On the following day, an able and eloquent article in defence of Louis Bonaparte appeared in the journal—an article that shamed and silenced his accusers—an article which the prince, whose cause it so warmly espoused, probably never thought of attributing to the wife to whose maternal heart be had caused such anguish.
[Footnote 45: Cochelet, vol. i., p. 303.]
THE BURIAL OF LOUIS XVI. AND HIS WIFE.
The earnest endeavors of the Bourbon court to find the resting-place of the remains of the royal couple who had died on the scaffold, and who had expiated the crimes of their predecessors rather than their own, were at last successful. The remains of the illustrious martyrs had been sought for in accordance with the directions of persons who had witnessed their sorrowful and contemptuous burial, and the body of Louis XVI. was found in a desolate corner of the grave-yard of St. Roch, and in another place also that of Queen Marie Antoinette.
It was the king’s wish, and a perfectly natural and just one, to inter these bodies in the royal vault at St. Denis, but he wished to do it quietly and without pomp; his acute political tact taught him that these sad remains should not be made the occasion of a political demonstration, and that it was unwise to permit the bones of Louis XVI. to become a new apple of discord.
But the king’s court, even his nearest relatives, his ministers, and the whole troop of arrogant courtiers, who desired, by means of an ostentatious interment, not only to show a proper respect for the beheaded royal pair, but also to punish those whom they covertly called “regicides,” and whom they were nevertheless now compelled to tolerate—the king’s entire court demanded a solemn and ceremonious interment; and Louis, who, as he himself had said, “was king, but not master,” was compelled to yield to this demand.
Preparations were therefore made for an ostentatious interment of the royal remains, and it was determined that the melancholy rites should take place on the 21st of January, 1815, the anniversary of painful memories and unending regret for the royal family.
M. de Chateaubriand, the noble and intelligent eulogist and friend of the Bourbons, caused an article to be inserted in the Journal des Debats, in which he announced the impending ceremony. This article was then republished in pamphlet form; and so great was the sympathy of the Parisians in the approaching event, that thirty thousand copies were disposed of, in Paris alone, in one day.
On the 20th of January the graves of the martyrs were opened, and all the princes of the royal house who were present, knelt down at the edge of the grave to mingle their prayers with those of the thousands who had accompanied them to the church-yard.
But the king was right. This act, that appeared to some to be a mere act of justice, seemed an insult to others, and reminded them of the dark days of error and fanaticism, in which they had allowed themselves to be drawn into the vortex of the general delirium. Many of those who in the Assembly had voted for the death of the king, were now residing at Paris, and even at court, as for instance Fouche, and to them the approaching ceremony seemed an insult.