Louis Philippe - John S. C. Abbott

The Struggles of Diplomacy


Upon the sudden overthrow of the throne of Charles X. by a revolution in the streets of Paris, four parties appeared, struggling for the crown. Charles, as he fled with his court in terror from France, threw back a decree of abdication in favor of his grandson, the Count de Chambord, then entitled the Duke de Bordeaux. This child, who still lives, was then about ten years old. The birth of this child, whom the Legitimists call Henry V., and whom they regard as the legitimate heir to the ancient throne of the Bourbons, was hailed with rejoicing throughout France.

It is recorded that quite a dramatic scene occurred at his birth. His grandfather, Charles X., hastened to the chamber, and, seizing the new-born babe in his arms, exclaimed, with delight, "Here is a fine Duke de Bordeaux! He is born for us all!" He then gave the child a few drops of the wine of Pau, with which tradition says that the aged father of Jeanne d'Albret anointed the lips of her child, Henry IV., before the babe was allowed to place his mouth to his mother's breast.

The heroic mother of the young duke, the Duchess de Berri, whose subsequent fate was so deplorable, said to the king, the father of her departed husband, "Sire, I wish I knew the song of Jeanne d'Albret, that every thing might be done here as at the birth of Henry IV."

The advocates of the ancient regime, the Legitimist party, many of them illustrious in rank and intellect, rallied around the banner of young Henry, the Duke of Bordeaux. They probably had the sympathies of those European dynasties which, by force of arms, had replaced the Bourbons upon that throne of France from which the Revolution of 1789 had expelled them. In accordance with the decree of abdication which Charles X. had issued, the Legitimists wished the young Duke of Bordeaux to be recognized as sovereign, with the title of Henry V,; and the Duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe, to be accepted as regent, during the minority of the child.

Next came the Republican party, formidable in physical strength, in Paris and in other cities. The Republicans had roused the masses, filling the streets with a hundred thousand armed workmen; they had inspired the conflict, demolished the throne, achieved the revolution; but they had no leader capable of organizing and controlling the tumultuous populace. The moneyed men, remembering the Reign of Terror, were afraid of them. All through the rural districts, the peasantry, influenced by the priests, could not endure the idea of a republic.

The bankers in Paris, the moneyed class, men of large resources and influence, were the leaders of the third, or Orleans party, so called. These men were opposed to the aristocracy of rank, but were in favor of the aristocracy of wealth. They had ample means and very able leaders. They wished for a constitutional monarchy, modelled after the aristocratic institutions of England. They would place upon the throne the Duke of Orleans, a Bourbon, one of the richest nobles in Europe. He would be the legitimate heir to the throne should the young Duke of Bordeaux die. The Duke of Orleans, with his vast wealth, would be the fitting representative of the moneyed class. The Orleanists could very effectually appeal to the moderate men of the Legitimist and Republican parties in favor of a compromise in the interest of the Duke of Orleans. To the first they said:

"Unless you accept the Duke of Orleans, there is danger that the Republicans will gain the ascendency, and then our time-honored monarchy will be overthrown." To the Republicans they said: "Unless you consent to this compromise, which gives us a constitutional monarchy, under a citizen king, there is danger that another coalition of the powers of Europe will inundate France, and, after years of blood and woe, the old regime of the Bourbons will be again forced upon us."

In speaking to the Republicans, they emphasized the declaration that Louis Philippe would be a citizen king. When speaking to the Legitimists, they laid stress upon the fact that the Duke of Orleans would be the legitimate sovereign, should the frail child die who alone stood between him and the throne.

There was a fourth party—the Imperial or Napoleonist. It existed then in rather a latent state, though in a condition to be roused, as subsequent events proved, to marvellous life by an electric touch. The renown of the great emperor filled the land. The memorials of his reign were everywhere. He was enthroned in the hearts of the French people, as monarch was never enthroned before. But the Bourbons had taken especial care to banish from France every one who bore his name, and to obliterate, as far as possible, every memorial of his wonderful reign. The revolution had burst upon Paris with almost the suddenness of the lightning's flash. There was no one there who could speak in behalf of the descendants of him who had so lately filled the world with his renown, and who was still enshrined, with almost idolatrous worship, in so many hearts.

