THE KING OF THE FRENCH AND THE DUKE OF BOURBON'S
A surr.of nullity of the will of the late Duke de Bourbon—who, it may be recollected, died in rather a mysterious way shortly after the Revo- lution of July last year—has been entered in the Court of First In- stance at Paris, by the Princes de Bohan the heirs-at-law of the de- ceased Prince, against the Duke d'Aumale, youngest son of the King of the French, and an English lady named Dawes, who bears the title of Baronne de Feucheres. By the will of the Duke de Bourbon, his immense property, with the exception of certain legacies to the Ba- ronne, of great amount, but trifling compared with the whole property, n-eat to the Duke d'Aumale, his godson, who was named residuary legatee. The pleadings were opened on the 9th instant, and continued on the 16th, by M. Hennequin, counsel for the plaintiffs. The whole plea of M. Hennequin, though spread over an immense surface, lies in a wry small compass. He alleges, 1st, That the Baronne de Feucheres induced, by her influence, not very scrupulously exerted, the old Prince to make the will in question ; 2d, That the present King of the French was privy and consenting to her labours, and encouraged them. The , proof of influence exerted is partly inferential, partly direct. The ad- vocate contends, that indience Must have been used, because, from the well-known sentiments of the late Duke, he was not* very likely to choose for his heir the son of a family which, for a long series of years, had been so much Opposed to him in political conduct. The career of the late Duke de Bourbon, as well as of the late Duke d'Orleans, is matter of historical notoriety. The former spoke, voted, emigrated, fought, and bled for the Royal party; the latter spoke, voted, and was g,nillotined for the Popular. The Duke de Bourbon, it is alleged, had at various times spoken with contempt of the Orleans branch ; and, after the Duke de Berii's assassination, he declared that he would take charge of his heir, and give him that protection of which he had been deprived by the death of his father. So much for the Duke's feelings. It is further alleged, that the Baronne de Feucheres had very powerful reasons for wishing to obtain protection and patronage at Court, with- out which she could hardly hope to enjoy the immense property which she anticipated by the Duke's death ; and that she had been unsuccess- ful'in her endeavours to obtain that protection from the exiled family. Why the Baronne might not have sold the property which the Prince left her, or meant to leave her, and come over to England, where she could have snapped her fingers at power and patronage—is not shown. Neither is it obvious, from M. Hennequin's address, that she might not have got all she has now got by associating herself with the Duke de Bordeaux, instead of the Duke d'Aumale; and in so doing, she would have rendered the will wholly unassailable on any of the points by which its reduction is now sought. The Baronne, however, was determined to get at the munificent legacy intended for her, in her own way, and in no other. The first fact which connects.Louis Philip with the will,, is a letter of his Secretary in November ,1828. On the 12th of that month, a paragraph appeared in the Aristargue French journal, to the effect that the Duke de Bourbon, intended to' leave his property to the Duke de Nemours, on condition that he, should assume the title of Prince of Conde. We shall give the Secretary's letter, as well as the letters 'of . Louis Philip, for the sake of reference. It is not every day that we have a king called into court on a charge of 'personal fraud ; and in the interval between this and the 17th January, our attention may . be again solicited to this curious trial. The Seeretary says---;- • ' " The Duke of Orleans has read, in several journals of yesterday and to-day. an ar- ticle, stating that-the Duke of Bourbon has made a will. by which the Duke of Nemours is appointed his heir, on condition of his taking the title of Prince of Conde. On •a Somewhat similar occasion. I had the honour of calling upon you, and requesting you to aeaure the Duke of Bourbon that their Royal Highnesses and the individuals connected with them were entirely unconnected Ni ith these reports, as well as the pub- lication of rush articles in the Gazettes. As they aro now repelled, I must, on the part of their Royal Highnes3e3, requen the same favour again. They cannot disguise from themselves how highly advantageous to one of their children and his posterity would be the will which is suppused to have been made, and to • inherit the name of Conde, so dear to France and -so resplendent with glory. But the sentiments which their Royal Highnesses entertain for their augast relative, to whom they are tenderly attached, make them deeply regret that sech articles hsve been published in the journals. I have been commanded to express the sentiments to you, and to request that you will make them known to his Royal Highness the Duke of Bourbon." • This letter seems to have roused a strong degree of suspicion (which may have been justified by the character of the writer, but which was certainly not justified by the character of the writing) in the mind of the Duke de Bourbon's steward; to whom it was addressed ; and in submitting it to his master, he accompanied it bye note, in which he called the Duke's special attention to certain passages, which he en- closed in parentheses, in order that the Duke might. judge of " the spi- rit in which it was written." It is at this precise time that the Duke, in answer to a remark of another officer of his household, is described as stating, that the idea of making the Duke d'Aumale his heir had been " suggested ; " but his wishes on that subject were well known. The notice in the Aristargue, and the note of the Secretary, were, according to M. Hennequin, step th3 first. 'Six months afterivards, another and more direct move was made by the Bayonne, in the Shape of a letter in which she expressly recommends the making of a will in the form in which it was ultimately executed. The letter from Madame de Feucheres is dated 1st May 19-29. Before it was Sent to the Duke, it was shown to Louis Philip ;- and he accompanied it by ano- ther, of which the following is a copy- " Neuilly, 2nd May 1829. " I cannot, Sir, resist the desire of declaring to you myself. how much I am touched by the step so honourable to her which Madaine de Feucheres bee taken, and of which oho has thought proper to inform me. It would not, doubtless, become me in a case where it depends on your will alone, whether so great an advantage shall accrue to one of my children, to presume that it will be so heft re yorrhave made me acquainted with it : but I conceived that it was my duty, aud that I was hound by the sante blood which flows in both oar veins, to express to you how happy I should be to see fresh bonds attach those who are already united in so many ways, and how proud I should be were one of my children destined to .bear a name which is so precious to aU our family, and with which so many glorious recollections are connected."
