The Duc de Berri
True it is that, among the known and undisputed facts, there are many suspicious circumstances; the extraordinary privacy of the birth,—the unaccountable delaissement of the Duchess though all Paris knew that the accouchement was daily, nay hourly, expected—the wonderful strength of the Duchess, whom Henry saw at the window, within the first forty-eight hours, I think—her known partiality for Mademoiselle, and her indifference to the boy—the one, she says, 'est mon enfant, l'autre c'est l'enfant de la France;' the fact of her having escaped a miscarriage after such a shock and such exertions. Another singular circumstance—the extravagant liberality and attention displayed not by the Duchess only but by all the royal family to les petites anglaises (now Comtesses d'Issou-dun) and to their mother, would be thus accounted for.
The most suspicious part of the story is, that the proces-verbal giving the account of the birth of the child, which was proclaimed by authority, was altered: in the first copy, only half-an-hour was said to have elapsed between the time when the ladies took leave of the Duchess and that when they were not only safe in their nests but so fast asleep that they could not hear her bell. In a second, this was made an hour. Still the certainty that the fable (if fable it be) must have been fabricated within the first twenty-four hours after the assassination of the father, and the coincidence with the circumstances which had been brought forward to shake the legitimacy of the young Napoleon, are in my mind strong evidence against this story.
It is singular that, the day after, I heard a report which, admitting both stories to be true, would furnish a striking instance of poetical justice. This child, this pretender, is so little promising in body or mind, that Charles Dix considers himself under the necessity of marrying to provide another heir. It is impossible not to wish that the Duc de Chartres, who has had a good, quiet, unprincely education, and is said to do great credit to it, is not left to take his chance.
They say that while the cannon were firing to announce the birth of the Duc de Bordeaux,—after the twenty-four (I think) which mark the birth of a female, while everybody was listening for the twenty-fifth which was to announce an heir, the Due de Chartres said, ' Now we shall see whether I have a wife or a master.'
* The Duke's English mistress, who attended his death-bed, as related by Madame de Gontault, in a letter (transcribed by Miss Wynn) narrating 'all the circumstances of the assassination and his death. The doubts relating' to the birth of the Due de Bordeaux were not more plausible than those thrown on the birth of the Chevalier St. Georges, which are now rejected as preposterous.