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Necrology of Dom Pedro II (1891)

Necrology of Dom Pedro II (1891)

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In his necrology of Dom Pedro II, a close friend of the French writer George Sand confides many unpublished details about the emperor's life.

Necrology of Dom Pedro II by Edmond Planchut. 12 pages. In French. 13.6 cm x 21.2 cm. France, Cannes region, 1891. Excellent condition. Single piece.


Only in the 19th century, how many kings, powerful emperors, similar to cedar, as the poet says, saw the scythe fall on their proud heads and were swept away as a result of a revolutionary turbulence? (...) Among all these dispossessed sovereigns of various titles, there is certainly one who is an exception, a notable exception: Dom Pedro de Alcântara, the Emperor of Brazil.

I will therefore only make a sketch of the Prince, and this sketch will describe him as I saw him, when I had the honor of being admitted, during the last winters he spent in France. It was Cannes, of all the winter seasons presented to him, that he loved best. My conviction is that the outcast nobleman came less to enjoy a mild temperature and the rays of a life-giving sun, than to look on the horizon of the blue gulf that runs there, a steamy view of the bay of Rio de Janeiro (...) .

After a few minutes of conversation with Dom Pedro, in the lounge of the hotel whose first floor he occupied, we were convinced that what worried him least was - not his empire - but the lost crown (...). At one of the sessions of the city's literary society, which he never failed to attend, a talented poet, M. Liegeant thought it his duty to make in its presence the history of his political life. The emperor, deeply moved, politely thanked the orator, but this return to a past that he tried to forget, affected him a lot: he was even, for a few days, seriously ill. It was said, and when the same society summoned him again, they spoke only of travel, natural history and archaeology.

In the living room I spoke of (...), the tables, sofas, chairs (...) were covered with newspapers, magazines, novels of the day, photographs and opera scores. There were still the books in Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, English and Portuguese which he translated fluently and which he liked to read passages from as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

This emperor was enthusiastic about poetry and came to judge Victor Hugo, who visited Paris several times, as the greatest of French poets.

He had a deep dislike of novelists and the new realist school. He did not deny them an enormous talent, but, like so many others, he wondered where it was necessary to pretend and see humanity only from its abject sides. He compared them to Walter Scott, Octave Feuillet and especially to George Sand, who he considered the greatest female writer, the most literary genius of the century. And then he quoted me, as he had a prodigious memory, what the illustrious writer wrote (...).

(...) He had told George Sand of his desire to meet and greet her at Berry, at Nohant Castle, where she lived. Dom Pedro's request (...) was unsuccessful. Madame Sand, who had a great simplicity of tastes, feared that her dwelling, more rural than manor, would not have all the comforts to which she supposed a sovereign accustomed, feigned an impediment. When I commented to his majesty that I had always been Nohant's host, the Emperor renewed his deep regret for not having met the illustrious writer. Then, having learned that I had always maintained friendly relations with his two granddaughters, Aurore and Gabrielle, he asked me to tell them, with much insistence, the admiration he had for their illustrious grandmother.

No existence was calmer, better organized than that of Emperor Dom Pedro de Alcântara. With the exception of the temporary discomfort I mentioned, we never saw him sick.

Every day, unless the wind was very strong, the Emperor went out (...) ; He was invariably accompanied by his doctor and his valet. No medal on his jacket (...). He would have himself driven along the road to Antibes or Frejus, invariably returning along a beautiful promenade that runs along the sea and is called La Croisette, (...), with a firm and fast pace. When he met a familiar face on his way, he would stop and, after a cordial exchange with a handshake, he would continue his walk until lunch. A part of the afternoon was devoted to her, Madame Countess of Anjou, on a new drive.

Evenings, with a few close friends, took place around a pool table in the hotel. He could be invited to an elegant party in one of those marvelous Cannes villas. Miss Ruth Mercier, a watercolorist of immense talent, might invite him to an exhibition of her paintings. Or else he was called to a charity work, a concert, the performance of an unpublished play, Dom Pedro never failed to go. The same happened when a renowned artist came to play at the city's theater. He paid for tickets like a mere mortal and, as such, very modest, the best seats were not reserved for him. One night he was satisfied with an isolated seat (...), whose entrance was bristling with irregular marches. More than one spectator was sad, only the Emperor did not seem to care (...).

Photographers and painters approached him incessantly and, so great was his kindness, he always indulged. He was about fifty years old, really very handsome. One day, when he was posing for a painter friend of mine, his majesty said to me in a foreign language, so as not to be understood by the artist:

"Which hands is this man painting, see if they look like mine?"

All those hobbies to which he lent himself out of kindness, and also out of love for everything that was far or near literature and science, did not prevent him from following with interest what was happening under the dome of the Institute. It was when leaving, barely covered, one of the sessions of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, of which he was a member, that a shudder gripped him and carried him to his tomb.

As in previous years, if he had taken the sunny path of the Cote d'Azur before the first chills of winter, Dom Pedro would still have been one of the most beloved guests. It should be added that the repercussions of the disturbances that once again shook Brazil reached him more quickly in Paris than on a distant beach, and this was undoubtedly what made him postpone his departure for Cannes. He should live there just for the memory and the void he left there. As I write these lines, friends (...) announce to me with sad surprise that they find less animation in the vicinity of Cannes than in the past and, on the charming promenade of the Croisette, a less lively crowd than in previous years.

The absence or departure of a person, even the Emperor of Brazil, certainly cannot be the cause of the emptiness that my friends perceive. However, when every day, at the same time, on the same walk and for years, the eyes have become accustomed to meeting a beloved face, or one of those august personages who, like Don Pedro, inspire sympathy, it is natural that the habit ceases. , we feel sadness as a great emptiness for the heart.

Edmond Planchut was a journalist and adventurer, a close friend of the brilliant and scandalous French writer George Sand (1804 - 1876) and her daughters. Sand was a pioneering feminist that Dom Pedro II admired, which Princess Isabel disapproved of, as evidenced by a letter from her to her father: "Not a line for me, and find time to go visit George Sand, a woman of great talent, is true, but also so immoral! (...) No matter how little incognito it may be, one always knows who Don Pedro de Alcântara is, and mustn't he be, above all, a good Catholic and, therefore, keep the what is immoral?"

This text is a precious testimony about the Emperor of Brazil, written by someone who lived directly with him in Cannes, for months, in the south of France. The emperor's simple tastes and modesty, despite his prestige and immense culture, his admiration for the writers George Sand and Victor Hugo, the pleasure of coming to Cannes for long walks, his longing for Brazil and its people and, finally, the circumstances of his death and the impact it had on France call the attention of the reader who has this exceptional document in his hands.

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