Make your own free website on

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

a league from the city, on a height from which it was to be seen,
and whence the wooded hills of the Black Forest were visible, he
was awaited by a crowd of young girls in Alsatian costume, in
three hundred wagons, with four or six horses to each. There were
also twelve hundred horsemen, divided into squadrons, the mayors
with their scarfs at their head and carrying the fleur-de-lis
standards. The royal cortege passed, under arbors of verdure and
flowers, amid this long file of vehicles and horsemen, who
escorted it to the walls of Strasbourg. Delighted with the
enthusiasm of which he was the object, the sovereign proceeded to
the Cathedral, where a te deum was sung. In the evening the spire
of this marvellous church was illuminated: it was like a pyramid
of stars.

The King of Wurtemberg, the Grand Duke of Baden, and his three
brothers came to greet the King of France in the capital of
Alsace. He showed them at the arsenal sixteen hundred pieces of
ordnance on their carriages, and arms sufficient for a hundred
thousand men.

"Sire, and gentlemen," he said with a smile, in which kingly pride
mingled with perfect urbanity, "I have nothing to conceal from
you. This is something I can show to my friends as to my enemies."

Yes, France was great then, and no one could have predicted for
Alsace the fate reserved for her forty-two years later. The army
was the admiration of Europe. The navy had just recaptured at
Navarino the prestige and power of the time of Louis XVI. Charles
X. said to Mr. Hyde de Neuville:--

"France, when a noble design is involved, takes counsel only with
herself. Thus whether England wishes or not, we shall free Greece.
Continue the armaments with the same activity. I shall not pause
in the path of humanity and honor."

And at the moment when the very Christian King was greeted by the
German Princes in the Alsatian capital, his victorious troops were
completing in the Morea the enfranchisement of Greece.

Charles X. returned by Colmar, Luneville, Nancy, and Champagne. At
Troyes he found himself surrounded by all the liberal deputies,
and he decorated Casimir PErier. Everywhere he had an enthusiastic
welcome. On his return to Saint Cloud he was warmly congratulated
by all his court. Nevertheless, as the Duchess of Gontaut said to

"Sire, you must be happy."--"What do cheers signify?" he answered,
not without sadness. "These demonstrations, all superficial,
should not dazzle--a friendly gesture of the hand, a prince's, a
king's, expression of satisfaction will obtain them."

Despite this philosophic reflection, Charles X. was triumphant. If
his ministers wished to credit their liberal policy with the
ovations he had received in the east, he called their attention to
the fact that he had been not less well received the year before
under the Villele ministry at the time of his visit to the camp of
Saint Omer. In the enthusiasm manifested by the people, he saw an
homage to the monarchical principle, not to the policy of one or
another ministry.

"You hear these people. Do they shout hurrah for the Charter? No,
they cry long live the King!" Still confident of the future, he
wished to persuade himself that the obstacles piled up before his
dynasty were but clouds that a favorable wind would scatter soon.
"Ah, Monsieur de Martignac," he cried, with deep joy, "what a
nation! what should we not do for it!"

At the moment that Charles X. traversed the provinces of the east
in triumph, the Duchess of Berry was making in the west a journey
not less brilliant than that of the sovereign.



Never was a princely journey more triumphal than that of the
Duchess of Berry in the provinces of the west in 1828. Madame, who
left Paris June 16, returned there October 1, and there was not a
day in these three months that she was not the object of
enthusiastic ovations. In a book of nearly six hundred pages,
Viscount Walsh has described, with the fidelity of a Dangeau, this
journey in which the mother of the Duke of Bordeaux was treated
like a queen of a fairy tale.

The 16th of June, the Princess slept at Rambouillet, where two
years later such cruel trials were to come to her. The 18th, she
visited Chambord, where she was received by Count Adrien de
Calonne, the author of the project of the subscription, thanks to
which this historic chateau became the property of the Duke of

In the face of the wind, which was blowing with force, Madame
ascended to the highest point of the chateau, the platform of the
lantern called Fleur-de-Lis at the end of the famous double
balustered staircase. From there her glance wandered over the vast
extent of the park, with a circumference of eight leagues, and
enclosing, besides six or seven thousand acres of woodland,
twenty-three farms, whose buildings, cultivated fields, and
scattered flocks, animated the view in all directions. On
descending, she said: "I should like to mark my name here; I shall
love to see it again when I come to visit the Duke of Bordeaux."
And with a stiletto she cut these words: "18th June--Marie
Caroline." Some young girls presented her with lambs white as
snow, decorated with green and white ribbons, and with a tame roe,
on whose collar was engraved: "Homage of the people of Chambord."
The same day she paid visits at their chateaux to Marshal Victor,
Duke of Bellune, and to the Duke d'Avaray. In the evening she
returned to Blois. Madame left there the 19th of June, after
examining the Salle des Etats, the room in which the Duke of Guise
was assassinated, and the tower where Catharine de' Medici used to
consult the astrologers. The 20th, she attended at Saumur a
brilliant tournament given in her honor by the Cavalry School. The
2lst, she entered Angers amid shouts and cheers. The 22d, she
visited the chateau of Count Walsh de Serrant. Her carriage passed
under vaults of verdure adorned with flowers and banners.

The Princess arrived the same day at Saint Florent, which, in
1793, had given the signal for the war of the Vendee, and where
the Vendean army had effected the famous passage of the Loire,
comparable to that of the Berezina. There the aged witnesses of
the struggles described by Napoleon as "a war of giants," had
assembled near the tomb of Bonchamp to await the Duchess of Berry.
All the neighboring heights were bristling with white flags. From
afar they were seen fluttering on the church-towers, on the
chateaux, over cottages, on isolated trees. They were to be seen
even above the graves in the cemeteries. A son had said: "My
father died for the white flag; let us plant it on his grave; the
dead should rejoice, for Madame comes to honor their fidelity."
The example was followed, and the tombs bore the rallying sign of
those who rested there. When on the borders of the Loire, the
Princess paused a moment, struck with the majesty of the scene.
The cannon mingled their noble voices with the acclamations of
fifteen thousand Vendedans. The stream was covered with a swarm of
boats, dressed with flags. A magnificent sun lighted up this fete.

It was ten o'clock when Madame arrived at Milleraye, opposite
Saint Florent. It was there that General de Bonchamp, one of the
heroes of the Vendee, had given up his soul to God. The cottage
where the soldiers had laid him to die was shown. His widow
awaited the Duchess of Berry. What contrast between the festivity
of Saint Florent and the consternation of the days of grief and
misfortune, when, in October, 1793, its people fled to the right
bank of the Loire, leaving their houses a prey to the flames! The
cries of distress and despair which sounded along the banks of the
stream in that fatal year, were now replaced by shouts of joy.
Madame embarked amid cheers. Her boat was escorted by a great
number of others, six of which contained Vendeans bearing flags
torn by bullets in the battles of Fontenay and of Torfou, of
Laval, and of Dol. Grouped on the hill-slopes of Saint Florent,
more than fifteen thousand spectators followed with their gaze the
flotilla, in the midst of which they saw the Duchess of Berry,
standing, visibly agitated. She landed upon the plateau of Saint
Florent, and ascended on foot the hill that led to it. When she
reached the summit, she found herself in the midst of a camp of
five thousand Vendean soldiers who had taken part in the war of
1793 or in the arming of 1815. There it was that Cathelineau, as
in the time of the crusades, cried: "It is God's will. Let us
march!"--"Oh, what a people!" said the Princess. "What fine and
honest faces! What an accent in their cries of 'Long live the
King!' Yes, plainly they love us." She proceeded to the church of
Saint Florent, where, kneeling beneath a canopy, she heard Mass.
She regarded with attention the tomb of Bonchamp, and said, as she
beheld his statue: "He looks as if he were still commanding."

On leaving the church, she went to see the place where Bonchamp is
buried, and, under a tent, partook of a repast offered her by the
Countess d'Autichamp. She had recounted to her in detail the
celebrated passage of the Loire, the disastrous period when all
the city of Saint Florent was burned by order of the Convention,
and the only house left standing was the one occupied by the
republican General LEchelle as his headquarters.

At three o'clock in the afternoon, Madame embarked anew on the
steamboat awaiting her at the point of Varades, and proceeded in
this way to Nantes. The inhabitants from the two banks of the
stream greeted her upon her passage. The red aprons and white caps
of the women contrasted, in the landscape, with the sombre,
costume of the men. That she might be better recognized by the
crowd, the Princess, clad in a simple robe of brown silk, with a
long chain of gold at the neck, separated herself from her suite,
mounted to the highest point on the boat, and greeted with voice
and gesture all these faithful people. The men waved banners and
standards. The women raised their little children in their arms
and said: "Look at her well; it's the mother of the Duke of

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: