At heart, there was something noble and touching in the thought of Charles X., and the true royalists sincerely respected it. Prom the monarchical point of view, a monument to Louis XVI. had much more raison d’etre than the obelisk since erected in its place, which represents nothing, and has, moreover, the inconvenience of obstructing the fine perspective of the Champs Elysees and the Tuileries. But there were two camps in France, and these processions, expiations, prayers, which, according to the royalist journals, opened a new era of sanctity, glory, and virtue, exasperated the Voltairians. The opposition determined to make of the King’s piety a weapon against royalty.
And yet, we repeat, this piety had nothing about it not worthy of respect. As the Abbe Vedrenne remarks in his Vie de Charles X., this Prince “had a perfect understanding of the duties and convenances of his rank, never refused his presence at fetes where it was desirable, never seemed to blame or fear what a sensible indulgence did not condemn; he loved the charm of society, and increased it by his kindliness, but he was not dazzled by it. He remained to the end the most amiable prince in Europe, but he was also the severest. A surprising thing in a convert, his religion was always full of true charity for others. He excused those who neglected their Christian duties, remembering his delay in practising his own, without ever compromising his own beliefs. He sincerely respected the good faith of those who did not share them. This faith, this piety—a legacy from love—which he guarded so faithfully, was the consolation of his long misfortunes and the principle of his unchanging serenity. It banished even the idea of hatred from his heart. Never did any one forgive as he did.”
It must not be forgotten that the pamphleteers and song-writers of the Restoration, violent, unjust, and even cruel as they were toward Charles X., never breathed an insinuation against the purity of his morals. His life was not less exemplary than that of his son, the Dauphin, or of his niece and daughter-in-law, the Orphan of the Temple. Despite the great piety of the sovereign, the court was not melancholy or morose. Charles X. had a foundation of benevolence and gaiety to his character. He was not surprised to see committed about him the gentle trespasses of love, of which he had been himself guilty in youth, and he had become—the very ideal of wisdom—severe for himself, indulgent for others.
THE DUCHESS OP GONTAUT
The Governess of the Children of France was the Viscountess of Gontaut, who, as a recompense for the manner in which she had accomplished her task, was made Duchess by Charles X. in 1826. Here is the opening of her unpublished Memoirs:—
“January, 1853. To Madame the Countess and Monsieur the Count Georges Esterhazy. My dear children, you have shown a desire to know the events of my long life. Wishing to teach them to your children, I yield to this amiable and tender purpose, promising myself, meanwhile, to resist the too common charm of talking pitilessly about myself. I shall search my memory for souvenirs of the revolutions I have often witnessed to give interest to my tales. One writes but ill at eighty, but one may claim indulgence from hearts to which one is devoted.”