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FOREIGN QUARTERLY REVIEW.
Art. I.—Memoires Historiques de S. A. R. Madame la Duchesse de Berri, depuis sa naissance jusqu'ci ce jour. Publiee par Alfred Nettement. 3 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1837.
The Duchess de Berri, the daughter of sovereigns, the beloved wife and widow of a murdered prince, the mother of an exiled king, has claimed the pity of all parties. Her early misfortunes, her subsequent splendour, and her sad reverse, could create but one feeling towards her. Those very minds which foresaw the futility of her exertions, those very partisans of the younger branch, who despised or blamed her efforts to overthrow the government established by the revolution of 1830, admired her as a heroine; and, as the only surviving parent of a royal son, could not refuse their sympathy to her as a woman. As a woman she forfeited this public sympathy by an act of immorality. Placed by birth and position on a pre-eminence of rank and misfortune, she was particularly called upon by the correctness of her conduct to render herself worthy of that rank, and in a measure to triumph over her troubles by keeping her place in the esteem of all hearts: but she added another to the long, long list of human frailties, and the most charitable and the most merciful part was to forget her. Why then should M. Alfred Nettement draw her from the oblivion which had already begun to throw its deep shades around her? Is he one of those enthusiastic royalists who persevere in believing the whole affair at Blaye to be a trick got up by Louis Philippe, in order to destroy all good feeling towards his unhappy niece? or has he other motives? He who wrote the memoirs now before us cannot be ignorant of the truth; the very distance at which the duchess is kept by the noble dauphiness must be convincing; we conclude that he has been actuated by some feeling which is not avowed in his volumes, thus to drag her from her happier obscurity; and we cannot help fancying, that not only does he desire to increase the dislike which many feel at the deceitful conduct of the present king, but that
VOL. XIX. NO. XXXVIII. s
he is one of those who, from time to time, by some public action, tries to keep the Carlist cause alive in the minds of men. In both these instances we imagine that he may have succeeded: the inconsistency between Louis Philippe's former protestations and his present conduct are quietly and temperately, yet forcibly, laid before us, and it is impossible to review the career of the duchess without the strongest compassion for her and the exiled family of France.
The next question which suggests itself in this age of made-up memoirs is, whether the statements contained in M. Nettement's publication may be relied on. In most instances this would be a difficult question to solve. In the first place, access to kings and queens is very seldom accomplished, and the reports made of them so depend on the temper and opinions of their followers, that plain matters of fact are not easy to procure. In the next place, the spirit of party, which must more or less be evinced in such biographies, makes them open to suspicion. But, sceptical as we may be in most matters of this sort, and little as the memoirs of the great people of France are in general to be relied on, we are inclined to place faith in M. Nettement, not only because there is an air of truth which at once brings conviction with it, but because we were in France during the times of which he speaks, and, having some peculiar advantages with regard to the society of the capital, we can, from our own knowledge, affirm, that a great part of the book before us is the simple truth, without the slightest embellishment. The very words uttered in the ears of our friends, and in our own, are quoted, and, with such proofs for a part, we may surely lend confidence to the rest. More of this we shall mention as we proceed.
As the title states, the memoirs begin with the birth of the duchess, but although dated 1837, and professing to be up to the present moment, they finish with her arrest in La Vendee. They are spun out into three volumes, and, with their broad margins, large type, and title-pages, certainly exhibit a tolerable specimen of the art of book-making. Each volume is divided into books, which we would rather have called chapters, and the first gives us the genealogy of the duchess, showing how her son descends from the great Henri Quatre in fourteen different ways. In it the character of her grandfather, with all his ignorance, his honest avowal of it, his weaknesses, and his bonhommie, are well touched upon. It was in his reign that the " Chevalier Acton" and Lady Hamilton played that part in Italy, which left a great blot on the fame of our immortal hero Nelson, and for our conduct altogether in the affairs of Sicily we find ourselves bearing the following reputation: " Perfidious nation, equally dangerous as an ally and as an enemy, for her promises are threats, her friendship a snare, and her protection a yoke." We do not think that the Bourbons have much right to complain of us, but we will not stop to refute this opinion, and proceed to the duchess, who was born on the 5th of November 1798, and in two years commenced her wandering life, by passing and repassing the sea, backwards and forwards to Sicily, in consequence of the foreign warfare and civil discord which then shook Italy from north to south. The fate of her family made the most lively impression on Marie Caroline; who, although but seven years old when her grandmother was obliged to abandon Italy, evinced a most remarkable degree of grief and indignation. Her first sensations, says M. Nettement, were sad and serious; her ears were early accustomed to the noise of war, to the furious ringing of the church bells, to the firing of cannon, to the clamours of the populace, like the furious lashing of waves. In the midst of all this, however, her education was not neglected; she had an excellent governess, her country was sufficient to inspire her with a taste for the arts, and she never ceased to feel the beauties with which this country teems. In the third book we have the appearance of the Duke d'Orleans among her family. Here, if we may be so allowed to express ourselves, the writer of these memoirs begins to play his game, and to show the part acted by this crafty prince. Marie Caroline was ten years old when he first came to Sicily, and the king entered the room where she and the queen were together, holding an open letter in his hand, his countenance betraying marks of strong emotion. He announced the arrival of an emigrant belonging to a royal and a fallen house, the only surviving heir of his immediate branch, and asked if the queen would be much displeased if he were to call him to court. "What is his name?" asked the queen. "The Duke d'Orleans," hesitatingly replied the king. "The Duke d'Orleans !" repeated the queen in a deep and marked tone: the name of Philippe-Egalit6 recalled to them the sufferings of Marie Antoinette, the angelic Elizabeth, and Louis XVI., for whose deaths he had voted; and his son was not to be received without the most painful feelings. However, the royal family of Naples recollected that the venerable chief of their house had received him, that there was a wide difference between the father and the son, and that the latter had signed the declaration of the princes of the blood which contained this remarkable phrase :—