Louis Philippe - John S. C. Abbott

The Restoration


The court of Ferdinand IV., one of the most worthless and corrupt of the old feudal dynasties, was maintained in Sicily by the army, the navy, and the purse of England. His Sicilian majesty received from the British Government an annual subsidy of four hundred thousand pounds sterling ($2,000,000), to support the dignity of his throne, and to pay for the troops which Sicily furnished England for her interminable warfare against the French Empire. The Duke of Orleans severely condemned the errors and follies continually developed by the reigning dynasty, and yet he found himself utterly powerless to remedy them. The queen was the ruling power at the court, and her prejudiced and impassioned nature was impervious to any appeals of reason. She knew very well that England did not loan her protection and lavish her gold upon the Sicilian Court from any love for that court, but simply from dread and hatred of the republican principles advocated by Napoleon. She, therefore, often treated the English with the utmost disdain. And yet, sustained by twenty thousand British troops upon the island, she trampled upon all popular rights, consigning, by arbitrary arrests, to the dungeon or to exile all who opposed her sway.

"Against these violations of law, infringements of liberty, and manifestations of absolutism, the Sicilians rose with becoming firmness. The Duke of Orleans had long foreseen the approaching hurricane, the gathering wrath of an injured people; but finding his remonstrances vain, his principles of government almost directly contrary to those of his august mother-in-law, he retired from a court where there was no room for a virtuous counsellor, and, with his wife and her infant prince, lived in retirement a few miles from Palermo."

The duke was living tranquilly, and perhaps not unhappily, in this retirement, abstaining from all participation in the intrigues of the Sicilian Court, when, on the morning of the 23rd of April, 1814, an English frigate, with every banner floating triumphantly in the breeze, entered the harbor of Palermo. It brought the astounding intelligence of the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons. The exciting tidings soon reached the ears of the duke. He hurried to Palermo, and drove directly to the palace of the English ambassador, where he was greeted with the words:

"I congratulate you upon the downfall of Napoleon, and on the restoration of the illustrious race, of which you yourself are a member, to the throne of their fathers."

For a moment the duke was speechless with astonishment, and then declared the story to be quite incredible. He however was soon convinced that it was even so, by reading a copy of the Moniteur, which gave a detailed account of the whole event. All the shipping and all the forts of Palermo were now resounding with the thunders of exultation. The Duke of Orleans had fought under the tri-color flag. Mingled emotions agitated him. He saw that national banner which had waved so proudly over many a field of victory now trampled in the dust beneath the feet of foreign squadrons, and their allied armies exultingly encamped within the parks of his native city. The restoration of the Bourbons had been accomplished at the expense of the humiliation of his country.

The next day, the commander of the ship which had brought the intelligence called at the residence of the Duke of Orleans, and said to him,

"I am directed by Admiral Lord William Bentinck, who is now at Genoa, to wait upon your royal highness, and ascertain if you wish to return to France. If so, my vessel and my personal services are at your command. If you prefer to remain at Naples, I hope you may enjoy that lasting happiness to which, by your eventful and virtuous life, you are so eminently entitled."

The duke pondered the fact that he was invited to return to Paris, not by an envoy from the restored king, but by an officer in the British navy. Still the prince resolved immediately to repair to Paris. Taking an affectionate farewell of his wife and their infant son, he embarked on board the English frigate, accompanied by a single servant, and on the eighteenth of May, 1814, entered his native city, from which he had so long been an exile. Louis XVIII. was already there, having returned to Paris in the rear of the bayonets and the batteries of foreign troops. It was his majesty's expressed wish that the Palais Royal, the hereditary mansion of the Orleans family, should be repaired and restored to its former owners. During the republican and imperial rule, its numerous and spacious apartments had been appropriated to private residences. The duke, upon arriving in Paris, availed himself of temporary accommodations in furnished apartments in the Rue Grange Bateliere. One of his first steps was to repair incognito to the home of his fathers. The Swiss servants who guarded the palace still wore the imperial livery. With some reluctance they yielded to the importunities of the stranger, and allowed him to penetrate the interior apartments.