From the above it will be perceived that the chances were greatly in favor of the Orleans party. Louis Philippe was placed in perhaps as embarrassing and painful a position as man ever occupied. He was far advanced in life, with property amounting, it is said, to about one hundred millions of dollars. Revolutionary storms had, at one time, driven him into the extreme of poverty. He had experienced the severest sufferings of persecution and exile. Now, in his declining years, happy amidst the splendors of the Palais Royal, and in his magnificent retreat at Neuilly, he was anxious for repose.

Should he allow himself to be placed at the head of the obnoxious, utterly-defeated Legitimist party, as regent during the minority of the Duke of Bordeaux? It was scarcely possible that he could maintain his position. Republicans, Orleanists, and Imperialists, all would combine against him. The army could not be relied upon to sustain him. Ruin seemed inevitable—not only the confiscation of his property, but probably also the loss of his head.

Should he allow himself to be made king by the bankers in Paris? He would be an usurper; false to his own principles of legitimacy, to those principles which had brought him into sympathy with the allied dynasties of Europe in those long and bloody wars by which they had forced rejected legitimacy back upon France.

The little Duke of Bordeaux and his grandfather, Charles X., were his near blood relatives. He had received from the royal family great favors—the restoration of his vast domains. He would be morally guilty of the greatest ingratitude in assuming the attitude of their antagonist, interposing himself between the lawful heir and the crown. Should he stand aloof from these agitations, and take no part in the movement of affairs, then anarchy or a Republic seemed the inevitable result. In either case, he, as a rich Bourbon, with an amount of wealth which endangered the state, would be driven from France and his property confiscated.

But affairs pressed. Scarcely a moment could be allowed for deliberation. The crisis demanded prompt and decisive action. The embarrassment of the duke is painfully conspicuous in the interviews which ensued. Anxiously he paced the floor of his library at Neuilly, bewildered and vacillating.

There was a rich banker at Paris by the name of Lafitte. He called a meeting at his house, of Guizot, Thiers, and other leading journalists. There they decided to unite upon the Duke of Orleans, and to combine immediately, without a moment's delay, all possible influences in Paris, to place the sceptre of power in his hands, before the dreaded Republicans should have the opportunity to grasp it. It was the 30th of July, the last of the three days' conflict. The thunders of the battle had scarcely ceased to echo through the streets of the metropolis.

Baron Glandeves, governor of the Tuileries, and of course a warm partisan of Charles X., who had probably heard a rumor of this meeting, called upon M. Lafitte, and the following conversation is reported as having taken place between them:

"Sir," said the baron to the banker, "you have now been master of Paris for twenty-four hours. Do you wish to save the monarchy?"

"Which monarchy?" inquired Lafitte, "the monarchy of 1789, or the constitutional monarchy of 1814?"

"The constitutional monarchy," the baron replied.

"To save it," rejoined Lafitte, "only one course remains; and that is to crown the Duke of Orleans."

"The Duke of Orleans!" exclaimed the baron, "what are his titles to the crown? That boy, the son of Napoleon, whom Vienna has educated, can at least invoke the memory of his father's glory. It must be admitted that Napoleon has written his annals in characters of fire upon the minds of men. But the Duke of Orleans—what prestige surrounds him? What has he done? How many of the people know his history, or have even heard his name?"

"In the fact of his want of renown," replied the banker, "I see a recommendation. Having no influence over the imagination, he will be the less able to break away from the restraints of a constitutional monarch. His private life is irreproachable. He has respected himself in his wife, and has caused himself to be revered and loved by his children."

"Mere domestic virtues," rejoined M. Glandeves, "are not to be recompensed by a crown. Are you ignorant that he is accused of approving of the vote of his father for the death of Louis XVI.; that in our dark days he associated himself with projects to exclude forever from the throne the legitimate heirs; that during the Hundred Days he preserved a mysterious inaction; that, since 1815, while pretending to be the humble servant of the court, he has been the secret fomenter of all intrigues? Louis XVIII. restored to him his vast estates. Charles X., by a personal request to the Chambers, secured them to him, by legal and irrefragable rights, and conferred upon him the title of royal highness, which he so long coveted. How can he now, thus burdened with kindnesses from the elder branch of the Bourbons, seize upon their inheritance?"

