First printed in Punch (9 nos.), 24 Feb. — 20 April, 1844.
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It is seldom that the historian has to record events more singular than those which occurred during this year, when the Crown of France was battled for by no less than four pretenders, with equal claims, merits, bravery, and popularity. First in the list we place — His Royal Highness Louis Anthony Frederick Samuel Anna Maria, Duke of Brittany, and son of Louis XVI. The unhappy Prince, when a prisoner with his unfortunate parents in the Temple, was enabled to escape from that place of confinement, hidden (for the treatment of the ruffians who guarded him had caused the young Prince to dwindle down astonishingly) in the cocked-hat of the Representative, Roederer. It is well known that, in the troublous revolutionary times, cocked-hats were worn of a considerable size.
He passed a considerable part of his life in Germany; was confined there for thirty years in the dungeons of Spielberg; and, escaping thence to England, was, under pretence of debt, but in reality from political hatred, imprisoned there also in the Tower of London. He must not be confounded with any other of the persons who laid claim to be children of the unfortunate victim of the first Revolution.
The next claimant, Henri of Bordeaux, is better known. In the year 1843 he held his little fugitive court in furnished lodgings, in a forgotten district of London, called Belgrave Square. Many of the nobles of France flocked thither to him, despising the persecutions of the occupant of the throne; and some of the chiefs of the British nobility — among whom may be reckoned the celebrated and chivalrous Duke of Jenkins — aided the adventurous young Prince with their counsels, their wealth, and their valor.
The third candidate was his Imperial Highness Prince John Thomas Napoleon — a fourteenth cousin of the late Emperor; and said by some to be a Prince of the House of Gomersal. He argued justly that, as the immediate relatives of the celebrated Corsican had declined to compete for the crown which was their right, he, Prince John Thomas, being next in succession, was, undoubtedly, heir to the vacant imperial throne. And in support of his claim, he appealed to the fidelity of Frenchmen and the strength of his good sword.
His Majesty Louis Philippe was, it need not be said, the illustrious wielder of the sceptre which the three above-named princes desired to wrest from him. It does not appear that the sagacious monarch was esteemed by his subjects, as such a prince should have been esteemed. The light-minded people, on the contrary, were rather weary than otherwise of his sway. They were not in the least attached to his amiable family, for whom his Majesty with characteristic thrift had endeavored to procure satisfactory allowances. And the leading statesmen of the country, whom his Majesty had disgusted, were suspected of entertaining any but feelings of loyalty towards his house and person.
It was against the above-named pretenders that Louis Philippe (now nearly a hundred years old), a prince amongst sovereigns, was called upon to defend his crown.
The city of Paris was guarded, as we all know, by a hundred and twenty-four forts, of a thousand guns each — provisioned for a considerable time, and all so constructed as to fire, if need were, upon the palace of the Tuileries. Thus, should the mob attack it, as in August 1792, and July 1830, the building could be razed to the ground in an hour; thus, too, the capital was quite secure from foreign invasion. Another defence against the foreigners was the state of the roads. Since the English companies had retired, half a mile only of railroad had been completed in France, and thus any army accustomed, as those of Europe now are, to move at sixty miles an hour, would have been ennuye’d to death before they could have marched from the Rhenish, the Maritime, the Alpine, or the Pyrenean frontier upon the capital of France. The French people, however, were indignant at this defect of communication in their territory, and said, without the least show of reason, that they would have preferred that the five hundred and seventy-five thousand billions of francs which had been expended upon the fortifications should have been laid out in a more peaceful manner. However, behind his forts, the King lay secure.
As it is our aim to depict in as vivid a manner as possible the strange events of the period, the actions, the passions of individuals and parties engaged, we cannot better describe them than by referring to contemporary documents, of which there is no lack. It is amusing at the present day to read in the pages of the Moniteur and the Journal des Debats the accounts of the strange scenes which took place.
The year 1884 had opened very tranquilly. The Court of the Tuileries had been extremely gay. The three-and-twenty youngest Princes of England, sons of her Majesty Victoria, had enlivened the balls by their presence; the Emperor of Russia and family had paid their accustomed visit; and the King of the Belgians had, as usual, made his visit to his royal father-inlaw, under pretence of duty and pleasure, but really to demand payment of the Queen of the Belgians’ dowry, which Louis Philippe of Orleans still resolutely declined to pay. Who would have thought that in the midst of such festivity danger was lurking rife, in the midst of such quiet, rebellion?
Charenton was the great lunatic asylum of Paris, and it was to this repository that the scornful journalist consigned the pretender to the throne of Louis XVI.
But on the next day, viz. Saturday, the 29th February, the same journal contained a paragraph of a much more startling and serious import; in which, although under a mask of carelessness, it was easy to see the Government alarm.
On Friday, the 28th February, the Journal des Debats contained a paragraph, which did not occasion much sensation at the Bourse, so absurd did its contents seem. It ran as follows:—
“ENCORE UN Louis XVII.! A letter from Calais tells us that a strange personage lately landed from England (from Bedlam we believe) has been giving himself out to be the son of the unfortunate Louis XVI. This is the twenty-fourth pretender of the species who has asserted that his father was the august victim of the Temple. Beyond his pretensions, the poor creature is said to be pretty harmless; he is accompanied by one or two old women, who declare they recognize in him the Dauphin; he does not make any attempt to seize upon his throne by force of arms, but waits until heaven shall conduct him to it.
“If his Majesty comes to Paris, we presume he will TAKE UP his quarters in the palace of Charenton.
“We have not before alluded to certain rumors which have been afloat (among the lowest canaille and the vilest estaminets of the metropolis), that a notorious personage — why should we hesitate to mention the name of the Prince John Thomas Napoleon? — has entered France with culpable intentions, and revolutionary views. The Moniteur of this morning, however, confirms the disgraceful fact. A pretender is on our shores; an armed assassin is threatening our peaceful liberties; a wandering, homeless cut-throat is robbing on our highways; and the punishment of his crime awaits him. Let no considerations of the past defer that just punishment; it is the duty of the legislator to provide for THE FUTURE. Let the full powers of the law be brought against him, aided by the stern justice of the public force. Let him be tracked, like a wild beast, to his lair, and meet the fate of one. But the sentence has, ere this, been certainly executed. The brigand, we hear, has been distributing (without any effect) pamphlets among the low ale-houses and peasantry of the department of the Upper Rhine (in which he lurks); and the Police have an easy means of tracking his footsteps.
“Corporal Crane, of the Gendarmerie, is on the track of the unfortunate young man. His attempt will only serve to show the folly of the pretenders, and the love, respect, regard, fidelity, admiration, reverence, and passionate personal attachment in which we hold our beloved sovereign.”
“CAPTURE OF THE PRINCE.
“A courier has just arrived at the Tuileries with a report that after a scuffle between Corporal Crane and the ‘Imperial Army,’ in a water-barrel, whither the latter had retreated, victory has remained with the former. A desperate combat ensued in the first place, in a hay-loft, whence the pretender was ejected with immense loss. He is now a prisoner — and we dread to think what his fate may be! It will warn future aspirants, and give Europe a lesson which it is not likely to forget. Above all, it will set beyond a doubt the regard, respect, admiration, reverence, and adoration which we all feel for our sovereign.”
“A second courier has arrived. The infatuated Crane has made common cause with the Prince, and forever forfeited the respect of Frenchmen. A detachment of the 520th Leger has marched in pursuit of the pretender and his dupes. Go, Frenchmen, go and conquer! Remember that it is our rights you guard, our homes which you march to defend; our laws which are confided to the points of your unsullied bayonets; — above all, our dear, dear sovereign, around whose throne you rally!
“Our feelings overpower us. Men of the 520th, remember your watchword is Gemappes — your countersign, Valmy.”
