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List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess Of Berry-Charles X
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the vivacity of her mind; the Countess de La Rochejaquelein, nee
Duras, a very pious and very charitable woman, whose husband was a
major-general. In fact, the circle around the Duchess of Berry was
perfection. The greatest ladies of France were by her side, and
the society of the Petit Chateau, as the Pavilion de Marsan was
called, was certainly fitted to give the tone to the principal
salons of Paris.

The Duchess of Berry had as chevalier d'honneur a great lord, very
learned, known for his unchangeable devotion to royalty, the Duke
de Sevis (born in 1755, died in 1830). The Duke, who emigrated and
was wounded at Quiberon, held himself apart during the Empire, and
published highly esteemed writings on finance, some Memoirs, and a
Recueil de Souvenirs et Portraits. He was a peer of France and
member of the French Academy. For adjunct to the chevalier
d'honneur, the Duchess had the Count Emmanuel de Brissac, one of
the finest characters of the court, married to a Montmorency.

Her first equerry was the Count Charles de Mesnard, a Vendean
gentleman of proven devotion. The Count Charles de Mesnard was
born at Lugon, in 1769, the same year as Napoleon, whose fellow-
pupil he was at Brienne. Belonging to one of those old houses of
simple gentlemen who have the antiquity of the greatest races, he
was son of a major-general who distinguished himself in the Seven
Years War, and who at the close of the old regime was gentleman of
the chamber of the Count of Provence (Louis XVIII.), and captain
of the Guards of the Gate of this Prince. He emigrated, and served
in the ranks of the army of Conde, with his older brother, the
Count Edouard de Mesnard, married to Mademoiselle de Caumont-
Laforce, daughter of the former governess of the children of the
Count d'Artois (Charles X.), and sister of the Countess of Balbi.
The Count Edouard de Mesnard, having entered Paris secretly, was
shot there as emigre, October 27th, 1797, despite all the efforts
of the wife of General Bonaparte to save him. When he was going to
his death, his eyes met, on the boulevard, those of one of his
friends, the Marquis of Galard, who had returned with him
secretly. The condemned man had the presence of mind to seem not
to recognize the passer-by, and the latter was saved, as he
himself related with emotion sixty years afterward.

At the commencement of the Empire, the Count Charles de Mesnard
was living at London, where he was reduced to gaining his living
by copying music, when the Emperor offered to restore his
confiscated property if he would come to France and unite with the
new regime. The Count of Mesnard preferred to remain in England
near the Duke of Berry, who showed great affection for him. The
Restoration compensated the faithful companion of exile. He was a
peer of France and Charles X. treated him as a friend. He had
married, during the Emigration, an English lady, Mrs. Sarah Mason,
widow of General Blondell, by whom he had a daughter, Aglae, who
was named a lady companion to the Duchess of Berry, at the time of
her marriage, in 1825, with the Count Ludovic de Rosanbo, and a
son, Ferdinand, married in 1829, to Mademoiselle de Bellissen.

The Princess had for equerry-de-main, the Viscount d'Hanache; for
honorary equerry, the Baron of Fontanes; for equerry porte-
manteau, M. Gory. Her secretary of orders was the Marquis de
Sassenay, who bore, besides, the title of Administrator of the
Finances and Treasurer of Madame. He had under his orders a
controller-general, M. Michals, who was of such integrity and
devotion that when, after the Revolution of July, he presented
himself at Holyrood to give in his accounts to the Duchess of
Berry, she made him a present of her portrait.

There was not a private household in France where more order
reigned than in that of Madame. The chief of each service,--the
Duchess of Reggio, the Viscount Just de Noailles, the Count
Emmanuel de Brissac, and the Count of Mesnard, presented his or
her budget and arranged the expenditures in advance with the
Princess. This budget being paid by twelfths before the 15th of
the following month, she required to have submitted to her the
receipts of the month past. This did not prevent Madame from being
exceedingly generous. One day she learned that a poor woman had
just brought three children into the world and knew not how to pay
for three nurses, three layettes, three cradles. Instantly she
wished to relieve her. But it was the end of the month; the money
of all the services had been spent.

"Lend me something," she said to the controller-general of her
household; "you will trust me; no one will trust this unfortunate
woman."

