THE declaration of St. Ouen
had a wonderful effect upon the King's entry, which took place on May .
A great majority of the population, even from the environs, crowded into
the capital and greeted him with hearty acclamations. The Marshals had
been summoned to join the procession. We surrounded the royal carriage,
containing the Duchesse d'Angoulême on the left of the King, and the
Prince de Condd and the Duc de Bourbon facing him. His Majesty bowed
graciously, and from time to time pointed out the Duchess to the longing
eyes of the crowd, as though to say
'See this unfortunate
Princess; here she is, the only one who escaped the revolutionary axe!'
I saw some ladies at
windows in the Rue St. Hohoré so moved that they either fainted, or else
The procession went to
the Cathedral, where the King was present at the solemnization of a Te Deum to return thanks, and then to the palace of the Tuileries. What
memories must have recurred to the royal family at sight of those walls,
which still bore traces of the fury of August 10!
There was a grand parade
of troops in the courtyard, and among them were the remains of the Old
Guard, who had been brought by a forced march, and, I believe, in one
journey, from Fontainebleau. They had first been drawn up in line at the
Porte St. Denis, without being allowed time to shave or wash themselves,
and thence they had been brought at the double into the courtyard. It
was believed that the King would pass through their ranks, but, whether
from fatigue or indifference, he would pay no attention to this troop,
although much pressed to do so. It was a great mistake, and sowed the
first seeds of that discontent of which, ten months later, the fatal
consequences were felt. This famous regiment was not even permitted to
take the duty at the Tuileries, although one of their battalions had
given every satisfaction at Cornpiêgne, and had been on duty all the
time the King remained there.
Such neglect was deeply
felt by these brave fellows, who had formerly had alone the privilege of
guarding Napoleon and the Cheáteau. By another fatality, which was not
without its influence upon their discontent, no lodgings or quarters had
been provided for them ; and when at length they succeeded in obtaining
private billets, every door was shut. There was no ill-will in this; the
fact was that everyone had gone out to see the King's entry, and had
taken advantage of the fine weather to remain out-of-doors.
I was informed by a lady
of my acquaintance, possessed both of good sense and courage, that on
her return from a visit to her parents she found several grenadiers
disputing with the porter, who refused to admit them, notwithstanding
that their billets were in perfect order, because his masters had not
come home. They merely asked leave to rest in his lodge until their
return. In refusing this the inflexible Cerberus had apparently made use
of some contemptuous expressions, for the soldiers had laid hands on
him, and he would have had a very disagreeable experience had not,
luckily for him, my friend appeared. On learning the reason of the
dispute she scolded the porter, threatened to have him dismissed, and,
turning to the soldiers, said
'My friends, it is a
shame that you should be treated thus! Come in. You need refreshment,
but everything is shut up. Porter, hasten to the baker, the
pork-butcher, and the wine-merchant, and see that these gallant fellows
have everything they require immediately!'
Her presence and
consideration disarmed the anger of these veterans of the Guard, but she
could not get them to cry, 'Long live the King!'
I suppose that many
incidents of a similar nature occurred that day in Paris, and were not
forgotten; and consequently) at the first news of Napoleon's landing,
these soldiers remounted the tricoloured cockades and flocked to him.
Much mistrust and many mistakes and follies contributed to increase the
The Dukes of Berry and
Angoulême arrived soon after. The first, like his father, had had the
good sense to put on the uniform of the National Guard; the second, on
the other hand, was dressed in an English uniform! The Marshals had been
commanded to go and meet him. The sight of his impolitic costume
displeased us no less than his cold reception of us. He scarcely saluted
us, and roughly asked his brother, at the same time pointing at us in
'Who is this? What is
that man's name?' and so on.
He was also very coldly
greeted himself, although there were many people in the streets; but
they went rather out of curiosity, and the warmest feelings were frozen
by the sight of the uniform of our bitterest. enemies. This was perhaps
increased by a rumour which had gained wide circulation, that he
ill-treated, and even beat, the Princess. I repeat this statement, or
rather this gossip, for what it is worth, because those who have the
best opportunities of observing, remark on the contrary that this couple
seem very fond of each other, full of sympathy and thought for each
other; and this is especially noticeable in the Princess, for whom my
respect, attachment and devotion are very deep.
A Council of War had just
been created, I know not whether by the will of the King or whether his
minister, having heard of the conversation at Compiègne, and fearing
that one might be forced UOfl him, took the initiative. I incline
towards the latter belief, simply on account of the various selections
made among the lower grades, whereas it had been stated at Compigne that
it should only necessarily include the heads of the army, the Marshals,
principal Controllers of Ordnance and Supplies, and some Generals who
had commanded army-corps.
few days later I went to
the Gháteau. The King was on his throne, but not in state; some few
persons were in the hall, amongst others the Duke of Wellington. His
Majesty, seated, wearing his hat and playing with his walking-stick,
desired me to approach, and, after introducing the Duke to me, with whom
I exchanged a few polite words, said:
'Well, you ought to be
satisfied. I have formed a Council of War; what do you think of it?'
