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- Memoirs - 1/52 -





I was born at Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, on the 14th of August, 1818. Immediately after my birth, and as soon as the Chancellor of France, M. Dambray, had declared me to be a boy, I was made over to the care of a wet nurse and another attendant. Three years later I passed out of female hands, earlier, somewhat, than is generally the case, for a little accident befell my nurse, in which my eldest brother's tutor, an unfrocked priest, as he was then discovered to be, was also concerned. My earliest memory, and a very hazy one it is, mixed up with some story or other about a parrot, is of having seen my grandmother, the Duchesse d'Orleans-Penthievre, at Ivry. After that I recollect being at the Chateau of Meudon with my great-aunt, the Duchesse de Bourbon, a tiny little woman; and being taken to see the Princesse Louise de Conde at the Temple, and then I remember seeing Talma act in Charles the Bold, and the great impression his gilt cuirass made upon me.

But the first event that really is exceedingly clear in my recollection is a family dinner given by Louis XVIII. at the Tuileries on Twelfth Night, 1824. Even now, sixty-six years after, I can see every detail of that party, as if it had been yesterday. Our arrival in the courtyard of the Tuileries, under the salute of the Swiss Guard at the Pavillon Marsan and the King's Guard at the Pavillon de Flore. Our getting out of the carriage under the porch of the stone staircase to the deafening rattle of the drums of the Cent Suisses. Then my huge astonishment when we had to stand aside halfway up the stairs, to let "La viande du Roi," in other words, his Majesty's dinner, pass by, as it was being carried up from the kitchen to the first floor, escorted by his bodyguard.

At the head of the stairs we were received by a red-coated Steward of the Household, who, as I was told, bore the name of de Cosse, and, crossing the Salle des Gardes, we were ushered into the drawing-room, where the whole family soon assembled: to wit, Monsieur, who afterwards became Charles X., the Duc and Duchesse d'Angouleme, the Duchesse de Berri, my father and mother, my aunt Adelaide, my two elder brothers, Chartres and Nemours, my three sisters, Louise, Marie, and Clementine, and last and youngest of all, myself. There was only one person present who did not belong to the Royal House of France, and that was the Prince de Carignan, afterwards known as Charles Albert, a tall, thin, severe- looking person. He had just served in the ranks of the French army, with all the proverbial valour of his race, through the Spanish campaign of 1823, and he wore on his uniform that evening the worsted epaulettes given him on the field of battle by the men of the 4th Regiment of the Guard, with whom he had fought in the assault on the Trocadero. Presently the door of the King's study opened, and Louis XVIII. appeared, in his wheeled chair, with that handsome white head and in the blue uniform with epaulettes which the pictures of him have rendered so familiar. He kissed each of us in our turn, without speaking to any of us except my brother Nemours, whom he questioned about his Latin lessons. Nemours began to stammer, and was only saved from disgrace by the opportune entrance of the Prince de Carignan.

At dinner the Twelfth Night customs were duly observed, and when I broke my cake I found the bean within it. I must confess the fact had not been altogether unforeseen, and my mother had consequently primed me as to my behaviour. This did not prevent me from feeling heartily shy when I saw every eye fixed on me. I got up from the table, and carried the bean on a salver to the Duchesse d'Angouleme. I loved her dearly even then, that good kind Duchess! for she had always been so good to us, ever since we were babies, and never failed to give us the most beautiful New Year's gifts. My respectful affection deepened as I grew old enough to realize her sorrows and the nobility of her nature, and I was always glad, after we were separated by the events of 1830, to take every opportunity of letting her know how unalterable my feelings for her were. She broke the ice by being the first to raise her glass to her lips, when I had made her my queen, and Louis XVIII. was the first to exclaim, "The Queen drinks." A few months later the king was dead, and I watched his funeral procession from the windows of the Fire Brigade Station in the Rue de la Paix, as it passed on its way to Saint-Denis.

