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Title: The Memoirs of François René Vicomte de Chateaubriand sometime Ambassador to England, Volume 1 (of 6) - Mémoires d'outre-tombe, volume 1
Author: Chateaubriand, François René, Teixeira de Mattos, Alexander
Language: English
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[Illustration: Le Vicomte de Chateaubriand]


The Translator's Note

The Author's Preface

The Author's Preface to the First Edition




Birth of my brothers and sisters--My own birth--Plancoët--I
am vowed--Combourg--My father's scheme of education for
me--Villeneuve--Lucile--Mesdemoiselles Couppart--I am a bad pupil--The
life led by my maternal grandmother and her sister at Plancoët--My
uncle, the Comte de Bedée, at Monchoix--I am relieved from my nurse's
vow--Holidays--Saint-Malo--Gesril--Hervine Magon--Fight with two ship's


A note from M. Pasquier--Dieppe--Change in my education--Spring in
Brittany--An historic forest--Pelagian fields--The moon setting over
the sea--Departure for Combourg--Description of the castle--Dol
College--Mathematics and languages--An instance of memory--Holidays
at Combourg--Life at a country-seat--Feudal customs--The inhabitants
of Combourg--Second holidays at Combourg--The Conti Regiment--Camp
at Saint-Malo--An abbey--A provincial theatre--Marriage of my two
eldest sisters--Return to college--A revolution begins to take place
in my ideas--Adventure of the magpie--Third holidays at Combourg--The
quack--Return to college--Invasion of France--Games--The Abbé de
Chateaubriand--My First Communion--I leave Dol College--A mission at
Combourg--Rennes College--I meet Gesril--Moreau-Limoëlan--Marriage
of my third sister--I am sent to Brest for my naval examination--The
harbour of Brest--I once more meet Gesril--Lapeyrouse--I return to


At Montboissier--Reminiscences of Combourg--Dinan College--Broussais--I
return home--Life at Combourg--Our days and evenings--My
donjon--Change from childhood to manhood--Lucile--Last lines written
at the Vallée-aux-Loups--Revelations concerning the mystery of my
life--A phantom of love--Two years of delirium--Occupations and
illusions--My autumn joys--Incantation--Temptation--Illness--I
fear and decline to enter the ecclesiastical state--A moment in my
native town--Recollection of Villeneuve and the tribulations of my
childhood--I am called back to Combourg--Last interview with my
father--I enter the service--I bid farewell to Combourg


Berlin--Potsdam--Frederic the Great--My brother--My cousin
Moreau--My sister, the Comtesse de Farcy--Julie a worldly
woman--Dinner--Pommereul--Madame de Chastenay--Cambrai--The Navarre
Regiment--La Martinière--Death of my father--My regrets--Would my
father have appreciated me?--I return to Brittany--I stay with my
eldest sister--My brother sends for me to Paris--First inspiration of
the muse--My lonely life in Paris--I am presented at Versailles--I hunt
with the King--Adventure with my mare _Heureuse_


Stay in Brittany--In garrison at Dieppe--I return to Paris with Lucile
and Julie--Delisle de Sales--Men of letters--Portraits--The Rosanbo
family--M. de Malesherbes--His predilection for Lucile--Appearance
and change of my sylph--Early political disturbances in Brittany--A
glance at the history of the monarchy--Constitution of the States
of Brittany--The holding of the States--The King's revenue in
Brittany--Private revenue of the province--Hearth-money--I am
present for the first time at a political meeting--A scene--My
mother moves to Saint-Malo--I receive the tonsure--The country
round Saint-Malo--The ghost--The sick man--The States of Brittany
in 1789--Riots--Saint-Riveul, my schoolfellow, is killed--The year
1789--Journey from Brittany to Paris--Movement on the road--Appearance
of Paris--Dismissal of M. Necker--Versailles--Delight of the Royal
Family--General insurrection--Capture of the Bastille--Effect of
the capture of the Bastille on the Court--The heads of Foullon
and Bertier--Recall of M. Necker--Sitting of the 4th of August
1789--The day's work of the 5th of October--The King is taken to
Paris--The Constituent Assembly--Mirabeau--Sittings of the National
Assembly--Robespierre--Society-Aspect of Paris--What I did amidst all
this turmoil--My solitary days--Mademoiselle Monet--I draw up with
M. de Malesherbes the plan of my journey in America--Bonaparte and
I both unknown subalterns--The Marquis de La Rouërie--I embark at
Saint-Malo--Last thoughts on leaving my native land


In London as Ambassador--I cross the ocean--François
Tulloch--Christopher Columbus--Camoëns--The Azores--The isle of
Graciosa--Sports on board ship--The isle of Saint-Pierre--The shores of
Virginia--Sunset--Danger and escape--I land in America--Baltimore--The
passengers separate--Tulloch--Philadelphia--General
Washington--Comparison of Washington and Bonaparte--Journey from
Philadelphia to New York and Boston--Mackenzie--The Hudson River--Song
of the lady passenger--Mr. Swift--I set out for the Falls of Niagara
with a Dutch guide--M. Violet--My savage outfit--Hunting--Wolverine
and Canadian Fox--Musk-rat--Fishing dogs--Insects--Montcalm and
Wolfe--Encampment on the shore of the Onondaga Lake--Arabs--The Indian
woman and her cow--An Iroquois--The Onondaga chief--Velly and the
Franks--Ceremonies of hospitality--The ancient Greeks--Journey from
the Onondaga Lake to the Genesee River--Clearings--Hospitality--My
bed--The enchanted rattle-snake--Niagara Falls--The rattle-snake--I
fall to the edge of the abyss--Twelve days in a hut--Change of
manners among the savages--Birth and death--Montaigne-Song of the
adder--The little Indian girl, the original of Mila--Incidents--Old
Canada--True civilisation spread by religion--False civilisation
introduced by commerce--Traders--Agents--Hunts--Half-breeds or
Burnt-woods--Wars of the companies--The Indian languages dying
out--The old French possessions in America--Regrets--A note from Lord
François Conyngham--The Canadian lakes--A fleet of Indian canoes--The
American rivers--Legends--Muscogulges and Siminoles--Our camp--Two
Floridan beauties--Ruins on the Ohio--What the Muscogulge damsels
were--Arrest of the King at Varennes--I interrupt my journey to go back
to Europe--Dangers for the United States--Return to Europe--Shipwreck



    The Vicomte de Chateaubriand
    Chateaubriand's Birthplace
    Combourg Castle
    Louis XVI
    Marie Antoinette


Many years ago, M. Pierre Louÿs, who had not then achieved his
astonishing successes, and I sat talking literature in a Paris café.
The future author of _Aphrodite_ had praise for none save the moderns,
of whom he has now become a recognized type and leader. I turned to him
suddenly and asked:

"Is there any nineteenth-century French writer at all whom you others
read nowadays and approve of?"

"Yes," said Louÿs, "Chateaubriand."

"How do you mean?" said I. "The novels? _Atala?_ The essays?"

"Ah no," he answered: "but the _Mémoires d'outre-tombe_, yes.
That--that is monumental; that will live for ever."

Our talk drifted to other things; I remembered what Louis had said--for
two days: had I come across these Memoirs in the course of my rambles
along the quays, I should have bought them; I did not, and bought other
books instead.


In the winter of 1898, I spent two months at the house of my kinsman,
David Teixeira de Mattos, in Amsterdam. It stands on one of the oldest
of the canals. It is a quaint, spacious seventeenth-century house,
and the habits of the house are of the same date as the architecture:
there are few books in it. Knowing this, I had brought books with me,
but not enough to last out my stay; and, before very long, I was driven
to rummage in the one small, old-fashioned book-case which contained
David Teixeira's library. I found it to consist in the main of volumes
bearing upon the history of the reigning House of Orange, in whose
restoration my kinsman's near predecessors had been concerned; of
family records; of the Dutch poets of the early nineteenth century:
until, suddenly, I came across a poor little pirated edition of
Chateaubriand's masterpiece, printed in Brussels in twenty small parts,
and bound up into five small volumes. I carried them to my room, spent
three weeks in their perusal, started to read them a second time, and
came back to London determined to find a publisher who would undertake
the risk of an English translation.

I found one at almost the first asking, and it will ever remain a
mystery to me why no complete translation of this admirable work has
seen the light in England during the more than fifty years that have
elapsed since the _Mémoires d'outre-tombe_ were first published.


The British Museum Library contains two attempts at a translation. One,
published in the "Parlour Library of Instruction," is entitled, "_An
Autobiography._ By François René, Viscount de Chateaubriand. London
and Belfast: Simms & M'Intyre, 1849." It consists of four slim volumes
containing in all less than half of the work. The other appeared, under
the title of "_Memoirs of Chateaubriand._ Written by Himself. London:
Henry Colburn, 1848-49. To be completed in ten parts," in "Colburn's
Standard Library." Only three parts were published, embracing not more
than a quarter of the _Mémoires d'Outre-tombe._

In both cases the translator is anonymous; in both cases the
translation seems careless and hastily made; in both cases the English
version, as I have said, is far from complete.


The present translation, by arrangement with the publishers, is
complete in so far that no attempt whatever has been made at
compression or condensation; nor has a single passage been omitted
without the insertion of a footnote pointing out exactly where the
omission occurs. The omissions are very few, and consist of the

1. All that portion of Chateaubriand's account of the career of
Napoleon Bonaparte which touches the period during which the author
was not himself residing in France and which is of historical rather
than autobiographical interest. This portion Messrs. Freemantle hope to
publish later, as a supplemental volume to the Memoirs. Left where it
stood, it hampered the action of the work, and its omission is in no
way noticeable.

2. Part of the account of the journey to Jerusalem which Chateaubriand
quotes from the Itinerary of his body-servant Julien, side by side with
his own; also some discursive correspondence and quotations following
upon the Itinerary.

3. A selection from the writings of Chateaubriand's sister Lucile
(Madame de Caud). This selection is a short one; but it is of interest
to none save the author and her brother, and nothing is lost by the

4. Some of the longer quotations from the French or Italian poets,
besides a few poems by Chateaubriand himself.

5. One passage, or at most two, which, without being in any sense
immoral, seemed to me to contain a little too much of the _esprit
gaulois_ to prove acceptable to English taste. I was anxious that not a
line should appear which would prevent the universal reading of so fine
a work.


For the rest, I have striven to perform my task of translation, which
has taken me over two years to accomplish, conscientiously, correctly,
and above all respectfully. If here and there I have seemed to follow
the original a little too closely, my excuse must be that I had too
great a respect for this great man to take liberties with his writing.
To reproduce his style in another language has been no easy matter: I
have done my best.

The volumes will be found to be fully annotated. The author's own
notes are so marked; those signed "B." are by M. Edmond Biré, the
accomplished editor of the latest edition of the Memoirs, from which
edition my version has, in the main, been made; those signed "T" are
mine. I claim no merit of erudition for these notes: my aim has been
merely to give the essential details concerning each new person,
belonging to whatever period, mentioned in the work, and, whenever
possible, to add the date of his birth and death. More particularly in
the case of Chateaubriand's contemporaries, I thought it not without
value to furnish a clue to the age and to the stage of their career
which they had attained at the time when they were brought into contact
with the writer. A full index of all persons mentioned in the _Mémoires
d'outre-tombe_ will be found at the end of the last volume.


My thanks are due to M. Louis Cahen, of Paris, who has read and
collated most of the proofs and suggested a happy solution of many a
difficulty, and to Mr. Frederic J. Simmons for the care with which he
has selected the illustrations to the several volumes.

A. T. de M.

Chelsea, _December_ 1901.


    _Sicut nubes ... quasi naves ... velut umbra._--JOB.[2]

As it is not possible for me to foresee the moment of my end; as at
my age the days accorded to man are but days of grace, or rather
of reprieve, I propose, lest I be taken by surprise, to make an
explanation touching a work with which I intend to cheat the tedium
of those last forlorn hours which we neither desire, nor know how to

The Memoirs prefaced by these lines embrace and will embrace the whole
course of my life: they were commenced in the year 1811 and continued
to the present day. I tell in that portion which is already completed,
and shall tell in that which as yet is but roughly sketched, the
story of my childhood, my education, my youth, my entrance into the
service, my arrival in Paris, my presentation to Louis XVI., the early
scenes of the Revolution, my travels in America, my return to Europe,
my emigration to Germany and England, my return to France under the
Consulate, my employment and work under the Empire, my journey to
Jerusalem, my employment and work under the Restoration, and finally
the complete history of the Restoration and of its fall.

I have met nearly all the men who in my time have played a part, great
or small, in my own country or abroad: from Washington to Napoleon,
from Louis XVIII. to Alexander, from Pius VII. to Gregory XVI., from
Fox, Burke, Pitt, Sheridan, Londonderry, Capo d'Istrias to Malesherbes,
Mirabeau and the rest; from Nelson, Bolivar, Mehemet Pasha of Egypt to
Suffren, Bougainville, La Pérouse, Moreau and so forth. I have been one
of an unprecedented triumvirate: three poets of different interests
and nationality, who filled, within the same decade, the post of
minister of Foreign Affairs--myself in France, Mr. Canning in England,
Señor Martinez de la Rosa in Spain. I have lived successively through
the empty years of my youth and the years filled with the Republican
Era, the annals of Bonaparte and the reign of the Legitimacy.

I have explored the seas of the Old World and the New, and trod the
soil of the four quarters of the globe. After camping in Iroquois
shelters and Arab tents, in the wigwams of the Hurons, amid the
remains of Athens, Jerusalem, Memphis, Carthage, Grenada, among
Greeks, Turks and Moors, in forests and among ruins; after wearing the
bearskin of the savage and the silken caftan of the mameluke; after
enduring poverty, hunger, thirst and exile, I have sat, as minister
and ambassador, in a gold-laced coat, my breast motley with stars
and ribbons, at the tables of kings, at the feasts of princes and
princesses, only to relapse into indigence and to receive a taste of

I have been connected with a host of personages famous in the career
of arms, the Church, politics, law, science and art. I have endless
materials in my possession: more than four thousand private letters,
the diplomatic correspondence of my several embassies, that of my term
at the Foreign Office, including documents of an unique character,
known to none save myself. I have carried the soldier's musket, the
traveller's cudgel, the pilgrim's staff: I have been a sea-farer, and
my destinies have been as fickle as my sails; a halcyon, and made my
nest upon the billows.

I have meddled with peace and war; I have signed treaties and
protocols, and published numerous works the while. I have been
initiated into secrets of parties, of Court and of State: I have been
a close observer of the rarest miseries, the highest fortunes, the
greatest renowns. I have taken part in sieges, congresses, conclaves,
in the restoration and overturning of thrones. I have made history, and
I could write it. And my life, solitary, dreamy, poetic, has gone on
through this world of realities, catastrophes, tumult, uproar, in the
company of the sons of my dreams, Chactas, René, Eudore, Aben-Hamet,
of the daughters of my imagination, Atala, Amélie, Blanca, Velléda,
Cymodocée. Of my age and not of it, I perhaps exercised upon it,
without either wishing or seeking to do so, a three-fold influence,
religious, political and literary.

There are left to me but four or five contemporaries of established
fame. Alfieri, Canova and Monti have disappeared; Italy has only
Pindemonte and Manzoni left over from her brilliant days. Pellico has
wasted his best days in the cells of the Spielberg: the talents of
the land that gave Dante birth are condemned to silence or driven to
languish on foreign soil; Lord Byron and Mr. Canning have died young;
Walter Scott is no longer with us; Goethe has left us, full of years
and glory. France has scarce anything remaining from her abundant past;
she is commencing a new era, while I linger behind to bury my period,
like the old priest who, in the sack of Béziers, was to toll the bell
before falling himself when the last citizen had expired.

When death lowers the curtain between me and the world, it shall be
found that my drama was divided into three acts.

From my early youth until 1800, I was a soldier and a traveller; from
1800 to 1811, under the Consulate and the Empire, my life was given
to literature; from the Restoration to the present day, it has been
devoted to politics.

During each of my three successive careers, I have always placed some
great task before myself: as a traveller, I aimed at discovering
the polar world; as a man of letters, I have striven to reconstruct
religion from its ruins; as a statesman, I have endeavoured to give to
the people the true system of representative monarchy, accompanied with
its various liberties: I have at least assisted in winning that liberty
which is worth all the others, which replaces them and serves in stead
of any constitution, the liberty of the press. When, frequently, I
have failed in my enterprises, there has been in my case a failure
of destiny. The foreigners who have succeeded in their designs were
aided by fortune; they had powerful friends behind them and a peaceful
country. I have been less lucky.

Of the modern French authors of my own period, I may be said to be the
only one whose life resembles his works: a traveller, soldier, poet,
publicist, it is amid forests that I have sung the forest, aboard ship
that I have depicted the sea, in camp that I have spoken of arms, in
exile that I have learnt to know exile, in Courts, in affairs of State,
in Parliament that I have studied princes, politics, law and history.
The orators of Greece and Rome played their part in the republic and
shared its fate. In Italy and Spain, at the end of the Middle Ages and
at the Renascence, the leading intellects in letters and the arts took
part in the social movement. How stormy and how fine were the lives of
Dante, of Tasso, of Camoëns, of Ercilla, of Cervantes!

In France our ancient poets and historians sang and wrote in the midst
of pilgrimages and battles: Thibaut Count of Champagne, Villehardouin,
Joinville borrow the felicity of their style from their adventurous
careers; Froissart travels the highways in search of history, and
learns it from the mouths of the knights and abbots whom he meets, by
whose side he rides along the roads. But, commencing from the reign
of François I., our writers have been men leading detached lives, and
their talents have perchance expressed the spirit but not the deeds of
their age. If I were destined to live, I should represent in my person,
as represented in my Memoirs, the principles, the ideas, the events,
the catastrophes, the idylls of my time, the more in that I have seen
a world end and a world commence, and that the conflicting characters
of that ending and that commencement lie intermingled in my opinions.
I have found myself caught between two ages as in the conflux of two
rivers, and I have plunged into their waters, turning regretfully from
the old bank upon which I was born, yet swimming hopefully towards the
unknown shore at which the new generations are to land.

These Memoirs, divided into books and parts, have been written at
different times and in different places: each section naturally entails
a kind of prologue which recalls the occurrences that have arisen since
the last date and describes the place in which I resume the thread
of my narrative. In this way the various events and the changeful
circumstances of my life enter one into the other; it happens that, in
moments of prosperity, I have to tell of times of penury, and that,
in days of tribulation, I retrace my days of happiness. The diverse
opinions formed in diverse periods of my life, my youth penetrating
into my old age, the gravity of my years of experience casting a
shadow over my lighter years, the rays of my sun, from its rise to its
setting, intercrossing and commingling like the scattered reflections
of my existence, all these give a sort of indefinable unity to my work;
my cradle bears the mark of my tomb, my tomb of my cradle; my hardships
become pleasures, my pleasures sorrows, and one no longer knows whether
these Memoirs proceed from a dark or a hoary head.

I do not say this in self-praise, for I do not know that it is good;
I say what is the fact, what happened without reflection on my part,
through the very fickleness of the tempests loosed against my bark,
which often have left me but the rock that caused my shipwreck upon
which to write this or that fragment of my life.

I have applied to the writing of these Memoirs a really paternal
predilection; I would wish to be able to rise at the ghostly hour to
correct the proofs: the dead go fast.

The notes accompanying the text are of three kinds: the first, printed
at the end of each volume, consist of explanatory documents, proofs
and illustrations; the second, printed at the foot of the pages, are
contemporary with the text; the third, also printed as foot-notes, have
been added after the text was written, and bear the date of the time
and place at which they were written. A year or two of solitude spent
in some corner of the earth would suffice to enable me to complete my
Memoirs; but the only period of rest that I have known was the nine
months during which I slept in my mother's womb: it is probable that I
shall not recover this antenatal rest until I lie in the entrails of
our common mother after death.

Several of my friends have urged me to publish a portion of my story
now: I could not bring myself to accede to their wish. In the first
place, I should be less candid and less veracious, in spite of myself;
and then, I have always imagined myself to be writing seated in my
grave. From this my work has assumed a certain religious character,
which I could not remove without impairing its merit; it would be
painful to me to stifle the distant voice which issues from the tomb,
and which makes itself heard throughout the course of this narrative.
None will be surprised that I should preserve certain weaknesses, that
I should be concerned for the fate of the poor orphan destined to
survive me upon earth. Should Minos judge that I had suffered enough in
this world to become at least a happy Shade in the next, a little light
thrown from the Elysian Fields to illumine my last picture would serve
to make the defects of the painter less prominent. Life does not suit
me; perhaps death will become me better.

Paris, 1 _December_, 1833.

[1] This preface is first printed in the edition of 1899, from which
the present version is made.--T.

[2] "I am brought to nothing: as a wind thou hast taken away my desire:
and my prosperity hath passed away _like a cloud._"--JOB, XXX. 15.

"My days have passed by _as ships_ carrying fruits, as an eagle flying
to the prey."--JOB, IX. 26.

"Man cometh forth like a flower and is destroyed, and fleeth _as a
shadow_, and never continueth in the same state."--JOB, XIV. 2.--T.



    _Sicut nubes ... quasi naves ... velut umbra._--JOB.[2]

As it is not possible for me to foresee the moment of my end; as at
my age the days accorded to man are but days of grace, or rather of
reprieve, I propose to make an explanation.

On the 4th of September next I shall have completed my seventy-eighth
year: it is high time that I should quit a world which is quitting me
and which I do not regret.

The Memoirs prefaced by these lines follow, in their divisions, the
natural divisions of my several careers.

The sad necessity which has always held me by the throat has obliged
me to sell my Memoirs. None can know what I have suffered by being
compelled thus to hypothecate my tomb; but I owed this last sacrifice
to my vows and to the consistency of my conduct. With an almost
pusillanimous attachment, I looked upon these Memoirs as confidants
from whom I would not care to part; my intention was to leave them to
Madame de Chateaubriand; she would have published them at will, or
suppressed them, as I would have desired more than ever today.

Ah, if, before quitting the earth, I could have found some one rich
enough, confiding enough, to buy up the shares of the "Syndicate,"
and one who would not, like the Syndicate, be under the necessity of
sending the work to press so soon as my knell had sounded! Some of the
shareholders are my friends; several of them are obliging persons who
have sought to assist me; nevertheless the shares have perhaps been
sold, they will have been transferred to third parties with whom I am
not acquainted, and with whom family interests must take the first
place; to the latter it is natural that the prolongation of my days
should mean to them, if not an annoyance, at least an actual loss.
Lastly, if I were still the owner of these Memoirs, I would either keep
them in manuscript or delay their appearance for fifty years.

These Memoirs have been put together at different dates and in
different countries. Hence the necessary prologues, which depict the
environments upon which I cast my eyes, the thoughts which occupied me
at the time when I resume the thread of my narrative. The changeful
circumstances of my life have in this way entered one into the other:
it has happened that, in moments of prosperity, I have had to tell
of times of penury; in days of tribulation, to retrace my days of
happiness. My youth penetrating into my old age, the gravity of my
years of experience casting a shadow over my lighter years, the rays of
my sun, from its rise to its setting, intercrossing and commingling:
all these have produced in my recital a sort of confusion, or, if you
will, a sort of indefinable unity; my cradle bears the mark of my tomb,
my tomb of my cradle; my hardships become pleasures, my pleasures
sorrows, and I no longer know, as I finish reading these Memoirs,
whether they proceed from a dark or a hoary head.

I cannot tell if this medley, to which I can apply no remedy, will
please or displease; it is the fruit of the inconstancy of my fate;
often the tempests have left me no writing-table save the rock that has
caused my shipwreck.

I have been urged to publish portions of these Memoirs during my life;
I prefer to speak from the depths of my grave: my narrative will then
be accompanied by those voices which are in a measure consecrated,
because they issue from the tomb. If I have suffered enough in this
world to become a happy Shade in the next, a ray escaping from the
Elysian Fields will cast a protecting light over my last pictures. Life
does not suit me; perhaps death will become me better.

These Memoirs have been the object of my predilection. St. Bonaventure
obtained from Heaven permission to continue his after death; I hope for
no such favour, but I would wish to rise at the ghostly hour at least
to correct the proofs. However, when Eternity shall with its two hands
have stopped my ears, in the dusty family of the deaf, I shall hear

If any part of this work has interested me more than another, it is
that which relates to my youth, the least-known side of my life. There
I have had to reveal to the world what was known to myself alone; in
wandering among that vanished company I have met only remembrances and
silence: of all the persons I have known, how many are alive today?

The inhabitants of Saint-Malo applied to me, on the 28th of August
1828, through the medium of their mayor, on the subject of a floating
dock they wished to build. I hastened to reply, begging, in exchange
for my good will, a concession of a few feet of ground, for my tomb,
on the Grand-Bé[3]. This encountered some difficulty, owing to the
opposition of the military engineering authorities. At last, on the
27th of October 1831, I received a letter from the mayor, M. Hovius. He

    "The resting-place which you desire by the side of the sea,
    at a few steps from your birthplace, will be prepared by the
    filial piety of the Malouins. A sad thought is mingled with
    this task. Ah, may the monument remain long unoccupied! But
    honour and glory survive all that dies upon earth."

I quote these beautiful words of M. Hovius with gratitude; there is but
one word too much: "glory."

I shall therefore rest on the shore of the sea which I have loved
so well. If I die out of France, I hope that my body will not be
brought back to the land of my birth until fifty years shall have
been completed since my first burial. Let my remains be spared a
sacrilegious autopsy; let not my chilled brain and my dead heart be
searched for the mystery of my being. Death does not reveal the secrets
of life. A corpse riding post fills me with horror; bones, bleached
and light, are easily moved: they will be less fatigued by this last
journey than when I dragged them hither and thither, laden with the
burden of my cares.

Paris, 14 _April_, 1846.

_Revised_ 28 _July_, 1846.

[1] 1848-1850.--T.

[2] "I am brought to nothing: as a wind thou hast taken away my desire:
and my prosperity hath passed away _like a cloud._"--JOB, XXX. 15.

"My days have passed by _as ships_ carrying fruits, as an eagle flying
to the prey."--JOB, IX. 26.

"Man cometh forth like a flower and is destroyed, and fleeth _as a
shadow_, and never continueth in the same state."--JOB, XIV. 2.--T.

[3] A small island situated in the roadstead of Saint-Malo.-_Author's






Birth of my brothers and sisters--My own birth-Plancoët--I
am vowed--Combourg--My father's scheme of education for
me--Villeneuve--Lucile--Mesdemoiselles Couppart--I am a bad pupil--The
life led by my maternal grandmother and her sister at Plancoët--My
uncle, the Comte de Bedée, at Monchoix--I am relieved from my nurse's
vow--Holidays--Saint-Malo--Gesril--Hervine Magon--Fight with two ship's

Four years ago, on my return from the Holy Land, I purchased near
the little village of Aulnay, in the neighbourhood of Sceaux[2] and
Châtenay, a small country-house, lying hidden among wooded hills. The
sandy and uneven ground attached to this house consisted of a sort
of wild orchard, at the end of which was a ravine and a coppice of
chestnut-trees. This narrow space seemed to me fitted to contain my
long hopes: _spatio brevi spem longam reseces[3]._ The trees which I
have planted here are thriving. They are still so small that I can
shade them by placing myself between them and the sun. One day they
will give me shade and protect my old age as I have protected their
youth. I have selected them, in so far as I could, from the different
climes in which I have wandered; they recall my travels and foster
other illusions in my heart.

If ever the Bourbons reascend the throne, I will ask from them no
greater reward for my loyalty than that they should make me rich enough
to add to my fee-simple the skirts of the surrounding woods: I have
grown ambitious, and would wish to expand my walks by a few roods.
Knight-errant though I be, I have the sedentary tastes of a monk: I
doubt whether, since taking up my abode in this retreat, I have thrice
set foot without my boundary. If my pines, my fir-trees, my larches,
my cedars ever keep their promise, the Vallée-aux-Loups will become a
veritable hermitage. When, on the 20th of February 1694,[4] Voltaire
saw the light at Châtenay, what was then the appearance of the hill to
which the author of the _Génie du Christianisme_ was to retire in 1807?

This spot pleases me; it has taken the place of my paternal acres; I
have bought it with the price of my dreams and my vigils; I owe the
little wilderness of Aulnay to the vast wilderness of Atala; and I have
not, in order to acquire this refuge, imitated the American planter and
despoiled the Indian of the Two Floridas[5]. I am attached to my trees;
I have addressed elegies to them, sonnets, odes. There is not one of
them which I have not tended with my own hands, which I have not rid of
the worm attached to its roots, the caterpillar clinging to its leaves;
I know them all by their names, as though they were my children: they
are my family, I have no other, and I hope to die in their midst.

Here, I have written the _Martyrs_, the _Abencerages_, the _Itinéraire_
and _Moïse_; what shall I do now during these autumn evenings? This
4th day of October 1811, the anniversary of my saint's-day[6] and of
my entrance into Jerusalem,[7] tempts me to commence the history of
my life. The man who today is endowing France with the empire of the
world only so that he may trample her under foot, the man whose genius
I admire and whose despotism I abhor, that man surrounds me with his
tyranny as it were with a new solitude; but though he may crush the
present, the past defies him, and I remain free in all that precedes
his glory.

The greater part of my feelings have remained buried in the recesses
of my soul, or are displayed in my works only as applied to imaginary
beings. To-day, while I still regret, without pursuing, my illusions, I
will reascend the acclivity of my happier years: these Memoirs shall be
a shrine erected to the clearness of my remembrances.

[Sidenote: My birth and ancestry.]

Let us commence, then, and speak first of my family. This is essential,
because the character of my father depended in a great measure upon his
position and, in its turn, exercised a great influence upon the nature
of my ideas, by determining the manner of my education[8].


I am of noble birth. In my opinion I have improved the hazard of
my cradle and retained that firmer love of liberty which belongs
principally to the aristocracy whose last hour has struck. Aristocracy
has three ages: the age of superiority, the age of privilege, the age
of vanity; issuing from the first, it degenerates in the second to
become extinguished in the third.

He who is curious for information concerning my family may consult
Moréri's[9] Dictionary, the different Histories of Brittany by
d'Argentré[10], Dom Lobineau[11], Dom Morice, Père Du Paz' _Histoire
généalogique de plusieurs maisons illustres de Bretagne_, Toussaint de
Saint-Luc, Le Borgne, and lastly Père Anselme's _Histoire des grands
officiers de la Couronne._[12]

My proofs of descent were made out by Chérin[13], for the admission of
my sister Lucile as a canoness of the Chapter of the Argentière, whence
she was to be transferred to that of Remiremont. They were reproduced
for my presentation to Louis XVI., again for my affiliation to the
Order of Malta, and lastly, when my brother was presented to the same
unfortunate Louis XVI.

My name was first written "Brien," and then "Briant" and "Briand,"
following the invasion of French spelling. Guillaume le Breton says
"Castrum-Briani." There is not a French name that does not present
these literal variations. What is the spelling of Du Guesclin?

About the commencement of the eleventh century, the Briens gave
their name to an important Breton castle, and this castle became
the burgh of the Barony of Chateaubriand. The Chateaubriand arms at
first consisted of fir-cones with the motto, _Je sème l'or._ Geoffrey
Baron of Chateaubriand accompanied St Louis to Palestine. He was
taken prisoner at the battle of the Mansourah[14], but returned, and
his wife Sybil died of joy and surprise at seeing him. St. Louis, in
reward for his services, granted to him and his heirs, in lieu of his
old arms, an escutcheon gules, strewn with fleur-de-lis or: "_Cui et
ejus hæredibus_" a cartulary of the Priory of Bérée bears witness,
"_sanctus Ludovicus turn Francorum rex, propter ejus probitatem in
armis, flores lilii auri, loco pomorum pini auri, contulit._"

[Sidenote: My proofs of nobility.]

The Chateaubriands were divided, soon after their origin, into three
branches: the first, that of the Barons of Chateaubriand, was the
stock of the two others, and commenced in the year 1000 in the person
of Thiern, son of Brien, grandson of Alan III., Count or Chief of
Brittany; the second was called the Lords[15] of the Roches Baritaut,
or of the Lion d'Angers; the third bore the title of Lords[16] of

When the line of the Lords of Beaufort became extinct in the person of
Dame Renée, one Christopher II., of a collateral branch of that line,
came into possession of the estate of the Guerrande in Morbihan[17].
At this period, the middle of the seventeenth century, great
confusion prevailed in the order of the nobility. Names and titles
had been usurped. Louis XIV. ordered a visitation, so that each might
be reinstated in his rights. Christopher, upon giving proofs of his
ancient nobility, was confirmed in his title and in the ownership of
his arms, by judgment of the Chamber instituted at Rennes for the
reforming of the nobility of Brittany. This judgment was issued on the
16th of September 1669, and ran as follows:

    "Judgment of the Chamber instituted by the King for the
    reforming of the nobility in the Province of Brittany,
    delivered the 16th of September 1669: between the King's
    Attorney-General and M. Christophe de Chateaubriand, Sieur
    de La Guerrande; which declares the said Christophe to
    issue from an ancient noble house, permits him to take the
    quality of knight, and confirms his right to bear arms gules
    strewn with fleur-de-lys or without number, and this after
    production by him of his authentic titles, from which it
    appears, &c, &c. The said judgment signed Malescot."

This judgment declares that Christophe de Chateaubriand de La Guerrande
was descended in the direct line from the Chateaubriands, Lords of
Beaufort; the Lords of Beaufort were connected through historical
evidences with the first Barons of Chateaubriand. The Chateaubriands
de Villeneuve, du Plessis and de Combourg were younger branches of the
Chateaubriands de La Guerrande, as is proved by the descent of Amaury,
brother of Michel, the said Michel being the son of the Christophe de
La Guerrande whose descent was confirmed by the above-quoted decree of
the reforming of the nobility of 16 September 1669.

After my presentation to Louis XVI., my brother proposed to increase my
portion as a younger son by endowing me with some of those benefices
known as _bénéfices simples._ There was but one practical means of
doing this, since I was a layman and a soldier, and that was to have me
received into the Order of Malta. My brother sent my proofs to Malta,
and soon after, he presented a petition, in my name, to the Chapter of
the Grand Priory of Aquitaine, held at Poitiers, with a view to the
appointing of a commission to declare urgency. M. Pontois was at the
time archivist, vice-chancellor and genealogist of the Order of Malta
at the Priory.

The president of the Chapter was Louis Joseph des Escotais, _bailli_,
Grand Prior of Aquitaine, having with him the Bailli de Freslon, the
Chevalier de La Laurencie, the Chevalier de Murat, the Chevalier de
Lanjamet, the Chevalier de La Bourdonnaye-Montluc and the Chevalier du
Bouëtiez. The petition was allowed at the sittings of the 9th, 10th,
and 11th of September 1789. It is stated, in the terms of admission of
the "Memorial," that I deserved the favour which I solicited "by more
than one title," and that "considerations of the greatest weight" made
me worthy of the satisfaction which I claimed.

And all this took place after the fall of the Bastille[18], on the eve
of the scenes of the 6th of October 1789[19], and of the removal of the
Royal Family to Paris. And at its sitting of the 7th of August in this
same year 1789, the National Assembly had abolished titles of nobility!
How could the knights, the examiners of my proofs, find that I deserved
"by more than one title the favour which I solicited" and so forth,
I, who was nothing more than a petty sub-lieutenant of Foot, unknown,
without credit, interest or fortune?

My brother's eldest son (I add this in 1831 to my original text,
written in 1811), the Comte Louis de Chateaubriand, married
Mademoiselle d'Orglandes, by whom he had five daughters and one son,
the latter called Geoffroy. Christian, Louis' younger brother, the
great-grandson and godson of M. de Malesherbes, to whom he bore a
striking resemblance, served with distinction in Spain in 1823 as a
captain of the Dragoons of the Guard. He became a Jesuit in Rome.
The Jesuits supply the place of solitude in proportion as the latter
vanishes from the earth. Christian died recently at Chieri, near Turin:
old and ailing as I am, I should have preceded him; but his virtues
summoned him to Heaven before me, who have yet many faults to deplore.

In the division of the family patrimony, Christian had received as his
share the property of Malesherbes, and Louis the estate of Combourg.
Christian did not look upon an equal division as just, and on retiring
from the world, determined to disburden himself of a property which did
not belong to him and restore it to his elder brother.

To judge from my parchments, it would but rest with myself if I
inherited the infatuation of my father and brother, and believed myself
to represent a younger branch of the Dukes of Brittany, descending from
Thiern, grandson of Alan III.

[Sidenote: Royal alliances.]

These Chateaubriands aforesaid had twice mixed their blood with the
Blood Royal of England, Geoffrey IV. of Chateaubriand having married
as his second wife Agnes of Laval, grand-daughter of the Count of
Anjou and of Maud, daughter of Henry I., while Margaret of Lusignan,
widow of the King of England and grand-daughter of Louis the Fat[20],
married Geoffrey V., twelfth Baron of Chateaubriand. With respect to
the Royal House of Spain, we find Brien, a younger brother of the
ninth Baron of Chateaubriand, who would seem to have married Joan,
daughter of Alphonsus, King of Aragon. It is stated, moreover, in so
far as the great families of France are concerned, that Edward of Rohan
took Margaret of Chateaubriand to wife; and again that a Croï married
Charlotte of Chateaubriand. Tinténiac, the victor of the Battle of the
Thirty[21], and Du Guesclin, the Constable, allied themselves with our
three branches. Tiphaine Du Guesclin, grand-daughter of Bertrand's
brother, made over the property of the Plessis-Bertrand to Brien of
Chateaubriand, her cousin and heir. In treaties, Chateaubriands are
given as sureties for the peace to the Kings of France, to Clisson[22],
to the Baron of Vitré. The Dukes of Brittany send records of their
assizes to the Chateaubriands. The Chateaubriands become grand officers
of the Crown and _illustres_ in the Court of Nantes; they receive
commissions to defend the safety of their province against the English.
Brien I. is present at the Battle of Hastings: he was the son of Eudon,
Count of Penthièvre. Guy of Chateaubriand is one of the lords whom
Arthur of Brittany appoints to accompany his son upon his embassy to
the Pope in 1309.

I should never come to an end if I finished stating all that of which
I intended to give only a brief summary: the note[23] which I have at
last determined to write, from consideration for my two nephews, who
doubtless do not hold these bygone trifles as cheaply as I do, will
supply the place of my omissions in the text. Still, nowadays we go
too much to the other extreme; it has become the custom to declare
that one comes of a stock liable to villain service, that one has the
honour to be the son of a man bound to the soil. Are these declarations
as proud as they are philosophical? Is it not taking the side of the
strongest? Are the marquises, the counts, the barons of the present
day, who have neither privileges nor furrows, three-fourths of whom are
starving, blackening one another, refusing to recognize each other,
mutually contesting each other's birth: are these nobles, whose very
names are denied them or only allowed with reserve, able to inspire any

For the rest, I ask pardon for being obliged to stoop to this puerile
recital, in order to account for my father's dominant passion, which
forms the key to the drama of my youth. As for myself, I neither boast
nor complain of the old or the new society. If in the first I was the
Chevalier or the Vicomte de Chateaubriand, in the second I am François
de Chateaubriand: I prefer my name to my title. Monsieur my father
would readily, like a certain mighty land-owner of the Middle Ages,
have called God "the gentleman on high" and surnamed Nicodemus (the
Nicodemus of the Gospels) "a holy gentleman." And now, passing over
my immediate progenitor, let us come from Christopher, feudal lord
of the Guerrande, descending in the direct line from the Barons of
Chateaubriand, to me, François, lord without vassals or money of the

To trace backwards the line of the Chateaubriands, consisting, as it
did, of three branches: after the two first had failed, the third, that
of the Lords of Beaufort, represented by a branch, the Chateaubriands
of the Guerrande, grew poor, as the inevitable result of the law of
the land; the eldest sons of the nobility received two-thirds of the
property, by virtue of the custom of Brittany, while the younger sons
divided among all of them one-third only of the paternal inheritance.
The degeneration of the frail stock of the latter worked with a
rapidity which became the greater as they married; and as the same
distribution into two-thirds and one-third existed in the case of their
children, these younger sons of younger sons soon came to dividing a
pigeon, a rabbit, a duck or two, and a hound, although they did not
cease to be "high knights and mighty lords" of a dove-cote, a toad-pool
and a rabbit-warren. In the old noble families we see a number of
younger sons; we follow them during two or three generations, and then
they disappear, descending gradually to the plough or absorbed by the
labouring classes, no man knowing what has become of them.

[Sidenote: My father's family.]

The head in name and blazon of my family at the commencement of
the eighteenth century was Alexis de Chateaubriand, Seigneur de La
Guerrande, son of Michel, the said Michel having a brother named
Amaury. Michel was the son of the Christophe confirmed in his descent
from the Lords of Beaufort and the Barons of Chateaubriand in the
judgment above-quoted. Alexis de La Guerrande was a widower and a
confirmed drunkard, spent his days in rioting with his maid-servants,
and used his most precious family documents as covers for his

Contemporary with this head in name and blazon lived his cousin
François, son of Amaury, Michel's younger brother. François, born
19 February 1683, owned the small lordships of the Touches and the
Villeneuve. He married, on the 27th of August 1713, Pétronille Claude
Lamour, Dame de Lanjégu, by whom he had four sons: François Henri, René
(my father), Pierre Seigneur du Plessis and Joseph Seigneur du Parc.
My grandfather, François, died 28 March 1729; in my grand-mother, whom
I knew in my childhood, lingered a beautiful expression of the eyes,
which seemed to smile in the shade of her many years. At the time of
her husband's death, she was living in the manor of the Villeneuve,
in the neighbourhood of Dinan. My grandmother's whole fortune did not
exceed 5,000 livres a year, of which her eldest son took 3,333 livres,
leaving 1,666 livres a year to be divided among the three younger sons,
of which sum the eldest again first took the largest share.

To crown the misfortune, my grandmother's plans were thwarted by
the characters of her sons: the eldest, François Henri, to whom the
magnificent heritage of the lordship of the Villeneuve had fallen,
refused to marry and became a priest; but instead of seeking the
benefices which his name would have procured for him, and with which he
could have supported his brothers, prompted by pride and indifference,
he asked for nothing. He buried himself in a country vicarage, and was
successively Rector of Saint-Launeuc and of Madrignac in the Diocese of
Saint-Malo. He had a passion for poetry; I have seen a goodly number
of his verses. The jovial character of this sort of high-born Rabelais,
the cult of the Muses practised by this Christian priest in his
presbytery, aroused no little interest He gave away all he possessed
and died insolvent.