'Your Majesty's object
has not been attained,' I answered. 'The Minister has composed it of
soldiers dependent on him who are in want of employment or promotion,
and who, on that very account, will be his very humble servants, docile
to the opinions and wishes of his Excellency, so that your Majesty will
never know anything except what it pleases the Minister to show.'
'You are right,' replied
the King; 'I will change and correct that.'
consisted in the addition of three Marshals, and I afterwards learned
that the King insisted upon my being one of them. Dupont [It seems
strange that such a man should have been put over the greatest Marshals
and Generals of France! Vide infra, . 303, note. - Translator.] had long
known my independence, and our intimacy enabled me to superintend
everything and say what I pleased. He would no doubt have been glad to
avoid this alteration, which later on would have been of great service
to him; but he could not keep me out after the formal expression of the
At length we met. The
Minister entered, holding a sort of provisional plan, the nature of
which we could not learn, for he said that his Majesty demanded the
immediate attendance of the Council.
'You want to play us a
trick, my friend,' said I; 'but take care, I will speak out before the
On reaching the Chateau
our meeting began, under the presidency of the King, who had beside him
Monsieur and his sons. Dupont sent to beg me to make no objection. He
read his report, after which his Majesty asked for our opinions. When my
turn came, I remarked that the report had been read too quickly for me
to form any opinion, and asked that it might be printed, which was
The Council of War was
summoned to the Cháteau for the second and last time. The printed copies
of the report had been circulated just as we were starting for the
Tuileries. Matters had been carefully arranged so that there should be
In opening the meeting
the King said that the breaking up of the armies had become so important
that, since our first meeting, he had been obliged to order it, and to
partition the regiments among the garrisons; that consequently our
meeting became objectless for the moment; that he begged us to study the
plan of organization; and, finally, that he would let us know his
intentions later. We were never summoned again.
Thus vanished this dream
of a Council of War, which, over and above the advantage of bringing
together valuable opinions and experience, would have assured to the
army that unity which is always so desirable—uniform instruction,
precision, good fellowship, and, above all, the best choice of officers.
Instead of this, preference was given to favouritism, decorations and
promotion were lavished upon the incapable and careless, while merit
languished and vegetated in subordinate ranks; the old noblesse invaded
everything, and deep-seated discontent began to ferment. The Princes
also dispossessed, without any compensation, those who held the post of
chief inspectors of the different Arms of the Service, and who ranked
immediately after the Marshals.
The Legion of Honour,
institutedas a reward for merit of every kind, was thrown open to
everybody, and it became evident that the intention was to discredit and
deprive it of any value. But I must say that the Order of St. Louis was
distributed with equal prodigality. The royal Government behaved like an
invalid, who allows everything to take its chance without any
I have anticipated
events, however, and travelled far from my Council of War. The sitting
was occupied with narratives of military events, and parallels drawn
between opposing Generals. The King took considerable interest in the
conversation, and after some hours declared the sitting closed.
During the brief
existence of the Council of War, another political body was deliberating
upon and discussing the constitutional Charter, based upon the
declarations of St. Ouen. The Legislative Body of the Empire had been
temporarily preserved. The ancient peerage, re-established but enlarged,
formed, as in England, the Upper Chamber; the other one took the name of
Chamber of Departmental Deputies.
I was created a peer, and at the royal sitting of June 4 took the oath ;
at the first business meeting of the Upper Chamber, I was elected one of
the Secretaires du bureau. The drawback to this distinction is that one
must be very assiduous, and that one is very much tied, and I soon
became so tired of it that, notwithstanding many requests, I have always
since declined the honour.
The military divisions
were erected into governorships. I had the twenty-first, of which the
principal town was Bourges. I had been given my choice, and had taken
that, as it brought me near my property. At the same time all the
Marshals were appointed Knights of St. Louis, and successively
Commanders and Grand-Crosses of this military Order, which was revived,
as were the other ancient Orders, without abrogation of the law
abolishing them: such was the tendency to absolutism.
