Louis Philippe - John S. C. Abbott

The Exile


In the month of August, 1791, the Duke of Chartres left Vendome with his regiment, and went to Valenciennes, where he spent the winter. He had been appointed commandant of that place, and, young as he was, discharged the important duties of the position with ability and firmness, which secured for him a very high reputation. The emigrant nobles had assembled on the French frontier, in the electorate of Treves, where they were organizing their forces for the invasion of France. It was understood that Leopold II., then Emperor of Germany, was co-operating with them, and was forwarding large bodies of troops to many points along the German banks of the Rhine for a crusade into France.

The French government demanded of the emperor an explanation of his intentions. He replied: "We do not know of any armaments in the Austrian states which can be magnified into preparations for war." Though Louis XVI. was in cordial sympathy with the emigrants, and, by his secret agents, was urging the Emperor of Austria to lend him troops to aid in crushing the revolution in France, still he was compelled not only to dissemble, but on the 20th of April, 1792, publicly to declare war against the Emperor of Austria, who was brother of his queen, Maria Antoinette.

The Duke of Orleans, Egalite, begged permission of the king to join the armies of revolutionized France in their march against Austria, and to take with him his two oldest sons, the Duke of Chartres (Louis Philippe), and the Duke of Montpensier. In the campaign of 1792, which ensued, both of these young men acquired distinction and promotion. General Biron, in command, wrote to the minister of war:

"Messieurs Chartres and Montpensier have accompanied me as volunteers, and, being exposed for the first time to a brisk fire from the enemy, behaved with the utmost heroism and intrepidity."

The Duke of Chartres, in command of a brigade of dragoons, was soon after transferred to a corps at Metz, under General Kellerman, who subsequently obtained such renown in the wars of the Empire.

When the Duke of Chartres first appeared at head-quarters, General Kellerman, not knowing who he was, and surprised by his youthful appearance, exclaimed:

"Ah, monsieur! I never before have had the pleasure of seeing so young a general officer. How have you contrived to be made a general so soon?"

The duke replied: "By being a son of him who made a colonel of you." They clasped hands cordially, and a warm friendship commenced between them.

In July, 1792, the united armies of Prussia and Austria commenced their march from the German fortresses upon the Rhine into France. The emigrant nobles, and all their partisans, were received into the ranks of these invaders. Their combined strength amounted to 160,000 men. The Duke of Brunswick, in command of the united armies, issued from Coblentz, on the 15th of July, 1792, his famous manifesto, in which he declared, "That he would punish as rebels every Frenchman who should oppose the allied army; and that, should any attack be made upon the royal family in the Tuileries, the whole city should be given up to destruction, and the rebels to instant death."

In view of these terrible menaces, the Legislative Assembly issued a proclamation, in which it was said:

"A numerous army has moved upon our frontiers. All those who are enemies to liberty have armed themselves against our constitution. Citizens! the country is in danger! Let all those who have had the happiness of taking up arms in the cause of liberty remember that they are Frenchmen, and free; that their fellow-citizens enjoy in their homes security of persons and property; that the magistrates are vigilant; that every thing depends on calm resolution; that they should take care to acknowledge the majesty of law, and the country will still be safe."

The plan of the campaign, adopted by the Duke of Brunswick, was to press rapidly forward, with his combined army, from the banks of the Rhine to Paris, cut off its supplies, and by famine to compel it to surrender. He would then destroy the liberal constitution, punish and disperse the friends of popular rights, and restore the king to the absolutism of the old regime. To oppose this formidable army of invasion, France had one corps of 14,000 men near Metz, and another of 33,000 at Sedan, under General Dumouriez. General Lafayette had been in command of the latter force; but, by his opposition to some of the radical measures of the Convention, had excited the hostility of the Paris mob and the Jacobin clubs. They had burned him in effigy at the Palais Royal, accused him of treason before the Assembly, and set a price upon his head. Argument was of no avail against the fury of the populace—in flight only was his safety. While thus pursued by the Jacobins of Paris as an aristocrat, he was arrested by a patrol of the Austrian army as a democrat. With the greatest secrecy, his captors hurried him to Olmutz, where he was thrown into close confinement, and subjected to the most cruel privations. It was two years before his friends could discover the place of his captivity. His wife and daughters then, after much difficulty and delay, succeeded in obtaining permission to share the glooms of his dungeon. It was not until after an imprisonment of five years that he was set at liberty, Napoleon commanding his release in tones which Austria did not dare to disregard.

