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Title: Prison Journals During the French Revolution
Author: Duras, duchesse de, Durfort, Louise Henriette Charlotte Philippine (de Noailles) de
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Translated by Mrs. M. Carey

New York
Dodd, Mead And Company


Copyright, 1891,
By Dodd, Mead and Company.

All rights reserved.

University Press:
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge.




            ADDENDA                                     139
            MADAME LATOUR'S MEMOIR                      159
            EVENTS OF THE 21ST OF JULY, 1794            199
                OF JULY 22, 1794                        209
                NÉE NOAILLES, TO MONSIEUR GRELET        227
                APRIL 24, 1809                          229

                         PRISON LIFE DURING THE
                           FRENCH REVOLUTION.

I was put under arrest, together with my father and mother, on August
23, 1793, at our château of Mouchy-le-Châtel, in the Department of the
Oise. I was taken to the prison at Saint-François à Beauvais, in the
old convent, on the 6th of October of the same year and to that at
Chantilly on the 20th of the same month. There I remained until the 5th
of April, 1794, when I was transferred to Paris, to the Collège du
Plessis, from which I was liberated on the 19th of the following


                         PRISON LIFE DURING THE
                           FRENCH REVOLUTION.

                    WRITTEN IN 1801, THE YEAR IX. OF
                             THE REPUBLIC.

The period of my confinement in different prisons during the Reign of
Terror was so harassing that the idea of writing out its details did
not then occur to me; but when I had the consolation of seeing my son
once more, he was desirous of learning all about it. I feared that I
should be overcome by my feelings if I tried to relate the details to
him, and consequently determined to write the following memoirs.

My parents retired to their estate of Mouchy-le-Châtel, in the
Department of the Oise, in the month of September, 1792. I accompanied
them thither, and was their sole companion. They resolved, from
prudential motives, to receive visits from no one. This privation cost
my father nothing, for he was naturally shy, though the positions he
had occupied had forced him to live constantly in the great world. My
mother, who loved him dearly, accustomed herself to retirement with
submission to the will of Providence, with the naturally happy
disposition maintained through all the events of her life.

She loved system in all things, and she introduced it so successfully
into our daily life that it passed rapidly. Reading, work, play, and
walking filled up every moment. My parents took pleasure in furnishing
refreshment to the harvesters during their weary labour, in
sympathizing with their troubles, and in helping them by kindnesses. In
spite of the position in which the Revolution placed my father, and the
natural repugnance which he declared he felt for those who were engaged
in it, he gave volunteers the means of paying their way. My father had,
if I may so express myself, a passion for charity. His hands were
always ready to bestow, and whenever he received a sum of money he
would in a few hours declare, with satisfaction, that he had none of it

He could keep nothing when he knew that others were suffering; hospital
visiting, aid rendered in private, all sorts of kind deeds and
comforting words,--in fact all good works were familiar to him; in
these alone he found happiness.

I have seen him refuse things which he might have considered necessary
for himself in order to add to the number of his charities. Yet my
father was born with a very unhappy disposition; the fortune, the
honours, and all the pleasures that his position secured him were
spoiled by the most miserable discontent. I frequently endeavoured,
firmly and respectfully, to show him that Heaven had bestowed every
gift upon him, and that nothing was wanting to his position. He
listened patiently to what I had to say; but I did not succeed in
convincing him. I worried myself and gained nothing. My mother, on the
contrary, often said to me that if she should return to society she
would not desire to change her manner of living in the least. She had a
charmingly happy disposition, and was never out of humour for a moment.

Several times during the Revolution it was proposed that I should
emigrate. One of my relatives sent for me at different periods, and
urged me to consent to do so. I always refused, having a great
repugnance to leaving my country, and desiring to watch over the old
age of my parents, who were already separated from some of their

How great would have been my regret had I not remained with them up to
the moment when I was deprived of my liberty. I shall retain to my
latest breath the memory of their kindness, and the tenderest gratitude
for the good example and daily lessons in virtue which I received from

But to return to the details of our family life at Mouchy. Every day I
was filled with wonder to see my father, who from his youth had been
accustomed to command (he had at the age of seven been given the
reversion of the governorship of Versailles, after his father's death),
obey without complaint the Revolutionary laws and all those who
executed them. Everything worried him under the old régime, yet during
the Reign of Terror he was calm because he was entirely resigned to the
will of God. Religion had regulated all the actions of his life. It was
really, for him, eternal happiness.

We suffered great anxiety during our sojourn at Mouchy. We were utterly
ignorant of the fate of my elder brother.[1] A price had been put on
his head and the notice of it posted at the corners of the streets of
Paris, and the newspapers had stated that he had been guillotined. One
afternoon, in the month of October (the 10th), we saw approaching us
quite a large body of troops composed of Hussars and National Guards
from different villages of the estate of Mouchy. It was preceded by a
commissioner of the Committee of General Security, named Landry, who
came to arrest my brother, believing that he was concealed in the
castle. We were surprised, but not frightened. It was absurd to suppose
that he would have chosen his own father's house for his hiding-place.
They searched everywhere under pretext of taking him and of seizing
arms, but they found nothing.

The official report made by the commissioner and the municipality
proves this.

The drawing up of the report and the search lasted from five o'clock in
the evening to eleven. Landry, called upon my father to denounce his
son, though he could not even know whether he was alive or not. He
answered with much dignity that such a demand was as harsh as it was
unusual, and that he would not accede to it; yet he asked Landry, to
take something to eat, and lent him one of his saddle horses to take
him back to his carriage. My father, who was naturally very fiery, knew
how to control himself when the importance of the occasion required it.

The officer of the Hussars who commanded the detachment was a very
excellent man. He told us that he was marching with his troop along the
highway from Beauvais, to Paris; that being required by the
commissioner of the Committee of General Security to accompany him to
Mouchy, he had been obliged to obey him, though with great repugnance,
and that he came with the kindest intentions possible. He gave me an
immediate proof of this; for he whispered in my ear that if my brother
was in the house he would advise me to hasten his escape, and that he
would be very glad of it. I have retained a feeling of real gratitude
for this officer, whose name I do not know; he was from the region of

The intense animosity which was shown in the attempt to capture my
brother increased our anxiety concerning our own fate. A report,
circulated by the newspapers, that he was in England somewhat allayed
our anxiety; and Monsieur Noël (my father's man of business, who has
given proof of the strongest attachment to our family) afterward
assured us of its truth. When he entered the drawing-room we were much
agitated, not knowing what news he was about to announce to us.

Various accounts have been given of the manner in which my brother
escaped the scaffold. Some have said that he escaped from prison by the
payment of a hundred thousand crowns to Manuel, then Procureur, of the
Commune; others, that he left Paris disguised as a wagoner, and had
been seen passing along several roads.

The truth is that he was never arrested, and that he found good and
brave men who were kind enough to hide him in their houses; that he
remained for several hours in the very top of the Louvre, stretched
upon a beam, at the very moment when the famous search of September,
1792, was made; and that afterward he escaped by means of a passport to
Granville, where Monsieur Mauduit, his son's old tutor, a naval
commissioner, assisted him to embark for Dover.

Monsieur Mauduit, was guillotined, but he made no mention of my
brother's affairs at his trial. My poor brother, having sailed from
port, thought he had escaped death. A storm compelled his vessel to
return to the port. He was obliged to hide himself in a place so close
that his suffering for want of air came near causing him to betray
himself. The search ended just in time to save his life, and he again
set sail. It is also false that he used large sums of money to get out
of his danger. He was not forced to spend more than two thousand
crowns. The knowledge that he was out of danger diminished our daily
increasing anxiety.

We had peaceful consciences, but the condition of affairs was becoming
very threatening, and the future very disturbing. We often talked it
over. I had the comfort of alleviating the situation of my dear
parents, and they showed great pleasure in receiving my attentions. I
concealed from them the terrible thoughts which constantly came to my
mind, and occupied myself in distracting them from those by which they
were sometimes agitated. We had not even the consolation of religious
worship, the curate of the parish having taken the oath to the civil
constitution exacted from the clergy; but we had had until our arrest
opportunity to hear Mass from a Catholic priest. I prayed to God with
all my heart for grace sufficient to endure all the terrible things
that I foresaw in our future experience. About the 15th of August,
1793, Collot d'Herbois, and Isoré were sent _en mission_ into the
Departments of the Aisne and the Oise. They immediately put into
execution there the decree regarding suspects, though this was not done
in Paris until the 18th of the following September. Consequently all
the priests and nobles were arrested. On the 23d of August the
municipality of Mouchy, notified us of the order to remain under arrest
in our residences until the houses of confinement were ready to receive
us. The mayor, who was a zealous patriot, disposed to enforce an
extreme rather than a moderate execution of the severe laws, told us
that this was a measure for the public safety,--a phrase much in use
during the Reign of Terror,--and that we need not be alarmed. We were
allowed a space of a hundred paces in the park to walk in, and the free
use of the courtyard, provided the grating was closed. We went there
sometimes to talk with the people. This way of living was only an
apprenticeship to the slavery that was impending. One quite singular
fact was that, the population of Mouchy, being small, our own
dependents acted National Guardsmen, and stood sentinel at our gates. I
suppose there were those among them who took pleasure in doing this;
for charity's sake I pass over their conduct in silence.

A very few of them, however, gave my parents strong proof of their
attachment. I will give a list of their names at the end of these

The municipality of Mouchy, sent a petition to the Department of the
Oise, asking to be allowed to keep us within its limits and on its own
responsibility. It referred in kindly terms to our wise and prudent
conduct, and to our submission to the laws. The Department of the Oise,
acceded to the petition relative to my parents; but they did not
consider me old enough, and it had been said at Beauvais, that they
wished to have a titled woman at Chantilly. Consequently a sergeant of
the national gendarmes came with four horsemen to take me to Beauvais.
I was at that moment sick in bed. The village surgeon, named Marais,
and my father's physician considered that I was in no condition to be
moved; but their attestations were not sufficient, and the sergeant
sent for the physician of the Department, who decided that it was
necessary for me to remain at Mouchy, and drew up an official paper in
regard to my condition. I remained about five weeks to recuperate,
during which time several petitions were sent to the Department in my
favour. Monsieur Legendre went to see Collot d'Herbois, and Isoré. But
all these efforts were fruitless.

I was so fully persuaded that I was going to be incarcerated that I
packed up all my belongings, and hoped that my punishment would suffice
for all. It cost me great suffering to leave my honoured parents to
whom I had the comfort of being useful.

I was a little better, and had been for a few days going down into the
courtyard to take the air, when I saw a man arrive dressed in the
uniform of the National Guard,--he was the commander of the Guard at
Beauvais, and his name was Poulain. I immediately suspected with what
mission he was charged, and arranged with him that my parents should
not know of the time of my departure. We agreed that at a signal which
he would give me I should under some pretext leave the drawing-room and
not return to it. It was important that my parents should not undergo
too much emotion. I went up to them quietly and told them of my arrest.
At first they bore the announcement bravely. I avoided saying anything
to them which could agitate them, and conversed with the officer upon
ordinary subjects. He searched neither my packages nor my papers. At
last the moment came when I was obliged to leave them.

I seemed to foresee that I should never again behold my parents.

I went away, saying nothing, but feeling broken-hearted. I felt as
though my limbs were giving way under me. And that scene of grief,
which I am describing on the very spot where it took place, still
causes me deep emotion as I recall it; but there are feelings which it
is impossible to express. I have been told since, and Madame Latour
also relates it in her journal, that my father and mother remained in a
frightful state of dejection; they would take no nourishment, and
passed the nights weeping and constantly reiterating that they had been
deprived of half their existence when their dear daughter was taken

It was on the 6th of October, 1793, that I left Mouchy, at five o'clock
in the evening, in one of my father's carriages, with Monsieur Poulain
and my maid. We reached Beauvais, after a drive of two hours. The
carriage tilted as we drove along; the officer endeavoured to assure me
there was no danger. I somewhat insolently replied, 'I fear God, dear
Abner, and have no other fear.'[2]

I was, however, suffering intensely inwardly. Fortunately the darkness
concealed the tears that fell from my eyes. I prayed Heaven earnestly
to sustain my courage.

The officer had orders to have me alight at the prison. He went to the
Revolutionary committee to ask permission for me to spend the night at
his house; it was granted him. I learned afterward that this kind act,
done without my knowledge, and the irreproachable manner in which he
had treated me had brought persecution upon him, and that he had been
obliged to flee from Beauvais. His wife received me very politely. She
tried to make me take some supper; I accepted a very little, but it may
easily be imagined that my appetite was not of the best. I passed a
wretched night. The desolate situation of my parents weighed constantly
upon my mind and heart,--their age, their loneliness (they who so short
a time before had been surrounded by so many relatives and friends),
and the uncertainty of their future, which left so much to be feared.

I did not have the grief of awakening, so terrible to the unhappy. I
received all sorts of care from my kind hostess, who had me breakfast
with her husband and herself. After that I set out for a convent of
nuns of the third order of Saint Francis, which was occupied by some
sick soldiers, and by prisoners who were placed here temporarily until
a sufficient number were collected to form a convoy and be sent to
Chantilly. I entered a drawing-room where the company was assembled; it
was composed of ecclesiastics, a few nobles, and some women. The most
important ones were, among others, a man named Poter, head of the
manufactory of Chantilly, a nun, a sutler, etc. They scrutinized my
countenance. I took pains to please my new companions, and then asked
to be conducted to my lodging-room, which was a former linen closet,
far away from every one, so that if I had wanted anything it would have
been impossible for me to make myself heard.

Monsieur Allou, our neighbour from Mouchy, who frequently came to see
my parents, rendered me all the service in his power, and persuaded me
to have a young girl, a prisoner, sleep in my apartment. I agreed,
though with extreme reluctance, for I greatly preferred being alone.
Sad thoughts prevented my sleeping, besides my being so unaccustomed to
lying upon sacking for a bed. I at once had to give up the habit of
having a light, upon which I was very dependent; but being destined to
undergo great privations, I from that moment renounced the conveniences
of life and set myself to learn how to attend to my own wants. As a
beginning, I made some chocolate, which was horrible. Seeing my
incapacity, I took some lessons, and after a day or two I ventured to
invite one of my neighbours to breakfast; and she felt herself obliged,
for politeness' sake, to praise my new talent. I arranged my
employments so that the days might not seem so long. I read, I wrote,
and I fixed a certain time to walk in the cloisters. They were always
filled with the odour of sulphur, which was much used in the house for
treating the soldiers afflicted with the itch. The air was not good on
account of the gutters of stagnant water which crossed the yard. We
were not allowed to go into the garden; it was appropriated to the use
of the convalescents. The old chapel of the nuns was still in
existence, and most of the prisoners went there to say their prayers. I
sometimes thought how great in the eyes of Heaven must be the
difference between us and the pure spirits who had gone there before
us. They had voluntarily given up their liberty to consecrate it to
God, while I felt that the loss of mine was a great sacrifice. Formerly
the walls of this sacred place echoed only the praises of God, and now
within them the soldiers blasphemed undisturbed. One day while I was at
confession I was deafened by the songs of the Terror, the guardhouse of
the Revolutionary army being just back of my room.

Among the prisoners there were some venerable priests, who set us an
example of perfect submission to the will of Providence. I tried hard
to imitate them. Shortly after my arrival at St. François the steward
of Mouchy, named Legendre (whom I shall set down at the end of these
memoirs among those persons who have been most devoted to us), was
arrested and thrown into our prison on account of his attachment to my
parents. I was particularly distressed at this, because if I had sent
warning to him at Beauvais, when Monsieur Poulain came to arrest me at
Mouchy, he would have had time to escape. I told him all I felt on this
point. I shall have occasion to speak of him again more than once.

Upon a petition from Monsieur Poulain to the Revolutionary committee of
Beauvais, my waiting-woman (Mademoiselle Dubois) was granted permission
to come for an hour each day to St. François, to assist me in making my
toilet. To that I have never attached the slightest importance; but it
was a real satisfaction to me to receive through her some tidings from
my parents, and to send them information concerning myself, and which
they too received with kindest interest. Imagine how terrible a shock
it was to me when I heard through Monsieur Allou, our neighbour from
Mouchy, that they had been carried off on the 16th of October, by order
of the Committee of General Security and taken to Paris to the great
prison of La Force. I knew none of the details (they are recounted in
Madame Latour's memoirs), and was completely overwhelmed. This poor man
was moved also, and we wept together. I had hoped that the advanced age
of my parents, their virtues, and the voice of the poor would appease
the anger of the established authorities; but Robespierre, having
learned that the great proprietors who had estates in the environs, had
retired to them, and were living quietly upon them, resolved to drive
them away and have them put in prison.

My parents passed only twenty-four hours in La Force. They were
transferred to the Luxembourg, which they left only to pass into

Every day I heard sad news through prisoners who read the public
papers, and who desired to communicate it to me. I refused to listen,
thinking that to do so was only to incur additional pain. One day, when
I was wondering what my parents were undergoing, I saw enter the
cloister Monsieur d'Aryon, a captain of the National Guard (a very
honest man, to whom I was afterward under many obligations), who seemed
anxious not to meet me, so entirely was he dismayed by his mission. He
sent a prisoner to deliver to me my order of imprisonment, of which the
following is a copy:--

                                         BEAUVAIS, this 19th of October,
                                             28th day of the 2d month of
                                           the year II. of the Republic.

You are informed that you are to start for Chantilly on the night of
this day, Saturday to Sunday. You would do well to make all your
preparations to take with you everything absolutely necessary to you.

If you have occasion to procure a carriage, let me know.


                                                     E. PORTIER. MICHEL,
                                                         TAQUET, DUFOUR,
                                            _Procureur, of the Commune_.

To Madame Duras [la dame Duras], whose carriage is at the Golden Lion.
She can use it if she wishes to do so.

It was addressed to 'Madame Duras, St. François.'

As soon as we had been informed of the order to leave, we became
anxious to know whether all the prisoners at St. François were to be of
the party. Only a portion of them were destined at that time for
Chantilly. We passed the whole day in packing our belongings. Mine were
taken there from Mouchy, which spared me for that time the worry of
moving them, to which I was afterward compelled to accustom myself. I
forgot to say that the keeper of St. François was the most humane of
all under whom I was placed. I could not determine whether I was sorry
or glad to change my prison. Those to which I was going were infinitely
more wretched; but I did not then know their terrible methods.

About eleven o'clock at night we were told to get into the carriage,
but the train did not start till midnight. It was composed of wagons
and carriages of different sorts. I took in mine Monsieur de Reignac,
an officer of the King's Constitutional Guard, who was afterward
guillotined, a nun from the Hôtel-Dieu at Beauvais, and my
waiting-woman. My coachman, to whom this journey was exceedingly
distressing, wept the whole way. We were escorted by the Beauvais,
National Guard, part on foot and part on horseback. As it was moonlight
the people came out in front of their doors to hoot at us and throw
stones at us. The train which had preceded us had been insulted
infinitely worse. Monsieur Descourtils, an old and very estimable
soldier, who had on all occasions rendered services to the town of
Beauvais, and also Monsieur Wallon, the kind patron of the poor, were
treated in the most outrageous manner.

Our procession moved so slowly, and we stopped so often, that we did
not reach Clermont until eleven o'clock in the morning, after having
come six leagues. My nun, who was not accustomed to travelling in a
carriage, was almost nauseated all the way. I read throughout almost
the whole journey.

We dined at an inn in Clermont. The people watched us dismount with an
expression of pity. This feeling, which it is generally so undesirable
to inspire, gave us pleasure on account of its rarity during the Reign
of Terror. Nothing worthy of remark took place during our short stay at
Clermont, unless it was the manner in which we were guarded. Our
escort, being obliged to rest and get something to eat, confided us to
the care of the National Guard of the city, among whom there were some
prisoners who had been placed there to increase the size of the troop.
The vicinity of Fitz-James made me sadly recall memories of the past. I
had been so happy there from my earliest childhood; now nothing was
left me but to regret it; all those with whom I had spent my life there
were either dead or gone away. But while I was giving way to these sad
thoughts, we were told it was time to leave. The train started, and we
reached Chantilly at three o'clock.

It would be difficult to describe the confusion caused by the unpacking
of the many vehicles loaded with mattresses and other things belonging
to the prisoners, all thrown haphazard in the court, without other
order than to unload them, and that the bundles should not be taken
upstairs till the next day, when there would be time to examine them.

Consequently it was the custom to go to bed on a chair the first night,
after a very scanty supper, or to accept the mattress of some prisoner
willing to deprive himself of it. As we passed the iron grating at the
entrance of the place, I recalled the 2d of September, and said to
Monsieur de Reignac that it was quite probable that we were being
gathered together to be made to submit to the same fate; he seemed to
think so too. Several attempts had been made to invent conspiracies,
which had in fact no real existence at Chantilly any more than in other
prisons. In order to render the name prison less terrible, they were
called houses of arrest, of justice, of detention, etc.; but as during
the Reign of Terror these words were synonyms, I shall make use of them
without distinction. The whole party was taken into a beautifully
gilded chapel, where I had heard Mass in the time of the Prince de
Condé. It was quite filled with bags of flour; I found one which was
placed in a comfortable position, and seated myself on it. Then the
steward of the house, by name Notté, member for the Department of the
Oise, mounted on the altar steps to call the roll, holding in his hand
the list of those who composed the party; he had on his right a man
named Marchand (who was the son of a very respectable waiting-woman of
my aunt, Madame la Maréchale de Noailles), an agent of the
Revolutionary army, who was in the confidence of the Committee of
Public Safety. He seemed to take pleasure, as the names of the priests
and nobles were called, in saying the harshest and most cutting things
to them. A village vicar from the environs of Beauvais, and I had the
worst of it all. This poor priest was quite in a tremor; but as for me,
I did not mind it at all. This man Marchand asked Notté if he had taken
care to see that I was very poorly lodged, and he replied that he had
selected for me the smallest room to be had. When the roll-call was
over, Mademoiselle Dubois, my waiting-woman, asked permission to remain
in prison with me. The commissioners refused her request, and declared
their determination of sending away all those not prisoners who up to
that time had remained in the place. She was much grieved at parting
from me. I was not sorry to give her up, for I had been extremely
worried to see her suffering and deprived of liberty on account of her
attachment to me. I remember with gratitude the feeling she showed for
me at that time, and I am very glad to record it in this memoir. After
a very long and wearisome discussion we left the chapel, quite curious
to see our new quarters. I was agreeably surprised when they conducted
me to a small room, neat and prettily gilded, where I was to be alone.
Notté had had the good manners to keep it for me. I valued it the more
when I saw the lodgings of my travelling companions. Several prisoners
came to see me. I was not acquainted with one of them. I seemed to have
been shipwrecked on an island inhabited by good people. They welcomed
me heartily, and I was permitted to have my belongings, which had come
from Mouchy, sent up to me at once. Consequently I had the pleasure of
sleeping on a bed,--a rare thing on the day of one's arrival. Several
of my neighbours were kind enough to help me make it up. I was quite
overcome, and terribly fatigued. I received all these kindnesses as
graciously as possible, but was impatient to be left to repose.
Mademoiselle de Pons, now Madame de Tourzel, came with a message from
her mother, asking me to supper; and Madame de Chevigné invited me to
breakfast next morning. I accepted the second invitation with pleasure.
I had never known these ladies intimately. They were the only ones
belonging to the court who were in the house. I had only met them at
the houses of my acquaintances.

The fatigue I had undergone the day before made me sleep. I had
scarcely risen when Mademoiselle Lèfvre, the sister-in-law of the
steward of Mouchy, came to my room to give me information
concerning the inhabitants of our prison, and advice about my own
arrangements,--all of which was very useful to me. It is a very sad
thing to find oneself utterly alone in the midst of a crowd.
Monsieur Notté paid me a visit; I did not find his face so severe
as it had seemed on the arrival of our party, when he stood beside
the commissioner of the Revolutionary army. He spoke pleasantly to
me, and told me that, as the prisoners were very much crowded in
their lodgings, he thought it best to put some one with me in a
little cabinet which was under my control. In order to enter it one
had to pass through my room. He allowed me to select the person,
and I chose the hospital sister who had come from Beauvais, with
me. She was a good woman, the daughter of a village farrier,
without education, but a great help to me in the daily needs of
life. I had an opportunity to show her my gratitude for it all
during a severe illness of hers, when I acted not only as her
nurse, but also as her physician, as she was not willing to see a
doctor. She frequently gave me proof of the fact that when one has
not received certain ideas in youth it is impossible to comprehend
some of the simplest things. I would alter my phrases in every
possible way in order to enable her to understand what I
meant,--among other things respect for opinion, etc. She remained
with me until I was removed to Paris, and was never annoying to me.
This was a great blessing, since our companionship was enforced. I
soon began to pay visits among our colony, which was composed of
very incongruous material. There were priests, nobles, nuns,
magistrates, soldiers, merchants, and a large number of what were
called 'sans-culottes,' from all parts of the country, and who were
excellent people. I had near me a mail-carrier, a barmaid, and
other domestics, whom I highly esteemed. They had become greatly
attached to a venerable curate from Beauvais who lodged with them.
They called him their father, rendered him many services, and took
perfect care of him during a serious illness which he had while in
prison. I first learned something of the character and habits of
our companions, and which of them seemed most honest. They told me
that we had among us samples of all sorts of persons and opinions.
There were priests, real confessors of Jesus Christ, to be revered
on account of their patience and their charity, others who had
renounced their profession, and declared from the pulpit that they
had formerly only uttered fables. One of these unprincipled
priests, a man still very young, who had served in a regiment,
often said that he did not know why he was kept in prison, for on
every occasion since the Revolution he had done whatever he had
been desired to do. When civic festivals were given in the village
of Chantilly he had been the composer of couplets. He wore
habitually the national uniform. We had two abbesses,--the abbess
of the Parc-aux-Dames and the abbess of Royal-Lieu, Madame de
Soulanges, who was nearly eighty years old, and had been
under-governess to Madame Louise at Fontevrault, and was tenderly
beloved by her. During her sojourns in Compèigne the princess used
to go to see her every day. (Madame Louise, daughter of Louis XV.,
a Carmelite at St. Denis, had been brought up at the abbey of
Fontevrault, together with Madame Victoire and Madame Sophie.)

I discovered, soon after my arrival at Chantilly that loss of liberty
unites neither minds nor hearts, and that people are the same in prison
as in the world at large,--jealous, intriguing, false; for there were
among us many spies,--an epithet, however, which was often lightly
bestowed. I endeavoured to be polite to every one, and intimate only
with a very small circle.

