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EVENINGS

WITH

PRINCE CAMBACÉRÈS.

CHAPTER I.

The author visits Prince Cambacérès in 1814–Count Jules de Po

lignac-Count Réal-Count Fabre de l'Aude-Disclosures of the circumstances which caused the trial of Louis XVI. to terminate in the sentence of death-Scene in the National Convention—The two Robespierres, Legendre, Saint-Just, Lebas, Couthon, Collot d'Herbois, Barrère, Fouquier-Tinville, Santerre, Carrier and Lebon-Cambacérès and the Duke of Orleans-Extraordinary statement made by the Duke-First interview between Cambacérès and General Bonaparte-Bonaparte and Count Fabre de l'Aude --Unpublished correspondence-A remarkable phrase twice repeated-An anecdote of 1797–Napoleon at the Museum in 1807—The Author's conversation with him-Political sentiments of the youth of France in 1814.

The consequences of the European war having compelled me to leave Italy in February, 1814, I returned to France and took up my residence at Carcassonne. The restoration ensued, and, in the August following, I proceeded to Paris. On my arrival in that capital, I lost no

VOL. I.-2

14

Visit to Prince Cambacérès.

time in calling on Prince Cambacérès. He still resided at the old Hotel de Monaco, where he fixed his abode when the demolition of the Hotel d’Elbeuf compelled him, in 1809, to remove from the Place du Carrousel. His new residence was situated in the Rue Saint-Dominique. Her Royal Highness the Duchess dowager of Orleans purchased it from him after the Hundred Days; and she died there. The council of state now holds its sittings in that hotel. What next will be its destiny? Houses, like empires, often change masters. The chronicles of the palaces and hotels of Paris might furnish matter for a few amusing volumes.

When, on saluting the Prince, I recollected the many stirring events which had occurred within the space of a few short months, I felt unable to conceal my emotion. His manner was marked by his accustomed kindness and amiability:

“How is this?” said he. “You turn to the setting sun! Do you profess the worship of sinking stars?"

Monseigneur,” replied I, “your highness overwhelmed me with favours in the days of your power. I can never cease to cherish a grateful remembrance of them.”

“Leon,” said he, “if you knew how basely I have been forsaken. Messieurs so and so, (he named about ten or a dozen persons,) are at the Tuileries ... But, I am de- • lighted to see you. Whenever you have an hour to spare, especially in the evening, come and see me, and we will talk over the past.”

“Yes, and we will build in the regions of chimera, castles in the air for the future.”

“The future! Alas! we have nothing to look for in the future. The Emperor has closed every chance against himself. The Bourbons will reign for ever.

"I do not think so." "Indeed! and pray what inspires you with that doubt?”

6A line of La Fontaine; that writer whose works are an inexhaustible mine, in which every thing is to be found. In the fable of l’Ours et l'Amateur, you will find this maxim:

'Rien n'est si dangereux qu'un ignorant ami.'” "It is very true.”

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Count Fabre de l'Aude.

15

“For example, I passed a few days at Carcassonne with Count Jules de Polignac. Two strange hallucinations have taken possession of his mind: one is the complete return to the old régime; and the other, that France can never be saved until he himself is made prime minister. He repeated this nonsense over and over, and made it the subject of a hundred arguments.”

“What a singular man he is?”

“He is a pure specimen of loyalty and of exalted piety; a man of the most amiable disposition and manners, but of the most complete incapacity. There is no junior clerk in any of our public offices, who is not better qualified to be a minister than the Count."

“So much the worse, for he is very influential now, and will be very powerful by and bye. But he will see--he will reflect, and will learn to judge of things more accurately."

"Monseigneur, there are people who close their eyes that they may not see, and stop their ears that they may not hear. We have many such in France, now.

Count Réal was announced. His highness uttered an exclamation of joy. “How, Count! is it you? I have not seen you

this

age.” Réal.-I

go

out but little: the weather is so bad. He looked at me with an air of doubt.

The Prince.-Oh! he is one of ourselves. You may speak freely.

He introduced me. My humble name was unknown to Count Réal; but his Serene Highuess' guarantee was of course sufficient to insure full confidence in me. The Count again made some remarks upon the weather, which he intended to be figurative, and expressed his fears that it would be very stormy. The republicans distrusted the Bourbons, and certainly without reason; for their forbearance, indulgence, and clemency, knew no bounds; and, in 1814, it might have been truly said that the Bourbons alone had forgotten every thing.

Count Fabre de l'Aude next dropped in. The Count was a magistrate and a politician of the good old school, distinguished for probity and parsimonious economy; but, at the same time, a warm hearted man, and ever ready to

16

Trial of Louis XVI. serve his friends: in short, he had no enemies, except those who were ungrateful for his kindness.

He was an able financier and a most accurate calculator. Accounts never became confused in his hands. Napoleon esteemed and appreciated his merit, and frequently appealed to his advice in private; though he never conferred on him any other reward than the functionless post of procureur-général of the conseil des sceaux des titres. After being president of the tribunal, he, of necessity, became a senator: he was created a count with the rest of his colleagues en masse, and, at the same time, he obtained the title of commander of the legion of honour. He was the friend of Cambacérès, and he honoured me with his particular regard, on account of his connexion with my father-in-law, who, during the empire, was a counsellor of the criminal court of Toulouse.

We all entered into conversation without reserve. We spoke of the royal family. Prince Cambacérès, who took every opportunity of clearing himself from the charge of being a regicide, introduced the subject of the King's death. Some observations were made on the political error committed by the Girondins in consenting to the death of Louis XVI.

“I should like,” said Réal, “to tell something which I dare say you do not know. I can inform you why, and through whose influence, it was determined that the sentence on the King should be attended by a tragical result."

We all manifested our curiosity.

Réal stationed himself with his back to the fireplace; there was no fire. The Prince took his seat in a large armchair; Fabre de l'Aude in another of smaller dimensions; and I in a chair without arms. The hierarchy being thus arranged, Réal commenced:

“On the 21st September, 1792, about midnight, the National Convention, which had been installed since the morning, had, as a first operation, and on the proposition of Count Grégoire, resolved to terminate the monarchy by proclaiming the creation of the republic, single and indivisible. I can fancy myself, even now, in that apartment of Robespierre. It was a room on the ground floor, the

-, entrance to which was through a very shabby antichamber. On the day I have mentioned, there were assembled in the

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