"As he approached the grand staircase, the recollections of his boyhood, the lustre of his ancient race, the agonies of mind he had endured since he last beheld that spot, and gratitude to that Providence which had spared him amidst such universal ruin, completely overwhelmed him, and, falling prostrate on the tesselated pavement, he imprinted a thousand kisses on the cold white marble, while tears gushing from his eyes indicated, while they relieved, the emotions with which he contended."

The next day the duke was presented to his majesty, Louis XVIII., at the Tuileries. As he approached the royal presence, the king advanced towards him, and said,

"Your highness was a lieutenant-general in the service of your country twenty-five years ago, and you are still the same."

The assumption adopted by Louis XVIII. that there had been no interruption of the Bourbon reign, and the attempt to blot from history the twenty-five most eventful years in the annals of France, deservedly excited both contempt and ridicule. An American writer of distinction says:

"The unconquerable prejudices of the Bourbons, and their studied ignorance of the feelings of the country they were called to govern after an exile of twenty-five years, were the prognostics as well as the cause of their ultimate fall.

"Their imperial predecessor had indeed left them a difficult task. His career was so brilliant that it may well have dazzled his countrymen, and left them unfitted for a milder domination. He was, indeed, a wonderful man; and I have been more powerfully impressed than ever, since my arrival in France, with the prodigious force of his character, and with the gigantic scope as well as the vast variety of his plans.

"I am satisfied that circumstances have not been favorable to a just appreciation of the whole character of Napoleon in the United States. While he was at the head of the nation, we surveyed him very much through the English journals, and we imbibed all the prejudices which a long and bitter war had engendered against him in England. To be sure, his military renown could not be called in question; but of his civic talents a comparatively humble estimate was formed. I have since learned to correct this appreciation."

It was the undisguised effort of Louis XVIII., now restored by foreign armies to the throne, to annihilate the memory of all that France had achieved at home and abroad, under the administration of Napoleon. The tri-color was exchanged for the white banner of the Bourbons, and the eagles were replaced by the Gallic cock. All the insignia of imperialism were carefully obliterated. The evidence seems quite conclusive that the king, notwithstanding his apparent reconciliation with the Duke of Orleans, still regarded him with much suspicion, and would have been very willing that he should have continued in exile. Indeed, the king seemed disposed to revive old family feuds, that he might keep the duke estranged, as far as possible, from the sympathies of the Legitimist party.

The Duchess of Orleans was of royal blood, the daughter of a king. But the father of the Duke of Orleans had worn only a ducal, not a royal crown. The king, consequently, gave orders that, whenever the Duke of Orleans and his suite should appear at court, both of the folding-doors of the grand entrance should be thrown open for the duchess, while but one should be opened for her husband.

In July the duke embarked in a French ship of the line, with Baron Athalin and Count Sainte Aldegonde as his aids, to transfer his family from Palermo to Paris. Early in August they were luxuriously domiciled in his magnificent ancestral home. Madame de Genlis, now venerable in years, and having ever retained the reverence and affection of her distinguished pupils, hastened to join the ducal family in the saloons of the Palais Royal.

"This resolution," she writes, "procured me the inexpressible happiness of once more seeing my pupils, Mademoiselle and the Duke of Orleans. In our first interview they both displayed to me all the affection, all the emotion and delight which I myself experienced. Alas! how deeply I felt, at this meeting, the absence of the beloved pupils, the Duke of Montpensier and his brother Count Beaujolais, who both died in exile."

