To any one inclined to be deceived by the illusions of the prestige surrounding the accession of Charles X., it ought to have sufficed to cast a glance on the austere countenance of the Orphan of the Temple, to be recalled to the tragic reality of things. The King had for his niece and daughter-in-law an affection blended with compassion and respect. The pious and revered Princess gave to the court a character of gravity and sanctity.
The Duchess of Angouleme and the Duchess of Berry lived on the best of terms, showing toward each other a lively sympathy. Yet there was little analogy between their characters, and the two Princesses might even be said to form a complete contrast, one representing the grave side, the other the smiling side of the court.
Born November 7, 1798, and a widow since February 14, 1820, Madame (as the Duchess of Berry was called after the Duchess of Angouleme became Dauphiness) was but twenty-five when her father-in-law, Charles X., ascended the throne. She was certainly not pretty, but there was in her something seductive and captivating. The vivacity of her manner, her spontaneous conversation, her ardor, her animation, her youth, gave her charm. Educated at the court of her grandfather, Ferdinand, King of Naples, who carried bonhomie and familiarity to exaggeration, and lived in the company of peasants and lazzaroni, she had a horror of pretension and conceit. Her child-like physiognomy had a certain playful and rebellious expression; slightly indecorous speech did not displease her. This idol of the aristocracy was simple and jovial, mingling in her conversation Gallic salt and Neapolitan gaiety. In contrast with so many princesses who weary their companions and are wearied by them, she amused herself and others. Entering a family celebrated by its legendary catastrophes, she had lost nothing of the playfulness which was the essence of her nature. The Tuileries, the scene of such terrible dramas, did not inspire her as it did the Duchess of Angouleme, with sad reflections. When she heard Mass in the Chapel of the Chateau, she did not say to herself that here had resounded the furies of the Convention. The grand apartments, the court of the Carrousel, the garden, could not recall to her the terrible scenes of the 20th of June and the 10th of August. When she entered the Pavillon de Flore, she did not reflect that there had sat the Committee of Public Safety. The Tuileries were, to her eyes, only the abode of power and pleasure, an agreeable and beautiful dwelling that had brought her only happiness, since there she had given birth to the Child of Europe, the “Child of Miracle.”