the Queen. "But it is pretty," observed the King.
III. THE PRINCES.
At the Tuileries the Prince de Joinville passes his time doing all sorts of wild things. One day he turned on all the taps and flooded the apartments. Another day he cut all the bell ropes. A sign that he is bored and does not know what to do with himself.
And what bores these poor princes most is to receive and talk to people ceremoniously. This is almost a daily obligation. They call it--for princes have their slang--"performing the function." The Duke de Montpensier is the only one who performs it gracefully. One day the Duchess d'Orleans asked him the reason. He replied: 'It amuses me."
He is twenty years old, he is beginning.
When the marriage of M. de Montpensier with the Infanta was published, the King of the Belgians was sulky with the Tuileries. He is an Orleans, but he is a Coburg. It was as though his left hand had smitten his right cheek.
The wedding over, while the young couple were making their way from Madrid to Paris, King Leopold arrived at Saint Cloud, where King Louis Philippe was staying. The King of the Belgians wore an air of coldness and severity. Louis Philippe, after dinner, took him aside into a recess of the Queen's drawing-room, and they conversed for fully an hour. Leopold's face preserved its thoughtful and *English* expression. However at the conclusion of the conversation, Louis Philippe said to him:
"He is precisely the man I do not want to see."
"See him," urged the King. "We will resume this conversation when you have done so."
The next day M. Guizot waited upon King Leopold. He had with him an enormous portfolio filled with papers. The King received him. His manner was cold in the extreme. Both were reserved. It is probable that M. Guizot communicated to the King of the Belgians all the documents relative to the marriage and all the diplomatic papers. No one knows what passed between them. What is certain is that when M. Guizot left the King's room Leopold's air was gracious, though sad, and that he was heard to say to the Minister as he took leave of him: "I came here greatly dissatisfied with you. I shall go away satisfied. You have, in fact, in this affair acquired a new title to my esteem and to our gratitude. I intended to scold you; I thank you."
These were the King's own words.
The Prince de Joinville's deafness increases. Sometimes it saddens him, sometimes he makes light of it. One day he said to me: "Speak louder, I am as deaf as a post." On another occasion he bent towards me and said with a laugh:
"~J'abaisse le pavillion de l'oreille.~"
"It is the only one your highness will ever lower," I replied.
M. de Joinville is of somewhat queer disposition. Now he is joyous to the point of folly, anon gloomy as a hypochondriac. He is silent for three days at a time, or his bursts of laughter are heard in the very attics of the Tuileries. When he is on a voyage he rises at four o'clock in the morning, wakes everybody up and performs his duties as a sailor conscientiously. It is as though he were to win his epaulettes afterwards.
He loves France and feels all that touches her. This explains his fits of moodiness. Since he cannot talk as he wants to, he keeps his thoughts to himself, and this sours him, He has spoken more than once, however, and bravely. He was not listened to and he was not heeded. "They needn't talk about me," he said to me one day, "it is they who are deaf!"
Unlike the late Duke d'Orleans, he has no princely coquettishness, which is such a victorious grace, and has no desire to appear agreeable. He rarely seeks to please individuals. He loves the nation, the country, his profession, the sea. His manner is frank, he has a taste for noisy pleasures, a fine appearance, a handsome face, with a kind heart, and a few feats of arms to his credit that have been exaggerated; he is popular.
M. de Nemours is just the contrary. At court they say: "There is something unlucky about the Duke de Nemours."
M. de Montpensier has the good sense to love, to esteem and to honour profoundly the Duchess d'Orleans.
The other day there was a masked and costumed ball, but only for the family and the intimate court circle--the princesses and ladies of honour. M. de Joinville appeared all in rags, in complete Chicard costume. He was extravagantly gay and danced a thousand unheard-of dances. These capers, prohibited elsewhere, rendered the Queen thoughtful. "Wherever did he learn all this?" she asked, and added: "What naughty dances! Fie!" Then she murmured: "How graceful he is!"
Mme. de Joinville was dressed as a bargee and affected the manner of a street gamin. She likes to go to those places that the court detests the most, *the theatres and concerts of the boulevards*.
The other day she greatly shocked Mme. de Hall, the wife of an admiral, who is a Protestant and Puritan, by asking her: "Madame, have you seen the "Closerie des GenÕts"?"