"It is not for the personal interest of the duke," replied M. Lafitte, "that we wish to place him upon the throne, but for the salvation of the country. This alone can save us from anarchy, which otherwise seems inevitable. I do not ask whether the situation of the Duke of Orleans is painful to his feelings, but simply whether his accession to the throne is desirable for France. What prince is more liberal in his political sentiments, or more free from those prejudices which have ruined Charles X.? And where can we find any candidate for the throne who combines so many advantages? And what course can you propose preferable to that of placing the crown on his head?"

"If you believe Charles X. guilty," rejoined the baron, "at least you will admit that the Duke de Bordeaux is innocent. Let us preserve the crown for him. He will be trained up in good principles. Does Lafayette very sincerely desire a Republic?"

"He would wish for it," Lafitte replied, "if he were not afraid of too searching a convulsion."

"Well, then," said the baron, "let a council of regency be established. You would take part in it with Lafayette."

M. Lafitte replied, "Yesterday that might have been possible; and, had the Duchess de Berri—separating her cause from that of the old king—presented herself, with her young son, holding a tri-color in her hand—"

"A tri-color!" exclaimed the baron, in astonishment, interrupting him—"A tri-color! Why, it is, in their eyes, the symbol of every crime. Rather than adopt it, they would suffer themselves to be brayed in a mortar."

"Under these circumstances," inquired Lafitte, "what is it you have to propose to me?"

The prompt reply was, "Respect the divine right of the Duke of Bordeaux—proclaim him sovereign, as Henry V.—intrust the regency, during his minority, to the Duke of Orleans."

This was the plan of the Legitimists. Talleyrand also cherished the same view. The Republicans were by no means inclined to enthrone another Bourbon in the place of Charles X. When M. Thiers and M. Mignet, with others from the office of the Nationale, appeared among the crowd distributing printed slips of paper eulogizing the Duke of Orleans, they were received with hisses. When it was announced to the combatants of the Passage Dauphin that there was a plot concocting to raise the Duke of Orleans to the throne, there was one unanimous burst of rage, with the simultaneous exclamation, "If that be the case, the battle is to be begun again, and we will go and cast fresh balls. No more Bourbons: we will have none of them." M. Leroux, who had witnessed this scene, hurried to the Hotel de Ville to warn Lafayette of the danger. He assured Lafayette that the Republican spirit which Lafayette had evoked now menaced Paris and France with anarchy, and that the attempt to place another Bourbon on the throne would be the signal of a new and terrible conflict.

Lafayette—who was seated in a large armchair—seemed, for a moment, stunned and speechless. A messenger came in to inform him that the Duke of Chartres—the eldest son of the Duke of Orleans—had been taken captive, and that a riotous band was surging through the streets shouting, "A prince is taken! Let us go and shoot him!" Almost by miracle the young duke escaped death.

The peril of anarchy was hourly increasing. There was not a moment to be lost in organizing, if possible, some stable government. The millions in the rural districts would not accept a Republic organized by the populace in Paris. The men of property, and the friends of order generally, thought that their only chance of averting confusion and ruin was to rally in support of the Orleans dynasty. Thus the Orleans party rapidly increased among the more wealthy and reputable portion of the citizens. The leading journals espoused their cause. Nearly all the journals, trembling in view of the threatening anarchy, earnestly rallied around that banner. Beranger, the most popular poet in France—notwithstanding his profound admiration of Napoleon, which was breathed forth in so many of his soul-stirring songs—gave the Orleanists the aid of his all-powerful pen.

The following proclamation in favor of the Duke of Orleans was issued:

"Charles X. can never return to Paris; he has shed the blood of the people. A Republic would expose us to horrible divisions; it would involve us in hostilities with Europe. The Duke of Orleans is a prince devoted to the cause of the Revolution. The Duke of Orleans has never fought against us. The Duke of Orleans was at Jemappes. The Duke of Orleans is a citizen king. The Duke of Orleans has carried the tri-color flag under the enemy's fire. The Duke of Orleans can alone carry it again. We will have no other flag. The Duke of Orleans does not declare himself. He waits for the expression of our wishes. Let us proclaim those wishes and he will accept the charter, as we have always understood and desired it. It is from the French people he will hold the crown."

