vendredi 30 mars 2018

Within royal palaces, les potins de la Marquise de Fontenoy: (1) le Roi Othon Ier de Bavière

Marquise de Fontenoy était un nom de plume de Marguerite Cunliffe-Owen (1859 - 1927), une écrivaine de romans historiques et  chroniqueuse de journal  qui publia également sous son nom de jeune fille, Comtesse du Planty. 

Fille du comte Jules du Planty de Sourdis, elle épousa Frederick Cunliffe-Owen. En 1885, après avoir perdu sa fortune européenne, le couple fit un nouveau départ aux États-Unis, Frédérick devenant finalement rédacteur étranger et plus tard rédacteur en chef du New York Tribune.

Marguerite Cunliffe-Owen a publié une série de biographies et de romans. Plusieurs de ses livres traitant des cours royales européennes ont été publiés anonymement ou sous un nom de plume, La Marquise de Fontenoy, qui était le nom qu'elle employait pour une colonne de journal, a dépeint la société aristocratique  avec une franchise sans concessions et parfois vipérine.

Parmi ses ouvrages, citons The Martyrdom of an Empress (1899), un livre consacré à l'impératrice Elisabeth d'Autriche, The Tribulations of a Princess (1901), Imperator Et Rex: William II of Germany (1904), The Trident and the Net (1905), Gray Mist (1906), Emerald and Ermine (1907), The Cradle of the Rose (1908), Snow-Fire: A Story of the Russian Court (1910) et Moonglade (1915).

En 1892, elle publiait à Boston, sous le pseudonyme de Marquise de Fontenoy, Within royal palaces. A brilliant and charmingly written inner life view of emperors, kings, queens, princes, and princesses ... Written from a personal knowledge of scenes behind the thrones, un ouvrage qui dresse le portrait des principales cours européennes de la fin du 19ème siècle. Un chapitre est consacré à la famille royale de Bavière. Voici, dans l'original, le début de ce chapitre qui relate la royauté d'Othon Ier de Bavière (pp. 399 à 403): 


The reigning King of Bavaria is Otto I, a man whose state of mental alienation is dark and terrible. He lives since his accession, as he had lived before, shut up in the small palace of Furstenreid, about two hours distant from Munich. Of late years his malady has taken the form of stupor, though there are still occasional outbreaks of violence. There was from the beginning no prospect of recovery or even of improvement in his case, although it was foreseen that his merely animal existence might continue for a long time. He occupies a suite of apartments on the ground floor, the doors of which, as well as the outside door leading into the garden, are always left open in the day-time, as a closed door immediately excites his fage. He seems suspicious of restraint, and his attendants conceal as much as pos- sible an appearance of authority over his movements. Once he broke all the front windows of his apartments, and since then the glass has been protected by wire ; and otherwise there is nothing to indicate that a lunatic inhabits the premises. The rooms are handsomely furnished, and everything that can amuse the patient is promptly supplied. 

The King is always dressed in black. His beard is very long and thick, and he will not allow it to be trimmed. He often washes his face and hands, but can seldom be persuaded to take a full bath. He is extremely fond of cigarettes, and smokes about thirty a day — enough in itself to make him crazy and keep him so ! Every time he lights a cigarette he burns a whole box of matches, and seems to enjoy the noise and flame. He often walks out in the park, but is very unwilling to drive out, probably because it annoys him to be looked at by people in the road. The sensational reports which appear occasionally in the papers concerning King Otto are, for the most part, false. The truth is, he has no marked desire for anything. His gaze is generally fixed on vacancy, and he does not appear to recognize even his servants, excepting an old woman who has charge of the silver. He has known her all his life ; she used to carry him in her arms when he was a baby, and it is touching to see how the last faint rays of his fading intelligence rest upon her alone. When he sees her he calls her name in a loud tone, and orders her to bring him a glass of beer or whatever he may happen to think of, but he soon forgets what he has said, and relapses into his usual state of apathy. 

Two of the most prominent physicians of Munich are in attendance on alternate weeks, and every Sunday the Director of the Insane Asylum visits the Palace to examine him and make the medical report. At rare intervals the King speaks coherently to his attendants, and it is said that soon after his accession to the throne he remarked to a lackey, " Henceforth, you must address me as your Majesty." But this story does not appear to be well founded, and it is certain that when Princess Theresa went from the death-bed of the Queen mother to apprise the son of his loss, he showed no signs of comprehension, and was unmoved by the grief of the Princess, whose tears were doubtless more for the living than for the dead.

The reign of the mad King, unfortunately for the country and the people, promises to continue for sometime. The marvelous Wittelsbach strength, has enabled him to recover from the effects of the physical weakness which overcame him a short time ago. He may live for years in the semi-conscious state in which he is found a great part of the time. As a matter of course, he has the best medical care and attendance possible, and the physicians do all in their power to prolong his unhappy and miserable existence. No other course is possible, but his death would be a relief to the country and to Germany. Although, as I said above, he is unable to recognize his relatives, attendants, or friends, and remains for hours mo- tionless in his padded room, he has lucid intervals. Not a great while ago he suddenly recognized his attendants and became cognizant of his lofty position. A cavalier about the castle asked him if he did not wish to show himself to his subjects in Munich. 

" Gladly, gladly would I go to Munich," he replied, with a look of irrepressible sadness in his eyes, " but my people wish to see a well King, and I am sick. Yes, yes, yes, I am sick, and these terrible fancies will not leave me." 

Upon another occasion he demanded suddenly that his attendants take him to his capital. In order to avoid an attack of violent excitement probable in case of a refusal, a court carriage was summoned to the castle steps. The King, one of the physicians, and an attendant, clad in royal livery to avoid suspicion, entered the coach, which started on its journey. Looking out of the window, the King saw a meadow almost covered with variously-hued flowers. He expressed a desire to gather a bouquet to present to his mother, and the coachman stopped while he plucked the flowers. But the work was too tiring, and he returned to the carriage completely exhausted. He was taken back to the castle and placed in bed. When he awoke on the following morning his reason was again clouded, and he had entirely forgot the journey to Munich. 

The greatest difficulty which confronts the King's physicians is to persuade him to eat. At times the doctors take advantage of his weakness for cigarettes to urge him to take some food. Upon one occasion they placed a package of cigarettes on the table next to his plate. When the King entered the dining-room he rushed at once toward the cigarettes, but the attendant physician quickly threw a napkin over them, saying at the same time, "The cigarettes, Your Majesty, must follow the dinner." Keeping the tobacco in sight during the meal-time, the doctor induced the King to eat some nourishing food. He received his reward at the proper time. But such subterfuges are not always successful. Although the good Bavarians celebrate his natal day with becoming loyalty, they would one and all welcome his death as a deliverance to the country. Prince Leopold, the Regent, is popular, and his son promises to become one of the most enlightened monarchs who have sat upon South German thrones. [:::] "

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