Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

one whom the poor and dependant would idolize ; but not fitted for the council-table at a time when a hasty word, an ill-considered stroke of the pen, or a passionate resolve may cost the lives of thousands, and desolate the fairest provinces of the land. Such was the lady who, in her temporary home, had to decide upon the thousand varying, ardent, and often delusive statements transmitted to her respecting the condition of that France which she fondly hoped was ready to rise, from the Alps to the Loire, and tear down the hated livery of Orleans. *

The enthusiastic men on whom she relied for information had persuaded themselves that universal France abhorred the revolution which they believed had been solely accomplished by the refuse of a Parisian mob; and these feelings were conveyed to the duchess, with whose wishes they harmonized. She therefore resolved to strike an immediate blow for her son and France, choosing for the scene of her first operations the city of Marseilles, a place already noted in the history of revolts.

After much secret correspondence, the plan for a rising at Marseilles was organized, and tho duchess prepared to depart for the place where she hoped again to behold the “ drapeau blanc wave as the signal of a mighty gathering to her partizans. The movement was not to begin till the arrival of the duchess off Marseilles, as she wished to be at hand to direct the beginnings of this counter-revolution. She therefore embarked on board the steamer, Carlo Alberto, and departed from the Luccese port of Veareggio, under Sardinian colours. The vessel speedily neared the French coast, but not too soon, as the time appointed for the rising had approached ; and the duchess beheld from the deck the

populous city where at that moment she knew the secret organization was collecting its energies for the fierce outburst. But a storm of a different nature threatened to defeat her aims. A strong gale was blowing from the shore ; and the heavy swell rolling upon the coast forbade all attempts to

* The Carlists ridiculed the adoption of the tri-colour as the national standard, asserting that it was but the private livery of the House of Orleans. It is, however, probably a union of the colours belonging to the city of Paris—which were red and bluc—with the white of the Bourbons.

land. This the captain of the vessel represented, declaring the peril to which she and her trusted friends must be exposed were an effort made to reach the shore. The duchess heard ; but she had not come there to speculate on the height of waves or the force of breakers : she came to land. Precious minutes, on the right management of which the glory of France and the honour of a kingly line depended, were passing ; a thousand eyes from Marseilles might be fixed upon the steamer ; and shall those waters keep her son from his throne ?

The order was imperatively given to lower a boat, in which she resolved, with General de Bourmont and M. de Mesnard, to attempt a landing. For three hours, the boat struggled with the billows, which, to a timid heart, would have seemed contending for Orleans, and warning, with their wild, ominous moanings, the heroine from her daring deed. The night came ere the boat reached the solitary beach, and screened from observation the landing of the duchess and her party, which took place, on April the 29th, a short distance to the west of Marseilles. On this lonely spot it was resolved to wait till the dawn should bring the sounds of insurrection from the distant city.

The duchess now proved herself, physically at least, endowed with some of the qualities necessary to those who engage in the struggle for crowns. She refused to seek shelter in any hut, lest thereby detection might ensue, and a chance of success be lost. Accordingly, wrapping a thick cloak round her, she slept under the protection of a rock.

But what was transacting within the busy city, over which the stillness of midnight rested ? Little is seen to attract notice or to excite suspicion in the narrow, close streets of the old town, or the squares and avenues of the new ; but beneath this apparent security the spirit of revolt was quietly preparing for the strife. Louis Philippe is in his distant seat, and hears not the whispers of conspiracy, nor the deep, solemn oath of confederate societies. And does the watchful government of the Barricades really sleep?* This thought enters the hearts of the Marseilles' Carlists, and serves to unnerve and distract them. Yet, who should fear? Are there not eight thousand Carlists in Marseilles? Have not all been flushed with hopes of certain success, at the mere thought of this large force concentrated within one eity ? Truly there is no reason for the supporters of Henry V. to fear. And now a rumour spreads rapidly that the duchess, the Regent of France is at hand, Then the time is truly come for deeds. To arms for La belle France !

* The authorities seem to have received distinct notice of the Carlist movements, and troops were held in readiness on the night of the 29th, to crush any outbreak.