Then came the echo of the excitement caused by the coronation of Charles X., that great ceremonial of which the Cathedral of Rheims was the scene, and which, coming as it did after all the horrors of the Revolution, gave rise to the sanguine hope that the ancient monarchy would repair every disaster now, just as it had in the time of Charles VII. But our childish ideas were not of so far-reaching a nature. It was the splendour displayed that interested us--the dresses, the carriages, and so on, of the princes and ambassadors who came from all parts of the world to greet the opening of the new monarch's reign. Numbers of artists solicited my father's permission to do his portrait, in the gold and ermine robes of a prince of the blood which he wore at the coronation, and our pet amusement at the time was to go and see papa "sitting as Pharamond." I said Pharamond, like my elders, although my own historical knowledge was of the most elementary description. To be frank, I was exceedingly backward, and have always remained so. My mother had taught me to read, but beyond that I had reached the age of six knowing nothing or hardly anything. But I was a very good rider and went out alone on a pony Lord Bristol had given my father, which I rode boldly, and I might even say recklessly. The pony's name was Polynice. He and I understood each other perfectly, and I was his friend to the last. I took care he should end his days in the park at St. Cloud, where he roamed in freedom, with a stable of his own to retire into if the fancy took him. Often and often I have been to see him, in that same stable, which he ended by never leaving except to come and greet us, and warm himself in the sunshine. He died, there, fortunately for himself, full of years, just before the pleasant revolutionary occurrences of 1848, in which he would certainly have had his share. But my father desired me to be something more than a mere horseman. He got me a tutor, and from that day out, for several years, my recollections are divided, to the exclusion of everything else, between my education and my life with my family. My tutor was called M. Trognon, and his name brought many

[Illustration: Looks a little like a courtroom unfortunately without a caption.]

a jest upon him, amongst others a line of Victor Hugo's in Ruy Bias about that

Affreuse compagnonne, Dont la barbe fleurit et dont le nez trognonne.

"Fleurit" was an allusion to Cuvillier-Fleury, my brother Aumale's tutor, and Victor Hugo thought he owed both the gentlemen a grudge. M. Trognon, a distinguished pupil of the Ecole Normale, had begun his teaching career as professor of rhetoric at the college at Langres, where, coming in one day to take his class, he found his desk occupied by a donkey, which his pupils had established in his seat "Gentlemen," he said as he went out, "I leave you with a professor who is worthy of you." Soon after, he was recalled to Paris, as assistant to M. Guizot in his courses of historical lectures at the College of France.

He was not only an accomplished university man, but something else besides, as we learnt from a copy of the Figaro, which our eldest brother brought back from college. In this newspaper we read, in fact, a set of verses by Baour-Lormian, beginning thus:--

Que me veut ce Trognon, pedagogue en besicles, Dans la fosse du Globe enterrant ses articles!

There was no doubt about it. My tutor was a journalist, and these lines a revengeful answer to an article of his in the Globe, a newspaper which, as we soon learnt, he had founded in concert with Pierre Leroux, Dubois, Jouffroy, Remusat, and some others. We discovered too that our journalist was a freethinker as well, and author of a thick octavo book which had been condemned by the Index at Rome, a fact which did not prevent his dying in the most religious frame of mind possible, well nigh in the odour of sanctity. My tutor was, in truth, of too lofty an intelligence to persevere long in that religious nihilism, that denial of the existence of a future state, which, spreading from religion to family life, and from thence again to the affairs of the State, ends by leaving nothing standing but animal man and his animal passions and appetites. The long death-struggle of a passionately loved sister, who was supported by the constant ministrations of the Bishop of Beauvais, M. Feutrier, and her calm end, of which he was an eyewitness, began the change within him. When, in later years, the Abbe Dupanloup, then Vicar of the Church of the Assumption, was charged with the care of my religious education, he and Trognon became very intimate, and death alone interrupted the close communion then established between these two great minds.

The first years of my education were very happy. Anything dry about it was liberally compensated for by the constant intimacy of the family circle. We were three sisters and six brothers (this last number soon reduced to five by the death of my brother Penthievre), all living together, eating together, often doing lessons together, together always in all games and pleasure parties and excursions. What a joyous band we were may easily be guessed. Each boy had his own tutor, and two governesses were in charge of my sisters. So long as tutors and governesses only had to deal with their own pupils, all went well, but when the brothers and sisters were all together, and influenced by the spirit of insubordination and love of playing pranks which the elder ones brought back from school, we made life hard and sour to the preceptorial body. But they got on, somehow. The GRANDSPARENTS, as we called our parents, taken up as they were by their social engagements, left all initiative to the tutors. Each of these was only expected to enter daily in a book his report and opinion of the pupil committed to his care. This book was seen by my father, and he added his own remarks and orders, and then returned it.

Our day generally began at five o'clock in the morning. The elder ones went to school to attend their classes, took their meals and played with the boarders, and came home after evening school. The boys who were not at school and the girls spent the day doing their lessons. In the evening, pupils and teachers of both sexes all dined together, and then went to the drawing-room, where there was always company, for my parents received every evening. Thursdays and Sundays, which were school holidays, were given up specially to lessons in what were known as accomplishments: drawing, music, physical exercises, riding, fencing, singlestick, dancing, &c. On Sundays, every one, great and small, dined at "THE GREAT TABLE," and this life of ours was as regular as clockwork summer and winter alike.

In winter time we lived in the Palais-Royal, which then was not at all

Memoirs - 1/52

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