Friday, September 16, 2011

Louis XVIII of France Dies

‘…Louis XVIII. in his distress, had recourse to the assistance of another man of the Revolution, who, without possessing the abilities of Fouche, was perhaps, had he been disposed to do so, better qualified than he to have served the king's cause. Marechal Ney was called forth to take the command of an army destined to attack Napoleon in the flank and rear as he marched towards Paris, while the forces at Melun opposed him in front. He had an audience of the king on the 9th of March, when he accepted his appointment with expressions of the most devoted faith to the king, and declared his resolution to bring Bonaparte to Paris like a wild beast in an iron cage. The marechal went to Beaancon, where, on the llth March, he learned that Bonaparte was in possession of Lyons. But he continued to make preparations for resistance, and collected all the troops he could from the adjoining garrisons. To those who objected to the bad disposition of the soldiers, and remarked that he would have difficulty in inducing them to fight. Ney answered determinedly, "They shall fight; I will take a musket from a grenadier and begin the action myself,—I will run my sword to the hilt in the first who hesitates to follow my example." To the minister at war he wrote, that all were dazzled by the activity and rapid progress of the invader; that Napoleon was favoured by the common people and the soldiers; but that the officers and civil authorities were loyal, and he still hoped "to see a fortunate close of this mad enterprise."…’

The text above is from Walter Scott’s “The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte”.  Michel Ney disappointed Louis XVIII with respect to Napoleon, but Louis outlived the Emperor by three years, returning to France after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.  Having been restored to the throne twice, Louis XVIII ended up being the only French monarch of the 19th century to die in power, passing of various health issues on September 16, 1824.

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