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XVIII. has constantly had an avowed favourite, and this favourite he has always preferred to his friends, and even to his relations. Without being acquainted with this personage no hopes can be entertained of access to the king. An obstinate and jealous woman is not more assiduous to please her husband than this minion is to ingratiate himself with his master; which latter finds it impossible to admit any person, receive any address, or open any letter, without the presence or interposition of his chamber or cabinet minister; for a more dignified appellation cannot be given to those inferior characters to whom the king abandons himself without reserve.
Louis XVIII. feels this servitude; he is sometimes indignant at it; he secretly detests the author of this habitual violence, he despises and he retains him. Not possessing sufficient energy to shake off the yoke, in the absence of his tyrannical valet he grows angry; but soon resumes, without murmuring, his accustomed chain. The ascendency that may be assumed over this prince is such, that rather than resign his favourite, he would oppose his family, his friends, and all the kings of Europe.
Less sincere than his elder brother, Louis XVIII. has, naturally, like him, that species of duplicity which is the inseparable companion of weakness. Genuine good-nature, with a certain severity of manners, covered this defect in Louis XVI.: studied condescension, grey hairs, and old age, deceive you at first in the same manner in Louis XVIII. Neither of these princes have been able to elude the suspicions inspired by an equivocal conduct; all eyes fixed on them, easily discerned them to be acting two different characters ; the one private, the other public; and like Penelope, destroying each night the work of each day. The consequence was, an end of all confidence. Both these princes alarmed their enemies, without being able to protect their friends, who knew them too well to expect from them firmness or intrepidity in the hour of danger. In fact, the two brothers, instead of facing the storm, yielded alike in the day of peril; the one seeking refuge in the national assembly, the other amongst strangers.
In examining the conduct of the king, however we may feel prejudiced in his favour, we must still acknowledge him to have very serious faults, and such as must necessarily be the ruin of the possessor. It must be allowed that he never gave any proofs of a knowledge of men, or of things that to the last moment he was ignorant of the real state of France,-that he was unable to hold the reins of government: that, in short, after a reign of eleven months, during which period his authority hourly declined, he lost the throne in one day! I appeal to all enlightened men whether such a prince be capable of governing France. I ask if we can reasonably rally round a king who runs away in all difficult circumstances ; who has never been able to head a party, not even when two millions of men were in arms for his cause, and who dares not enter his native land unless accompanied by an odious retinue of foreign troops? I ask what protection, what security can be offered for the future by a king who is arrived at that age when men no longer change, and in whose character errors are so inherent, that at the age of thirty he would have committed the same as at that of sixty : Louis XVIII. is unfit to govern, nor is he more capable of selecting suitable ministers to exercise authority in İnis name than of acting himself. He has neither talents nor determination. Indeed we can form a just estimate of his character, no less by the weakness of his reign than the rapidity of his fall. He is not the man for France. However, I repeat it—this prince is the phenix of the royal family.
The Comte d'Artois has received from nature neither penetration of mind nor a sound judgment; he is heedless, superficial, and uninstructed by an education in which the attention of the scholar did not repay the solicitude of the master. A wild and dissipated youth gave him an aversion to any thing solid, and rendered him incapable of application or study. His head is an empty vessel that will neither receive nor retain any thing. The heart of the Comte d'Artois is superior to his head. This calls from him sometimes certain happy sayings, which procure him a slight degree of credit, and a passing success unconfirmed by good sense. The higher endowments of reason lend no assistance to those amiable qualities and that facility of manner, which are frivolous advantages in a prince placed on the steps of a throne. The Comte d'Artois was for a moment popular ; but, when upon a nearer inspection he discovered an absolute ignorance of affairs, a hopeless incapacity; the illusion, which had fascinated the eyes of the admirers whom he had conciliated by his engaging manners vanished in an instant. I will not retrace in colours too animated the national fault by which the Comte d'Artois signalized the commencement of his administration. It suffices for him to bear the name of Frenchman; for me to wish to efface such a blemish from our history. Let us forgive this prince, but let us beware of taking such a man for a chief. He is ten times weaker than his brother, being totally void of instruction. Easy of access, more easily to be imposed upon, he has just quitted the domination of women for the empire of courtiers and priests. His last mistress, in whose tomb he appears
to have deposited the passions of his youth, has given place in his heart to a blind devotion. With such incapacity for command, it is scarcely credible, but it is true, that the Comte d'Artois is not however without ambition; he is desirous of reigning, and he has bad the imprudence to promise those immediately about him great changes in the order of things, when once he shall occupy,
supreme rank. It may also be said, that this prince, led away by his trusty followers, and a certain self-confidence, was adjusting himself to the character he hoped one day to assume. A small separate government was already formed in his cabinet. This government had its ministers, its administrators, its judges, and its agents in France; it paralysed the action of royal authority, forbad, or at least retarded, by a secret influence, the execution of public orders; and blamed the concessions that Louis XVIII, thought himself obliged to make to the nation. “ I will answer for the future,” was a sentence that escaped this imprudent prince, who never pronounced the words “ constitution” or “ liberty,” but in the last extremity; at a moment when he thought that by tardy oaths and fine words he might regain lost hearts. Such are the talents, such the disposition and conduct of the Comte d'Artois. Such were our prospects from a prince who is a stranger to the common knowledge of the age, and who is not even the shadow of him who could not maintain himself one year on the throne of France. Upon the accession of the Comte d'Artois we might look forward to a revolution at the end of six months, and expect to see our country a renewed prey to repeated dissensions.
