“I had the feeling—educated as I was at college, and provided early with a sort of precocious experience, the precious fruit of public education—that the nobility was a world a little apart. I instinctively perceived how much the preoccupations of the persons with whom I was then passing my time were of a nature particular, special to their class, not opposed—that would be saying too much certainly—but a little foreign to the great currents that swayed the opinion of their contemporaries. They had their way of loving the King and their country which was not very comprehensible, nor even, perhaps, very acceptable, to the mass of the people and the bourgeois classes, who were rather inclined to remain cold or even sullen in the presence of certain manifestations of an ultra-royalism, the outward signs of which were not always at this time entirely circumspect.”
To one regarding the horizon attentively there were already some dark spots on the bright azure of the heavens. The struggles of the rival classes of French society existed in a latent state. The white flag had not made the tricolor forgotten. Charles X., consecrated by an archbishop, did not efface the memory of Napoleon crowned by a pope, and beneath royalist France were pressing upward already Bonapartist France and Revolutionary France.
THE JUBILEE OF 1826
The dominant quality of Charles X., his piety, was the one that was to be most used against him. There was in this piety nothing morose, hypocritical, fanatical, and not an idea of intolerance or persecution mingled with it. Conviction and feeling united in the heart of the King to inspire him with profound faith. In 1803, before the death-bed of a beloved woman, he had sworn to renounce earthly for divine love, and from that time he had kept his vow. The woman by whom this conversion was made was the sister-in-law of the Duchess of Polignac, Louise d’Esparbes, Viscountess of Polastron. The Duchess of Gontaut recounts in her unpublished Memoirs the touching and pathetic scene of the supreme adieu of this charming woman and of Charles X., then Count d’Artois. It was in England during the Emigration. The Viscountess of Polastron was dying with consumption, and the approach of the end reawakened in her all the piety of her childhood. A holy priest, the Abbe de Latil, demanded the departure of the Prince. “I implore Monseigneur,” he said, “to go into the country; you shall see the poor penitent again; she herself desires it, having one word to say to you, one favor to ask, but it cannot be until at the moment of death.”
The Prince, who, even at the time of his greatest errors, had never ceased to love and honor religion, obeyed the command of the priest. He awaited in cruel anguish the hour when he should be permitted to return. It was authorized only when death was very near. The Duchess of Gontaut says:—