“The Emperor of Russia and his distinguished family quitted the Tuileries this day. His Imperial Majesty embraced his Majesty the King of the French with tears in his eyes, and conferred upon their RR. HH. the Princes of Nemours and Joinville, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Blue Eagle.”
“His Majesty passed a review of the Police force. The venerable monarch was received with deafening cheers by this admirable and disinterested body of men. Those cheers were echoed in all French hearts. Long, long may our beloved Prince be among us to receive them!”
Sunday, February 30th.
We resume our quotations from the Debats, which thus introduces a third pretender to the throne:—
“Is this distracted country never to have peace? While on Friday we recorded the pretensions of a maniac to the great throne of France; while on Saturday we were compelled to register the culpable attempts of one whom we regard as a ruffian, murderer, swindler, forger, burglar, and common pickpocket, to gain over the allegiance of Frenchmen — it is today our painful duty to announce a THIRD invasion — yes, a third invasion. The wretched, superstitious, fanatic Duke of Bordeaux has landed at Nantz, and has summoned the Vendeans and the Bretons to mount the white cockade.
“Grand Dieu! are we not happy under the tricolor? Do we not repose under the majestic shadow of the best of kings? Is there any name prouder than that of Frenchman; any subject more happy than that of our sovereign? Does not the whole French family adore their father? Yes. Our lives, our hearts, our blood, our fortune, are at his disposal: it was not in vain that we raised, it is not the first time we have rallied round, the august throne of July. The unhappy Duke is most likely a prisoner by this time; and the martial court which shall be called upon to judge one infamous traitor and pretender, may at the same moment judge another. Away with both! let the ditch of Vincennes (which has been already fatal to his race) receive his body, too, and with it the corpse of the other pretender. Thus will a great crime be wiped out of history, and the manes of a slaughtered martyr avenged!
“One word more. We hear that the Duke of Jenkins accompanies the descendant of Caroline of Naples. An ENGLISH DUKE, entendez-vous! An English Duke, great heaven! and the Princes of England still dancing in our royal halls! Where, where will the perfidy of Albion end?”
“The King reviewed the third and fourth battalions of Police. The usual heart-rending cheers accompanied the monarch, who looked younger than ever we saw him — ay, as young as when he faced the Austrian cannon at Valmy and scattered their squadrons at Gemappes.
“Rations of liquor, and crosses of the Legion of Honor, were distributed to all the men.
“The English Princes quitted the Tuileries in twenty-three coaches-and-four. They were not rewarded with crosses of the Legion of Honor. This is significant.”
“The Dukes of Joinville and Nemours left the palace for the departments of the Loire and Upper Rhine, where they will take the command of the troops. The Joinville regiment — Cavalerie de la Marine — is one of the finest in the service.”
“Orders have been given to arrest the fanatic who calls himself Duke of Brittany, and who has been making some disturbances in the Pas de Calais.”
“ANECDOTE OF HIS MAJESTY. — At the review of troops (Police) yesterday, his Majesty, going up to one old grognard and pulling him by the ear, said, ‘Wilt thou have a cross or another ration of wine?’ The old hero, smiling archly, answered, ‘Sire, a brave man can gain a cross any day of battle, but it is hard for him sometimes to get a drink of wine.’ We need not say that he had his drink, and the generous sovereign sent him the cross and ribbon too.”
On the next day, the Government journals began to write in rather a despondent tone regarding the progress of the pretenders to the throne. In spite of their big talking, anxiety is clearly manifested, as appears from the following remarks of the Debats:—
“The courier from the Rhine department,” says the Debats, “brings us the following astounding Proclamation:—
“‘Strasburg, xxii. Nivose: Decadi. 92nd year of the Republic, one and indivisible. We, John Thomas Napoleon, by the constitutions of the Empire, Emperor of the French Republic, to our marshals, generals, officers, and soldiers, greeting:
“‘From the summit of the Pyramids forty centuries look down upon you. The sun of Austerlitz has risen once more. The Guard dies, but never surrenders. My eagles, flying from steeple to steeple, never shall droop till they perch on the towers of Notre Dame.
“‘Soldiers! the child of YOUR FATHER has remained long in exile. I have seen the fields of Europe where your laurels are now withering, and I have communed with the dead who repose beneath them. They ask where are our children? Where is France? Europe no longer glitters with the shine of its triumphant bayonets — echoes no more with the shouts of its victorious cannon. Who could reply to such a question save with a blush? — And does a blush become the cheeks of Frenchmen?
“‘No. Let us wipe from our faces that degrading mark of shame. Come, as of old, and rally round my eagles! You have been subject to fiddling prudence long enough. Come, worship now at the shrine of Glory! You have been promised liberty, but you have had none. I will endow you with the true, the real freedom. When your ancestors burst over the Alps, were they not free? Yes; free to conquer. Let us imitate the example of those indomitable myriads; and, flinging a defiance to Europe, once more trample over her; march in triumph into her prostrate capitals, and bring her kings with her treasures at our feet. This is the liberty worthy of Frenchmen.
“‘Frenchmen! I promise you that the Rhine shall be restored to you; and that England shall rank no more among the nations. I will have a marine that shall drive her ships from the seas; a few of my brave regiments will do the rest. Henceforth, the traveller in that desert island shall ask, “Was it this wretched corner of the world that for a thousand years defied Frenchmen?”
“‘Frenchmen, up and rally! — I have flung my banner to the breezes; ’tis surrounded by the faithful and the brave. Up, and let our motto be, LIBERTY, EQUALITY, WAR ALL OVER THE WORLD!
“‘The Marshal of the Empire, HARICOT.’
“Such is the Proclamation! such the hopes that a brutal-minded and bloody adventurer holds out to our country. ‘War all over the world,’ is the cry of the savage demon; and the fiends who have rallied round him echo it in concert. We were not, it appears, correct in stating that a corporal’s guard had been sufficient to seize upon the marauder, when the first fire would have served to conclude his miserable life. But, like a hideous disease, the contagion has spread; the remedy must be dreadful. Woe to those on whom it will fall!
“His Royal Highness the Prince of Joinville, Admiral of France, has hastened, as we before stated, to the disturbed districts, and takes with him his Cavalerie de la Marine. It is hard to think that the blades of those chivalrous heroes must be buried in the bosoms of Frenchmen: but so be it: it is those monsters who have asked for blood, not we. It is those ruffians who have begun the quarrel, not we. WE remain calm and hopeful, reposing under the protection of the dearest and best of sovereigns.
“The wretched pretender, who called himself Duke of Brittany, has been seized, according to our prophecy: he was brought before the Prefect of Police yesterday, and his insanity being proved beyond a doubt, he has been consigned to a strait-waistcoat at Charenton. So may all incendiary enemies of our Government be overcome!
“His Royal Highness the Duke of Nemours is gone into the department of the Loire, where he will speedily put an end to the troubles in the disturbed districts of the Bocage and La Vendee. The foolish young Prince, who has there raised his standard, is followed, we hear, by a small number of wretched persons, of whose massacre we expect every moment to receive the news. He too has issued his Proclamation, and our readers will smile at its contents:
“‘WE HENRY, Fifth of the Name, King of France and Navarre, to all whom it may concern, greeting:
“‘After years of exile we have once more unfurled in France the banner of the lilies. Once more the white plume of Henri IV. floats in the crest of his little son (petit fils)! Gallant nobles! worthy burgesses! honest commons of my realm, I call upon you to rally round the oriflamme of France, and summon the ban arriereban of my kingdoms. To my faithful Bretons I need not appeal. The country of Duguesclin has loyalty for an heirloom! To the rest of my subjects, my atheist misguided subjects, their father makes one last appeal. Come to me, my children! your errors shall be forgiven. Our Holy Father, the Pope, shall intercede for you. He promised it when, before my departure on this expedition, I kissed his inviolable toe!
