List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess Of Berry-Charles X
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Count of Artois, the future Charles X. No resentment subsisted
between the two princes, who afterwards maintained the most
cordial relations. During the Emigration, the Duke of Bourbon
served with valor in the army of his father, the Prince of Conde.
While the white flag floated at the head of a regiment he was
found fighting for the royal cause; then, the struggle ended, he
retired to England, where he had lived near Louis XVIII., and
always at his disposition. Returning to France at the Restoration,
he had since resided almost always at Chantilly or at Saint-Leu,
without his wife, from whom he had long been separated. He was
ranked as a reactionary, but busied himself little with politics,
and exerted no influence.

The Count of Puymaigre, who, in his office as Prefect of the Oise,
at the commencement of the reign of Charles X., often went to
Chantilly, speaks of him in his Souvenirs:--

"The name of my father, much beloved by the late Prince of Conde,
more than my title of Prefect, caused me to be received with
welcome, and I took advantage of it the more gladly, because I
have never seen a house where one was more at one's ease, and
where there was more of that comfortable life known before the
Revolution as the chateau life. There was little of the prince in
him; he was more like an elderly bachelor who liked to have about
him joy, movement, pleasure, a wholly Epicurean life. The society
of Chantilly ordinarily consisted of the household of the Prince;
that is to say, old servitors of his father, some ladies whose
husbands held at this little court the places of equerries or
gentlemen of the chamber, some persons who were invited, or like
myself, had the right to come when they wished, and among this
number I frequently saw the Prince of Rohan, relative of the Duke
of Bourbon, disappointed since of the portion of the inheritance
he hoped for; finally, some Englishmen and their wives. The tone
was quite free, since the Prince set the example. And I recall
that one day he recommended me to be gallant with one of the
English ladies, who, he said, would like nothing better than to
receive such attentions. That seemed very likely to me, but she
was not young enough to tempt me to carry the adventure very far."

The real chatelaine of this little court of Chantilly was a
beautiful Englishwoman, Sophie Dawes, married to a French officer,
the Baron of Feucheres. Born about 1795, in the Isle of Wight,
Sophie Dawes was the daughter of a fisherman. It is said that she
was brought up by charity, and played for some time at Covent
Garden Theatre, London. But her early life is unknown, and what is
told of it is not trustworthy. In 1817, she was taken into the
intimacy of the Duke of Bourbon, and afterwards acquired an
irresistible ascendancy over him. When she became his inseparable
companion, she explained her presence with him by the story that
she was his natural daughter, and the Duke avoided confirming or
denying this assertion. In 1818, he arranged a marriage between
his favorite and a very honorable officer, the Baron of Feucheres,
who believed, in good faith, that Sophie Dawes was really the
daughter of the Duke of Bourbon, and not his mistress. The
marriage was celebrated in England, but the pair returned to
Chantilly. The Baron of Feucheres figures in the royal Almanacs of
1821, 1822, 1823, as lieutenant-colonel, gentleman in ordinary to
the Duke of Bourbon, Prince of Conde, but not in the Almanac of

In a very interesting work, the Vie de Charles X. by the Abbe de
Vedrenne, the reader will find:--

"By the marriage of Sophie Dawes, did the Duke of Bourbon wish to
break away from a guilty bond? It is generally believed. As to M.
de Feucheres, convinced that his wife was the daughter of the
Prince, he had no suspicion. It was Sophie Dawes herself who
enlightened him, to drive him away. The effect of the revelation
was terrible. M. de Feucheres, indignant, quitted his wife. There
no longer remained about the Prince any but the creatures of
Madame de Feucheres. Every one did her bidding at Chantilly, and
the Prince most of all."

The favorite sought to palliate her false situation in the eyes of
society by doing good with the Prince's money. The Count of
Puymaigre relates that she many times took him to the Hospital of
Chantilly, endowed by the munificence of the great Conde, the
revenues of which she wished to increase. He adds: "I urged her to
this good work as much as I could; for good, by whatever hand
done, endures."

One day the Duchess of Angouleme asked him if he went often to

"I go there," replied the Prefect, "to pay my court to the Duke of
Bourbon, whom I have the honor of having in my department."

"That is very well," responded the Dauphiness, "but I hope that
Madame de Puymaigre does not go."