I made some visits every day, and received visitors after dinner,
during which time I also worked. Sometimes some patriots whom I
recognized quite well, pretended to be aristocrats, so as to make me
talk; it was without doubt the most disagreeable part of the day. The
time passed without great weariness, for I filled it up with prayer and
reading, and a little walking in a courtyard, walled on four sides, and
very dreary looking. At first we were able to go to the grating and
talk with persons outside; but it was not desired that we should do
this, and to prevent it planks were placed over the grating. These
concealed the outer view and made communication impossible. On the
third story there were terraces on the leads, upon which all our
windows opened; and these windows, in several instances, also served as
doors; only one person could pass through them at a time. It was really
a comical sight, this file of prisoners, dressed in all sorts of
costumes, and going around and around like a panorama. We were
frequently obliged to stop on account of the great number of
promenaders. Mademoiselle de Pons, who played on the piano, accompanied
on the violin by Monsieur de Corberon (an officer of the French Guards,
who was afterwards guillotined), entertained us most agreeably; she
occupied one of the apartments of which I have just spoken. The view
from it was very pleasant,--the most beautiful rippling waters,
numerous villages, a superb forest, fine buildings belonging to the
château, and a green lawn most charming to look upon. I thoroughly
examined every portion of our prison. Several of the large rooms had
been divided by plank partitions which were only six or seven feet
high. Those who occupied these compartments during the winter suffered
excessively from cold. In the rooms which were not so divided there
were put as many as twenty-five persons. I noticed the arrangement of
one of these communities, in which the curtain-less beds were placed so
close together that during the day the prisoners, in order to move
around, were obliged to pile them up on top of one another. Here is a
list of the individuals occupying this room: A republican general and
his wife, a curate from Noyon, twenty-seven years old, several young
men, two estimable mothers of families, with five or six daughters from
fourteen to twenty years. In another there were a soldier with two or
three nuns. The one next to mine contained a general, called Monsieur
de Coincy, eighty-three years old, who still retained his strength, his
wife, his son, his daughter, a nun of the Visitation, and
Mesdemoiselles de Grammont-Caderousse, the eldest of whom was about
fourteen. A special annoyance in our prison was the mingling of the
sexes in the same lodging. I was the more thankful for my little cell.
Marchand, the commissioner of the Revolutionary army, came to make me a
visit; he found nothing to complain of in the furnishing of my
apartment, which was composed of a servant's bed, two chairs, and a
table. The beds and the trunks served as seats when the company was too
numerous. Generally luxury was an offence to him. I told him he could
find no fault with mine. I was mistaken; he answered that I as well as
my parents had once had too much of it. He went from one end to the
other of the place, and took it into his head, in order to annoy those
ladies who seemed somewhat careful of their toilets, to order them to
have their hair cut off; and he also sent _sans-culottes_ to sleep in
their rooms. These poor fellows were as much worried at this as those
who were compelled to submit to it. They used to come as late as they
possibly could and go away very early in the morning. They were very
well behaved, with the exception of a cobbler from Compiègne, of whom
his hosts complained bitterly; he was ill-tempered and annoying. One of
his comrades, probably better reared, came near dying of colic through
his politeness in not wishing to awaken those with whom he was forced
to lodge.

Care had been taken, in order to avoid too active a correspondence
between the prisoners and outsiders, to send those who were inhabitants
of the district of Senlis to the abbey of St. Paul at Beauvais, and
those of Beauvais, to Chantilly. We could not write even to our
parents, nor could we receive news from them without a great deal of
trouble. Of all the privations we were forced to undergo, this was the
hardest to bear. While Notté was at the head of the house, the
prisoners continually complained of him, though our situation was
endurable. The wretched are naturally fault-finding.

I assured them that if he went away it would be worse for us; and so it
actually happened. This man was passionate but not wicked. I had found
out that one should never ask him anything in the presence of other
persons, because he feared lest they might be indiscreet; but in
private he was quite accommodating. I never had any reason to complain
of him. By one of the strange chances of the Revolution, he is now in
want, and at the very time when I am writing this memoir, is soliciting
my protection, which I would willingly grant him if it were better
worth having.

I was generally strictly obedient to the rules of the household, and
consequently had to endure fewer annoyances than those who strove to
evade them. It is true that they changed so frequently that it was
difficult to keep the run of them.

We were guarded at first by the gendarmerie, afterward by the National
Guard of Chantilly. I was informed of this by a carpenter who, while
doing some work in my room, told me he was now our military commander.
I found it necessary to ask his permission to do something the next
day, and I did so in such a serious manner that Madame Séguier, who was
present, could not help laughing.

The Revolutionary army succeeded the National Guard, and made its
entrance into the house in a manner suitable to the functions with
which it was charged. At ten o'clock in the evening we learned that
there were cannon pointed toward the château, and at the same moment we
heard the grating open amid songs which sounded more like rage than
joy. The van-guard was preceded by cannon, drums, and torches. Women
mingled with the procession. The refrain of 'Ça ira, les aristocrates à
la lanterne!' was repeated with stubborn animosity. My neighbours were
seized with terror, and rushed trembling into my apartment. I reassured
them as well as I could without knowing why, except that the feeling of
fear is one to which I do not readily yield.

When the troop had finished its dances and songs in the courtyard, and
gone through a sort of march, it placed its sentinels and retired. I
had the full benefit of the performance, as my windows opened on the

I cannot now remember the exact time, but a few days after the scene I
have just described took place, several prisoners were sent to the
prisons at Paris, among them Monsieur de Vernon, Master of Horse to the
king, who had gout in his hands, but on whom they put handcuffs. A
curate named Daniel was sent off with him. They were taken to the
prison of the Carmelites on the Rue de Vaugirard. A party of thirty
persons followed them immediately. Madame de Pontevès seeing them
carrying off her husband, asked a commissioner named Martin for
permission to go with him. He answered her roughly, granted her
request, and then separated them when they reached Paris. One of them
was put in the Madelonnettes, and the other in Ste. Pélagie. In order
to fill the prisons of Paris it was sometimes necessary to draw
recruits from the neighbouring prisons; for this purpose different
pretexts were made. Evil designs were imputed to the prisoners,--such
as anti-revolutionary projects; for instance, one was called an
agitator if he spoke to the keeper or to the commissioner in order to
make known his wants.

When any one came to inspect us I kept in the background. I was
obliged, however, to appear before Martin, the commissioner
extraordinary, who was accompanied by a man with a red cap, and had a
roll-call of all the prisoners. He only asked me my name. A sort of
officer who was with them said that he had dined once at the house of
Monsieur de Duras, at Bordeaux, and had been very well entertained. I
did not continue the conversation. Some of the prisoners pleaded their
causes, and petitioned to be allowed to go free. I withdrew as soon as
I possibly could.

Monsieur de Saint-Souplet, the king's esquire, who was constantly
worrying about getting the news, was taken away, arraigned before the
Revolutionary tribunal, and perished on the scaffold with his father,
who was eighty years old, and one of his brothers. He was denounced by
one of his servants; but the latter was guillotined with him for not
having betrayed his master sooner. We now began to hear of a great many
executions; that of Madame de Larochefoucauld-Durtal caused me intense
sorrow, and also made me extremely anxious for the future. She was a
widow of thirty years, lived a most retired life, caring for her
parents, and occupied solely with their happiness and with works of
charity. She was carried off from the Anglaises, where she had been
imprisoned with her mother, who was very old and extremely infirm. She
was taken before the Revolutionary tribunal as a witness for her uncle,
Monsieur de l'Aigle, whose mind was affected. He compromised her in
consequence of his weakness of mind, and the address of a letter which
did not belong to her was made a pretext to remove her from the
position of witness to that of criminal. Sentence was passed at once
upon her. As something was the matter with the guillotine that day, she
spent twenty-four hours in the record-office awaiting her execution;
during this time she lovingly and zealously exhorted her uncle to meet
death bravely. She assured him many times that she forgave him for
being the cause of her own death; and after having somewhat aroused his
senses, she showed him how to die resignedly.

I could not understand how it was that the prisoners who were every day
hearing sad news should feel the need of being amused. They assembled
to play with high stakes, have music, dance, etc. A Monsieur Leloir, an
architect from Paris, and quite facetious, was the leader of all the
amusements. I was constantly invited to join them, but always refused.

Notté was sent away from the place, and a grocer from Chantilly, named
Vion, became our keeper. This was the golden age of our house. Leloir
had influence over him, and as he was one of the prisoners, we reaped
the benefit of it; but the commissioners of the Revolutionary
committees of the neighbouring villages, the greater part of whom were
employed about us, were able to persecute us. In fact, any one could do
so who chose to take the trouble. I will give an example of this which
is ludicrous enough: A man named Bizoti, employed as a wagoner, had the
curiosity to pay us a visit, and took real pleasure in abusing all the
priests. There was an old maid from Vandeuil, once fond of the chase,
who was in the habit of wearing a costume somewhat masculine, composed
of a man's hat and a dressing-gown. The wagoner-citizen said to her: 'I
know you; you are a curate;' and then he addressed to her the same
abusive language he had used to the priests. Loud bursts of laughter
followed this. I sometimes went to see this spinster, who was very

I was very fond of the family of Monsieur de Boury, a captain of the
French Guards, who had a wife and ten children. They are examples of
every virtue; the father is truly religious, honourable, and well
instructed; the wife is sweet and good. The harmony that pervades their
life recalls that of the old Patriarchs. They were entirely resigned to
the decrees of Providence, and preached to us by their example. A
number of pious prisoners used to gather in their apartment for prayer
and edifying reading. In all the house it was the spot I enjoyed most.
It seemed to me that there one breathed purer air than anywhere else.

My chief amusement was to watch from my window the young people of
fourteen or fifteen, who played foot-ball in the courtyard, forgetful
of their captivity, and never dreaming that execution could await them.
Alas! The Terror laid hold on one of them. Young Goussainville, only
fifteen years old, was beheaded with his father. Several of the
prisoners had brought their children with them, even nursing babies.
(Madame de Maupeou was nursing one.) These children were of all ages; I
could never understand how any one dared bring them into houses so full
of dangers, to say nothing of the bad air. The laws now forbid persons
to be received among the prisoners who desire to be there for the
purpose of caring for those they love, which is very wise. We had at
Chantilly several examples of that sort of devotion. The spirit of
everything there was, in general, better than in the prison where I
have since been.

Our keepers took a notion to put us at a common table, and this custom
was afterward elegantly called 'eating in mess.' At first, during our
sojourn at Chantilly, we were fed by eating-house keepers, established
at the château. The keeper Désignon was one of the number. He served,
beyond comparison, the worst fare to his customers; but I took it from
motives of policy, knowing that he had more consideration for those
whose food he furnished. He never failed in respect to me. Although he
was only the subaltern of the commissioner, he arrogated the right to
abuse those of the prisoners who asked to change their lodgings or to
be less crowded together in the rooms they were occupying. The new
arrangement was a calamity for him, since he had contracted with the
government to supply all those who could not pay for their own food,
and of these there was a large number.

A table was set in the gilded gallery of the Petit Château,[3] without
a cloth, and with two hundred covers. The tables were reset three
times, for there were many more than six hundred prisoners in the
house; but the old and infirm were allowed to remain in their
apartments. One of the tables was occupied by priests and unmarried
men, the second by married people and children, the third by those who
were alone; and this was my situation. The places were all numbered,
and each of us had a duplicate number. When the bell rang, we came like
children going to school, with baskets, in which were our plates,
goblets, etc. Often the previous dinner was not over, and we had to
stand a long time in groups in the drawing-room, which was next the
gallery. We ate soup, which was only water with a few lentils such as
are fed to horses, grass for spinach, sprouted potatoes, and a
perfectly disgusting stew called _ratatouille_. I suppose that this
word is not in the dictionary of the Academy, and that the Institute is
not likely to put it there. We rose from the table hungry. There was a
very hearty young man to whom we used to send all that was left at our
table, in order to appease his hunger in some degree.

The members of the Revolutionary committee, with the officers of our
guard, marched around our table with their red caps on their heads.
There was one of them--the peruke-maker for the whole company--who
watched us closely, to see if any one abstained from meat. Under such
circumstances it was not easy to keep Lent. Many persons, however, did
keep it strictly, although the grand vicars of the diocese had exempted
three days.

Our tables were surrounded by sentinels of the Revolutionary army. I
sometimes conversed with them. I found one among them to whom his
service was extremely disagreeable. He was a servant whom want had
compelled to take such a wretched position. He pitied us, and would
willingly have afforded some alleviation of our terrible condition. One
of the guards' duties was to accompany, with drawn sabres, the
washerwomen when they came to bring and carry away our linen. This
performance was truly humiliating, and I made some effort to avoid its
most embarrassing details.

One day a commissioner delivered a most atrocious reproof to the
keeper. He told him that there did not enough prisoners die in the
house. In fact, through lack of care, the bad food, and the incapacity
of the health officers, a great many would have died; but Providence
protected them, and their constitutions held out much better than could
have been expected.

One day as we were dining in the gallery of the Petit Château, I
recalled the beautiful pictures which formerly adorned it, the armour
of the great Condé, pierced with bullets, his victories represented by
the great painters, all the festivals I had attended in that place; but
happily these ideas came to me rarely. I generally had there very
commonplace thoughts; those which concerned my bill of fare,--such as
the endeavour to introduce into it, by means of bribery, a pound of
butter or a few eggs,--absorbed me. In this connection I had a very
amusing encounter with our new commissioner, named Perdrix. This man
had a grotesque figure, and wore a costume not less so. His former
profession had been to paint the dogs of Monsieur the Prince of Condé.
He probably imagined it would add to his dignity to be more severe than
his predecessors. We were allowed to speak to him only through an
opening made in the wall. I one day presented myself at this strange
parlour to ask him to allow me to have six pounds of chocolate which he
had held back; he replied with dignity that he would allow me exactly
as much of it as was good for my stomach. I assured him that in order
to have the dose exact the only way was to have me breakfast every
morning with the surgeon, and said moreover, that I wanted to give it
to a sick man. He did not grant my request, and I went away somewhat
angry at not being able to obtain the nourishment which kept up my
strength. My charwoman, who fortunately was also his, brought back to
me the full supply the next day.

I will leave off these small details, and tell how a poor soldier of
the Revolutionary army, the father of a family, being unacquainted with
Chantilly, arrived there in the night, and losing his way, fell into
one of the moats which surrounded the castle. At daybreak some of the
prisoners saw the man struggling and screaming. Monsieur de
Bouquerolle, an officer of the navy, who knew how to swim (he was the
eldest son of the much respected family of Boury), started to go into
the water after him. The sentinel prevented his doing so, telling him
that it was a prisoner who had escaped, and left the man to perish. His
body was found afterward, and it was recognized as that of one of their
own men. Monsieur de Corberon and a curate asked that the body should
be brought into the house, in order to try the usual means of restoring
the drowned to life. This was granted them; and they used every means
in their power for several hours, but without success. After this act
of cruelty one can imagine how incensed the prisoners were. Well, they
had their revenge in taking up a collection for the widow and children
which amounted to six hundred francs. These were the people who during
the Revolution were called criminals.

The parties sent off increased in number to an alarming degree. Each
day when one went off we were filled with consternation. Husbands were
separated from their wives, mothers from their children; and those who
had no interests so dear had to regret some one of their companions. We
did not know where they were taken, nor what took place in the prisons
at Paris. For my part, I imagined them to be still worse than ours; and
I was quite right, in spite of the continual vexations, hunger, and
daily anxieties which we experienced.

One evening as I was taking a walk on the terraces in the delightful
moonlight, which gleamed over the forest and made the waters sparkle,
my ears delighted by the rippling sound, my eyes taking in all the
beauty which surrounded me, I congratulated myself upon being, after
all, less unfortunate than a great many persons whom I loved and
respected. The wretched situation of my parents came over me at that
moment so terribly that I shed tears. I scarcely ever received news
from them, or from any of the friends who were dear to me.

Eatables were forbidden to be brought to us, lest letters should be
concealed in them; and this reduced us sometimes to the necessity of
eating soup made of salt and water only.

The Revolutionary guard took it into their heads to go on patrol from
ten to eleven o'clock in the evening. They put out the lights, and made
the prisoners go to bed. One day the soldiers came with drawn sabres
into the apartment of Madame de Boursonne (former lady-in-waiting to
Mesdames), who was very ill from hemorrhage, and had a constant fever.
They went up to her bed, examined her closely, and said aloud 'that
they would not have the trouble of visiting her long.' She came near
dying after they went out. These kind fellow-citizens frequently had
the goodness to forget to come to see me, because they knew that my
cell was somewhat apart from the others.

Suddenly a party of forty prisoners were set at liberty in accordance
with a command from their communes, under a law which granted the
communes this right. There was general rejoicing among those who
departed, and sweet hope for those who remained; but it was seen that
by this means the prisons would be emptied, and the law was repealed. I
was glad to take leave of two good Sisters of Charity from Noyon,
thinking of all they would do for the poor whom they cared for so
tenderly; but scarcely had a few prisoners been set at liberty when a
larger number came to replace them. The districts of Beauvais, Noyon,
Senlis, and Compiègne were most zealous in gathering recruits. We never
had any vacancies. One day I met an old nun whom I did not know, bent
with age and infirmities, who seemed to be suffering terrible pain in
the side of her face. One of her companions told me that as she was
getting into the wagon which brought her to Chantilly she made the sign
of the cross; and one of the soldiers of the escort was so indignant
that he gave her a frightful blow on her cheek which broke several of
her teeth. How horrible! I took great pleasure in visiting these holy
virgins, who were inconsolable at being compelled to leave their
retreats where peace and innocence reigned. In order to console them
for this, they were lodged so close to the coarsest men in the house
that they constantly heard things said which made them very unhappy.
They endured their strange and terrible situation with perfect
resignation, and never failed to read their office as though they were
in their convent.

My companions in misfortune differed very much; there were some who, in
the hope of obtaining their liberty, undertook the rôle of informer.
Several of them tried to sound me; they were not rewarded for their
trouble. When they told me tales I would not listen, but immediately
changed the conversation.

One thing which astonishes me as I look back is how little I suffered
from _ennui_ during my captivity. My thoughts were confined within a
very narrow sphere. They dwelt upon my regret at being separated from
those I loved and upon the needs of my daily life. The want of
exercise, which is absolutely necessary to me from habits contracted in
my childhood, gave me too great fulness of blood. I had violent rushes
of blood to the head, and also rheumatism. Once on awakening I felt so
stunned that I called the hospital nurse, who lodged near me. She
thought I was dying, and went for help. This condition, which was
really dangerous, was relieved by vomiting. I fell asleep; and when I
woke I found myself surrounded by kind people, to whom I acknowledged
my gratitude, and then burst into tears. They did not know what to make
of it. I excused myself, and explained to them that once several years
before I had had a similar attack, when I was surrounded by friends and
relatives, and now I was terribly alone. I regained my composure, and
then went out into the air.

The weak condition to which I was reduced made me unable to restrain
the feelings and emotions which these sad memories aroused, though
generally I have an aversion to speaking of what grieves me. The health
officer of the prison was sent for; he was a violent revolutionist,
small, very dark, uneducated, and dressed in a _carmagnole_, the
uniform of the _sans-culottes_. Being difficult to bleed, I dared not
have him bleed me, although I was in great need of it. He put leeches
on my neck, which eased the pains in my head.

Very disturbing news reached us from Paris, and those were the only
tidings which could come to us. It was reported that we were to be
interrogated by means of blanks, which must be filled up. I had a great
dread of this kind of torture on account of my love of truth, which
might compromise both myself and others. Heaven did not allow them to
realize this base project.

One of the prisoners died from the mistaken treatment of that imbecile
surgeon, who, without asking him if he had hernia, gave him an emetic,
which caused his death in twenty-four hours.

The treatment of the sick was terrible; no medicine was given them, no
one was appointed to nurse them, and even the prisoners were forbidden
to show them any attention. I once saw five cases of putrid fever in
one room. A respectable girl from Crépy, who stayed in the apartment,
was obliged to spend every night waiting on the patients. A good
schoolmaster, who also was in the room, helped her as well as he could.
I have seen him since, with great pleasure, and I entertain a real
esteem for him.

Madame de Boursonne, who had recovered from her illness, and from the
visit of the revolutionists, heard that Monsieur d'Ecquevilly, her
father, was dying at Amiens. One may imagine her great desire to go to
him and hear his last words; but an insurmountable barrier was placed
between us and those dear to us. She could only hope to hear frequently
from him, being very near him; but our keeper, Perdrix, refused even
this, and kept all letters addressed to her. After a fortnight of
terrible suspense had passed, he sent for her to come to him; this was
for the purpose of reading to her, in the presence of every one, the
letter announcing the death of her father, without even allowing her to
have it, which at least would have given her the consolation of
learning the details. Poor Madame de Boursonne was in a terrible state.
I did everything in my power for her, and took her back to her own room.

One day as I was sitting alone in my chamber some officers of our guard
came in with Monsieur Lambert, the Commissioner of War. The dread of
something frightful was the first thing that flashed across my mind;
but I was mistaken in my fear. This Monsieur Lambert, to whom I had
rendered services under the old régime, had expressed a desire to see
the place and my little cell. I made no sign of recognition because of
the fear I had always had since the Revolution of compromising those
who wished me well. When the officers were going out he let them pass
before him, and said to me that if I had need of his services and
wished to send off any letters he would take charge of them, and would
be delighted to do me any kindness. I cannot tell how touched I was by
this proposition, which, however, I was unwilling to accept. During the
Reign of Terror the slightest kindness offered to persons of our rank
was so dangerous that I still feel grateful to him for his good will.

Perdrix did not spoil us. Several of us asked him for a copy of our
entry in the jail-book; this seemed a small favour, but we could not
obtain it. The clerk of the commune of Chantilly came quite frequently
to the château, in order to give certificates of residence. He showed a
sort of interest in the prisoners. Whenever they were not harshly
treated it was on account of the natural amiability of individuals.
Monsieur Wallon, of Beauvais, having confidence in the clerk,
commissioned him to procure some money for him; he accepted the
commission graciously, and disappeared. I never should have imagined it
necessary to have one's residence in a prison certified. It seemed to
me that to make a list of those who were there would have been
sufficient; but it turned out very well for me that I took the
precaution I thought superfluous, as I was inscribed upon the list of
_émigrés_ during my imprisonment.

I was not pleased at the reception given a fat curate from Noyon who
had apostatized, and had denounced and caused to be imprisoned a good
many of our fellow-prisoners. He was hooted at from the head of any
stairway he attempted to ascend; and the crowd pushed him back, and
used syringes upon him. I was very sorry to see a man so lost to
principle among us; but I should have preferred not to see any
unfortunate being insulted. Any one is unfortunate who has lost his
liberty; and those who are wicked are the most to be pitied under such
circumstances. I was sorry also for those who, instead of thinking of
more serious things, fed themselves with vain hopes concerning the
future, and the possibility of shaking off their fetters.

I grew accustomed to living at Chantilly, and my companions in
misfortune treated me with great kindness. Madame de Séguier and
Mademoiselle le Caron de Troupure, now Madame Flomond, both amiable and
excellent women, were a great comfort to me. I tried to help those who
needed courage. The Coincy family, who lodged near me, were good
company. I had great consolation from a religious point of view. A
venerable priest undertook to confess me, and even to give me the
communion. He had had the courage to bring a large supply of
consecrated wafers, and had kept them in spite of the danger he ran
should the fact have been discovered.

I was quite content with my fate, since I was compelled to endure a
hard one. I could not have asked to be in a better prison; Providence
had placed me there, and six months sojourn had accustomed me to it.

Toward the end of March, 1794, I received a letter from my mother, full
of kindness, but which grieved me very much. She told me that she had
thought it astonishing that I made no application to the government
commissioners who came to Chantilly, to be allowed to join her. This
intimation seemed to be an order and a command of Providence which
altered my destiny. I immediately inquired when Citizen Martin, who
inspected our house, was to come. I presented him a petition, asking to
be sent to the Luxembourg by the first train destined for Paris. He
assented, and then occupied himself in getting ready a most atrocious
party, composed of young girls who were torn from the arms of their
mothers without knowing for what they were destined.

Many persons believed, and it was really talked of, that the intentions
of the Terrorists was to marry them to _sans-culottes_. To this party
were added some priests, women, laymen, etc. The unhappy mothers were
in despair. I was a witness of the scene with Madame de Pons (formerly
Vicomtesse) at Perdrix's apartments. She fell on her knees before him
and before Martin; she said everything to them that the desperation of
such a moment could suggest, using the most touching expressions; they
would listen to nothing. She fell fainting at their feet. After she
recovered her consciousness, she implored to be permitted at least to
follow her daughter; they refused her.

I forgot to say that a moment before Madame de Pons came to see Perdrix
the latter had sent for her daughter, and in the presence of Martin and
two gendarmes said to her,

'What is your name?'


'Yes, but give your Christian names.'

'You should speak to my mother; I will go for her.'

'No, no; I ask you for your names.'

'There they are. May I know what use you have for them?'

'You will leave here with other prisoners to-morrow, to go to another

'Without mamma! O God! What will be my fate?'

'Go, or I will have you carried out.'

Madame de Pons wrote several letters to Martin, asking only for a
delay; she offered all her property to the Republic; and the only
answer she received was, 'Your daughter must go!'

I busied myself in arranging my trunks and packing them for the
Luxembourg, so as to have with me only what was strictly necessary. On
the 3d of April, 1794, we were told to hold ourselves in readiness to
leave the next day or the day following, as the carriages were
expected. My travelling companions were in despair at leaving their
parents, but I delighted at going to see mine once more; every one said
pleasant things to me. I received many testimonials of interest and
regret from the prisoners. There were some from whom I was grieved to
part, and a secret presentiment (though generally I do not believe in
them) seemed to warn me that the reunion with my parents would never be
effected. The days of the 3d and 4th were passed in leave-taking. I did
not know that the train was to start early on the 5th, the anniversary
of the birth of my son. I was summoned at ten o'clock in the morning. I
found the wagons almost full; consequently I had a wretched seat next a
vile woman who boasted of being a friend of Robespierre, and told us
that she would receive on the way some marks of public interest. She
sat almost half on top of me; and to add to our suffering, the straw
which is usually put in the bottom of the carts for calves, was left
out. When we left, the courtyard was filled with our companions in
misery, who were mourning and sighing over our fate. They concealed
their tears, fearing to let them be seen.

Our procession stopped as it passed out of the gate, in order to have
the roll-call, lest some prisoner should have escaped; we were as
accustomed to it as the soldiers were. We were surrounded by the
National Guard, and remained an hour under the windows of the château,
in sight of mothers disconsolate at the removal of their daughters, and
who, with their hands raised to heaven, were giving them their
blessings. That sad sight is still distinctly before me. How many of
those who gave those blessings and of those who looked on were
sacrificed on the scaffold! I should like to be able to depict and
describe fully all that terrible and touching scene, but I cannot. As
for me I was terribly overcome, but I struggled to hide it.

The train was put in command of a printer's apprentice from Beauvais,
who went ahead of us. The first cart was filled with young girls, the
second with women, and three others with men. The vehicles were
surrounded by musketeers. We started at eleven o'clock in the morning,
in very bad weather. A terribly cold wind was blowing, and there were
no covers to our wagons.

At the entrances of towns and villages our escort was gathered
together, and we entered with dignity, drums beating.

In some places, particularly at Creil-sur-Oise, gestures indicating the
cutting off of the head were made to us. In a village called La Mortaye
a dozen persons suddenly appeared, who came to see my heavy neighbour,
and whispered to her that she would not be much longer in prison.

