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It is possible to possess, at the same time, a very extended ambition and a very limited capacity; and the consequence of such a nature is, that the individual is placed in very difficult positions, in which he is certain to expose himself.
Such is the situation, and such the character, of the celebrated son of Egalité.
Such a father is an excuse for many excesses; and I record the following fact, merely because, under all circumstances, it is curious. In 1793, during the trial of Louis XVI., a youth in one of the galleries attracted notice by the expressions of anger and impatience excited in him by the calm and dignified responses of the King. At length, one of these royal replies having occasioned some murmurs of approbation and sympathy, the young man lost all command of himself, and cried out to the judges, “ Il sera bientôt blanc comme neige, si vous le laissez toujours parler.”
This ardent regicide was Louis-Philippe, by the last accounts “ King of the French." “ I have always been a Republican,” exclaimed Louis-Philippe to General Dubourg and his conrades; and the following letters would seem to prove that there is some truth in the statement. The reader will observe, that, in the 1792d year of Grace, and in the fourth of Liberty, LouisPhilippe, then M. de Chartres, was a candidate for a seat in the National Convention.
LETTER OF Philip EGALITÉ TO HIS ELDEST SON.
“ Paris, 18th August, 1792 (4th year). “ I duly received, my dear boy, your two letters; one of the 13th, and the other of the 14th. Since I wrote I have seen Voidel, who says that he is sure that you will be nominated for Sarguemines. He ought to have written to you about it. It now remains to see whether the Convention, once assembled, will ratify an election under the age proposed by the Constituent Assembly. Voidel believes they will ; and that they must at any rate allow you to take your seat, and defend your own cause."
LETTER FROM THE JACOBIN VOIDEL, CONFIDANT
OF EGALITÉ, To M. DE CHARTRES.
“Fourth Year of Liberty, Aug. 26. 1792. “ I know not how it happened that you did not receive my letter. I am astonished at this carelessness and infidelity of the post, and I trust we shall not experience them in the present instance.
“ Before the receipt of your last letter I had already changed my opinion as to the manner of getting you elected to the National Convention ; and I had adopted exactly your view of the case, As the Electoral Assembly will be holden at Metz, and as M. Antoine will certainly be both an elector and deputy, I have thought it expedient, both on account of the influence which he enjoys in the electoral assembly for his well known principles, and that which he exercises in the town in his character as Mayor, to request him to propose and support you. I have given him on this subject every reason which should influence a sincere friend of liberty and equality. For, independent of your patriotism, it is not a matter of indifference to the Republic to see in the Sovereign Assembly of the Nation a member de la dynastie agonisante maintaining a form of government hostile to the interests of which he has been deprived, and giving an example of absolute devotion to the interests of the country. It affords me at this moment great pleasure to recal a conversation that we had together two years ago at M. de Valence's, in which you expressed the desire that you had to see a Republic established in France, which would con
secrate and realise the principles of equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Rights. Your sagacity was in advance of events; and one who is so prescient is entitled to be a member of the Sovereign Assembly.
« CHARLES VOIDEL."
In 1794, he bore arms in defence of the Convention. In this campaign occurred the onceforgotten skirmishes of Jemappes and Valmy, in which Louis-Philippe, in opposition to other accounts, asserts that he distinguished himself, and which, from their constant celebration in the royal answers to congratulatory deputations, have of late received an immortality of ridicule.
We will not dwell upon these juvenile and irregular courses. The King of the French has since compensated for them, by achieving the reputation of being the most economical man in France, and also by requesting on his knees, from Louis XVIII., and receiving a generous pardon for these errors of his youth. By the bye, on that generous pardon was contingent the hand of a Princess of Naples.
In 1808 the Duke of Orleans solicited the Regency of Spain, with the avowed object of overthrowing the government of Joseph Buonaparte ; but Ferdinand VII., suspecting that in case of the success of his Royal Highness it might become
necessary to appoint another Regent to procure the resignation of the present candidate, declined investing him with the desired authority; and his Royal Highness, after having fruitlessly disembarked, I believe at Gibraltar, was obliged to return to Palermo.
All his compunction, however, for the errors of his youth, did not prevent Louis-Philippe, at the period of both Restorations, from intriguing to effect a change of the dynasty.
These intrigues were the reason that Louis XVIII., in June, 1815, ordered the Duke of Orleans to remain in England until further orders.
At length, on his arrival, with that caution which no
one can deny him, Louis-Philippe thought fit to publish the following proclamation:
“PROCLAMATION OF THE DUKE OF ORLEANS, 1816.
66 FRENCHMEN! “ I am at length forced to break that silence which hitherto I have imposed upon myself. But since there are some who have dared to mingle my name with culpable desires and perfidious insinuations, my honour urges me, in the face of Europe, to publish this solemn protestation, which my duty prescribes.