My father's fourth brother, Joseph, went to Paris and shut himself up
in a library: every year his younger son's portion of 416 livres was
sent to him. He lived unknown amidst his books, occupying himself with
historical research. During his life, which was a short one, he wrote
to his mother on each first of January: the only sign of existence he
ever gave. Strange destiny! There you have my two uncles, one a man of
erudition, the other a poet; my elder brother wrote agreeable verse;
one of my sisters, Madame de Farcy, had a real talent for poetry;
another of my sisters, the Comtesse Lucile, a canoness, might have
become known through a few admirable pages; I myself have blackened no
little paper. My brother died on the scaffold, my two sisters quitted
a life of pain after languishing in the prisons; my two uncles did not
leave enough to pay for the four boards of their coffin; literature has
caused my joys and my sorrows, and I do not despair, God willing, of
ending my days in the alms-house.

My grandmother, having exhausted her means in doing something for her
eldest and her youngest sons, was unable to do anything for the two
others, René, my father, and Pierre, my uncle. This family, which had
"strewn gold," according to its motto, looked out from its small manor
upon the rich abbeys which it had founded and in which its ancestors
lay entombed. It had presided over the States of Brittany, by virtue
of possessing one of the nine baronies; it had witnessed with its
signature the treaties of sovereigns, had served as surety to Clisson,
and would not have had sufficient credit to obtain an ensigncy for the
heir of its name.

One resource was left to the poor Breton nobles, the Royal Navy. An
endeavour was made to use this on behalf of my father; but he must
first go to Brest, live there, pay masters, buy his uniform, arms,
books, mathematical instruments: how were all these expenses to be met?
The brevet applied for to the Minister of Marine was not sent, for want
of a protector to solicit its despatch: the Lady of Villeneuve sickened
with grief.

It was then that my father gave the first sign of that decision of
character for which I have known him. He was about fifteen years of
age; observing his mother's distress, he approached the bed on which
she lay, and said:

"I will no longer be a burden to you."

Thereupon my grandmother began to weep: I have heard my father describe
the scene a score of times.

"René," said she, "what do you wish to do? Till your fields."

"They will not keep us; let me go away."

"Well, then," said the mother, "go where God wills that you should go."

She embraced the child with sobs. That same evening my father left the
maternal farm and arrived at Dinan, where one of our kinswomen gave him
a letter of recommendation to an inhabitant of Saint-Malo. The orphan
adventurer was taken as a volunteer on board an armed schooner, which
set sail a few days later.

[Sidenote: My father's career.]

At that time, the little commonwealth of Saint-Malo alone maintained
the honour of the French ensign at sea. The schooner joined the fleet
which the Cardinal de Fleury was dispatching to the assistance of
Stanislaus, who was besieged at Dantzig by the Russians. There my
father landed, and was present at the memorable combat which 1,500
Frenchmen, commanded by the Breton de Bréhan, Comte de Plélo[24],
delivered, on the 29th of May 1734, against 40,000 Muscovites under
Munich[25]. De Bréhan, diplomatist, warrior and poet, was killed; my
father was twice wounded. He returned to France, and embarked once
more. Wrecked upon the Spanish coast, he was attacked and stripped by
robbers in Galicia, took a passage on board ship to Bayonne, and landed
once again beneath the paternal roof. His courage and his orderly
conduct had brought him into notice. He went to the West Indies, made
money in the colonies, and laid the foundations of a new fortune for
his family.

My grandmother entrusted to her son René the care of her son Pierre,
M. de Chateaubriand du Plessis[26] whose son, Armand de Chateaubriand,
was shot, by order of Bonaparte, on Good Friday[27] 1809. He was one
of the last of the French nobles to die for the cause of the monarchy.
My father took charge of his brother's fate, although the habit of
suffering had endowed him with a sternness of character that lasted
through his life. _Non ignara mali_ is not always a true saying:
unhappiness has its harsh as well as its gentle side.

M. de Chateaubriand was tall and spare; he had an aquiline nose and
thin, pale lips; his eyes were deep-set, small, and of a bluish or
sea-green color, like the eyes of lions or of the barbarians of olden
time. I have never seen an expression like theirs: when inflamed with
anger, each flashing pupil seemed to shoot out and strike you like a

My father was governed by one sole passion, that of his name. His
general condition was one of deep sadness, which increased with age,
and of a silence from which he issued only in fits of anger. Avaricious
in the hope of restoring to his family its pristine splendour, haughty
of demeanour with the nobles at the States of Brittany, harsh with his
dependants at Combourg, taciturn, despotic and threatening at home,
the feeling which the sight of him inspired was one of fear. Had he
lived until the Revolution, and had he been younger, he would have
played a great part, or got himself massacred in his castle. He was
certainly possessed of genius: I have no doubt that, at the head of an
administration or an army, he would have been a man out of the ordinary.

He first thought of marriage on returning from America. Born on the
23rd of September 1718, he was thirty-five years of age when, on the
3rd of July 1753, he married Apolline Jeanne Suzanne de Bedée, born
7 April 1726, and daughter of Messire Ange Annibal Comte de Bedée,
Seigneur de La Bouëtardais. He took up his residence with her at
Saint-Malo, within seven or eight leagues of which both of them had
been born, so that their house commanded the horizon under which they
had first seen the light. My maternal grandmother, Marie Anne de
Ravenel de Boisteilleul, Dame de Bedée, born at Rennes on the 16th of
October 1698, had been brought up at Saint-Cyr during the last years of
Madame de Maintenon: her education had left its mark upon her daughters.

My mother was endowed with great wit and intelligence, and with
a prodigious imagination; her mind had been formed by the works
of Fénelon, Racine, Madame de Sévigné, and stored with anecdotes
of the Court of Louis XIV.; she knew the whole of _Cyrus_[28] by
heart. Apolline de Bedée was dark, short and ill-favoured, with
large features; the elegance of her manners, the vivacity of her
temperament, formed a contrast with my father's stiffness and calm.
Loving society as much as he loved solitude, as humoursome and animated
as he was cold and unimpassioned, she had no tastes but what were
opposed to her husband's. The antagonism which she encountered saddened
her naturally gay and light-hearted disposition. Obliged to hold her
tongue when she would have wished to speak, she made amends to herself
by a kind of clamorous melancholy broken with sighs which alone
interrupted my father's silent gloom. For piety my mother was an angel.

My mother was brought to bed at Saint-Malo of an eldest son, who
died in the cradle and was christened Geoffroy, like almost all the
first-born of my family. This son was followed by another and by two
daughters, none of whom lived more than a few months.

[Sidenote: My birth and baptism.]

These four children died of an extravasation of blood on the brain.
At last my mother bore a third son, who was named Jean-Baptiste: it
was he who later married M. de Malesherbes' grand-daughter. After
Jean-Baptiste came four daughters: Marie-Anne, Bénigne, Julie and
Lucile, all four endowed with rare beauty; the two eldest alone
survived the storms of the Revolution. Beauty, that serious trifle,
remains when all the rest has passed away. I was the last of the ten
children. Probably my four sisters owed their existence to my father's
desire to assure the perpetuation of his name through the arrival of a
second boy; I resisted, I had an aversion to life.

Here is my baptismal certificate[29]:

    "Extract from the civil register of the Commune of Saint-Malo
    for the year 1768.

    "François René de Chateaubriand, son of René de Chateaubriand
    and of Pauline Jeanne Suzanne de Bedée, his wife, born 4
    September 1768, baptized on the following day by us Pierre
    Henri Nouail, grand-vicar of the Bishop of Saint-Malo.
    Godfather, Jean-Baptiste de Chateaubriand, his brother, and
    godmother, Françoise-Gertrude de Contades, who sign with the
    father. Thus signed on the register: Contades de Plouër,
    Jean-Baptiste de Chateaubriand, Brignon de Chateaubriand, de
    Chateaubriand, and Nouail, vicar-general[30]."

It will be observed that I have made a mistake in my Works: I say that
I was born on the 4th of October[31] and not on the 4th of September;
my Christian names are François René and not François Auguste[32].

The house in which my parents were then living at Saint-Malo stands
in a dark and narrow street called the Rue des Juifs[33]: it has now
been turned into an inn[34]. The room in which my mother was confined
overlooks a bare portion of the city wall, and from the windows one can
contemplate an endless expanse of sea, which breaks upon the rocks. My
god-father, as appears from my baptismal certificate, was my brother,
and my godmother the Comtesse de Plouër, daughter of the Marshal de
Contades[35]. I was almost dead when I first saw the light. The roaring
of the waves, upheaved by a squall which heralded the autumnal equinox,
deadened my cries: I have often been told these details; their sadness
has never been erased from my memory. A day seldom passes on which,
reflecting on what I have been, I do not see again in thought the rock
upon which I was born, the room in which my mother inflicted life upon
me, the tempest whose sound first lulled me to sleep, the unfortunate
brother who gave me a name which I have nearly always dragged through
misfortune. Heaven seemed to unite these several circumstances in order
to lay within my cradle a symbol of my destiny.

[Illustration: Chateaubriand's birth place at St. Malo.]

On leaving my mother's breast I underwent my first exile: I was
banished to Plancoët, a pretty village situated between Dinan,
Saint-Malo and Lamballe. My mother's only brother, the Comte de
Bedée, had built a house near the village, to which he gave the name
of Monchoix. My maternal grand-mother's property stretched from this
neighbourhood to the market-town of Courseul, the Curiosolites of
Cæsar's Commentaries. My grandmother, since many years a widow,
lived with her sister, Mademoiselle de Boisteilleul, in a hamlet
divided from Plancoët by a bridge, and known as the Abbaye, from a
Benedictine abbey dedicated to Our Lady of Nazareth.

[Sidenote: My nurse's vow.]

My nurse was sterile; another poor Christian took me to her breast.
She vowed me to the patron of the hamlet, Our Lady of Nazareth, and
promised that I should wear blue and white in her honor for seven
years. I had lived but a few hours, and already the weight of years was
marked upon my brow. Why did they not let me die? God in His wisdom
granted to the prayer of humbleness and innocence the preservation of a
life for which a vain renown was lying in wait.

This vow of the Breton peasant woman is no longer in the spirit of the
age: yet nothing can be more touching than the intervention of a Divine
Mother coming between Heaven and the child and sharing the terrestrial
mother's solicitude.

After three years I was brought back to Saint-Malo. Already seven years
had elapsed since my father had recovered the domain of Combourg.
He wished to gain possession of the estates where his ancestors had
lived and died; and unable to treat for the purchase of the manor of
Beaufort, which had passed to the Goyon family, or for the barony of
Chateaubriand, which had fallen into the hands of the House of Condé,
he turned his attention to Combourg, which is spelt "Combour"[36] in
Froissart, and which has been held by various branches of my family
through their inter-marriages with the Coëtquens. Combourg served as
a defense to Brittany in the Norman and English marches: it was built
in 1016 by Junken, Bishop of Dol; the great tower dates to 1100.
The Marshal de Duras[37], who held Combourg by right of his wife,
Maclovie de Coëtquen, whose mother was a Chateaubriand, came to terms
with my father. The Marquis du Hallay[38], an officer in the Mounted
Grenadiers of the Royal Guards, perhaps too well known for his valor,
is the last of the Coëtquen Chateaubriands: M. du Hallay has a brother.
The same Maréchal de Duras, in his quality as our ally, subsequently
presented my brother and myself to Louis XVI.

I was intended for the Royal Navy: a distaste for Court life was
natural to any Breton, and particularly to my father. This feeling was
strengthened in him by the aristocratic character of our States.

When I was brought home to Saint-Malo, my father was at Combourg, my
brother at Saint-Brieuc College; my four sisters were living with my
mother. All the latter's affections were centered upon her eldest son:
not that she did not love her other children, but she showed a blind
preference for the young Comte de Combourg. True, I had, as a boy,
as the youngest-born, as the "chevalier," as I was called, certain
privileges not shared by my sisters; but, upon the upshot, I was left
to the care of the servants. Moreover, my mother, full of intelligence
and virtue, was largely taken up with social claims and religious
duties. The Comtesse de Plouër, my godmother, was her intimate friend;
she also saw Maupertuis'[39] family and the Abbé Trublet's[40]. She
loved politics, excitement, society: for people talked politics at
Saint-Malo like the monks in the Cedron hollow[41]; and she threw
herself with ardor into the La Chalotais[42] affair. She would bring
home with her a cross humour, an absent-mindedness, a spirit of
parsimony, which at first prevented one from recognising her admirable
qualities. She was methodical, and showed no method in the management
of her children; generous, and appeared avaricious; gentle, yet ever
scolding: my father was the terror of the servants, my mother their

Such were the dispositions of my parents, whence sprang the earliest
feelings of my life. I attached myself to the woman who took care of
me, an excellent creature called Villeneuve, whose name I write with
a movement of gratitude and with tears in my eyes. Villeneuve was a
sort of superintendent of the household; she carried me in her arms,
gave me, by stealth, anything she could come across, wiped away my
tears, kissed me, pushed me into a corner, took me out, and constantly
muttering: "There's one who won't grow up proud, who has a good heart,
who does not snub poor people! Here, little fellow," she would stuff me
with sugar and wine.

[Sidenote: My sister Lucile.]

Soon my childish affection for Villeneuve was controlled by a worthier
friendship. Lucile, my fourth sister, was two years older than I[43].
Neglected as the youngest, she was given none save her sisters'
left-off clothes to wear. Imagine a little thin girl, too tall for
her age, with loose-jointed arms, shy, speaking with difficulty, and
unable to learn a thing; dress her in a frock taken from a child of a
different size and shape; confine her chest in a quilted corset the
gores of which cut wounds into her ribs; hold up her neck with an iron
collar cased in brown velvet; dress her hair back upon the top of her
head, fasten it with a cap of black stuff, and you see before you the
wretched object that struck my eyes on returning to the paternal roof.
No one would have suspected in the puny Lucile the talent and beauty
with which she was one day to shine.

She was given me as a plaything; I did not abuse my power; instead
of submitting her to my will, I became her defender. She and I were
taken every morning to the sisters Couppart, two hunch-backed old
women dressed in black, who taught children to read. Lucile read
very badly; I still worse. She was scolded; I scratched the sisters'
faces; great complaints were carried to my mother. I began to pass
for a ne'er-do-well, a rebel, an idler, in short, an ass. These ideas
sank into my parents' heads: my father said that all the Chevaliers
de Chateaubriand had been hare-hunters, drunkards, and brawlers. My
mother sighed and grumbled when she saw the disordered condition of my
jacket. Child though I was, my father's remark revolted me; when my
mother crowned her remonstrances with a panegyric on my brother, whom
she called a Cato, a hero, I felt inclined to do all the ill that they
seemed to expect of me.

My writing-master, M. Desprès, who wore a pig-tail, was no more
satisfied with me than were my parents; he was eternally making me
copy, from a slip in his own writing, the following couplet, which I
came to detest, not by reason of any error of construction that it may

    C'est à vous, mon esprit, à qui je veux parler:
    Vous avez des défauts que je ne puis celer[44].

He accompanied his reprimands with cuffs in my neck, calling me _tête
d'achôcre_: did he mean ἀχὼρ[45]? I do not know what a _tête d'achôcre_
is, but I take it to be something frightful.

Saint-Malo is a mere rock. Originally rising from the middle of a
salt marsh, it became an island in 709 through an incursion of the
sea, which hollowed out the gulf and set Mont Saint-Michel amid the
waves. Nowadays the rock of Saint-Malo is attached to the mainland
only by a causeway poetically designated as the Sillon, or Furrow.
The Sillon is on one side assaulted by the open sea, and on the other
washed by the flowing tide, which turns to enter the harbour. In 1730
it was almost entirely destroyed by a storm. At ebb-tide the harbour
is dry, displaying on its edge east and north of the sea a beach of
the most beautiful sand. It is then possible to walk round my paternal
nest. Near and far are strewn rocks, forts, uninhabited islets: the
Fort-Royal, the Conchée, Césembre, and the Grand-Bé, where my tomb will
be. I unwittingly made a good choice: _bé_, in Breton, means tomb.

At the end of the Furrow, a Calvary stands upon a sandy knoll jutting
out into the open sea. This knoll is called the Hoguette; it is crowned
with an old gallows: we used to play puss-in-the-corner between its
posts, disputing their possession with the birds of the sea-shore. It
was not, however, without a certain sense of fright that we stopped in
that place.

There, too, are the Miels, downs on which the sheep used to graze; to
the right are meadows below Paramé, the posting-road to Saint-Servan,
a Calvary, and wind mills standing on rising ground, like those on
Achilles' Tomb at the entrance to the Hellespont.

I reached my seventh year; my mother took me to Plancoët, to be
released from my nurse's vow; we stayed at my grandmother's. If ever I
have known happiness, it was certainly in that house.

[Sidenote: My grandmother.]

My grandmother lived in the Rue du Hameau-de-l'Abbaye, in a house
whose gardens ran terrace-wise into a dale, at the bottom of which
was a spring surrounded by willows. Madame de Bedée could no
longer walk, but with this exception she suffered from none of the
inconveniences attendant upon her age. She was a pleasant old woman,
fat, white-haired, neat, with the grand air and fine and noble manners.
She wore old-fashioned plaited gowns and a head-dress of black lace
fastened under her chin. Her mind was cultivated, her conversation
grave, her mood was serious. She was cared for by her sister, who
resembled her only in kind-heartedness. Mademoiselle de Boisteilleul
was a little lean person, sprightly, talkative, addicted to raillery.
She had been in love with a certain Comte de Trémigon, and the said
count, after becoming engaged to her, had broken his promise. My
great-aunt had consoled herself by singing her love, for she was
poetically inclined. I remember often hearing her hum, in snuffling
fashion, with her glasses on her nose, while embroidering double-rowed
ruffles for her sister, an apologue commencing:

    Un épervier aimait une fauvette
    Et, ce dit-on, il en était aimé[46],

which I always thought strange for a sparrow-hawk.

The song ended with this refrain:

    Ah! Trémigon, la fable est-elle obscure?
    Ture, lure[47].

How many things in this world end, like my aunt's love, in "Derry down!"

My grandmother left the housekeeping to my sister. She dined at eleven
o'clock in the morning, took her _siesta_, woke up at one; she was
carried down the garden terraces and placed under the willows near the
spring, where she sat knitting, surrounded by her sister, her children,
and grandchildren. At that time old age was a distinction; nowadays it
is an encumbrance. At four o'clock, my grandmother was carried back
to her drawing-room; Pierre, the man-servant, set out a card-table;
Mademoiselle de Boisteilleul knocked with the tongs against the back
of the fire-place, and a few minutes later three other old maids would
walk in, who had come from the next house in obedience to my aunt's

These three sisters were called the Demoiselles Vildéneux[48]; they
were the daughters of a poor gentleman, and instead of dividing his
slender inheritance, they had enjoyed it in common, had never left
one another, had never been out of their natal village. They had been
intimate with my grandmother since childhood, lived next door to her,
and came every day, at the preconcerted signal in the chimney, to make
up their friend's party at quadrille. The game began; the good ladies
quarrelled; it was the only incident in their lives, the only moment
that spoiled the evenness of their temper. At eight o'clock, supper
restored their serenity. Often my uncle de Bedée[49], with his son and
his three daughters, would be present at my grandmother's supper. The
latter would tell a thousand stories of the old days; my uncle, in his
turn, would describe the battle of Fontenoy, at which he was present,
and crown his boasting with stories which were a little free and which
made the worthy spinsters die with laughing. At nine o'clock, supper
over, the servants entered; all went on their knees, and Mademoiselle
de Boisteilleul said prayers aloud. At ten o'clock all in the house
slept, except my grand-mother, who made her waiting-woman read to her
till one in the morning.

This society, which was the first I saw in my life, was also the first
to disappear from my eyes. I saw death enter that abode of peace and
bliss, making it gradually lonely, closing first one room and then
another which were never reopened. I saw my grandmother obliged to
forego her quadrille, for want of her accustomed partners; I saw the
number of her constant friends diminish until the day came when my
grand-mother was the last to fall. She and her sister had promised to
call each other so soon as one had preceded the other; they kept their
word, and Madame de Bedée survived Mademoiselle de Boisteilleul but
a few months. I am perhaps the only man living that knows that these
persons existed. Twenty times since that period I have made the same
remark; twenty times have societies been formed and dissolved around
me. The impossibility of long duration in human relations, the profound
forgetfulness that pursues us, the invincible silence that takes
possession of our tomb and spreads thence over our house, constantly
recall me to the necessity of isolation. Any hand will serve to give
us the glass of water which we may need in the fever preceding death.
Ah, that it may not be too dear to us! For how can one forsake without
despair the hand which he has covered with kisses, and which he would
like to hold to his heart for ever?

[Sidenote: The Bedée family.]

The Comte de Bedée's house[50] was a league away from Plancoët, in a
high and cheerful position. Everything about it breathed gladness: my
uncle's gaiety was inexhaustible. He had three daughters, Caroline,
Marie and Flore, and one son, the Comte de La Bouëtardais, a counsellor
to the Parliament, all of whom shared his light-heartedness. Monchoix
was filled with cousins from the neighbourhood; they made music,
danced, hunted, and revealed from morning till night. My aunt, Madame
de Bedée[51], who saw my uncle gaily squandering his capital and his
income, was very properly vexed; but no one listened to her, and her
ill-humour but increased the good-humour of her family, the more so
as my aunt herself displayed a number of eccentricities: she always
had a great snarling hound lying in her lap, and was followed by a
tame boar, which filled the house with its grunts. When I came from my
father's house, so sombre and so silent, to this house of noise and
merry-making, I felt myself in a genuine paradise. The contrast became
more striking when my family were settled in the country: the change
from Combourg to Monchoix was a change from the wilderness to the
world, from the castle-keep of a mediæval baron to the villa of a
Roman prince.

On Ascension Day 1775, I set out from my grandmother's house to
go to Our Lady of Nazareth, accompanied by my mother, my aunt de
Boisteilleul, my uncle de Bedée and his children, my nurse, and my
foster-brother. I wore a white surtout, white shoes, gloves, and hat,
and a blue silk sash. We went up to the Abbaye at ten o'clock in
the morning. The convent, which stood by the road-side, derived an
appearance of age from a quincunx of elms dating back to John V. of
Brittany[52]. The quincunx led to the cemetery; it was only through the
region of the tombstones that the Christian could reach the church: it
is death which admits to the presence of God.

The monks were already seated in their stalls; the altar was lighted
with a multitude of candles; lamps hung from the different arches:
Gothic edifices offer successive distances and, as it were, horizons.
The bedels met me at the door, in state, and conducted me to the choir.
Three seats had been prepared; I sat down upon the middle one, my nurse
placed herself on my left, my foster-mother on my right.

The mass commenced; at the Offertory, the celebrant turned to me and
read some prayers; after which my white clothes were taken off and hung
as an _ex voto_ beneath a picture of the Virgin. They then dressed me
in a violet-coloured frock. The Prior delivered a discourse upon the
efficacy of vows; he recalled the history of the Baron of Chateaubriand
who had gone to the East with St Louis; he told me that perhaps I, too,
should go to Palestine and visit that Virgin of Nazareth to whom I owed
my life, thanks to the prayers of the poor, which were always powerful
with God. This monk, who told me the history of my family as Dante's
grandfather told him the history of his ancestors, might also, like
Cacciaguida, have added to it by predicting my exile[53].

Since the Benedictine's exhortation, I always dreamt of the pilgrimage
to Jerusalem, and I ended by accomplishing it.

I was consecrated to religion; the wardrobe of my innocence has lain
upon its altars: it is not my garments that should today be hung within
its temples, but my misfortunes.

I was taken back to Saint-Malo. Saint-Malo is not the Aleth of the
_Notitia Imperii_: Aleth was better placed by the Romans in what is
now the suburb of Saint-Servan, in the military port known as Solidor,
at the mouth of the Rance. Facing Aleth was a rock, _est in conspectu
Tenedos_[54], not the refuge of the perfidious Greeks, but the retreat
of Aaron the Hermit[55], who took up his abode on that island in 507,
the date of the victory of Clovis over Alaric[56]: one founded a
little convent, the other a great monarchy, two edifices both of which
have perished.

[Sidenote: Saint-Malo.]

Malo, in Latin Maclovius, Macutus, or Machutes, became Bishop of Aleth
in 541, and, attracted as he was by Aaron's fame, visited him. As
chaplain of the hermit's oratory, after the saint's death he raised a
cenobitical church, _in prædio Machutis._ Malo's name was given to
the island, and subsequently to the town, Maclovium, Maclopolis.

Between St. Malo, first Bishop of Aleth, and Blessed John surnamed "of
the Gridiron," who was consecrated in 1140 and built the cathedral,
came five-and-forty bishops. Aleth was already almost wholly abandoned,
and John of the Gridiron transferred the episcopal see from the Roman
to the Breton city which was spreading over Aaron's rock.

Saint-Malo suffered greatly in the wars waged between the Kings of
France and England. The Earl of Richmond, later Henry VII. of England,
in whom ended the Wars of the Roses, was taken to Saint-Malo. He was
handed over by the Duke of Brittany to the ambassadors of Richard,
who carried him to London to be put to death. He escaped from his
guards, and took refuge in the cathedral, _asylum quod in eâ urbe est
inviolatissimum_: the right of sanctuary dated back to the Druids, the
first priests of Aaron's isle.

A Bishop of Saint-Malo was one of the three favourites (the others were
Arthur de Montauban and Jean Hingant) who killed the unfortunate Giles
of Brittany, as may be read in the _Histoire lamentable de Gilles,
seigneur de Chateaubriand et de Chantocé prince du sang de France et de
Bretagne, étranglé en prison par les ministres du favori, le 24 avril

There exists a fine capitulation between Henry IV. and Saint-Malo:
the city treats as between Power and Power, protects those who have
taken refuge within its walls, and retains the right, by an order of
Philibert de La Guiche, grand-master of artillery of France, to cast
one hundred pieces of cannon. Nothing more closely resembled Venice
(failing the sun and the pursuit of the arts) than did this little
commonwealth of Saint-Malo in religion, wealth, and prowess at sea.
It supported Charles V.'s expedition to Africa and came to the aid of
Louis XIII. at the Rochelle. It flew its ensign over all the seas,
maintained relations with Mocha, Surat, Pondicherry; a company formed
in its midst explored the South Sea.

From the reign of Henry IV. onwards, my native city distinguished
itself for its devotion and fidelity to France. The English bombarded
it in 1693; on the 29th of November in that year, they launched against
it an infernal machine, in the wreck of which I have often disported
myself with my play-fellows. They bombarded it again in 1758.

The Malouins lent considerable sums of money to Louis XIV. during the
war of 1701; in recognition of this service, he confirmed them in their
privilege of guarding their own city, and ordered that the crew of the
first ship in the Royal Navy should consist exclusively of sailors
drawn from Saint-Malo and its territory. In 1771, the Malouins repeated
their sacrifice and lent thirty millions to Louis XV.

The famous Admiral Anson[57] landed at Cancale in 1758, and burnt
Saint-Servan. In Saint-Malo Castle, La Chalotais wrote upon rags,
with the aid of a tooth-pick, soot and water, the Memoirs which made
so much noise and which nobody remembers. Events efface events; they
are but inscriptions traced upon other inscriptions, making pages of
palimpsestic history.

Saint-Malo furnished the Royal Navy with its best sailors; the complete
roll may be found in a folio volume published in 1682 with the title:
_Rôle général des officiers, mariniers et matelots de Saint-Malo._
There is a _Coutume de Saint-Malo_, printed in the collection of the
Customary-General. The city archives contain a fair number of charters
useful to the study of history and maritime law.

Saint-Malo gave birth to Jacques Cartier[58], the French Christopher
Columbus, who discovered Canada. At the other extremity of America the
Malouins marked out the islands to which they gave their name: Îles
Malouins[59]. It is the native city of Duguay-Trouin[60], one of the
greatest seamen ever known, and more recently, of Surcouf[61]. The
celebrated Mahé de La Bourdonnais[62], Governor of the Isle of France,
was born at Saint-Malo, as were La Mettrie[63], Maupertuis, the Abbé
Trublet, of whom Voltaire made sport: all this is not bad for an area
not so large as that of the Tuileries Gardens.

Far ahead of these smaller literary lights of my birthplace stands the
Abbé de Lamennais[64]. Broussais[65] also was born at Saint-Malo, as
well as my noble friend, the Comte de La Ferronnays[66].

[Sidenote: The dogs of Saint-Malo.]

Finally, so as to omit nothing, I will mention the mastiffs which
formed the garrison of Saint-Malo, They were descended from the famous
dogs which were regimental pets under the Gauls, and which, according
to Strabo, fought by their masters' side in pitched battles against
the Romans. Albertus Magnus, a monk of the Dominican Order, and as
serious a writer as the Greek geographer, declares that at Saint-Malo
"the safety of this important place was entrusted nightly to the
faithful care of certain dogs, which patrolled well and trustily." They
were condemned to capital punishment for having had the misfortune
inconsiderately to bite a gentleman's legs; which gave rise in our days
to the song, _Bon voyage_: people will laugh at anything. The criminals
were imprisoned; one of them refused to take his food from the hands
of his keeper, who wept; the noble animal elected to die of hunger:
dogs, like men, are punished for their fidelity. In addition to this,
the Capitol was, like my own Delos, guarded by dogs, which did not bark
when Scipio Africanus came to say his morning prayer.

Saint-Malo is an enclosure of walls of different periods, divided
into "great" and "little" walls, which form walks, and is defended
besides by a castle of which I have spoken, and which the Duchess Anne
fortified with towers, bastions, and moats. Seen from the outside, the
island city resembles a granite citadel.

The children's meeting-place is the strand of the open sea, between
the Castle and the Fort-Royal; here I was reared, the companion of
the waves and winds. One of my earliest delights was to fight with
the storms, to play with the waves which retired before me or chased
me across the beach. Another diversion was, with the sand on the
sea-shore, to build edifices which my play-fellows called "ovens."
Since that time I have often seen castles, built for eternity, that
have crumbled more swiftly than my sand palaces.

My lot being irrevocably fixed, I was left to pass an idle childhood.
A few notions of drawing, English, hydrography and mathematics seemed
more than sufficient for the education of a little boy destined
beforehand for the rough life of a sailor.

I grew up in my family without lessons. We no longer occupied the house
in which I was born: my mother lived in a large house in the Place
Saint-Vincent, almost facing the gate which leads to the Sillon. The
ragamuffins of the town had become my dearest friends: I filled the
yard and the staircases of the house with them. I resembled them in all
things: I spoke their language; I had their ways and their walk; I was
dressed like them, my clothes were as indecent and undone as theirs; my
shirts fell to rags; I had never a pair of stockings but it was full
of holes; I shuffled about in shabby shoes, down at heel, falling off
my feet at every step; I often lost my hat and sometimes my coat. My
face was smudged, scratched, bruised; my hands black. So strange was my
appearance that my mother, in the midst of her anger, could not keep
from laughing and exclaiming, "How ugly he is!"

Nevertheless I loved, and I have always loved, cleanliness and
elegance. At night I tried to mend my rags. Kind Villeneuve and my
Lucile assisted in repairing my clothes, to save me from scoldings
and punishments; but their patching only served to make my outfit the
odder. I was particularly disconsolate when I appeared in tatters among
children proud of their new clothes and of their finery.

There was something about my fellow-townsmen that was foreign and
suggested Spain. Families from Saint-Malo had settled at Cadiz;
families from Cadiz lived at Saint-Malo. Saint-Malo's insular position,
its embankment, its architecture, its houses, its tanks, and its
granite walls give it a certain resemblance to Cadiz; when I saw the
latter town it often reminded me of the former.

Locked up at night in their city under the same key, the Malouins
formed but one family. So primitive were the habits of the place, that
young women who sent to Paris for their ribbons and muslins were
looked upon as worldly creatures from whom their startled acquaintances
held aloof. A frailty was a thing unknown: suspicion having fallen upon
a certain Comtesse d'Abbeville, the result was a ballad in singing
which people crossed themselves. Nevertheless the poet, faithful, in
spite of himself, to the troubadour tradition, took sides against the
husband, whom he called "a barbarous monster."

On certain days of the year, the townsmen and the country-people met at
fairs called "assemblies," which were held upon the islands and forts
surrounding Saint-Malo; these were reached on foot when the sea was
low, by boat when it was high. The crowd of sailors and peasants; the
covered carts; the caravans of horses, donkeys and mules; the concourse
of dealers; the tents lining the sea-shore; the processions of monks
and brotherhoods winding with their banners and crosses amid the crowd;
the rowing and sailing-boats flitting to and fro; the ships entering
harbor or heaving anchor in the roads; the salutes of artillery, the
pealing of the bells, all combined to fill these gatherings with noise,
movement and variety.

[Sidenote: Holidays at Saint-Malo.]

I was the only witness of these holidays who did not share in the
general gaiety. I had no money to buy toys and cakes. In order to avoid
the scorn attached to ill-fortune, I sat far from the crowd, near
those pools of water which the sea keeps up and replenishes in the
hollows of the rocks. There I amused myself by watching the flight of
the gulls and sea-mews, staring at the blue expanse of sky, gathering
shells, listening to the refrain of the waves among the rocks. At
night, at home, I was but little happier; I disliked certain dishes:
I was forced to eat them. I cast beseeching glances at La France, who
cleverly whipped away my plate when my father's head was turned. In
the matter of the fire, the same harshness: I was not permitted to go
near the chimney. It is a far cry from those severe parents to the
spoil-children of to-day.

But if I had troubles unknown to modern children, I had some pleasures
also of which they know nothing. The very meaning has been forgotten
of those religious and domestic solemnities in which the whole country
and the God of that country seemed to rejoice. Christmas, New Year's
Day, Twelfth Night, Whitsuntide, Midsummer were prosperous days for me.
Possibly the influence of my native rock worked upon my sentiments
and studies. In the year 1015 the Malouins vowed to assist "with their
hands and means" to build the steeples of the cathedral at Chartres:
have I too not labored with my hands to rebuild the stricken spire of
the ancient Christian basilica? "The sun," says Père Maunoir, "never
shone upon canton where more constant and invariable fidelity to the
true Faith was shown than in Brittany. For thirteen centuries no heresy
has stained the tongue which has served as an organ for preaching Jesus
Christ, and the man is as yet unborn who has seen a Breton of Brittany
preach any religion other than the Catholic."

On the feast-days which I have mentioned, I was taken with my sisters
to perform my stations at the various sanctuaries in the town, at St.
Aaron's Chapel or the Convent of Victory; my ear was struck by the
sweet voices of a hidden choir of women; the harmony of their chant
mingled with the roar of the billows. When, in the winter, at the hour
of Benediction, the Cathedral was filled by the multitude; when old
sailors upon their knees, young women and children read their Hours
with lighted tapers in their hands; when the congregation at the
Benediction joined in singing the _Tantum Ergo_; when, in the intervals
between the hymns, the Christmas squalls dashed against the panes of
the Cathedral and shook the arches of the nave which had resounded with
the manly tones of Jacques Cartier and Duguay-Trouin, I experienced
an extraordinary feeling of religion. I had no need to be told by
Villeneuve to fold my hands and invoke God by all the names which my
mother had taught me; I saw the heavens opening, the angels offering up
our incense and our prayers; I bowed my forehead: it was not yet laden
with those cares which weigh upon us so terribly that we are tempted
not to raise our heads after bending them at the foot of the altar.

One sailor, the function concluded, would set sail all fortified
against the night, while another would return to harbour and turn his
steps to the illuminated dome of the church: thus religion and danger
were constantly in sight one of the other, and their features were
inseparable in my thoughts. I was hardly born before I heard speak of
death: in the evening, a man went from street to street with a bell,
calling upon Christians to pray for a brother deceased. Scarcely a year
passed but vessels went under before my eyes, and as I played upon the
beach the sea rolled to my feet the corpses of foreign men who had
expired far from their native land. Madame de Chateaubriand said to me,
as St. Monica said to her son: _Nihil longe est a Deo._ My education
had been entrusted to Providence, which spared me none of its lessons.

[Sidenote: My early love of religion.]

Vowed as I was to the Virgin, I knew and loved my Protectress, whom I
confused with my Guardian Angel: her portrait, which had cost my kind
Villeneuve a half sou, was fastened with four pins over the head of my
bed. I ought to have lived in the times when one said to Mary: "Sweet
Lady of Heaven and Earth, Mother of Pity, Fountain of all Good, that
carried Jesus Christ in thy precious womb, fair and most sweet Lady, I
thank thee and entreat thee."

The first thing I knew by heart was a sailors' hymn, which began:

     Je mets ma confiance,
     Vierge, en votre secours;
     Servez-moi de défense,
     Prenez soin de mes jours;
     Et quand ma dernière heure
     Viendra finir mon sort,
     Obtenez que je meure
     De la plus sainte mort[67].

I have since heard this hymn sung in a shipwreck. To this day I can
repeat these bad rhymes with as much pleasure as Homer's verses. A
statue of Our Lady, adorned with a Gothic crown and clad in a robe of
blue silk trimmed with a silver fringe, inspires me with more devotion
than one of Raphael's Virgins.

If at least that peaceful _Stella maris_ had been able to calm my
troubled life! But I was doomed to agitation even in my childhood. I
was like the Arab's date-tree: scarce had my stem issued from the rock
before it was stricken by the wind.


I have told how my premature revolt against Lucile's mistresses began
my bad reputation: a play-fellow completed it.

My uncle, M. de Chateaubriand du Plessis, lived at Saint-Malo like his
brother, and had, like him, four girls and two boys. Of my two cousins,
Pierre and Armand, who were my first companions, Pierre became one of
the Queen's pages, Armand was sent to college as being destined for
the ecclesiastical state. Pierre, his service as a page ended, entered
the navy and was drowned off the coast of Africa. Armand, after a long
stay at college, left France in 1790, served throughout the emigration,
made a score of intrepid descents in a small vessel upon the coast of
Brittany, and at last, on Good Friday 1809[68], gave his life for the
King on the Plaine de Grenelle, as I have already stated and as I shall
repeat once more when I come to relate the catastrophe[69].

Deprived of the society of my two cousins, I made up for it by a new
connection. On the second floor of the house in which we lived, resided
a gentleman called Gesril, who had a son and two daughters. This son
had been brought up differently from myself; a spoilt child, all he
did was thought charming. His one pleasure consisted in fighting, and
especially in raising quarrels in which he appointed himself referee.
He played practical jokes on nursemaids taking children out walking,
and nothing was talked of save his pranks, which were transformed into
the blackest crimes. The father laughed at everything, and "Joson" was
but the more petted for it.

[Sidenote: My friend Gesril.]

Gesril became my intimate friend, and acquired an incredible ascendency
over me: I was his apt pupil, although my character was the entire
opposite of his. I liked solitary games, and sought quarrels with
nobody: Gesril doted on pleasures and crowds, and revealed in childish
squabbles. When some ragamuffin addressed me, Gesril would ask, "Do you
allow that?" Thereupon I thought my honour at stake, and struck out at
the rash one's eyes; his age and height made no difference. My friend
would watch the fight and applaud my courage, but did nothing to assist
me. Sometimes he levied an army of all the gutter-snipes he knew,
divided his recruits into two bands, and we skirmished on the sands
with the aid of stones.

Another game invented by Gesril was still more dangerous. At
high-tide, when there was a storm, the waves, beating at the foot of
the Castle, on the side of the long beach, would leap to the level of
the great towers. Twenty feet above the base of one of these towers
ran a granite parapet, narrow, sloping, and slippery, leading to the
ravelin which defended the moat. The trick was to seize the moment
between two waves and clear the dangerous spot before the surge broke
and covered the tower. You saw a mountain of water approach you,
roaring as it came, which, if you delayed a minute, must either drag
you with it or crush you against the wall. Not one of us refused the
venture, but I have seen children turn pale before attempting it.

This inclination to urge others to encounters of which he remained a
spectator would lead one to think that, in after life, Gesril did not
display great generosity of character; and yet, although on a smaller
stage, he succeeded perhaps in surpassing the heroism of Regulus: his
glory only needed Rome and Titus Livy. He became a naval officer, and
he was taken prisoner in the engagement of Quiberon[70]. When the
action was decided, seeing that the English continued to fire upon
the Republican troops, Gesril[71] sprang into the sea, swam out to
the ships, and told the English to cease fire, informing them of the
disaster and of the capitulation of the Emigrants. They tried to save
him by throwing a rope to him, and urged him to come on board. "I am a
prisoner on parole," he cried, from the midst of the waves, and swam
back to land: he was shot with Sombreuil and his companions[72].

Gesril was my first friend; both of us were misunderstood in childhood,
and we became intimate through an instinct that told us what we might
some day be worth.

Two adventures put an end to this first part of my story, and produced
a noteworthy change in the system upon which my education was
conducted. We were one Sunday on the beach, in the "fan" of the Porte
Saint-Thomas and along the Sillon, where great stakes sunk into the
sand protect the walls against the swell of the sea. We would generally
climb to the top of these stakes to watch the first waves of the rising
tide flow beneath us. We had taken our places as usual; several little
girls were among us small boys. I was the furthest out at sea, having
none in front of me save a pretty little thing called Hervine Magon,
who was laughing with pleasure and crying with fear. Gesril was at the
further end inland.

The tide rose; it was blowing; already the nurses and footmen were
crying: "Come down, miss! Come down, sir!" Gesril waited for a big
wave, and as it dashed between the stakes, he pushed the child seated
next to him. This one fell against another, that against a third; the
whole row fell flat like "friars" of cards, but each was saved by his
neighbour; the only exception was the little girl at the extreme end
of the row, against whom I was upset, with the result that, having no
one to support her, she fell off. She was dragged away by the reflux; a
thousand cries arose; all the nurses tucked up their skirts and waded
into the sea, each catching hold of her brat and giving it a smack.
Hervine was fished out, and declared that François had thrown her down.
The nurses made a rush for me; I escaped from them, and ran and shut
myself in the cellar at home, whither the army of females pursued me.
Fortunately my father and mother had gone out Villeneuve valiantly
defended the door, and boxed the ears of the enemy's van-guard. The
real author of the mischief, Gesril, lent me his aid: climbing to his
own floor, with his two sisters he threw pots of water and baked apples
at my assailants from the windows. They raised the siege at nightfall;
but the news spread through the town, and the nine-year-old Chevalier
de Chateaubriand was reputed a monster of iniquity, a survival of those
pirates whom St. Aaron had driven from his rock.

The other adventure was this: I went with Gesril to Saint-Servan,
the suburb divided from Saint-Malo by the merchant harbor. In order
to reach it at low water, you cross certain currents by means of low
and narrow stepping-stones, which are covered when the sea rises. The
footmen who escorted us had loitered some way behind. At the end of
one of these bridges of stones we saw two ship's lads coming in our
direction. Gesril said to me: "Are we to let those beggars pass?" and
shouted to them: "Into the water, ducks!" Like true salts, refusing to
take chaff, they came on; Gesril retreated; and stationing ourselves at
one end of the bridge, we caught up some pebbles and threw them at the
ship-boys' heads. They rushed upon us, forced us to fall back, armed
themselves with pebbles in their turn, and drove us back, fighting,
upon our reserves, in other words, our servants. I was not, like
Horatius, hit in the eye; but a stone caught me so violently that my
left ear was cut in two and hung down upon my shoulder.

[Sidenote: Our dangerous pastimes.]

I did not think of my hurt, but of my return home. When my friend came
back from his excursions with a black eye and a torn coat, he was
pitied, pampered, coddled, dressed up again; while I, under similar
circumstances, was promptly punished. The wound I had received was
dangerous, but La France was unable to persuade me to come indoors,
such was my fright. I went and hid on the second floor with Gesril, who
bound up my head in a napkin. This napkin set him going: it suggested
a mitre to him; he turned me into a bishop and made me sing High Mass
with him and his sisters until supper-time. The dignitary of the Church
was at last obliged to go downstairs: my heart beat. Taken aback by my
face disordered and smeared with blood, my father said not a word; my
mother screamed; La France told my piteous case, and tried to excuse
me; I was nevertheless rated for it. They dressed my ear, and Monsieur
and Madame de Chateaubriand resolved to separate me from Gesril as soon
as possible[73].

I am not sure that it was not in this year that the Comte d'Artois[74]
visited Saint-Malo: a sham fight was arranged for him in the roads.
From the top of the bastion of the powder-magazine I watched the young
Prince standing among the crowd on the beach: in his splendour and in
my obscurity how many unknown destinies lay hidden! Thus, if my memory
do not fail me, Saint-Malo has seen two Kings of France only: Charles
IX. and Charles X.


There you have the picture of my early childhood. I do not know whether
the harsh education I received be sound in principle, but it was
adopted by my relations without purpose and as the natural outcome of
their temperament. What is certain is that it imbued me with ideas
different from those of other men; what is still more certain is
that it impressed upon my sentiments a character of melancholy which
arose from the habit of suffering acquired in the age of weakness,
improvidence and mirth.

Is it suggested that the manner of my bringing-up might have led me
to abhor the authors of my being? Not at all: the remembrance of
their sternness is almost pleasant to me; I value and honour their
great good qualities. When my father died, my comrades in the Navarre
Regiment witnessed my regret. From my mother I derive the consolation
of my life, since it was she who taught me my religion; I gathered
the Christian verities that issued from her mouth, as Pierre de
Langres studied at night in church, by the light of the lamp burning
before the Blessed Sacrament. Would my intelligence have received a
greater development had I been set earlier to my studies? I doubt it:
the waves, the winds, the solitude which were my first masters were
probably better suited to my native disposition; possibly I owe to
those wild tutors virtues which might have remained unknown to me.
The truth is that no system of education is in itself to be preferred
to any other system: do children love their parents better nowadays
when they say _tu_ and _toi_ to them and no longer fear them? Gesril
was spoilt in the same house in which I was scolded: we have both
been honest men and loving and respectful sons. This thing which you
think bad brings out your child's gifts; that other which you think
good would stifle those same gifts. What God does is well done: it is
Providence that guides us, when it destines us to play a part upon the
world's stage.

[1] This book was written at the Vallée-aux-Loups between October 1811
and June 1812.--T.

[2] Seven miles south of Paris, in the Department of Seine.--T.

[3] HORACE, _Od._ I. XI--T.

[4] Voltaire was not born on the 20th of February 1694, and he was
not born at Châtenay. In 1864, M. A. Jal (_Dictionnaire critique de
biographie et d'histoire_, pp. 1283, _et seq._), after searching the
register of the Parish of Saint-André-des-Arcs, established the fact
that Voltaire was born in Paris on Sunday, 21 November 1694.--B.

[5] The district now known as Florida was formerly divided into Eastern
and Western Florida, with St. Augustine and Pensacola for their
respective capitals.--T.

[6] The 4th of October is the feast of St François of Assisi--T.

[7] Chateaubriand made his entrance into Jerusalem on the 4th of
October 1806.--B.

[8] Following M. Edmond Biré in his edition of 1899, I have borrowed
this paragraph from the manuscript known as the _Manuscrit_ de 1826,
which was in the handwriting, for the most part, of Madame Récamier,
and which was published by Madame Charles Lenormant in 1874. It is
certainly preferable to the paragraph in all other editions of the
_Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe_, which runs as follows:

"My father's birth and the trials of his first position caused his
character to become one of the gloomiest ever known. Now this character
influenced my ideas because it terrified me in childhood, saddened me
in youth, and determined the manner of my education."

The Comte de Marcellus (_Chateaubriand et son temps_, p. 6) remarks
that this paragraph interrupts the narrative and in no way assists

[9] Louis Moréri (1643-1680) took orders at Lyons, and in 1673
published in that town his _Dictionnaire historique et géographique_,
which forms the basis of Bayle's _Dictionnaire critique_

[10] Bertrand d'Argentré (1519-1590), Seneschal of Rennes, and author
of an _Histoire de Bretagne and Commentaires sur la coutume de

[11] Père Lobineau of the Benedictines (1666-1727), author of the
_Histoire de Bretagne_ (1707), _Histoire des Saints de la Bretagne_,
and other historical works.--T.

[12] This genealogy is summarised in the _Histoire généalogique
et héraldique des Pairs de France_, by M. le Chevalier de
Courcelles.--_Author's Note._

The full title of the work by Pierre de Gibours, known as Père Anselme,
is _Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison de France et
des grands officiers de la Couronne_ (1674). Its importance is mainly
due to the labours of the compilers who continued it, Du Fourni and
Père Ange de Sainte-Rosalie (1726-1733).--T.

[13] Bernard Chérin (1718-1785), genealogist and historiographer of the
Orders of St. Lazarus, St. Michael, and the Holy Ghost--B.

[14] 1250, when St. Louis defeated the Saracens, but was subsequently
taken prisoner, with a number of his knights.--T.

[15] _Seigneurs._--T.

[16] _Sires._--T.

[17] The estate of the Guerrande is situated not in Morbihan, but in
the parish of Hénan-Bihen, now one of the communes of the Canton of
Matignon, Arrondissement of Dinan (Côtes-du-Nord).--B.

[18] 14 July 1789.--T.

[19] The massacre of the _gardes-du-corps_ at Versailles.--T.

[20] The second wife of Edward I. was Margaret, daughter of Philip
the Bold, and grand-daughter of St. Louis, not of Louis the Fat. The
reference is perhaps to Isabella of Angoulême, the affianced bride of
Hugh of Lusignan, Count of the Marche, who was carried off and married
by King John of England.--T.

[21] The Lord of Beaumanoir in 1351 sent his famous challenge to
the English Lord of Ploërmel. Thirty Bretons and thirty Englishmen
met in mortal combat at the foot of the oak midway between Ploërmel
and Josselin. Eight of the English were killed, and the remainder
surrendered. In the heat of the fight, Beaumanoir, parched with heat
and fatigue, drank the blood flowing from his own wounds.--T.

[22] Olivier de Clisson, Constable of France, surnamed the Butcher. He
succeeded Du Guesclin as Constable in 1380 and held the office until
1392. He died in his castle of Josselin, in Brittany, in 1407.--T.

[23] See this note at the end of these Memoirs.--_Authors Note._

[24] Louis Robert Hyppolite de Bréhan, Comte de Plélo (1699-1734),
French Ambassador at Copenhagen, a grand-nephew of Madame de Sévigné,
and author of some light poems.--T.

[25] Christopher Burchard, Count Munich (1683-1767), a native of
Oldenburg and a favourite field-marshal, privy-councillor and
eventually prime-minister of the Empress Anne of Russia. He was exiled
on the accession of Elizabeth, and recalled by Peter III. after
enduring twenty years of banishment.--T.

[26] Pierre Marie Anne de Chateaubriand, Seigneur du Plessis et
du Val-Guildo (1727-1794), commanded several of his brother's
merchant-ships. On the 12th of February 1760 he married Marie Jeanne
Thérèse Brignon, daughter of Nicolas Jean Brignon, Seigneur de Laher,
merchant, and of Marie Anne Le Tendu. He was imprisoned during the
Terror and died in Saint-Malo jail, 3 Fructidor Year II. (20 August

[27] 31 March.--T.

[28] MADELEINE de SCUDÉRI, _Le Grand Cyrus_, one of the longest of the
old French romances, published 1650, in ten volumes 8vo.--T.

[29] The full text runs as follows:--

"François René de Chateaubriand, son of the high and mighty René
de Chateaubriand, Knight, Comte de Combourg, and of the high and
mighty dame, Apolline Jeanne Suzanne de Bedée, Dame de Chateaubriand,
his wife, born 4 September 1768, baptized on the following day by
us, Messire Pierre Henri Nouail, grand-chanter and canon of the
cathedral church, official and grand-vicar of Monseigneur the Bishop
of Saint-Malo. Godfather, the high and mighty Jean-Baptiste de
Chateaubriand his brother, and godmother, the high and mighty dame,
Françoise Marie Gertrude de Contades, Dame and Comtesse de Plouër,
who sign with the father. Signed: Jean-Baptiste de Chateaubriand,
Brignon de Chateaubriand, Contades de Plouër, de Chateaubriand, Nouail,

[30] Twenty days before my birth, on the 15th of August 1768, was
born, in another island, at the other extremity of France, the man who
abolished the old society, Bonaparte.--_Author's Note._

[31] In the _Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem._--T.

[32] _Atala_, the _Génie du Christianisme_, the _Martyrs_ and the
_Itinéraire_ are all signed François Auguste de Chateaubriand. The
author's object in suppressing the name of René on the title-pages of
his early works was to avoid a false interpretation on the part of
those who might have been tempted to identify him with the immortal
episode in his works which has René for its title.--B.

[33] Now Rue de Chateaubriand.--T.

[34] The Hôtel de France et de Chateaubriand.--T.

[35] Louis George Érasme Marquis de Contades (1704-1795), for some
time Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, a marshal of France, and
Governor of Alsace from 1763 to 1788.--T.

[36] "It was so spelt long after Froissart's time, following the
ancient form, "Comburnium." The final "g" was first added between 1660
and 1680."--B.

[37] Emmanuel Félicité de Durfort, Duc de Duras (1715-1789), a peer and
marshal of France. First Lord of the Bedchamber, and a member of the
French Academy. He married in 1736 Louise Françoise Maclovie Céleste de
Coëtloquen, who died 7 January 1802.--B.

[38] Jean Georges Charles Frédéric Emmanuel Marquis du Hallay-Coëtquen
(1799-1867). He was a captain in the 1st Mounted Grenadiers of the
Royal Guard under the Restoration, and a Lord of the Bedchamber. The
reference to his valor applies to his reputation as a judge in points
of honor and a referee in matters of the duel. His brother, the Comte
du Hallay-Coëtquen, served as a page to Louis XVIII. in 1814, and was
subsequently a guard to Monsieur and a lieutenant in the 4th Mounted

[39] Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759), the distinguished
geometrician and French Academician, and President of the Berlin
Academy. Maupertuis was a native of Saint-Malo.--T.

[40] Nicholas Charles Joseph Trublet (1697-1770), Archdeacon and Canon
of Saint-Malo, his native city. He was a writer of little merit,
although elected a member of the French Academy in 1761, and was the
hero of Voltaire's satire, _Le Pauvre Diable._--T.

[41] See the _Itinéraire_ for this anecdote.--T.

[42] Louis René de Caradeuc de La Chalotais (1701-1785) was
Attorney-General to the Parliament of Brittany. He was accused of
instigating the opposition of the States and Parliament of Brittany
to certain financial edicts affecting the Breton liberties. After a
long confinement in the Citadel of Saint-Malo (1765), he was exiled
to Saintes and was not permitted to return to Rennes until ten years
later, on the accession of Louis XVI., when he resumed his functions.
The affair created a great and prolonged local commotion.--T.

[43] Lucile was four, not two years, older than her brother. She was
born on the 7th of August 1764.--B.


    "To you, my mind, I wish to remark,
    You have many faults which I cannot keep dark."--T.

[45] 'Aχὼρ, scurf.-_Author's Note._


    "A sparrow-hawk loved a warbler fair.
    And, it is said, was loved by her."--T.


    "Is the fable obscure, Trémigon?
    Derry down!"--T.

[48] Their correct name was Loisel de La Villedeneu.--B.

[49] Marie Antoine Bénigne de Bedée, Comte de La Bouëtardais
(1727-1807), younger brother to Madame de Chateaubriand.--B.

[50] The Château de Monchoix is in the parish of Pluduno, now one of
the communes of the Canton of Plancoët, Arrondissement of Dinan, and is
inhabited by M. du Boishamon, the Comte de Bedée's great-grandson.--B.

[51] Marie Angélique Fortunée Cécile Ginguené (1729-1823), daughter
of Écuyer François Ginguené and of Dame Thérèse Françoise Jean. She
married the Comte de Bedée on the 23rd of November 1756.--B.

[52] 1339-1442.--T.

[53] I omit eleven lines of quotation and their translation.--T.

[54] VIR., Æn. I. 184.--T.

[55] St. Aaron the Hermit is honoured on the 22nd of June.--T.

[56] At the battle of Vouillé, where Clovis killed Alaric II., King of
the Visigoths, with his own hand.--T.

[57] George Anson, Lord Anson (1697-1762). He received his promotion
and peerage after defeating La Jonguère in 1747.--T.

[58] Jacques Cartier (1494-_circa_ 1554), discovered the St. Lawrence
in 1534-35, following this up by exploring the greater part of

[59] The Falkland Islands.--T.

[60] René Duguay-Trouin (1673-1736), the hero of a number of brilliant
naval expeditions, of which the most famous is the capture of Rio de
Janeiro in 1711.--T.

[61] Robert Surcouf (1773-1827), the celebrated corsair, said to have
been descended on the mother's side from Duguay-Trouin.--T.

