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CHANTILLY AND THE DUC D'AUMALE

The castle and estate of Chantilly, and the collections there, are celebrated. The spot is a beautiful one. An immense forest forms a thick mantle covering the surrounding hills and valleys. The castle rises amidst the waters, majestic and picturesque. Memories of great people cling around this noble dwelling: the names of the Montmorencys, the Condés and the Bourbons, recur to the mind the moment one's gaze rests upon those walls which have sheltered so many illustrious personages.

Recollections of the last possessor mingle therewith and shed a new and enduring splendour on the noble pile.

A description of Chantilly Castle would fill a large volume, and each of the principal parts of the collections it contains would require at least three. This is precisely the number of volumes to be devoted to the paintings by M. F. A. Gruyer, to whom the late Duc d'Aumale confided the task of compiling a catalogue with comments and engravings. Another scholar, M. Léopold Deslisle, was chosen to enumerate the riches of the library, which was added to constantly and with the best taste by a book-loving prince, himself the author of an historical work, ably written and enriched with valuable documents. The other collections abound in works of art and in arms of all sorts and all periods. Each one was to be the subject of a monograph, with plates and figures supplementing the descriptions. The work has already been commenced, and will probably be continued by the Institut de France, to which the Duc d'Aumale has bequeathed (by will dated 1887) the estate and all that it contains, reserving only the usufruct. The noble Duke was a member of three sections of that eminent body-the Académie Française, the Académie des BeauxArts, and the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques. The other two divisions, the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, might also have enrolled him, for there are few branches of knowledge to which the Duke was a stranger.

Although the Chantilly estate has a considerable past and a feudal origin dating pretty far back, the name is not ancient. It comes from a clump of lime trees (campus tiliæ), the remains of which, it is said, are still to be seen in one of the avenues. There is good reason to believe, however, that the original trees have disappeared and given place to others. What is more certain is that a fortress existed there in the Middle Ages, built by the first owners of the land in the midst of swamps, where it was beyond the reach of the missiles employed before the invention of cannon. On the site occupied by this fortress was erected what has since been called “the old castle.' This ancient stronghold, like many others antecedent to the twelfth century, formed, owing to the shape of the ground, an irregular pentagon, with a projecting tower at each angle. The little that is known of its history only reveals that in the tenth century it belonged to the Count de Senlis, and that it afterwards passed to the branch of that house which received the name of de Boutellier on account of the office of royal cup-bearer with which it was invested.

In the fourteenth century the estate passed into the hands of Guy de Laval, who sold it to Pierre d'Orgemont, chancellor of France. Marguerite, an heiress of this Pierre d'Orgemont, brought it back to the family from which she had sprung by her marriage with Jean II. de Montmorency.

Here the history commences to be piquant. The two sons whom Jean had had by his first wife fell out with their step-mother and seized the occasion to oppose the king, Louis the Eleventh, by joining the Duke of Burgundy's party. This enraged their father, who, in his judicial capacity, summoned one of them, Jean, lord of Nivelle, in Flanders, to appear before him and hear himself condemned to return to his feudal duty. This summons was made known by the sound of trumpets and the voices of heralds-at

But Nivelle was distant; Jean turned a deaf ear, and failed to put in an appearance. The call was repeated again and again, but still remained unanswered. Montmorency's fury then became ungovernable; he disinherited his son and spoke of him as a 'felon' and a 'chien.' His impotent rage excited no doubt the caustic wit of the clerks of his household, for they humorously said, 'ce chien de Jean de Nivelle, il s'enfuit quand on l'appelle.' This has passed into a proverb, and when a man will not hear, or runs off when called, it is commonly said that 'il ressemble à ce chien de Jean de Nivelle qui fuit quand on l'appelle.'

Jean II., remaining loyal to Louis the Eleventh, kept to his resolution to disinherit his son, who remained in Flanders. The Comte de Horn, who was beheaded with the Comte d'Egmont, was Jean de Nivelle's grandson. These things are somewhat apart from our subject, but there is a connecting link in the fact that Jean II. had, by Marguerite d'Orgemont, à son, named Guillaume, who was the father of the famous high constable, Anne de Montmorency, the real founder of Chantilly Castle. The old castle had become too small and resembled a prison. It was the time when the Italian renaissance was extending its ramifications into France just after the expeditions into Italy made by Charles the Eighth, Louis the Twelfth,

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and François Premier. Utilising the leisure given him by his disgrace under François the Second, he built a new castle in the new style, a mixture of the Roman architecture then being revived beyond the Alps, and of the elegant and variegated French architecture. The old massive towers of defence had not yet been discarded, but their character bad been changed. Instead of being a warlike element, they formed a decorative feature. The defensive appearance subsisted, but was brightened by the enlarged windows and the openworked balustrades.

Lawns and flower-beds charmed the eye, while beautiful avenues stretched away into the forest. Anne I., Duke of Montmorency, perished at Saint-Denis at the hand of Robert Stuart. seventy-four years old and had had sufficient time to give his residence at Chantilly an air of grandeur, which his descendants have not failed to increase. But the work of the old warrior was destined to undergo some vicissitudes. His grandson, Henri II. de Montmorency, was, for a short time, the idol of the people and the Court. A brilliant prince, but weak-willed, he allowed himself to be drawn into a conspiracy against Richelieu. This was the last cry, so to speak, uttered by the feudal spirit. Henri lost his head at Toulouse in 1632, at the age of thirty-eight years. With him the first ducal branch of the Montmorencys became extinct. His sister Charlotte, the most beautiful woman of her time, entered into possession of the sequestrated property. She married Henri II. de Bourbon-Condé, and thus it was that the eaglets of the Montmorencys became united to the fleurs-de-lys of France, and the bipartite escutcheon was able to be sculptured by the Duc d'Aumale on the walls of the restored château. This Princess de Bourbon-Condé-Montmorency was the mother of the great Condé, of the Prince de Conti, and of Madame de Longueville. The Chantilly estate having thus become the property of the house of France, it ever afterwards remained so.

The historians of the end of the sixteenth century are loud in their praises of the beauties of Chantilly, and the pleasures enjoyed by the little court which Prince Henri II. held there. M. Cousin has written eloquently about it in his able work on Madame de Longueville. It is, however, to the Grand Condé that Chantilly chiefly owes its renown. He not only embellished it internally, but caused Le Notre to lay out new gardens, make channels to carry away the waters of the brooks, and enclose the fish-ponds within solid walls. Charles the Fifth had visited Chantilly in the time of the Constable; and later Henri the Fourth had come there, attracted, however, more by the charms of the châtelaine than by the beauty of the spot and the sumptuousness of the new château. The Grand Condé was visited there by Louis the Fourteenth and all his Court, whom he entertained with a splendour that quite dazzled Madame de Sévigné. Everybody has read the letter in which she describes those festivities,

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and relates with such unaffected, inimitable art the events of that famous day when Vatel killed himself:

On soupa, il y eut quelques tables où le rôti manqua. . . . Cela saisit Vatel; il dit plusieurs fois : "Je suis perdu d'honneur; voici un affront que je ne supporterai pas.' Il dit à Gourville: 'La tête me tourne ; il y a douze nuits que je n'ai dormi ; aidez-moi à donner des ordres.' ... Le prince alla jusque dans la chambre de Vatel et lui dit: 'Vatel, tout va bien, rien n'était si beau que le souper du roi.' Il répondit: “Monseigneur, votre bonté m'achère; je sais que rôti a manqué à deux tables.' •Point du tout,' dit le prince; 'ne vous fâchez pas ; tout va bien.' Minuit vient; le feu d'artifice ne réussit pas; il fut couvert d'un nuage. Il coûtait 16,000 francs. A quatre heures du matin, Vatel s'en va partout; il trouve tout endormi; il rencontre un petit pourvoyeur qui lui apportait seulement deux charges de marée ; il attend quelque temps ; sa tête s'échauffait, il crut qu'il n'aurait pas d'autre marée ; il trouva Gourville, il lui dit: 'Monsieur, je ne survivrai pas à cet affront-ci.' Gourville se moqua de lui. Vatel monta à sa chambre, mit son épée contre la porte et se la passa au travers du cour, mais ce ne fut qu'au troisième coup. . . . La marée cependant arrive de tous côtés; on cherche Vatel pour la distribuer; on monte à sa chambre; on beurte, on enfonce la porte, on le trouve noyé dans son sang; on court à M. le prince qui fut au désespoir.'