“‘Our afflicted country cries aloud for reforms. The infamous universities shall be abolished. Education shall no longer be permitted. A sacred and wholesome inquisition shall be established. My faithful nobles shall pay no more taxes. All the venerable institutions of our country shall be restored as they existed before 1788. Convents and monasteries again shall ornament our country, the calm nurseries of saints and holy women! Heresy shall be extirpated with paternal severity, and our country shall be free once more.
“‘His Majesty the King of Ireland, my august ally, has sent, under the command of His Royal Highness Prince Daniel, his Majesty’s youngest son, an irresistible IRISH BRIGADE, to co-operate in the good work. His Grace the Lion of Judah, the canonized patriarch of Tuam, blessed their green banner before they set forth. Henceforth may the lilies and the harp be ever twined together. Together we will make a crusade against the infidels of Albion, and raze their heretic domes to the ground. Let our cry be, Vive la France! down with England! Montjoie St. Denis!
“‘BY THE KING.
“‘The Secretary of State and Grand Inquisitor . . . LA ROUE. The Marshal of France . . . POMADOUR DE L’AILE DE PIGEON. The General Commander-inChief of the Irish Brigade in the service of his Most Christian Majesty . . . DANIEL, PRINCE OF BALLYBUNION.
“His Majesty reviewed the admirable Police force, and held a council of Ministers in the afternoon. Measures were concerted for the instant putting down of the disturbances in the departments of the Rhine and Loire, and it is arranged that on the capture of the pretenders, they shall be lodged in separate cells in the prison of the Luxembourg: the apartments are already prepared, and the officers at their posts.
“The grand banquet that was to be given at the palace today to the diplomatic body, has been put off; all the ambassadors being attacked with illness, which compels them to stay at home.”
“The ambassadors despatched couriers to their various Governments.”
“His Majesty the King of the Belgians left the palace of the Tuileries.”
We will now resume the narrative, and endeavor to compress, in a few comprehensive pages, the facts which are more diffusely described in the print from which we have quoted.
It was manifest, then, that the troubles in the departments were of a serious nature, and that the forces gathered round the two pretenders to the crown were considerable. They had their supporters too in Paris — as what party indeed has not? and the venerable occupant of the throne was in a state of considerable anxiety, and found his declining years by no means so comfortable as his virtues and great age might have warranted.
His paternal heart was the more grieved when he thought of the fate reserved to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, now sprung up around him in vast numbers. The King’s grandson, the Prince Royal, married to a Princess of the house of Schlippen-Schloppen, was the father of fourteen children, all handsomely endowed with pensions by the State. His brother, the Count D’Eu, was similarly blessed with a multitudinous offspring. The Duke of Nemours had no children; but the Princes of Joinville, Aumale, and Montpensier (married to the Princesses Januaria and Februaria, of Brazil, and the Princess of the United States of America, erected into a monarchy, 4th July, 1856, under the Emperor Duff Green I.) were the happy fathers of immense families — all liberally apportioned by the Chambers, which had long been entirely subservient to his Majesty Louis Philippe.
The Duke of Aumale was King of Algeria, having married (in the first instance) the Princess Badroulboudour, a daughter of his Highness Abd-El-Kader. The Prince of Joinville was adored by the nation, on account of his famous victory over the English fleet under the command of Admiral the Prince of Wales, whose ship, the “Richard Cobden,” of 120 guns, was taken by the “Belle-Poule” frigate of 36; on which occasion forty-five other ships of war and 79 steam-frigates struck their colors to about one-fourth the number of the heroic French navy. The victory was mainly owing to the gallantry of the celebrated French horse-marines, who executed several brilliant charges under the orders of the intrepid Joinville; and though the Irish Brigade, with their ordinary modesty, claimed the honors of the day, yet, as only three of that nation were present in the action, impartial history must award the palm to the intrepid sons of Gaul.
With so numerous a family quartered on the nation, the solicitude of the admirable King may be conceived, lest a revolution should ensue, and fling them on the world once more. How could he support so numerous a family? Considerable as his wealth was (for he was known to have amassed about a hundred and thirteen billions, which were lying in the caves of the Tuileries), yet such a sum was quite insignificant, when divided among his progeny; and, besides, he naturally preferred getting from the nation as much as his faithful people could possibly afford.
Seeing the imminency of the danger, and that money, well applied, is often more efficacious than the conqueror’s sword, the King’s Ministers were anxious that he should devote a part of his savings to the carrying on of the war. But, with the cautiousness of age, the monarch declined this offer; he preferred, he said, throwing himself upon his faithful people, who, he was sure, would meet, as became them, the coming exigency. The Chambers met his appeal with their usual devotion. At a solemn convocation of those legislative bodies, the King, surrounded by his family, explained the circumstances and the danger. His Majesty, his family, his Ministers, and the two Chambers, then burst into tears, according to immemorial usage, and raising their hands to the ceiling, swore eternal fidelity to the dynasty and to France, and embraced each other affectingly all round.
It need not be said that in the course of that evening two hundred Deputies of the Left left Paris, and joined the Prince John Thomas Napoleon, who was now advanced as far as Dijon: two hundred and fifty-three (of the Right, the Centre, and Round the Corner,) similarly quitted the capital to pay their homage to the Duke of Bordeaux. They were followed, according to their several political predilections, by the various Ministers and dignitaries of the State. The only Minister who remained in Paris was Marshal Thiers, Prince of Waterloo (he had defeated the English in the very field where they had obtained formerly a success, though the victory was as usual claimed by the Irish Brigade); but age had ruined the health and diminished the immense strength of that gigantic leader, and it is said his only reason for remaining in Paris was because a fit of the gout kept him in bed.
The capital was entirely tranquil. The theatres and cafes were open as usual, and the masked balls attended with great enthusiasm: confiding in their hundred and twenty-four forts, the light-minded people had nothing to fear.
Except in the way of money, the King left nothing undone to conciliate his people. He even went among them with his umbrella; but they were little touched with that mark of confidence. He shook hands with everybody; he distributed crosses of the Legion of Honor in such multitudes, that red ribbon rose two hundred per cent in the market (by which his Majesty, who speculated in the article, cleared a tolerable sum of money). But these blandishments and honors had little effect upon an apathetic people; and the enemy of the Orleans dynasty, the fashionable young nobles of the Henriquinquiste party, wore gloves perpetually, for fear (they said) that they should be obliged to shake hands with the best of kings; while the republicans adopted coats without button-holes, lest they should be forced to hang red ribbons in them. The funds did not fluctuate in the least.
The proclamations of the several pretenders had had their effect. The young men of the schools and the estaminets (celebrated places of public education) allured by the noble words of Prince Napoleon, “Liberty, equality, war all over the world!” flocked to his standard in considerable numbers: while the noblesse naturally hastened to offer their allegiance to the legitimate descendant of Saint Louis.
And truly, never was there seen a more brilliant chivalry than that collected round the gallant Prince Henry! There was not a man in his army but had lacquered boots and fresh white kid-gloves at morning and evening parade. The fantastic and effeminate but brave and faithful troops were numbered off into different legions: there was the Fleur-d’Orange regiment; the Eau-de-Rose battalion; the Violet-Pomatum volunteers; the Eau-de-Cologne cavalry — according to the different scents which they affected. Most of the warriors wore lace ruffles; all powder and pigtails, as in the real days of chivalry. A band of heavy dragoons under the command of Count Alfred de Horsay made themselves conspicuous for their discipline, cruelty, and the admirable cut of their coats; and with these celebrated horsemen came from England the illustrious Duke of Jenkins with his superb footmen. They were all six feet high. They all wore bouquets of the richest flowers: they wore bags, their hair slightly powdered, brilliant shoulder-knots, and cocked-hats laced with gold. They wore the tight knee-pantaloon of velveteen peculiar to this portion of the British infantry: and their legs were so superb, that the Duke of Bordeaux, embracing with tears their admirable leader on parade, said, “Jenkins, France never saw such calves until now.” The weapon of this tremendous militia was an immense club or cane, reaching from the sole of the foot to the nose, and heavily mounted with gold. Nothing could stand before this terrific weapon, and the breast-plates and plumed morions of the French cuirassiers would have been undoubtedly crushed beneath them, had they ever met in mortal combat. Between this part of the Prince’s forces and the Irish auxiliaries there was a deadly animosity. Alas, there always is such in camps! The sons of Albion had not forgotten the day when the children of Erin had been subject to their devastating sway.