The object of the first
Bill brought before the Chamber of Peers was to correct the abuses of
the press. I fancied I discovered in it a violation of Article 8 of the
Charter. I spoke and voted against it, and my little speech was
considered very military. Notwithstanding strong opposition, the Bill
passed by a majority of one, the numbers being fifty- six for and
fifty-five against! This happened merely because one of my intimate
friends, who had promised to vote with us against it, wrote 'yes' on his
voting-paper. I saw him do it, and tried to seize the paper, but he had
just time to drop it into the ballot-box. We should have had the
majority on our side but for that. By what little threads do the
destinies of Bills hang!
It is one of the
functions of the Secrétaires du bureau to lay before the King the Bills
that have passed. On receiving us, and after a few words addressed to
one or two amongst us, Louis XVIII. spoke to me in a severe tone, fixing
upon me his eyes. which were penetrating as those of a lynx.
'Monsieur le Maréchal, I
am surprised at your having spoken and voted against this measure. When
I take the trouble to draft a Bill, I have good reasons for wishing it
'Sire,' I replied, 'your
Majesty did not take me into confidence with regard to your Bills. They
ought all to pass if they are drawn up by your Majesty. If the
initiative is to belong to your Majesty alone, they might as well simply
be registered, and we might remain dumb like the former Legislative
Body. If, however, I have correctly understood the intentions of the
Charter, it gives to every individual freedom of opinion and vote. I
fancied that in this Bill I discovered a violation of Article 8, and I
employed that liberty conscientiously, as I shall always do.'
The King made no answer,
bowed to us, and we retired. Scarcely had we left the presence, when the
Chancellor said to me:
'Monsieur le Maréchal,
was that the proper way to address the King?'
'What do you mean?' I
retorted; 'did I fail in respect to his Majesty?'
'No, not exactly; but you
should have been more reserved, less blunt.'
'By which you mean that I
should either have concealed the truth or displayed regret. I have never
learned to twist myself, and I pity the King if what he ought to know be
kept from him. I shall always speak to him honestly, and serve him in
the same manner.'
The King showed me his
resentment for some time, but afterwards treated me with the same
politeness as heretofore, and, when he came to know me better, was not
displeased with my bluntness, although he was King. I have been told of
his saying on several occasions:
'His Outspokenness tells
me such and such a thing.'
The Court was daily
losing ground in public opinion. It seemed as though the Ministry and
their agents were vying with each other as to which should give proof of
the greatest folly, and the surroundings of the King as to which should
exhibit the greatest haughtiness and conceit.
At this time the office
of the Legion of Honour was presided over by a priest, the Abbé de Pradt,
formerly chaplain of the god Mars. He suppressed the orphanages, which
are now branches of the royal house at St. Denis- The relations of the
pupils, their friends, and the members of the Order complained aloud,
and numerous petitions were presented to the Chambers. I was a member of
the committee of my Chamber, and was ordered to report upon those which
put forward just complaints.
I conferred with the
representative chosen by the other Chamber to report, and we proceeded
to make inquiries— first at the Legion of Honour itself. The Chancellor
of the Order informed us that economy alone had prompted the King to
take this step. The reason was a weak one, as educational establishments
had as much right to public money as the members of the Order. Had they
been treated with the barest justice, the subscriptions to them should
only have been reduced by half; but more consideration should have been
shown to widows and their children, because, in losing their husbands
and fathers, they had lost their only means of support. We said that we
should state to the proper quarter our reasons for advising the repeal
of this impolitic order of suppression. The Abbé admitted that there was
some truth in what we said but he thought that the order was too recent
to allow of its revocation by the King, and begged us to let a short
time elapse before bringing it about.
'No doubt,' I said
ironically, 'and meanwhile the children will be sent away, the furniture
sold, and later on it will be said that the funds are so Iowthat they
will not admit of the reestablishment of these houses ! Monsieur Abbé,'
I continued, 'you are concealing your real motives from us; we have a
duty to perform; how we perform it must largely depend upon the amount
of confidence you place in us. Speak frankly.'
He again protested that
there were no reasons save that of economy; but from his hesitating
wanner we saw that he was deceiving us.
As we could get nothing
more out of him, we went to the Superioress of the Orphanage. She had as
good grounds for complaint against the Chancellor as Madame Campan,
whose establishment at Ecouen had been suppressed, but most of the
pupils in her house had been, at any rate, transferred to that of St.
Denis. The suppression of the house at Ecouen had been hurried on, in
order that the property might be given to the Prince de Condé, although
it had been given in perpetuity to the Legion of
Honour by the sinking-fund (caisse d'amortissemeizt), which had, I
believed, purchased it from the State.
The Superioress had had
difficulties with the Chancellor, and attributed the suppressions to the
personal dislike of the Abbé. She told us that, having gone one day to
the Grand Almoner to ask his protection for her community and pupils,
the Chancellor had come in, and had been very angry with her for giving
any information or details without his knowledge. She felt certain that
the Abbé's action arose from motives of personal animosity and a desire
to avenge himself. She also complained of his correspondence, saying
that she was thwarted in every attempt she made to improve the position
of her pupils. It was quite likely that some of her complaints were
tinctured by feminine bitterness; we took heed of nothing, except what
could help us to discover the real reasons for this suppression.