The winter passed rapidly away, and on the 5th of March, 1815, to the dismay of the Bourbons, and of all the crowned heads of Europe, the tidings reached Paris that Napoleon had left Elba, landed at Cannes, and, accompanied by ever-increasing thousands of enthusiastic supporters, was on the triumphal march towards the metropolis. The most terrible proclamations were hurled against him by Louis XVIII., but all in vain. All opposition melted before the popular emperor. The path from Cannes to Paris was over six hundred miles in length, through the heart of France. But the Bourbons, with the armies of France nominally at their disposal, and the sympathies of all the feudal dynasties in Europe enlisted in their behalf, could summon no force sufficient to arrest the progress of that one unarmed man. The Duke of Orleans hastened to the presence of his majesty, and, addressing the trembling monarch, said:

"Sire, as for me, I am prepared to share both your bad and good fortune. Although one of your royal race, I am your subject, servant, and soldier. Do with me as your majesty pleases, for the honor and peace of our country."

The king sent him to Lyons; to co-operate with the king's brother, the Count d'Artois, subsequently Charles X., in the endeavor to retard, by every means in their power, the advance of the ex-emperor upon Paris. A council of war was immediately held, the Count d'Artois presiding. Marshal Macdonald proved to the satisfaction of all present that it would be impossible to prevent the occupation of Lyons by Napoleon. Thence his march to Paris would be unimpeded.

All was consternation in the Bourbon Court. Louis Philippe broke up his establishment, and dispatched his wife and family, by the most expeditious route, to England. The armies of France were concentrated as rapidly as possible on the borders of the Rhine, where the allied troops could hurry to their support. The Duke of Orleans was invested with the command of this army of the north. Louis XVIII., surrounded by a small body of Guards, entered his carriage and fled precipitately across the Rhine, to place himself again under the protection of the allied sovereigns who were convened in Congress at Vienna.

The accompanying cut will give the reader a vivid idea of the departure. The king was enormously fat. His figure, with long body and very short legs, was peculiar almost to deformity. He entered his carriage for his flight, with apparently none to regret his departure, at one o'clock, on the morning of the 19th of March. The evening of the next day, the 20th, the emperor arrived, and, surrounded by the acclamations of thousands, was borne, in a scene of indescribable enthusiasm, on the shoulders of the people into the vacant palace.

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


"The moment that the carriage stopped," says Alison, "he was seized by those next the door, borne aloft in their arms, amidst deafening cheers, through a dense and brilliant crowd of epaulets, hurried literally above the heads of the throng up the great staircase into the saloon of reception, where a splendid array of the ladies of the imperial court, adorned with a profusion of violet bouquets, half concealed in the richest laces, received him with transports, and imprinted fervent kisses on his cheeks, his hands, and even his dress. Never was such a scene witnessed in history."

This triumphal journey of Napoleon for nearly seven hundred miles, through the heart of France, alone and unaided invading a kingdom of thirty millions of inhabitants, vanquishing all the armies of the Bourbons, and regaining the throne without drawing a sword or firing a musket, presents one of the most remarkable instances on record of the power of one mighty mind over human hearts. Boundless enthusiasm, from citizens and soldiers, greeted him every step of his way. A more emphatic vote in favor of the Empire could not have been given. A more legitimate title to the throne no monarch ever enjoyed. And yet the Allies, in renewing the war against him, had the unblushing effrontery to proclaim that they were contending for the liberties of the people against the tyranny of an usurper! In view of such achievements of Napoleon, we do not wonder that Lamartine, his unrelenting political foe, should say that, as a man, "Napoleon was the greatest of the creations of God."

"The emperor, notwithstanding the Bourbons had set a price upon his head, issued special orders that they should not be molested; that they should be permitted to retire without injury or insult. He could, with perfect ease, have taken them prisoners, and then, in possession of their persons, could have compelled the Allies to reasonable terms. But his extraordinary magnanimity prevented him from pursuing such a course. Louis XVIII., accompanied by a funeral procession of carriages containing members of his family, his ministers, and returned emigrants, trembling and in dismay, retired to Lille, on the northern frontiers of France. The inhabitants of the departments through which he passed gazed silently and compassionately upon the infirm old man, and uttered no word of reproach; but as soon as the cortege had passed, the tri-colored banner was run up on steeple and turret, and the air resounded with shouts of Vive l'Empereur."

