CHAPTER II. LOUIS PHILIPPE AND HIS FAMILY.
I give Louis Blanc's account of Fieschi's behavior on his trial, because when foreign nations have reproached us for the scandal of the license granted to the murderer of President Garfield on his trial, I have never seen it remarked that Guiteau's conduct was almost exactly like that of Fieschi.
"With effrontery, with a miserable kind of pride, and with smiles of triumph on his lips, he alluded to his victims with theatrical gesticulations, and plumed himself on the magnitude of his own infamy, answering his judges by ignoble buffooneries, playing the part of an orator, making pretensions to learning, looking round to see what effect he was producing, and courting applause. And some of those who sat in judgment on him did applaud. At each of his atrocious vulgarisms many of the Peers laughed, and this laugh naturally encouraged him. Did he make a movement to rise, voices called out: 'Fieschi desires to say something, Monsieur le President! Fieschi is about to speak!' The audience was unwilling to lose a word that might fall from the lips of so celebrated a scoundrel. He could hardly contain himself for pride and satisfaction. His bloody hand was eager to shake hands with the public, and there were those willing to submit to it. He exchanged signs with the woman Nina who was seated in the audience. He posed before the spectators with infinite satisfaction. What more can we say? He directed the proceedings. He prompted or browbeat the witnesses, he undertook the duties of a prosecuting attorney. He regulated the trial.... He directed coarse jokes at the unhappy Pepin; but reckless as he was, he dared not meddle with Morey. He had no hesitation in accusing himself. He owned himself the worst of criminals, and declared that he esteemed himself happy to be able to pay with his own blood for the blood of the unhappy victims of his crime. But the more he talked about his coming fate, the plainer it was that he expected pardon, and the more he flattered those on whom that pardon might depend."
The trial lasted twelve days, and very little was elicited about the conspiracy, - if indeed there was one. Suddenly Pepin, whose terror had been abject, rallied his courage, refused to implicate Morey or to make revelations, and kept his resolution to the last.
One of the five prisoners was acquitted, one was condemned to a brief imprisonment, and Morey, Pepin, and Fieschi were sent to the block. Up to almost the last moment Fieschi expected pardon; but his last words were to his confessor: "I wish I could let you know about myself five minutes from now."
On the scaffold Morey's white hair elicited compassion from the spectators. Pepin at the last moment was offered a pardon if he would tell whence the money came that he had advanced to Fieschi. He refused firmly, and firmly met his fate.
The next day the woman who had betrayed her lover and the rest was presiding at a cafe on the Place de la Bourse, having been engaged as an attraction!
After these horrors we turn with relief to some account of good and noble women, the ladies of Louis Philippe's family.
After the murderous attempt of Fieschi the king lived under a continual expectation of assassination. He no longer walked the streets of Paris with his cane under his arm. When he drove, he sat with his back to the horses, because that position gave less certainty to the aim of an assassin. It was said that his carriages were lined with sheet-iron. He was thirteen times shot at, and the pallid looks of the poor queen were believed to arise from continual apprehension. Her nerves had been shaken by the diabolical attempt of Fieschi, and she never afterwards would leave her husband, even for a few days. She stayed away from the deathbed of her daughter, the Queen of the Belgians, lest in her absence he should be assassinated.
Neuilly was the home of the family, its beloved, particular retreat. The greatest pang that Louis Philippe suffered in 1848 was its total destruction by rioters. The little palace was furnished in perfect taste, with elegance, yet with simplicity. The inlaid floors were especially beautiful. The rooms were decorated with pictures, many of them representing passages in the early life of the king. In one he was teaching mathematics in a Swiss school; in another he was romping with his children. His own cabinet was decorated with his children's portraits and with works of art by his accomplished daughter, the Princess Marie. The family sitting-room was furnished with the princesses' embroidery, and there was a table painted on velvet by the Duchesse de Berri. The library was large, and contained many English books, among them a magnificent edition of Shakspeare. The park enclosed one hundred acres. The gardens were laid out in the English style. A branch of the Seine ran through the grounds, with boat-houses and bath-houses for the pleasure of the young princes, - and in one night this cherished home was laid in ruins!
"All is possible," said Louis Philippe to a visitor who talked with him at Claremont in his exile, "all is possible to France, - an empire, a republic, the Comte de Chambord, or my grandson; but one thing is impossible, - that any of these should last. On a tue le respect, - the nation has killed respect."