For his French Majesty, meanwhile, one of the worst things is that he can get no hunting. Alas, no hunting henceforth; only a fatal being-hunted! Scarcely, in the next June weeks, shall he taste again the joys of the game-destroyer; in next June, and never more. He sends for his smith-tools; gives, in the course of the day, official or ceremonial business being ended, ’a few strokes of the file, quelques coups de lime. (Le Chateau des Tuileries, ou recit, &c., par Roussel (in Hist. Parl. iv. 195-219).) Innocent brother mortal, why wert thou not an obscure substantial maker of locks; but doomed in that other far-seen craft, to be a maker only of world-follies, unrealities; things self destructive, which no mortal hammering could rivet into coherence!
Poor Louis is not without insight, nor even without the elements of will; some sharpness of temper, spurting at times from a stagnating character. If harmless inertness could save him, it were well; but he will slumber and painfully dream, and to do aught is not given him. Royalist Antiquarians still shew the rooms where Majesty and suite, in these extraordinary circumstances, had their lodging. Here sat the Queen; reading,—for she had her library brought hither, though the King refused his; taking vehement counsel of the vehement uncounselled; sorrowing over altered times; yet with sure hope of better: in her young rosy Boy, has she not the living emblem of hope! It is a murky, working sky; yet with golden gleams—of dawn, or of deeper meteoric night? Here again this chamber, on the other side of the main entrance, was the King’s: here his Majesty breakfasted, and did official work; here daily after breakfast he received the Queen; sometimes in pathetic friendliness; sometimes in human sulkiness, for flesh is weak; and, when questioned about business would answer: “Madame, your business is with the children.” Nay, Sire, were it not better you, your Majesty’s self, took the children? So asks impartial History; scornful that the thicker vessel was not also the stronger; pity-struck for the porcelain-clay of humanity rather than for the tile-clay,—though indeed both were broken!
So, however, in this Medicean Tuileries, shall the French King and Queen now sit, for one-and-forty months; and see a wild-fermenting France work out its own destiny, and theirs. Months bleak, ungenial, of rapid vicissitude; yet with a mild pale splendour, here and there: as of an April that were leading to leafiest Summer; as of an October that led only to everlasting Frost. Medicean Tuileries, how changed since it was a peaceful Tile field! Or is the ground itself fate-stricken, accursed: an Atreus’ Palace; for that Louvre window is still nigh, out of which a Capet, whipt of the Furies, fired his signal of the Saint Bartholomew! Dark is the way of the Eternal as mirrored in this world of Time: God’s way is in the sea, and His path in the great deep.