The uniform of the latter was various — the rich stuff called corps-du-roy (worn by Coeur de Lion at Agincourt) formed their lower habiliments for the most part: the national frieze14 yielded them tail-coats. The latter was generally torn in a fantastic manner at the elbows, skirts, and collars, and fastened with every variety of button, tape, and string. Their weapons were the caubeen, the alpeen, and the doodeen of the country — the latter a short but dreadful weapon of offence. At the demise of the venerable Theobald Mathew, the nation had laid aside its habit of temperance, and universal intoxication betokened their grief; it became afterwards their constant habit. Thus do men ever return to the haunts of their childhood: such a power has fond memory over us! The leaders of this host seem to have been, however, an effeminate race; they are represented by contemporary historians as being passionately fond of FLYING KITES. Others say they went into battle armed with “bills,” no doubt rude weapons; for it is stated that foreigners could never be got to accept them in lieu of their own arms. The Princes of Mayo, Donegal, and Connemara, marched by the side of their young and royal chieftain, the Prince of Ballybunion, fourth son of Daniel the First, King of the Emerald Isle.
14 Were these in any way related to the chevaux-de-frise on which the French cavalry were mounted?
Two hosts then, one under the Eagles, and surrounded by the republican imperialists, the other under the antique French Lilies, were marching on the French capital. The Duke of Brittany, too, confined in the lunatic asylum of Charenton, found means to issue a protest against his captivity, which caused only derision in the capital. Such was the state of the empire, and such the clouds that were gathering round the Sun of Orleans!
It was not the first time that the King had had to undergo misfortunes; and now, as then, he met them like a man. The Prince of Joinville was not successful in his campaign against the Imperial Pretender: and that bravery which had put the British fleet to flight, was found, as might be expected, insufficient against the irresistible courage of native Frenchmen. The Horse Marines, not being on their own element, could not act with their usual effect. Accustomed to the tumult of the swelling seas, they were easily unsaddled on terra firma and in the Champagne country.
It was literally in the Champagne country that the meeting between the troops under Joinville and Prince Napoleon took place! for both armies had reached Rheims, and a terrific battle was fought underneath the walls. For some time nothing could dislodge the army of Joinville, entrenched in the champagne cellars of Messrs. Ruinart, Moet, and others; but making too free with the fascinating liquor, the army at length became entirely drunk: on which the Imperialists, rushing into the cellars, had an easy victory over them; and, this done, proceeded to intoxicate themselves likewise.
The Prince of Joinville, seeing the deroute of his troops, was compelled with a few faithful followers to fly towards Paris, and Prince Napoleon remained master of the field of battle. It is needless to recapitulate the bulletin which he published the day after the occasion, so soon as he and his secretaries were in a condition to write: eagles, pyramids, rainbows, the sun of Austerlitz, &c., figured in the proclamation, in close imitation of his illustrious uncle. But the great benefit of the action was this: on arousing from their intoxication, the late soldiers of Joinville kissed and embraced their comrades of the Imperial army, and made common cause with them.
“Soldiers!” said the Prince, on reviewing them the second day after the action, “the Cock is a gallant bird; but he makes way for the Eagle! Your colors are not changed. Ours floated on the walls of Moscow — yours on the ramparts of Constantine; both are glorious. Soldiers of Joinville! we give you welcome, as we would welcome your illustrious leader, who destroyed the fleets of Albion. Let him join us! We will march together against that perfidious enemy.
“But, Soldiers! intoxication dimmed the laurels of yesterday’s glorious day! Let us drink no more of the fascinating liquors of our native Champagne. Let us remember Hannibal and Capua; and, before we plunge into dissipation, that we have Rome still to conquer!
“Soldiers! Seltzer-water is good after too much drink. Wait awhile, and your Emperor will lead you into a Seltzer-water country. Frenchmen! it lies BEYOND THE RHINE!”
Deafening shouts of “Vive l’Empereur!” saluted this allusion of the Prince, and the army knew that their natural boundary should be restored to them. The compliments to the gallantry of the Prince of Joinville likewise won all hearts, and immensely advanced the Prince’s cause. The Journal des Debats did not know which way to turn. In one paragraph it called the Emperor “a sanguinary tyrant, murderer, and pickpocket;” in a second it owned he was “a magnanimous rebel, and worthy of forgiveness;” and, after proclaiming “the brilliant victory of the Prince of Joinville,” presently denominated it a “funeste journee.”
The next day the Emperor, as we may now call him, was about to march on Paris, when Messrs. Ruinart and Moet were presented, and requested to be paid for 300,000 bottles of wine. “Send three hundred thousand more to the Tuileries,” said the Prince, sternly: “our soldiers will be thirsty when they reach Paris.” And taking Moet with him as a hostage, and promising Ruinart that he would have him shot unless he obeyed, with trumpets playing and eagles glancing in the sun, the gallant Imperial army marched on their triumphant way.
We have now to record the expedition of the Prince of Nemours against his advancing cousin, Henry V. His Royal Highness could not march against the enemy with such a force as he would have desired to bring against them; for his royal father, wisely remembering the vast amount of property he had stowed away under the Tuileries, refused to allow a single soldier to quit the forts round the capital, which thus was defended by one hundred and forty-four thousand guns (eighty-four-pounders), and four hundred and thirty-two thousand men:— little enough, when one considers that there were but three men to a gun. To provision this immense army, and a population of double the amount within the walls, his Majesty caused the country to be scoured for fifty miles round, and left neither ox, nor ass, nor blade of grass. When appealed to by the inhabitants of the plundered district, the royal Philip replied, with tears in his eyes, that his heart bled for them — that they were his children — that every cow taken from the meanest peasant was like a limb torn from his own body; but that duty must be done, that the interests of the country demanded the sacrifice, and that in fact, they might go to the deuce. This the unfortunate creatures certainly did.
The theatres went on as usual within the walls. The Journal des Debats stated every day that the pretenders were taken; the Chambers sat — such as remained — and talked immensely about honor, dignity, and the glorious revolution of July; and the King, as his power was now pretty nigh absolute over them, thought this a good opportunity to bring in a bill for doubling his children’s allowances all round.
Meanwhile the Duke of Nemours proceeded on his march; and as there was nothing left within fifty miles of Paris wherewith to support his famished troops, it may be imagined that he was forced to ransack the next fifty miles in order to maintain them. He did so. But the troops were not such as they should have been, considering the enemy with whom they had to engage.
The fact is, that most of the Duke’s army consisted of the National Guard; who, in a fit of enthusiasm, and at the cry of “LA PATRIE EN DANGER” having been induced to volunteer, had been eagerly accepted by his Majesty, anxious to lessen as much as possible the number of food-consumers in his beleaguered capital. It is said even that he selected the most gormandizing battalions of the civic force to send forth against the enemy: viz, the grocers, the rich bankers, the lawyers, &c. Their parting with their families was very affecting. They would have been very willing to recall their offer of marching, but companies of stern veterans closing round them, marched them to the city gates, which were closed upon them; and thus perforce they were compelled to move on. As long as he had a bottle of brandy and a couple of sausages in his holsters, the General of the National Guard, Odillon Barrot, talked with tremendous courage. Such was the power of his eloquence over the troops, that, could he have come up with the enemy while his victuals lasted, the issue of the combat might have been very different. But in the course of the first day’s march he finished both the sausages and the brandy, and became quite uneasy, silent, and crest-fallen.
It was on the fair plains of Touraine, by the banks of silver Loire, that the armies sat down before each other, and the battle was to take place which had such an effect upon the fortunes of France. ’Twas a brisk day of March: the practised valor of Nemours showed him at once what use to make of the army under his orders, and having enfiladed his National Guard battalions, and placed his artillery in echelons, he formed his cavalry into hollow squares on the right and left of his line, flinging out a cloud of howitzers to fall back upon the main column. His veteran infantry he formed behind his National Guard — politely hinting to Odillon Barrot, who wished to retire under pretence of being exceedingly unwell, that the regular troops would bayonet the National Guard if they gave way an inch: on which their General, turning very pale, demurely went back to his post. His men were dreadfully discouraged; they had slept on the ground all night; they regretted their homes and their comfortable nightcaps in the Rue St. Honore: they had luckily fallen in with a flock of sheep and a drove of oxen at Tours the day before; but what were these, compared to the delicacies of Chevet’s or three courses at Vefour’s? They mournfully cooked their steaks and cutlets on their ramrods, and passed a most wretched night.
The army of Henry was encamped opposite to them for the most part in better order. The noble cavalry regiments found a village in which they made themselves pretty comfortable, Jenkins’s Foot taking possession of the kitchens and garrets of the buildings. The Irish Brigade, accustomed to lie abroad, were quartered in some potato fields, where they sang Moore’s melodies all night. There were, besides the troops regular and irregular, about three thousand priests and abbes with the army, armed with scourging-whips, and chanting the most lugubrious canticles: these reverend men were found to be a hindrance rather than otherwise to the operations of the regular forces.
It was a touching sight, on the morning before the battle, to see the alacrity with which Jenkins’s regiment sprung up at the FIRST reveille of the bell, and engaged (the honest fellows!) in offices almost menial for the benefit of their French allies. The Duke himself set the example, and blacked to a nicety the boots of Henri. At half-past ten, after coffee, the brilliant warriors of the cavalry were ready; their clarions rung to horse, their banners were given to the wind, their shirt-collars were exquisitely starched, and the whole air was scented with the odors of their pomatums and pocket-handkerchiefs.
Jenkins had the honor of holding the stirrup for Henri. “My faithful Duke!” said the Prince, pulling him by the shoulder-knot, “thou art always at THY POST.” “Here, as in Wellington Street, sire,” said the hero, blushing. And the Prince made an appropriate speech to his chivalry, in which allusions to the lilies, Saint Louis, Bayard and Henri Quatre, were, as may be imagined, not spared. “Ho! standard-bearer!” the Prince concluded, “fling out my oriflamme. Noble gents of France, your King is among you today!”
Then turning to the Prince of Ballybunion, who had been drinking whiskey-punch all night with the Princes of Donegal and Connemara, “Prince,” he said, “the Irish Brigade has won every battle in the French history — we will not deprive you of the honor of winning this. You will please to commence the attack with your brigade.” Bending his head until the green plumes of his beaver mingled with the mane of the Shetland pony which he rode, the Prince of Ireland trotted off with his aides-de-camp; who rode the same horses, powerful grays, with which a dealer at Nantz had supplied them on their and the Prince’s joint bill at three months.
The gallant sons of Erin had wisely slept until the last minute in their potato-trenches, but rose at once at the summons of their beloved Prince. Their toilet was the work of a moment — a single shake and it was done. Rapidly forming into a line, they advanced headed by their Generals — who, turning their steeds into a grass-field, wisely determined to fight on foot. Behind them came the line of British foot under the illustrious Jenkins, who marched in advance perfectly collected, and smoking a Manilla cigar. The cavalry were on the right and left of the infantry, prepared to act in pontoon, in echelon, or in ricochet, as occasion might demand. The Prince rode behind, supported by his Staff, who were almost all of them bishops, archdeacons, or abbes; and the body of ecclesiastics followed, singing to the sound, or rather howl, of serpents and trombones, the Latin canticles of the Reverend Franciscus O’Mahony, lately canonized under the name of Saint Francis of Cork.
The advanced lines of the two contending armies were now in presence — the National Guard of Orleans and the Irish Brigade. The white belts and fat paunches of the Guard presented a terrific appearance; but it might have been remarked by the close observer, that their faces were as white as their belts, and the long line of their bayonets might be seen to quiver. General Odillon Barrot, with a cockade as large as a pancake, endeavored to make a speech: the words honneur, patrie, Francais, champ de bataille might be distinguished; but the General was dreadfully flustered, and was evidently more at home in the Chamber of Deputies than in the field of war.
The Prince of Ballybunion, for a wonder, did not make a speech. “Boys,” said he, “we’ve enough talking at the Corn Exchange; bating’s the word now.” The Green-Islanders replied with a tremendous hurroo, which sent terror into the fat bosoms of the French.
“Gentlemen of the National Guard,” said the Prince, taking off his hat and bowing to Odillon Barrot, “will ye be so igsthramely obleeging as to fire first.” This he said because it had been said at Fontenoy, but chiefly because his own men were only armed with shillelaghs, and therefore could not fire.
But this proposal was very unpalatable to the National Guardsmen: for though they understood the musket-exercise pretty well, firing was the thing of all others they detested — the noise, and the kick of the gun, and the smell of the powder being very unpleasant to them. “We won’t fire,” said Odillon Barrot, turning round to Colonel Saugrenue and his regiment of the line — which, it may be remembered, was formed behind the National Guard.
“Then give them the bayonet,” said the Colonel, with a terrific oath. “Charge, corbleu!”
At this moment, and with the most dreadful howl that ever was heard, the National Guard was seen to rush forwards wildly, and with immense velocity, towards the foe. The fact is, that the line regiment behind them, each selecting his man, gave a poke with his bayonet between the coat-tails of the Nationals, and those troops bounded forward with an irresistible swiftness.
Nothing could withstand the tremendous impetus of that manoeuvre. The Irish Brigade was scattered before it, as chaff before the wind. The Prince of Ballybunion had barely time to run Odillon Barrot through the body, when he too was borne away in the swift rout. They scattered tumultuously, and fled for twenty miles without stopping. The Princes of Donegal and Connemara were taken prisoners; but though they offered to give bills at three months, and for a hundred thousand pounds, for their ransom, the offer was refused, and they were sent to the rear; when the Duke of Nemours, hearing they were Irish Generals, and that they had been robbed of their ready money by his troops, who had taken them prisoners, caused a comfortable breakfast to be supplied to them, and lent them each a sum of money. How generous are men in success! — the Prince of Orleans was charmed with the conduct of his National Guards, and thought his victory secure. He despatched a courier to Paris with the brief words, “We met the enemy before Tours. The National Guard has done its duty. The troops of the pretender are routed. Vive le Roi!” The note, you may be sure, appeared in the Journal des Debats, and the editor, who only that morning had called Henri V. “a great prince, an august exile,” denominated him instantly a murderer, slave, thief, cut-throat, pickpocket, and burglar.
But the Prince had not calculated that there was a line of British infantry behind the routed Irish Brigade. Borne on with the hurry of the melee, flushed with triumph, puffing and blowing with running, and forgetting, in the intoxication of victory, the trifling bayonet-pricks which had impelled them to the charge, the conquering National Guardsmen found themselves suddenly in presence of Jenkins’s Foot.
They halted all in a huddle, like a flock of sheep.
“UP, FOOT, AND AT THEM!” were the memorable words of the Duke Jenkins, as, waving his baton, he pointed towards the enemy, and with a tremendous shout the stalwart sons of England rushed on! — Down went plume and cocked-hat, down went corporal and captain, down went grocer and tailor, under the long staves of the indomitable English Footmen. “A Jenkins! a Jenkins!” roared the Duke, planting a blow which broke the aquiline nose of Major Arago, the celebrated astronomer. “St. George for Mayfair!” shouted his followers, strewing the plain with carcasses. Not a man of the Guard escaped; they fell like grass before the mower.