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


Immediately Napoleon dispatched by telegraph the following order throughout France: "The emperor having entered Paris at the head of the very troops that were sent to oppose him, the civil and military authorities are hereby cautioned against obeying any other than the imperial orders, and are enjoined, under the last penalty of military law, to hoist the tri-colored flag upon the receipt of this intelligence."

Regardless of this order, the Duke of Orleans, in the north of France, made very great efforts, by visiting all the posts, to inspire the soldiers to fidelity to the Bourbons, and to rouse them to oppose the emperor. "Finding," says a writer, who was in sympathy with his efforts, "his great exertions as fruitless as the assaults of the winds upon the mountain's rocky ridge, he at length abandoned the project. The conduct of Louis XVIII. was but little calculated to inspire his subjects with respect, or to restore their fading fidelity. Having reached Lille on the 22nd, on the next day he fled, with indecent haste, towards the frontier, not remaining long enough, even if his faculties had been sufficiently collected to do so, to give final or further instructions to the lieutenant-general. Terror of Napoleon occupied his every thought; and the wings of the wind were unequal to keep pace with the eagerness of his mind to escape from the iron grasp of the mortal enemy of his race. Louis Philippe had lent the protection and encouragement of companionship to his majesty to a distance of five miles from Lille; yet the timid monarch never delivered to him any instructions or command as to the operations of the army, nor confessed his future project."

The Duke of Orleans was annoyed and irritated by the pusillanimity displayed by the king, and by the mortifying reserve with which he himself was treated. He called upon the commandants of the different towns, and informed them that the king had left France without giving him any authority to act. He then issued a public proclamation, in which he resigned his entire command to Marshal Mortier. In this he said:

"I go to bury myself in retirement and oblivion. The king being no longer in France, I can not transmit you any further orders in his name; and it only remains for me to release you from the observation of all the orders which I have already transmitted to you, and to recommend you to do every thing that your excellent judgment and pure patriotism will suggest to you. Farewell, my dear marshal. My heart is oppressed in writing this word."

On the 22nd Louis Philippe broke up his establishment at head-quarters, and set out to rejoin his family in England. He had but little hope then of ever again revisiting France. His sufferings must indeed have been agonizing in finding all his newly-born hopes vanishing, and in again entering upon the weary life of an exile. Arriving in England, he directed his steps to the beautiful and sequestered retreat of Twickenham. It was a hallowed spot, endeared to him by the memory of days of tranquillity and of a pensive joy, and by scenes of heart-rending anguish, as he had there seen his two beloved brothers sinking sadly into the grave.

"The triumph of legitimacy," says Mr. Wright, "which dethroned Napoleon," inspired its followers in foreign lands with new zeal, fresh devotion, and increased prospects of ascendency. In England the most servile of that faction had the malignity to invent and publish, by means of the dishonest portion of the daily press, the grossest and most painful calumnies against the Duke of Orleans. The Bourbon faction, expert at calumny and intrigue, employed every means their art supplied to accomplish their darling object, which was the still further separation of the elder from the younger branch of the royal family. It was now that the persecutors of the Duke of Orleans hit upon the scheme of defaming him by forgery. They forged various protestations and confessions of faith, which they subscribed with the name of Louis Philippe, and procured their publication in English journals; "the tendency of which was to place him in a false position with respect to the elder branch of his family."

The hundred days of Napoleon's second reign passed rapidly away. The defeat at Waterloo restored Louis XVIII. to the throne, with a better prospect of its permanent possession. Napoleon, in the long agony at St. Helena, expiated the crime of raising the banner of Equal Rights for All Men, in opposition to the exclusive privileges of kings and nobles. Louis XVIII., escorted by nearly a million of foreign troops, returned to the Tuileries. All the members of the royal family followed from their wide dispersion. Louis Philippe joined the crowd, and again presented himself in the royal saloons. The king suspected him, and in the presence of a full court received him with marked coldness. Conscious of his own unpopularity, and of the general impression that the Duke of Orleans was tinctured with liberal sentiments, the king was ever apprehensive that a faction might arise in favor of placing the Duke of Orleans upon the throne.

