CHAPTER II. LOUIS PHILIPPE AND HIS FAMILY.
Without following the ins and outs of politics during the first ten years of Louis Philippe's reign, which were checkered by revolts, emeutes, and attempts at regicide, I pass on to the next event of general interest, - the explosion of the "infernal machine" of Fieschi.
It was customary for King Louis Philippe to make a grand military promenade through Paris on one of the three days of July which during his reign were days of public festivity. On the morning of July 28, 1835, as the clock struck ten, the king, accompanied by his three elder sons, Marshals Mortier and Lobeau, his ministers, his staff, his household, and many generals, rode forth to review forty thousand troops along the Boulevards. At midday they reached the Boulevard du Temple. There, as the king was bending forward to receive a petition, a sudden volley of musketry took place, and the pavement was strewed with dead and dying. Marshal Mortier was killed, together with a number of officers of various grades, some bystanders, a young girl, and an old man. The king had not been shot, but as his horse started, he had received a severe contusion on the arm. The Duke of Orleans and the Prince de Joinville were slightly hurt. Smoke came pouring from the third-story windows of a house (No. 50) on the Boulevard. A man sprang from the window, seized a rope hanging from the chimney, and swung himself on to a lower roof. As he did so, he knocked down a flower-pot, which attracted attention to his movements. A police agent saw him, and a national guard arrested him. He was in his shirt-sleeves, and his face was covered with blood. The infernal machine he had employed consisted of twenty-five gun-barrels on a stand so constructed that they could all be fired at once. Happily two did not go off, and four burst, wounding the wretch who had fired them. Instantly the reception of the king, which had been cold when he set forth, changed into rapturous enthusiasm. He and his sons had borne themselves with the greatest bravery.
The queen had been about to quit the Tuileries to witness the review, when the door of her dressing-room was pushed open, and a colonel burst in, exclaiming: "Madame, the king has been fired at. He is not hurt, nor the princes, but the Boulevard is strewn with corpses." The queen, raising her trembling hands to heaven, waited only for a repetition of his assurance that her dear ones were all safe, and then set out to find the king. She met him on the staircase, and husband and wife wept in each other's arms.
The queen then went to her sons, looked at them, and touched them, hardly able to believe that they were not seriously wounded, and turned away, shuddering, from the blood on M. Thiers' clothes. Then, returning to her chamber, she sent a note at once to her younger boys, D'Aumale and Montpensier, who were with their tutors at the Chateau d'Eu. It began with these words: "Fall down on your knees, my children; God has preserved your father."
Of course the Legitimists, and likewise the Republicans, were accused of inspiring the attempt of Fieschi. The trials, that took place about six months later, proved that the assassin Fieschi was a wretch bearing a strong resemblance to our own Guiteau.
The funeral ceremonies of the victims of the infernal machine were celebrated with great pomp. The affair led to a partial reconciliation between the new Government and the Legitimist clergy; it led also to certain restrictions on the Press and an added stringency in the punishment for crimes of the like character.
On Jan. 31, 1836, the trial of the prisoners took place before the Peers. The crowd of spectators was immense. There were five prisoners, but the eyes of the spectators were fixed on only three.
The first was a man under-sized, nervous and quick in his movements. His face, which was disfigured by recent scars, had an expression of cunning and impudence. His forehead was narrow, his hair cropped close, one corner of his mouth was disfigured by a scar, his smile was insolent, and so was his whole bearing. He seemed anxious to concentrate the attention of all present on himself, smiled and bowed to every one he knew, and seemed well satisfied with his odious importance.
The second was an old man, pale and ill. He bore himself with perfect calmness. He seated himself where he was told to sit, and gave no sign of emotion throughout the trial.
The third was utterly prostrated by fear.
The first was Fieschi; the second was called Morey; the third was a grocer named Pepin.
The two last had been arrested on the testimony of Nina Lassave, who had had Fieschi for her lover. The life of this man had been always base and infamous. He was a Corsican by birth, and had been a French soldier. He had fought bravely, but after his discharge he had been imprisoned for theft and counterfeiting. He led a wandering life from town to town, living on his wits and indulging all his vices. He had even succeeded in getting some small favors from Government; but finding that he could not long escape punishment for crimes known to the police, he undertook, apparently without any especial motive, the wholesale murder of king, court, and princes.
During his imprisonment his vanity had been so great that the officers of the Crown played upon it in order to obtain confessions and information.
The only witness against Morey was Nina Lassave, who insisted that, Fieschi having invented the murderous instrument, Morey had devised a use for it, and that Pepin had furnished the necessary funds for its completion.