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added attraction and the history of each forms a contrast in French life and politics both picturesque and interesting. Since 1798 the scene of grave debate, of impassioned oratory, and not unfrequently of wild disorder, the palace was originally the sumptuous residence of the Princes of the Bourbon Condé family, and was built by the Duchesse de Bourbon, daughter of Louis XIV. and Madame de Montespan. Madame de Maintenon had taught a servile aristocracy to look upon these alliances between the natural offspring of the king and the princes and princesses of the blood royal as highly desirable connections. The Prince de Conti had been delighted to espouse the daughter of Madame de la Vallière, and the proud family of Condé were no less enchanted when, during a visit paid by the king to Chantilly, it was arranged that Mlle. de Nantes, his daughter by Madame de Montespan, should marry the young Duc de Bourbon, grandson and heir of the hero prince. The marriage was solemnised at Versailles, in his majesty's apartments, with all the splendour that was characteristic of these functions, the childish actors in the pageant being respectively twelve and fifteen years old. The new duchess was remarkably beautiful, it appears, if memoirs of the period can be relied on, for we are told that the fame of her loveliness spread abroad as far as the kingdom of Morocco. However that may be, she did not long preserve her looks, for two years after her marriage she lay at death's door with the small-pox at Fontainebleau. “Madame la Duchesse has the small-pox,” writes Mme. de Caylus ; “never had she been so charming, so brilliant as she appeared on the eve of her illness.” The Prince de Condé, old as he was, hurried to her bedside, the king also on receipt of the news arrived post-haste, but the prince's solicitude for his majesty would not allow him access to the duchess' room. The fatigue of the journey, and the prolonged anxiety, may have precipitated the death of the aged hero ; a few weeks later he breathed his last, and France lost the bravest of her sons. It used to be said of the three branches of the royal family that the Bourbons loved the chase, the Condés loved fighting, and the Orléans pictures and money. In any case, the Great Condé's son Jules Henri and grandson Louis (the husband of Mlle. de Nantes) earned some fame on the battlefield and a great deal more by their quarrels at home. St. Simon thus describes Jules Henri, who succeeded his father as Prince de Condé, “unnatural son, cruel father, terrible husband, detestable master, pernicious neighbour, without friends, incapable of having any, jealous, suspicious, full of cunning, tyrannical and violent even
about trifles, irritable over everything. ... governed by avarice and temper.” Of Louis, Duc de Bourbon, whose tutor was La Bruyère, and whose education the great Bossuet himself supervised, St. Simon speaks thus: “His ferocity was extraordinary, and was apparent in everything. He was like a mill always in movement, creating a commotion from which his friends were never safe—sometimes hurling insults at them, sometimes making them the victims of cruel practical jokes.” These two tempestuous persons died within a year of each other, Jules Henri in 1709 and Louis in 171 o. The duchess was thus left a widow at the age of thirty, in possession of a large fortune, and guardian of her son, the future Minister of Louis XV. It may be imagined that she made up for what must have been the turbulent times of her matrimonial days by a more pleasant existence during the remainder of her life, and such was the case, though marriage tempted her not again. She appears to have been an agreeable, intelligent woman, addicted to the pastimes of the period, which consisted of inventing little plays and acting them at Court. Of her friends, one of the favourites was Mme. de Caylus, a wit and beauty, whose dangerous gift of mimicry earned for her the severe disapproval of Louis XIV. and temporary banishment from the circle that revolved round “le Roi Soleil.” Mme. de Caylus speaks of the great attachment Mme. la Duchesse had inspired in the Prince de Conti, and ascribes his refusal to accept the crown of Poland entirely to his reluctance in leaving his adored one. Whether the duchess reciprocated the feeling or not is uncertain, but we have the testimony of St. Simon that from about the year 172 o it was the Marquis de Lassay who disposed of the affections and the fortune of Mme. la Duchesse. During the period the Duc de Bourbon ruled France as Prime Minister (1723–26) of the young king Louis XV., his mother was naturally one of the chief personages at Court, though her influence over her son was to a great extent counteracted by the duke's mistress, the beautiful Mme. de Prie. These were the days of the great “système Law,”f and society speculated madly; the duke and his mother agreed, if on this point only, and it was presumably with the money made through the instrumentality of the great financier that the duchess was enabled to spend such vast sums on the palace she began building on the banks of the Seine. It may have been the disagreeable associations connected with the old family mansion in the Luxembourg quarter, or simply the beauty of the site, which tempted her to change; but at any rate,
* The poet Sauteuil was one of his victims. One day the Duke thought it
very amusing to put tobacco in his wine, and the poor fellow died of the effects. t A Scotchman who had undertaken to reorganise the finances of the country. tion, Pont de la Concorde, Pont Louis XVI., and again Pont de la Concorde,
without waiting for the bridge" to be finished which would con-
three, was obtained, Madame de Roussillon, his governess, being obliged to
hold his hand.t
The old duchess died the following year, 1743.
was begun in 1787 and finished in 1790 with the stones of the Bastille. t Memoirs of the Duc de Luynes.
There was naturally haste to marry the heir and ensure descendants to the ancient name of Condé, and accordingly at seventeen the youthful prince was urged to make his selection. The choice fell on Charlotte de Rohan Soubise, who, though not of royal blood, was possessed of so much beauty and such charm of character as to win all hearts and disarm all jealousy. For seven years the Court of Louis XV. was delighted with the unusual spectacle of an ideally happy marriage. The king had a great admiration, it appears, for virtuous women, and treated “ l'aimable sainte,” as he called the princess, with special consideration. The young couple adored each other, and all that the world could give of honour and prosperity seemed lavished on them by a smiling Providence. Their happiness was made complete by the birth of two children, a son (Duc de Bourbon) and a daughter, for whom Madame Louise de France and the Dauphin stood sponsors. The princess's letters to her husband, written while the latter was with the army gaining fresh laurels to add to the family trophies, show her much occupied with the training of the two children. The boy, strong, turbulent and noisy, was hard to manage : “My son,” she confesses, “is terribly naughty, he was in a temper that lasted two hours; I whipped him well, which had not the slightest effect. Little Louise, on the contrary, is sweet and charming. She loves her parents devotedly and passionately adores her brother.” " These qualities remained characteristic of them throughout their lives. Princess Louise met all the trials of her subsequent existence with unvarying patience and sweetness, and never faltered in her devotion to her father or brother, though the circumstances of their after lives made her situation very difficult. Diphtheria and twenty doctors deprived the Prince de Condé of his wife and his children of their mother when that charming princess was only twenty-four. Her husband mourned sincerely for some months, then began a curious /iaison which, outlasting every other relationship of that sort in fidelity and devotion, received at length, on the death of the lady's husband, a legal and royal sanction. The Princess of Monaco reigned as mistress at Chantilly and at the Palais Bourbon (on all but official occasions) throughout the days of her lover's prosperity, and when evil times came accompanied him into exile and was at his side during the struggle that ensued. They were married finally in 1808 at Wanstead, in England, and five years later Condé had the sorrow of losing one whose heart had beat for him, and him only, since the first day she had seen him fifty years before. The expense of her burial was defrayed by the generosity of the Regent (George IV.), the slender means of the Prince de Condé making it impossible for him to bear the cost. On her mother's death, little Louise de Condé was sent to the Abbaye de Beaumont-les-Tours, a convent presided over by her great-aunt Henriette de Bourbon Condé (known as Mme. de Vermandois), and later to the Abbaye de Panthémont, in the Rue de Grenelle, Paris. Here she had as companion and friend her cousin, Princesse Bathilde d'Orléans, daughter of the Duc d'Orléans and grand-daughter of the Regent. The two young princesses, with their respective ladies-in-waiting, spent an existence half-religious and more than half-worldly l Of the visitors who were permitted to come and see them, none was so assiduous as the young Duc de Bourbon, Louise's brother, then fourteen and a half years of age, and it was not long before he fell desperately in love with his sister's companion. The marriage was agreed to in spite of the disparity in the ages of the young couple, the princess being six years older than the duke, and the wedding was celebrated after many festivities. “L’amoureux de I 5 ans,” a pièce de circonstance, played at Chantilly on this occasion, was intended to represent the passion of the young duke for his wife and the devotion and attention which he manifested towards her. After the ceremony it had been decided that the prince should travel and that the princess should go back to her convent. But this arrangement did not at all suit the ardent young husband, who, to the scandal of every one, carried off his bride in defiance of all etiquette. The duchess soon after became enceinte, and in due course brought into the world a son, the Duc d'Enghien. The poor child was quite black at its birth and hardly gave a sign of life. It was wrapped in flannels soaked with brandy ; these caught fire, and the unfortunate infant narrowly escaped being burnt to death. Sad to relate, the duke's devotion to his wife was shortlived, and his notorious infidelities soon made a mutual existence impossible. A separation was agreed on in 1780. An affair which contributed to this decision was the celebrated episode at the Bal de l'Opéra, when the duchess was openly insulted by the Comte d'Artois, egged on by Mme. de Canilhac, the duke's mistress. This resulted in a duel between the two princes in the Bois de Boulogne, and relations between the duchess and her husband's family became more and more embittered. Though separated from the duke, and supplanted at Chantilly and the Palais Bourbon by the Princesse de Monaco, disliking the Court also because there it was almost impossible to avoid meeting her husband, the duchess nevertheless surrounded
* La dernière des Condés, Marquis de Ségur.