A second billet from the lads', in reply to the answer of the Duke, which is not put in, is conceived in these terms- - You have reproached me in so 'harsh a manner for having written to the Duke of Orleans, that I now feel myself bound to Mfornt you, that he will visit me this morning in order to see you previous to his departure for England. I beseech you, do not refuse to come and breakthst with me as uenal. The visit will be much less embarrassing to you in this manner ; and von will thereby avoid sendiny a written answer, or saying any thing decisive; and if you ao not come, it will hay,, a very bad effect. If you had rather that I should not be present, in that case the Peke of Orleans will come to you."
From this period down to the time of his death, it is alleged by M. Hennequin, the poor Duke de Bourbon was exposed daily and nightly to every possible kind of persecuting importunity on the part of Madame de Feucheres, partly for the purpose of inducing him. to arrange her own legacy in what she deemed the most acceptable form, partly with a view to secure the interests of the young Duke d'Aumale. M. Hennequin speaks with all imaginable serum:Ines:sof one of these scenes ; in which, if we may believe him, the fair Baronne displayed some of her country's energy, by giving her aged Cher anti a black eye. The excuses made by the Duke for 21adame's violence, in first putting the blame of the black eye on an innocent table, and then declaring- that it arose from a fall on the stairs, are adduced by M. Hennequin in proof of the absolute domi- nion which the Baronne had obtained over him—it was so absolute, that even when she beat him handsomely he durst not complain of it. While in the state of agitation described by the counsel—pressed with prayers and pleadings gentle and violent, kisses atone moment, and cuffs at another—the Duke bethought him of an expedient by which to get rid of her torments ; and this was an appeal to the generosity of the Duke of Orleans. The letter in-which he made the appeal, offers a curious picture of an understanding, never strong, fast sinking into im- becility-- " The affair which occupies us, Monsieur, Lep° without my knowledge, gni somewhat lightly, by Madame de Feecheres, and of e hich she has taken on herself to urge the conclusion upon me, is to me infinitely kaintitl. You may have already remarked it. Besides the lacerating reminiscences which it retells, anti to which I cannot yet accus- tom my sad thoughts, there are other motives which do not permit me to engage in it at this moment. I may be chareed with weakness in this respect ; but it is on you I count to excuse awl to get excused this weakness, very pardonable at my age, and in my sad condition. My affection for you, Monsieur, and yours, is sufficiently well known to yoa ; it ought then to assure you of the disposition in which I am, and of which I here desitv to Live von a public ;uni certain proof. I now appeal to your gene- rosity, and to the &limey ca' your feelings, that I new not be harassed and tensed as I have been titr stuns time, to conclude an affair which. is connected with other arrange- Minas, tuid which, besides, I do not wish to cowhide, except with all that mature and grave reflection which it requin-s, I reckon. them ou your friendship for me, I repeae„ to obtaiu from Madame de Fencheres, that sl.e may let me be quiet an this matter. It rests with you to -prevent . a broil betwixt her -and me; or,-at least, a coolness, which waitld embitter the remainder of my days. Receive, Monsieur, with your accustomed kindness,the expression of the constant ami siucere friendship which I have ever enter- taimel towards you."
