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The Royal Family of France (Henry)/The Royal Family of France

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IV.

THE ROYAL FAMILY OF FRANCE.


Not many months ago, a man[1] devoid of the fear of God, and standing in dread of pistol-shot and horsewhip, dared insult his Royal Highness the Duke d'Aumale's august family, the Royal House of France.[2] Taking up his pen. Prince Henry de Valori, aide-de-camp to General d'Azémar, reviewed the acts of the Second Imperial Administration, pointing to the following facts:—

We scarcely realize that after the Crimean War, undertaken to diminish the power of Russia, this Power in ten years has in the East reached the British frontiers, and is threatening the possessions of England in India; that in the West it has annihilated Poland; and lastly that, in America, it has, together with Prussia, concluded a triple alliance, the greatest danger that has threatened Europe since the invasion of the barbarians.

With regard to European Powers. Trampling under foot the traditions of politics, the first principles of practical politics, unmindful of the lessons taught by the past, and of attempts that have all miscarried, European Powers have welcomed Italian Unity, the introduction into their circle of a State containing twenty-five millions of people.

The Mexican Expedition of 1862 was undertaken without first treating with the Southern States; worse still, fighting troops were recalled at the mere beck of the United States (March 15, 1867).

Handing over the Latin race to the House of Savoy, General Prim was allowed to offer Queen Isabella's Spain to the Duke of Genoa.

Lastly, the King of Prussia was able in less than eight days to put an end to the German Confederation, to drive Austria out of Italy and Germany, to double his hereditary States; and, after many a bloody game, in which Prince von Bismarck had secured all the trumps, other European nations find themselves without a single card to-day.

The present theory of political laissez faire induces dreams. When reduced to practice, it makes men giddy. Fortunately neither the most cunning brain, nor soldiers, nor barracks, nor steel guns, nor countless files, nor iron ships, will ever for one moment defer the appointed hour of Providence:

"The sword of heaven is not in haste to smite,
 Nor yet doth linger."

A considerable majority of men at these times in high official posts might mock and jeer, and ask whether our words are those of an inspired descendant of Jeremiah. Unfortunately, they are not; yet the hour of Providence never fails to come; and cowardice clothed in fine raiment, and turpitude disguised in the cloak of dignity oft have to decamp. Prince Napoleon, for example, left the Crimea on the plea of ill-health; and refused, to the disgust of the army, the challenge of the Duke d'Aumale, on whose family he had heaped scurrilous abuse. He has been successively a Democrat, Republican, Imperial Prince, with the features of a Bonaparte and the heart of a Robespierre.

Caught in the midst of prosperity undreamed of, the Napoleonic Dynasty fell of its own accord into an abyss of blood and shame, dragging France down with it. That wonderful military star which arose at Areola and Rivoli and shone on the fields of Marengo and Austerlitz to set at Sedan; that great nation, as the French dearly loved to be called, defeated, disgraced, disarmed in six months; that French army, oft victorious, even when hampered by the carelessness and incapacity of its Officers; that army that took Sebastopol, unconscious how the feat was achieved, and fought its way into Pekin and Mexico with its eyes shut; this same army was laid not long ago low, and decimated without truce or mercy. Surely all this cannot be called the natural order of political events. It is the sign of Providential times. More fearful changes and the most awful of lessons are in store still for younger people. L'heure est a Dieu!

In this Paper, we purpose inquiring into the causes of this long series of calamities succeeding each other during the last thirty years of French History. Their cause once ascertained, we must then discover a remedy for a disease fast becoming chronic, and threatening the very life of Monarchical nations. We write for the great phalanx of thinkers and enlightened readers. And in addressing men of feeling and understanding, one feels certain of being heard with attention. But should we, in studying the political situation, allow some words of blame to fall from our pen, we do not, however, wish to use any other language than that of respect and conciliation. "Amidst the ruins of the past and the uncertainty of the future I have always followed the leading of one compass: moderation. Instinct, nature, education had revealed it to me before my reason taught it to me. There is no more mighty power in the State than the energy of moderation." This is the truly judicious remark made by a public character, Vicomte de la Guéronnière, a daily wrestler, a searcher for ideas, the builder of his own fame, the ardent defender of truth and justice, one of the few writers of modern France whose pen is ever frank, clear, and brilliant.

  1. Prince Napoleon (Jerome).
  2. The language used by Prince Napoleon with regard to j^he Bourbon and Orleans families led to the publication soon afterwards of a pamphlet called, "Lettre sur l'Histoire de France, adressée au Prince Napoléon" by the Duke d'Aumale, which produced a great sensation in Paris, where it was not suppressed until it had obtained a large circulation. The brochure was damaging to the Napoleonic party, not less from the facts which it recalled, than from the singular ability with which they were applied. It was known to have caused the Emperor the greatest uneasiness. In a letter from a well-informed authority, among the Prince's papers, it is said that at a meeting of his Council, which had been called to consider what course should be taken in regard to it, the Emperor stopped the Ministers when they spoke of it as a tissue of falsehoods and exaggerations. "No, gentlemen," he said, with great firmness; "it is not so. Nobody knows the truth so well as I do, and there is but one calumny in the letter, and that is the accusation against me —that, while my mother was asking protection of Louis Philippe, I was conspiring against him with some of the chiefs of the Republican party. In fact, I was ill in bed with a bad sore throat. Louis Philippe's reception of my mother was that of a father receiving his child. He folded his arm round her, and promised to do all he could for her and hers; and when she returned to my bedside, her face was still wet with the tears which she had shed." The Emperor, through his secretary, M. Mocquard, published a few days afterwards an explicit denial of the Duke d'Aumale's accusations.— Taken from the "Life of H.R.H. the Prince Consort," by Sir T. Martin, K.C.B.