When we reached Mesnil-Aubry we were made to get out at an inn,--that
is, the women and young girls at one, and the men at another. It was
Saturday. I obtained the favour of an omelette. Immediately after
dinner it was demanded of us that we should pay on the spot the
expenses of our removal; I refused to do this, saying truly that I had
no money. Mademoiselle de Pons obeyed, and gave a hundred and
ninety-two francs. The women whose husbands were in the train asked
permission to go to see them while the horses were resting, but could
not obtain it. The notorious Martin, of whom I have already had
occasion to speak several times, came to inspect us, and placed himself
at the head of our train when it started off. He was in a gilded
_berline_, drawn by post horses, and seated in front was a small clerk,
about twelve years old. I said to myself, 'Unfortunate child, what an
education this Terrorism is!' Along the way he reviewed us as though he
were a superior officer, going from end to end of our melancholy
column, to see if it was coming up in order. Sometimes our horses began
to trot, and we were terribly jolted. As we were approaching Paris, my
side, which was pressed against the wagon, with nothing between, began
to hurt me very much. My love of books, and the fear of being without
them, had caused me to fill two pairs of pockets with them, and they
thumped against me. If we had been obliged to go any farther I should
have been compelled to change my position, but I could not make up my
mind to ask any favour of the friend of Robespierre.

The train stopped about eight o'clock in the evening at St. Denis.
Martin left us. The officer of the guard separated the men from the
women, in order to take the former to the Luxembourg. It began to rain,
and continued until we reached Paris. Our conductors did not know the
streets. We implored them to tell us where we were going; their reply
was that they knew nothing about it. After driving us around until
eleven o'clock in the darkness, they came to the gates of the
Madelonnettes. We had great difficulty in making the porter hear, and
he said that no women were received in that house, that Ste. Pélagie,
which was set apart for them, was quite full, but that we would find
room in the Plessis, an old college of the University, Rue St. Jacques,
next to that of Louis-le-Grand. Our guards, who were but human, were
overcome with fatigue, and impatient to put us down in some prison or
other. I saw that we were taking the way to the Conciergerie; then
frightful thoughts rushed over me, and also a suspicion that our end
was near at hand if we were to be confined there. But we passed by
without stopping, and I felt more tranquil the remainder of the way.

The gate of the Collège du Plessis was the end of our journey. Our
conductor knocked there a long time without attracting any notice;
perhaps no one heard, or perhaps the porter did not wish to be aroused.
It was one o'clock. At last in the darkness the gates were opened; we
did not know where we were. I feared lest the cart in which the young
girls were had been separated from the train. I perceived it as we were
entering the courtyard, and had a sad satisfaction in seeing them again
even in so wretched a place. We passed under an archway and stopped.
Our guards were kind enough to assist us to descend from our rude
vehicles; we should scarcely have had strength to do so without their
help, weary and bruised as we were from our fourteen hours' journey.

The first object to attract my attention was a man dressed in a sort of
dressing-gown, who said he was the porter. He had an enormous bunch of
keys hanging from his belt, and carried a lantern, by the light of
which I saw gratings, enormous bars of iron, heaps of stone and other
materials,--in short, the general appearance of a prison which was
being enlarged. We were taken through several gratings, and were
immediately surrounded by drunken jailers,--great heavily built men,
half naked, with their sleeves rolled up, and red caps on their heads,
and whose speech was suited to their costumes. I trembled at the sight
of these creatures, who seemed to wish to be familiar with our young
girls. I immediately proposed to the ladies who came with me that we
should each take one of them under our care, so as to protect them
against this vulgar herd. They agreed to my proposition. Mademoiselle
de Pons, who has since married Monsieur de Tourzel, fell to my charge.
I warned her not to get behind me, but to hold on to my dress, and not
leave me for a moment. One of the jailers, who was a regular Goliath,
began to read the list of those who composed our train, and could
scarcely decipher it. Detention in the gate-house being impossible, he
conducted us to a large hall where there was not a single pane of glass
in the windows, and only wooden benches to sit on. We were suffering
terribly from thirst; the worst of the jailers, named Baptiste, brought
us a bucket of water, which we hailed with intense delight. A moment
after he brought another for other purposes. The visit of this man,
Baptiste, was accompanied by speeches such as we had never before
heard, and which filled me with horror, particularly on account of our
young friends. About two o'clock in the morning our keeper appeared; he
had been absent when we arrived. His name was Haly; his face was pale
and livid. He smiled as he saw the young girls, and said to them, 'My
children, you have not yet been entered in the jail-book. I keep you
here only for humanity's sake. This house is at the disposal of the
public accuser, Fouquier-Tinville, and is only destined for the
anti-revolutionists; you do not seem to be such. To-morrow your report
will be made out, and I will inform you of your destination.'

Every one tried to speak to him. I had my turn, and told him that as I
had never been denounced I was only to be classed among the suspected;
that I ought not to be kept in his prison; and that I had left
Chantilly in order to be transferred to the Luxembourg. I implored him
to have me sent there. Several persons told him he had no right to keep
us; he paid no attention to what they said, and had the mattresses,
which had been brought in the wagons, brought in. I had not taken the
precaution to bring one, and consequently passed the night seated on a
small wooden bench, occupied in trying to conceal the small amount of
paper money I had with me. I did not sleep a moment; neither did my
companions. As the day dawned I saw with delight that our young girls
were sleeping sweetly and peacefully. I said to myself, 'At their age
one has had neither the experience of misfortune nor the anxiety born
of foresight.' The thought of seeing my parents during the day cheered
my sad heart. It was extremely cold. Baptiste came in, accompanied by
several of his comrades, who regarded us with a ferocious sort of
pleasure, judging that we were good recruits for their house, and that
they would have a good share of our purses. One of them, a former
lackey of Madame de Narbonne, recognized me, and behaved very properly
toward me. A gendarme, whose name I never learned, came up to me and
whispered in my ear, 'Hide your money and your jewels. They will leave
you only fifty francs in paper money, and will take away your knives
and your scissors.' I thanked him, and he retired. Although the great
mental agony we endured caused us to pay but little heed to our
physical needs, we nevertheless became extremely hungry. We had taken
nothing to eat since the day before, and had endured excessive physical
and mental fatigue. We petitioned our jailers for food, and after
keeping us waiting two hours they brought us some coffee and chocolate.
I breakfasted with the pleasant feeling of alleviating suffering for a
moment at least. Martin came in afterward to get a cloak which had been
lent to Madame de Vassy; he looked at us sternly. Several went up to
him to ask something of him, among them the young girls, who were
extremely anxious to let their mothers know what had become of them.
They gave him some notes for this purpose, but these never reached
their destination.

I implored the said Martin (I may speak of him in this way under the
circumstances) to send me to the Luxembourg; he gave me some hope, but
I regarded it as slender. His visit was soon over. Up to this time the
National Guard of Chantilly had remained with us; it was now replaced
by jailers who never left us. A new face appeared; it was an inspector
named Grandpré, who had quite a pleasing countenance. Being astonished
at seeing us in this prison, and a little touched by our forlorn
situation, he promised to endeavour to have us transferred to a house
for suspected persons, and me in particular to the Luxembourg. Haly,
our keeper, now came in, and said that our fate had been decided,--that
we were entered on the jail-book as agitators and as refractory to
discipline at the house at Chantilly. A cry of surprise and grief
arose, but our keeper was deaf to all complaints. My companions
deserved such terms as little as I did; and I declare that after my
conduct there, submitting as I did to all the wishes of the
commissioners, meddling with nothing, complaining of nothing, being
taken to Paris at my own request, I was more completely astonished than
I can express. The false accusations were certainly the least of my
woes,--innocence easily consoles itself; but to see myself deprived of
the delight of rejoining my parents made my heart ache, and all the
more because I was very sure that they would fully share my sorrow.

We were obliged to resign ourselves to remaining under the immediate
rule of Fouquier-Tinville, shut up with those directly accused, and
consequently treated more severely than the suspected. We remained
fifteen hours in that hall, into which we had been thrown rather than
conducted. If we went out for necessary purposes we were escorted by
two musketeers; most of us preferred to suffer rather than take such a
promenade. The day wore away; we saw a movement among our jailers.
Following the example of one of my pious companions, I had got into a
corner of the hall to recite my mass and office. It was Passion Sunday;
following the example of our divine Master we forgave insult, and tried
to imitate his patience.

We were given to understand that we could write and receive letters, a
pleasure of which we had been deprived at Chantilly. Mademoiselle de
Pons received one letter, which gave us some little hope. Toward
evening a rumour spread that we were to be searched and put in
lodgings. We sought new means of concealing our watches and our paper
money. The keeper ordered us to appear before him two by two to be
registered; he then informed us that it was the custom of the house to
turn over to him all scissors, knives, forks, and watches, because such
things could be used to file away the bars. Afterward he demanded all
our jewels and money with the exception of fifty francs in _assignats_.
He had the politeness not to search us, saying that he would dispense
with that out of respect for us. I gave up to him all he required,
except a few _assignats_ and a small and very ugly brass clock, which
was precious to me because it had sounded in my hearing the last hours
of the lives of my dear friends Mesdames de Chaulnes and de Mailly. The
keeper would not leave it with me, in spite of the sorrow I assured him
I felt in giving it up, alleging the same reason that he gave when he
demanded the watches. When this agreeable operation was over we were
told to follow the jailers. They made us mount to the very top of the
building, passing through a grating on each floor, fastened by enormous
bolts and guarded by four men. We had to go through these two at a time.

At last we reached our own rooms. Mademoiselle de Pons had not left my
side since we reached Plessis; we took the measure of our habitation,
and found that with some management we had room enough for two beds,
placing the head of one at the foot of the other. This sweet girl burst
into tears when she saw our poor little establishment, sat down on a
mattress beside me, and said, 'We shall surely die. It is impossible to
live in such a contracted place. O God! may none of my friends ever
come here!'

I did my best to arouse her courage, which had quite vanished, and to
remove her dislike at living so intimately with an old woman by
assuring her that I had no disease. Our furniture consisted of two
chairs; our mattresses were on the floor, and the wall served as our
pillow. Fortunately it was freshly whitened, and consequently clean.
The bolts were fastened,--a sad moment; for the sound they made told us
that until morning, no matter what happened, it was impossible for us
to receive any assistance. We were told that a jailer of the guard
would answer if we called; but I heard one of my neighbours cry all
night with pain, and no one went to help her.

My first night's rest was excellent. The intense fatigue I had suffered
the preceding days made me sleep. My young companion slept soundly and
late. When daylight appeared I found we had a fine view; I could see
the whole city of Paris. I reflected sadly upon the terrible condition
of my unhappy country, once so far-famed as a place where one could
spend peaceful, happy days. I thought of all the horrors which were
being committed there; the tears rose to my eyes, but I dried them
quickly so as not to discourage Mademoiselle de Pons when she first

About eight o'clock in the morning the bolts were drawn and the keeper,
Haly, came in, followed by an enormous dog. This strange man greeted us
as though we were in one of the old-time châteaux where abundance,
peace, and pleasure reigned. He even seemed astonished that we were not
charmed with the pleasant lodgings he had given us. After he was gone,
and our companions' bolts were drawn, we eagerly gathered together, and
had no trouble in finding one another, as the corridor on which we were
lodged was only three feet wide. The first thing to be done was to
arrange about our meals. It was only after repeated requests that we
received permission to go down six steps to get water. The jailer who
had charge of us, as well as his comrades, assumed the title of warden,
thinking thus to render their office more honourable. There were three
classes of them, and almost all were drunkards, selfish, rapacious,
lying, while a few were absolutely ferocious. We specially noticed one
of them, who had taken part in the massacre of the 2d of September,
1792. This man, who at this time was our despot, was a sculptor; and I
was astonished that he should have accepted so miserable an employment.
After he had granted us permission to go for water, the need of having
something to eat made itself felt. The mess-table had not then been
established. I inquired how we could procure provisions at a moderate
price. An eating-house keeper sent us our dinner; but before he could
reach the floor on which we lodged, which was the highest in the house,
the food he carried was often taken from him as he passed along on the
other floors. Finding that I could not possibly live in this way, I
sent to learn whether my dinner could be sent me every day from my own
house. Lucas, my father's former clerk, was very anxious that this
should be done; but it was very difficult to find any one in the house
who was willing to bring it to me, as it was considered a dangerous
thing to do, and not very 'civic'. At last an old postilion named
Lerot, whose name I mention with gratitude, had the courage to
undertake it. A neighbour of the Hôtel Mouchy, said openly in the
street, when she saw him go by, that it was not worth while taking me
anything to eat because I was going to be guillotined. Two respectable
ladies clubbed together with me, and we divided our provisions,--they
furnishing some also; and we set about getting them cooked.
Mademoiselle de Pons did not find our fare good enough, and joined with
a woman from Beauvais, and two young girls.

I enter into minute details which would be very tiresome if this memoir
was intended to be read by strangers; but it is for my own relatives
that it is written, and I am too sure of the interest they take in what
I have suffered to omit to mention the least thing.

The rules of our prison were extremely strict. At eight o'clock in the
morning the keepers opened the doors; this was a truly agreeable
moment,--if I may use such an expression in such a connection; then
they wrote our names on the registers, but being so little accustomed
to such matters they never made the list as it should be, and so were
obliged to have the roll-call two or three times a day. One moment they
ordered us to remain inside our rooms, and another we were told to
stand like sentinels at our doors. The locking up, and ascertaining
that each prisoner was in her place, seemed a more solemn affair. The
keeper, followed by the turnkeys, gendarmes, and some large dogs, came
about ten o'clock in the evening or at midnight. This goodly company
made pleasing jokes and a great deal of noise. I always pretended to be
asleep, and made no reply to what they said. It seemed sad that our
sleep, which alone had the power to cause us to forget our troubles,
should be interrupted by that sound which most quickly recalled them.

During the first days after our arrival we spent our time mostly in
sending petitions to Fouquier-Tinville, asking to be reunited to our
families. We have since learned that not one of them reached him. I
eagerly sought for some opportunity of sending or receiving
communications from my parents. At last I discovered that in sending
some trifling thing to the Luxembourg I could add two or three lines,
which at least served to say we were alive. The notes were sent open,
and passed through the hands of the registrars and jailers of Plessis
and the Luxembourg. I suffered intensely at having to inform my parents
that I should not have the consolation of joining them; they tenderly
expressed their deep regret for this. The sight of their handwriting,
after having been so long deprived of it, moved me profoundly; I
received a few words from them every two or three days.

The commissioner, Grandpré, fearing lest our crowded condition should
cause sickness, proposed that we should take the air in the courtyard.
We had a great aversion to going down a hundred steps, passing six
grated iron doors, preceded, accompanied, and followed by keepers. We
refused to do it for some time. Then he told us that if we paid no
regard to his request we should be charged with aristocratic opinions;
consequently, we were obliged to yield, and take the walk. The place
appointed for our promenade was very confined, enclosed by plank
fences, and surrounded by gendarmes, who kept their eyes upon us. We
found there about twenty women who had come from the Conciergerie, and
who were lodged under us without our knowing anything about it. After
conversing with them our fears were redoubled; for they gave us a most
fearful account of that terrible prison, which has been called the
anti-chamber of death. They told us that every day a large number of
victims for the scaffold were sent from there, and that our house was
considered a sort of annex to the Conciergerie. We were entirely
ignorant of what was going on outside our cells. Madame de Vassy, a
pupil of J. J. Rousseau, and daughter of Monsieur de Girardin, had
induced a jailer named Launay, the best of our keepers, to bring her
some newspapers; but this was found out, and was considered an
unpardonable crime. He was taken to another prison and put in irons,
and but for the death of Robespierre would have perished. This man, who
is still living, actually wept when he took us out on our compulsory
airing, which rather seemed like leading out a pack of dogs. Rain or
shine we were taken out for the prescribed time. If some of us wished
to go in sooner than others, we were forbidden to do so, and we were
taken out whenever our keepers chose. The men who lodged near the
stairway were obliged to retire when we passed in front of their
gratings; but their windows looked out upon the space where we were
allowed, or rather ordered, to walk, and there they often recognized
their wives and children,--all those whom they loved, and of whose very
existence they were ignorant.

Only prisoners from Chantilly were now lodged on our corridor. Among
those who came from the Conciergerie were Mesdames de Grimaldi and de
Bussy, from whom we had a full account of all the horrors which were
being enacted there. A few days later Madame de Bussy was carried off,
to be indicted by the Revolutionary tribunal; but her case was not
pressed, and she returned to Plessis. We were just congratulating her
on the subject when she was sent for again, and led to the scaffold.
She had scarcely gone when the jailers seized upon all her effects, and
tried to sell them to us,--an incident which shocked us greatly. We
repelled their disgusting proposition with horror.

The condition of affairs grew worse every day. Parties came to us from
all the Departments; our prison was terribly crowded; the faces
constantly changed. Those who arrived told us of the death of persons
of the highest reputation. We questioned the keeper, but he would give
no explanation of the vague rumours which reached us. I implored him
once more to effect my reunion with my parents, but with no result. He
replied to my earnest solicitations compassionately, 'You do not know
what you are asking; you would certainly not be better off at the
Luxembourg.' He seemed to foresee the horrors which were to take place
there. Alas! I was not thinking of the strictness of the prison rule,
but of the longings of my own heart.

A garden was given us for our promenade-ground instead of the courtyard
surrounded by the plank fence. One day as I was passing very near the
building in which we were living, accompanied by Mesdemoiselles de Pons
and Titon, I saw them pick up a scrap of paper which was thrown out of
the vent-hole of an underground apartment, the window of which they had
neglected to close. There were a few lines written upon it, which were
almost illegible, but which we made out to be, 'Three unfortunate
beings, completely destitute, implore your pity.' The paper was tied to
a string, which was withdrawn. Mademoiselle de Pons, much moved, said
to her companion, 'Is it possible that we are surrounded by such
miserable beings?' She asked my permission to throw them some money,
and I granted it. She wrapped it in a tiny package, and pretended to
pick up a stone, while Mademoiselle Titon let it drop quietly into the
dungeon. We heard a clapping of hands. The eyes of the young girls
filled with tears; and the evening was passed in the satisfied feeling
that they had been able, for a moment at least, to render the situation
of those suffering creatures less wretched.

We never learned what became of them.

A month had passed since we left Chantilly when a party arrived, among
whom was Madame de Pons, to whom I restored the precious charge which I
had been so happy as to keep for her; I was then left in sole
possession of my room, which I enjoyed very much. I was informed that
it was proposed to separate the suspected persons from those indicted
by the Revolutionary tribunal, and to place us in a building facing
that we were now occupying. This change seemed so advantageous to us
that we urged the keeper to carry it out as quickly as possible. To do
him justice, he behaved very well on this occasion, using his influence
with the terrible Fouquier-Tinville to prevent our being mistaken for
the indicted prisoners, and to effect our removal without delay. I
regretted for a moment the loss of the beautiful view from my
apartment; all the fine buildings in Paris were before me,--the
cathedral, St. Sulpice, the Val-de-Grâce, etc. I remembered that on
Easter Day, as I was grieving over the thought that the holy sacrifice
was no longer offered up in those temples made so venerable by their
antiquity, and the prayers of the faithful, I joined in the prayers of
those whose faith was strong, and who were sharing my sad thoughts, and
found that I was really more edified than I had often been on that holy
day when at the foot of the altar.

At last the order came for us to leave our apartments, and carry our
effects with us. One person was sufficient to assist me in my moving; a
wretched pallet, a straw chair, and a few dishes composed my only
furniture. The moment of our departure was very trying to those who
remained still under the power of the public accuser. Several of them
wept when we left them. The separation was final.

When I reached my new prison it seemed to me a mansion, since there
were only two gratings instead of six, as before; and as the men were
entirely separated from the women, we were allowed to go all over the
building, from top to bottom, without a keeper. I was lodged on the
fifth floor, in what was called formerly 'the philosophers'
warming-place'. The names of the scholars were, as is customary,
written in charcoal on the walls; I recognized a few of them. There was
a fireplace in this pretty room, and I think it was the only one in the
corridor. It was immediately made use of to warm all my neighbours'
coffee-pots, which occasioned a continual procession not at all

Before my detention, I had thought that a prison would be at least a
place of repose, where I could give myself up to study; but this was
not the case at all, at least not in those where I stayed. Every moment
the keeper, the jailers, the turnkeys, the purveyors, etc., came in. We
were made to go down to the clerk's office to attend to our
commissions. I could not read one single hour without interruption. One
thing which I have heard spoken of, and which I have certainly
verified, is the habit prisoners have of being destructive. It arises
from their standing in need of a thousand things. I had no shovel, so I
broke a piece of slating and used it for one; I took a floor-tile for a
lid. It was very difficult to procure wood, so I burned up my chairs.
We could not send a keeper down-stairs without paying him a hundred

In spite of the admiration inspired by my new dwelling-place, I was
forced to sigh for the one I had left. We slept where the plaster was
quite fresh, which gave me such a raw sensation in my throat that I
could swallow nothing but milk. On the stairways there was a very
unwholesome smell of oil; all the windows, above and below, had been
grated, and boards adjusted, so as to make it impossible to throw
letters out. The outer aspect of our building was frightful. We lost by
our transfer the promenade in the garden, and had instead one no better
than in the courtyard at Plessis, so that one could not make up one's
mind to go out except when it was absolutely necessary to go in the
open air. The men and women went there at different hours. They were
shut in on every side; and walls had been erected so that the prisoners
could not be seen by their neighbours, and could make no sign to them.
One little alley-way, however, which it was impossible to shut out from
our view, allowed us to see human beings at liberty, or who at least
believed themselves to be. The windows which procured this little view
for us were very much sought after and always occupied. Persons
interested in the prisoners came to assure themselves of our existence.
Our numbers increased each day, and brought us some detestable
recruits. I had very near me some vulgar creatures,--young women from
the Rue de Chartres, some persons with the itch, the hangman's
mistress, and a drunken creature, who said she was a person of quality
belonging to the family of Désarmoise, to whom in manner at any rate
she bore not the slightest resemblance. She assumed the right to come
into our rooms every day, make a great noise, and deliver herself of
the most abusive language, for which she afterward asked pardon. I was,
of course, very much touched by her repentance, but her visits were
still very disagreeable to me. Another of my neighbours, a lady of the
court, was insane; and unfortunately for me, she took a great fancy to
me. She lay down to sleep one day just in my doorway, and could only be
gotten away by force. The sort of care that I was obliged to take of
her was as disagreeable as it was fatiguing, and it was a real
calamity. One of her fancies was to write to Robespierre. I suppose her
letters suffered the same fate as ours,--never to reach their
destination. Only the two lines added to the requests which we made for
necessary things ever found favour at the clerk's office.

The mess-table, the nature of which we had experienced at Chantilly,
was established. We were placed in the rhetoric class-room, and grouped
at tables of twelve covers each. Each of us had a wooden spoon, but no
fork; and we were given to understand that the latter was a dangerous
thing. We also had a wooden bowl given us from which to eat our soup;
and I have kept it as a curiosity. I never used it. It seemed as though
pains had been taken to do everything which could excite our disgust.
The tables had no cloths, and were never washed; as a great deal of
wine was spilled the smell was insupportable. Hairs were often found in
the food; and the dirtiest of the prisoners were detailed to wait upon
us. Pigs ran about the refectory while we were at dinner. A notice was
posted one day, saying that it was only necessary to give us enough to
keep us alive.

Supper was entirely done away with. Mesdames de Courteilles, de
Rochechouart, and de Richelieu ate with the lowest creatures, and
Madame and Mademoiselle de Pons with Mademoiselle Dervieux, of the
Opera, a negress, and what were called feminine _sans-culottes_.

The men ate in another refectory. My mess-mates were hard to please in
the matter of food, among them the daughter of one of the Duke of
Bourbon's grooms. Such people were never content. The keeper, angry one
day because they tried to throw their plates in his face, pointed me
out to the commissioner who examined us, as well as others of my class,
and said, 'You can ask those ladies; they never complain of anything.'
He greatly preferred to have charge of us than of the common people.
The keepers at Plessis were not at all like those at Chantilly, who
were kind, attentive, obliging and attached to us. Those at Plessis
persecuted us to get money, demanded services of us, and reproached us
when we had two garments for not giving them one of them. They were
very hard to get along with. I often served them as secretary in
writing to their relatives or making applications. Once while doing
something of this sort a very amusing thing happened to Madame de la
Fayette. A woman asked her to compose a petition for her, which she did
immediately, with the readiness and kindness which characterized her.
But as her handwriting was bad, she charged the person to have it
copied; and she had the stupidity to send it to a prisoner, who, good
patriot that he was, was indignant at the want of civism evinced in it,
and sent it back with some words effaced, and the following remarks:
'This petition is aristocratic; one never uses such phraseology. This
is not civic; it has the odour of a château. This person does not know
how to draw up a petition,' etc.

We laughed a great deal at the severe criticism aroused by this kind

A convoy from La Force brought Madame de la Fayette to us at Plessis.
The van-guard was composed of Madame des Réaux, who was eighty-four
years old, Madame de Machaut, and other women who were at least
seventy. These were, as a great favour, put into a carriage; the
others, as was the custom, came in a cart. It was a long time before
they were put into lodgings, and we were allowed to approach them. At
last I was able to see one of my cousins, who found the rules in this
prison less severe than in the one from which she came; and all the
girls of the street from Paris collected there presented a spectacle so
indecent that one so pure as she could scarcely endure it. Besides, she
slept in a room where there were four other persons whom she did not
know; I was able to get another room for her, which she thought quite
palatial. She has often told me of the extreme pleasure she felt on
awaking and finding herself alone. The room was so small that she could
not put a chair between her bed and the wall; there was fortunately a
recess, however, where with some trouble she could sit down. Having
Madame de la Fayette so near me was very pleasant. Her virtues and
kindliness, which had suffered no change from the life she had been
compelled to live during the first years of the Revolution, the
possibility of opening my heart to her with regard to my family,
concerning my anxiety for whom I had never spoken to any one, did me
much good; we wept together over her own fate. She seemed to me to be
much less prepared than I was for the general and particular evils
which threatened us. She thought, for instance, that she could defend
her cause and that of her husband before the Revolutionary tribunal,
and that only those were in danger who had committed some serious or
trifling injury to the Republic. It took me at least a fortnight to set
her right on this subject, and enable her to realize her true
situation; but, indeed, what passed before our eyes was more eloquent
than anything I could say.

The number of victims carried off became larger and larger; they
generally went away during the time we were taking our walk in the
courtyard. It seems to me now, that I can see the unfortunate Monsieur
Titon, a counsellor in the parliament of Paris, as he passed beneath
the windows of the room of his wife and daughter, who were not even
permitted to bid him a last farewell. He went out at five o'clock in
the evening, and the next day at noon he was dead. Carts and
Fouquier-Tinville's carriage arrived at all hours, and were crowded
with the accused. This man's coachman was well worthy of such a master;
while the victims were getting into the wagon he drummed out dancing
tunes, and his costume was that of a Merry Andrew. It is almost
impossible to describe the terror excited by the opening of the great
gate, especially when it was repeated several times a day. I can hear
now the sound of the drum beating. The bailiffs of the Revolutionary
tribunal went before the wagons with their hands full of warrants. Then
there was a moment of deathlike silence. Every one thought the fatal
order had come for him; faces were filled with terror, hearts and minds
overwhelmed with fright. The bailiffs went up into the corridors to
call for those who were to go off, and only allowed them a quarter of
an hour to prepare. Each bade the other an eternal farewell; we were in
a stunned condition, being only sure of living from ten o'clock in the
morning until seven o'clock in the evening. Sleep was light when one
suffered such anxiety, and was frequently interrupted by the arrival of
convoys. That containing the famous prisoners from Nantais created a
great sensation. It was the custom to receive the prisoners with
lighted torches; and the keeper, accompanied by jailers and big dogs,
dragged the poor prisoners from the wagons in the roughest manner. They
were so much afraid of losing some of the prisoners that they called
the roll two or three times in succession, then put them in the
"mouse-trap,"--a new name for a receiving-place. There was no
calculation as to whether there was room enough in the house; room was
made: and there have been as many, so we have been assured, as
seventeen hundred at one time in the colleges of Plessis and
Louis-le-Grand. Twenty-five persons were put in the same room, even in
the _entresols_, with grated windows. The severity of the treatment
increased constantly. One day about three o'clock in the afternoon I
heard my bolts shot to, and could not understand the reason; it was
unusual. It was on account of a servant having thrown water out of a
window into the courtyard, after having been forbidden; and for this
great crime we were punished.

We were not allowed to have any light in our rooms; this was a very
great privation. To room in front of a street lamp was a great piece of
good fortune. In the corridors were placed chaffing-dishes, on which we
warmed our suppers. Those of us who had fireplaces kept the fires
bright, so as to give light. Some one would light a candle for a
moment, then extinguish it the next, for fear of being punished. To eat
with our fingers was intolerable. To go to the jailer every day to ask
him to cut up our chocolate was neither amusing nor satisfactory. I
remember a large penknife which belonged to Madame Vassy which was our
delight. She was a lovely woman, bright and intelligent, and extremely
obliging. She said she liked variety. She married, on leaving the
prison, a Prussian, who took her to Berlin.

On the 18th of June I witnessed a heart-rending scene. I was in Madame
de Pon's apartment, playing a game of chess with her, when some one
came and called me; I went out. A person who felt an interest in Madame
de Pon's daughter told me that her father had been transferred from the
private hospital where he had been, to the Plessis, and that as he was
getting out of the wagon he had received his bill of indictment; that
he implored most earnestly to be allowed to see his daughter, but was
refused, in order to avoid such a harrowing interview. The windows of
the keeper's apartment opened directly upon the courtyard where
Mademoiselle de Pons was then walking; they were ordered to be closed.
Monsieur de Pons gave himself up to the most frenzied despair, saying
that the most precious treasure he had in the world was taken from him.
We did not know how to get his daughter out of the courtyard without
arousing her suspicions. Haly had caused her to suspect that something
was going on, by forbidding her to go under the windows on account of
the arrival of some new prisoners. I made some pretext to persuade her
to go into our building with one of my friends; and the latter led her
to a place quite away from her unfortunate father. Then I returned to
Madame de Pons's room, and from the change in my countenance she
perceived that something had happened. I said nothing, but began
playing chess again, in order to gain time to prepare her for it. The
state of affairs between herself and her husband rendered this less
terrible for her than for her daughter. She urged me to tell her the
cause of my emotion. As Monsieur de Pons had been ill of consumption
for a long time, I told her that he was about to die. She begged me not
to tell her daughter of it, and I promised. This unhappy man was not
sent for to be taken to the Conciergerie until nine o'clock in the
evening, and consequently he was in the same building with his child
for five hours without being able to take her in his arms, comfort her,
or bid her a last farewell. He spent all of the time in seeking by
threats and prayers to excite the compassion and interest of the
keeper, telling him of her youth, of his affection for her, and that
his last prayer was that happier days might be in store for her. He
cast a farewell glance toward the courtyard, and then was led away. I
spent the evening in extreme trouble and agitation; although I knew
Monsieur de Pons only very slightly, the thought that he had not in his
last agonized hours been able to see his daughter and bless her, and
the grief I knew she would feel, all caused me to pass a terrible
night. The young girl has since told me that she suspected that
something sad was being concealed from her, by the embarrassment in our
manner toward her. She came the next day as usual to my apartment to
comb my thin white hair, and I could scarcely restrain my feelings
while I was dressing when I remembered that her father was at that very
moment before the tribunal or mounting the scaffold. She went away
immediately. Madame de Pons had asked me to tell her the whole truth,
and I had done so. She had sent for news of her husband's trial, and
learned that he and also Messieurs de Laval, de Rohan-Soubise, de
Monterrey, and fifty others had been condemned to death as conspirators
against Robespierre, and were to be executed at the Grève, wearing red
shirts, though these by law were required to be worn only by murderers.
It seems that in order to make this so-called conspiracy more noted,
the most celebrated names of the old régime, had been made use of, and
that in fact those who bore them had never thought of conspiring.

All day means were employed to increase Mademoiselle de Pons's anxiety
on account of her father's illness as she knew he was in great danger,
and feared his end was approaching. She says in one of her prison
memoirs, of which a few copies have been printed, that I asked
permission of her mother to tell her of her father's death. She did not
know that, on the contrary, it was Madame de Pons who earnestly
implored me to undertake to break it to her, and that for a long time I
refused. At last she gave me some very good reasons for doing so, and I
consented. Mademoiselle de Pons, in whose presence I no longer
concealed my emotion, suspected her misfortune. She questioned me; I
made no reply, but threw my arms around her and burst into tears.

Another calamity befell us, the small-pox broke out. Madame des Réaux,
eighty-four years old, died of it; and an only son also died, almost in
sight of his father and mother, who were cruelly refused permission to
go into another prison to weep over their unhappy child. They drank
their cup to the dregs. Two very old ladies by the name of Machault
were also attacked by this horrible disease, which naturally was
greatly dreaded by all those who had not had it. Fortunately the
contagion did not spread, which was extraordinary in a place where so
many persons were crowded together. Besides, the manner in which the
sick were treated was horrible. No money could procure medicine for
them, or even a cup of tea. I saw a very strong woman die, who could
have been cured with very little care. It required two days'
negotiation to gain permission to have a warming-pan brought into the
house. The prison surgeon was a Pole, named Markoski, who had come to
Paris to study medicine, of which he was entirely ignorant. I needed to
be bled; he found that it was difficult to do this in my arm. I let him
try my foot, and he was successful. I pardoned his want of skill and
his ignorance on account of his kindness of heart. He was really
obliging; he brought us news of persons of our acquaintance who were
imprisoned in other houses of arrest. And he was particularly kind to
me because I gave him an account of the sick, and because, as I knew
some medical phrases, I spared him the trouble of making out
certificates of infirmity for persons who hoped by that means to escape
close imprisonment; it was only necessary for him to sign what I had
written. One day when I was feeling very badly, I said to myself, 'It
would be so sweet to die in my bed.' What a terrible condition it is
when one rejoices over an illness which may bring death!

I omitted to relate a very ridiculous incident. The day before the
Feast of the Supreme Being[4] all the prisoners were sent down into the
courtyard, which we found filled with an enormous quantity of branches
and leaves. I pretended to work upon them for a few minutes, and then I
withdrew into my own room; several of our wretched companions worked
away zealously, and even offered to plant a liberty-pole in the middle
of the courtyard. The keeper, less absurd than they, forbade it, saying
that such a decoration would not suit a prison. They danced in the
court; the jailers attended this strange festival,--it was the day of
Pentecost, on which Robespierre permitted God to be adored provided He
should not be called by that name. One of them praised me very much (he
was not very bad), and said that he thought I would carry myself very
well going to the guillotine; I answered him coolly that I hoped I
should. Another boasted of the rapidity with which the Revolutionary
tribunal got through with its trials; and he added that in order to set
things right, it would be necessary to cut off seven thousand heads.
One day as I was sitting alone in my room two gendarmes entered; I
thought that my last moment of life had come. They questioned me about
my father and my brothers; and as the conversation progressed, I hoped
that the mere curiosity to see a person of my rank destined for the
scaffold had attracted them. They went away, and I was much relieved by
their departure. A little while after, a female who had the appearance
of a woman of ill-fame came to tell me that she had been ordered by the
keeper to lodge in my room, and that she was going immediately to bring
in her bed. For a moment I felt extremely irritated, but I restrained
myself. I told her that I would leave the room and she could have it
all to herself. The women and young girls who were poor had entered
into a speculation which I now found useful: they took possession of
very small cells, and for money gave them up to other people, finding
some way of crowding in elsewhere. I thought of one occupied by the
daughter of the Prince of Condé's groom, and she let me have it for a
louis in _assignats_; she boasted a great deal of her kindness to me,
and indeed it was very fortunate for me. I regretted my fireplace very
much on account of its convenience for my neighbours; moreover, it was
both inconvenient and dangerous to light fires in open braziers in so
narrow a space, though under the circumstances it was absolutely
necessary. My new lodging possessed one advantage over those of Madame
de la Fayette, in that I could put a chair between my bed and the wall.
I could without rising lift the latch of my door, and even look out
into the court. My prison life taught me that even the smallest power
is precious. The difficulty of procuring light and fire enabled me to
succeed in striking a light with steel. I carefully concealed the
possession of this treasure, fearing that it might be regarded as a
dangerous weapon in a Revolutionary arsenal. The keeper, learning that
his name had been used in order to turn me out of my apartment, came to
tell me that he had had nothing to do with that enterprise, and
requested me to denounce the woman who had contrived it. I replied that
I had such a horror of denunciations that I would not give her name. He
then proposed that I should return to my room, but I refused to do so;
the prison was getting so full that I feared I should be compelled to
receive some one into it. Convoys were constantly arriving from the
different Departments. One came containing eighty peasant women from
the Vivarais, who wore very singular costumes. We questioned them
concerning the cause of their arrest; they explained to us in their
patois that it was because they went to mass. This was considered so
enormous a crime that they were put in the building belonging to the
tribunal which was called by our wags Fouquier's shop. Some ladies from
Normandy came to our prison. They seemed countrified, though they did
not wear their local costumes; they spent their time from morning to
night writing memoirs and petitions,--a very dangerous habit during the
Reign of Terror, and one which was likely to hasten the hour of death.

I received a letter from my father which made my heart ache. I always
awaited and read his letters with deep emotion. He told me that Madame
Latour, who was their only consolation, who lightened the burden of
their old age, had just been taken away from them; that she had been
forced to leave the prison in spite of the efforts she had made to
remain or be allowed to return. She begged for imprisonment as
earnestly as one usually does for liberty.

All this caused me great grief. I felt more keenly than ever how much
my parents needed me, and I again sent in applications to be allowed to
go to them; they were fruitless. Fortunately they had with them my
sister-in-law, the wife of Louis, Vicomte de Noailles, whom they valued
as she deserved; but as she was obliged to take care of Madame d'Ayen,
her mother, and Madame la Maréchale de Noailles, her grandmother, who
were lodging with her, she could not do very much for my parents.
Consequently they were left entirely alone, my father then eighty and
my mother sixty.[5] Their forlorn situation was constantly before my
mind. One day as I was intensely occupied with thoughts of them, I
heard a great noise in the courtyard; I looked out, and saw a convoy
enter containing a hundred and fourteen persons from Neuilly-sur-Seine.
They had been compelled to pass by the camp of Robespierre's disciples,
who had shouted terrible threats at them. As they had received no
orders to kill the prisoners, they contented themselves with
overwhelming them with threats and insults. The convoy was composed of
a great many nobles who had established themselves in the village of
Neuilly on account of the _lettres de passe_. (A decree had compelled
all nobles who were not imprisoned in Paris to go away several leagues
from the city.) A most strange thing to happen at such a time was, that
some persons who were not of noble blood, but who wished to be
considered so, obeyed this decree, which had no reference to them at
all. The servants of the nobles had been arrested with them; and with
them were also people of all conditions, among them six nuns of the
Visitation,--one of whom was Madame de Croï, sister of Madame de
Tourzel. All of these unfortunate creatures were left a whole day in
the 'mouse-trap.' I learned that Madame de Choiseul, the mother, Madame
Hippolyte de Choiseul, and Madame de Sérent were also of the party. The
whole company were searched in the strictest manner. At last, at seven
o'clock in the evening, they were put into lodgings. The nuns, to their
dismay, were put on the sixth floor, with twenty-five persons; and to
make them more wretched, they were put with the lowest creatures. All
belonging to this convoy suffered extremely from hunger. We gave them
what we could. I remember that I made for Mesdames de Choiseul a panado
which they thought delicious. Bread and wine were usually all that was
allowed to be offered to the new-comers. This is a minute detail, and
is intended to show the destitution which existed in our prison. I have
seen poor women, brought from the suburbs of Paris, sleeping on the
tables in the refectory. The greatest attention we could bestow upon
people was to give up our mattresses to them while they were waiting
for theirs.

All those composing the convoy from Neuilly, though scarcely settled in
lodgings, came very near being sent in a body to the Conciergerie to
perish the next day. About midnight I heard the sound of carriages,--a
not uncommon thing, as I slept lightly. A melancholy curiosity,
inspired by fear, induced me to rise and see what was going on.

I saw by the light of a number of torches a great many gendarmes and
bailiffs, and at the same moment a frightful noise was heard in our
corridor. Loud voices cried, 'Let all who belong to the convoy from
Neuilly prepare to depart.' I trembled all over, and went out to go and
see my neighbours, who, little accustomed to the rules of the house,
were quite undisturbed, since they had been told that this was only a
removal. I do not remember whether I told them of the fate which
immediately threatened them, so they might prepare for it, or whether I
left them in ignorance of their death-summons. For some time they
remained in suspense; then the jailers came to say that there was a
mistake. We afterward learned that it was by mistake that they had come
that night to the Plessis. The executioners did not let their wagons
remain empty, but went to another prison to fill them. It was necessary
to have a certain number of victims every day, except from our prison,
where the number varied. I have known as many as sixty-four to be sent
from us in one day.

One thing seems almost incredible unless one witnessed it: it is that
constantly one could hear the prisoners playing on different
instruments, and singing in chorus the Republican airs; and again, that
one could see women caring for their dress, and even coquettish, while,
besides the guillotine, they were threatened with death by fire and
water. We heard that we were to be shot as the Lyonnais were, against a
wall which was newly erected in our courtyard and was destined, it was
said, for that purpose. In addition to these rumours, the fire in the
library of the abbey of St. Germain,--which we saw very plainly,--as
well as the explosion of the magazine at Grenelle, gave us a great deal
of anxiety. As far as I myself was concerned, I am sure these two
events disturbed me but little; but I was terribly anxious on account
of those dear to me. The walk in the open air, which was necessary for
our existence, became almost intolerable. One day when I was out, I saw
several persons dismount who came from Angoumois. It was about six
o'clock in the evening; the name of one of them, an old lady named De
Boursac, reminded me of two of the king's equerries who bore the same
name, and I gave her some information concerning them which seemed to
afford her great pleasure. She told me they were her children, and that
she had two others with her. My first conversation was a last farewell,
for she was executed with them the next day. The pretext of
conspiracies began to be fashionable in order to cause the death of a
great many persons of different classes at the same time. I comforted
myself sometimes with the hope that my parents' advanced age and their
virtues would save them, and that I only would perish; for I saw
clearly from all the refusals I had received that I should be obliged
to renounce entirely the happiness of joining them. This was for me the
greatest possible sorrow, but each day brought others. I could never
have endured my situation with fortitude had I not resigned myself
entirely to the will of God. The charity which we were so frequently
called upon to exercise helped to distract our minds. One day, for
instance, I met a poor woman who arrived overcome with fatigue from her
long, miserable journey, having slept by the way only in infected
prisons. The jailer, in order to force her to go to her apartment,
which was very high up, spoke to her in most abusive language, and even
kicked her, to rouse her from the prostration which overcame her as she
mounted the stairs. I begged this cruel citizen not to treat her as a
beast of burden, but to put her in my charge. I had great trouble to
gain this favour from him, but succeeded with the help of one of my
companions in getting her away from the barbarian. I think she was
Madame de Richelieu.

Madame de Rochechouart, her mother, was a singular example of the well
established fact that prison life cured several very great invalids.
When she was arrested at Courteille she was spitting blood so
constantly that it was thought she would never reach Paris. On reaching
Plessis her health became much better, though she lived in a room where
the plaster was still fresh, without fire, and exposed to every wind. I
believe it was the strict diet forced upon us by the poor food which
produced this happy effect. One ate only what was just necessary to
sustain life. The mind was so agitated that the body felt the effects
of the strain. I remember that one night I was so hungry that I got up
to get some chocolate, wondering that a physical need could distract me
from the sad thoughts which beset me when awake. One day I spoke to
Madame de la Fayette on this subject, saying to her that I could not
conceive how, occupied as we were constantly with thoughts of death,
and having it continually before us, we could provide for the next day
what was needful to preserve our lives. While we were in the refectory
we were informed that a poor woman had thrown herself out of the only
window without a grating in the whole house, and that she was dying in
the courtyard; it was surely despair which had urged her to this act of
folly. I ran to the spot where they had carried her, and found her
crushed, and showing no signs of consciousness. The keeper was beside
himself, fearing lest this accident should compromise him, and never
thought of doing anything for the unfortunate creature. I implored him,
as our surgeon had made his rounds and lived at a great distance, to
send for one of the physicians who were imprisoned in the building used
as a court. He granted my request very unwillingly; and the officers
from the hospital could scarcely be induced to come to see the injured
woman, as they said it was the duty of the surgeon of the house to
attend to her. They found she had no money, and made no attempt to do
anything for her. I was extremely irritated at this. My companions in
misfortune shared my desire to be of some assistance. I enter into
these details only to show that deeds of kindness were the only
distraction from our own sufferings.

I always waited with impatience, mingled with fear, the notes that came
to me from the Luxembourg. I received one on the morning of June 26. My
father wrote me (I transcribe the note): 'Your mother is suffering from
severe indigestion, brought on by eating salad, which is all she has
for supper; at first I treated her myself, and afterward our neighbours
rendered her all sorts of services. We have a good physician here among
the prisoners; he has given her two grains of an emetic which have done
her much good. She will be able to take liquids to-morrow, and is
improving rapidly. You shall hear from her to-morrow. Our tenderest
love and kisses, my dear daughter.'

On reading this my heart ached; I thought of my mother as suffering
from something like apoplexy, of my father as heart-broken, while I was
utterly powerless to help them. I spent the whole day and night in
great agitation, and it seemed so long before the sun rose! I went down
and sent message after message to the clerk. Finally, when the time
when we usually received letters had passed without my getting one, as
a great many of our prisoners had husbands at the Luxembourg I went to
inquire if they had had their letters; some said no, others manifested
a sort of embarrassment which seemed like compassion. I was struck by
it, and a suspicion of the calamity with which I was threatened
immediately flashed across my mind. I talked of it the whole evening to
Madame de la Fayette and other persons. Their terrified expression
confirmed my suspicions. I said to them, with extreme emotion: 'You are
hiding from me to-day what I shall learn to-morrow. I know what you
wish to keep from me. My cousin, you must tell me the dreadful news.'

Accordingly she came into my room early in the morning, and I no longer
doubted what my misfortune was. I read the whole story in her face. She
did not tell me of the death of both at once; she waited awhile before
telling me of the other. I can never express the grief I felt,--the
horror of thinking of such virtue, perfect charity, and honour upon the
scaffold! My parents' goodness to me, their tenderness, the immense
force of their examples, the lessons they taught me,--all came to my
mind. My sobs choked me. It was the day before the fast of Saint Peter.
I observed it strictly, swallowing only my tears; it is impossible to
describe what one feels under such circumstances. I could learn no
details, except that they had been beheaded as conspirators. I did not
go down-stairs for several days, and it was some time before I went to
walk in the courtyard. My neighbours showed me every attention. From
that time the thought of death was always before me,--everything
recalled it to my mind; and this perhaps soothed the violence of my
grief. One of the first visits I made was to a lady who had on the same
day lost her husband and her only son, a youth of sixteen. I was told
that I might perhaps comfort her; and I tried to do so as well as I
could. I continually repeated the prayers for the dying for others and
for myself; I repeated them so frequently that I knew them by heart. I
felt sorry to end my life without spiritual aid. This was all the
sadder since there were two hundred priests in our house; but they were
absolutely forbidden to hold any communication with us. Some persons
were in despair on this account. I told them that when it was
impossible to confess, one should make a sacrifice of one's life and
arouse oneself to perfect contrition, and one would obtain pardon. I
was not greatly disturbed, because I felt entirely resigned to the will
of God.

Three peasant women from Berry, who slept just back of my bed, received
their indictments just as they were going to bed. One of them had spit
upon a patriot's cloak; another had stepped upon the arm of a statue of
Liberty, which had tumbled down; I do not know the crime of the third.
They were in a terrible state all night. Their sobbing prevented my
sleeping at all. I got up and endeavoured to encourage them, and exhort
them to submit to the decree of Providence. After a while they grew
more calm, appeared before the tribunal, and were acquitted. This was
for the purpose of making it appear that the decisions were rendered
with some sort of equity.

These pretended conspiracies multiplied in a frightful manner. After
that of the Luxembourg, one was invented at St. Lazare, and another at
Bicêtre. The victims collected at the last mentioned prison, as a
_dépôt_, were brought to ours, and kept there twenty-four hours. The
convoy was escorted by forty gendarmes, armed with guns. There were a
good many priests. These unfortunate beings were chained together by
twos and threes, like wild beasts; most of them held their breviaries
in their hands. All of them were put in the dungeon to sleep, and they
were taken away in a body the next day to the Conciergerie. It is even
doubted whether they were ever condemned before being beheaded. I
cannot explain the barbarous curiosity which incited us to go to the
windows to see these itinerant hearses come and go. I remarked one day
to some of my companions that under the old régime, we should have gone
a long way to avoid meeting a criminal who was going to be hanged, and
now we gazed upon every innocent victim. I think we grew somewhat
hardened from constant contact with those who were so. The famous
Osselin, author of all the decrees against the _émigrés_, was in the
party from Bicêtre; he had concealed a dagger under his coat with which
he wounded himself several times during the night he passed at the
Plessis. These wounds were dressed as well as was possible, and he was
carried to the tribunal on a litter. He was guillotined the next day.
The sight of this man's suffering, criminal though he was, inspired me
with horror beyond description. He was literally cut to pieces.

On the 22d of July it was rumoured in the prison that some of the
ladies of the house of Noailles had been condemned. I did not speak of
it to Madame de la Fayette, but tried in vain to learn the truth of the
report. A little while after, however, I read in a newspaper that
Madame la Maréchale de Noailles and Madame la Duchesse d'Ayen had been
guillotined. Nothing was said about my dear little sister-in-law.[6]
The difficulty of procuring news from outside was extremely great. The
servants of the Reign of Terror even trembled for themselves. When I
questioned them, they answered vaguely. I no longer doubted the truth
of this new calamity; but I wanted to be sure of it before announcing
it to Madame de la Fayette, whose fears I sought in vain to arouse, and
who was always hoping for the best. At last I paid a jailer to gain for
me the confirmation of what I feared.

It was a sorrow to me the whole time I was hiding it from my cousin,
and my spirit was crushed. I loved the Vicomtesse de Noailles as a
daughter and friend. She possessed every possible virtue and charm, and
was the member of my family whom I most loved and confided in.

To find myself bereaved of five members of my family within so short a
space of time seemed almost incredible. And how could I tell Madame de
la Fayette that she no longer had mother or grandmother or sister! At
last she became conscious of the embarrassed manner of those whom she
questioned. She asked me the reason; and I answered her by a flood of
tears. It was a sad service which I rendered in return for what she had
done for me, under the same circumstances. She comprehended the death
of her parent and grandparent, but she could not be persuaded of the
death of the angel sister whom she adored. I shared all her sorrow, and
our hearts bled for each other. Her situation was terrible, and
awakened anew my still fresh grief. We frequently talked together of
our revered parents; and we were only roused from our stunned condition
by misfortunes more recent than our own, which urged us to comfort
those who were suffering from them. The indispensable duty of preparing
food is a real, though wretched, distraction when the heart is aching.

We were now threatened with a domiciliary visitation; the keeper, who
was quite kind to me, advised me to put my devotional books where they
would not be seen. I concealed them carefully, as well as my
_assignats_, a few of which still remained, between the beams of our
cells. This visitation did not take place. One night (I do not exactly
remember the date) I heard a great noise of horses' feet; the great
gate opened and shut every moment, and horsemen came in and out. At
daybreak I found the courtyard filled with gendarmes. They went away
without doing anything, and I have never learned why they came.

I had some business to transact with Haly, and we talked afterward of
what was going on; and he informed me that soon all persons of my rank
were to be beheaded. I realized that I had but little time to live, and
profited by the conversation. I set a strict watch over myself, and
prayed God to sustain my courage,--a prayer which was fully granted me.

I did not think it necessary to overwhelm my companions with the weight
of my griefs and fears. Some of them deluded themselves as certain sick
persons do during epidemics, though already attacked by the disease,
saying, 'He who just died had a hemorrhage; I have not. The other
complained of a pain in his back; I have not felt anything of the
sort.' Just so with the prisoners; they said to each other, 'Those who
were beheaded were in correspondence with the _émigrés_, they were
aristocrats, money was found on their persons,' etc. They tried to
persuade themselves that they were not in the category of those who
were every day being condemned. I looked at the situation in a
different light; it appeared to me impossible, if the Reign of Terror
continued, that any one of our class should escape. I felt sure I
should suffer the same fate as my parents; I sought to imitate their
resignation, and to honour their memory by dying in a manner worthy of
them. I thought that terrible armchair[7] had been honoured by the many
virtuous persons who had occupied it. Every evening when I went to bed
I repeated my _In manus_. I arranged for the distribution of all my
small supply of furniture among my companions. I constantly strove to
forgive injuries. My parents, who had been very admirable in this
respect, were my models. How beautiful, how Christian, how truly worthy
of emulation it is to feel no resentment against those who, after
having overwhelmed us with insult, conduct us to the tomb in a manner
so atrocious! It is only by following the teaching of the Gospel in
every respect that one can be enabled to practise a charity so perfect.

One more sacrifice remained for me to make,--the saddest of all: it
was, never to see my son again. I can never express what I felt then,
or what an effort it cost me to be resigned to it. I believed that God
would pardon me; and I was in as peaceful a state of mind as could be
expected under such cruel circumstances. I resolved that when I should
be called before the tribunal I would make no answer to the questions
of the iniquitous judges, but after hearing my sentence read, I would
say, 'You are condemning an innocent person; as a Christian I forgive
you, but the God of vengeance will judge you.'

I grieved to think that I was not to die for the faith. Ah! how
delightful, when one finds one's last hour approaching, to be able to
be sure of possessing a crown of glory and dwelling in that country of
which Saint Augustine says that 'Truth is the King, Charity the Law,
and the Duration, Eternity.' The idea that I was to die only because of
the ineradicable stain of aristocracy displeased me inexpressibly.

On the 8th Thermidor, July 27th, 1794, we perceived toward evening an
extreme degree of the usual terrible watchfulness. The prisoners were
not allowed to go into the courtyard; the gratings were closed. One
would have been anxious under any circumstances; but when one is daily
expecting one's fate, one has no other fear. I had still, however, a
great dread of being killed by piecemeal, as was done on the 2d of
September, with pikes, bayonets, and such infernal weapons. I slept as
usual; and the next day, the 9th Thermidor, the sound of cannon was
heard. The keeper and jailer were in a state of great excitement; their
eyes looked haggard and their faces downcast. We knew nothing of what
was passing, but we presumed it must be something frightful. That
evening their countenances seemed more human, and there was a rumour of
the death of Robespierre.

The next day, the 10th, the inhabitants of houses adjoining the Plessis
made from their windows signs of satisfaction. Our keepers appeared
more serene. We heard cries of joy and clapping of hands in the
courtyard; a man named Lafond, who had been in close confinement for
five months, and of whose very existence we had been ignorant, had been
set at liberty. This was the dawn of less terrible days for us. We
believed for the first time that we might possibly be released from our
tomb. On the 11th, Madame Rovère's waiting-woman was set at liberty.
The moment a prisoner approached the grating, cries of 'Liberty'
resounded through the prison; and this word sounded very sweet to our
ears. I could not imagine what was going on outside. We learned that
the famous Terrorists continued to take the lead in the Convention,
that the terrible Collot d'Herbois, who had had us imprisoned, was one
of the number, which made me think that people of our class in society
would still be imprisoned. The thought of death never left me nor my
companions. Madame de Pons was very anxious to leave the Plessis; she
obtained permission to go to a private hospital. (The private hospitals
were the prisons where prisoners were best lodged and fed.) It was
proposed that I should send in the same petition; but I refused to do
so for two reasons: first, because I did not wish to act contrary to
the will of Providence, which had placed me in the Plessis; and second,
because it was very expensive living in the private hospitals.

The men were now allowed to walk in the courtyard with the women; I was
disgusted at this. One can easily imagine the unpleasantness of such a
mingling of hussars, spies, women and girls of the street. I advised
the good nuns not to appear. It was a horrid sight for any decent
person, still more for a holy Carmelite. I lent my chamber to these
good women that they might say their prayers in peace. One of them told
me she could not endure the language of the vulgar creatures who were
lodged with her; I told her her only resource was to stop her ears,
since she could not alter their conversation. Another went quite out of
her mind because she was not set free. One of her companions came for
me to quiet her. I went to her and undertook to treat her as though she
were ill, persuaded her to take something to drink, and comforted her
with the hope of liberty, and after a while she became calm. It was
terrible to see her.

As the number of persons who were set at liberty increased every day,
we began to hope for escape from our bars, which up to this time we had
expected to see open only for us to pass to the scaffold. The women of
the lower classes were favoured first; and six months elapsed before
any one dared say a word for one of the nobility. I felt real
gratification when I saw Monsieur Legendre, the registrar of Mouchy, go
out. Every time I had seen him, I had said to myself, 'He is one of the
victims of our family; 'and I had felt quite heart-sick on account of

Our seclusion was so strict that when I met two men (the men were never
allowed to enter the building appropriated to the women) on my corridor
it astonished me greatly. They seemed curious, and asked questions. I
inquired about these new people, and was told that they were attached
to the Committee of General Security, and had considerable influence
there. One of them asked me if I belonged to the nobility; I replied
that I did. One of my companions reproved me for this, considering it
an imprudence. I told her that I never kept back the truth, and besides
it would be perfectly useless to do so. These men returned for several
days following; they showed a desire to gain the confidence of the
prisoners in order to interfere in their affairs. Those who were set at
liberty were now frequently of a higher class. Among them were priests,
soldiers, and land owners. We had very miserable recruits in their
places,--some Terrorists, and a legion of spies. The judges of the
Revolutionary tribunal came again to the clerk of our prison to inquire
for accused prisoners, who were given permission to go and confer with
their defending counsel. As for us, being only suspected, we had no
right to do so; but we pretended to have, so as to hear something from
those who were dear to us. The first person who came to see me was
Madame de la Motte; and the first who succeeded in sending me a letter
at this still most dangerous period was the Vicomtesse de Durfort. She
offered me her aid and money. I shall never forget this great kindness.
Madame de Grimaldi, her mother's sister, who was with us the day she
set out for the tribunal, saw Mademoiselle de Pons as she was getting
into Fouquier's wagon; she pressed her hand as she bade her good-by,
and said, 'I am content; my troubles will soon be over.'

Monsieur Noël inquired for me at the clerk's office; and I was very
glad to be able to show my gratitude to him for the proofs of affection
he had shown my parents. He proposed to make application for me to be
set at liberty. I refused to allow him to do so, urging as my objection
that I had read in one of the newspapers a denunciation against
Lecointre, of Versailles, issued by the Convention on account of his
having secured the release of Madame d'Adhémar from La Bourbe (the
convent of Port-Royal, on the Rue de la Bourbe, had been converted into
a prison under the appropriate name of Port-Libre), which made me fear
to compromise those who took an interest in me and our class generally;
and I determined to wait patiently a while longer. Next, the entire
convoy from Neuilly was set at liberty amid the cheers of the
prisoners. The nobles were not excluded from this measure,--a fact
which made me really believe, for the first time, that I should not
remain forever in the Plessis; and I wrote to Monsieur Noël that he
might bear me in mind. He had sent me tidings of all the members of my
family except my son, of whom I could learn nothing; the children of my
unfortunate sister-in-law came to see me.[8] Others were present; and I
could not utter a single word, so great was my emotion. I embraced them
and then retired to my chamber, completely overwhelmed by the
heart-rending memories awakened by their presence.

There was now great excitement among the prisoners. When one has no
hope, there is nothing to do but to be resigned; but we had laid aside
the thought of approaching death and had conceived the idea of being
released from captivity.

One day as I was sitting in my old room with the fireplace, which had
been vacated, and the possession of which once more was a real pleasure
to me, I saw a man come in from outside who was named Fortin; he told
me he was a lawyer frequently employed by Monsieur Legendre, a deputy
from Paris, and member of the Committee of General Security, and that
he could be of service to me. He asked me a great many questions, and
inspired me with confidence; he came to see me for several successive
days, and asked me for my papers. I showed him proofs that I had never
emigrated; that I had not gone outside of the Departments of Paris and
the Oise, from which I had certificates of civism and residence; that I
was imprisoned only as a noble, and that there was not the slightest
accusation against me. I afterward entered into correspondence with him.

Letters circulated more freely; and we could send them out by the
prisoners, who were leaving every day. I commissioned the governess of
Madame de Chauvelin's children to carry tidings of me to my
mother-in-law. We had learned that deputies had been sent into all the
prisons to release the prisoners, and that Bourdon, of the Oise, and
Legendre had charge of ours.

On the 16th of October, 1794, the great gate opened, and we saw the
carriage of these deputies enter,--which seemed a strange and pleasant
sight, since hitherto whenever a vehicle entered the courtyard it
departed loaded with victims. The deputies ascended to the clerk's
office, where the prisoners of the lower class were called up. Eighty
of them were at once set at liberty. The nobles were still ignorant
whether or not they would soon be numbered among the elect. The
deputies adjourned their second sitting to October 18. I felt that this
would probably be the day on which we would be subjected to our
examinations, and I dreaded it on account of my love of the truth. I
feared that I might be unfaithful to it, or that if I spoke the truth
plainly I might remain several years more in captivity. As I was
turning these thoughts over in my mind, which was very much troubled
(it was the famous 18th of October), I received orders to present
myself at the clerk's office. As we entered the room where the deputies
were, they said to us in a severe tone: 'Let the _ci-devants_ leave the
room; it is not proper to examine the good _sans-culottes_ in their
presence.' We retired and waited almost three hours, most of the time
standing. I conversed all this time with Madame de la Fayette. At last
my turn came. Bourdon asked me my names; I told them to him. He jumped
up out of his chair and exclaimed, 'These are terrible names! We cannot
set this woman at liberty; her case must be carried before the
Committee of General Security.'

I silently implored the aid of Heaven to enable me to watch over myself
at this moment and not to violate the truth.

Bourdon asked me several insignificant questions with regard to my
abode, the time of my imprisonment, etc. Legendre, whom Fortin and
Monsieur Noël had interested in my behalf, assumed a kindly manner, and
pointed out to his colleague that 'my papers were good, that I had been
spoken well of to him, that he knew that I had been a member of the
charitable board of St. Sulpice.' I felt a real satisfaction in being
under obligations to the poor. Fortin asked me what I had done to aid
the Revolution. I replied, 'All my life I have done any kind act that I
could; and I gave money to poor volunteers on my father's estate when
they set out for the army.' A prisoner who was present at my
examination had the kindness to bestow a panegyric upon me which the
keeper approved and added to, praising my submission to the rules of
the house.

I leaned quietly upon a table on which were all the judges' papers. I
learned afterward that my manner was considered haughty. No sentence
was pronounced upon me, and at last I told them that the unparalleled
miseries I had endured gave me a right to justice from them. Legendre
seemed somewhat moved, but I went out of his presence a moment after
feeling that my cause was lost. He treated Madame de la Fayette in a
most insulting manner. He told her 'that he had great fault to find
with her, that he detested her husband, herself, and her name.' She
replied with equal courage and nobleness 'that she would always defend
her husband and that a name was not a crime.'

Bourdon asked her several questions, to which she replied with
firmness. Legendre finally ended this pleasant dialogue by telling her
that she was an insolent creature. They decided to liberate the greater
part of our companions. I retired fully persuaded that I should be
again entered in the jail-book. But one of my neighbours assured me
that I was on the list of those who were to be set at liberty. I
received on this occasion strong proofs of the interest my companions
took in my doubtful fate; I returned to my own room sure that I was to
resume my fetters; I was resigned to this, as was also Madame de la
Fayette. It is not nearly so hard to feel so when one has experienced
many misfortunes, and when one has no hope of being restored to those
one loves.

I have noticed that it is better, when one is about to give up life,
not to be surrounded by those who make it so dear. What one suffers for
others and on one's own account is, taken together, too much to be

On the 19th of October, 1794, at ten o'clock in the morning, while I
was busy with my morning duties, I heard my door open suddenly. A
little while before I should have been sure that it was the
announcement of my death, and I did not even now think this sudden
interruption brought me good news; but some one, whose name I do not
remember, said to me delightedly, 'You are free!' My heart, so unused
to pleasurable emotions, was slow to entertain the idea. The keeper
entered, confirmed the news, and brought me my _acte de liberté_. I
then thought sadly of how little use it would be to me. Deprived of
every comfort, separated from my son and my parents, from Madame de
Chimay,--the only friend that Heaven had left to me,--without a home,
and in want of the very necessaries of life, I felt irritated by the
congratulations of the jailers and the gendarmes who had formerly
threatened me with the guillotine, and was very much afraid that they
would, according to their usual custom, manifest their feelings by
embracing me; but I fortunately escaped. In this confused condition of
thought and feeling, the memory of my dear son and the thought of what
I could be to him aroused my courage, which had succumbed at this
terrible crisis. It was necessary to pack up my small wardrobe, which
took only a short time. All my effects were put in two bundles. I bade
farewell to Madame de la Fayette, who, with several other persons, was
destined to remain in prison. I felt very grateful for the pleasure
which, despite her unfortunate situation, she showed at seeing me
released from bondage. I engaged a commissioner at the grating, who
helped me with my baggage. We arrived safely at the house of my
mother-in-law, who then lived on the Rue de Bellechasse. She received
me most kindly and tenderly. I found her with my niece; they did not
expect me, and neither did Monsieur Noël, who had on account of his
interest and attachment for me laboured to have me liberated. He came
to see me, and assured me that Madame Drulh (a former governess of
Madame de Mailly) was very anxious to have me stay at her house. I
accepted the kind offer for a few days, though I feared to compromise
her, since there was still great ill-feeling entertained against our
class. I went to see my nurse, Royale, who was much moved at sight of
me; she had saved all she could for me. I asked her for some mourning
dresses, as I had not worn any since the death of my parents. Madame
Latour came to see me. Our interview was interrupted by bitter weeping.
It is impossible to imagine what I felt at seeing the person who had
last seen my parents, and who had shown them such true affection; it
carried me back to the first hours of my bereavement. She thought me
frightfully changed; I looked ten years older, and like one risen from
the dead. A few of the servants of our house also came to see me. The
number of those who were faithful was very small, the Revolution having
made a portion of them 'patriots,' and some of them even Terrorists.

It was a great pleasure to me to see my old friends once more,--among
others, Madame de Tourzel, who had gone through more terrible scenes
than any of them; she had made the fearful journey from Varennes, had
been sentenced by the 'bloody tribunal' of the 2d of September, and had
been six times imprisoned. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I
embraced her. She showed under all the trying circumstances in which
she was placed a courage beyond all praise. It was really pitiful,
after the solemn scenes in which we had been actors and witnesses, to
see the value we attached to the small necessities of life after having
been so long deprived of them. It was an intense pleasure to me to be
able to use a knife, a clean plate, scissors, to look in a mirror,
etc.; but the greatest delight of all was to be no longer subjected to
the low and wicked. I feel some gratitude, however, to Haly, the
keeper, and Tavernier, the clerk, for having preserved and restored to
me the clock I mentioned before, which I valued very much.

The deliverance from all my past ills was very pleasant to me, but a
pall seemed over everything; I felt a distaste for everything, as one
does for medicines. Accustomed as I had been to be surrounded by
sympathizing love, the thought of my isolation overwhelmed me. It
seemed that though the period of my misfortune was becoming more
remote, liberty increased the intensity of my feelings; and my thoughts
grew sadder every day. The thought of death necessarily most
effectually blunts the edge of grief, since it brings us near to the
moment when we find what we have lost, and we cease to regret. My mind
returned to its former grief with renewed constancy, and I could no
longer open my heart to my friends. I was not sure that my son was
alive until I had been a long time out of prison. I had planned to
retire to a village, with one servant, and there mourn for my loved
ones. The consolation of rendering to the precious remains of my
parents the duties observed in all ages, and by all religions, was
refused me. Their ashes are mingled with those of criminals in the
cemetery of Picpus, the ground of which has been bought by Madame la
Princesse de Hohenzollern, sister of the Prince of Salm-Kirbourg. But
at the last great day when all hearts shall be opened, God will know
how to recognize his elect, and show them, resplendent in glory, to the
assembled nations.

I was one of the first, after the re-establishment of the church, to
have prayers said for my parents. A Mass was said for them at the
Foreign Missions. We have need of their protection. I trust that their
heavenly blessing may rest upon their children and grandchildren to the
latest generation.

The forlorn situation of my mother-in-law, who, though she had not been
in prison, had been under arrest in her own house with a dozen jailers,
who never left her until their pay failed, determined me to devote
myself to taking care of her; but I could not do this as the law
exiling nobles was not abrogated. We were allowed only two _décadis_[9]
to make our preparations, and immediately after were to retire some
leagues from Paris. It was necessary for me to seek some shelter;
Madame de la Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville, a relative of mine, proposed
to me to come to her house in the country, and assured me that I was
welcome to anything she had. Her kind feeling for me caused her to
offer what she really had not; for the little house which she occupied
in the village of Wisson, near Longjumeau, was scarcely large enough
for her own family. I went to see it, and concluded to rent some
lodgings near her and Mesdames de la Suze and de la Roche-Aymon. I did
not, however, have the opportunity to occupy them, as I obtained a
prolongation of my sojourn in Paris, and during that time the law was

After remaining six months at the house of good Madame Drulh, I found a
vacant room in the house where my mother-in-law was staying, which I
took immediately. It was extremely cold, and the winters of 1794 and
1795 were very trying. I had no one to wait upon me. I would come in to
go to bed, and find the fire had gone out, and this frequently after
having walked a long distance. I missed much of the sunlight in the
streets as I had to prepare both my breakfast and my supper. In order
to attend Mass I had to go out before day and resort to the secret
places of worship, where pious mechanics gladly received me. There was
nothing more edifying during the whole Reign of Terror than the courage
they showed in procuring for the faithful the opportunities of engaging
in the exercise of their religion. I dressed myself as a servant, and
consequently could not wear any of the warm _crépes_ which luxury
supplies for us; this masquerade was necessary in order not to make
known the places where the holy mysteries were celebrated.

On Christmas day, 1794, when the Réaumur thermometer fell to eighteen
degrees, I sat in the Rue Montorgueil, near Montmartre, through the
whole of the office, the sermon, vespers, and the benediction. I found
myself on the Pont Neuf at six o'clock in the evening, and the north
wind cut my face like a knife. I had formed the habit, after leaving
prison, of going out into the streets alone; I continued to do so, and
found it very convenient. I never took cold once during that severe
winter. I met my old acquaintances from time to time, and always felt
deeply moved. We invariably talked about the treatment in the different
prisons, and the sufferings we had endured. Almost all the prominent
persons had been imprisoned, or at least under arrest in their own
houses, which was substituted only as a great favour in the case of the
infirm or aged. We found a certain variety in the horrors; but on
comparison the Conciergerie and the Plessis proved to have been the
most terrible of all the prisons, on account of the treatment and the
great number of victims who were constantly taken from them to the

Madame Doudeauville very kindly persuaded me to spend a few days with
her at her country-house. Her loveliness, the attractions of her home,
the sincere sorrow she had felt at the death of my parents, and her
goodness to me, cheered me somewhat, though I was so overcome with
grief. I had almost forgotten how to write an ordinary letter, and had
long been entirely out of the habit of doing so. The carelessness of
the style of this memoir and its dullness are proof of what I have

At last I received news from my son, and this restored me to life.

The latter part of the winter was terribly hard, on account of both the
scarcity of food and the cold. It was almost impossible to procure
wood, candles, or bread. We sent thirty and forty leagues, for them. I
carried something in my pocket when I went out to dine, even at the
house of Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, who lodged in the Rue de
Charonne, near the barrier at the Faubourg St. Antoine. She boasted of
having a farmer who sent her a loaf of bread weighing four pounds,
every week. She had wretched fare; her dishes were what are commonly
called _culs-noirs_. A dwarf served her as butler and valet. She
endured her poverty nobly, and joked about it. I remember hearing a
lady say to the queen, the wife of Louis XVI., while she was at the
Tuileries, that she knew one woman more unfortunate than she, and that
was the Duchess of Orleans. She had inherited a hundred and twenty
millions from Monsieur le Duc de Penthièvre, of which the nation took
possession, and did not even give her enough out of it to support life.

The Revolution has taught us how to understand poverty, by causing us
to experience it ourselves. Two farmers on the estate of Mouchy, whose
names I record with gratitude,--Duraincy and Isoré,--sent me some
flour. I am sure a casket full of gold could never have given me so
much pleasure. People conversed in the evening only of what they had
eaten during the day. Servants stood in line from three o'clock in the
morning trying to procure provisions. Women and young girls often
waited twenty-four hours. Sometimes a whole day was spent in obtaining
a loaf of bread or two ounces of something made of hempseed, green
pears, and all sorts of horrid stuff. Whenever I had any of this
unwholesome food I divided it with those about me. It was the
_maximum_[10] that reduced Paris to this state of distress.

Soon I found myself in a fresh dilemma, being sent away from my
lodgings, which had been rented to some one else. Madame de Tourzel
offered me a residence in the name of Madame de Charost, and I accepted
it; it was very high up. I dined with my mother-in-law, and
consequently, in the evening, was exceedingly weary from the number of
steps I had climbed; for I was very much broken down from all I had
endured. The charming society of that house amply repaid me for all the
fatigue I suffered. My mother-in-law was obliged to leave the house
where she was staying, and Madame de Beuvron lent her hers. We had very
fine lodgings, but our food was miserable. My mother-in-law and I lived
for three francs a day (in _assignats_) at an eating-house,--the
uncertainty of the future compelling me to economize the small means
still left me. Both the quantity and quality of the food was
insufficient; nothing could be more disgusting than the meats which
were served us. I had long been accustomed to such fare; but I grieved
on my mother-in-law's account, though she never complained of it. She
endured the horrors of her situation with admirable resignation and
patience. Heaven doubtless sustained her to the end of her sad life. A
most fortunate thing for me now happened: Madame de Beuvron went to
occupy her own house, and several apartments became vacant in that of
Madame de la Rochefoucauld; we took possession of them on the 1st of
October, 1795. This arrangement was very much more agreeable for me; I
have continued to live there ever since, and I desire nothing better.
Being near my son and daughter-in-law adds another attraction to it;
and as my life now passes in the most commonplace fashion I end this
tiresome story, asking the reader to excuse its faults.

PARIS, February 11, 1804.


                                              NOAILLES DE DURFORT-DURAS.


On re-reading my memoirs I find a great many repetitions, particularly
in the notes where I have several times referred to Madame Latour.

When my honoured father left the prison of the Luxembourg to be removed
to the Conciergerie he said in a sorrowful voice to the prisoners who
accompanied him to the doorway: 'At sixteen I went into the trenches to
serve my king; at eighty I mount the scaffold in obedience to the will
of God.'

The 'Messager du Soir,' though an organ of the Reign of Terror,
inserted the following article in its columns on the 20th of May, 1795,
year III. of the Republic:--

'When the venerable Maréchal de Noailles-Mouchy, who was all his life
the father of the unfortunate, was led out with his good wife to be
beheaded, a wretch cried aloud: "Now the _'sans-culottes,'_ will enjoy
your bread and drink your wine." He answered with that serenity which a
pure conscience bestows upon an honest man: "God grant that you may
have bread for another year, and that you may not be compelled to
devour one another."'


The following was brought to me from the office by Robert Lindet, when
I went to the court sitting at the abbey of St. Germain to reclaim the
last will and testament of my father and mother, which was then
delivered up to me:

                         _National Convention._

Committee of General Security of the National Convention. Fifth day of
the third decade of the first month of the French Republic, one and

The Committee authorizes Citizen Braut to go to Mouchy, near Beauvais,
for the purpose of arresting the citizen Noailles-Mouchy, (whose son,
the former Prince de Poix, has emigrated), the wife of the said Mouchy,
and all other persons who are suspected; he shall conduct them to the
prison of La Grande Force, make all necessary search and requisitions
for papers, set seals, and bring away everything that seems suspicious.
After the seals have been affixed the citizen Braut, in the virtue of
these presents, shall cause the citizen Mouchy, to be arrested wherever
he shall be found, and also his wife and other suspected persons. He
can moreover call for the assistance of the constitutional authorities
and the armed force.


                                                          VADIER, PANIS,

                                                    LAVICOMTERIE, JAGOT,

                                                DAVID, and DUBARRAT.[11]

Certified to be conformable to the warrant deposited in the clerk's
office of the prison of La Force by me the undersigned.

PARIS, 5 Prairial year II.


                                                  S. F. RICHELOT, clerk.


By decision rendered the 9th Messidor, year II. of the French Republic,
at a public session of the tribunal, composed of: Naulin,
vice-president; Bravet, Legarnier, Launay, judges, who signed the
minute, together with the clerk, upon the declaration of the jury,
setting forth that Phillippe Noailles-Mouchy, and others before
mentioned in the said minute are proven to have been the enemies of the
people, by having been accomplices of the traitor Capet in the
distribution of money employed by that tyrant to bribe refractory
priests by whose aid the civil war was fomented; by seconding with all
their abilities and means all the projects of the former court to
overthrow liberty, crush the people, and re-establish despotism; by
holding intercourse with the enemies of the Republic, for the purpose
of obtaining men and money to assist in the invasion of French
territory; by seeking to promote by speech and writing the degradation
and dissolution of the national representation and the re-establishment
of the monarchy; by assassinating patriots in the Champ de Mars, as
well as by bringing about the civil war, and seeking to excite citizens
against one another; and finally, by seeking by every possible means to
annihilate public liberty.

It appears that the tribunal, having heard the examination by the
public accuser, has, in accordance with the law, condemned to death
Phillippe Noailles-Mouchy, aged seventy-nine years, born at Paris,
ex-noble, ex-duke, and marshal of France, former governor of the
palaces of Versailles, and Marly and of other places, living at Mouchy,
in the Department of the Oise, and at Paris in the Rue de l'Université,
and declared his property confiscated to the Republic.

From an indictment drawn up by Fouquier, the public accuser, on the 8th
Messidor, year II., the following extract has been taken verbatim:--

Noailles-Mouchy, was the agent of Capet for the distribution of sums of
money by means of which he bribed refractory priests, _émigrés_, and
other accomplices of their infamous intrigues, and paid them to commit
their crimes.

Extract conformable to the minute given gratis by me, the keeper of



Copy of the label put upon the inkstand of Monsieur le Maréchal de
Mouchy, found among his effects at the Luxembourg, and which has been
returned to his relatives:--

                                No. 20.

               _Noailles, upon whom the sword of the law_

                        _has rendered justice._

                           OF THE LUXEMBOURG.

             _To Monsieur Grelet, her children's tutor, who
                      was like a father to them_:

I confide to the keeping of Monsieur Grelet my three children,--my two
boys, and my girl. I declare that it is my most positive and express
desire, in case I should come to want, that he should have charge of
them. I give over to him all my rights and authority over them. I
implore him to be a mother to them, and under no circumstances to allow
any one to separate them from him. I authorize him to remove them from
one place to another as may seem best to him,--in short, to treat my
children as if they were his own. I am sure that all who care for me
will most sacredly regard this my desire.

Written in the prison of the Luxembourg, this 24th Messidor, year II.
of the French Republic, one and indivisible.


                                      LOUISE NOAILLES, wife of NOAILLES.

                   _Letter of the Same to the Same._

I send you, my dear friend, a short will which I am told will be valid;
I keep a copy of it in my pocket. Make the best use you can of it as
well as that of my mother, communicating it to the proper persons when
the time comes. God has sustained and will sustain me; I have the
strongest faith in Him. Farewell, my dear friend; I shall feel grateful
to you even in Heaven. Be sure of this. Farewell, Alexis, Alfred,
Euphémie. Love God all your lives; cling to Him always. Pray for your
father and live for his happiness. Remember your mother, and that her
dearest wish for you was that you should be the children of God. I give
you all my last blessing. I hope to find you again in the bosom of your
Father. I shall not forget our friends, and I hope they will not forget

The note enclosed is for Louis. (So she called her husband.) Put it
with the one you already have.