The work is begun! A tumult gathers and rolls round the Church of St. Lawrence : armed men force the curate to yield the keys of the steeple : the crowd bear a large white flag On they rush to the summit of the tower, and there spread to the breeze-a signal and a summons to France-the "

drapeau

blanc.' The morning sun seems to consecrate its white folds ; and the duchess beholds with delight the proud standard of her house floating over the Athens of the Gauls."'*

The war has now begun : the flag of old France is on high. The duchess sees it from her rock ; and now, where are the legions to support the honour of that flag—where the long line of bayonets to clear the road to Paris ? Parties are shouting in the streets“ Henry the Fifth for ever!” This was really done, and the shoutings were of a vigorous and respectable order. But where are the ranked soldiers ? The flag has been raised by brave and determined men—such men as keep flags up in the storm of battle ; and there are others of like spirit who rush upon some military stations, and do what in them lies to raise the child Henry to a throne, and trample the tri-colour in the dust. Lachan, Brandole, and Lege de Pogie strive to give an impulse and power to the rising

But where are the thousands whom the Carlists have counted

upon in Marseilles ? Are they amongst those crowds who, alarmed by the tumult, rush to the esplanade, and gaze upon the steamer hovering along the coast? This, truly, is no hour for sight-seeing—for gazing on the Carlo Alberto, and admiring the white standard ; for now the alarm is

* Lest Paris should take umbrage at the application of such a phrase to Marseilles, the writer must hint that it refers to the Marseilles of 1900 years ago, when Cicero paid to “ Massilia" the compliment in the text.

sounding,

and drums are calling the national guards and troops to arms. The duchess hears these sounds : she becomes almost maddened by the excitement of the crisis, and insists upon entering the city ; but she is forcibly held back in mercy by her followers. There she remained, with her aching eyes fixed on that standard of her house, her ears listening to the roll of drums from all parts of the city, and her imagination endeavouring to depict the nature of the struggle raging in those streets.

Was that struggle, however, one worthy of brave men, and proportioned to the means said to have been possessed by the Carlists in Marseilles ? It was miserably planned, miserably executed, and had a miserable termination. No concerted plan was acted upon. Vast numbers who were favourable to the duchess, and ready to hail her approach as a victor, left the task of making her a conqueror to others ; who, unsupported, were quickly scattered by the military. The duchess, meanwhile, was surprised at not hearing firing, and hoped that some well-concerted plan of operations had secured the easy triumph of her cause.

At length she saw the white flag suddenly descend, and the tri-colour take its place. This terrible sight indicated the ruin of her cause in Marseilles ; and whilst contemplating this sad spectacle, she beheld the government troops advance with fixed bayonets along the esplanade, and disperse the crowd from the ground. A frigate was also seen beating out to sea in pursuit of the Carlo Alberto ; and then the duchess plainly saw that her first blow against the House of Orleans had completely failed, and was about to recoil upon herself and her adherents.

Instant flight became necessary; and her first retreat was the hut of a charcoal-burner, who offered his services to guide her through the most retired parts to any place she might name. No horse could be procured, nor any mode of conveyance ; and the duchess was compelled to travel on foot, which she did with the utmost gaiety, boasting of her pedes

She had not yet renounced hope, however ; and her resolution to persist in the struggle was shewn by her order to be conducted to Montpelier ; whence she intended to penetrate into La Vendée.

The duchess had now before her a journey from the east

trian powers.

to the west of France, in which she must traverse many a wild district ere she could reach the fastnesses of the Vendéan woods. A retreat to this part of France was the best course in her circumstances, as the Royalists were already preparing to take the field in those noted districts, where the best troops of the republic had so often been defeated by the gallantry of peasants at the breaking out of the first revolution. For Montpelier the fugitives set out as soon as the darkness of night sheltered them from observation.

The “general commandant of the eighth military divisions” was then writing to the minister of war an account of the rising and its termination, little suspecting the nearness of her who had aimed such a blow at his government.

As the duchess proceeded silently along the Bay of Marseilles, her eyes were often turned to the city, visible by its lights sparkling on the waves ; and melancholy feelings for a time struggled with the hopes suggested by her sanguine temper. Her heart, however, regained its lightness when Marseilles was lost in the distance ; and her spirit was recalled to its wonted energy by the difficulties of the rude mountain pass along which the party marched. The unfrequented track ran through tangled woods for many a mile ; and during five hours the duchess was compelled to stumble over rocks, roots of trees, and brushwood, which the dark night hid from the view of the exhausted travellers. But one bright image upheld her spirits—La Vendée and the white flag waving there over brave men.

At length the guide became perplexed by the entanglements of the path, confessing he had lost the route, which could not be recovered during the darkness. The peasant wished to search for the right path ; but some suspicions of the man's fidelity had begun to operate in the minds of his employers, and he was ordered to remain with them till the dawn should give opportunities to examine the country. The duchess now lay down on the turf, resting her head on a portmanteau, and soon fell into a deep sleep, forgetting for a time the struggles of La Vendée, the prospective throne, and her present dangers. Her faithful friends grouped together, and kept watch over her.

When the morning enabled the guide to observe surrounding objects, he found himself six miles from the road he had

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »