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Duke Armand de Polignac, he was, like the latter, compromised in
the Cadoudal conspiracy. Their trial is remarkable for the noble
strife of devotion, in which each of the brothers pleaded the
cause of the other at the expense of his own. Armand was condemned
to death. His wife threw herself at the feet of the First Consul,
who, thanks to the intercession of Josephine, commuted the penalty
of death to perpetual confinement. Jules was condemned to prison,
and shared the captivity of his brother. Confined at first in the
castle of Ham, then in the Temple, then at Vincennes, they
obtained, at the time of the marriage of Napoleon with Marie
Louise, their transfer to a hospital. There they knew the General
Mallet, but the part they were suspected of taking in his
conspiracy was never proven. When the allied armies entered
France, they succeeded in escaping, and rejoined the Count
d'Artois at Vesoul. They penetrated to Paris some days before the
capitulation, and displayed the white flag there the 3d of March,
1814.

Peer of France, field-marshal, ambassador, the Prince Jules de
Polignac was one of the favorites of the Restoration. On the
proposition of M. de Chateaubriand, then Minister of Foreign
Affairs, he had him named, in 1823, ambassador to London, where he
had shown a genuine talent for diplomacy. The example of England
made him think that in France the liberties of the constitutional
regime could be combined with the directing influence of an
aristocracy. That was his error and the cause of his fall. Some
weeks before his accession to the ministry, he had solemnly
affirmed in the Chamber of Peers, that he considered the Charter
as a solemn pact, on which rested the monarchical institutions of
France, and as the heavenly sign of a serene future. But the
liberals did not believe his word, and accused him of striving to
re-establish the old regime.

Even at court the accession of the Prince de Polignac did not fail
to cause apprehension. Charles X., having announced to the Duchess
of Gontaut that he was going to appoint him minister, added: "This
news must give you pleasure; you know him well, I believe." The
Duchess replied: "He has been absent a long time. I only knew him
when very young." The King resumed: "Do not speak of it; it is my
secret as yet." Madame de Gontaut could not keep from smiling, for
she held several letters from London in her hand, among others one
from the sister-in-law of the Duke of Wellington, announcing the
news. Charles X. wished to see the letters. "He is good, loyal,"
they said, "loving the King as one loves a friend, but feeble, and
with bad surroundings. It is doubted whether he can ever rise to
the height of the post in which the King wishes to place him."

Charles X., wounded by the indiscretion of the Prince, and also by
that of the Duke of Wellington, who divulged what he himself was
keeping secret, returned the letter to Madame de Gontaut, and
remarked:--

"It is very thoughtless in Jules to have spoken of it so soon, and
in the Duke to have published it." The Duchess of Gontaut, who was
used to frank talk with the King, said: "In the circumstances
existing, I long for, I confess it frankly, and at the risk of
displeasing Your Majesty, yes, I long for the Martignac ministry."

Then, adds the Duchess in her unpublished Memoirs, the King, more
impatient than ever, turned his back on me, and took his way to
his apartment. I had had the courage to tell him my thought and
the truth. I did not repent it. When we saw each other again the
same day he did not speak to me again of it.

One of those most devoted to the elder branch, the Duke Ambroise
de la Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville, also says in his Memoirs:--

"The King sincerely wished for the Charter, whatever may be said,
but he wished for the monarchy; he, therefore, decided to change
ministers who had made promises that seemed to him fatal, and to
replace them by others whose principles suited him better. He was
not happy in this choice, it must be agreed. He took as Minister
of Foreign Affairs and President of the Council the Prince de
Polignac. For a long time public opinion had foreseen this choice,
and dreaded it. At the commencement of the Restoration M. de
Polignac for more than a year had refused to recognize the Charter
and to swear fidelity to it, which made him regarded as the
pronounced enemy of our institutions. Was this antipathy real? I
do not think so. He had for a long time lived in England, as
ambassador, and was thoroughly imbued with principles at once very
constitutional and very aristocratic, after the English fashion.
His devotion was great, as well as his personal merit, but his
resources as a statesman were not so much so; he took his desire
to do well for the capacity to do well, and he mistook."

When he assumed the direction of affairs the Prince de Polignac
was wholly surprised at the systematic and obstinate opposition
that he encountered. As M. Guizot said, "he was sincerely
astonished that he was not willingly accepted as a minister
devoted to the constitutional regime. But the public, without
troubling itself to know if he were sincere or not, persisted in
seeing in him the champion of the old regime and the standard-
bearer of the counter-Revolution."