                                                            L. NOAILLES.

                   _Louise Noailles to her Husband._

You will find a letter from me, my husband, written at different times
and very disconnectedly. I should have liked to rewrite it, and to add
many things; but that is impossible now. I can therefore only renew the
assurance of the love which you already know I bear to you, and which I
shall bear with me to my grave. You know what terrible circumstances
surround me, and you will be glad to learn that God has cared for me;
that he has sustained my strength and my courage; that the hope of
gaining, by the sacrifice of my life, the eternal welfare of you and my
children will continue to encourage me through the moments most
terrible to the flesh. May it please God that this thought may decide
you to live for eternity, and to strive in unison with me. I confide to
you my dear children, who have been the comfort of my life, and will
be, I hope, the comfort of yours. I am sure you will seek to strengthen
in them the principles I have inculcated; they are the only source of
true happiness and the only means of obtaining it. I have now, my
husband, one last request to make,--one which I am sure you will think
superfluous when you know what it is. I implore you with my last breath
never to separate my dear children from Monsieur Grelet, in whose
charge I have left them. I charge my dear Alexis to tell you all we owe
to him. There are no kind cares and attentions which he has not shown
me, particularly since I have been in prison. He has been both father
and mother to these poor children; he has sacrificed himself for them
and for me under the most trying circumstances with a tenderness and
courage for which we can never be sufficiently grateful. The only
comfort I can have is to know that my children are in his charge. You
will not disturb this arrangement, my husband; and I am sure you will
have a sacred regard for this wish of mine. I do not know what will
become of my poor Euphémie, but I declare to you that for a thousand
reasons I desire that the Citizeness Thibaut should no longer have the
care of her.

My husband, I bid you a last farewell. May we be once more reunited in

               _From the Same to Alexis, her eldest Son_,

                          _the 27th Messidor._

I charge you, my dear child, to give your father a detailed account of
the obligations we are under to the citizen Grelet. I rely upon your
heart to make him understand all he has been to you and to me. Do not
forget to say that he wished to share his purse with us, and that we
have lived entirely at his expense.

I send you, my dear children, my tenderest love and kisses....

                     _The Same to Monsieur Grelet._

It was not my fault, my dear child [thus she was accustomed to address
Monsieur Grelet], that you waited yesterday so long and in vain; I am
very sorry for it, and also for all the trouble that this mother and
children cause you. Remember that you are the only and blessed comfort
that I have in this world. I have not heard from you since the little
message you sent as you were going out from breakfast at Citizeness
Raymond's till yesterday at half past eleven. It was then too late for
my answer to go out. I have told you the condition of my linen. I am in
great need of some; get some for me from my confidential servant.

I highly approve of your lodgings; shall I tell my sister-in-law that I
insist upon your remaining with your brothers? The letter which you
have seems to me more persuasive than anything I could say.

Farewell, my dear children; I love you all four more tenderly than ever.

I am well as usual.


                                                            L. NOAILLES.

                _Last Letter from Madame de Noailles to_

                           _Monsieur Grelet._

I have received, my dear child, all that you sent me; I thank you a
thousand times, and shall never cease to repeat, as the poor do, 'God
reward you.' This is and ever will be the cry of my heart, from above
as well as from here below. I am ashamed of having said yesterday
'this' mother and children. The expression troubles me; I should have
said as usual, and I do say now with all my heart, _your_ mother and
_your_ brothers, whom you have specially under your care, because you
are the eldest. But for you, my dear child, what would have become of

Farewell, dear, dear children; I send you my tenderest love and kisses.


                                                        LOUISE NOAILLES.


In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

I commend my soul to God; I die in the religion of the Roman Catholic
Apostolic Church, in which by the mercy of God I was born, and have
always lived. My love for this holy religion has grown with my growth;
I trust that it will be my support when I come to die, as it has been
my strength and comfort during every moment of my life. I believe
firmly all that it has pleased God to reveal to us, and all that the
Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church teaches.

I hope in its promises; I put my whole trust in the merits of Jesus.

I request Monsieur de Noailles, my husband, to undertake the execution
of my will; I am glad to give him in this last act of my life a fresh
proof of my confidence, and of a love which has made me so happy. I
therefore place in his hands all the interests I have of every kind

I hope he will regard them as his own, and that when he is occupied
with the details he will recall her who felt so truly happy in being
united to him and all she suffered for her love. I beg him to accept
the little bust of Adrien, and the two portraits of our children. I
bless these dear children with my latest breath. I implore them for the
sake of the love I bear them to draw near to God with all their hearts,
to strive to obey His laws. I assure them, by my own experience, that
only thus will they be able to taste pure and lasting happiness amid
all the changes of this life. I beg them to remember that the desire
for their real happiness has been the continual object of my thoughts
and prayers, and that I shall never cease to implore God for it if he
mercifully receives me. I leave them all the portraits of their father.
I charge them to reverence and love him all the days of their lives,
and to bring to his remembrance, by their great tenderness, her who
gave them birth. I beg them to remember that it is to them I confide
the care of his happiness; and I charge them to perform my duty toward

I commend myself to the prayers of my relatives and friends, and rely
upon them to have prayers said to God for the repose of my soul.

I request the executor of my will (who shall be Monsieur de Grammont in
default of my husband) to give to my mother and sisters whatever they
may wish of the things which belonged to me.

I give my mother a renewed assurance of my most tender and filial
affection. I owe her a great share of the happiness of my life, and
especially shall I owe her my eternal happiness if God in his mercy
receives me.

I request Madame de la Fayette, in the name of the affection we bear
each other, not to give way to grief, but to bear up for the sake of
her husband and children. Her real happiness, her interests, and the
interests of all who are dear to her will always be mine; and I shall
bear them with me forever. I implore her and also my two other sisters
to remember that this union which has been the delight and comfort of
our lives is not broken up, that we are parted only for a little while,
and that we shall be reunited, I hope, for eternity. [Here follow
bequests.] I assure my father once more of the true and tender love I
have for him; I beg him to remember me, and to believe that as I prayed
earnestly and unceasingly for his happiness in this world, so will it
be one of my dearest duties to implore the Father for him in another.

Written at Paris, this 5th of April, 1794.


                                                        LOUISE NOAILLES.

               _Codicil of the 4th Vendémiaire, Year II._

                           _of the Republic._

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Receive, O Lord, the sacrifice of my life; I give my spirit into thy
hands. Help me, O my God! Leave me not when my strength fails.

I have always lived, and hope by the grace of God to die, in the Roman
Catholic Apostolic religion.

I forgive all my enemies (if I have any) from the bottom of my heart; I
pray that God may grant them his fullest pardon.

I request that payment may be made, etc.

Written at Paris, and


                                                        LOUISE NOAILLES.

I learned on leaving the prison that there was a certain lady named
Lavet who had been at the Conciergerie at the same time as Mesdames de
Noailles and d'Ayen. I hastened to go to see her and ask for an account
of their short and terrible residence in that prison, which she gave me
as follows:--

Mesdames de Noailles and d'Ayen arrived at the Conciergerie on the 21st
of July, 1793, excessively fatigued by their removal from the
Luxembourg, which had been made in very rough wagons. They were
suffering for want of food, which it was impossible to procure for
them, as it was nine o'clock at night, and the rules of the prison did
not permit anything to be brought in after nightfall. We could only
give them some gooseberry water to quench their thirst. They were put
into a dungeon where there were three other women, one of whom knew
Madame de la Fayette by reputation. She took a kind interest in her
neighbours, and undertook to help them to procure beds; but the
turnkeys having discovered that they had not so much as forty-five
francs,--which sum they exacted for furnishing them,--absolutely
refused to supply them. They had been robbed of everything at the
Luxembourg; the Vicomtesse de Noailles possessed only fifty sous.
Madame Lavet, touched by the situation of this unfortunate family, gave
her bed to Madame la Maréchale de Noailles, obtained one for Madame
d'Ayen, and proposed to her daughter that she should lie down on a cot.
She would not do so, however, saying that she had now too little time
to live to make it worth while to take the trouble. Madame d'Ayen spent
a greater part of the night trying to persuade her to do so, but could
not succeed. The angelic woman borrowed a book of devotions and a
light, by means of which she read and prayed to God constantly. She
stopped only long enough to wait upon her grandmother, who slept at
intervals for several hours. Every time she awakened the grandmother
read over her indictment, saying to herself: 'No, it is not possible
that I am to die on account of a conspiracy of which I know nothing; I
will plead my cause before the judges so that they shall not be able to
condemn me.' She thought of her dress, feared it was rumpled, arranged
her bonnet, and would not believe it possible that the next day could
be the last of her life. Madame d'Ayen had fears, but no conviction of
the imminent danger which threatened her. She dozed for a while. She
was greatly worried, wishing to send her watch--the only thing she had
left--to her children. She urged her companions to take charge of it;
but they did not dare to do so. The Vicomtesse de Noailles made the
same request with regard to an empty portfolio, a portrait, and some
hair; but she received the same reply, that such commissions would
compromise them all. She made Madame Lavet promise to tell Monsieur
Grelet that she should die in peace and perfect resignation, but that
she longed from the bottom of her heart to see him and her children.
Some one in that sorrowful room uttered the name of her dear sister,
Madame de la Fayette; she forbade them to speak of her lest it should
compromise her. Madame de Noailles, the younger, of whom I have just
spoken, did not even think of sleeping; her eyes were wide open,
contemplating that Heaven which she was so soon to enter. Her face
showed the serenity of her soul. Thoughts of eternity sustained her
courage. Such calmness was never seen in that terrible place. She
forgot herself entirely in caring for her mother and grandmother.

At six o'clock in the morning, in order to distract their minds, we
undertook to give them some breakfast. Mesdames de Boufflers brought
them some chocolate. They remained with them a few moments and then
bade them a final farewell.

Nine o'clock struck; the bailiffs came, and found their victims
surrounded by the weeping friends who had known them only twelve hours.
The mother made some arrangements in case they should be acquitted. The
daughter, who never once doubted the fate which awaited her, thanked
Madame Lavet in her sweet, gracious way, expressed her gratitude for
all her kindness, and then said: 'I read good fortune in your face; you
will not be beheaded.'

This is all that I have been able to learn from Madame Lavet in
reference to that terrible scene.



                                                      Duchesse de Duras.


Footnote 1:

  The Prince de Poix, who had defended and followed the king on the
  10th of August.


Footnote 2:

  A line of Racine.--TRANSLATER.


Footnote 3:

  This 'little château,' dated from the sixteenth century, is one of
  the finest specimens of Renaissance architecture in existence, and
  was included in the gift of the Duc d'Aumale to the French nation
  (1886). The Grand Château, where Condé had spent twenty years of his
  life, and which was so famous for its literary associations with the
  names of Molière, Boileau, Racine, and La Fontaine, was destroyed in


Footnote 4:

  One of the holidays laid down in the revised Revolutionary


Footnote 5:

  A detailed account of the prison of the Luxembourg may be found in
  the journal of Madame Latour.


Footnote 6:

  The Vicomtesse de Noailles.


Footnote 7:

  The victims brought before the Revolutionary tribunal for examination
  were placed in an armchair, and from it they were taken to the


Footnote 8:

  Alexis and Alfred de Noailles, sons of the Vicomtesse de Noailles.


Footnote 9:

  The division of ten days, by which the Republican calendar supplanted
  the week--TRANSLATER.


Footnote 10:

  The highest price at which food, at that time, was allowed to be sold
  in Paris.


Footnote 11:

  The first Revolutionary tribunal had been established by the law of
  the 17th of August, 1792.

                        MADAME LATOUR'S MEMOIR.

                  WAS IMPRISONED DURING THE YEARS 1793
                  AND 1794, IN COMPANY WITH MADAME LA
                     MARÉCHALE DUCHESSE DE MOUCHY.

The last two years, during which I shared the misfortunes of Monsieur
and Madame de Mouchy, have abounded in such precious moments to me that
in order to preserve the remembrance of them (not for myself,--to me
they are ever present,--but for those near to me), I relate as an
eye-witness the sad circumstances under which they manifested the
nobility of their souls, and the beautiful spirit in which they endured
their captivity.

I trust I may be pardoned for speaking of myself frequently when I am
talking about them, and for saying 'we' when I ought to say Monsieur
and Madame la Maréchale; but I may say that their interests had become
mine, that my existence, on account of my attachment to them, depended
so much upon theirs, that everything I thought and felt was in common
with them. I was very careful in this matter; for they treated me with
such distinction that it often embarrassed me. They thought, these
honoured friends (may I be pardoned for expressing myself thus), that
they were under obligations to me; but they were mistaken. I was never
more proud of anything than of waiting upon them in prison. Let no one
praise me for it; I do not deserve praise.

Madame de Duras has given in her memoirs an account of the life her
honoured parents led at Mouchy. I cannot express the despair in which
they were left when she was taken away from them; they refused to take
any nourishment. I spent the whole night beside Madame de Mouchy, who
did nothing but weep and moan over the loss of her dear daughter, so
she always called her. Ten days after her departure a body of about
sixty armed men arrived, with some of the municipal authorities and the
Commissioners of the Committee of General Security, furnished with an
order to search everywhere for a quantity of arms which were said to be
concealed in the château, and to arrest any one who should be
suspected. They found only one pistol, but seized some title-deeds
which the _féodiste_[12] was arranging for the purpose of carrying them
to the prescribed place of deposit. The commissioners were in a rage,
and had him put in prison. They treated his wife, who was in a delicate
condition, in the most inhuman manner, and took away their badges from
the municipal officers, who they declared were in collusion with him.
They threatened the whole village, and said they were sorry they had
not brought a guillotine and cut off the head of every citizen. They
ransacked and almost pulled down some portions of the château. The
commissioners demanded to see some lead coffins which were supposed to
be in the vault of the chapel. After much searching they found three of
these. This capture did not satisfy them; they thought that money had
been concealed in the coffins, but they were mistaken in their
suspicion. They compelled the municipal authorities, though not in
accordance with their duties, to assist in the search. The latter were
almost frightened to death.

The consternation in the village was so great that no one dared move
out of one's house. The night was even more terrible. The peasants who
composed our guard became intoxicated with the wine they found in the
cellar, and fired their guns off under the windows of the houses; we
thought our last hour had come. At last, after three days of searching,
the chief commissioner affixed the seals, seized all the
silver,--alleging as a pretext for doing so the fact that some of the
dishes had on them armorial bearings,--drew up a _procès-verbal_, and
allowed us to pack up only in the presence of the jailers, so that they
might see what we carried away with us. They restored the badges to the
municipal officers, and concluded to carry the _féodiste_ away with
them. His wife was left on account of her condition. We were so
miserable during the whole of the three days we passed under the
conduct of this troop, that, incredible as it may seem, we were anxious
to reach the prison to which we were destined. Picture a courtyard
filled with the wagons in which we were to be taken away, two large
carts loaded with title-deeds, coffins, a clock, some old pictures,
trunks, and other things; the remains of the dead scattered about;
pieces of wood, loose papers, and other rubbish; the ragged country
guardsmen with frightened faces, and one can have some idea of the
condition of Mouchy, at the moment of our departure with the chief
commissioner, who made us halt at St. Brice long enough for him to make
inquiries about a few persons in the vicinity, after which he returned
to his carriage content with his discoveries. We talked a good deal as
we went along, and found out that they were going to take Monsieur and
Madame de Mouchy, to stay for the night at their own house, pretending
that it would be impossible to procure even absolute necessities for
them at La Force at so late an hour. We reached the Hôtel Mouchy, at
two o'clock in the morning.

The commissioner left them there two days, during which time
applications were made to the Committee of General Security, who
ordered a suspension of the affixing of seals in the house. Janon, the
commissioner of the section of Grenelle who was charged with this duty,
observed that it was not worth while doing it because there were no
proper signatures. He was requested to delay until the signatures could
be obtained. Unfortunately the members of the committee had gone to
dinner, and would not reassemble till the evening; then our
commissioner (a man named Braut) would listen to no further entreaties,
and declared that he had done wrong not to execute his orders sooner.
He affixed the seals, and we started off in a hack at ten o'clock at
night. The coachman lost his way, and took us to the Rue St. Victor,
where there was a house of detention. It was almost one o'clock when we
reached La Grande Force; the prison for men was separate from that for

When it was proposed to leave Monsieur de Mouchy, at the former and
take us to La Petite Force, I thought Madame de Mouchy, would die on
the spot; and when it was necessary for her to separate from her
husband, it was only by force that she could be torn from him and led
away to a room where nineteen women were sleeping on hard beds of
sacking. When she was brought to the door, the turnkeys, cross at being
wakened from their sleep, hesitated about receiving her; but the clerk
ordered them to do so. She wept the whole night long. She took it into
her head that no arrangement had been made about my not being arrested,
and that consequently I could not be allowed to remain. I told her that
the commissioner had obtained an order from the Committee of General
Security on the subject. He brought it to me at once. I was delighted
at this piece of good fortune, which greatly comforted Madame de
Mouchy, who told me that it helped her to bear her misfortunes. Our
lodgings were changed, and we took possession of the new ones. We found
in them the widow of the mayor of Cassel, whose husband had been
guillotined eight days before. She was in despair. I saw her pass whole
nights on her knees upon her bed, weeping and praying alternately. The
apartment was at the top of the house in the quarter appropriated to
the women of the town, who kept up, though in prison, a frightful noise
from about five o'clock in the evening through the whole night. They
came to see Madame de Mouchy, to assure her of their innocence, and to
ask her to pay to them her garnish-money. In the morning she received a
message from Monsieur de Mouchy, who proposed to her to go with him to
the prison of the Luxembourg. She replied that 'since her separation
from him she had never ceased to declare that she would give everything
she had in the world to be able to be with him, even though she slept
on a bed of straw.'

Some objections were made to this arrangement, but they were overcome.
When I informed Madame la Maréchale that all was settled, she embraced
me, and said, 'You could tell me of nothing which could make me so
happy as this. Go at once and tell the ministering angel who enables me
to rejoin Monsieur de Mouchy, that I shall never forget the happiness
he has procured for me.'

Commissioner Braut, who had been very severe to us at Mouchy, had
become more lenient. It was he who had obtained our transfer to the
Luxembourg. We went to La Grande Force for Monsieur de Mouchy. Never
was there such an affecting reunion; even the turnkeys were touched by
the sight, and so was Commissioner Braut.

We went almost joyfully to the Luxembourg. (Great God, how little one
can tell what one may be glad to do.) Our conductor left us in the
keeper's room. We remained there from five o'clock till nine. A
terrible scene took place in that apartment; the famous Henriot,
general of the Parisian army, came with his flute to look for a patriot
who had been unjustly incarcerated at Caen, and afterward brought to
Paris. He had taken a great deal of wine at a great dinner, where the
guests made terrible jokes about the aristocrats, saying, with coarse
laughter, 'Yes, we must have twenty thousand of those creatures'
heads.' We had to wait until they were gone before we could know where
we were to be lodged. The room assigned us was one formerly occupied by
Brissot de Varville. The window was still walled up. Madame de
Mouchy's, bed was set directly over the place where formerly stood the
bed of her mother (Madame d'Arpajon had an apartment at the Luxembourg,
being maid-of-honour to the Queen of Spain, Madame d'Orleans), who was
lodging there at the time of Madame de Mouchy's birth. She frequently
told us of having been born in the Luxembourg, of having been married
there, and would add, 'and do you not think it strange that I should be
imprisoned here?'

Although I did not really believe in the fate which actually threatened
her, this speech made me shiver inwardly. The day after our arrival was
spent entirely in getting ourselves settled to the best advantage in
the small space allotted to us.

The day after, the commissioner Bétremieux came to take Monsieur and
Madame de Mouchy to their house, so as to break the seals in their
presence. They had the pleasure of meeting there Mesdames de Poix, and
de Noailles. All passed off very well; nothing of a suspicious
character was found. The _procès-verbal_ was properly made out, and we
had some hopes that they would be allowed to remain in their own house;
but we returned that evening to the Luxembourg.

There were fifty-three persons there who were well known to them, as
they came from the section about the fountain of Grenelle. An order was
sent to transfer the women to the Anglaises; those of them who were
married obtained permission to remain.

The keeper told me, as I had been told at La Petite Force, that he
could not allow me to remain in the house without the permission of the
committee. I told him that I had had that for La Force; he explained to
me, very truly, that this could not be used at the Luxembourg. He
advised me to send in a petition to be allowed to stay, and promised me
to say nothing if I received no answer. I sent the petition, received
no reply, and he said nothing about me. We had been ten days in that
room when the commissioner Marinot (quite a well-known man) entered
with one of his agents. I had just seen Monsieur Bétremieux, and had
made him promise faithfully to come to see Madame de Mouchy. We were
pressing around him to inquire of him whether there was any hope of
being liberated. Marinot said to him, angrily, 'What are you doing
here? You are up to some mischief! Get out!' I began to tremble with
fright, fearing lest I had compromised Monsieur Bétremieux. This
terrible man continued in the same tone: 'Why are there only three
persons in this room? Five must be put here;' and he made a figure five
with charcoal on the fireplace. Madame de Mouchy, said to him:
'Citizen, you do not think what you are saying; five persons cannot
stay here.' 'Ah! why not?' 'I do not wish any one here but my husband.'
'I will give you some old men.' 'I will not have it so; give me,
rather, another room.' 'I will see; there is another higher up.' He
came back in half an hour, and said as he opened the door, 'I have
found a very pretty room with a fine corridor, where you can take
exercise.' I went up to see it, and also the 'fine corridor,' which was
full of big rafters, against which one would strike one's head. This
room had been used as an office by Monsieur de la Marlière. The place
where the stove had been was newly plastered over, and the walls were
all blackened. One cannot imagine a dirtier place; it took me all day
and more to make it clean. A stove was put up in this room; but the
fire could not be lighted in it when the wind was from the south.

A description of this room and its furniture will not be out of place.
On one side of the doorway, to the right, was my bed of sacking, set
lengthwise; I got into it at the foot. Monsieur de Mouchy's bed was
next to mine, and Madame's was placed transversely. Under the roof was
a table and some of our dresses; on the other side of the grated window
we put the wood, two arm-chairs, two ordinary chairs, another little
table on which were other articles of wearing apparel. There were some
plank shelves to hold our dishes; and one corner in the corridor was
reserved, to be used as a wardrobe. My bed was a pantry during the day,
a seat in the evening; and Monsieur de Mouchy's bed was used in the
same manner. We spent five months in that terrible place, where the
most needy creature on the estates of Monsieur and Madame la Maréchale
would not have been willing to live. Their virtues sustained them in a
wonderful degree; they were an example and comfort to all who saw them.
Their sweetness and goodness were unfailing.

I have often seen persons come to the house in despair, and utterly
overwhelmed at finding themselves in such a place. Messieurs de Nicolaï
and de Laborde were so overcome that they could not speak. My venerable
friends comforted them, cheered them, and induced them to come to them
for encouragement and strength. When the administrators arrived, with
their caps pulled down over their eyes, to ask, 'Have you no petitions
to send in?' 'No, citizen; only if you could have my daughter, who is
at Chantilly, transferred to this place, I should be extremely glad.'
One of them said, 'Yes; that ought to be done on account of their age.'
However, no steps were taken in that direction till the arrival of
Danton, Lacroix, and others.

On the 4th of December, 1793, Commissioner Bétremieux came to take
Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy to Mouchy, to be present at the opening
of the seals; they remained there three days, and breathed a little
fresh air. During this time they tried, without success, to be allowed
to visit their house in the company of keepers; nor could they obtain
leave to see their daughter at Chantilly as they were on their way back
to Paris. The commissioner finally took them to their own house, where
they spent the day with their daughters-in-law. They were compelled to
return to the Luxembourg in the evening. This parting was even more
trying than the former ones; the few servants who had remained about
the house hid their faces and wept.

We returned to the same way of living. Our days were passed in the
following manner: Monsieur de Mouchy rose first, at an early hour,
lighted his candle, said his prayers, and took a little coffee; then
Madame de Mouchy rose and took her breakfast. As soon as she was
dressed I went to wait upon Madame d'Hautefort, with whom they used to
live; and then I returned and made my toilet. After this, they went out
of the room so as to give me time to put it in order. At this hour they
always went to see Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, and they always came
away filled with admiration for her angelic conduct. They never
exhausted their praises of her,--an evidence of their own goodness.
They returned to their own apartment about half-past twelve o'clock; at
one, dinner was sent them from their own house. They never partook of
this meal without speaking of Madame de Duras, longing for her, and
grieving that they could not share it with her, knowing she had such
miserable fare. Then some visitors would come in; after that Monsieur
and Madame de Mouchy would go out to dine with a neighbour, and after
their return would play piquet together. Monsieur de Mouchy then walked
about the house. About five o'clock company assembled. The guests were
sometimes too numerous for the size of our apartment, and also for my
peace of mind, as I knew there were many spies about us. The person who
was my greatest source of anxiety was the Prince of Hesse, who lodged
near us, and invariably walked up and down continually in front of our
door whenever we had several of our friends together. He was even seen
with his ear against the door, trying to hear what we were saying. He
informed against one of the keepers, who proved the charge to be false,
and had him transferred to another prison, to my great delight. At
eight o'clock every one left, and we had supper. Whenever we received
any newspapers, they usually arrived at this hour. Toward the last I
tried to find out in advance whether the names of the victims contained
in them were of the persons whom Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy most
dreaded to see in the list of the condemned; if so, I suppressed them
until the next day. At ten o'clock we were all in bed.

A great change took place in Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy. He was
naturally extremely vivacious and she very quiet; now he became calm
and she exceedingly restless, especially so when on certain days she
did not receive the usual communications which her daughter took such
trouble to send, and when all sorts of unreliable news was brought by
persons entering the prison. The nobles, particularly, were always
sanguine. I have seen them make out plans of campaigns which would
bring Cobourg to Paris, and even to the very doors of their prison, to
conduct them in triumph to their own homes. These unfortunate persons
lulled themselves with the false hopes lying so far in the distance and
never perceived the precipices that were yawning beneath their feet.

During the period when we were allowed to go to the courtyard and speak
to our friends through a grated window, each one would return and say,
'I have seen my wife (or my daughter, or my servant), who could not
explain herself fully, but assured me by a pressure of the hand that
all was going well.' If a person of any distinction was seen in the
garden making the least possible signal of any kind it was sufficient
to arouse hope. I certainly did not share the hopefulness enjoyed by
most of the prisoners; indeed, it frightened me. I undertook at times
to convince them that they were too sanguine; but I afterward
reproached myself for taking the liberty to do so, for delusion was a
necessity to them. Some persons deluded themselves so completely that
they even found that there were some reasons why their friends and
acquaintances should be condemned, but were confident that they should
be exempt. Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy were not of this sort; on the
contrary, they considered their situation a very critical one. One
thing was done which alarmed us all; popular commissions were sent out
by the Committee of General Security, containing questions to be
answered by the prisoners. These questions were extremely captious. I
think I can remember them exactly, and also Monsieur de Mouchy's

            _By Order of the Committee of General Security,
             the Prisoners will answer truly and as briefly
                as possible the following questions:--_

 QUESTIONS.                       ANSWERS.

 _Your name?_                     Noailles Mouchy.

 _Your age?_                      In my seventy-ninth year.

 _Where did you live before and   In Paris, on the Rue de l'Université
 after the Revolution began,      and since the 9th of September at
 and since then?_                 Mouchy with my wife and my daughter.

