« ÎnapoiContinuați »
wrote from thence to his royal friend for some books, and among others, for a French translation of Horace. To this request, Louis, having in part complied, returned the following answer :
Your commission about Horace was not so easy. There is a translation by the Abbé Desfontaines, but he got no farther than the middle of the third book of the Odes—so that would not suit you. I lately bought a translation by M. Daru—the tribune Daru—the Count Daru. It is in verse; here and there happily enough executed, but more frequently very poor, and sometimes it does not give the meaning at all; this, again, is not what you want. I have therefore fallen back on the old translation of Sanadon, which is on the whole the least imperfect. But I fear that the good father may have only translated the opera expurgata. That he should have omitted“ Rogare longo puditam te sæculo," " Quid tibi vis, mulier nigris dignissima barris?" would be very right; these two odes are really disgusting, as well as some scattered lines in the Satires; but there are many delicious passages unnecessarily cut out, which I should be sorry that you should not have. I see but one remedy—send me the list of the odes you have, with their numbers, and the few first words, thus:-L. i. Ode 1. Mæcenas atavis, &c. I shall then see what you want, and will endeavour to supply the deficiency by an humble attempt of my own.
This royal version of the Venusian bard would indeed have been a welcome prize to any of our eager advertising publishers; but in all probability it was destroyed—perhaps never written. That numerous MSS. were consigned to destruction is a matter beyond doubt. Madame Gonet, an English lady married to one of the royal suite, expressly informed Dr. Lee's Secretary that, some time before the death of Louis, his eye-sight became very much impaired. He had a large quantity of papers in his bureau, some of which, he told Mons. Gonet, he would be glad to have left behind him, but that there were others which he did not wish to be seen by any person; and, as an inspection would be too laborious for himself to undertake with a view to select a portion, he ordered them all to be destroyed in his presence.
Though the letters from the King to the Duke were not published till some years after Lord Byron's death, yet he must have been aware of the royal penchant; for, after some scurrilous sneers, in his poem called “ The Age of Bronze," he asks
Good classic Louis! is it, canst thou
The letters which the King addressed to the companion of his wanderings, though neither historically nor politically of much importance, exhibit the ease and serenity of a well-cultivated mind. But observation and strong sense appear every here and there with agreeable humour; as, for instance, when all the political quid-nuncs of Europe thought there was an irreconcileable quarrel between Napoleon and his brother Lucien :
Hartwell, 9th October, 1810.— As there is, no doubt, a constant communication between Portugal and Madeira, you will hear the news of the Peninsula direct sooner than from England. You will perhaps also have heard of the arrival of Lucien at Malta. They represent him as having escaped, but he had 40 people in his suite. B.P. ( Buonaparte, thus uncialized in all the king's letters) therefore could not have been ignorant of it; for at least his agents were not fools. What, then, can be the object of this movement ?
I cannot guess. All that I know is that I look upon M. Lucien as another Sinon. “ But he had quarrelled," say they, “ with his brother.” Mighty fine! As if the quarrels of rogues who have the same interest ever lasted.
In the north, however, matters seem seriously perplexed, and nothing persuades me more of the probability of a war than B. P. publishing in the Moniteur that he never was on better terms with Russia. Poor Alexander! It is, indeed, high time he should look about him. I hardly allow him a year before he will be reduced to the same extremities as his unfortunate neighbour, of whom some one said the other day that he was no longer the King of Prussia, but the Prussian King.
The King seems to have had a great distrust of the Duke of Orleans, the late Louis Philippe, whose history forms one of the most remarkable and curious romances of real life on record. From an existing memorandum in the hand-writing of the late Duke of Buckingham, we learn the particulars of an interview which took place between tliem.
“ When Louis XVIII. was at Stowe, the Duke of Orleans, whom he had not admitted to his presence since the period of the Revolution, came to Stowe, and saw his uncle for the first time. My father and I were present at the meeting in the library. We two stood at the fire-place near the print-room. Louis and his nephew walked up and down the library, conversing some time. At length, just as they came opposite the table near the print-room door, we heard a clatter and a noise, and, turning round, I saw the Duke of Orleans on his knees before his uncle, seize his hand, and I heard him say,—“Ah! mon oncle, I ask pardon of my king, of God, and man, for ever having worn that accursed (maudit) national cockade. Louis XVIII. raised him up, saying,— C'est bien, mon neveu ; c'est bien : Je te pardonne.' I can point to the very spot on the floor where this happened.”* Soon afterwards, when this compound of sense and cunning—this politic democrat among princes and prince among democrats—wished to place himself at the head of the Spanish insurrection, his Majesty thus dwells on the upshot:
Ilartuell, 5th November, 1810.— The Duke of Orleans has been ordered off to Sicily by the Cortes; the motion was made in that monstrous assembly (monstrous I call it, because the annals of Spain can produce no instance of a Cortes in which there are but three grandees) on the 28th of September, and passed by a simple majority of five votes. The execution of the decree was confided to the Regeney. A member apprised the Duke of what was going on, and advised him to present himself to the Cortes; he hastened
* The Critic of Lucien Buonaparte's Memoirs (Quarterly Review, vol. 57, page 395), states that the King saw into the recesses of the Duke's character:-“We know, from a person who has kindly communicated to us a note which he made of the conversation, that Louis XVIII. speaking of Louis Philippe to an illustrious foreigner, in the presence of his brother (Charles X.) said, that. Egalite était un meilleur homme que son fils,'—an opinion which Charles warmly contested, and endeavoured to disprove by insisting on certain good points of Louis Philippe's character! Eheu!"
thither, gave them a dreadful fright, but was not admitted, and referred back to the executive power. On his return to his residence, he found waiting for him the Governor of Cadiz, who politely kept him company till he had actually put him on board ship.