The Duke immediately replied— I am greatly grieved, Monsieur, that the ietentions nal of friendship and kindness which you were pleesetito evince towards me in a conversation, the recollection of which is so dear to me, should have become a cause of distress and annoyance to you. I am sineerelygratefid thi that of Which you are pleased to reassure me in this respect in the letter which I have jest received from you; aud v have every reason to reckon, that in this, as in every thing else, I should conform toyour wishes, and do whatever may hest prove the sincerity of my attachment and affliction for you personally. I should re- gret extremely that your kind intentions towards my children should* the cause of any embarrassment to you, whatever may have been their nature; and I should above all he anxious to retains everything which might tend to renew your too well founded griefs, or to wound feelines already so much lacerated. I shall proceed immediately to Madame de Feuchercs, to cemply with your wish in commnnicating with her: and you may rest assured, in 'showing to her, as it is my duty, imw sensible I and miue are of the efforts she has made to obtain from you that • proof, public and certain, of your kindness,' of which you were good enough to reassure me. I shall testify to her bow much we are grieved to be the cause of fresh uneasiness to you, or of disturbing your domestic quiet. Your letter, Monsieur, imposes on me the duty of requiriug of her to wait for that which your heart and your affections shall dictate, in respect of those whet axe of the same blood with yourself; and Isbell execute this duty to the full extent ; too happy. if you shall perceive in it a fresh proof of the sentiments I entertain towards you, aed of may entire confidence in those you have evinced towards me, and of the lively and sincere
affection I have over held for you." •
These letters Were exchanged in Au rust 1829; about thirteen months before the Duke de Bourbon died ; and it is worthy of notice, that they are the last which passed between the parties. 31. Hennequin admits, in addition, that Louis Philip„ immediately after despatching his letter, proceeded to the hotel of the Baronne, and entreated her most earnestly to give up pressing a scheme which had so annoyed the Duke ;—but without success, it appears, for it was postersor to this visit that the boxing-scene took place, as well as another more formidable in its cha- racter, and more obscure in its details, in which a knife is mentioned as the weapon used in terrorenz. Although the will was not completed until September 1830, it appears from two letters of the Duke, dated August 1829, and addressed the one to the wife and the other to the sister of Louis Philip, that the residuary legateeship had been even then re- solved on : it is not unfair, therefore, to surmise that the uneasiness, and vexation, and complaints, and meditated flights of the aged Duke, were caused as much by that part of the will in which the Baronne herself was interested, as that which concerned the Duke d'Aumale. There are se- veral other letters quoted by M. Hennequin,—two dated 1822, the first re- lating to the christening of the Duke d' Aumale,* the second in answer to an invitation of the Duke de Bourbon to the family of Louis Philip to visit him at Chantilly; and a third dated 1827, in which Louis Philip ex- presses his intention of visiting Chantilly, along with his son the Duke de Chatres,—an intention which is very warmly acknowledged, but, as M. Hennequin (from the handwriting of the copy, we presume) alleges, not by the Duke, but by the Baronne, who had added to the formal note of her aged lover expressions of kindness which he did not feel. Such is the story told by M. Hennequin, and such are the grounds on which it is sought not merely to reverse the will of the late Duke de Bourbon, but to blast the character of the King of the French, as a person unfit to reign and hardly fit to live. We shall offer no opinion on the case in its present state, because as yet we have nothing but mere allegations before us. Were all that M. Hennequin says proved to be true, we do not perceive in the charges that he brings forward, any very strong ground of inculpation against the King. The utmost charge amounts to this,—that Louis Philip was very willing to secure for his family a splendid property, with the consent of its owner—who had no child ; and that, as soon as he found that the arrangement was an- noying to the Duke de Bourbon, he relinquished the prospect of benefit which he had entertained, and did his utmost to prevail on others to follow his example. The Times says, nothing but proof that the King's letters are forgeries will clear his fame. This is a strange judgment. There is not a syllable in the letters that he or any one might not own. The blame lies in the inferences of the advocate, and the circumstances of the parties by whom and to whom the letters were written. The former depend wholly on the latter ; and the latter may receive a very different colour from what they now bear, when examined by the counsel for the defence.
It was on the occasion of this christening, at which. the Duke de Bourbon assisted as sponsor for the young Duke d'Auniale, that the Baronne de Feucheres seems to have been first introduced to the house of Orleans. Certain persons of the Duke's family had, it appears, been invited to witness the ceremony, and participate in the fete that was to follow ; and among the number the Baronne was not included. The Duke de Bourbon noticed this neglect; in consequence of which, Louis Philip addressed to him the following letter- " 9th May 1822. "You have formed a correct idea of the great satisfaction which we feel at the pro- spect of uniting more closely the bonds which connect us, and afford an additional pledge of your friendship for us. If we have only invited Madame Ruilly from amongst the number of ladies in your family, the reason is, in the first place, that we were not ignorant of the fact of imzx having the honour of being particularly attached to you ; and, secondly, she was the only- lady of your household with whom we were ac- quainted; and although we knew that the three ladies whom you name were presented at Court, they never expressed a wish to be presented to the Duchess of Orleans and to my sister. But we cannot do better than leave the matter to your discretion ; you will do any thing you think proper, and you may rely on our willingness to receive any friends whom you may wish to introduce to us. It is with sincerity of heart that I repeat the declaration of the tender, constant, and real attachment which I shall always enter- tain- towards you. L. P. D'ORLEANS." Madame de Feucheres was at this period received at Court, although she was subsequently forbidden to appear there. Her liaison with the Duke could hardly be the real cause ; it is more likely, from the known sentiments of Charles the Tenth, that her intimacy at Neuilly was.