 _Are you a married man? If so,   I have been married fifty-two years to
 how long since you were          Anne Claude Louise d'Arpajon.

 _The number of your children,    Three children: one daughter
 their age, and their             forty-nine years old, married to
 whereabouts?_                    the former Duc de Duras, and now a
                                  prisoner at Chantilly; Phillippe de
                                  Poix, forty years, who left France to
                                  save his life, as a price was set
                                  on his head; Louis Noailles, aged
                                  thirty-seven, left France with all the
                                  pass-ports required at the time, and
                                  is now in North America.

 _Your profession before and      I have been a soldier from my youth;
 since the Revolution?_           and I have risen to the rank of
                                  Marshal of France.

 _Value of your property before   My income before the Revolution was
 and since the Revolution?_       more than a hundred thousand livres;
                                  for two years one of my estates in
                                  Languedoc has been under sequestration
                                  under pretext that I had emigrated
                                  (though this was proved not to be so),
                                  by order of the Committee of General
                                  Security. The subsidies and the forced
                                  loan, under which I have just been
                                  obliged to relinquish a considerable
                                  sum, render it impossible for me to
                                  furnish any correct valuation.

 _With whom have you associated   With my relatives both before and
 before and since the             since.

 _Have you not signed             I have never signed any resolutions.
 resolutions derogatory to

 _What have you done for the      All that was required of me.

Madame de Mouchy added:--

'Having been united to my husband for fifty-two years I have
entertained no opinions differing from his.'

[Then followed their signatures.]

We had great difficulty in persuading Monsieur de Mouchy to agree to
answer the aforesaid questions; at first he positively refused,
declaring that he would never do anything so revolting. I consulted
different members of his family and some of his companions in
misfortune, who said that it was impossible for him to escape answering
the questions, and that the answers given, and which I have just
written down, were quite sufficient. There were always, they said, some
etceteras. Certain persons of whom I have spoken, who were always too
sanguine, thought that the interrogatories would hasten the acts of
liberation; but, on the contrary, we were not left long in peace, and
the harsh treatment increased. Then the conspiracy entered into by
Vincent Savart and Grandmont (which I believe was the only real one)
broke out. We were then forbidden to walk in the courtyard or to
receive newspapers; and we were extremely restricted in every respect.
After a while we were again allowed to have the newspapers, but never
again to walk except in the galleries, where it was impossible to take
a step without running into one another. So many persons were brought
in that every place was full, although many were sent off to the
tribunal every day.

Danton, Lacroix, Camille Desmoulins, etc. arrived. There was a knocking
at our door at six o'clock, and we were told to prepare to move our
quarters. The turnkey said to me 'Hurry! some fine people are coming
and we need this room as a place of close confinement.' I asked him
where the room was which was to be given us; he did not know, but the
jailer who followed conducted me to it. It was, Monsieur and Madame de
Mouchy thought, sufficiently large to accommodate their daughter, if
she could be brought to the Luxembourg. There was a fireplace in it
which gave me infinite satisfaction whenever I saw Monsieur de Mouchy
warming himself in front of it; for he had been freezing for five
months, as we had only one little stove, which gave him the headache
whenever the fire was lighted in it.

On the 5th of April, 1794, about a fortnight after we had been
established in our new lodgings, a convoy arrived from Chantilly.
Monsieur Randon de la Tour, who was of the party, came very early in
the morning to tell our distinguished old couple that Madame de Duras
was in Paris, and had positively received orders to come to the
Luxembourg during the day. They were perfectly delighted. But the whole
day passed and she did not come; and we learned that she was at the
Plessis. We hoped that she was there only temporarily; as she still did
not come we sent the most urgent petitions to the administrators for
her transfer. Hopes were held out to us, but Providence had decreed
otherwise; and if our prayers had been answered, she would not now be
living. After a while however we began to hope again. One day a man
named Vernet said to me in a mysterious tone, 'There is some one of
your acquaintance below whom the citizen Mouchy, will be glad to see.'
I said, 'Surely it must be the Citizeness Duras.' (He knew that her
father had asked to have her sent here as he had himself carried two
messages to the Committee of General Security.) Vernet replied, 'I
cannot say; there are several persons.' I ran to repeat the
conversation to Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy, who did not doubt it was
their daughter with other ladies whose husbands were in the Luxembourg
and who had petitioned to be allowed to join them. We arranged the room
so as to be able to put a bed in for her; and to our astonishment,
after waiting a whole hour, Madame la Maréchale de Noailles, Madame la
Duchesse d'Ayen, and Madame la Vicomtesse de Noailles entered. Monsieur
de Mouchy was entirely upset by this. He had a very bad cold, and his
fever rose immediately. He greatly dreaded the imprudence of his
sister-in-law, who was very light-headed. He said that nothing could be
more disagreeable to him than to have her so near him. These ladies
told how, after having been tossed about from prison to prison, they
had with much difficulty obtained permission to be sent to the
Luxembourg that they might be near him. They were lodged above us in an
_entresol_. The apartment was soon prepared. The furniture was very
scanty, and I undertook to arrange it; I never saw worse beds. These
ladies, like most of those who were condemned in advance, entered the
prison feeling quite sure of being soon restored to liberty. As usual,
only fifty francs had been left to each of them by the turnkeys; they
were advised to provide themselves with a little more cash. Madame la
Maréchale had twelve hundred francs and the Vicomtesse, her
granddaughter, had two hundred francs. They were told that this would
be enough for their expenses for a month. This money did not last them
very long as it was all taken a short time after in the well remembered
general search. The following is a detailed account of the manner in
which our search was conducted. In the morning, as I opened the
shutters of my room, I saw an armed guard in the courtyard,--an unusual
circumstance. I went out into the corridor to get some wood which was
piled up there, and found four musketeers at our doorway with the
jailer, who said, 'Go back into your room, Citizeness.' I said, 'I am
not going out; I am going to get some wood.' 'Go back, I tell you.' I
obeyed trembling and fearing that something was about to happen to
Monsieur and Madame la Maréchale. I went up to Madame la Maréchale's
bed and said to her as quietly as possible, 'I don't know what is going
on, but there are guards in the court and in the corridor, and the
jailer would not allow me to get any wood.' She answered, 'I thought I
heard them. My God! what can it be?' I went back to the window and saw
that there were musketeers also on the pavilion opposite, which
somewhat reassured me. I concluded that it was a general arrangement
for the whole house. Two sentinels had been posted at our door, and I
tried to have some talk with them. One good-natured fellow to whom I
furtively gave a glass of wine said to me in a low voice: 'We do not
know why we are here. Orders were sent to the section of the
Observatory for us to rise at three o'clock this morning; we were led
here, and ordered not to speak to any one nor to allow any one at all
to come out of the apartments.' We did not learn very much from that
interview. I made ten attempts to go up to see Mesdames de Noailles,
but was always prevented. Nothing was allowed to enter the house;
dinner was not brought in till five o'clock in the evening. We
questioned the turnkeys, but they said that they knew nothing. We were
obliged to go to bed without finding out anything about what was going
on. The sentinels remained at our doors all night, or rather for four
days, as we were among the last who were searched; and we had no
communication with our neighbours till the second day, when one of them
knocked gently at an unused door which opened into our apartment and
told us that a very strict search was going on, that money, scissors,
knives, etc. were being taken. We made the disclosure to Monsieur and
Madame de Boisgelin in the same way. A man who waited upon them had
gone out the day before to get some water and had not returned.

At last I obtained permission to go to see Mesdames de Noailles; the
distinguished Vicomtesse had made the beds, washed the dishes, and in
spite of all was in fine spirits. She joked about her labours, which
were quite extensive, and the more so since the deafness of the three
ladies caused them frequently to misunderstand one another. At night
she tied one end of a string to her arm and the other to her
grandmother's bed so that the latter might waken her if she needed her
during the night. She dressed her, attended to an abscess she had, and
also to one of her mother's. She had scarcely time to breathe, and her
zeal stood her instead of natural strength. I had, as I have said,
obtained permission to go and wait upon her. I had plenty to do, for I
rendered the same services to Monsieur and Madame de Boisgelin.

Our turn to be searched came at last on the fourth day, at eleven
o'clock in the morning. The sentinels had been withdrawn the day
before, at ten o'clock at night. Monsieur de Baquencourt, who lodged in
our quarter, took advantage of the first opportunity to come and tell
us that the search was terrible, that a prisoner had assured him that
he had been entirely stripped, that he had at first concealed his
_assignats_, but had afterward shown them as he preferred to give up
everything rather than to get into trouble. The idea of being stripped
and searched worried us very much; but there was no getting out of it.

All took place as he foretold; the municipal authorities and the guards
made the search. When they came to the _assignats_ I said, 'Citizens,
are you not going to count them?' One of them answered scornfully, 'We
need not count them in order to conquer the enemies of the Republic.'
'I am sure of that,' I replied; 'for they could not be conquered with
paper.' Madame de Mouchy, made a sign to me to be silent. Eight or ten
days after, the committee ordered the account of each prisoner to be
made out over again. This was done in the keeper's apartment. Then we
went back to the same old life. We tried to get accustomed to doing
without scissors and knives, but it was very inconvenient; and what was
still more disagreeable, the turnkeys, who formerly could receive money
for small services rendered, were forbidden to do so any longer, and
this made them very cross. The establishment of a public table was also
spoken of, which greatly distressed Madame de Mouchy. Soon after this a
commission was appointed to examine the prisoners; a good many of them
were anxious for it. The day it was announced loud cries of 'Vive la
Republique!' were heard in the galleries. It did not take place,
however, till two months afterward. One day about that time I was
sitting at work when some one called for me. I found at the door the
jailer (no longer the good Benoît) with two turnkeys, who asked me:

'What are you doing here?'

'I have been here for six months with the Citizen Mouchy and his wife.'

'Very well; but what are you doing here?'

'I do whatever I can for them.'

'Where is your entry in the jail-book?'

'I have none; I came here voluntarily.'

'You were not arrested, then?'


'Are you their confidential friend?'


'What is your name?'

I gave my signature. I asked him why he asked me all these questions.
'You are not going to send me away?'

'Oh, no! Benoît's papers are not properly drawn up, and I am taking a
census of all who are in the house.'

Madame de Mouchy was very much agitated during this examination. She
was reassured when she learned that it was only a census; but I was
not. I endeavoured not to show to her the anxiety I felt and which was
only too well founded.

One morning, about a month after this, the same jailer came into Madame
la Maréchale's room and said to her: 'I have come to inform you that
you must send away your confidential attendant within twenty-four
hours; I have just received the order.' She replied, 'Citizen, I cannot
do without her; I am very infirm, and so is my husband.' I asked him if
I could stay if I became a prisoner. 'I do not know.' I begged him to
send us the first prison-director who came to the place. He agreed to
do so. I sent for Vernet, that he might speak for me. Madame de Mouchy
was so good as to implore him so earnestly to do me this service that I
could not help shedding tears; she offered to give him all the jewels
and _assignats_ she had left. He would not accept anything; but
promised to do all we asked, and did nothing. I gave him a petition I
had written to the Committee of Police, in which I requested most
earnestly to be enrolled as a prisoner. I represented to them the
infirm condition of Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy, how impossible it
was for them to be left alone, how long I had been with them, and added
that I thought it a Republican virtue to assist suffering humanity. At
the same time I asked the jailer to allow me to wait for an answer; and
I begged Vernet to bring the administrator to us, which he did on the
following day.

It was Vitrich, who has since died, with his friend Robespierre. He
said to me, 'We have read your petition. You are very good to wait upon
these old people; but I have nothing to do with that. The order is from
the Committee of General Security, and you must go. You have only to
make a similar petition to them, and surely you will receive their
permission to return.' I begged him with tears, for I was desperate,
for permission to remain till the next day; and he granted it.

I cannot express the horrors of our situation after this cruel
sentence. Dear, venerable old couple, how much they suffered! This
separation seemed only to presage one more terrible still. We wept all
night long. I was almost determined to remain, no matter what happened
to me. For three whole days my daughter never left the door in her
anxiety to hear from the turnkeys what I had concluded to do. She was
terribly frightened about me. A prisoner, whom I did not know,
influenced me to a decision; he stopped me and said, 'Citizeness, I
have learned that you are hesitating about leaving here; I think I
ought to tell you that you are doing wrong. This evening you will be
entered in the jail-book, and perhaps sent to-morrow to another prison;
the greater attachment you manifest for Madame de Mouchy the more you
will be suspected. Believe me, you had better submit. A more favourable
moment will surely come, and you can then rejoin her; above all conceal
your tears, for you are watched.' I thanked him, and informed Monsieur
and Madame de Mouchy of his advice. They then urged me to go. We
consulted together as to what I was to do in order to be allowed to
return. Hoping to certainly do so, I left all my belongings. Messieurs
d'Hénin and de Boisgelin assured me that the separation would not be
long, and that as soon as I should see the committee I could ask that
Madame de Duras might be sent to join her parents; and they would
surely grant my request.

When the fatal moment arrived I felt that it would be utterly
impossible for me to say to Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy, 'I am going
to leave you now;' so I said that I was going to see some of the
prisoners to ask for messages from them. They all sympathized with my
sorrow. Madame la Vicomtesse de Noailles, the younger, threw her arms
around me, and burst into tears. I tore myself from her, and hid behind
a door, to try and recover myself. As I passed along the galleries all
the prisoners congratulated me; for my part I wished they were all in
my place. When I reached the door I thought I should faint; I wanted to
go in to see the keeper, but the turnkey who had the key prevented me.
'Take care!' said he to me, 'there is a clerk in his office who is
vexed with you; go on.' I cannot express all the different feelings
which assailed me on getting into the street; my despair at leaving
Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy, my reunion with my daughter, the open
air which I had not breathed for seven months,--all bewildered me. One
thing is certain, I could not tell what streets I passed through on my
way to the Hôtel Mouchy. Instead of seeming delighted to see my
daughter, I replied to all she said only with tears.

The first thing I did was to beg Monsieur Noël to send my petition to
the committee as soon as possible, which he did. He received no reply.
It was impossible to gain an interview. I did not know to whom to
apply. Madame de Poix, was at the Hôtel Mouchy, under guard. She had
been imprisoned only twenty-four hours on account of her weakness. She
asked me many questions concerning her distinguished parents, wept much
with me, and still hoped that I might be able to return to them. I had
an opportunity to see the deputies from my district, who had just saved
my brother from the guillotine. I thought they would be willing to
render me a service also. I implored them in vain, however, and
received from them only mockery of my attachment, and the most positive
refusal. At last, repulsed in every direction, nothing was left but to
have myself arrested. This was my plan; I thought of it unceasingly.
The only thing that prevented me was the almost complete certainty of
being sent to some other prison than the Luxembourg. The tidings I
received from day to day were more and more distressing. Monsieur de
Mouchy wrote me: 'Come back to us; Madame de Mouchy, has been so
grieved at your absence that her abscess has dried up,--a thing which
never happened before.' Another time he said, 'We cannot get accustomed
to your absence, nor to doing without you. The two or three persons who
wait upon us, no matter how willing they may be, cannot accomplish in
the whole day what our dear Latour used to do in two hours, and without

All this went to my heart. I wrote to them every day, and gave them
more hope of my returning to them than I entertained myself. I went
frequently to carry them provisions, as well as to learn how they were
from the turnkeys, who were on good terms with me. I also went into the
garden, where I had the sad consolation of seeing them at the window.
The prisoners knew me so well that as soon as they saw me they would
hasten to tell my friends. Their sad and downcast faces broke my heart.
I dared not make the least sign to them as I was constantly watched.
The last day that I went there with my daughter a man followed us
persistently, and drove us away. My daughter was sure then that we were
going to be arrested. It was the last time that I ever saw Madame de
Mouchy. Two days after, Monsieur de Mouchy, sent me word that 'she had
had a severe attack of indigestion, accompanied by violent vomiting,
all through the night; that they needed me more than ever.' He told me
to send him a bottle of mineral water for her to take as a purgative.
The day she took it, Monsieur le Maréchal wrote me at four o'clock in
the afternoon that the purgative had not agreed with her at all, that
Madame la Maréchale could not retain any nourishment, and requested me
to send her an injection immediately. I was extremely anxious. It was
too late for me to be able to speak to any one, as all the doors were
closed at five o'clock. I determined to go to see the turnkey early the
next morning, and find out whether I might be allowed to wait upon her;
but it was then too late. Everything was useless; the end of all their
troubles was approaching.

Just as I was getting into my bed there was a loud knocking at my
door. I trembled as I opened it. I was surprised to see Monsieur
Noël, who looked frightened, and said, 'A messenger was sent to the
Luxembourg this evening to inquire whether Monsieur and Madame de
Mouchy were there, and I cannot imagine what it means.' I cried, 'It
is well known that they are in that house, and such inquiries are
superfluous,--unless,' I added, seeing that his agitation was
increasing, 'Madame la Maréchale, being ill, has asked for me again,
and some prison-director has been to inquire into her condition.' 'I
hope it may be so, I will learn to-morrow morning early what it is
all about, and will come and tell you.' We spent the night in the
greatest excitement, and I rose very early. I went to Monsieur Noël's
house at seven o'clock, but he had already gone out. He came to my
house crying, or rather screaming, 'It is true,' said he; 'all is
over! They are at the Conciergerie.' Nothing else that I have ever
suffered in my life can be compared to what I felt at that moment.
However, I did not altogether lose my self-control; enough was left
me to see that poor Monsieur Noël was entirely beside himself. He
beat his head so violently against the wall that I really feared he
would crush it. After the first moments of his despair had passed, he
said, 'I will go out again; I will go to the Conciergerie; I must see
them!' 'And I will go too,' I cried. 'No, no,' he answered. 'Is
Madame de Duras there?' 'I have not been able to learn.'

He returned about nine o'clock in the morning. 'Well,' said I, 'have
you heard anything? Is there no hope?' 'No, no,' was all his answer.
'And Madame de Duras?' 'She is not there.' He asked me to go and tell
the sad news to Madame de Poix. I should have been glad to be spared
this, for I scarcely had the strength to do it; but he went out again,
and I was obliged to go also. She was in absolute despair. Monsieur
Noël advised me to go away from the house, lest I should be sent for as
a witness. I would not do so. I did not know where to go; I preferred,
I said, to die with them rather than after them. At last I was
persuaded to go to the house of one of my friends.

Before going, however, I charged them to take some dinner to the
Conciergerie. It was possible that these precious victims might remain
there several days. They sent it back with their thanks, but untouched.

At five o'clock in the evening I left my friend's house, being no
longer able to resist the desire to hear what was going on; I met my
daughter coming to see me. Her agitated countenance confirmed my fears.
I met Monsieur Noël; he said not a word to me as he passed me, nor I to
him. We did not even dare to look at each other. I went the next day
again to see Madame de Poix, whose whole appearance was utterly
changed. She had lost not only her distinguished parents but Madame de
Biron, her intimate friend from childhood. She asked me kindly what I
was going to do. 'Nothing,' I answered, 'but await my fate here.' I
thought that, not having been able to share that of Monsieur and Madame
de Mouchy, I might be allowed to follow that of Madame de Duras,
believing that none of us would escape death. Madame de Noailles wrote
me three or four days after our loss a note which I am inconsolable at
having burned, but I was compelled to do so. It contained such a
touching description of how Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy remembered me
in their last moments, and expressions of Madame de Mouchy's sympathy
in my sorrow in spite of all her own suffering, that it caused me, for
the first time, to give way to tears. Until then I had been like a

Within ten days after the death of my honoured master and mistress, I
was called upon to mourn for all those of their acquaintance at the
Luxembourg who had shown me much kindness, among them Mesdames
d'Hautefort, Madame de Noailles, and others. Twenty days later we sent
some linen to Madame de Duras, which was not received; this frightened
us on her account, for we feared she was no longer there. And finally I
became terrified on my own account. I had the greatest possible horror
of death. I feared I never should have sufficient resignation to endure
the last twenty-four hours; but I hoped that my courage would not fail
me in my last moments if I could be with those from whom I could
receive consolation. The preparations for execution made me cold with
fright. I felt that the courage which would have enabled me to bear
anything in company with Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy, had abandoned
me. On the other hand it was strange that I should have such a terror
of death, being otherwise perfectly indifferent concerning my fate. My
relatives and friends pitied me, not only on account of the loss I had
just sustained, but on account of my financial position, knowing that I
had no means at all. I answered that this did not concern me in the
least. My mind continually reverted to what Monsieur de Mouchy had said
to me one day: he thanked me for a small service I had rendered him,
and added, 'God will reward you, my dear child, for all the trouble you
have taken for me. I am sure you will never want for anything.'

I was obliged, in spite of all my indifference to fate, to ask to have
back again the furniture of my room, for which I had to pay four
hundred francs, with a guarantee from Monsieur Noël. We left that house
after having drunk the cup of sorrow to the dregs, having seen it all
stripped of furniture and thrown into utter disorder. The commissioners
received from our hands everything belonging to Monsieur de Mouchy and
Madame la Maréchale, treating the things in the most insulting and
indecent manner.

Robespierre was beheaded. Madame de Duras was liberated the 16th of
October, 1794. But, oh, how changed she was! It was dreadful to see
her. She seemed, as she said herself, like one risen from the dead. In
spite of her trials it was evident that her courage had not failed. Her
first thought, and also that of Madame de Poix, on being once more in
the enjoyment of liberty, was to see that I had means of support, and
to find out all ways of rendering me assistance.


Footnote 12:

  The _féodiste_ [steward] was named Carbonnier. He as well as his wife
  gave proof of the sincerest attachment and fidelity to Monsieur and
  Madame de Mouchy. He was imprisoned for a whole year in the Anglaises
  and the Grande Force.

                   EVENTS OF THE 21st OF JULY, 1794.

                       MONSIEUR GRELET'S ACCOUNT.

It was the 21st of July, 1794 (2d Thermidor, year II.); I was on my way
to the Luxembourg at half past seven o'clock in the evening, to carry
to Madame de Noailles a bundle containing some wearing apparel. When I
reached the lower end of the Rue de Tournon, I saw in front of the door
of that prison a great mob of men and women, which made me feel very
anxious. I deposited my bundle in a shop on that street where a young
woman stayed who was the friend of Madame la Duchesse d'Ayen's
waiting-woman, and went on toward the prison.

When I came among the crowd I had no difficulty in discovering what was
going on, particularly when I saw a great open wagon with benches
fastened along the sides. I knew at once that it was there to receive
the prisoners who were to be transferred to the Conciergerie to be
beheaded the next day; this thought made me shiver. I had a
presentiment that the ladies in whom I was interested would be among
the victims. I was anxious to see the prisoners taken away, and
approached the door as nearly as I possibly could. A turnkey came out,
and perceiving me said, 'Go away; they are coming.'

I did not go away. I thought it would be the last time I should ever
see those ladies, and this sad thought rooted me to the spot. The
turnkey went in again. A little while after the door opened and the
prisoners appeared, preceded by two gendarmes. Madame la Vicomtesse de
Noailles was the first of the ladies to come out. She passed very near
me, took my hand and pressed it affectionately. The gendarme who walked
beside her assisted her to get into the wagon. Madame d'Ayen and Madame
la Maréchale got in immediately after her. One of the gendarmes had
seen Madame de Noailles give me her hand. Then five or six other ladies
got in and as many men as it would hold. I moved away and tried to
conceal myself in the crowd. Madame de Noailles still saw me, however,
for the wagon had not yet started. As it would not hold all the
prisoners, about fifteen of them followed on foot, escorted by
gendarmes. While all the preparations for this transfer were being
made, Madame de Noailles, who again recognized me, clasped her hands,
made me a sign to pray and that she was praying. A moment afterward she
lifted her head, and pointing with one finger to heaven she gave me her
blessing. The crowd wondered to whom her gestures were addressed; and I
gazed as others did, trying to act just as though they were not
addressed to me. Madame de Noailles apprised her mother that I was near
the wagon. Madame d'Ayen bowed and kissed her hand to me several times.
I could not take any notice of this; such gestures alone would have
been more than sufficient to compromise me.

At last, after half an hour spent in preparation, the wagon started and
went down the Rue de Condé. I followed it as far as the Conciergerie.
About midway this street, in a part of it which is very narrow, I could
almost touch at the same time both the houses at the side and the
wagon. Madame de Noailles, who never lost sight of me, gave me her
blessing three times,--one for each of her children. I continued to
follow the wagon as I would have followed the funeral procession of
persons whose death was to plunge so many families into such terrible

As I was crossing the Pont Neuf, the wagon being not far off and just
turning round the Quai des Lunettes, a gendarme called out behind me,
'I arrest you; I know you.' I did not give him a chance to arrest me
but ran along the Quai des Lunettes. The gendarme followed me; I ran
down the Rue de Harlay, which crosses the Island of the Palace. The
gendarme was far behind me crying, 'Stop him!' It was eight
o'clock,--just the hour when the workmen were leaving their shops. They
thought I was a prisoner escaping; several tried to stop me, but I kept
them off with my cane. On reaching the Quai des Orfèvres I fell, and
was seized by two workmen; the gendarme over-took me, and I made no
further effort to escape. A man came up who said he was a justice of
the peace, and inquired of the gendarme why he had arrested me. The
gendarme replied that I was intriguing with the prisoners. I thought it
useless to attempt to defend myself. As the gendarme was taking me to
the prefecture of police, I saw some distance off Madame de Noailles
and the other prisoners going into the prison of the Conciergerie.

I was put into a dungeon where there was a small window, which admitted
only a few rays of light. I took advantage of this to destroy some
papers which would have been sufficient to compromise me. Fortunately I
preserved my _carte de sûreté_, which I had only had a few days. I had
just torn up and destroyed the papers, part of which I swallowed, when
the door opened and showed me a jailer, who ordered me in menacing
tones to follow him. After having led me through some dark corridors he
shut me in a very small dungeon, secured by an iron door, through which
no light could penetrate. This dungeon was circular in form and
extremely small. There was a stone bench against the wall. As I entered
I had seen by the light of the lamp carried by the jailer something on
the floor which sparkled. When the dungeon door was closed on me I was
in total darkness. I felt around to find out what had occasioned the
flashes of light to which I have referred. I found that they proceeded
from some bits of glass which were on the edge of a very small opening
made in the wall. I seated myself on the stone bench and began to
reflect on my situation, on that of Mesdames de Noailles, whom I had
just seen for the last time, and on that of their poor children, who
were waiting for me before going to their evening meal. Then I realized
all the horrors of my situation. And when I thought of all that was to
take place the next day, I fell on my knees and prayed to God with all
the fervour of which I was capable. I implored him to accept the
sacrifice of my life in expiation of my sins; for I expected to perish
the next day. But what would become of those three children? What
terrible grief it would be to their mother and grandmother to see me
condemned with them! 'My God,' I prayed, 'have mercy on the children,
have mercy on their mothers, and have mercy on me!'