Such is Madame de Sévigné's account of it. To-day Vatel would have felt no uneasiness. In the absence of sea-fish he would have fallen back on fresh-water fish, with which the ponds at Chantilly are abundantly stocked. He would have artistically disguised the carp as turbot and the eels as rock lobsters. At a push he would have served breast of chicken as filleted sole, so great has been the progress made in the culinary art in France since the days of Louis the Fourteenth. Yet they were not afraid to spend money. A wellinformed chronicler compiled an account of what it cost the Prince to entertain worthily his great cousin the King, and he estimated the expense at 200,000 livres, which is equal to 800,000 francs of our money. But this is nothing in comparison with the millions of francs spent two centuries earlier by a merchant of Florence to celebrate his daughter's marriage.

Chantilly was still further enlarged and improved by the descendants of the great Condé. They built a church, planted the Parc de Sylvie, and erected various subsidiary buildings, or completed those which were still unfinished. Thus the famous stables with marble troughs were built, which can hold 240 horses. When Paul the First, Emperor of Russia, came to France, Louis-Henri de Bourbon, grandson of the great Condé, gave, in the central rotunda which forms a riding school, a feast ending with a sort of transformation scene. The screens which shut off the two wings containing the horses were drawn aside, displaying the entire stable to the sight of the guests.

The Revolution swept down upon Chantilly as upon many other splendid residences. The old castle was demolished, and the small castle would have shared the same fate had not the buyer delayed its destruction too long. This small castle, called the Château d'Enghien, together with the stables, were turned into barracks. Under the Empire, the forest was an appanage of Queen Hortense, and when the restoration came, Prince Louis-Henri de Bourbon reentered into possession of the estate and the ruins of the castle. He died in 1818, and his son, the last of the Condés, whose son, the Duc d'Enghien, was shot at Vincennes, himself died shortly after the revolution of 1830. He was found hanging to a window-fastening in the Château de Saint-Leu, where he was then staying. Full light has never been thrown upon his tragic end. By his will the youthful Duc d'Aumale was made universal legatee. The immense fortune of the Condés could not have come into better hands.

The young Prince had the traditional valour of the Bourbons. His military disposition, of which he gave such brilliant evidence in Africa, was coupled with a passionate fondness for literature and art. Early in life, when master of his ideas, he formed the design of bringing back to Chantilly its past splendours, and of using the revenues of the domain for the complete restoration of the home of the Condés. The revolution of 1848, which broke out while he was Governor of Algeria, prevented him from executing his plans at that time. Popular with the army which he had led to victory, beloved and respected in France, he might easily have brought over his troops and commenced with the provisional government a struggle, the issue of which would scarcely have been doubtful. But he preferred exile to civil war. From this, and from the reserved attitude which he always maintained after his return to France, a writer has tried to draw the conclusion that in submitting to exile, and in appearing to lend his words and actions to the passing of laws contrary to equity and justice, the Duc d'Aumale adhered to their principles, and abandoned for his part the rights of his family. This writer is mistaken. He seems to have forgotten the high-spirited letter which the prince addressed to M. Grévy, when the latter countersigned the decree taking from him the dearest of his titles, that of general in his country's service. He had been forbidden to serve on the battlefield at a time when France had dire need of a valiant captain, but he was thought of when a military judge was wanted, in which capacity he performed his duty with an ability and high-mindedness which extorted the admiration of all Europe. He had even been visited in his retirement in order to be asked to place the collar of the Golden Fleece around the neck of the President of the Republic. His duty done and the dictates of courtesy satisfied, the hero of Abder Kader had been struck off the rolls of the army; after his family's banishment had come his own degradation. The cup was full ; he repulsed it with indignation, an action which cost him a new period of exile lasting three years.

When the Duc d'Aumale came back, political feeling had no doubt become less strong, for his return gave general satisfaction.

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