“They are gallant troops, those yellow-plushed Anglais,” said the Duke of Nemours, surveying them with his opera-glass. “’Tis a pity they will all be cut up in half an hour. Concombre! take your dragoons, and do it!” “Remember Waterloo, boys!” said Colonel Concombre, twirling his moustache, and a thousand sabres flashed in the sun, and the gallant hussars prepared to attack the Englishmen.
Jenkins, his gigantic form leaning on his staff, and surveying the havoc of the field, was instantly aware of the enemy’s manoeuvre. His people were employed rifling the pockets of the National Guard, and had made a tolerable booty, when the great Duke, taking a bell out of his pocket, (it was used for signals in his battalion in place of fife or bugle,) speedily called his scattered warriors together. “Take the muskets of the Nationals,” said he. They did so. “Form in square, and prepare to receive cavalry!” By the time Concombre’s regiment arrived, he found a square of bristling bayonets with Britons behind them!
The Colonel did not care to attempt to break that tremendous body. “Halt!” said he to his men.
“Fire!” screamed Jenkins, with eagle swiftness; but the guns of the National Guard not being loaded, did not in consequence go off. The hussars gave a jeer of derision, but nevertheless did not return to the attack, and seeing some of the Legitimist cavalry at hand, prepared to charge upon them.
The fate of those carpet warriors was soon decided. The Millefleur regiment broke before Concombre’s hussars instantaneously; the Eau-de-Rose dragoons stuck spurs into their blood horses, and galloped far out of reach of the opposing cavalry; the Eau-de-Cologne lancers fainted to a man, and the regiment of Concombre, pursuing its course, had actually reached the Prince and his aides-de-camp, when the clergymen coming up formed gallantly round the oriflamme, and the bassoons and serpents braying again, set up such a shout of canticles, and anathemas, and excommunications, that the horses of Concombre’s dragoons in turn took fright, and those warriors in their turn broke and fled. As soon as they turned, the Vendean riflemen fired amongst them and finished them: the gallant Concombre fell; the intrepid though diminutive Cornichon, his major, was cut down; Cardon was wounded a la moelle, and the wife of the fiery Navet was that day a widow. Peace to the souls of the brave! In defeat or in victory, where can the soldier find a more fitting resting-place than the glorious field of carnage? Only a few disorderly and dispirited riders of Concombre’s regiment reached Tours at night. They had left it but the day before, a thousand disciplined and high-spirited men!
Knowing how irresistible a weapon is the bayonet in British hands, the intrepid Jenkins determined to carry on his advantage, and charged the Saugrenue light infantry (now before him) with COLD STEEL. The Frenchmen delivered a volley, of which a shot took effect in Jenkins’s cockade, but did not abide the crossing of the weapons. “A Frenchman dies, but never surrenders,” said Saugrenue, yielding up his sword, and his whole regiment were stabbed, trampled down, or made prisoners. The blood of the Englishmen rose in the hot encounter. Their curses were horrible; their courage tremendous. “On! on!” hoarsely screamed they; and a second regiment met them and was crushed, pounded in the hurtling, grinding encounter. “A Jenkins, a Jenkins!” still roared the heroic Duke: “St. George for Mayfair!” The Footmen of England still yelled their terrific battle-cry, “Hurra, hurra!” On they went; regiment after regiment was annihilated, until, scared at the very trample of the advancing warriors, the dismayed troops of France screaming fled. Gathering his last warriors round about him, Nemours determined to make a last desperate effort. ’Twas vain: the ranks met; the next moment the truncheon of the Prince of Orleans was dashed from his hand by the irresistible mace of the Duke Jenkins; his horse’s shins were broken by the same weapon. Screaming with agony the animal fell. Jenkins’s hand was at the Duke’s collar in a moment, and had he not gasped out, “Je me rends!” he would have been throttled in that dreadful grasp!
Three hundred and forty-two standards, seventy-nine regiments, their baggage, ammunition, and treasure-chests, fell into the hands of the victorious Duke. He had avenged the honor of Old England; and himself presenting the sword of the conquered Nemours to Prince Henri, who now came up, the Prince bursting into tears, fell on his neck and said, “Duke, I owe my crown to my patron saint and you.” It was indeed a glorious victory: but what will not British valor attain?
The Duke of Nemours, having despatched a brief note to Paris, saying, “Sire, all is lost except honor!” was sent off in confinement; and in spite of the entreaties of his captor, was hardly treated with decent politeness. The priests and the noble regiments who rode back when the affair was over, were for having the Prince shot at once, and murmured loudly against “cet Anglais brutal” who interposed in behalf of the prisoner. Henri V. granted the Prince his life; but, no doubt misguided by the advice of his noble and ecclesiastical counsellors, treated the illustrious English Duke with marked coldness, and did not even ask him to supper that night.
“Well!” said Jenkins, “I and my merry men can sup alone.” And, indeed, having had the pick of the plunder of about 28,000 men, they had wherewithal to make themselves pretty comfortable. The prisoners (25,403) were all without difficulty induced to assume the white cockade. Most of them had those marks of loyalty ready sewn in their flannel-waistcoats, where they swore they had worn them ever since 1830. This we may believe, and we will; but the Prince Henri was too politic or too good-humored in the moment of victory, to doubt the sincerity of his new subjects’ protestations, and received the Colonels and Generals affably at his table.
The next morning a proclamation was issued to the united armies. “Faithful soldiers of France and Navarre,” said the Prince, “the saints have won for us a great victory — the enemies of our religion have been overcome — the lilies are restored to their native soil. Yesterday morning at eleven o’clock the army under my command engaged that which was led by his SERENE Highness the Duke de Nemours. Our forces were but a third in number when compared with those of the enemy. My faithful chivalry and nobles made the strength, however, equal.
“The regiments of Fleur-d’Orange, Millefleur, and Eau-de-Cologne covered themselves with glory: they sabred many thousands of the enemy’s troops. Their valor was ably seconded by the gallantry of my ecclesiastical friends: at a moment of danger they rallied round my banner, and forsaking the crosier for the sword, showed that they were of the church militant indeed.
“My faithful Irish auxiliaries conducted themselves with becoming heroism — but why particularize when all did their duty? How remember individual acts when all were heroes?” The Marshal of France, Sucre d’Orgeville, Commander of the Army of H.M. Christian Majesty, recommended about three thousand persons for promotion; and the indignation of Jenkins and his brave companions may be imagined when it is stated that they were not even mentioned in the despatch!
As for the Princes of Ballybunion, Donegal, and Connemara, they wrote off despatches to their Government, saying, “The Duke of Nemours is beaten, and a prisoner! The Irish Brigade has done it all!” On which his Majesty the King of the Irish, convoking his Parliament at the Corn Exchange Palace, Dublin, made a speech, in which he called Louis Philippe an “old miscreant,” and paid the highest compliments to his son and his troops. The King on this occasion knighted Sir Henry Sheehan, Sir Gavan Duffy (whose journals had published the news), and was so delighted with the valor of his son, that he despatched him his order of the Pig and Whistle (1st class), and a munificent present of five hundred thousand pounds — in a bill at three months. All Dublin was illuminated; and at a ball at the Castle the Lord Chancellor Smith (Earl of Smithereens) getting extremely intoxicated, called out the Lord Bishop of Galway (the Dove), and they fought in the Phoenix Park. Having shot the Right Reverend Bishop through the body, Smithereens apologized. He was the same practitioner who had rendered himself so celebrated in the memorable trial of the King — before the Act of Independence.
Meanwhile, the army of Prince Henri advanced with rapid strides towards Paris, whither the History likewise must hasten; for extraordinary were the events preparing in that capital.
By a singular coincidence, on the very same day when the armies of Henri V. appeared before Paris from the Western Road, those of the Emperor John Thomas Napoleon arrived from the North. Skirmishes took place between the advanced-guards of the two parties, and much slaughter ensued.