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


The proclamation by the Assembly that the country was in danger, caused volunteers in large numbers to set out from every portion of France. From Paris alone, in three days, an army of 32,000 men, completely equipped, were on the advance to the scene of conflict. General Dumouriez, in command at Sedan, drew up his lines of defense before the defiles of Argoun, where he thought he could make the most effectual stand against the invading host. The Duke of Brunswick fell fiercely upon his left wing, and, breaking through, poured his troops like a flood into the plains of Champagne. For a time a terrific panic spread through the French army, and it became needful for Generals Dumouriez and Kellerman to unite their forces. In the mean time, the triumphant Prussians, defiling rapidly by Grandpre and Croix-aux-Bois, were approaching Chalons.

The French troops concentrated at Valmy. There they drew up in line of battle, to arrest the advance of their foes. The second line of the French army was commanded by the Duke of Chartes. The battle which ensued was one of the most memorable and hard-fought in French history. In the early morning a dense mist covered the field of conflict. At eleven o'clock the fog dispersed, and the sun came out brightly, revealing the Prussian columns advancing in beautiful order, with a glittering display of caparisoned horses and polished weapons, deploying with as much precision as if on a field of parade. The eye took in at a glance 100,000 men preparing for the death-struggle. It was, indeed, an imposing spectacle, for such hosts had then been rarely collected on any field of blood.

Neither party seemed disposed to come into close contact with the other, but each brought forward its batteries, and a terrific cannonade commenced, which continued until the close of the day. It was estimated that forty thousand balls were hurled by the opposing armies into each other's ranks. Each army, however, maintained its position. Yet it was considered a French victory, for the Prussians failed in their attempt to break through the lines of the French, and the French succeeded in arresting the march of the Prussians. Indeed, it was admitted by the Prussians that their plan was hopelessly thwarted. The Duke of Brunswick proposed an armistice to the French officers, and this was speedily followed by the evacuation of the French territory by the whole body of Prussian troops. Thus, for the time, the Germanic project of invasion was abandoned.

The Duke of Chartres again, upon this occasion, distinguished himself by bravery and military skill. General Kellerman, in his official report of the battle, said: "I shall only particularize, among those who have shown distinguished courage, M. Chartres and his aid-de-camp, M. Montpensier, whose extreme youth renders his presence of mind, during one of the most tremendous cannonades ever heard, so very remarkable."

It will be observed that General Kellerman speaks of the young dukes as simply M. Chartres and M. Montpensier. At that time all honorary titles were abolished in France, and the highest nobles were addressed, as were the humblest peasants, by the only title of Citizen. Still, the lower classes regarded with great jealousy those higher orders to whom they had been accustomed to pay the homage which slaves render their masters. The laborers, the humble artisans, the toil-worn peasants, could not appear with any thing like equality in the presence of the high-born men and courtly dames who, through their ancestry of many generations, had been accustomed to wealth and rank and power. Thus, to the lower orders, the dress of a gentleman, the polite bearing of the prince, the courtly manner of the noble, excited suspicion, and created hostile feelings.

Even Egalite himself, though he had renounced all his titles, all his feudal rights, and had assumed, as far as possible, the manners of a blunt, plain-spoken man, was still, next to the king, in the enjoyment of the richest revenue in France. He could by no possibility place himself upon a social equality with his boot-black. He manifested no disposition to divide his vast possessions with the mob in Paris, and to send his wife to work with the washer-women, and his daughter to a factory, and to earn himself his daily bread by menial toil. And the washer-women were asking, "Why should we toil at the tub, and Citizeness Orleans ride in her carriage and dress in satins? We are as good as she, and our blood is as red." And at the corners of the streets, the uncombed mob were beginning to inquire, "Why should Citizen Orleans, who, by adopting the title of Egalite, has confessed himself to be only our equal, be in possession of magnificent palaces, and of thousands of acres of the public domain, and of a revenue of millions of francs, while we dwell in hovels, and eat the coarsest food, and, by the most menial toil, obtain a bare subsistence? Citizen Orleans has given up his titles, as he ought to have done; now let him give up his enormous estates, and divide them among us, his brethren; and, if he is unwilling to do this, let us compel him to do so."