Although he had passed a part of his life in England, first as
emigre, then as ambassador, and had married as his first wife an
English lady, Miss Campbell, and as his second another, the
daughter of Lord Radcliffe, the Prince de Polignac was French at
heart.

No Minister of Foreign Affairs in France had in higher degree the
sentiment of the national dignity. Yet this is the way the Debats
expressed itself, the 16th of August, 1829, about a man who, the
next year, at the time of the glorious Algiers Expedition, was to
hold toward England language so proud and firm:--

"The manifesto of M. de Polignac comes to us from England. That is
very simple. We have a minister who scarcely knows how to speak
anything but English. It takes time to relearn one's native tongue
when one has forgotten it for many years. It appears even that one
never regains the accent in all its freedom and purity. In fact,
the English have not given us M. de Polignac; they have sold him
to us. That people understand commerce so well."

Despite all the violent criticisms, all the implacable hatreds by
which he was incessantly assailed, the Prince de Polignac was a
noble character, and no one should forget the justness of soul
with which, from the commencement to the end of his career, he
supported misfortune and captivity. The Viscount Sosthenes de La
Rochefoucauld, afterwards the Duke of Doudeauville, says, in his
Memoirs:--

"The purest honor, the loftiest disinterestedness, the sincerest
devotion, are not everything, there is needed a capacity for
affairs, a knowledge of men, which experience alone procures and
which even the strongest will cannot give. M. de Polignac had all
the qualities of the most devoted subject, but his talent did not
rise to the height of his position. If it had been necessary only
to suffer and to march to death, no one, surely, could have
equalled him; but more was requisite, and he remained beneath the
level of the circumstances he thought he was overcoming; the fall
of the throne was the consequence. How he developed, though, and
grew great when in duress, and who should flatter himself that he
could bear up with a firmness more unshaken against the severest
trials? If M. de Polignac is not a type of the statesman, he will
at least remain the complete model of the virtues of the Christian
and the private citizen."

The Prince de Polignac was mistaken, but he acted in good faith.
No one can dispute his faults, but none can suspect the purity of
his intentions. Unfortunately his royalism had in it something of
mysticism and ecstasy that made of this gallant man a sort of
illumine. He sincerely believed that he had received from God the
mission to save the throne and the altar, and foreseeing neither
difficulties nor obstacles, regarding all uncertainty and all fear
as unworthy of a gentleman and a Christian, he had in himself and
in his ideas, that blind, imperturbable confidence that is the
characteristic of fanatics. In a period less troubled, this great
noble would perhaps have been a remarkable minister of foreign
affairs, but in the stormy time when he took the helm in hand, he
had neither sufficient prudence nor sufficient experience to
resist the tempest and save the ship from the wreck in which the
dynasty was to go down.





XXIX

GENERAL DE BOURMONT


The new Secretary of War awoke no less lively anger than the
Prince de Polignac. He was a general of great merit, bold to
temerity, brave to heroism, and a tactician of the first order.
But his career had felt the vicissitudes of politics, and like so
many of his contemporaries,--more, perhaps, than any of them,--he
had played the most contradictory parts. Equally intrepid in the
army of Conde, in the Vendean army, and in the Grand Army of
Napoleon, he had won as much distinction under the white flag as
under the tricolor. The Emperor, who was an expert in military
talent, having recognized in him a superior military man, had
rewarded his services brilliantly. But it is difficult to escape
from the memories of one's childhood and first youth.

General Count de Bourmont, born September 2, 1773, at the Chateau
of Bourmont (Maine-et-Loire), amid the "Chouans," had shared their
religious and monarchical passions. Officer of the French Guards
at sixteen, and dismissed by the Revolution, he followed his
father at the beginning of the Emigration, lost him at Turin, then
went to join the Count d'Artois at Coblenz. He took part in the
campaign of 1792, until the disbandment of the Prince's army,
served as a simple cavalryman in the army of Conde, then threw
himself into La Vendee in the month of October, 1794. He was
second in command of the troops of Scepeaux. The Vendean
insurrection of 1799 recognized him as one of its chiefs. Victor
at Louverne, he seized Mans the 15th of October, and was the last

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