Whence is it that the declension of capacity and talents in this family should be so rapid and abrupt? The Duc d'Angouleme denied the exterior advantages of his father, but personally brave, it is said, knows nothing, and more over can learn nothing. As a soldier, a common lieutenant is his superior; in civil life, he has no notion of the elements of administration, nor the slightest idea of the proceedings of government. He would at all times have been unfit for a throne, but is particularly so in the midst of a nation that requires in a chief a steady hand, joined to a strong and enlightened mind. Of a mild and placid disposition, he might have been beloved, were it not for a haughty, imperious wife, who soured by misfortune, and endowed with a mind rebellious to culture, and a superstitious heart, exercises over this prince a fatal ascendancy. To crown this misfortune, the Duc d'Angouleme, though young, is absorbed in the exercises of a blind devotion, fatal equally to the exertions of his head and the emotions of his heart.
Our future expectations from such a prince were not the most flattering; but he might have been considered as a gift from heaven, when compared with his brother.
Nature has been less rigorous with the Duc de Berri, who is more clever, and possesses more information and aptitude than the Duc d'Angoulême. He is not deficient in certain exalted ideas, and has some warmth of mind that might have proved producible. The Duc de Berri would have done honour to an adroit and prudent master; but entering the field while young, and abandoned a long time to himself, he
gave way, particularly during his residence in England, to incredible excesses, and he has acquired the manners and customs of the most depraved society. He is what they call in France a lost man.
The hope of emerging from that humiliation into which he was plunged, the honour of re-attaining that rank to which his birth called him; the ascendancy which politeness, and an intercourse with the French, naturally exercise over a prince who appears to have a wish to please, at one time had the appearance of elevating the soul of the Duc de Berri, and of operating a happy change in his conduct. His friends, even his uncle, were upon the point of entertaining hopes concerning him which had long been lost. But a disposition once spoiled is incapable of reform. Bad habits do not disappear in one day, when they have taken such a deep root in the mind and heart of a man, of a suffici. ently elevated rank to procure flatterers; and of a fortune that will supply the means of gratifying the passions. Rude, harsh, despotic, neither respecting himself nor others, the Duc de Berri has alienated every heart. He has filled the army with indignation, and drawn upon himself the contempt of the people: in short he has been the ruin of his family and his king, and has made them pay dearly the imprudence of confiding their destiny to a heedless man, with whose excesses and folly they were already acquainted. The Duc de Berri is a soldier of corrupted morals, who when on the throne would dictate absolute laws, and govern France in the midst of orgies. Let us add this last truth, which can convey but little consolation even to those most prepossessed in his favour ;-the Duc de Berri, with his violent and hasty temper, is marked with the seal peculiar to his family; he is weak and inconsistent, and a slight opposition is sufficient to make him retract orders given in the harshest tones of anger and command.
These reflections are severe; but if they be strictly true, if they be such that even those persons attached to this family cannot refute, if their most zealous partisans have
been more than once obliged to acknowledge in those princes the faults we have pointed out, where is the judicious many who would embrace their cause? Where is the man so poor a friend to his country that he would wish to reinstate, as guardians of our laws, princes born enemies to liberty, or who are incapable of defending it, should they consent to sacrifice their inveterate prejudices ? It is wickedness in those princes, it is unpardonable blindness in their partisans, to wish to bring war into their country for a cause which is not that of the nation. To say nothing of duty, virtue, patriotism; setting aside the obligations and respect which those appeals impose upon generous minds, let us speak to the Bourbons and their adherents, 'of their own private interest; that source of all human actions. I will suppose that which is impossible, the overthrow of the French: with what aspect would that people regard princes ascending a throne covered with their blood shed by foreigners? Would that people be inclined joyfully to submit, or to bend under a yoke imposed by force ? No, certainly.' It would become necessary to implore the aid of foreign troops, and support them for a continuance at the expense of the nation which they would maintain in dependence. This humiliation could not long be brooked, and if once the French should rise against their oppressors, how dreadful would be their vengeance ! Should they on the other hand determine to dismiss these troops, what rampart, what barrier could prevent the explosion of national anger? Those weak hands that were incapable, at a period when the nation seemed to be appeased by the hope of repose, of supporting their falling authority, could they control this burst of general indignation? The result would be a new revolution, necessary, unavoidable, and tremendous. The sceptre of the Bourbons would be again broken, their family expelled, and their followers exposed to inevitable ruin. May Heaven and France herself avert such dreadful evils! May the Bourbons be wise enough to allay these new storms, by renouncing the mad design of recovering their dominion
First Account of the Disembarkation of Napoleon, in the
Moniteur of the 8th of March. Nous avons retardé jusqu'à ce jour à donner des nouvelles du débarquement de Bonaparte sur les côtes de la Provence,