Louis Philippe, accustomed to profound reflection, and trained in the school of these tremendous political agitations, clearly foresaw all these menaces. He was well aware that it was no longer safe for him to be in Paris, and that the perils of the battle-field were among the least he had to encounter. Though the Prussian troops had withdrawn from the alliance against France, the Austrians, encouraged by the intrigues and the gold of the British cabinet, still continued the conflict. The Austrian court had an additional motive for perseverance, in the war against revolutionary France, in the anxiety it felt for the safety of the Austrian princess, Maria Antoinette.

On the 5th of November, 1792, the French army, under General Dumouriez, found itself intrenched upon the heights of Jemappes. Directly before it was the camp of the Austrians, containing a veteran force of twenty-two thousand men, commanded by General Clarfait.

The renowned battle of Jemappes ensued, which commenced, after a cannonade of three hours, by an attack upon the whole of the Austrian lines by the entire French army. Again the young Duke of Chartres, who commanded the centre, greatly distinguished himself by his coolness, bravery, and skill. The carnage was serious on both sides, and for some hours the result was doubtful. At length victory declared in favor of the French. The Austrians, driven from all their positions, fled, leaving the battle-field covered with their dead, and abandoning nearly all their cannon to the victors.

The French vigorously pursued the routed Austrians until they again overtook them, and drove them out of the kingdom. On the 8th day after the victory of Jemappes, Dumouriez advanced the French standard to Brussels. As we have mentioned, the sister of the Duke of Chartres, the Princess Eugene Louise Adelaide, with her governess, Madame de Genlis, had been included in the proscriptive laws against emigration. The Duke of Chartres visited them in Switzerland, where they had taken refuge, and conducted them to Tornay.

While there, a new decree was issued by the Assembly, declaring that every member of the Bourbon family then in France, with the exception of the royal household itself, which was held in imprisonment in the Temple awaiting trial under the charge of treason, should leave France, and all the territory occupied by the newly-established Republic, within eight days. The position of the Orleans branch of the Bourbon family now became every hour increasingly perilous. The nation was demanding the life of the king, and the banishment of all who bore his name. St. Just, in urging in the Assembly this decree of banishment, said: "As to the king, we shall keep him; and you know for what?"

The Duke of Chartres, who very fully comprehended the peril in which his father's family was involved, urged him to avail himself of the decree of banishment, which opened an honorable avenue of escape for him, and all his family, from France.

"You will assuredly," said he to his father, "find yourself in an appalling situation. Louis XVI. is about to be accused before an assembly of which you are a member. You must sit before the king as his judge. Reject the ungracious duty; withdraw, with your family, to America, and seek a calm retreat, far from the enemies of France, and there await the return of happier days."

But the Duke of Orleans did not deem it consistent with his honor to desert his post in the hour of danger. Yet the arguments urged by his son were so strong that he desired him to consult an influential member of the Assembly upon the subject. The deputy replied:

"I am incompetent to give your father any advice. Our positions are dissimilar. I myself seek redress for personal injuries. Your father, the Duke of Orleans, ought to obey the dictates of his conscience as a prince, and the dictates of duty as a citizen."

This undecided answer led the Duke of Orleans to the decision that, in the prominent position which he occupied as a citizen of rank and wealth, he could not with honor abandon his country in her hour of peril. The Duke of Chartres desisted from any further solicitation, and, oppressed with much anxiety, returned to the army.

The badge of the Bourbons was a white banner. The insurgents, if we may so call the opponents, of all varieties of opinions, who assailed the ancient despotism, at the siege of the Bastile, wore red cockades. But very many were in favor of monarchy who were also in favor of constitutional liberty. Blue had been, in ancient times, the royal color, and they adopted that. Others, who were in favor of the Bourbons, and advocated reform only, not revolution, adopted white, the livery of the Bourbons. Thus arose the celebrated tri-color flag, which became the emblem of all in France who adopted the principles of political liberalism, whether monarchists or republicans. The white banner of the Bourbons and the tri-color of the revolutionists thus became arrayed against each other.