“Bon!” thought King Louis Philippe, who examined them from his tower; “they will kill each other. This is by far the most economical way of getting rid of them.” The astute monarch’s calculations were admirably exposed by a clever remark of the Prince of Ballybunion. “Faix, Harry,” says he (with a familiarity which the punctilious son of Saint Louis resented), “you and him yandther — the Emperor, I mane — are like the Kilkenny cats, dear.”
“Et que font-ils ces chats de Kilkigny, Monsieur le Prince de Ballybunion?” asked the Most Christian King haughtily.
Prince Daniel replied by narrating the well-known apologue of the animals “ating each other all up but their TEELS; and that’s what you and Imparial Pop yondther will do, blazing away as ye are,” added the jocose and royal boy.
“Je prie votre Altesse Royale de vaguer a ses propres affaires,” answered Prince Henri sternly: for he was an enemy to anything like a joke; but there is always wisdom in real wit, and it would have been well for his Most Christian Majesty had he followed the facetious counsels of his Irish ally.
The fact is, the King, Henri, had an understanding with the garrisons of some of the forts, and expected all would declare for him. However, of the twenty-four forts which we have described, eight only — and by the means of Marshal Soult, who had grown extremely devout of late years — declared for Henri, and raised the white flag: while eight others, seeing Prince John Thomas Napoleon before them in the costume of his revered predecessor, at once flung open their gates to him, and mounted the tricolor with the eagle. The remaining eight, into which the Princes of the blood of Orleans had thrown themselves, remained constant to Louis Philippe. Nothing could induce that Prince to quit the Tuileries. His money was there, and he swore he would remain by it. In vain his sons offered to bring him into one of the forts — he would not stir without his treasure. They said they would transport it thither; but no, no: the patriarchal monarch, putting his finger to his aged nose, and winking archly, said “he knew a trick worth two of that,” and resolved to abide by his bags.
The theatres and cafes remained open as usual: the funds rose three centimes. The Journal des Debats published three editions of different tones of politics: one, the Journal de l’Empire, for the Napoleonites; the Journal de la Legitimite another, very complimentary to the Legitimate monarch; and finally, the original edition, bound heart and soul to the dynasty of July. The poor editor, who had to write all three, complained not a little that his salary was not raised: but the truth is, that, by altering the names, one article did indifferently for either paper. The Duke of Brittany, under the title of Louis XVII., was always issuing manifestoes from Charenton, but of these the Parisians took little heed: the Charivari proclaimed itself his Gazette, and was allowed to be very witty at the expense of the three pretenders.
As the country had been ravaged for a hundred miles round, the respective Princes of course were for throwing themselves into the forts, where there was plenty of provision; and, when once there, they speedily began to turn out such of the garrison as were disagreeable to them, or had an inconvenient appetite, or were of a doubtful fidelity. These poor fellows turned into the road, had no choice but starvation; as to getting into Paris, that was impossible: a mouse could not have got into the place, so admirably were the forts guarded, without having his head taken off by a cannon-ball. Thus the three conflicting parties stood, close to each other, hating each other, “willing to wound and yet afraid to strike”— the victuals in the forts, from the prodigious increase of the garrisons, getting smaller every day. As for Louis Philippe in his palace, in the centre of the twenty-four forts, knowing that a spark from one might set them all blazing away, and that he and his money-bags might be blown into eternity in ten minutes, you may fancy his situation was not very comfortable.
But his safety lay in his treasure. Neither the Imperialists nor the Bourbonites were willing to relinquish the two hundred and fifty billions in gold; nor would the Princes of Orleans dare to fire upon that considerable sum of money, and its possessor, their revered father. How was this state of things to end? The Emperor sent a note to his Most Christian Majesty (for they always styled each other in this manner in their communications), proposing that they should turn out and decide the quarrel sword in hand; to which proposition Henri would have acceded, but that the priests, his ghostly counsellors, threatened to excommunicate him should he do so. Hence this simple way of settling the dispute was impossible.
The presence of the holy fathers caused considerable annoyance in the forts. Especially the poor English, as Protestants, were subject to much petty persecution, to the no small anger of Jenkins, their commander. And it must be confessed that these intrepid Footmen were not so amenable to discipline as they might have been. Remembering the usages of merry England, they clubbed together, and swore they would have four meals of meat a day, wax-candles in the casemates, and their porter. These demands were laughed at: the priests even called upon them to fast on Fridays; on which a general mutiny broke out in the regiment; and they would have had a FOURTH standard raised before Paris — viz., that of England — but the garrison proving too strong for them, they were compelled to lay down their sticks; and, in consideration of past services, were permitted to leave the forts. ’Twas well for them! as you shall hear.
The Prince of Ballybunion and the Irish force were quartered in the fort which, in compliment to them, was called Fort Potato, and where they made themselves as comfortable as circumstances would admit. The Princes had as much brandy as they liked, and passed their time on the ramparts playing at dice, or pitch-and-toss (with the halfpenny that one of them somehow had) for vast sums of money, for which they gave their notes-of-hand. The warriors of their legion would stand round delighted; and it was, “Musha, Master Dan, but that’s a good throw!” “Good luck to you, Misther Pat, and throw thirteen this time!” and so forth. But this sort of inaction could not last long. They had heard of the treasures amassed in the palace of the Tuileries: they sighed when they thought of the lack of bullion in their green and beautiful country. They panted for war! They formed their plan.
On the morning of the 26th October, 1884, as his Majesty Louis Philippe was at breakfast reading the Debats newspaper, and wishing that what the journal said about “Cholera Morbus in the Camp of the Pretender Henri,”—“Chicken-pox raging in the Forts of the Traitor Bonaparte,”— might be true, what was his surprise to hear the report of a gun; and at the same instant — whiz! came an eighty-four-pound ball through the window and took off the head of the faithful Monsieur de Montalivet, who was coming in with a plate of muffins.
“Three francs for the window,” said the monarch; “and the muffins of course spoiled!” and he sat down to breakfast very peevishly. Ah, King Louis Philippe, that shot cost thee more than a window-pane — more than a plate of muffins — it cost thee a fair kingdom and fifty millions of tax-payers.
The shot had been fired from Fort Potato. “Gracious heavens!” said the commander of the place to the Irish Prince, in a fury, “What has your Highness done?” “Faix,” replied the other, “Donegal and I saw a sparrow on the Tuileries, and we thought we’d have a shot at it, that’s all.” “Hurroo! look out for squalls,” here cried the intrepid Hibernian; for at this moment one of Paixhans’ shells fell into the counterscarp of the demilune on which they were standing, and sent a ravelin and a couple of embrasures flying about their ears.
Fort Twenty-three, which held out for Louis Philippe, seeing Fort Twenty-four, or Potato, open a fire on the Tuileries, instantly replied by its guns, with which it blazed away at the Bourbonite fort. On seeing this, Fort Twenty-two, occupied by the Imperialists, began pummelling Twenty-three; Twenty-one began at Twenty-two; and in a quarter of an hour the whole of this vast line of fortification was in a blaze of flame, flashing, roaring, cannonading, rocketing, bombing, in the most tremendous manner. The world has never perhaps, before or since, heard such an uproar. Fancy twenty-four thousand guns thundering at each other. Fancy the sky red with the fires of hundreds of thousands of blazing, brazen meteors; the air thick with impenetrable smoke — the universe almost in a flame! for the noise of the cannonading was heard on the peaks of the Andes, and broke three windows in the English factory at Canton. Boom, boom, boom! for three days incessantly the gigantic — I may say, Cyclopean battle went on: boom, boom, boom, bong! The air was thick with cannon-balls: they hurtled, they jostled each other in the heavens, and fell whizzing, whirling, crashing, back into the very forts from which they came. Boom, boom, boom, bong — brrwrrwrrr!