The shrewd, intriguing Fouche, duke of Otranto, in a letter written to the Duke of Wellington at this time, says:

"The personal qualities of the Duke of Orleans, the remembrance of Jemappes, the possibility of making a treaty which would conciliate all interests, the name of Bourbon, which might serve outside, but not be pronounced within—all these motives, and many others that might be mentioned, present in this last choice a perspective of repose and security even to those who could not perceive in them an omen of happiness."

Though the king declined the assistance of the Duke of Orleans in reorganizing his government, he restored to him his vast ancestral possessions. Recrossing the Channel, the duke conducted his family from Twickenham back to the sumptuous saloons of the Palais Royal. A royal ordinance commanded all the princes of the blood royal to take seats in the Chamber of Peers. Under this decree the Duke of Orleans became a member of that august and influential body.

And now commenced the reign of what was called the Terreur Blanche, or White Terror, consisting of a series of proscriptions and bloody executions, under the white flag of the Bourbons, which shocked the spirit of humanity. Unrelenting revenge was dominant. Marshal Ney, General Labedoyere, and many others of the noblest men in France, were ere long put to death or driven into exile. The friends of Louis XVIII. in the Chamber of Peers urged on these merciless executions. A resolution was introduced into that body and strongly supported, calling for the exemplary chastisement of all political delinquents. There were a few who indignantly repudiated this revengeful spirit.

The Duke of Orleans ascended the tribune. His person was but little known by the majority of those present. As the son of Egalite, and as one suspected of liberal principles, he was hated by the returned emigrants of the old Bourbon party. As he took his stand in the tribune there was breathless silence throughout the whole assembly. Every eye was fixed upon him. His majestic figure, his fine countenance, intellectual, thoughtful, upon which there remained the traces of many sufferings, his calm, dignified, self-possessed bearing, and his exalted rank as a prince of the royal line, created profound sentiments of respect. For a moment he looked upon the assembly in silence. Then in slow, solemn, decisive terms he remonstrated against the malevolent spirit which was being developed.

"I propose," said he, "the total suppression of the obnoxious clause. Let us leave to his majesty's parental care the charge of maintaining public order. Let us not urge a revengeful spirit which malevolence may convert into a weapon for disturbing the peace of the nation. Our position as judges of appeal over those very individuals to whom you recommend the exercise of severity, rather than of mercy, should impose absolute silence upon us in respect to them."

These just and noble sentiments the majority applauded, and the vote was carried in behalf of humanity. But the king and his coterie were very angry, and assailed the duke in the most violent terms of condemnation. The king, in a petty spirit of revenge, issued a decree, recalling the ordinance that all the princes of the blood royal were to sit in the Chamber of Peers, and declaring that none in future were to appear there but by special authority of the king, delivered at each particular sitting.

This was intended as a deliberate insult to the Duke of Orleans, to exclude him from the Chamber of Peers, and to degrade him in the eyes of the partisans of the king. This pitiful spirit of persecution greatly increased the general popularity of the duke, which led to a redoubled clamor of calumny on the part of his opponents. He was accused of seeking to rally around him the malcontents, of courting the favor of the populace, and of trying to organize an Orleans faction in his interests.

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


The clamor was so loud and so annoying, and the duke found himself so entirely excluded from the sympathies of the court and of the dominant nobles, that, to escape from the storm, he imposed upon himself voluntary exile, and again, forsaking France, sought refuge with his family in his English retreat at Twickenham.

The annoying report was circulated, that the duke was banished by an indignant decree of the king, which, out of regard to the duke's feelings, he had not made public. Louis Philippe was fully conscious of the great unpopularity of the elder branch of the Bourbons, and of the feeble tenure by which they held their power, sustained against the popular will by the bayonets of the Allies.