It was well known that there was a strong party in favor of placing the Duke of Orleans upon the throne. The king was awaiting his trial in the Temple. The monarchy was virtually overthrown, and a republic was established. The Republicans were in great fear of a reaction, which might re-establish the throne in favor of the Orleans family. It was, therefore, proposed in the Assembly that the Duke of Orleans and his sons should be banished from France. But it could not be denied that the Duke of Orleans had been one of the most prominent leaders in the revolution. He had given all his influence, and consecrated his immense wealth, to the cause. He had made great sacrifices, and had alienated himself entirely from the royal family, and from the nobility generally, by his bold advocacy of democratic principles. Under these circumstances, it seemed peculiarly ungrateful to proscribe and persecute him, merely because the blood of the Bourbons flowed in his veins, and because he was born near the throne.

After a violent discussion in the Assembly, the decree of banishment was passed. But the friends of the duke rallied, and succeeded, after a struggle of two days, in obtaining a reversal of the decree. It was known that the Duke of Chartres had urged his father to yield to the decree, and to retire from France. This increased the suspicion that the Duke of Chartres was not friendly to the new state of things in republican, anarchic, France.

"It can not be denied," says a French historian, "that upon this occasion the young prince evinced that high sagacity which, by foreseeing events, succeeds in dispersing their dangers. He looked upon it that the revocation of the decree of banishment against his family was a great misfortune; because the name of Orleans having been once pronounced suspected and dangerous, could never again be useful to their country, and would be infallibly persecuted. 'If we can no longer be useful,' said he, 'and if we only give occasion of offense, can we hesitate in expatriating ourselves?'"

But, as we have said, the duke decided to remain at his post; and his son, returning to the army, anxiously awaited events. The Austrians speedily filled up their depleted ranks with reinforcements, and on the 18th of March, 1793, were again in battle array near the village of Nerwinde. Another terrible battle ensued, in which the Duke of Orleans again won many laurels; but victory decided against the French. The army of Dumouriez was utterly routed. The Duke of Chartres had a horse shot from under him; but he spent the whole night upon the field, struggling to rally the fugitives. It was attributed to his heroism that the army did not, on that occasion, experience an irreparable disaster.

General Dumouriez now found himself in the most painful and perilous position. It was not safe for any leader of the Republican armies to allow himself to be defeated. The loss of a battle was considered equivalent to treason. A committee was sent by the Assembly to spy out his conduct. The Moniteur of the 27th of March, 1793, contains the following report:

"We arrived at Tournay on Tuesday, the 26th. Citizen Proly—who was previously known to General Dumouriez—waited upon him. He found him at the house of Madame Sillery, in company with that lady, the Misses Egalite, and Pamela. He was attended, also, by Generals Valence and Chartres.

"Among other unbecoming observations, which he did not hesitate to make, General Dumouriez said that the Convention was the cause of all the misfortunes of France; that it was composed of 745 tyrants, all regicides; that he was strong enough to bring them to a sense of propriety; and that, if they were to call him Caesar, Cromwell, or Monk, he was still resolved to save his country."

The publication of this report rendered it certain to Dumouriez and his friends that he would immediately be arrested and conveyed to Paris, under circumstances which would render condemnation and execution inevitable. He had not an hour to lose. He was supping with the Duke of Chartres, anxiously conversing upon the peril in which they both were involved, when a courier arrived, summoning him immediately to repair to Paris to explain his conduct to the Convention. The Duke of Chartres said sadly to his general: "This order is your death-warrant." As he said this, the general was opening another document, and replied: "Now it is your turn, my young friend; this letter incloses a similar invitation for you."