"This proclamation," says Louis Blanc, "was drawn up with great art. It repeated the name of the Duke of Orleans again and again, in order that this name, little known to the people, might nevertheless be deeply imprinted on its memory. By talking of the tri-color flag and Jemappes to a multitude who troubled themselves little about political forms, it engaged, on behalf of the elect of the bourgeoisie, that national feeling that had been exalted to so high a pitch by the victories of the Republic and the Empire, Lastly, it invoked the sovereignty of the people, the better to destroy it—an old trick of courage-lacking ambition."

The above proclamation was placarded throughout Paris, and was simultaneously published in the three leading journals, the Nationale, the Courier Francais, and the Commerce, which were severally edited by the distinguished journalists, Thiers, Mignet, and Larequy. Another renowned editor, M. Carrel, was dispatched to Rouen, to gain that important city to the Orleans cause.

In the mean time, the Legitimists, headed by Chateaubriand and Talleyrand, were not idle. These men were not merely ambitious partisans. It can not be doubted that they believed that the interests of France would be best promoted by respecting the rights of the Duke of Bordeaux, under the lieutenant-generalship of the Duke of Orleans.

The successful insurrectionists, composed mainly of the Republican and Democratic parties in Paris, had their head-quarters at the Hotel de Ville. Here they hastily organized what they called a Provisional Government. General Lafayette presided over their deliberations. The embarrassment of affairs was such, that the illustrious marquis was in a state of cruel anxiety. In principle he was a Republican. And yet he could see no possibility of evolving a stable Republic from the chaos into which the political world was then plunged. After much deliberation, the Republican leaders at the Hotel de Ville sent General Dubourg, as a commissioner, to the Orleanists assembled at M. Lafitte's, to confer respecting a compromise and union of parties. But already the Orleanists felt so strong that they refused even to admit him to their presence.

The Orleanists were very anxious, from fear that the Duke of Orleans might accede to the proposition of the Legitimists, and proclaim the Duke of Bordeaux king, and himself, in accordance with the decree of Charles X., lieutenant-general of France, and regent during the minority of the duke. This would be in accordance with the forms of law, and the only legal course. Such a step would give the Legitimists immense vantage-ground, from which they could only be driven by another bloody conflict.

To guard against this peril, it was decided to send a delegation, consisting of M. Thiers, M. Scheffer, and M. Sebastiani, to the rural chateau of Louis Philippe, at Neuilly, which was but a short distance from Paris, to offer to him the crown. Should he refuse it, they were directed to arrest him and convey him to a place of safety, and hold him in close custody. Louis Blanc, in his "Dix Ans de Louis Philippe," has given a minute account of this interview. It would seem that Louis Philippe, in an agony of suspense, though informed of the approach of the delegation, was not prepared to meet them. To avoid the interview, he fled to Rancy, leaving his wife and sister behind him.

The Duchess of Orleans received the gentlemen. Pale and trembling, she listened to the offer of a crown to her husband. Then with extreme emotion she replied to M. Scheffer, the speaker of the party:

"How could you undertake such a mission? That M. Thiers should have charged himself with it, I can understand. He little knew us. But that you, who have been admitted to our intimacy—who knew us so well—ah! we can never forgive it."

Just then Louis Philippe's sister, Madame Adelaide, followed by Madame de Montjoie, entered the room. Fully comprehending the object of the mission, and the dangers which surrounded them, Madame Adelaide said,

"Let them make my brother a president, a commander of the National Guard, any thing, so that they do not make him a proscribed."

"Madame," responded M. Thiers, "it is a throne which we come to offer him."

"But what," rejoined the princess, "will Europe think? Shall he seat himself on the throne from which Louis XVI. descended to mount the scaffold? What a panic will it strike in all royal houses! The peace of the world will be endangered."

"These apprehensions, madame," M. Thiers replied, "are natural, but they are not well-founded. England, full of the recollection of the banished Stuarts, will applaud an event of which her history furnishes an example and a model. As to the absolute monarchies, far from reproaching the Duke of Orleans for fixing on his head a crown floating on the storm, they will approve a step which will render his elevation a barrier against the unchained passions of the multitude. There is something great and worth saving in France. And if it be too late for legitimacy, it is not for a constitutional throne. After all, there remains to the Duke of Orleans only a choice of danger. In the present posture of affairs, to fly from the possible dangers of royalty is to face a Republic and its inevitable tempests."

