Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess Of Berry-Charles X
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

crown. The oaths to exterminate heretics, formerly taken by the
kings of France at their coronation, were modified in concert with
the court of Rome and the bishops. For these was substituted the
oath to govern according to the Charter. Thus it was in reality a
new consecration of liberty as well as of the crown." The French
love pomp, ceremonies, spectacles. The idea of a consecration was
not displeasing to them, and with rare exceptions, the Voltaireans
themselves refrained from criticising the ceremony that was in the
course of preparation. It soon became the subject of conversation
on every side.

Six millions voted by the two Chambers for the expenses of the
coronation, at the time that the civil list was regulated at the
beginning of the reign, permitted the repairs required by the
Cathedral of Rheims to be begun in January, 1825. The arches that
had sunken, or threatened to do so, were strengthened; the ancient
sculptured decorations were restored; the windows were completed;
the fallen statues were raised. It was claimed that even the holy
ampulla had been found, that miraculous oil, believed, according
to the royal superstitions of former ages, to have been brought
from heaven by a dove for the anointing of crowned heads. The
Revolution thought that it had destroyed this relic forever. The
6th of October, 1793, a commissioner of the Convention, the
representative of the people, Ruhl, had, in fact, publicly broken
it on the pedestal of the statue of Louis XV. But it was related
that faithful hands had succeeded in gathering some fragments of
the phial as well as some particles of the balm contained in it.
The 25th of January, 1819, the Abbe Seraine, who in 1793 was cure
of Saint-Remi of Rheims, made the following declaration:--

"The 17th of October, 1793, M. Hourelle, then municipal officer
and first warden of the parish of Saint-Remi, came to me and
notified me, from the representative of the people, Ruhl, of the
order to remit the reliquary containing the holy ampulla, to be
broken. We resolved, M. Hourelle and I, since we could do no
better, to take from the holy ampulla the greater part of the balm
contained in it. We went to the Church of Saint-Remi; I withdrew
the reliquary from the tomb of the saint, and bore it to the
sacristy, where I opened it with the aid of small iron pincers. I
found placed in the stomach of a dove of gold and gilded silver,
covered with white enamel, having the beak and claws in red, the
wings spread, a little phial of glass of reddish color about an
inch and a half high corked with a piece of crimson damask. I
examined this phial attentively in the light, and I perceived a
great number of marks of a needle on the sides; then I took from a
crimson velvet bag, embroidered with fleurs-de-lis in gold, the
needle used at the time of the consecration of our kings, to
extract the particles of balm, dried and clinging to the glass. I
detached as many as possible, of which I took the larger part, and
remitted the smaller to M. Hourelle."

The particles thus preserved were given into the hands of the
Archbishop of Rheims, who gathered them in a new reliquary.

Sunday, the 22d of May, 1825, the day of the feast of the
Pentecost, the Archbishop of Rheims assembled in a chapel of that
city the metropolitan clergy, the principal authorities, and the
persons who had contributed to the preservation of the particles
of the precious relic, in order to proceed, in their presence, to
the transfusion of those particles into the holy chrism, to be
enclosed in a new phial. A circumtantial report of this ceremony
was prepared in duplicate.

"Thus," said the Moniteur, May 26, "there remains no doubt that
the holy oil that will flow on the forehead of Charles X. in the
solemnity of his consecration, is the same as that which, since
Clovis, has consecrated the French monarchs."

The day of the consecration approached. The Mayor of Rheims, M.
Ruinard de Brimont, had not a moment's rest. At the consecration
of Louis XV., about four hundred lodgings had been marked with
chalk. For that of Charles X. there were sixteen hundred, and
those who placed them at the service of the administration asked
no compensation. The 19th of May was begun the placing of the
exterior decorations on the wooden porch erected in front of the
door of the basilica. It harmonized so completely with the plan of
the edifice that "at thirty toises," it seemed a part of the
edifice. The centrings and the interior portieres of this porch
presented to the view a canopy sown with fleurs-de-lis in the
midst of which stood out the royal cipher and the crown of France,
modelled in antique fashion. These decorations were continued from
the portal along the beautiful gallery that led to the palace. The
palace itself, whose apartments had been adorned and furnished
with royal magnificence, was entered by a very elegant porch. The
grand feasting-hall, with its Gothic architecture, its colored
glass, its high chimney-piece covered with escutcheons and
surmounted by a statue of Saint-Remi, its portraits of all the
kings of France, was resplendent. Three tables were to be set in
the royal feasting-hall,--that of the King, that of the
Dauphiness, and that of the Duchess of Berry. A gallery enclosed
in glass, where there was a table of one hundred and thirty
covers, had been built as by enchantment. On leaving the feasting-
hall, one entered the covered gallery, which, by a gentle incline,
led to the Cathedral. This gallery was formed of twenty-four
arcades of fifteen feet each, and joined at right angles the porch
erected before the portal. By this arrangement the King could
proceed on a level from his apartment to the Cathedral.