I was utterly overcome by these sad reflections when the door opened
with a loud noise. I rose suddenly, not knowing what might be going to
happen. There was the jailer again, with his lantern, and an officer of
the gendarmerie was with him. 'Have you your _carte_?' said the latter
to me. I answered that I had. 'Give it to me.' 'Will you allow me,'
said I, as I handed it to him, 'to tell you what took place, and why I
am here?' 'Yes, you may tell me.' I related in a few words how I had
happened by chance to be in front of the prison of the Luxembourg when
the prisoners who were to be taken to the Conciergerie came out; that
one of them, as she passed very near me, recognized me and pressed my
hand, but that she did not speak a single word to me, nor did I to her;
and that this was all that passed. After listening to me attentively he
went away, and took my _carte_ with him; but he had me put into more
comfortable quarters.

My anxiety increased when I saw that he had carried off my _carte_, for
it contained my address; and I was sure that they would go immediately
to the Hôtel Noailles-Mouchy, on the Rue de l'Université, where my
pupils Alfred and Alexis were. 'They will search all over the Hôtel,'
said I to myself. 'They will find the whole of my correspondence with
Madame de Noailles during her imprisonment; and as there are many
things in those letters which are covertly expressed, they will be sure
to find in them all sorts of intrigues relative to the conspiracy of
the Luxembourg, about which the Republicans and Revolutionary judges
are already making so much noise.' It is true that I had taken great
care to conceal this correspondence. I had confided to Alexis the
secret of the place where I had locked it up, and had charged him to
put it out of sight if he should see the commissioners or any strangers
coming to the Hôtel. We occupied the apartment of their father, the
Vicomte de Noailles, the windows of which looked out into the street,
in front of the main entrance. Though this thought somewhat reassured
me, my anxiety continued, and the more so as the officer did not
return, and it was now very late. I no longer doubted that he had been
to pay a visit to the Hôtel Mouchy. 'But even if he should find
nothing,' said I to myself, 'can any one ever escape who has once
fallen into their hands?'

Such was the state of my anxiety when the officer returned and said
these few words which I shall never forget. 'Here is your _carte_. Now
go; and another time do not come so near.' I did not wait for him to
say anything more. I took my _carte_, my cane, and the other things
which had not been left with me were returned, and I was free!

I experienced a feeling of delight at being liberated contrary to my
expectation; but this sweet content was only momentary. I thought of
Mesdames de Noailles, whom I had left as it were in the ante-chamber of
death. I could think of nothing else; at least they would not suffer
the pain of seeing me share their fate on the morrow, and of thinking
that their children were left without any one to care for them.
'Religion will come to their aid,' I thought; 'but what a struggle they
will have to go through.' I gave thanks to God, and implored him to
come to their help in this moment so full of horror to human creatures;
and still praying as I went, I reached the Hôtel Mouchy. It was eleven
o'clock. The children had not gone to bed; they were waiting for me.
They asked me a great many questions, and told me that they had been
very much frightened when I did not return. I told them that I had had
a great many things to attend to which had caused me most unwillingly
to delay; that I had been very much occupied; that I could not tell
them then all that had happened to me because it was too late, but that
I would tell them all about it the next day. We then said our prayers
together and went to bed. 'At least,' said I to myself, 'they shall
pass this night in peace; the next will be cruel and bitter enough.'

The next day (the 22d of July), while the children were still asleep, I
went very early to the Rue des Sts. Pères, to see Père Brun, to tell
him that the Mesdames de Noailles were at the Conciergerie to be tried,
and would very probably be condemned to death that very day, and to beg
him to keep the promise he had made me, which was to try to meet them
as they passed from the prison to the extreme end of the Faubourg St.
Antoine, as this was the only consolation they could now have in this
world. He promised me he would not fail to be there. Whenever he could,
this good priest exercised this act of charity toward the victims. He
would accompany them, praying as he went, to the foot of the scaffold,
and there give them the last absolution. After the deed was done he
would return to his house, still praying, but with an aching heart.

Father Brun was a father of the Oratory. We had lived together at
Juilly, where we had charge of the Pensioners called _Minimes_, because
they were the youngest and the smallest. He was for a short time the
curate of the parish of Juilly. Madame la Vicomtesse de Noailles, whose
children, Alexis and Alfred, were in our hall, had corresponded with
him for almost a year. She had great confidence in him, and he deserved
it on account of his piety and his tender care of her children.

I returned to the Hôtel Mouchy. It was almost six o'clock. I awakened
the children, and told them that we were going to see their sister
Euphémie at St. Mandé, which pleased them very much. They never
suspected the terrible tidings I had to tell them till we came to the
end of our walk.[13]


Footnote 13:

  A copy of this account was sent, May 21, 1850, to Madame la Marquise
  de Vérac by Monsieur Gérin, Monsieur Grelet's testamentary executor,
  and was declared by him to agree in every respect with the original
  from the hand of Monsieur Grelet.

                     NARRATIVE OF AN EYE-WITNESS OF
                      THE AFFAIR OF JULY 22, 1794.

                        (M. CARRICHON, Priest.)

Madame la Maréchale de Noailles, her daughter-in-law, the Duchesse
d'Ayen, and her granddaughter, the Vicomtesse de Noailles, were
detained in their Hôtel from the month of September, 1793, until April,
1794. I knew the first by sight, and was better acquainted with the
other two, whom I was accustomed to visit once a week.

The Terror was increasing, with its attendant crimes, and the victims
were becoming more numerous. One day when we were speaking of this, and
were exhorting each other to prepare to be among their number, I said
to them with a sort of presentiment, 'If you go to the guillotine, and
God gives me the strength, I will accompany you.' They took me at my
word, adding with eagerness, 'Do you promise it?' I hesitated a moment.
'Yes,' I replied, 'and that you may be certain to recognize me I will
wear a dark blue coat and a red waistcoat.'

After that they often reminded me of my promise. In the month of April,
the week after Easter, I believe, they were conducted to the
Luxembourg. I often received news of them through Monsieur Grelet, who
with such delicate faithfulness rendered many services to them and to
their children.

My promise was frequently recalled. On the 26th or 27th, a Thursday or
a Friday, he came and begged me to render to the Maréchal de Mouchy and
his wife the service which I had promised to them.

I went to the Palace and succeeded in making my way into the courtyard;
I then had them under my eyes, and quite near me, for more than a
quarter of an hour. Monsieur and Madame de Mouchy, whom I had seen at
their house only once, and whom I knew better than they knew me, could
not recognize me. By inspiration, and with the aid of God, I did what I
could for them. The Maréchal's conduct was singularly edifying; he
prayed aloud with great fervour. The evening before, on leaving the
Luxembourg, he had said to those who regarded him with interest: 'At
seventeen I went up to the assault for my king; at seventy-eight I go
to the scaffold for my God; my friends, I am not unhappy.'

I avoid details which would lead me on to endless length. That day I
believed it to be useless to attempt anything; and, indeed, I did not
feel myself able to go and accompany them to the guillotine. I was much
disturbed by this on account of the special promise made to their
relatives, whom their death plunged into affliction. They were
incarcerated in the same prison, and had done much to console the
Maréchal de Mouchy and his wife.

How much might I say of all the many departures which preceded or
followed that of the 22d of July!--departures, peaceful or wretched,
according to the dispositions of those who departed. Terribly sad they
were, even when the known character and all external signs denoted
Christian resignation and a Christian death, but exceedingly
distressing when the contrary was the case, and when the condemned
appeared, as it were, to pass from a hell in this world to that of the
other world.

On the 22d of July, which was Tuesday, I was at my house between eight
and ten o'clock in the morning. I was just on the point of going out
when I heard a knock on my door; I opened it and saw the children of
the house of Noailles and their tutor. The children had the gayety
natural to their age,--gayety which was to be changed to sadness by the
losses they were about to undergo, and the fear of experiencing still
others. They were going to walk.

The tutor, sad and melancholy, was pale and troubled. 'Let us go into
your chamber,' said he, 'and leave the children in your study.' We went
into the chamber; he cast himself into a chair. 'It is all over, my
friend; the ladies are before the Revolutionary tribunal. I have come
to summon you to keep your word. I am to take the children to
Vincennes, and there see little Euphémie. In the park I will prepare
the poor children for their terrible loss.'

Prepared as I was myself for this dreadful blow, I was overwhelmed. The
frightful situation of the mothers, of the children, of their worthy
tutor, this gayety to be followed by such depth of sorrow, the little
sister, Euphémie, then about four years old,--all this arose before my

I recovered myself; and after some inquiries, replies, and other sad
details, I said, 'I will now change my dress. What an errand! Pray to
God that he may give me the strength to execute it.'

We arose and went out into the study, where we found the children
amusing themselves innocently, gay and contented as could be. The sight
of them, the thought of their ignorance, and of what they were about to
learn, the interview with their sister which would follow, and that
which we had just gone through, made the contrast more striking, and
afflicted the heart.

Left alone after their departure, I felt myself overwhelmed and
wearied. 'My God,' I cried, 'have pity upon them and upon me!' I
changed my clothes and went upon certain errands, carrying in my heart
a crushing weight.

I went to the palace between one o'clock and two, and tried to enter;
it was impossible. I got some news from one who was coming out of the
Court. I still doubted the reality of what he told me. The illusion of
hope was finally destroyed by what he went on to say, and I could no
longer have any doubts.

I renewed my walk. It took me to the Faubourg St. Antoine, and with
what thoughts, what inward agitation, what secret fear, all joined to a
violent headache!

I consulted a person in whom I had confidence. She encouraged me in the
name of God. I took a little coffee at her house, and felt my head
improved. I returned to the palace with slow steps, pensive and
irresolute, dreading to reach the fatal spot, and hoping that I might
not find those who summoned me there.

I arrived before five o'clock. Nothing indicated the departure of the
prisoners. I went sadly up the steps of the Sainte-Chapelle; I walked
in and around the great hall, I sat down, I rose again, I spoke to no
one. I concealed within me the sorrow which was preying upon me. From
time to time I cast a sad glance toward the courtyard, to see if any
preparations for the procession were being made.

My continual thought was, 'In two hours, in one hour, they will be no
more.' I cannot express how this idea, which has afflicted me all my
life in the too frequent and distressing occasions in which it has been
recalled, afflicted me at that time. With so dreadful a cause of
waiting, never did an hour appear to me at once so long and so short as
that which I passed from five o'clock to six, by reason of the various
thoughts which agitated me, and which rapidly drove my mind from the
illusions of a vain hope to fears unhappily only too real.

Finally, by the noise which came to my ears, I judged that the prison
doors were about to be opened. I went down and took a position near the
gate, as for a fortnight it had no longer been possible to obtain
entrance into the courtyard.

The first cart was filled and came toward where I stood. It contained
eight ladies who seemed in a very edifying frame of mind; they were
unknown to me. The ninth and last, to whom I was very near, was the
Maréchale de Noailles. The absence of her daughter-in-law and
granddaughter gave me one last faint ray of hope. But alas! they
immediately entered the second cart. Madame de Noailles was dressed in
white, which she had not ceased wearing since the death of her
father-in-law and mother-in-law, the Maréchal de Mouchy and his wife.
She appeared about twenty-four years old at the most. Madame d'Ayen, a
lady of forty years, was in a striped _déshabillé_ of blue and white. I
saw them, though at a little distance. Six men also got into the fatal
car and took their places near them. I remarked that the first two took
their stand at a little distance from the others, showing them by this
respectful attention that they desired to leave them more free. From
this I drew good auguries.

Scarcely had they taken their places when the daughter exhibited toward
the mother an eager and tender interest, which was remarked by all the
bystanders. I heard them saying near me, 'Do you see how agitated that
young lady is, and how she talks to the other one?'

I saw that they were looking for me. I seemed to hear all that they
said. 'Mamma, he is not there.'

'Look again.'

'Nothing escapes me, I assure you, Mamma; he is not there.'

They forgot that I had sent word to them of the impossibility of
getting into the courtyard.

The first cart stood near me at least a quarter of an hour. It came
forward first. The second was about to pass, and I stood ready. It
passed, and the ladies did not see me. I went back into the palace,
made a long circuit, and placed myself in a conspicuous position at the
entrance of the Pont au Change. Madame de Noailles looked around on
every side, but passed by without seeing me. I followed them along the
bridge, separated from the crowd, and yet quite near them. Madame de
Noailles, though constantly looking for me, did not perceive me.

Distress was painted upon the face of Madame d'Ayen; her daughter
redoubled her watchfulness but without success. I was tempted to give
up. I had done what I could, I said to myself, and everywhere else the
crowd would be still greater. It was of no use, and I was tired. I was
about to go away, when the sky was covered over, thunder was heard in
the distance, and I resolved to make another trial.

By roundabout ways I arrived before the carts did in the Rue St.
Antoine beyond the Rue de Fourcy, almost opposite the too famous prison
of La Force. Then a violent wind arose. The storm burst; flashes of
lightning and peals of thunder succeeded each other rapidly. The rain
began, and soon fell in torrents. I withdrew to the doorway of a shop
which I still vividly remember, and which I never since then see
without emotion. In an instant the street was cleared; there were no
more people, save at the doors, in the shops, and at the windows. There
was more order in the marching. The horsemen and musketeers advanced
more quickly, and the carts also. They reached the little St. Antoine,
and I was still undecided. The first cart passed before me. A rapid and
almost involuntary movement brought me from the shop door and to the
second cart; and there I was alone, quite near the ladies. Madame de
Noailles, smiling, seemed to say to me, 'Here you are at last; ah, how
comforted we are! We have sought for you eagerly. Mamma, here he is.'
Madame d'Ayen revived. All my irresolution ceased; I felt myself
inspired by the grace of God with extraordinary courage. Though wet
through with perspiration and rain I took no thought of it, but
continued to walk near them. Upon the steps of the College St. Louis I
perceived a friend, full of respect and attachment for them,
endeavouring to render them the same service as that which I was
offering them.[14] His face and attitude showed all that he felt upon
seeing them. I struck my hand upon his shoulder with inexpressible
emotion, and cried to him as I passed by, 'Good evening, my friend.'

At this point there is an open place, and several streets enter into
it. The storm was at its height, and the wind had grown more violent.
The ladies in the first wagon were much disturbed by it, especially the
Maréchale de Noailles; her large cap was thrown back, and showed her
gray hair. They tottered upon their rough plank seats, their hands
being tied behind their backs. Immediately a crowd of men, who were
there in spite of the rain, recognized her, paid attention only to her,
and by their insulting cries increased the tortures which she was
supporting with patience. 'There she is,' they cried, 'the Maréchale
who went in such style, driving in her fine carriage,--there she is in
the cart, just like the others!'

The cries continued; the heavens grew darker and the rain more violent.
We reached the street crossing just in front of the Faubourg St.
Antoine. I went forward, looked around, and said to myself, this is the
best place to afford them what they so much desire. The cart was going
more slowly; I stopped and turned toward them. I made a sign to Madame
de Noailles which she entirely understood: 'Mamma, Monsieur Carrichon
is about to give us absolution.' Immediately they bent their heads with
an air of repentance, contrition, tenderness, hope, and piety.

I raised my hand, and, though with covered head, pronounced the entire
formula of absolution, and the words which follow it, very distinctly,
and with the deepest earnestness. They joined in this more perfectly
than ever. I can never forget the holy picture, worthy of the pencil of
Raphael, of that moment when, for them, all was balm and consolation.

Immediately the storm relaxed and the rain diminished. It was as if
they had come only to insure the success of what my friends and I had
so ardently desired. I blessed God for it, and they did the same. Their
appearance showed contentment, security, and cheerfulness.

As we advanced into the Faubourg the eager crowds fell back upon the
two sides of the street. They insulted the first ladies, especially the
Maréchale; nothing was said to the other two. Sometimes I preceded and
sometimes I accompanied the wagons. After passing the Abbey de St.
Antoine I met a young man whom I had formerly known; he was a priest
whom I had some reason to suspect, and his presence annoyed me. I was
afraid of being recognized, but happily I was not; he turned aside, and
I did not see him again.

Finally, we arrived at the fatal spot; what went on within me cannot be
described. What a moment! What a separation, what grief for the
husbands, the children, the sisters, the relatives and friends who
should survive them in this vale of tears! 'I see them,' I thought,
'still full of health; they would have been so useful to their
families, and in a moment I shall see them no more. How heart-rending
it is! But what a great comfort to us to see them so resigned!'

The scaffold appears; the carts come to a stop; the guards surround
them; I shudder. A more numerous circle of spectators now is about us;
most of them laugh, and are amused at this heart-breaking spectacle.
Imagine how terrible a situation it was for me, to be in the midst of
such a crowd with my mind agitated by thoughts so different.

While the executioner and his two attendants were assisting the ladies
who were in the first cart to descend, Madame de Noailles's eyes
wandered around in search of me. At last she saw me. And now there was
a repetition of that first ravishing view I had of her. Her expressive
eyes, so sweet, so animated, so heavenly, glanced first up to heaven
and then down to earth, and finally were fixed so intently upon me that
it might have caused me to be remarked if my neighbours had been more
attentive. I pulled my hat down over my eyes, but not so as to prevent
my seeing her. I seemed to hear her say, 'Our sacrifice is made. We
leave our dear ones; but God in his mercy calls us. Our faith is firm.
We shall not forget them when we are in his presence. We give you our
thanks, and send our tenderest farewells to them. Jesus Christ, who
died for us, is our strength. We die in his arms. Farewell! God grant
we may all meet again in heaven. Farewell!'

It is impossible to give any idea of her saintly, earnest gestures;
there was about her an eloquence so touching that those around me said,
'Ah, see that young woman! How resigned she is! See how she raises her
eyes to heaven! See how she is praying! But what good will that do
her?' Then on reflection: 'Oh, those wicked parsons!' Having said their
last farewells they all descended from the wagon.

I was no longer conscious of anything, being at once heart-broken,
grieved, and yet comforted. How I thanked God that I had not delayed
giving them absolution till this moment! If I had waited till just as
they were mounting the scaffold we could not have been so united in the
presence of God to ask and receive this great blessing as we had been
in the other place; and that also was the most undisturbed moment of
the whole route.

I leave the spot where I had been standing. I pass round to the
opposite side while the others are getting out of the wagon. I find
myself in front of the wooden stairway by which they were to mount the
scaffold, and against which a tall, rather fat old man with white hair
and a kindly face was leaning. He looked like a farmer. Near him was a
very resigned-looking woman whom I did not know; next came the
Maréchale de Noailles, just opposite me, dressed in black taffeta. She
had not yet laid aside mourning for the Maréchal. She was seated on a
block of wood or stone which happened to be there, her large eyes
fixed. I did not forget to pray for her as I had done for so many
others, and especially for the Maréchal and Maréchale de Mouchy. All
the others were ranged in two lines on the side facing the Faubourg St.

I looked around for the ladies; I could only see the mother. Her
attitude was that of devotion,--simple, noble, and resigned. Entirely
occupied with the sacrifice she was about to offer to God through the
merits of the Saviour, his divine son, her eyes were closed; she showed
no anxiety, not even as much as when formerly she had had the privilege
of approaching the sacred table. I shall never forget the impression
she made upon me then. I often picture her to myself in that attitude.
God grant that I may profit by it.

The Maréchale de Noailles was the third to mount the altar of
sacrifice. It was necessary to cut away the upper part of the neck of
her dress so as to expose her throat. I felt as if I could not stand
and see it all; yet I wished to drink the cup to the dregs and keep my
word, if only God would grant me strength to keep my senses in the face
of such a terrible sight.

Six ladies passed on after her. Madame d'Ayen was the tenth. She seemed
to me to look pleased that she was to die before her daughter did, and
the daughter glad to die after her mother. When she mounted the
scaffold the chief executioner pulled off her bonnet. As it was
fastened on by a pin which he did not take out, the pain caused by
having her hair dragged out with it was evident in her countenance.

The mother's life was ended. How I grieved to see that young lady,
looking in her white dress even younger than she really was, sweet and
gentle as a little lamb, led to the slaughter. I felt as though I were
present at the martyrdom of one of those holy young virgins represented
in the pictures of the great masters.

The same thing which occurred in her mother's case happened in
hers,--the same oversight as to the pin, the same pain, the same calm,
the same death! How the red blood flowed down from her head and her

'Now she is happy!' I cried to myself as I saw her body thrown into the
horrible coffin.

May the all-powerful and all-merciful God grant to their family every
blessing they may desire, and that I ask for my own, and bring us all
together with those who have gone before into that abode where there is
no more Revolution, into that country which shall have, as Saint
Augustine says,--

                          'Truth for its King,
                          Charity for its Law,
                    And Eternity for its Duration'.


Footnote 14:

  This friend whom Father Carrichon met was Father Brun, Priest of the
  Oratory, jointly with whom I had charge, at Juilly, of the Hall of
  the _Minimes_ (the youngest pupils of the College), among whom were
  Messieurs Alexis and Alfred de Noailles. I had informed Monsieur Brun
  on the same day as Monsieur Carrichon (July 22, 1794) of our
  anxieties and our desires for Mesdames de Noailles. These two friends
  met in the Rue de Faubourg St. Antoine, accompanied the victims, gave
  them their blessing, and did not withdraw until after the completion
  of the final sacrifice.--_Note by Monsieur Grelet_.

                        DE DURAS, Née NOAILLES,
                          TO MONSIEUR GRELET.

         Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart,
              all ye that hope in the Lord.--Ps. xxxi. 24.

How much you need to apply these sacred words to yourself in the trying
situation in which Providence has placed you! We have already tested
your courage in a most wonderful way; it will not fail you, because it
rests on the law of God, and in him alone you have put your trust. What
would the father and mother of these unfortunate children feel if you
should abandon them? But what am I saying? They will deserve the
continuation of your tender cares on account of their sweetness and
perfect obedience. I love to believe that they will inherit some of the
virtues of the angel whom we mourn. That lovely mother opened her pure
heart to you; you should inculcate in her children all that she valued,
all that she felt. She regarded you as their brother, and treated you
as such. It is as a sister, and also one who shared her confidence,
that I am now speaking to you; for I am not sure of having an
opportunity of telling you with my lips all I think. If Heaven spares
my life it will be a precious moment to me (who could imagine one more
so?) when I find myself once more with you and them, talking together
of our dear lost ones, and encouraging one another to profit by their
admirable examples. We will say to them, 'Be Christians and you will be
faithful to every duty; study human sciences, because they will help
you to be useful to humanity; but above all, and before everything
else, be good.'

I think it is necessary that they should know perfectly well how to
calculate, etc.

I have given up everything; I have ceased to think of anything earthly,
and keep my mind fixed upon heaven. I must close. I am, perhaps,
speaking to you for the last time. I know not what Providence has in
store for me; but whatever it may be I shall never cease to remember
the debt I owe you, which can only be equalled by my confidence in you.


Near the old village of Picpus, now a part of the Faubourg St. Antoine,
under the walls of the garden which belonged to the canoness of St.
Augustine, in a bit of ground not more than thirty feet in length,
repose thirteen hundred and fifteen victims beheaded at the Barrière du
Throne between the 26th Prairial and the 9th Thermidor in the second
year of the Republic.

Widows, orphans, and mothers left comfortless, and without support,
swallowed their tears in secret, and dared not even ask for their dead
the right of burial. In times like those, tears had ceased to be
innocent, and the tomb to be a refuge. These unhappy creatures
contented themselves with commending the remains of their loved ones to
Him whose eye is ever upon the living and the dead; but they knew not
whose hand buried them, nor even the spot of earth where they were laid.

But a Sister as brave as she was tender, Madame Amélie-Zéphirine de
Salm-Kirbourg, Princess of Hohenzollern, sister of Frédérick, Prince of
Salm, gained from her great grief a strength which others seemed to
lose. She had, I may say, watched over the last moments of her
brother's life, had seen the blow which ended his days, the wagon which
bore away his remains, the earth which received them. She bought the
spot of ground, scarcely sufficient to cover the victims who had just
been buried there; she had it enclosed by a wall, and she protected it
from profanation, hoping that pious sorrow would some day consecrate
these new catacombs. This prayer of fraternal piety has been heard; it
has been fulfilled by two sisters, Mesdames de la Fayette and de
Montagu, worthy imitators of such an example, for they were themselves
worthy of setting it. They both belonged to one of those patrician
families which had remained sound in the midst of an age despoiled of
virtue, like an obelisk in the midst of a desert; both were daughters,
granddaughters, sisters, and were related to and nearly connected with
several victims beheaded at the Barrière du Throne. One of them, whose
days were fewer than her good works, died last year, leaving in the
world, in which she has lived only to be wife and mother, a void
difficult to fill; the other, with a broken heart, a worn-out body, and
her fortune all lost, still finds comfort for the sorrowful, solace for
the suffering, and help for the poor. These two noble and pious women
began by purchasing a portion of the ground belonging to the nuns; and
upon the ruins of the cells they have caused to be built a modest
oratory. The innocence of the former occupants must help to make
effectual the prayers to be offered there. The august symbol of our
redemption has now been placed above this funeral enclosure; a priest
has been sent there by the Grand Vicars of Paris; an annual service has
been appointed there; and the blood of a Divine Victim has been offered
upon this altar for the repose of the souls of all these distinguished

This was doubtless sufficient for the dignity and consolation of all
these Christian spirits, but not to satisfy the tender pity of their
families and friends. The chapel and the cemetery were separated from
each other by the garden of the nuns. It was resolved to unite them by
purchasing this valuable bit of ground, which contains more than four
_arpents_. A subscription was started. A circular was drawn up by a man
noted for talent and integrity,[15] who for thirty years has declared
himself the defender of all those whose misfortunes were most noble and
touching. Generous emotion responded to the appeal of eloquent
sensibility, and subscriptions were soon obtained to the amount of
forty thousand francs. By the side of the proudest and most cherished
names of France one cannot see without emotion the unknown names and
small donations of several faithful servants who brought their humble
offerings to lay at the feet of their old masters and at the base of
the new altar. The whole of the piece of ground was at last purchased;
and for two years and a half the same enclosure has surrounded the
victims and the oratory of the dead. The ashes of the fathers have
become the property of the children; the children will transmit it to
their descendants. This monument will remain as a sorrowful reparation
for the past and an impressive lesson to the future.

Here every day the holy sacrifice is offered up for all the victims of
the Revolution; here are celebrated every year for those buried in this
spot two solemn services,--one on Low Sunday week and the other on the
day corresponding to the 9th Thermidor; here on last Monday, the 11th
of this month, a congregation gathered to celebrate the anniversary.
After the service at the chapel, which was remarkable only for the
number and emotion of those present, the attendants went in procession,
according to custom, into the Champ des Martyrs.

In the middle there is a bit of rising ground shaded by cypress and
poplar trees, whose tall waving branches remind us of the vanity of our
earthly hopes, and point to where they should be fixed; while a cross
surmounting a pyramid, whose base is planted upon all these vanished
sources of happiness, seems to call all the descendants of the victims
to its outstretched arms. The funeral memorial service began, and the
faithful, on their knees, alternately repeated the melancholy stanzas
of the psalm which mourns and hopes.


Footnote 15:

  Monsieur Lally-Tollendal.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

1. Unusual or inconsistent spellings in English were retained.


1a. In all French Names, Titles, Place-names the spelling and
accentation of French words were retained.

2. Footnotes were consecutively numbered through the entire volume.

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