These forcible words of the sagacious statesman produced a deep impression upon the strong and well-balanced mind of Madame Adelaide. She was fully capable of appreciating all their import. She gave virtual assent to them by saying, "I am a child of Paris: I am willing to intrust myself to the Parisians." It was decided to send immediately for the duke. A messenger soon reached him, and he set out on horseback, accompanied by M. Montesquiou, for Paris. Still his irresolution, timidity, and bewilderment were so great that, before reaching the city, his heart misgave him, and, turning his horse, he galloped with the utmost speed back to Rancy. Alison, in depicting these scenes, says, with a severity which our readers will probably think that the recorded facts scarcely warrant,

"He had neither courage enough to seize the crown which was offered to him, nor virtue enough to refuse it. He would gladly have declined the crown if he had been sure of retaining his estates. The most powerful argument for accepting it was, that by so doing he could save his property."

The strange crisis of affairs was such that, while the population of France was over thirty millions, a few bankers in Paris, without consulting the voice of the people, were about to impose upon them a government and a king; and it must be admitted that the peril of the nation was such that many of the purest and noblest men approved of these measures. The majority of the members of the Chamber of Deputies were gained over to this cause; and even the members of the House of Peers were so overawed by the menacing aspect of the excited populace, that they were disposed to fall in with the movement.

The deputies were assembled at the Hotel Bourbon, waiting to receive the report of the delegation which had been sent to offer the crown to Louis Philippe. It is said that there was but one man, M. Hyde de Neuville, who occupied the benches reserved for the advocates of the old royalty. There were probably, however, others in favor of the Duke of Bordeaux, who absented themselves. While thus in session, the rumor came that a body of royalist troops from Rouen were marching upon Paris, and that their cannon were already planted upon the heights of Montmartre, which commanded the city. In the midst of the consternation which this communication created, the deputies returned from Neuilly, with a report of their favorable reception by the family of Louis Philippe.

Immediately, though with some dissenting voices, the following resolution was adopted, and transmitted to the Duke of Orleans:

"The deputies in Paris deem it essential to implore his royal highness the Duke of Orleans to repair immediately to Paris, to exercise the functions of lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and also to resume, in accordance with the universal wish, the tri-color flag."

Meanwhile the peers had met in their hall, in the palace of the Luxembourg. Chateaubriand was then in the plenitude of his renown as a writer, an orator, a statesman. Crowds of young men, in admiration of his genius, were ready enthusiastically to follow his leading. This distinguished man fully realized the true state of affairs—the difficulties involved in whatever course they should attempt to pursue. For some time he sat apart, silent and melancholy, apparently in gloomy thought. Suddenly he rose, and, in deliberate, solemn tones, said:

"Let us protest in favor of the ancient monarchy. If needs be, let us leave Paris. But wherever we may be driven, let us save the king, and surrender ourselves to the trust of a courageous fidelity. If the question come to the salvation of legitimacy, give me a pen and two months, and I will restore the throne."

Scarcely had he concluded these bold, proud words, when a delegation presented itself from the Chamber of Deputies, soliciting the co-operation of the peers in placing the crown upon the brow of the Duke of Orleans. It was soon manifest that but few of the peers were prepared to surrender themselves to martyrdom by following the courageous but desperate councils of Chateaubriand.

The ultra democratic party, dissatisfied with the moderate tone assumed by Lafayette and his associates at the Hotel de Ville, formed a new organization at a hall in the Rue St. Honore. They were bold, determined men, ready to adopt the most audacious resolutions, and to shed their blood like water, in street fights, to maintain them. They were numerous, and with nervous gripe held the arms they had seized; but they had no commander. There was not a man in their ranks who could secure the support of a respectable party throughout France. They had no pecuniary resources—they consisted merely of a tumultuous band of successful insurrectionists, with no one of sufficient character and prominence upon whom even they could unite to recognize as their leader. The eloquent and universally popular Beranger, advocating in all his glowing verse the rights of the people, with other agents of the Orleans cause, repaired to this democratic gathering, to win them over, if possible, to their side. Angrily the Democrats rejected all such propositions. A ferocious debate ensued, which was terminated by a pistol-shot from an enraged opponent, which wounded an Orleanist orator severely in the cheek. It was no longer safe, in that presence, to urge the claims of Louis Philippe. His advocates, as speedily as possible, left the hall.

The Democrats, as this wing of the Republican party may be called, who had broken from their more moderate brethren, who were assembled, under the presidency of Lafayette, at the Hotel de Ville, thus left to themselves, sent a deputation to that body, with the following well-expressed remonstrance against organizing a government without consulting the voice of the French people:

"The people yesterday reconquered their rights at the expense of their blood. The most precious of their rights is that of choosing their form of government. Till this is done, no proclamation should be issued announcing any form of government as adopted. A provisional representation of the nation exists: let it continue till the wishes of the majority of Frenchmen are known."

The spacious Place de Greve, in front of the Hotel de Ville, was crowded with an excited, surging, tumultuous mass, anxiously awaiting the issues of each passing hour. The democratic delegation elbowed their way through the crowd, and were courteously received by Lafayette, in behalf of the Provisional Government. As Lafayette was addressing them, a gentleman entered, M. Sussy, a commissioner from the fugitive king, Charles X., with a proclamation which Charles had issued, hoping to conciliate the enraged people by revoking the ordinances which had roused them to insurrection, dismissing the obnoxious ministers who had recommended those ordinances, and appointing a new cabinet of more popular men.

It was too late for compromise. The same proclamation had been sent to the deputies, but they refused to receive it. Upon the announcement of the mission of M. Sussy, the indignant cry arose from the Republicans, "No! no! away with him: we will have nothing more to do with the Bourbons." So great was the fury excited that it was with difficulty that a brawny Republican, M. Bastide, was prevented from throwing M. Sussy out of the window. By the interposition of Lafayette, he was withdrawn, in the midst of a frightful tumult, to another room. Under the influence of the hostile feelings thus aroused, a series of resolutions were passed, declaring that France would have no more of royalty—that the representatives of the people alone should make the laws, to be executed only by a temporary president.

It will be seen that these resolutions were in direct opposition to the views of those who wished to re-erect the monarchy and to place Louis Philippe upon the throne. But these resolutions were passionately adopted, by the most radical portion of the party, in the midst of a scene of the wildest tumult. They were by no means unanimously accepted. The more moderate of the Republicans, with Lafayette at their head, in view of the agitation hourly augmenting in the streets, in view of the insuperable difficulties, obvious to every well-informed man, of establishing a stable Republic in a realm where a large majority of the population were opposed to a Republic, and trembling in view of the anarchy with which all France was menaced, and conscious that a Republic would excite the hostility of every surrounding throne—were already strongly inclined to effect a union with the Orleans party, under a constitutional monarchy.

In various parts of the city there were excited gatherings, adopting all sorts of revolutionary resolutions, and sending delegations to the Hotel de Ville with instructions, petitions, and threats. The students of the Polytechnic School—who had distinguished themselves in the bloodiest scenes of the street-fight with the troops of Charles X.—sent a committee to the Hotel de Ville with a military order, to which they demanded an official signature. The appropriate officer, M. Lobau, refused to sign it. "You recoil, do you?" said the determined young man who presented the ordinance. "Nothing is so dangerous, in revolutions, as to recoil: I will order you to be shot!"

"To be shot!" was the indignant reply. "Shoot a member of the Provisional Government!"

The young man drew him to the window, pointed to a well-armed band of a hundred men, who had fought desperately the day before: "There," said he, "are men who would shoot God Almighty, were I to order them to do so." The order was signed in silence.

Such occurrences gave new impulse to the inclinations of Lafayette and the more moderate of the Republican party towards the Orleanists, who were deliberating in the salons of M. Lafitte. Charles X., who had fled from St. Cloud with his family and with some of the most devoted of his followers, while these scenes were transpiring, was still in France, at but a few leagues from Paris, at the head of twelve thousand veteran troops. Should the Duke of Orleans escape and join him, and rally the rural portion of the people in defense of Legitimacy, and in support of the Duke of Bordeaux, results might ensue appalling to the boldest imagination. As hour after hour passed away, and the duke did not appear in Paris, the anxiety in the crowded salons of M. Lafitte was terrible. Orleanists and Republicans were alike imperilled. The re-establishment of the old regime would inevitably consign the leaders of both these parties, as traitors, to the scaffold. Democratic cries were resounding, more and more loudly, through the streets. Power was fast passing into the hands of the mob. Should the Duke of Orleans fail his party, there was no one else around whom they could rally, and their disastrous defeat was inevitable.