On the second day a band might have been seen (had the smoke permitted it) assembling at the sally-port of Fort Potato, and have been heard (if the tremendous clang of the cannonading had allowed it) giving mysterious signs and countersigns. “Tom,” was the word whispered, “Steele” was the sibilated response. (It is astonishing how, in the roar of elements, THE HUMAN WHISPER hisses above all!) It was the Irish Brigade assembling. “Now or never, boys!” said their leaders; and sticking their doodeens into their mouths, they dropped stealthily into the trenches, heedless of the broken glass and sword-blades; rose from those trenches; formed in silent order; and marched to Paris. They knew they could arrive there unobserved — nobody, indeed, remarked their absence.
The frivolous Parisians were, in the meanwhile, amusing themselves at their theatres and cafes as usual; and a new piece, in which Arnal performed, was the universal talk of the foyers: while a new feuilleton by Monsieur Eugene Sue, kept the attention of the reader so fascinated to the journal, that they did not care in the least for the vacarme without the walls.
The tremendous cannonading, however, had a singular effect upon the inhabitants of the great public hospital of Charenton, in which it may be remembered Louis XVII. had been, as in mockery, confined. His majesty of demeanor, his calm deportment, the reasonableness of his pretensions, had not failed to strike with awe and respect his four thousand comrades of captivity. The Emperor of China, the Princess of the Moon, Julius Caesar, Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, the Pope of Rome, the Cacique of Mexico, and several singular and illustrious personages who happened to be confined there, all held a council with Louis XVII.; and all agreed that now or never was the time to support his legitimate pretensions to the Crown of France. As the cannons roared around them, they howled with furious delight in response. They took counsel together: Dr. Pinel and the infamous jailers, who, under the name of keepers, held them in horrible captivity, were pounced upon and overcome in a twinkling. The strait-waistcoats were taken off from the wretched captives languishing in the dungeons; the guardians were invested in these shameful garments, and with triumphant laughter plunged under the Douches. The gates of the prison were flung open, and they marched forth in the blackness of the storm!
On the third day, the cannonading was observed to decrease; only a gun went off fitfully now and then.
On the fourth day, the Parisians said to one another, “Tiens! ils sont fatigues, les cannoniers des forts!”— and why? Because there was no more powder? — Ay, truly, there WAS no more powder.
There was no more powder, no more guns, no more gunners, no more forts, no more nothing. THE FORTS HAD BLOWN EACH OTHER UP. The battle-roar ceased. The battle-clouds rolled off. The silver moon, the twinkling stars, looked blandly down from the serene azure — and all was peace — stillness — the stillness of death. Holy, holy silence!
Yes: the battle of Paris was over. And where were the combatants? All gone — not one left! — And where was Louis Philippe? The venerable Prince was a captive in the Tuileries; the Irish Brigade was encamped around it: they had reached the palace a little too late; it was already occupied by the partisans of his Majesty Louis XVII.
That respectable monarch and his followers better knew the way to the Tuileries than the ignorant sons of Erin. They burst through the feeble barriers of the guards; they rushed triumphant into the kingly halls of the palace; they seated the seventeenth Louis on the throne of his ancestors; and the Parisians read in the Journal des Debats, of the fifth of November; an important article, which proclaimed that the civil war was concluded:—
“The troubles which distracted the greatest empire in the world are at an end. Europe, which marked with sorrow the disturbances which agitated the bosom of the Queen of Nations, the great leader of Civilization, may now rest in peace. That monarch whom we have long been sighing for; whose image has lain hidden, and yet oh! how passionately worshipped, in every French heart, is with us once more. Blessings be on him; blessings — a thousand blessings upon the happy country which is at length restored to his beneficent, his legitimate, his reasonable sway!
“His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVII. yesterday arrived at his palace of the Tulleries, accompanied by his august allies. His Royal Highness the Duke of Orleans has resigned his post as Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, and will return speedily to take up his abode at the Palais Royal. It is a great mercy that the children of his Royal Highness, who happened to be in the late forts round Paris, (before the bombardment which has so happily ended in their destruction,) had returned to their father before the commencement of the cannonading. They will continue, as heretofore, to be the most loyal supporters of order and the throne.
“None can read without tears in their eyes our august monarch’s proclamation.
“‘Louis, by &c. —
“‘My children! After nine hundred and ninety-nine years of captivity, I am restored to you. The cycle of events predicted by the ancient Magi, and the planetary convolutions mentioned in the lost Sibylline books, have fulfilled their respective idiosyncrasies, and ended (as always in the depths of my dungeons I confidently expected) in the triumph of the good Angel, and the utter discomfiture of the abominable Blue Dragon.
“‘When the bombarding began, and the powers of darkness commenced their hellish gunpowder evolutions, I was close by — in my palace of Charenton, three hundred and thirty-three thousand miles off, in the ring of Saturn — I witnessed your misery. My heart was affected by it, and I said, “Is the multiplication-table a fiction? are the signs of the Zodiac mere astronomers’ prattle?”
“‘I clapped chains, shrieking and darkness, on my physician, Dr. Pinel. The keepers I shall cause to be roasted alive. I summoned my allies round about me. The high contracting Powers came to my bidding: monarchs from all parts of the earth; sovereigns from the Moon and other illumined orbits; the white necromancers, and the pale imprisoned genii. I whispered the mystic sign, and the doors flew open. We entered Paris in triumph, by the Charenton bridge. Our luggage was not examined at the Octroi. The bottle-green ones were scared at our shouts, and retreated, howling: they knew us, and trembled.
“‘My faithful Peers and Deputies will rally around me. I have a friend in Turkey — the Grand Vizier of the Mussulmans: he was a Protestant once — Lord Brougham by name. I have sent to him to legislate for us: he is wise in the law, and astrology, and all sciences; he shall aid my Ministers in their councils. I have written to him by the post. There shall be no more infamous mad-houses in France, where poor souls shiver in strait-waistcoats.
“‘I recognized Louis Philippe, my good cousin. He was in his counting-house, counting out his money, as the old prophecy warned me. He gave me up the keys of his gold; I shall know well how to use it. Taught by adversity, I am not a spendthrift, neither am I a miser. I will endow the land with noble institutions instead of diabolical forts. I will have no more cannon founded. They are a curse and shall be melted — the iron ones into railroads; the bronze ones into statues of beautiful saints, angels, and wise men; the copper ones into money, to be distributed among my poor. I was poor once, and I love them.
“‘There shall be no more poverty; no more wars; no more avarice; no more passports; no more custom-houses; no more lying: no more physic.
“‘My Chambers will put the seal to these reforms. I will it. I am the king.
“Some alarm was created yesterday by the arrival of a body of the English Foot-Guard under the Duke of Jenkins; they were at first about to sack the city, but on hearing that the banner of the lilies was once more raised in France, the Duke hastened to the Tuileries, and offered his allegiance to his Majesty. It was accepted: and the Plush Guard has been established in place of the Swiss, who waited on former sovereigns.”
“The Irish Brigade quartered in the Tuileries are to enter our service. Their commander states that they took every one of the forts round Paris, and having blown them up, were proceeding to release Louis XVII., when they found that august monarch, happily, free. News of their glorious victory has been conveyed to Dublin, to his Majesty the King of the Irish. It will be a new laurel to add to his green crown!”
And thus have we brought to a conclusion our history of the great French Revolution of 1884. It records the actions of great and various characters; the deeds of various valor; it narrates wonderful reverses of fortune; it affords the moralist scope for his philosophy; perhaps it gives amusement to the merely idle reader. Nor must the latter imagine, because there is not a precise moral affixed to the story, that its tendency is otherwise than good. He is a poor reader, for whom his author is obliged to supply a moral application. It is well in spelling-books and for children; it is needless for the reflecting spirit. The drama of Punch himself is not moral: but that drama has had audiences all over the world. Happy he, who in our dark times can cause a smile! Let us laugh then, and gladden in the sunshine, though it be but as the ray upon the pool, that flickers only over the cold black depths below!
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