The duke had hardly arrived at Twickenham ere he received an affecting letter from the wife of Marshal Ney, entreating him to intercede with the Prince Regent of England for the life of her noble husband, then in prison awaiting the almost certain doom of death. The duke did plead for him in the most earnest terms; but his efforts were unavailing. Thus one of the most illustrious of the sons of France, "the bravest of the brave," was led out into the garden of the Luxembourg and shot down like a dog. Marshal Ney had fought a hundred battles for France, not one against her. His crime was, that, having accepted command under the Bourbons, he had been guilty of treason in deserting his standard, and had welcomed back the emperor, whom he had served in so many battles, and whom he so dearly loved. By the capitulation of Paris it was expressly declared that "no person should be molested for his political opinions or conduct during the Hundred Days;" but the Allies paid no regard to their plighted faith.

One important object of Louis Philippe, in withdrawing from France, was to avoid the embarrassment of being brought forward in opposition to the king, and in being made the head of the Liberal party. This refusal to identify himself with any democratic movement rendered him very popular with the English Court, a popularity increased by England's adoration of exalted rank and princely fortune. The duke was received, in palace and castle, with splendid hospitality, which he frequently eclipsed in the brilliant entertainments which he in return gave at Twickenham.

The duke now devoted himself, in his voluntary exile, to the administration of his sumptuous household, and to the rearing of his rapidly increasing family, abstaining entirely from all participation in the politics and intrigues of Paris. His mansion was ever thronged with distinguished guests, and multitudes, ruined by the storms which had swept over their several lands, frequented his saloons, seeking pecuniary aid. The applicants were so numerous and the claims so complicated, that the duke found it necessary to establish a bureau of charity to examine these claims and to disburse his bounty.

In 1817 the duke returned to France, and divided his time between the Palais Royal and his magnificent rural retreat at Neuilly. Wealth, rank, and hospitality will always draw a crowd. The duke lived, as it were, in a small but brilliant court of his own. He seldom appeared in the court of Louis XVIII., and took no part in public affairs. Much of his time was devoted to superintending the education of his very interesting group of children. Madame de Genlis gives the following description of this ducal family:

"I continued to pay my respects to Mademoiselle d'Orleans, who is still as kind and affectionate towards me as ever. I saw the young Prince de Joinville, who was only two years old, but who spoke as distinctly as a child of six or seven. He was also as polite as he was handsome and intelligent. In fact, the whole family of the Duke of Orleans is truly the most interesting I ever knew. The members of it are charming by their personal attractions, their natural qualities and education, and by the reciprocal attachment of parents and children."

But again the duke incurred the displeasure of the court. Anxious that his sons should derive the benefit of free intercourse with the world, he decided to place them, for the completion of their education, in the national lyceums. Here they were on a level with other boys, and could only secure distinction by merit. The court, however, and the old nobility, deemed it gross contamination for princes of the blood royal to associate with the children of citizens, and they regarded the measure as merely another attempt on the part of the Duke of Orleans to secure the favor of the populace. Even the king himself remonstrated with the duke upon the impropriety of his course. But the duke reminded his majesty that their illustrious ancestor, Henry IV., had been thus brought up, having been sent by his mother to the public school in Berne.

One of the Paris journals, commenting upon this republican measure of the duke, wrote: "Already has the Duke of Chartres, the eldest son of the Duke of Orleans, entered a college in Paris; a natural thing, it may be said, provided he is only old enough to comprehend the course of study. Princes have not hitherto been seen in public colleges since princes and colleges were in existence; and this noble youth is the first who has been educated in this manner.

"What would that great king Louis the Superb say—he who could not tolerate the idea even of his illegitimate children being confounded with the nobility of the kingdom, such was his sensitiveness in view of the degradation of the blood royal—if he beheld his grand-nephew, without page or Jesuit, at a public school, mixing with the common herd of the human race, and disputing with them for prizes, sometimes conquered, sometimes conqueror!"