The Prince de Joinville had imagined a nuisance that exasperated the Queen. He procured an old barrel organ somewhere, and would enter her apartments playing it and singing in a hoarse, grating voice. The Queen laughed at first. But it lasted a quarter of an hour, half an hour. "Joinville, stop it!" He continued to grind away. "Joinville, go away!" The prince, driven out of one door, entered by another with his organ, his songs and his hoarseness. Finally the Queen fled to the King's apartments.
The Duchess d'Aumale did not speak French very fluently; but as soon as she began to speak Italian, the Italian of Naples, she thrilled like a fish that falls back into the water, and gesticulated with Neapolitan verve. "Put your hands in your pockets," the Duke d'Aumale would say to her. "I shall have to have your hands tied. Why do you gesticulate like that?"
"I didn't notice it," the princess would reply.
"That is true, she doesn't notice it," said the Prince to me one day. "You wouldn't believe it, but my mother, who is so dignified, so cold, so reserved when she is speaking French, begins gesticulating like Punchinello when by chance she speaks Neapolitan."
The Duke de Montpensier salutes passers-by graciously and gaily. The Duke d'Aumale does not salute more often than he is compelled to; at Neuilly they say he is afraid of ruffling his hair. The Duke de Nemours manifests less eagerness than the Duke de Montpensier and less negligence than the Duke d'Aumale; moreover, women say that when saluting them he looks at them in a most embarrassing way.
Donizetti's "Elixir of Love" was performed at court on February 5, 1847, by the Italian singers, the Persiani, Mario, Tagliafico. Ronconi acted (acted is the word, for he acted very well) the role of Dulcamara, usually represented by Lablache. It was in the matter of size, but not of talent, a giant in the place of a dwarf. The decoration of the theatre at the Tuileries was then still the same as it had been in the time of the Empire--designs in gold on a grey background, the ensemble being cold and pale.
There were few pretty women present. Mme. Cuvillier-Floury was the prettiest; Mme. V. H. the most handsome. The men were in uniform or full evening dress. Two officers of the Empire were conspicuous in their uniforms of that period. Count Dutaillis, a one-armed soldier of the Empire, wore the old uniform of a general of division, embroidered with oak leaves to the facings. The big straight collar reached to his occiput; his star of the Legion of Honour was all dented; his embroidery was rusty and dull. Count de Lagrange, an old beau, wore a white spangled waistcoat, black silk breeches, white, or rather pink, stockings; shoes with buckles on them, a sword at his side, a black dress coat, and a peer's hat with white plumes in it. Count Dutaillis was a greater success than Count de Lagrange. The one recalled Monaco and Trenitz; the other recalled Wagram.
M. Thiers, who the previous day had made a somewhat poor speech, carried opposition to the point of wearing a black cravat.
The Duchess de Montpensier, who had attained her fifteenth birthday eight days before, wore a large crown of diamonds and looked very pretty. M. de Joinville was absent. The three other princes were there in lieutenant-general's uniform with the star and grand cordon of the Legion of Honour. M. de Montpensier alone wore the order of the Golden Fleece.
Mme. Ronconi, a handsome person, but of a wild and savage beauty, was in a small box on the stage, in rear of the proscenium. She attracted much attention.
There was no applause, which chilled the singers and everybody else.
Five minutes before the piece terminated the King began to pack up. He folded his programme and put it in his pocket, then he wiped the glasses of his opera-glass, closed it up carefully, looked round for the case which he had laid on his chair, placed the glass in it and adjusted the hooks very scrupulously. There was a good deal of character in his methodical manner.
M. de Rambuteau was there. His latest "rambutisms" (the word was Alexis de Saint-Priest's) were recounted among the audience. It was said that on the last day of the year M. de Rambuteau wrote on his card: "M. de Rambuteau et Venus," or as a variation: "M. de Rambuteau, Venus en personne."
Wednesday, February 24, the Duke de Nemours gave a concert at the Tuileries. The singers were Mlle. Grisi, Mme. Persiani, a Mme. Corbari, Mario, Lablache and Ronconi. M. Aubert, who conducted, did not put any of his own music on the programme: Rossini, Mozart, and Donizetti, that was all.
