Today’s installment concludes Absolutism Ends in France,
the name of our combined selection from Richard Lodge and Alphonse Lamartine. The concluding installment, by Alphonse Lamartine from History of the Restoration of Monarchy in France, was published in 1854. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed five thousand words from great works of history. Congratulations!
Previously in Absolutism Ends in France.
The next morning, after the King had breakfasted, the whole army drew up in battle order before the castle and along the road to give vent to its last shout of fidelity to the monarch, and to take its last look at the royal family. The Duchess of Noailles stood at the threshold, weeping and curtseying to her august guests. The King’s face was sorrowful but resigned, expressive of a conscience overcome by fate, but confident in the uprightness of its purposes ; the Duke of Angouleme, more mindful of his father’s affliction than of the loss of a crown; the Duchess of Angouleme, whose noble stateliness grew with adversity, gave her hand to be kissed by the officers of the guard, who idolized her, and said to them through her sobs which she could not quite restrain, “My friends, may you be happy.” The Duchess of Berry, dressed in male attire, and leading her son by the hand, could not believe that so high a fortune would be long eclipsed. Her thoughts seemed to dwell on the return rather than on the departure.
The people all along the road were still decorous and respectful. The shadow of this monarchy impressed them with awe more than the monarchy itself; there was as much nature as royalty in men’s imaginations. They respected the King’s fall the more that they no longer dreaded his return. They spared him almost everywhere, with instinctive decorum, the sight of the tricolored flag and cockade — palpable signs of his dethronement. In one or two of the manufacturing towns of Normandy there was an anticipation of taunts and insults on the part of the work men. These fears proved to be vain. The marks of disfavor were confined to a few threats and groans aimed at Marmont  whose unsoldierly act in 1814 was everywhere remembered and condemned. On approaching Cherbourg he was under the necessity of removing the orders which he wore on his breast to hide his rank, his dignity, and his name from the rancor of the people.
[1. He surrendered his army to the Provisional Government in April, 1814.— Ed.]
The King read the Moniteur every morning to watch the progress of his own ruin with his own eyes. At Carentan he learned that the Duke of Orleans had consummated his usurpation. He uttered neither a reproach nor made a single unkind remark on that Prince’s acts. Whether he still relied on the assurances which the Duke of Orleans had transmitted to him at St. Cloud and Rambouillet, or whether he thought that Prince accepted the crown only through the temporary force of circumstances, to return it afterward to his grandson, or whether he thought it more congenial to his soul to bear silently and without complaining the last and most cruel of all felonious acts — and that perpetrated by one of his own blood — it is hard to determine.
He stopped for two days at Valognes, in order to give time to the vessels prepared for his use to reach Cherbourg. He there collected around him the officers and six of the oldest guardsmen of each of the companies that escorted him — more like a father than a king. The tricolored flags had been taken down from the windows of the private houses as the cortege moved along, to spare the conquered monarch an unnecessary humiliation.
The King and his escort did not alight within the town, but entered a railed enclosure between the market-place and the strand at Cherbourg, and the iron gate was closed upon them. The people hurried there and clung to the rails in crowds to con template the strange spectacle of the ostracism of a king, the heir of sixty kings, without a country. The royal family, for the last time, alighted from their carriages on the edge of the beach washed by the waves; the Duchess of Angouleme, bathed in tears and staggering under the shock of her last exile, was deprived at once of a kingdom and a crown. M. de Larochejaquelein assisted her to pass over the last ground, leaning at least on a heroic arm. M. de Charette, another Vendean officer — whose name might be considered an omen — escorted the Duchess of Berry. More of indignation than sorrow was visible in the countenance of that young widow on leaving a land which had drunk the blood of her husband, and which was now pro scribing her innocent and helpless child. The Baron of Damas, faithful, pious, and serene, carried in his arms his pupil; already a king before his time, and one whose royalty began with disaster. The child struggled with its little arms against banishment.
[2. Probably a son of Frangois Athanase Charette, a noted leader of the Vendean insurgents, 1793-1795, who was taken prisoner at St. Cyr, March 25, 1796, and executed at Nantes three days later.— ED]
King Charles X remained last on the beach, like one covering the retreat of his whole house. All the officers of his guard defiled before him for the last time, kissing his hand and weeping over it. He then passed on and joined his family in the ship, without turning round, and shut himself up alone to weep and pray. A mournful silence pervaded the scene; many lamentations, but no insult, followed him over the deep.
This ends our selections on Absolutism Ends in France by two of the most important authorities of this topic:
- History of Modern Europe by Richard Lodge published in 1873.
- History of the Restoration of Monarchy in France by Alphonse Lamartine published in 1854.
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