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DUKE OF ORLEANS AMBASSADOR IN ENGLAND.
Assembly passed sweeping resolutions in favour of the populace, which the King was fain to accept, together with the altogether unmerited title of “Restorer of French Liberty.” In the moment of accepting them he secretly resolved never to abide by them. So revolutions advance.
The Duke of Orleans, throughout the whole of these proceedings, had continued a passive spectator of the storm, although his friends had been busy enough, suggesting the necessity of dethroning Louis XVI., and of proclaiming the duke LieutenantGeneral of the kingdom. In the midst of their intrigues, the King, by a master-stroke of policy, appointed the Duke of Orleans Ambassador-Extraordinary to England. The National Assembly protested against his departure the citizens of Boulogne would have prevented his embarkation. The Duke, however, set out. The step was a false one; but Egalité, with all his egregious vanity and love of popular applause, had neither strength of purpose to sustain, nor lofty principle to guide him. His desertion of the King and his flattery of the people had their origin in one and the same high sentiment -intense devotion to himself.
On the 4th of February, 1790, Louis XVI. took an oath of fidelity to the new constitution prepared for France, and to this constitution the Duke of Orleans sent in his adhesion on the 13th of the same month. On the 14th of July, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastile, a national solemnity, took place, at which the King and the authorities assembled round “the altar of the country," and ratified the pledge given in the preceding February. A universal
amnesty was proclaimed, and peace and the promise of liberty for a moment glimmered upon the soil of France. How that promise faded almost as soon as it appeared the world too well knows. Upon the 10th of August, 1792, Louis XVI. ceased to be king of France. Popular fury was that day at its height; an accident led to a collision between the guards and the mob, and, whilst blood flowed in the streets, the Assembly, at the instigation of the clubs, decreed the suspension of the constitutional powers of the King, and the speedy convocation of a National Convention, elected by all classes of citizens, and charged to decide finally upon the destinies of the country.
The fate of France was in the balance-so was that of the Duke of Orleans. By a singular concatenation of events, the popularity of the unfortunate Egalité had tumbled down from boiling point to zero. His admirably arranged contrivances had left him without a party, almost without a friend in the world. His adherence to the popular cause had robbed him of the sympathies of the court, and the agitation of the clubs at the time of the revolution deposited him miles in the rear of public opinion. Democratic leaders of the people wanted no princely rivals. A man who had played false to his own family could hardly be trusted by strangers. And, if he might, what had royal blood to do with a convention elected by all classes of the people, and rendered necessary by royal treachery and oppression ? The clubs of Paris were grateful to the Duke of Orleans for having helped democracy so far on its journey. Democracy could find its further way alone, and
THE DUKE BAPTIZED BY THE PROCUREUR SYNDIC. 83
begged respectfully to part company. Nor was this the only blow. The Duke was a ruined man in his fortunes. He had lived unhappily with his wife, and that much-injured lady, scandalised by his open adultery with Madame de Genlis, to whom he transferred the care and education of his children, after repeated attempts to reconcile herself to the shame of her position, finally quitted her husband's roof on the twenty-first anniversary of her marriage, and retired to the Chateau d’Eu, the residence of her father. The family of the Duchess at once commenced a lawsuit for the recovery of her dowry. It was plain to the Duke that such a lawsuit could have but one termination. Bankruptcy in every shape stared him in the face. Gamester as he was in feeling and in conduct, at the last hour of his life he staked everything upon the hazard of a die.
A decree against all emigrants was hurriedly adopted by the Executive Council, who did the King's work until the Convention should assemble. The Duke of Orleans entreated that his daughter, who had gone to England with Madame de Genlis for the benefit of her health, might not be included in the list. He was desired to draw up a formal requisition ; he did so, and presented it to the Procureur Syndic at the Hotel de Ville. A petition signed by a Bourbon could not be received. What was to be done ? The statues of Liberty and Equality adorned the apartment of the Hotel de Ville in which the Duke found himself. The Procureur Syndic seriously proposed one of the statues as a sponsor for the Duke in the baptism which had now become inevitable. His Royal Highness submitted. He signed his
petition as “Philip Egalité,” and by that name was thenceforth known.
Philip Egalité became a candidate for the National Convention in the city of Paris, and was returned, but he was one of a society who had no sympathies in common with him. The clubs of Paris, and not the people of France, were represented in that dreadful Assembly. On the 5th of December, the first year of the republic, the Municipality of Paris commanded that Madame de Genlis and the Princess (who had previously returned from England) should quit Paris in twenty-four hours, and France within forty-eight. They were conducted beyond the frontier by the eldest son of Egalité, the Duc de Chartres, the Louis Philippe of our own day, who left his sister at Tournai, and returned to Paris, in the hope of being able to persuade his luckless father to quit a scene of too evident danger. Egalité, bent upon his destruction, obstinately refused to move; like a lunatic he smiled upon the advancing waters that were about to embrace and drown him.
Two questions were put to the National Convention on the 15th of January, 1793. The first was, “Is Louis XVI. guilty of conspiracy against the liberty of the nation, and of treason against the safety of the state ?” Of course he was, or the question would never have been put. The second was answered differently.—“Shall the judgment of the National Convention against Louis XVI. be submitted to the ratification of the people ?" 286 voices said “Yes ;” 424 answered “No; five votes were given conditionally. A third question was put on the following day. It was a solemn one, and was addressed
HE VOTES FOR THE DEATH OF LOUIS XVI.
individually by the President to every deputy,“What punishment shall be inflicted on Louis ? Philip Egalité was a deputy, and in due order the momentous question came to him. Let the subsequent punishment of the man plead for him whilst we register his reply:—"Solely occupied by my duties, and convinced that those who have conspired, or may conspire, against the sovereignty of the people, merit death, I vote for death!” A thrill of horror pervaded that dread assembly, filled with men in whom the sense of humanity was all but extinct. When will posterity cease to shudder at an act for which the vocabulary of crime supplies no fitting name?
The avenger was at the heels of the murderer. His crime left him desolate in the world. His wife and children stood aloof from his guilt. His boys upon their knees, and sobbing as children sob, had entreated him to take no part in the unauthorised murder, and they quitted his side when protestations and entreaties proved in vain. As for the Jacobin crew, to please whoin he had stamped the name of Orleans with eternal blackness, they learned nothing from his republicanism but a still stronger hatred for the Bourbon blood, that, in spite of his new baptism, still flowed in Philip Egalité's veins. There needs no offence to be committed by the man whose death is already decided by those who have power to put their will into execution. The National Convention suddenly discovered that "it had always been intended to comprehend Louis Philippe Joseph Egalité in the decree which ordained the arrest of the Bourbons,” and Philip Egalité was accordingly arrested. The