[Footnote 64: La Reine Hortense: Voyage en Italie, etc., p. 185.]
He solicited a visit from Hortense, and, on the second day of her sojourn in Paris, M. de Houdetot conducted the Duchess of St. Leu to the Tuileries, in which she had once lived as a young girl, as the step-daughter of the emperor; then as Queen of Holland, as the wife of the emperor’s brother; and which she now beheld once more, a poor, nameless pilgrim, a fugitive with shrouded countenance, imploring a little toleration and protection of those to whom she had once accorded toleration and protection.
Louis Philippe received the Duchess of St. Leu with all the elegance and graciousness which the “Citizen King” so well knew how to assume, and that had always been an inheritance of his house, with all the amiability and apparent open-heartedness beneath which he so well knew how to conceal his real disposition. Coming to the point at once, he spoke of that which doubtlessly interested the duchess most, of the decree of banishment.
“I am familiar,” said the king, “with all the pains of exile, and it is not my fault that yours have not been alleviated.” He assured her that this decree of banishment against the Bonaparte family was a heavy burden on his heart; he went so far as to excuse himself for it by saying that the exile pronounced against the imperial family was only an article of the same law which the conventionists had abolished, and the renewal of which had been so vehemently demanded by the country! Thus it had seemed as though he had uttered a new decree of banishment, while in point of fact he had only renewed a law that had already existed under the consulate of Napoleon. “But,” continued the king with exultation, “the time is no longer distant when there will be no more exiles; I will have none under my government!”
Then, as if to remind the duchess that there had been exiles and decrees of banishment at all times, also under the republic, the consulate, and the kingdom, he spoke of his own exile, of the needy and humiliating situation in which he had found himself, and which had compelled him to hire himself out as a teacher and give instruction for a paltry consideration.
The duchess had listened to the king with a gentle smile, and replied that she knew the story of his exile, and that it did him honor.
Then the duchess informed the king that her son had accompanied her on her journey, and was now with her in Paris; she also told him that her son, in his glowing enthusiasm for his country, had written to the king, begging that he might be permitted to enter the army.