They both mounted their horses, and bidding adieu to unhappy France, set out, with a small retinue, for the frontier. A detachment of dragoons was sent in pursuit of them. By the extraordinary sagacity and self-possession of Baudoin, the faithful servant of the prince, they effected their escape. It is altogether probable that Dumouriez was intending, by the aid of the army, to overthrow the Convention, and re-establish the throne in favor of the Duke of Chartres. An anonymous French writer, commenting upon these events, says:

"We do not hesitate to place among the number of the plans of Dumouriez a project which did him honor—that of abolishing the republican system and erecting a constitutional monarchy in favor of the Duke of Chartres. Many persons have imagined that the Duke of Chartres was aware of this design. It is certain that in the army, as well as among the moderates of the interior, the prince would have found a crowd of adherents. But he was too conscientious to usurp a crown which had just fallen in blood—too good a son to authorize proceedings which would have endangered the life of his father; in short, too enlightened, too prudent, notwithstanding his extreme youth, to be instrumental in any ambitious or ill-conceived scheme emanating from such a man as Dumouriez. However, whether the Duke of Chartres was conscious or not of the designs of General Dumouriez, a stern necessity rendered a union of their fortunes indispensable for a time."

The fugitives repaired first to Mons, the head-quarters of the Austrians, to obtain their passports. Prince Charles urged the duke to enter the service of the Empire, and to co-operate with foreign armies and the emigrants in restoring monarchy to France. The duke emphatically declined. Indeed, such an act would probably have brought his father's head, and the head of every member of the family, within reach of the Convention, beneath the slide of the guillotine. Nothing now remained for the prince but exile and poverty.

In the month of April, 1793, the duke, assuming the name of Mr. Corby, and the appearance of an English traveller, accompanied only by a servant and his aid-de-camp, Caesar Ducrest, commenced travelling in Germany. While the Republicans assailed him from suspicion of his secret hostility to Republican principles, the emigrants thoroughly hated both him and his father for the countenance which they had given to the Revolution. The region was full of emigrants who would gladly surrender him to his enemies. It was necessary for him to practise the utmost caution, that he might preserve his incognito. In the cities of Liege, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Cologne, he did not dare to dine at the table d'hote, lest he should be recognized.

The duke had reached Frankfort, when he read the account in the journals of the arrest of his father and brothers. Lafayette, laden with irons, was pining in the dungeons of Olmutz. Such was the reward which these patriots received for their devotion to the cause of popular liberty.

Departing from Frankfort, the duke proceeded to Basle. From an eminence in the environs of the town the tri-color flag was visible, floating in the distance above the battlements of the fortress of Huninguen. With deep emotion the duke saluted the flag of liberty, for which he had suffered so much, and continued his sad journey. At Basle he learned that his sister, accompanied by Madame de Genlis, had taken refuge at Schaffhausen, in Switzerland. His mother and two brothers, as well as his father, had been arrested, and were imprisoned in France. Joining his sister and Madame de Genlis, the little party of exiles proceeded, oppressed with anxiety and grief, to Zurich. Here it became necessary for them to acquaint the magistrates with their real names.

The emigrant royalists who had taken refuge there ostentatiously displayed their detestation of the democratic prince. At the same time, the Helvetic magistrates trembled lest they should incur the wrath of Revolutionary France by affording a refuge to the illustrious exiles. The Moniteur, of the 12th of June, 1793, contained the following notice:

"The ci-devant Duke of Chartres and his suite are not in Italy, as had been supposed, but reside in a solitary house on the margin of Lake Zug, in Switzerland. They pass for an Irish family."

It was on the 14th of May that the sorrowful exiles took up their residence upon the banks of this silent lake. In Zurich, where they were recognized, they had been exposed to many insults. One evening, as they were walking out, an emigrant cavalier purposely caught his spur in a portion of the dress of Mademoiselle d'Orleans, rudely tearing it.

Soon they were again discovered by some emigrants who were passing through Zug. A dispatch from Berne reproached the authorities for their imprudence in allowing the noble wanderers an asylum. The magistrates called upon the duke and respectfully, but with much embarrassment, entreated him to depart from their coasts. It was now evident that the party could no longer, with safety, reside together. The duke succeeded, through some influential friends, in obtaining admission for his sister into the convent of Sainte Claire, near Bremgarten.

"As for you," said M. de Montjoie to the Duke of Chartres, "there is no alternative but to wander in the mountains, not sojourning long in any place, but pursuing this life of sorrow until the circumstances of your country shall assume a more favorable aspect. If fortune shall prove propitious, your wanderings will be an Odyssey, the details of which will one day be collected with avidity."