The hours were fast darkening into despair. Messengers were anxiously sent to the Palais Royal, the sumptuous city residence of the duke, to ascertain if he had arrived. No tidings could be heard from him. The domestics seemed to be packing up the valuables in preparation for removal. The utter failure of Beranger and his associates to gain the co-operation of the Democrats was reported. The decisive resolution adopted at the Hotel de Ville was known. All seemed lost. There was nothing before the eye but a frightful vision of anarchy and bloodshed. A general panic seized all those assembled in the apartments of Lafitte, and there was a sudden dispersion. It was near midnight; but three persons were left—Lafitte, Adolphe Thibodeaux, and Benjamin Constant. A few moments of anxious conversation ensued.

"What will become of us to-morrow?" sadly inquired Lafitte.

"We shall all be hanged," replied Benjamin Constant, in the calm aspect of despair.

In this crisis of affairs, matters threatened to become still more involved by two energetic young men, M. Ladvocat and M. Dumoulin, who proposed to bring forward the claims of the Empire. The name of Napoleon then pronounced in the streets, and the unfurling of the eagle-crowned banner under any recognized representative of his renown, would, perhaps, have called a party into being which would instantly have overridden all others. This peril was adroitly averted by the sagacity of M. Thiers and M. Mignet. By their powerful persuasion they induced M. Ladvocat to desist from the attempt The other young man, who was found inflexible in his resolve, they lured into a room in the Hotel de Ville, where they caused him to be arrested and imprisoned.

In the following terms Louis Blanc describes this singular event:

"While every one was seeking to realize his wishes, a few voices only were heard uttering the name of the emperor in a city that had so long echoed to that sound. Two men without influence, military reputation, or celebrity of any kind, MM. Ladvocat and Dumoulin, conceived, for a while, the idea of proclaiming the Empire. M. Thiers easily persuaded one of them that fortune gives herself to him who hastens to seize her. The other appeared, dressed as an orderly-officer, in the great hall of the Hotel de Ville. But, being politely requested by M. Carbonel to pass into an adjoining room, he was there locked up and kept prisoner.

"This is one of those curiosities of history the key of which is found in the grovelling nature of most human ambition. The son of Napoleon was far away. For those who were actuated by vulgar hopes, to wait was to run the risk of losing those first favors which are always easiest to obtain from a government that has need to win forgiveness for its accession. Nevertheless, Napoleon's memory lived in the hearts of the people. But what was requisite to the crowning of the immortal victim of Waterloo in the first-born of his race?—That an old general should appear in the streets, draw his sword, and shout, Vive Napoleon II!

"But no; General Gourgaud alone made some tentative efforts. Napoleon, besides, had pigmied all minds round his own. The imperial regime had kindled in the plebeians he had abruptly ennobled a burning thirst for place and distinction. The Orleanist party recruited itself among all those whose promptitude to revive the Empire needed, perhaps, but one flash of hardihood, a leader, and a cry. Of all the generals whose fortunes were of imperial growth, Subervic alone gave his voice for a Republic in M. Lafitte's saloons—at least he was the only one that was remarked. Thus all was over as regards Napoleon. And some little time after this, a young colonel, in the service of Austria, died beyond the Rhine—the frail representative of a dynasty whose last breath passed away with him."

When Louis Blanc penned these lines he little supposed that but a few years would pass away ere the almost unanimous voice of the French people would call Napoleon III. to the throne of France, and that under his energetic sway France would enjoy for twenty years prosperity at home and influence abroad which almost eclipsed the splendors of the first Empire.

In the mean time an agitated crowd poured out through the gates of Paris, and, invading Neuilly, surrounded the chateau, intending to seize the Duke of Orleans and carry him into the city. But he, as we have mentioned, had retired to Rancy. The leaders of this multitude, professing to be a deputation from the Chamber of Deputies, demanded to see the duchess, and informed her that they should take her and her children as hostages to the city, and there keep them until the duke should appear in Paris. The duchess, terrified in view of the peril to which she and her children would be exposed in the hands of an ungovernable mob, wrote to her husband entreating him to return immediately.

Thus influenced, the duke resolved to repair to Paris. The streets were thronged with an excited mob, who would surely assassinate him should he be recognized. The peril of his family overcame his constitutional timidity. In disguise, accompanied by three persons only, who were also disguised, this reluctant candidate for one of the most brilliant of earthly crowns, a little before midnight, set out on foot from his rural retreat; and, entering Paris, traversed the thronged streets, with Republican cries resounding everywhere about him. In several instances the mob, little aware whom they were assailing, compelled him to respond to the cry. Upon reaching his sumptuous palace, sometime after midnight, he threw himself, in utter exhaustion, upon a couch, and sent the welcome announcement to his friends of his arrival. M. de Montmart, one of the most prominent of the Orleans party, immediately called. He found the duke in a state of extreme agitation, bathed in sweat, undressed, and covered only with a light spread.

The duke gave vehement utterance to his perplexities and alarm. He declared his devotion to the principles of Legitimacy, and his inalienable attachment to his friends and relatives of the elder branch of the Bourbon family. He remonstrated against the cruelty of placing him in the false position of their antagonist, saying, "I would rather die than accept the crown." Seizing a pen, he wrote a letter to Charles X., full of protestations of loyalty and homage. M. de Montmart concealed this epistle in the folds of his cravat, and it was conveyed to the fugitive king.

This epistle was probably intended only to be a forcible expression of the extreme reluctance with which Louis Philippe yielded to those influences which seemed morally to compel him to accept the crown. Charles X. was cruelly deceived by the letter. He interpreted it to signify that the Duke of Orleans would remain firm in his allegiance to the dynasty which had been driven by successful insurrection from Paris.

[Illustration] from Louis Philippe by John S. C. Abbott


At an early hour the next morning, a delegation from the Chamber of Deputies, with General Sebastiani at its head, arrived at the Palais Royal. The agitations of the hour were such that, without waiting for an announcement, they broke into the presence of the duke with the entreaty that he would accept from them the lieutenant-generalcy of the kingdom, which was merely the stepping-stone to the throne. The duke was still very undecided, or, to save appearances, feigned to be so. The deputies assured him that the crisis was so imperious, that not only the destinies of France, but also his own life, were probably dependent upon his accepting the appointment. The duke implored a few more moments for private reflection, and retired to his cabinet with General Sebastiani, who was then hurriedly dispatched to the hotel of M. Talleyrand in the Rue St. Florentin. Talleyrand had been one of the firmest supporters of Legitimacy. Louis Philippe sought his advice. The wily statesman, who had lived through so many revolutions, had not yet left his bed-chamber, and was dressing. He, however, promptly returned the sealed answer, "Let him accept."

The duke hesitated no longer. Returning to the Deputies, he announced his decision. The most vigorous action was now required. A proclamation to the inhabitants of Paris was immediately drawn up in the name of Louis Philippe, and which was unanimously agreed to by the delegation, announcing that, in obedience to the wishes of the Deputies, he had assumed the office of lieutenant-general of France. At the same time, the illustrious writer, M. Guizot, was intrusted with the duty of preparing a more full exposition of the principles of the Orleanist party, which was to be signed by ninety-one of the Deputies. The proclamation issued by Louis Philippe, and which was simply expanded in the longer one drawn up by M. Guizot, was as follows:

"INHABITANTS OF PARIS,—The Deputies, at this moment assembled in Paris, have expressed their desire that I should betake myself to this capital to exercise there the functions of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. I have not hesitated to come and partake of your dangers, to place myself in the midst of this heroic population, and use all my endeavors to preserve you from civil war and anarchy. On entering the city of Paris, I wore with pride those glorious colors you have resumed, and which I had myself long carried.

"The Chambers are about to assemble. They will consult on the means of securing the reign of the laws and the maintenance of the rights of the nation. A charter shall be henceforth a true thing.