As M. Nettement remarked: "The Duchess of Berry held it as a
principle that princes should be like the sun which draws water
from the streams only to return it in dew and rain. She considered
her civil list as the property of all, administered by her. She
was to be seen at all expositions and in all the shops, buying
whatever was offered that was most remarkable. Sometimes she kept
these purchases, sometimes she sent them to her family at Naples,
Vienna, Madrid, and her letters used warmly to recommend in
foreign cities whatever was useful or beautiful in France. She was
thus in every way the Providence of the arts, of industry, and
commerce."

To sum up, the household of the Duchess of Berry worked to
perfection, and Madame, always affable and good, inspired a
profound devotion in all about her.





XIII

THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE CORONATION


The coronation of Louis XVI. took place the 11th of June, 1775,
and since that time there had been none. For Louis XVII. there was
none but that of sorrow. Louis XVIII. had desired it eagerly, but
he was not sufficiently strong or alert to bear the fatigue of a
ceremony so long and complicated, and his infirmities would have
been too evident beneath the vault of the ancient Cathedral of
Rheims. An interval of fifty years--from 1775 to 1825--separated
the coronation of Louis XVI. from that of his brother Charles X.
How many things had passed in that half-century, one of the most
fruitful in vicissitudes and catastrophes, one of the strangest
and most troubled of which history has preserved the memory!

Chateaubriand, who, later, in his Memoires d'outretombe, so full
of sadness and bitterness, was to speak of the coronation in a
tone of scepticism verging on raillery, celebrated at the
accession of Charles, in almost epic language, the merits of this
traditional solemnity without which a "Very Christian King" was
not yet completely King. In his pamphlet, Le roi est mort! Vive le
roi! he conjured the new monarch to give to his crown this
religious consecration. "Let us humbly supplicate Charles X. to
imitate his ancestors," said the author of the Genie du
Christianisme. "Thirty-two sovereigns of the third race have
received the royal unction, that is to say, all the sovereigns of
that race except Jean 1er, who died four days after his birth,
Louis XVII., and Louis XVIII., on whom royalty fell, on one in the
Tower of the Temple, on the other in a foreign land. The words of
Adalberon, Archbishop of Rheims, on the subject of the coronation
of Hugh Capet, are still true to-day. 'The coronation of the King
of the French,' he says, 'is a public interest and not a private
affair, Publica, sunt haec negotia, non privata.' May Charles X.
deign to weigh these words, applied to the author of his race; in
weeping for a brother, may he remember that he is King! The
Chambers or the Deputies of the Chambers whom he may summon to
Rheims in his suite, the magistrates who shall swell his cortege,
the soldiers who shall surround his person, will feel the faith of
religion and royalty strengthened in them by this imposing
solemnity. Charles VII. created knights at his coronation; the
first Christian King of the French, at his received baptism with
four thousand of his companions in arms. In the same way Charles
X. will at his coronation create more than one knight of the cause
of legitimacy, and more than one Frenchman will there receive the
baptism of fidelity."

Charles X. had no hesitation. This crowned representative of the
union of the throne and the altar did not comprehend royalty
without coronation. Not to receive the holy unction would have
been for him a case of conscience, a sort of sacrilege. In opening
the session of the Chambers in the Hall of the Guards at the
Louvre, December 22d, 1824, he announced, amid general approval,
the grand solemnity that was to take place at Rheims in the course
of the following year. "I wish," he said, "the ceremony of my
coronation to close the first session of my reign. You will
attend, gentlemen, this august ceremony. There, prostrate at the
foot of the same altar where Clovis received the holy unction, and
in the presence of Him who judges peoples and kings, I shall renew
the oath to maintain and to cause to be respected the institutions
established by my brother; I shall thank Divine Providence for
having deigned to use me to repair the last misfortunes of my
people, and I shall pray Him to continue to protect this beautiful
France that I am proud to govern."

If Napoleon, amid sceptical soldiers, former conventionnels, and
former regicides, had easily secured the adoption of the idea of
his coronation at Notre-Dame, by so much the more easy was it for
Charles X. to obtain the adoption, by royalist France, of the
project of his coronation at Rheims. "The King saw in this act,"
said Lamartine, "a real sacrament for the crown, the people a
ceremony that carried its imagination back to the pomps of the
past, politicians a concession to the court of Rome, claiming the
investiture of kings, and a denial in fact of the principle, not
formulated but latent since 1789, of the sovereignty of the
people. But as a rule, there was no vehement discussion of an act
generally considered as belonging to the etiquette of royalty,
without importance for or against the institutions of the country.
It was the fete of the accession to the throne--a luxury of the

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