The grand passion of the Duke of Bourbon was hunting. The Prefect
of the Oise says:--

"It was particularly during the hunts of Saint-Hubert that
Chantilly was a charming abode. The start was made at seven
o'clock in the morning, and usually I was in the carriage of the
Prince with the everlasting Madame de Feucheres. The hunting-
lodge was delightful and in a most picturesque situation. There
twenty or thirty persons met to the sound of horns, in the midst
of dogs, horses, and huntsmen. The coursing train of the Prince
was finer and more complete than that of the King. A splendid
breakfast was served at the place of rendezvous, built and
furnished in the Gothic style of the thirteenth century, and there
the chase began. Although I told the Prince that I was no hunter,
he often made me mount my horse and accompany him; but often
having enjoyed the really attractive spectacle of the stag, driven
by a crowd of dogs, which launched themselves after him across the
waters of a little lake, I hastened back to the Gothic pavilion
where the ladies and a few men remained."

The Prince said one day to the Prefect:--

"Decidedly, you do not love hunting."

"But I might love it, my lord, if I had such an outfit."

"That's because you don't know anything about it, my dear
Puymaigre; when I was in England, hunting all alone in the marshes
with my dog Belle, I enjoyed it much more than here."

The Prefect thus concludes his description of life at Chantilly:--

"Dinner was at six o'clock in the magnificent gallery where the
souvenirs of the great Conde were displayed in all their pomp, and
the eyes fell on fine pictures of the battles of Rocroy, Senef,
Fribourg, and Nordlingen, inspiring some regret for the life led
by the heir of so much glory. After dinner society comedy was
played on a very pretty stage, where the luxury of costumes was
very great and the mise-en-scene carefully attended to; and this
did not make the actors any better, although the little plays were
tolerable. But Madame de Feucheres wishing to play Alzire and to
take the principal part, which she doled out with sad monotony,
without change of intonation from the first line to the last, and
with a strongly pronounced English accent, it was utterly
ridiculous, and Voltaire would have flown into a fine passion had
he seen one of his chefs-d'oeuvres mangled in that way. Who could
have told that this poor Prince, who, if he had neither the
virtues nor the dignity proper to his rank, was nevertheless a
very good fellow, would perish in 1830, in such a tragic manner?"

Charles X. had a long standing affection for the Duke of Bourbon.
On September 21st, 1824, he conferred on him at the same time as
on the Duke of Orleans, the title of Royal Highness. The last of
the Condes was, besides, Grand Master of France. This court
function was honorary rather than real, and the Prince appeared at
the Tuileries only on rare occasions. Charles X. loved him as a
friend of his childhood, a companion of youth and exile, but he
had a lively regret to see him entangled in such relations with
the Baroness of Feucheres. The advice he gave him many times to
induce him to break this liaison was without result. Finally the
King said: "Let us leave him alone; we only give him pain." He
never went to Chantilly, in order not to sanction by his royal
presence the kind of existence led there by his old relation; and
the Prince knowing the sentiments of his sovereign, gave him but
few invitations, which were always evaded under one pretext or

People wondered at the time who would be the heirs of the immense
fortune of the Condes, whose race was on the point of extinction.
The Prince's mother was Charlotte-Elisabeth de Rohan-Soubise, and
the Rohans thought themselves the natural heirs. But such a
combination would not have met the views of Madame de Feucheres,
who, not content with having got from the Prince very considerable
donations, counted on figuring largely in his will.

Nevertheless she was not without lively anxiety in that regard.
The Rohans had refused all compromise with her. If they were
disinherited, what would they say? Would they not attack the will
on the ground of undue influence? Such was the eventuality against
which the prudent Baroness intended to guard herself. In
consequence she conceived the bold project of sheltering her own
wealth under the patronage of some member of the royal family, in
having him receive the fortune of the old Prince under a will
which at the same time should consecrate the part to be received
by her, and put it beyond all contest. She would have wished the
old Prince to choose his heir in the elder branch of the House of
Bourbon. But the Duchess of Berry, who was disinterestedness
itself, declined any arrangement of that nature. To the
insinuations made to her in favor of her son, she responded:--

"Henri will be King. The King of France needs nothing."

She did more. It is said that to the persons who bore these
advances to her, she suggested the idea of having the heritage of
the Condes pass to the family of the Duke of Orleans. But the
thing was not easy. It is true that the children of the Duke were,
by their mother, Bathilde d'Orleans, nephews of the wife of the

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