In the middle of the nave was erected a magnificent jube, where
the throne of Charles X. was placed. The cornice of the Corinthian
order was supported by twenty columns. At the four corners there
were gilded angels. The summit was surmounted by a statue of
Religion and an angel bearing the royal crown. This jube,
glittering with gold, was placed about one hundred and fifty feet
from the portal. There was a passage under it to reach the choir,
and the ascent to it was by a staircase of thirty steps. As it was
open, the King upon his throne could be seen from all parts of the
basilica. At the end of the choir, to the right on entering, was
the gallery of the Dauphiness and the Duchess of Berry; to the
left, opposite, was that of the princes and princesses of the
blood; lower, toward the jube, and also on the left, that of the
ambassadors and strangers of distinction; by the side of the jube,
the gallery of the first gentlemen of the chamber of the King.
There were, moreover, two rows of galleries on each side of the
nave. The sanctuary was beaming with gold. The pillars, surrounded
with wainscoting, were covered with rich Gothic ornaments. Above
each of the galleries was a portrait of a king of France seated on
his throne; still higher, portraits of bishops and statues of the
cities of France in niches. At the back, a platform had been
constructed for the musicians of the Chapel of the King. The choir
and the sanctuary were to be lighted by thirty-four grand
chandeliers, besides the candelabra attached to each pillar.

Some days before the coronation, which excited the curiosity of
all Europe, the city of Rheims was filled with a crowd of
tourists. The streets and promenades of the city, usually so
quiet, presented an extraordinary animation. There had been
constructed a bazaar, tents, cafes, places for public games, and
at the gates of the city there was a camp of ten thousand men. To
visit this camp was a favorite excursion for the people and for
strangers. The soldiers assembled each evening before their tents
and sang hymns to the sovereign and the glory of the French arms.
In the evening of the 22d of May, these military choruses were
closed by the serment francais, sung by all voices. At the words
"Let us swear to be faithful to Charles!" all heads were
uncovered, and the soldiers waving their helmets and shakos in the
air, cried over and again, "Long live the King!"

On May 24th, the King left Paris with the Dauphin. Before going to
Rheims he stopped at the Chateau of Compiegne, where he remained
until the 27th, amid receptions and fetes and hunts.

M. de Chateaubriand was already at Rheims. He wrote on May 26:--

"The King arrives day after to-morrow. He will be crowned Sunday,
the 29th. I shall see him place upon his head a crown that no one
dreamed of when I raised my voice in 1814. I write this page of my
Memoirs in the room where I am forgotten amid the noise. This
morning I visited Saint-Remi and the Cathedral decorated in
colored paper. The only clear idea that I can have of this last
edifice is from the decorations of the Jeanne d'Arc of Schiller,
played at Berlin. The opera-scene painters showed me on the banks
of the Spree, what the opera-scene painters on the banks of the
Vesle hide from me. But I amused myself with the old races, from
Clovis with his Franks and his legion come down from heaven, to
Charles VII. with Jeanne d'Arc."

The writer, who some weeks earlier had expressed himself in terms
so dithyrambic as to the consecration, now wrote as follows of
this religious and monarchical solemnity:--

"Under what happy auspices did Louis XVI. ascend the throne! How
popular he was, succeeding to Louis XV.! And yet what did he
become? The present coronation will be the representation of a
coronation. It will not be one; we shall see the Marshal Moncey,
an actor at that of Napoleon, the Marshal who formerly celebrated
the death of the tyrant Louis XVI. in his army, brandish the royal
sword at Rheims in his rank as Count of Flanders or Duke of
Aquitaine. To whom can this parade really convey any illusion? I
should have wished no pomp to-day; the King on horseback, the
church bare, adorned only with its ancient arches and tombs; the
two Chambers present, the oath of fidelity to the Charter taken
aloud on the Bible. This would have been the renewal of the
monarchy; they might have begun it over again with liberty and

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: