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Chapter 14

THE PRINCES.

1847.

At the Tuileries the Prince de Joinville passes his time
doing all sorts of wild things. One day he turned on all
the taps and flooded the apartments. Another day he cut
all the bell ropes. A sign that he is bored and does not
know what to do with himself.

And what bores these poor princes most is to receive and
talk to people ceremoniously. This is almost a daily
obligation. They call it--for princes have their
slang--"performing the function." The Duke de Montpensier
is the only one who performs it gracefully. One day the Duchess
d'Orleans asked him the reason. He replied: 'It amuses me."

He is twenty years old, he is beginning.

When the marriage of M. de Montpensier with the
Infanta was published, the King of the Belgians was sulky
with the Tuileries. He is an Orleans, but he is a Coburg.
It was as though his left hand had smitten his right cheek.

The wedding over, while the young couple were making
their way from Madrid to Paris, King Leopold arrived at
Saint Cloud, where King Louis Philippe was staying. The
King of the Belgians wore an air of coldness and severity.
Louis Philippe, after dinner, took him aside into a recess
of the Queen's drawing-room, and they conversed for fully
an hour. Leopold's face preserved its thoughtful and
*English* expression. However at the conclusion of the
conversation, Louis Philippe said to him:

"See Guizot."

"He is precisely the man I do not want to see."

"See him," urged the King. "We will resume this
conversation when you have done so."

The next day M. Guizot waited upon King Leopold. He
had with him an enormous portfolio filled with papers.
The King received him. His manner was cold in the
extreme. Both were reserved. It is probable that M. Guizot
communicated to the King of the Belgians all the
documents relative to the marriage and all the diplomatic
papers. No one knows what passed between them. What
is certain is that when M. Guizot left the King's room
Leopold's air was gracious, though sad, and that he was heard
to say to the Minister as he took leave of him: "I came
here greatly dissatisfied with you. I shall go away
satisfied. You have, in fact, in this affair acquired a new title
to my esteem and to our gratitude. I intended to scold
you; I thank you."

These were the King's own words.

The Prince de Joinville's deafness increases. Sometimes
it saddens him, sometimes he makes light of it. One
day he said to me: "Speak louder, I am as deaf as a post."
On another occasion he bent towards me and said with a
laugh:

"~J'abaisse le pavillion de l'oreille.~"

"It is the only one your highness will ever lower," I replied.

M. de Joinville is of somewhat queer disposition. Now
he is joyous to the point of folly, anon gloomy as a
hypochondriac. He is silent for three days at a time, or his bursts
of laughter are heard in the very attics of the Tuileries.
When he is on a voyage he rises at four o'clock in the
morning, wakes everybody up and performs his duties as
a sailor conscientiously. It is as though he were to win his
epaulettes afterwards.

He loves France and feels all that touches her. This
explains his fits of moodiness. Since he cannot talk as he
wants to, he keeps his thoughts to himself, and this sours
him, He has spoken more than once, however, and
bravely. He was not listened to and he was not heeded.
"They needn't talk about me," he said to me one day, "it
is they who are deaf!"

Unlike the late Duke d'Orleans, he has no princely
coquettishness, which is such a victorious grace, and has no
desire to appear agreeable. He rarely seeks to please
individuals. He loves the nation, the country, his profession,
the sea. His manner is frank, he has a taste for noisy
pleasures, a fine appearance, a handsome face, with a kind heart,
and a few feats of arms to his credit that have been
exaggerated; he is popular.

M. de Nemours is just the contrary. At court they say:
"There is something unlucky about the Duke de Nemours."

M. de Montpensier has the good sense to love, to esteem
and to honour profoundly the Duchess d'Orleans.

The other day there was a masked and costumed ball,
but only for the family and the intimate court circle--the
princesses and ladies of honour. M. de Joinville
appeared all in rags, in complete Chicard costume. He was
extravagantly gay and danced a thousand unheard-of
dances. These capers, prohibited elsewhere, rendered the
Queen thoughtful. "Wherever did he learn all this?"
she asked, and added: "What naughty dances! Fie!"
Then she murmured: "How graceful he is!"

Mme. de Joinville was dressed as a bargee and affected
the manner of a street gamin. She likes to go to those
places that the court detests the most, *the theatres and
concerts of the boulevards*.

The other day she greatly shocked Mme. de Hall, the
wife of an admiral, who is a Protestant and Puritan, by
asking her: "Madame, have you seen the "Closerie des
Genêts"?"

The Prince de Joinville had imagined a nuisance that
exasperated the Queen. He procured an old barrel organ
somewhere, and would enter her apartments playing it and
singing in a hoarse, grating voice. The Queen laughed at
first. But it lasted a quarter of an hour, half an hour.
"Joinville, stop it!" He continued to grind away.
"Joinville, go away!" The prince, driven out of one door,
entered by another with his organ, his songs and his
hoarseness. Finally the Queen fled to the King's apartments.

The Duchess d'Aumale did not speak French very
fluently; but as soon as she began to speak Italian, the
Italian of Naples, she thrilled like a fish that falls back
into the water, and gesticulated with Neapolitan verve.
"Put your hands in your pockets," the Duke d'Aumale
would say to her. "I shall have to have your hands tied.
Why do you gesticulate like that?"

"I didn't notice it," the princess would reply.

"That is true, she doesn't notice it," said the Prince to
me one day. "You wouldn't believe it, but my mother,
who is so dignified, so cold, so reserved when she is
speaking French, begins gesticulating like Punchinello when by
chance she speaks Neapolitan."

The Duke de Montpensier salutes passers-by graciously
and gaily. The Duke d'Aumale does not salute more often
than he is compelled to; at Neuilly they say he is afraid
of ruffling his hair. The Duke de Nemours manifests less
eagerness than the Duke de Montpensier and less negligence
than the Duke d'Aumale; moreover, women say
that when saluting them he looks at them in a most
embarrassing way.

Donizetti's "Elixir of Love" was performed at court on
February 5, 1847, by the Italian singers, the Persiani,
Mario, Tagliafico. Ronconi acted (acted is the word, for
he acted very well) the role of Dulcamara, usually
represented by Lablache. It was in the matter of size, but not
of talent, a giant in the place of a dwarf. The decoration
of the theatre at the Tuileries was then still the same as
it had been in the time of the Empire--designs in gold on
a grey background, the ensemble being cold and pale.

There were few pretty women present. Mme. Cuvillier-Floury
was the prettiest; Mme. V. H. the most handsome.
The men were in uniform or full evening dress. Two officers
of the Empire were conspicuous in their uniforms of
that period. Count Dutaillis, a one-armed soldier of the
Empire, wore the old uniform of a general of division,
embroidered with oak leaves to the facings. The big straight
collar reached to his occiput; his star of the Legion of
Honour was all dented; his embroidery was rusty and
dull. Count de Lagrange, an old beau, wore a white
spangled waistcoat, black silk breeches, white, or rather
pink, stockings; shoes with buckles on them, a sword at
his side, a black dress coat, and a peer's hat with white
plumes in it. Count Dutaillis was a greater success than
Count de Lagrange. The one recalled Monaco and Trenitz;
the other recalled Wagram.

M. Thiers, who the previous day had made a somewhat
poor speech, carried opposition to the point of wearing a
black cravat.

The Duchess de Montpensier, who had attained her fifteenth
birthday eight days before, wore a large crown of
diamonds and looked very pretty. M. de Joinville was
absent. The three other princes were there in
lieutenant-general's uniform with the star and grand cordon of the
Legion of Honour. M. de Montpensier alone wore the
order of the Golden Fleece.

Mme. Ronconi, a handsome person, but of a wild and
savage beauty, was in a small box on the stage, in rear
of the proscenium. She attracted much attention.

There was no applause, which chilled the singers and
everybody else.

Five minutes before the piece terminated the King began
to pack up. He folded his programme and put it in his
pocket, then he wiped the glasses of his opera-glass, closed
it up carefully, looked round for the case which he had laid
on his chair, placed the glass in it and adjusted the hooks
very scrupulously. There was a good deal of character in
his methodical manner.

M. de Rambuteau was there. His latest "rambutisms"
(the word was Alexis de Saint-Priest's) were recounted
among the audience. It was said that on the last day of
the year M. de Rambuteau wrote on his card: "M. de
Rambuteau et Venus," or as a variation: "M. de Rambuteau,
Venus en personne."

Wednesday, February 24, the Duke de Nemours gave a
concert at the Tuileries. The singers were Mlle. Grisi,
Mme. Persiani, a Mme. Corbari, Mario, Lablache and
Ronconi. M. Aubert, who conducted, did not put any of
his own music on the programme: Rossini, Mozart, and
Donizetti, that was all.

The guests arrived at half-past eight. The Duke de
Nemours lives on the first floor of the Pavilion de Marsan,
over the apartments of the Duchess d'Orleans. The guests
waited in a first salon until the doors of the grand salon
were opened, the women seated, the men standing. As
soon as the prince and princess appeared the doors were
thrown wide open and everybody went in. This grand salon
is a very fine room. The ceiling is evidently of the time
of Louis XIV. The wails are hung with green damask
striped with gold. The inner window curtains are of red
damask. The furniture is in green and gold damask. The
ensemble is royal.

The King and Queen of the Belgians were at this
concert. The Duke de Nemours entered with the Queen, his
sister, upon his arm, the King giving his arm to the
Duchess de Nemours. Mmes. d'Aumale and de Montpensier
followed. The Queen of the Belgians resembles
the Queen of the French, save in the matter of age. She
wore a sky-blue toque, Mme. d'Aumale a wreath of roses,
Mme. de Montpensier a diadem of diamonds, Mme. de Nemours
her golden hair. The four princesses sat in high-backed
chairs opposite the piano; all the other women sat
behind them; the men were in the rear, filling the doorway
and the first salon. The King of the Belgians has a rather
handsome and grave face, and a delicate and agreeable
smile; he was seated to the left of the princesses.

The Duke de Brogue sat on his left. Next to the Duke
were Count Mole and M. Dupin senior. M. de Salvandy,
seeing an empty chair to the right of the King, seated
himself upon it. All five wore the red sash, including M.
Dupin. These four men about the King of the Belgians
represented the old military nobility, the parliamentary
aristocracy, the pettifogging bourgeoisie, and moonshine
literature; that is to say, a little of what France possesses
that is illustrious, and a little of what she possesses that is
ridiculous.

MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier were to the right
in the recess of a window with the Duke of Wurtemberg,
whom they called their "brother Alexander." All the
princes wore the grand cordon and star of Leopold in
honour of the King of the Belgians; MM. de Nemours
and de Montpensier also wore the Golden Fleece. The
Fleece of M. de Montpensier was of diamonds, and magnificent.

The Italian singers sang standing by the piano. When
seated they occupied chairs with wooden backs.

The Prince de Joinville was absent, as was also his wife.
It was said that lately he was the hero of a love affair. M.
de Joinville is prodigiously strong. I heard a big lackey
behind me say: "I shouldn't care to receive a slap from
him." While he was strolling to his rendezvous M. de
Joinville thought he noticed that he was being followed.
He turned back, went up to the fellow and struck him.

After the first part of the concert MM. d'Aumale and
de Montpensier came into the other salon where I had taken
refuge with Théophile Gautier, and we chatted for fully
an hour. The two princes spoke to me at length about
literary matters, about "Les Burgraves," "Ruy Blas," "Lucrèce
Borgia," Mme. Halley, Mlle. Georges, and Frédérick
Lemaitre. Also a good deal about Spain, the royal
wedding, bull-fights, hand-kissings, and etiquette, that M. de
Montpensier "detests." "The Spaniards love royalty," he
added, "and especially etiquette. In politics as in religion
they are bigots rather than believers. They were greatly
shocked during the wedding fetes because the Queen one
day dared to venture out afoot!"

MM. d'Aumale and de Montpensier are charming young
men, bright, gay, gracious, witty, sincere, full of that ease
that communicates itself to others. They have a fine air.
They are princes; they are perhaps men of intellect. M.
de Nemours is embarrassed and embarrassing. When he
comes towards you with his blond whiskers, his blue eyes,
his red sash, his white waistcoat and his melancholy air he
perturbs you. He never looks you in the face. He always
casts about for something to say and never knows what he
does say.


November 5, 1847.

Four years ago the Duke d'Aumale was in barracks at
Courbevoie with the 17th, of which he was then colonel.
During the summer, in the morning, after the manoeuvres
which took place at Neuilly, he frequently strolled back
along the river bank, alone, his hands behind his back.
Nearly every day he happened upon a pretty girl
named Adele Protat, who every morning went from
Courbevoie to Neuilly and returned at the same hour as M.
d'Aumale. The young girl noticed the young officer in
undress uniform, but was not aware that he was a prince.
At length they struck up an acquaintance, and walked and
chatted together. Under the influence of the sun, the
flowers, and the fine mornings something very much like
love sprang up between them. Adele Protat thought she
had to do with a captain at the most. He said to her:
"Come and see me at Courbevoie." She refused. Feebly.

One evening she was passing near Neuilly in a boat.
Two young men were bathing. She recognized her officer.

"There is the Duke d'Aumale," said the boatman.

"Really!" said she, and turned pale.

The next day she had ceased to love him. She had seen
him naked, and knew that he was a prince.

Victor Hugo