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IX.

RECONCILIATION.


We know of no word in any tongue more absurd, more revolting, when applied to the reconciliation of Princes of the same blood, than the term fusion. Silver and copper are mixed with gold, and inversely; this is fusion, or alloy. But gold does not fuse with gold, it mingles with it, is identified with it.

A fusion, such as this, if dreamt of by the Paris bourgeois of the Quartier Montmartre or those of the Chaussée d'Antin, would be an abdication on both sides. It would be an acknowledgment of two hostile principles there where only one exists, aggravated as it is by the misfortunes of the period. Should the Royal Princes have been induced to follow this traitorous path, it would have inevitably led to a rupture. That rupture would have proved the closing scene of the History of France. There was but one remedy for the unfathomable sum total of our misfortunes, for the cruel trials of the present, for the sinister fears in the future: a plain and simple reconciliation. Foolish or wicked partisans may strive to compromise the safety of France by giving vent to dangerous opinions, by provoking claims injurious to the Royal dignity. Wretches as they are, that they should prove more ambitious, more inexorable than their leaders, is not surprising; they are time-serving friends. When in 1848 the Orléans family went into exile, these men chose an opposite direction. There is not to-day a single loyal and faithful Orleanist who would speak otherwise than we do. No sensible and practical man would ever sketch a programme of so absurd and risky a policy, which even Louis Philippe himself disowned on his death-bed.

State reasons are imperative, and family questions—say these policy-mongers—must give way to them. "How can we ask Princes who have quarrelled violently with the Head of their family and their hereditary traditions to acknowledge that their father was in fault, that they themselves are guilty?" "And this,—add they,—when the Head of the House of Bourbon is childless, when, as regards the royal claim and the popular vote, all the chances of the future are for the Orléans family. Why should they disown the past?" It is these blinded, narrow-minded men who have raised the question of the flag, as though the Lilies of France would blush for shame if embroidered on the banners of Austerlitz, Isly, and Magenta; as if the pennon that waved at Rocroy and Fontenoy would in its turn disgrace the victors of Marengo and Solferino.

But these extreme parties are not composed of would-be Orleanists only; there are also the ne-plus-ultra Legitimists, a faction whose loss would be a gain, who have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. For them fusion would be a sacrilege; they would sooner become Republicans than acknowledge as Royal Princes the descendants of Philippe Egalité. This cannot wound the feelings of sensible men, it can only make them smile.

For, if we had to accept the decrees of Moses and to curse the children unto the fourth generation for the sins of their fathers, who would escape the anathema? It would be better in such circumstances to uproot the Cross of divine Mercy and adopt circumcision. Let them then cast aside once for all such oratorical display as would be invidious to the memory of those who have already appeared before the judgment-seat of Divine justice and truth. Here below there are but two judges competent to sit; King Louis Philippe, father of the Orléans Princes, and France.

The last words, the last advice of Louis Philippe at Claremont, were words of peace and counsels of reconciliation. His supreme wish was that his sons should promise to acknowledge the Comte de Chambord as Head of their House. "Let the Comte de Chambord be the Head of the House of Orleans!"

On October 19th, 1852, Louis Napoleon had convoked his Senate for November, to deliberate on a change of Government, when a senatus consultum, referring to the contemplated restoration of the Empire, would be proposed for the ratification of the French people; and on the 25th following was issued the Comte de Chambord's protest against the President's message. In the autumn of 1853, November 20th, the Duke de Nemours paid a visit to Frohsdorf and announced to his Royal Cousin the following solemn declaration: that he came in his brother's name and in his own, to assure the Comte de Chambord that he and his brothers acknowledged but one Monarchy, represented by one Royal Throne. Afterwards, certain conditions had been appended to this solemn deed of adhesion by the Orleans Princes. Since then recrimination has vanished and all doubt about that is useless. France was in her death-throes not long ago, and she is threatened with more troubles. She must be saved.

