The Ceremony of Expiation.
“In the spring of 1814 a ceremony took place in Paris at which I was present because there was nothing in it that could be mortifying to a French heart. The death of Louis XVI. had long been admitted to be one of the most serious misfortunes of the Revolution. The Emperor Napoleon never spoke of that sovereign but in terms of the highest respect, and always prefixed the epithet unfortunate to his name. The ceremony to which I allude was proposed by the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia. It consisted of a kind of expiation and purification of the spot on which Louis XVI. and his Queen were beheaded. I went to see the ceremony, and I had a place at a window in the Hotel of Madame de Remusat, next to the Hotel de Crillon, and what was termed the Hotel de Courlande.
“The expiation took place on the 10th of April. The weather was extremely fine and warm for the season. The Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia, accompanied by Prince Schwartzenberg, took their station at the entrance of the Rue Royale; the King of Prussia being on the right of the Emperor Alexander, and Prince Schwartzenberg on his left. There was a long parade, during which the Russian, Prussian and Austrian military bands vied with each other in playing the air, ‘Vive Henri IV.!’ The cavalry defiled past, and then withdrew into the Champs Elysees; but the infantry ranged themselves round an altar which was raised in the middle of the Place, and which was elevated on a platform having twelve or fifteen steps. The Emperor of Russia alighted from his horse, and, followed by the King of Prussia, the Grand Duke Constantine, Lord Cathcart, and Prince Schwartzenberg, advanced to the altar. When the Emperor had nearly reached the altar the “Te Deum” commenced. At the moment of the benediction, the sovereigns and persons who accompanied them, as well as the twenty-five thousand troops who covered the Place, all knelt down. The Greek priest presented the cross to the Emperor Alexander, who kissed it; his example was followed by the individuals who accompanied him, though they were not of the Greek faith. On rising, the Grand Duke Constantine took off his hat, and immediately salvoes of artillery were heard.”
The following titles have the signification given below during the period covered by this work:
MONSEIGNEUR........... The Dauphin.
Monsieur.............. The eldest brother of the King, Comte de Provence, afterwards Louis XVIII.
Monsieur Le prince.... The Prince de Conde, head of the House of Conde.
Monsieur Le Duc....... The Duc de Bourbon, the eldest son of the Prince de Condo (and the father of the Duc d’Enghien shot by Napoleon).
Monsieur Le Grand..... The Grand Equerry under the ancien regime.
Monsieur Le Premier... The First Equerry under the ancien regime.