We went next to the Grand
Almoner, who told us that the Chancellor had been very much irritated at
the visit paid to him by the Superioress, and at her prayers for support
and protection, but added that the Abbe had always told him that the
pecuniary position of the Legion required this economical step.
We agreed to take no
notice of the complaints of the Superioress, seeing that they were
personal, and perhaps exaggerated, and to take as the basis of our
respective reports the arbitrary manner in which the, suppression had
been effected, for, as I have already said, the educational houses had
the same privileges as the members of the Order, having been created at
the same time. Moreover, a few years later public money had been
specially devoted to them, independently of their general funds. This
annual contribution still exists, but other needs and circumstances
appear to have interfered with its application.
The feelings of the
members of the Order and of all the soldiers were clearly expressed; a
portion of the public echoed them, not only in connection with this
administrative action, but with many other causes of complaint. What was
the use of nourishing this discontent? It seemed to me that the
important thing for us was to obtain the repeal of the order. Would
speeches help us? They would probably only increase the opposition. The
idea then recurred to me of negotiating the matter with the Minister
responsible for the Legion of Honour. I suggested this to my colleague.
He was a warm partisan of the opposition, a good fellow at heart, with
excellent qualities; I had known him a long time. At the first mention
of my proposal, he shook his head, but I soon brought him round, and
without very much difficulty, adding that, if our negotiation failed,
our hands would be strengthened. We agreed, therefore, to draw up our
reports as though they were to be laid before our respective Chambers,
and to seek an audience with the Minister of the King's household.
Monsieur de Blacas
received us immediately, and seemed surprised, because he believed, as
he told us, that the measure had been taken in the interests of the
Order; he had not really investigated the matter, and had confined
himself to laying before the King the report and proposed ordinance that
the Chancellor had sent him. He opened a drawer and showed us the
original report, and also the budget of the Order, which had not
required him to make any profound calculations, for the proposal to
reduce the salaries by half could be carried out by a stroke of the pen.
We asked him to lay our reports before the King, and to let us know his
Majesty's intentions with regard to our request for the repeal of the
Some hours later the King
sent for us, but the deputy of the other Chamber was nowhere to be
found. As punctuality was necessary at the audience, I went alone.
Monsieur de Blacas was with the King, and no one else. When I entered
his Majesty rose, gave me his hand, and said
'My dear Marshal, I thank
you for the delicate manner in which you have set to work to enlighten
and inform me of the truth. I only approved the measure because I was
assured that it was in the interests of the Order; the true reasons,
which you have put in so clear a light, were not placed before me.
Therefore, it is with the greatest pleasure and alacrity that I revoke
I thanked the King in the
name of the Order and of the families interested, and added
'Had your Majesty been
better informed, you would, I feel sure, have maintained, or even
created, these establishments, had they not been already in existence.'
'Certainly I would,' said
the King; 'and in order to give you, my dear Marshal, a token of my
satisfaction and confidence, I charge you with the task of drawing up
the ordinance and re-establishing the orphanages'
I withdrew highly
pleased. On reaching home, I found my colleague, Baron Lefebvre,
formerly Intendant-General of the army, and at that time occupying the
same post in the Parisian National Guard. When he heard my story and the
success of our joint inquiry, he lost his temper because he had thus
missed his opportunity of declaiming against the arbitrary abuse of
power, and had had nothing for his pains but the trouble of drawing up
When my work was done, I
took it to the Minister, who said
'The Abbé de Pradt knows
all that has been going on, and is very uneasy. He has asked the King
for temporary leave of absence, and his Majesty is much inclined to
comply with his request, only with an extension to perpetuity.'
The ordinance was
published in the next day's Monii'eur, and produced great delight,
especially among those interested; but this triumph cost the Legion a
large sum of money. Most of the pupils had been sent, with all their
outfit, to their relations, who did not care to bring them back to
school, and preferred to enjoy, until their twenty- first year, the
modest pension of 250 francs (£10) which was allowed them to continue
their education. It was, therefore, necessary to nominate fresh pupils,
and provide each with an outfit.
Shortly afterwards a
golden bridge was built for the Abbt de Pradt to bring about his
resignation. He was granted a pension of 10,000 francs (£400) and the
grand cordon, and this produced a very bad effect, which was heightened
by the appointment of his successor, a general officer, a former emigre
attached to the Court, and the favourite, it was said, of the heir to