The guests arrived at half-past eight. The Duke de Nemours lives on the first floor of the Pavilion de Marsan, over the apartments of the Duchess d'Orleans. The guests waited in a first salon until the doors of the grand salon were opened, the women seated, the men standing. As soon as the prince and princess appeared the doors were thrown wide open and everybody went in. This grand salon is a very fine room. The ceiling is evidently of the time of Louis XIV. The wails are hung with green damask striped with gold. The inner window curtains are of red damask. The furniture is in green and gold damask. The ensemble is royal.
The King and Queen of the Belgians were at this concert. The Duke de Nemours entered with the Queen, his sister, upon his arm, the King giving his arm to the Duchess de Nemours. Mmes. d'Aumale and de Montpensier followed. The Queen of the Belgians resembles the Queen of the French, save in the matter of age. She wore a sky-blue toque, Mme. d'Aumale a wreath of roses, Mme. de Montpensier a diadem of diamonds, Mme. de Nemours her golden hair. The four princesses sat in high-backed chairs opposite the piano; all the other women sat behind them; the men were in the rear, filling the doorway and the first salon. The King of the Belgians has a rather handsome and grave face, and a delicate and agreeable smile; he was seated to the left of the princesses.
The Duke de Brogue sat on his left. Next to the Duke were Count Mole and M. Dupin senior. M. de Salvandy, seeing an empty chair to the right of the King, seated himself upon it. All five wore the red sash, including M. Dupin. These four men about the King of the Belgians represented the old military nobility, the parliamentary aristocracy, the pettifogging bourgeoisie, and moonshine literature; that is to say, a little of what France possesses that is illustrious, and a little of what she possesses that is ridiculous.
MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier were to the right in the recess of a window with the Duke of Wurtemberg, whom they called their "brother Alexander." All the princes wore the grand cordon and star of Leopold in honour of the King of the Belgians; MM. de Nemours and de Montpensier also wore the Golden Fleece. The Fleece of M. de Montpensier was of diamonds, and magnificent.
The Italian singers sang standing by the piano. When seated they occupied chairs with wooden backs.
The Prince de Joinville was absent, as was also his wife. It was said that lately he was the hero of a love affair. M. de Joinville is prodigiously strong. I heard a big lackey behind me say: "I shouldn't care to receive a slap from him." While he was strolling to his rendezvous M. de Joinville thought he noticed that he was being followed. He turned back, went up to the fellow and struck him.
After the first part of the concert MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier came into the other salon where I had taken refuge with Th»ophile Gautier, and we chatted for fully an hour. The two princes spoke to me at length about literary matters, about "Les Burgraves," "Ruy Blas," "LucrÀce Borgia," Mme. Halley, Mlle. Georges, and Fr»d»rick Lemaitre. Also a good deal about Spain, the royal wedding, bull-fights, hand-kissings, and etiquette, that M. de Montpensier "detests." "The Spaniards love royalty," he added, "and especially etiquette. In politics as in religion they are bigots rather than believers. They were greatly shocked during the wedding fetes because the Queen one day dared to venture out afoot!"
MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier are charming young men, bright, gay, gracious, witty, sincere, full of that ease that communicates itself to others. They have a fine air. They are princes; they are perhaps men of intellect. M. de Nemours is embarrassed and embarrassing. When he comes towards you with his blond whiskers, his blue eyes, his red sash, his white waistcoat and his melancholy air he perturbs you. He never looks you in the face. He always casts about for something to say and never knows what he does say.
November 5, 1847.
Four years ago the Duke d'Aumale was in barracks at Courbevoie with the 17th, of which he was then colonel. During the summer, in the morning, after the manoeuvres which took place at Neuilly, he frequently strolled back along the river bank, alone, his hands behind his back. Nearly every day he happened upon a pretty girl named Adele Protat, who every morning went from Courbevoie to Neuilly and returned at the same hour as M. d'Aumale. The young girl noticed the young officer in undress uniform, but was not aware that he was a prince. At length they struck up an acquaintance, and walked and chatted together. Under the influence of the sun, the flowers, and the fine mornings something very much like love sprang up between them. Adele Protat thought she had to do with a captain at the most. He said to her: "Come and see me at Courbevoie." She refused. Feebly.
One evening she was passing near Neuilly in a boat. Two young men were bathing. She recognized her officer.
"There is the Duke d'Aumale," said the boatman.
"Really!" said she, and turned pale.
The next day she had ceased to love him. She had seen him naked, and knew that he was a prince.