There was not a private household in France where more order reigned than in that of Madame. The chief of each service,—the Duchess of Reggio, the Viscount Just de Noailles, the Count Emmanuel de Brissac, and the Count of Mesnard, presented his or her budget and arranged the expenditures in advance with the Princess. This budget being paid by twelfths before the 15th of the following month, she required to have submitted to her the receipts of the month past. This did not prevent Madame from being exceedingly generous. One day she learned that a poor woman had just brought three children into the world and knew not how to pay for three nurses, three layettes, three cradles. Instantly she wished to relieve her. But it was the end of the month; the money of all the services had been spent.
“Lend me something,” she said to the controller-general of her household; “you will trust me; no one will trust this unfortunate woman.”
As M. Nettement remarked: “The Duchess of Berry held it as a principle that princes should be like the sun which draws water from the streams only to return it in dew and rain. She considered her civil list as the property of all, administered by her. She was to be seen at all expositions and in all the shops, buying whatever was offered that was most remarkable. Sometimes she kept these purchases, sometimes she sent them to her family at Naples, Vienna, Madrid, and her letters used warmly to recommend in foreign cities whatever was useful or beautiful in France. She was thus in every way the Providence of the arts, of industry, and commerce.”
To sum up, the household of the Duchess of Berry worked to perfection, and Madame, always affable and good, inspired a profound devotion in all about her.
THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE CORONATION
The coronation of Louis XVI. took place the 11th of June, 1775, and since that time there had been none. For Louis XVII. there was none but that of sorrow. Louis XVIII. had desired it eagerly, but he was not sufficiently strong or alert to bear the fatigue of a ceremony so long and complicated, and his infirmities would have been too evident beneath the vault of the ancient Cathedral of Rheims. An interval of fifty years—from 1775 to 1825—separated the coronation of Louis XVI. from that of his brother Charles X. How many things had passed in that half-century, one of the most fruitful in vicissitudes and catastrophes, one of the strangest and most troubled of which history has preserved the memory!