General Dumouriez, who was also wandering in obscurity and exile, at this time wrote to General Montesquieu, who was a friend of the Duke of Chartres, and a gentleman possessed of much influence and power in Switzerland:

"Embrace for me our excellent young friend. What you are doing to serve him is worthy of you. Let him derive instruction and strength from his adversity. This frenzy will pass away, and then he will find his place. Induce him to make a circumstantial diary of his travels. It will be curious to see the diary of a Bourbon treating of other subjects than the chase, women, and the table. I am convinced that this work, which he will one day produce, will serve as a certificate for life, either when he shall have re-entered it, or to make him return to it."

Darker and darker grew the path of the exiled prince. His funds became very low. He was separated from all his friends except his faithful servant, Baudoin, who absolutely refused to leave him. He retained but one horse. His servant chanced to be so sick that he could not walk. The duke left Basle on foot, leading by the hand the horse upon which his humble but faithful companion in exile was mounted.

Passing through Neufchatel, Zellen Blatt, and Kussnacht, he reached the ruins of Halsburg. Here, in the midst of silence and solitude, the great-grandson of the brother of Louis XIV. sought a refuge from his countrymen, who were thirsting for his blood.

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


During one of his adventurous excursions among the Alps, on foot, accompanied only by his servant, he approached the hospitium of Saint Gothard. It was on the 28th of August, 1793. Having rung the bell, a Capuchin friar appeared at the casement and inquired, "What do you want?" "I request," replied the duke, "some nourishment for my companion and myself." "My good young men," said the friar, "we do not admit foot-passengers here, particularly of your description." "But, reverend father," replied the duke, "we will pay whatever you demand." "No, no," added the Capuchin, pointing to a shed where some muleteers were partaking of Alpine cheese, "that little inn there is good enough for you."

At Gordona the duke and his servant met with a similar repulse. Covered with the dust of travel, and with knapsacks on their backs, with night and storm approaching, they found the door of a hostlery closed against them. It was not until after much entreaty that the way-worn travellers were allowed shelter, with a bed of straw, in an outhouse.

While engaged in these wanderings, the duke received a letter from M. de Montesquieu, offering him the situation of professor at the college of Reichenau. This was a chateau near the confluence of the upper and lower Rhine. He was then but twenty years of age. Assuming the name of M. Chabaud, he underwent a very rigid examination, without exciting the slightest suspicion as to his real character. For eight months he discharged the duties of teaching the French and English languages with marked success, and so secured the respect of the inhabitants of Reichenau that they elected him their deputy to the Assembly at Coire.

Here the tidings reached him of the sad fate of his father. Overwhelmed with grief, and restless in view of the peril of other members of the family, he resumed his wanderings. Proceeding to Bremgarten, the residence of his influential friend M. de Montesquieu, he remained with him, as aid-de-camp, until some time in the year 1794.

But it was impossible for a man so widely known to remain long concealed in any place. There was still an energetic and increasingly powerful party in France opposed to the disorders which the Republic had introduced, and anxious to restore monarchical forms. The situation of the sister of the Duke of Orleans, as Louis Philippe now became, on the death of his father, was considered so unsafe in the convent of Bremgarten that she was removed to Hungary.

One day, as the duke was sitting silently, lost in thought, in a parlor adjoining the one occupied by his generous host, he overheard some conversation which led him to fear that the hospitality which he was receiving might endanger the safety of his friend. He immediately resolved to withdraw from Bremgarten and to seek refuge in Hamburg. Here, finding his position very insecure, he resolved to hide himself in the cheerless climate of Northern Europe. Accustomed to the severest privations, he was enabled to recommence his wanderings with the slender funds at his disposal. Assuming the character of a Swiss traveller, he made arrangements to disappear from Southern Europe, and seek refuge in the wilds of Scandinavia. He obtained passports from the King of Denmark, which allowed him to take with him his steadfast friend Count Montjoie, and his faithful servant Baudoin, who had shared all the sufferings of his exile. A letter of credit upon a banker at Copenhagen supplied his immediate pecuniary wants.