Being at that moment at Cadiz, I happened to witness this politeness; and, seeing what the meaning of the embarcation was, I could not but look upon the guard turning out at the city-gate, and the roll of the drums, as sarcastic irony: and it was my lot afterwards to meet the Duchess of Orleans (the present Queen Dowager) at Minorca, where she was present at some private theatricals on board the Hibernia, of 110 guns, then bearing the flag of Sir Richard Keats, the admiral in command at Cadiz at the forced departure of the Duke. The above extract also shews that the heterogeneous composition of the Cortes had not escaped the notice of Louis; and his sagacity traced the absurdity of their principles and measures. This is further indicated in the following letter, and may account for his own conduct with regard to the Spanish revolution of 1823:
Hartwell, 5th February, 1811.—They say (and as the report comes from both Paris and Cadiz I amı afraid there may be some truth in it) that B.P. has a design for replacing Ferdinand on the throne of Spain, on condition of his marrying a sister of the unhappy Marie Louise. But, on the other hand, the Cortes have declared—at least so I read in a Cadiz Gazette—that “they would not recognize Ferdinand if he came under the protection of a tyrant, the usurper of the throne of Louis XVIII.” So there they are standing up for the rights of a foreign sovereign, while they usurp the authority of their own. This inconsistency arises from the opinion which now seems to prevail of the sovereignty of the people, which has, it seems, a right to make what revolutions it pleases, provided they be not bloody. To what an extent does not this fatal doctrine reach? Would you believe, my friend, that the King of Sweden himself not only defends the conduct of his uncle towards him, but even professes to regard him as the legitimate sovereign?
The unfortunate King of Sweden, Gustavus IV. who sought refuge in England under the name of Count Gottorp, had opposed France with more spirit than power or military capacity: and, though he clearly made out that Napoleon was the Beast described in the Revelations, his means were too feeble for the encounter to which he considered himself called. Louis received and encouraged his visits to Ilartwell with great kindness and attention; but he must very soon have perceived— from the reckless intemperance of his views—that the Swedes had been compelled to supersede him. However, he thus considerately mentions the last he saw of him :-
Ilartwell, 13th of March, 1811.—The King of Sweden leaves this to-morrow before daylight, and England by the end of next week. He goes first to Heligoland—then to Anholt, to try to open some communication with Sweden as to his personal property, of which he has not for a long time received a penny. Thence to Russia, and thence he hopes to return into Switzerland. Poor Prince! I fear he has lost for ever that happiness of which he is really so deserving. It is not that he regrets the loss of his station; on the contrary, he talks of that with an indifference which one could not believe without having witnessed it as I have done. Quiet is what he professes to want, but surely whirling about the world is not the means of obtaining that object. Besides, though he has never made me an explicit confidence on that subject, it is easy to see that he has some domestic annoyances. I now had rather that he had not come to England.
At the time of writing this, the “ Sage of Hartwell,” as his followers designated Louis, had a gloomy horizon for his own affairs; for Napoleon, then in the very zenith of his fortunes, seemed to have established a dynasty for France in the birth of his heir-apparent, the King of Rome. The event, so portentously ominous to the Bourbon interests, was treated with a degree of philosophical resignation and sarcastic dryness by Louis, in these terms—“ So then, we are to have a babe in the Napoleon family. Whether he is really the flesh and blood of the unhappy arch-duchess herself, or only an interloper smuggled into her bed-chamber, what care I? Many people look upon
this event as highly important. I am not of that opinion, and here's my dilemma. I
. If God has condemned us to this tyranny, B.P. can never want a successor; if, on the other hand, the divine wrath should pass away, all the babes in the world will not prevent the overthrow of the edifice of iniquity.” In this expression of submission to destiny, there is an inference almost prophetic, and no small spice of contempt.