This safety,—the safety of all, the safety of Princes as well as ours,—they, the Orléans Princes, hold in their hands. Let them listen to the voice of Providence, to the voice of their country, to the voice of their father. Providence speaks to them by the woes and sorrows of their agonizing country; from the wreck of the Throne which God cast down at a sign. He tells them that pride is an affront to His Divinity; that the towering wave breeds the storm, and the uplifted mountain the frost and the snow. They among Frenchmen who do not see signs of bloodshed in the skies must be wilfully Wind indeed; and those who will not see them and hold aloof, are guilty of treason. The day always comes which may never return. It is not a question of turning back, the Royal Princes must make a stand, and we rejoiced in reading of their shortly intended visit to Frohsdorf. Were the Comte de Chambord to die to-morrow, it would be too late. As the Royal Sons of France, they knew full well that they can only preserve their august tide by acknowledging the King of France. The time may come—and it must come—when they will reign; but their reign would be ephemeral and born of the Revolution, their dynasty would ever be its toy and slave. They would remain wretched Pretenders, levelled to being confronted with other pretenders. A Bonaparte or a Louis Napoleon will still exist, and France, the unhappy victim of a political hydra for ever being born again of blood, riots and Coups d'Etat, would fall by the hand of a parricide.

Many, sacrilegiously, had relied on the sterility of the Royal stem, as though the God who dried the sap could not bid it flow again. The present Royal Family of France is numerous enough to cause any new sacrilegious Napoleon or Republican to fall into either a swoon or a convulsion before attempting a further robbery of the Royal children's own The power of number cannot stand against the Almighty; as though eighty Royal sons of the House of Judah did not perish in one day; as though it were more difficult for the Supreme Being to continue the line of Kings than to expel the dynasty of the two Napoleons out of the Kingdom of France; as though the destiny of generations was not controlled by Him. The Capetians of the first branch numbered three brothers; not one mounted the throne. The Valois consisted of three brothers, yet a distant relation, the ancestor of our Orleans Princes, Henry IV., wore their Crown. Louis XIV. and Louis XV. saw with their own eyes four generations of Dauphins pass away. Neither Louis XVI., Louis XVI II., or Charles X. were succeeded by their sons. The Orleans Princes, in spite of the lustre of a numerous family, have eaten the bread of exile on the English soil; Holyrood, Claremont and Twickenham are familiar names to contemporary Frenchmen. Let the Royal Princes not give ear to flatterers; the safety of France and the future of their dynasty lie in a sublime act of political charity, in placing duty above every human consideration.

The time seems drawing nigh. "Reaction," vague and mysterious rumours, such as foreshadow great social crises, have been floating in the air for these last few months, because Frenchmen are growing more attentive to the Administration which disgraces France. As to the Members of the Royal Family, no Orleanist faction, or Orleanist conspiracy exists, though certain people choose to believe, or at least to assert, that it does. It is impossible that any definite project, any concerted plan, should exist. The only plot that could be contrived, is a plot such as always succeeds, which is not foiled on the eve of execution, which it would be difficult to stay on the day itself, which explodes in an instant, which finds thousands of conspirators, not one of whom has known of it beforehand; it is a deep want universally felt, filling the heart of every man directly it shows itself. The higher and educated classes of Frenchmen thirst for that reconciliation, implore it with ardent and earnest desire. Surely we cannot but hope for them that the storm is passing over; the ship will ride into port, lilies flying at the mast, and all her sails set.

But if the atonement of the nation is not complete, if France must still bow before the powers that be, if the small number of the loyal are to follow the example of the renegades and of the foresworn, and cast lots for the shreds of the winding-sheet of their old Monarchy; if Europe is to witness all these tokens of social desolation on the ruins of the Monarchy of Clovis and Henry IV., honest men should still look forward to a resurrection; they should still hope for the salvation of that France for which Louis XVI. intercedes before the throne of Grace. In his will, the martyr King says:—"I forgive from my whole heart those who have conducted themselves towards me as enemies, without my giving them the least cause, and I pray God to forgive them. And I exhort my son, if he should ever have the misfortune to reign, to forget all hatred and all enmity, and especially my misfortunes and suffering. I recommend to him always to consider that it is the duty of man to devote himself entirely to the happiness of his fellow-men—that he will promote the happiness of his subjects, only when he governs according to the laws—and that the King can make the laws respected and attain his object, only when he possesses the necessary authority. … I submit to Providence and necessity in laying my innocent head on the scaffold By my death, the burden of the Royal dignity devolves upon my son. Be his father, and rule the State so as to transmit it to him tranquil and prosperous- My desire is, that you assume the title of Regent of the kingdom; my brother, Charles Louis, will take that of Lieutenant-General. But, less by the force of arms than by the assurance of a wise freedom and good laws, restore to my son his dominions usurped by rebels. Your brother requests it of you, and your King commands it Given in the Tower of the Temple, January 20th, 1793."

The Royal Princes will soon discharge the rational, just and generous debt burdening surely their heart and their conscience, and bring back to their country " peace with honour." A message to which no more fitting reply can be gratefully returned than, " Honour to whom honour is due."