Friday, August 7, 2009

Leopold's Tribute to Louise-Marie

I have posted before on the holy death of Louise-Marie of Orléans, first Queen of the Belgians. Here is a speech delivered by her husband, King Leopold I, on this occasion. The Belgian Senate and Chamber of Representatives had presented their condolences to the monarch. He answered the Chamber in a voice full of emotion:
From the bottom of my heart I thank the Chamber of Representatives for this address, wherein it expresses in so touching, exalted, and tender a manner its regret for the queen, and its feelings towards me. The country has shared my sorrow as if it had lost all I have lost myself. I cannot tell you how this feeling on the part of the country has touched me, and how deeply grateful I am for it. You are right, gentlemen, to speak of the queen as you do. She was attached heart and soul to her new country; in you she found to love those qualities which she herself possessed in the highest degree—steadiness and constancy in your affections. I look to you, gentlemen, and to the country, its happiness and progress, for the consolation I have need of. The ideas I expressed even before my arrival in Belgium with respect to the future have been realized. The country has lived, and has grown. It now offers to our sight no longer the uncertain promise of infancy, but the florid and robust health of youth. All the most ardent desires of my heart are for your future prosperity. My children, who will be with you when I shall be so no more, will continue my task, and your interests will be their only thought. There will be between them and you the same sympathy which exists between us, gentlemen, and which every year as it rolls away renders still stronger and still deeper.

(Memoirs of Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 1868, Theodore Juste, pp. 242-243)

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