But among these letters there are none which prove the affectionate disposition of Louis more than those which describe the last illness of his wife, and his lamentation for her loss; and, as the following was written in confidence to his dearest friend, the tender anxiety with which he watched her last moments, and his feelings on her demise, must be considered as out-pourings of sincerity. The first is
Hartwell, 2nd December, 1810.—I freely confess, that I was not aware I loved the Queen so much as I now find I did. Alas! I was so unjust as to think her illness partly imaginary; and my suspicion was grounded on the statement of Calignon, in whose judgment I reposed implicit confidence. The Queen com
I plained that her ancles were swollen; Calignon said they were not; and I naturally relied on what he said, conceiving him to be the best judge of the matter. On Sunday the 4th of November, she told me that she wished to consult Lefebvre, whom I accordingly summoned. He waited on the Queen next morning, and at first expressed himself no less incredulous than I respecting the serious nature of her illness, but his opinion was changed before his departure. However, he did not let me know the whole of the melancholy truth. On the Tuesday, Lefebvre told me decidedly that dropsy was formed, and was accompanied by alarining symptoms. He, however, added, that he did not despair of reducing those symptoms; but, if he should not succeed, - all would soon be over." A fit of weakness and difficulty of breathing succeeded. The fit was not of long duration, but it returned at noon, and when it was over, she anticipated the proposal that was about to be made, of sending for her confessor. After confession, she signified a wish to take the sacrament, which was administered to her by the Archbishop; the venerable prelate, overpowered by his grief, was once or twice at fault in the ceremony of extreme unction; but the Queen set him right with a degree of coolness and presence of mind which she would certainly not have evinced had she been beside the death bed of another. She awoke dreadfully ill on Thursday the 8th; had a fit, though rather less severe than that of Wednesday. Some trifling symptoms of amendment appeared, and your poor friend was cheered by a faint glimmering of hope.
On Thursday we had a host of arrivals; my brother arrived from London; my nephews, who were on a visit to Lord Moira, at Donnington, arrived at nine in the evening; and the Prince and Princess of Conde
The Duke de Bourbon, who was not in London, did not come till next day. The fit, when she awoke on Friday morning, was not so severe as usual, and throughout the day she was tolerably composed. The physicians had ordered that but few persons should be in the patient's room, and that they should not remain in it long. We accordingly passed the day in the drawing-room, visiting the bed-room by turns.
Madame de Narbonne was the only person who remained constantly with the Queen, and those who most frequently saw her were the Duke de Havre, the Archbishop, and the Abbé de Bréan. On the evening of Friday she wished the Abbé de Bréan to discourse with her on religious subjects, his talent for which almost as great as that of the venerable Abbé Edgeworth.
On Saturday, the 10th, at 9 o'clock, the hour at which the fit usually came on, there were no symptoms of it. However, it commenced soon after; and I then saw how fully she was aware of her situation, and with what resignation she awaited her approaching end. A man named Motte, who was in the service of my brother, died in 1769, during a violent storm; and afterwards, the people about the Court, when speaking of very bad weather, used to say—temps de la mort de Motte. On the fatal Saturday to which I am now alluding, the rain poured and the wind blew more violently than I ever recollect in England. all speaking of it, when the Queen, interrupting us, observed, “ You will not hereafter talk of the storm of La Motte's death.” I made no reply; but the words made a deeper impression on my heart than on my ear. She now experienced a great difficulty of breathing in bed. She was placed in an arm-chair; and the fit increased to such a degree that the physicians were afraid that she could not hold out much longer. She inquired for the Abbé de Bréan, who had ventured to go to Aylesbury. Finding he was out of the
she asked for the Archbishop; and, after conversing a few moments with him, she sent to inform us that she wished to see us all for the last time. We went to her, but she had not power to speak; and in a few moments she made signs for us to withdraw. Soon after, she desired the prayers for the dying to be said, which were commenced by the Archbishop (who, however, was scarcely able to articulate); and the Abbé de Bréan arrived in time to finish them. The Archbishop then gave her absolution, in articulo mortis. Meanwhile the fit abated, and her strength returned. She sent for me, and the Archbishop, in her name, asked me to pardon her for anything she had done to offend me. I replied, that it was for me to beg pardon of her. “No!” said she, “the Abbé de Bréan knows well that I have no cause to complain of you.” Then, feeling her hand bathed in my tears, she said, in a gentle tone, " No more of this. I must now direct all my thoughts to my Creator, before whom I shall shortly be summoned, and with whom I will intercede for you." After I withdrew, she sent successively for my nephew and my niece, to whom she gave her blessing; the Duke de Berri, to whom she addressed some prudent and affectionate advice; and my brother, with whom she conversed in the same tone of kindness. After a short interval, the Abbé de Bréan came to inform me that the Queen begged I would go to my apartment. I obeyed, and you may imagine
The anecdotes thus artlessly related by the King, are indicative of the serenity and presence of mind with which the good Queen quitted her sublunary station, and it was thought remarkable that her demise, like those of Cromwell and Napoleon, should have occurred while so boisterous a storm was raging. Louis sustained her loss with passive fortitude, thus showing a strong contrast to his brother Charles; who when the Fell Serjeant deprived him of a favourite mistress was plunged by his loss into inconsolable grief. To this occurrence might be ascribed the commencement of that change of mental frame of which his spiritual companions availed themselves, and by which they gradually transformed a character of levity into that of a devotee and a despot. The more sober but more touching feelings of Louis are excellently and pathetically shewn in this correspondence, with which he unbosomed himself. In a few weeks, he thus replies to d'Avaray's condolements
Hartwell, 7th January, 1811.–Fear nothing for my health. It has not suffered. I am already at the point where I believe I shall remain: “no more tears, no more pangs of sorrow," but a sincere regret, a void