M. de Chateaubriand exclaimed, with noble indignation, that the first step to be taken by the government was to punish severely a ministry that was so short-sighted, and had committed so many faults. Laine declared, with a voice tremulous with emotion, that all was lost, and that but one means of confounding tyranny remained; a scene, portraying the whole terror, dismay and grief of the capital at the approach of the hated enemy, should be arranged. In accordance with this plan, the whole population of Paris—the entire National Guard, the mothers, the young girls, the children, the old and the young—were to pass out of the city, and await the tyrant; and this aspect of a million of men fleeing from the face of a single human being was to move or terrify him who came to rob them of their peace!
In her enthusiastic and energetic manner, Madame de Stael pronounced an anathema against the usurper who was about to kindle anew, in weeping, shivering France, the flames of war.
All were touched, enthusiastic, and agitated, but they could do nothing but utter fine phrases; and all that fell from the eloquent lips of these celebrated poets and politicians was, as it were, nothing more than a bulletin concerning the condition of the patient, and concerning the mortal wounds which he had received. This patient was France; and the royalists, who were assembled in the house of Count de la Pere, now felt that the patient’s case was hopeless, and that nothing remained to them but to go into exile, and bemoan his sad fate!
[Footnote 47: Memoires d’une Femme de Qualite, vol. i., p. 99.]
LOUIS XVIII.’S DEPARTURE AND NAPOLEON’S ARRIVAL.
While the royalists were thus considering, hesitating, and despairing, King Louis XVIII. had alone retained his composure and sense of security. That is to say, they had taken care not to inform him of the real state of affairs. On the contrary, he had been informed that Bonaparte had been everywhere received with coldness and silence, and that the army would not respond to his appeal, but would remain true to the king. The exultation with which the people everywhere received the advancing emperor found, therefore, no echo in the Tuileries, and the crowd who pressed around the king when he repaired to the hall of the Corps Legislatif to hold an encouraging address, was not the people, but the royalists—those otherwise so haughty ladies and gentlemen of the old nobility, who again, as on the day of the first entrance, acted the part to which the people were not disposed to adapt themselves, and transformed themselves for a moment into the people, in order to show to the king the demonstrations of his people’s love.
The king was completely deceived. M. de Blacas told the king of continuous reverses to Napoleon’s arms, while the emperor’s advance was in reality a continuous triumph. They had carried this deception so far that they had informed the king that Lyons had closed its gates to Napoleon, and that Ney was advancing to meet him, vowing that he would bring the emperor back to Paris in an iron cage.