Research Subjects: Biographies

Newspaper Accounts of the Proclamation of King Louis XVIII upon His Return to France: 28 June 1815

By Susan Howard

This proclamation is taken from the archives of the The Times of London of 1815. They are mainly translations from the French newspapers with some private correspondence and leader articles. The articles were printed uncensored, though possibly shortened. There are places where the translation is clumsy: they were usually translated and printed within 24 hours of the papers being received from France. Some of the print quality is poor and I have had to guess at some words; where I have been unable to do this, I have marked them [illegible]. I have preserved the archaic punctuation and inconsistent spelling but have altered the layout to make it easier to read - the original was compressed into narrow columns. Any notes of mine are in italics in square brackets: all other italics are in the text.

The Times:

PROCLAMATION  JUNE 28TH 1815

THE KING TO THE FRENCH PEOPLE

            The gates of my kingdom at last open before me; I hasten to bring back my misled sunjects, to mitigate the calamities which I had wished to prevent, to place myself a second time between the Allied and the French armies, in the hope that the feelings of consideration of which I may be the object may tend to their preservation. This is the only way in which I have wished to take part in the war. I have not pemitted any prince of my family to appear in foreign ranks, and have chained in the courage of those of my servants who had been able to range themselves around me.

            Returned to the soil of my country, I take pleasure in speaking confidence to my people. When I first reappeared among you, I found men's minds agitated, and heated by conflicting passions. My views encountered on every side nothing but difficulties and obstacles. My government was liable to commit errors: perhaps it did commit them. There are times when the purest intentions are insufficient to direct, or sometimes they even mislead.

Experience alone could teach; it shall not be lost. All that can save France is my wish.

            My subjects have learned by cruel trials, that the principle of the legitimacy of Sovereigns is one of the fundamental bases of social orders, - the only one upon which, amidst a great nation, a wise and well-ordered liberty can be established. This doctrine has just been proclaimed as that of all Europe. I had previously consecrated it by my Charter, and I claim to add to that Charter all the guarantees which can secure the benefits of it.

            The unity of ministry is the strongest that I can offer. I mean that it should exist, and that the frank and firm march of my Council shouuld guarantee all interests and calm all inquietudes.

            Some have talked latterly of the restoration of tithes and feudal rights. This fable, invented by the common enemy, does not require confutation. It will not be expected that the King should stoop to refute calumnies and lies: the success of the treason has too clearly indicated their source. If the purchasers of national property have felt alarm, the Charter should suffice to re-assure them. Did I not myself propose to the Chambers, and cause to be executed, sales of such property? This proof of my sincerity is unanswerable.

            In these latter times, my subjects of all classes have given me equal proofs of love and fidelity. I wish them to know how sensibly I feel them, and that it is from among all Frenchmen I shall delight to choose those who are to approach my person and my family.

            I wish to exclude from my presence none but those whose celebrity is matter of grief to France and of horror to Europe. In the plot which they hatched, I perceive many of my subjects misled, and some guilty.

            I promise - I who never promised in vain, (all Europe knows it) - to pardon to misled Frenchmen, all that has happened since the day when I quitted Lille, amidst so many tears, up to the day when I re-entered Cambrai, amidst so many acclamations.

            But the blood of my people has flowed, in consequence of a treason of which the annals of the world present no example. That treason has summoned foreigners into the heart of France. Every day reveals to me a new disaster. I owe it, then, to the dignity of my crown, to the interest of my people, to the repose of Europe, to except from pardon the instigators and authors of this horrible plot. They shall be designated to the vengeance of the laws by the two Chambers, which I propose forthwith to assemble.

            Frenchmen, such are the sentiments which he brings among you, whom time has not been able to change, nor calamities fatigue, not injustice made to stoop. The King, whose fathers reigned for eight centuries over your's, returns to consecrate the remainder of his days in defending and consoling you.

            Given at Cambrai, this 28th of June, in the year of our Lord 1815, and of our reign the 21st.

                                    (signed)                                    LOUIS

                                    (signed)                        Prince TALLEYRAND

By the King,                             Minister Secretaryof State for Foreign Affairs.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: September 2006

 

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