[62] Bertrand François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699-1753),
Governor-General of the Isle of France (Mauritius) and Bourbon from
1734 to 1743, when he went to India, defeating the English in Madras in

[63] Offroy de La Mettrie (1709-1752), the author of a number of works
of perverted philosophy. Frederic II. appointed him his reader and
composed a eulogy upon his death, which occurred from indigestion.--T.

[64] The Abbé Félicité Robert de Lamennais (1782-1854), a religious
and royalist writer until the Revolution of 1830, which converted him
to demagogy and irreligion. His later works were condemned by the Holy
See, and he was buried, by his own desire, without funeral rites.--T.

[65] François Joseph Victor Broussais (1772-1832), a distinguished
physician and adversary of the spiritualistic sects.--T.

[66] Pierre Louis Auguste Ferron, Comte de La Ferronnays (1772-1842),
occupied a number of prominent diplomatic posts under the Restoration.
He was one of the most honest Frenchmen of his time.--T.


    "To thee, O Mother-Maid,
      My song of hope I raise;
    Be thou my constant aid,
      Watch over all my ways;
    And when Death's hour is nigh,
      When life's long toil shall cease,
    Pray, Mother, that I die
      In holiness and peace."--T.

[68] This should be 1810: _vide supra._--T.

[69] He left a son, Frédéric, for whom I first obtained a post in
the Guards of Monsieur, and who afterwards joined a regiment of
Cuirassiers. He married, at Nancy, Mademoiselle de Gastaldi, by whom
he has had two sons, and retired from the service. Armand's elder
sister, my cousin, has for many years been a superior of the Trappist
nuns.--_Authors Note_ (Geneva, 1831).

[70] 21 July 1795.--T.

[71] Joseph François Anne Gesril du Papeu (1767-1795) fought in the
American War of Independence as a lad of fourteen.--B.

[72] 27 August 1795. The Republicans denied the capitulation. But M.
Biré gives a list of nine names which all bear witness to the fact that
Sombreuil and his men laid down their arms only after capitulating.--T.

[73] I have already spoken of Gesril in my other works. One of his
sisters, Angélique Gesril de La Trochardais wrote to ask me to obtain
leave for her husband and her sister's husband to add the name of
Gesril to their surnames: I failed in my negotiation.--_Author's Note_
(Geneva, 1831).

[74] Charles Philippe, Comte d'Artois (1757-1836), afterwards King
Charles X. His visit to Saint-Malo took place on the 11th of May 1777,
and lasted three days.--T.


A note from M. Pasquier--Dieppe--Change in my education--Spring in
Brittany--An historic forest--Pelagian fields--The moon setting over
the sea--Departure for Combourg--Description of the castle--Dol
College--Mathematics and languages--An instance of memory--Holidays
at Combourg--Life at a country-seat--Feudal customs--The inhabitants
of Combourg--Second holidays at Combourg--The Conti Regiment-Camp
at Saint-Malo--An abbey--A provincial theatre--Marriage of my two
eldest sisters--Return to college--A revolution begins to take place
in my ideas--Adventure of the magpie--Third holidays at Combourg--The
quack--Return to college--Invasion of France--Games--The Abbé de
Chateaubriand--My First Communion--I leave Dol College--A mission at
Combourg--Rennes College--I meet Gesril--Moreau-Limoëlan--Marriage
of my third sister--I am sent to Brest for my naval examination--The
harbour of Brest--I once more meet Gesril--Lapeyrouse--I return to

On the 4th of September 1812[76] I received the following note from M.
Pasquier[77], the Prefect of Police:

    "Prefect's Office.

    "The Prefect of Police begs M. de Chateaubriand kindly
    to call at his office, either at about four o'clock this
    afternoon or at nine o'clock to-morrow morning."

The object of Prefect of Police in sending for me was to serve an order
on me to leave Paris. I withdrew to Dieppe, which was first called
Bertheville and more than a hundred years ago changed its name to
Dieppe, from the English word "deep[78]." In 1788, I was in garrison
here with the second battalion of my regiment: to dwell in this town
of red-brick houses and ivory-white shops, this town of clean streets
and clear atmosphere, was to take shelter in the days of my youth. When
I walked out, I came across the ruins of Arques Castle, standing in the
midst of its rubbish-heaps. It will be remembered that Dieppe was the
birthplace of Duquesne[79]. When I stayed indoors, the sea lay spread
before my view; from the table at which I sat I gazed upon the sea
which saw me born and which bathes the shores of Great Britain, where I
underwent so long an exile: my eyes surveyed the billows which carried
me to America, cast me back upon Europe, and again bore me to the
coasts of Africa and Asia. Hail, O sea, my cradle and my image! I will
relate to thee the sequel of my story: if I lie, thy waves, commingled
with all my days, shall accuse me of imposture to the generations to

[Sidenote: Change in my education.]

My mother had constantly desired that I should be given a classical
education. The career of a sailor, for which I was intended, "would
perhaps," she said, "not be to my taste;" she thought that, in any
event, it would be well to make me capable of following another
profession. Her piety led her to hope that I should decide in favour
of the Church. She therefore proposed to send me to a college where I
should learn mathematics, drawing, fencing and English; she did not
mention Greek or Latin for fear of scaring my father; but she intended
to have me taught them, at first in secret, and later openly, when I
should have made progress. My father accepted her proposal: it was
arranged to send me to the college at Dol. This town was selected
because it lay upon the road from Saint-Malo to Combourg.

In the very cold winter immediately preceding my school-days, the house
in which we lived took fire: I was saved by my eldest sister, who
carried me through the flames in her arms. M. de Chateaubriand, who had
gone to his castle, sent for his wife to join him there: we did so in
the spring.

Spring in Brittany is milder than in the country round Paris, and the
trees bud three weeks earlier. The five birds that herald its coming,
the swallow, the loriot, the cuckoo, the quail, and the nightingale,
come with the breezes that nestle in the gulfs of the Armorican
Peninsula. The earth grows as thick with daisies, pansies, jonquils,
narcissuses, hyacinths, ranunculuses, anemones as the neglected spaces
around the churches of St. John Lateran and the Holy Cross of Jerusalem
in Rome. Glades deck themselves with tall and graceful ferns; fields
of broom and furze glow with flowers gay as golden butterflies. The
hedgerows at whose feet strawberries, raspberries and violets abound
are adorned with hawthorn, honeysuckle and brambles, whose brown and
twisted shoots bear glorious fruit and leaves. The country is alive
with bees and birds; swarms and nests greet the children at every
step. In sheltered nooks, myrtle and oleander grow in the open as in
Greece; the fig-tree ripens as in Provence; each apple-tree, with its
carmine-tinted blossoms, resembles the large nosegay of a village bride.

[Sidenote: Spring in Brittany.]

In the twelfth century, the cantons of Fougères, Rennes, Bécherel,
Dinan, Saint-Malo and Dol were covered by the Forest of Brécheliant,
which had served as a battlefield to the Francs and the races peopling
the Domnonée. Wace[80] tells of the wild man seen there, of the
fountain of Berenton, and a golden basin. An historic document of the
fifteenth century, the _Usemens et coutumes de la forêt de Brécilien_,
confirms the statement of the _Roman du Rou_: it is, say the _Usemens_,
of great and wide extent: "there are four castles, a very great number
of fair pools, fine chaces where are found no venomous beasts nor
insects, two hundred woods, as many springs, notably the fountain of
Belenton, near which Sir Pontus wrought his feats of arms."

To this day the country-side retains traces of its origin: intersected
by wooded ditches, it presents at a distance the aspect of a forest,
and reminds one of England; it was the abode of the fairies, and you
shall see that I did, in fact, meet a sylph there. Narrow dales are
watered by shallow rivulets. These dales are separated by moors and
by tufts and clusters of holly-trees. The coast presents an array
of beacons, lookouts, dolmens, Roman structures, ruins of mediæval
castles, Renascence steeples: all bordered by the sea. Pliny calls
Brittany, _Peninsula Oceani spectatrix_[81].

Between the sea and the land stretch pelagian plains, the fickle
frontier of the two elements: there the field-lark flies with the
sea-lark; the plough and the bark furrow the earth and the water at a
stone's throw one from the other. The sailor and the shepherd borrow
each other's language: the seaman says, "The waves are fleecy;" the
herd speaks of "fleets of sheep." Sands of changing colours, banks
variegated with shells, wreckage, fringes of silver foam line the green
or yellow edge of the corn-fields. I cannot recall the name of the
island in the Mediterranean in which I saw a bas-relief representing
nereids decorating with festoons the hem of Ceres' robe.

But what is most admirable in Brittany is to see the moon rising on
land and setting upon the sea. The moon, by divine creation governess
of the deep, has her clouds, her mists, her beams, her projected
shadows like the sun; but, unlike the latter, she does not set alone:
a retinue of stars accompanies her. As, upon my native coast, she
descends the vault of heaven, she extends her silence, and communicates
it to the sea; soon she sinks to the horizon, intersects it, shows
but the half of her forehead, which diminishes, dips, and disappears
in the yielding intumescence of the waves. The stars attendant upon
their queen, before plunging in her train, seem to pause suspended upon
the crest of the billows. No sooner has the moon set, than a gust of
wind from the open sea shatters the picture of the stars, like candles
extinguished after a celebration.


I was to accompany my sisters to Combourg: we set out in the first
fortnight in May. We left Saint-Malo at sunrise, my mother, my four
sisters and I, in a huge, antiquated berlin, with double-gilt panels,
outside steps, and purple tassels at the four corners of the roof. To
this were harnessed eight horses caparisoned like the mules in Spain,
with bells at their collars and bridles, and housings and fringes
of wool of many colours. While my mother was sighing and my sisters
talking themselves out of breath, I looked with all my eyes, listened
with all my ears, was wonderstruck at each turn of the road: the first
steps of a Wandering Jew who was never to stop. Even then, if man
changed only his surroundings! But his days change, and his heart.

[Sidenote: First view of Combourg.]

Our horses were rested at a fishing-village on Cancale Beach. We next
went through the marshes and the fever-stricken town of Dol, and
after passing the gate of the college to which I was soon to return,
we plunged inland. For four mortal hours we saw nothing but heaths
wreathed with woods, wastes scarce touched with the hoe, fields sown
with poor, black, stunted corn, and poverty-stricken patches of oats.
Charcoal-burners led teams of small horses with long and shaggy manes;
lank-haired peasants in goat-skin great-coats drove lean bullocks with
shrill cries or tramped behind a heavy plough, like laboring fauns. At
last we caught sight of a valley at the bottom of which, not far from
a pond, ascended the spire of a village church; the towers of a feudal
castle rose amid the trees of a wood illumined by the setting sun.

I have been obliged to stop: my heart was beating so violently as
almost to push back the table at which I am writing. The recollections
awakened in my memory overpower me with their number and their force:
and yet, what are they to the rest of the world?

After descending the hill, we forded a stream, drove on for
half-an-hour, and then turned out of the high-road. The carriage
rolled along a quincunx in an avenue of yoke-elms, whose crowns were
interwoven above our heads: I still remember the moment at which I
entered their shade and the feeling of affrighted gladness which I

On emerging from the darkness of the woods, we crossed a fore-court
planted with walnut-trees, adjoining the house and garden of the
steward; thence we passed, through a stone gateway, into a grassy court
called the _Cour Verte._ On the right were a long row of stables and a
clump of chesnut-trees; on the left, another clump of chesnut-trees.
At the end of the court-yard, the lawn of which sloped imperceptibly
upwards, appeared the castle between two clusters of trees. Its severe
and gloomy frontage presented a curtain crowned with a machicolated,
crenulated, covered gallery. This curtain connected two towers unlike
in age, materials, height and thickness, which ended in battlements
surmounted by a peaked roof, like a cap placed upon a Gothic crown.

Here and there, grated windows broke the bareness of the walls. A wide
flight of steps, straight and steep, twenty-two in number, without
balusters or hand-rail, took the place of the drawbridge across the
moat, which was now filled up: it led to the door of the castle,
pierced in the middle of the curtain. Above the door one saw the arms
of the Lords of Combourg and the apertures through which had formerly
issued the shafts and chains of the drawbridge.

The carriage drew up at the foot of the steps; my father came down
to welcome us. The meeting with his family so greatly softened his
mood for the moment, that he favoured us with his most gracious
looks. We climbed the steps and entered a resonant vestibule, with a
pointed arch, through which we passed into a small inner court-yard.
From this yard we entered the building looking south over the pond,
and joined to the two smaller towers. The whole castle had the shape
of a four-wheeled cart. We found ourselves on the same floor in a
room formerly known as the Guard-room. A window opened out at either
end; two others were cut into the side-wall. To enlarge these four
windows, it had been necessary to excavate walls of eight to ten feet
in thickness. Two sloping galleries, like the gallery in the Great
Pyramid, issued from the two outer angles and led to the small towers.
A winding staircase in one of these towers formed a communication
between the Guard-room and the upper storey. Such was this portion of
the building.

That contained within the frontage of the tall and of the thick tower,
commanding a north aspect over the Cour Verte, consisted of a sort
of square and sombre dormitory used as a kitchen, in addition to the
vestibule, the steps, and a chapel. Above these apartments was the
Rolls Hall, or Armoury, or Hall of Birds, or Knights' Hall, so called
from a ceiling strewn with blazoned coats-of-arms and painted birds.
The embrasures of the narrow trefoil windows were so deep as to form
recesses, around which ran a granite seat. Add to this, in different
parts of the building, secret passages and staircases, dungeons and
cells, a labyrinth of covered and open galleries, and walled-up
underground passages, the ramifications of which were unknown; on all
sides gloom, silence, and a face of stone: and you see Combourg Castle.

[Sidenote: Combourg castle.]

A supper served in the Guard-room, at which I ate without constraint,
ended the first happy day of my life. True happiness costs little; when
it is dear, it is not the real metal.

So soon as I awoke the next morning, I set out to visit the castle
grounds and to celebrate my advent to solitude. The steps faced
north-west. Seated in the centre of the top step, one saw before him
the Cour Verte, and beyond this court a kitchen-garden stretching out
between two belts of trees: one, on the right, the quincunx by which
we had come, was called the Little Mall; the other, on the left, the
Great Mall: the latter was a wood of oaks, beeches, sycamores, elms,
and chestnuts. Madame de Sévigné extolled those old shades in her day:
since that time, one hundred and forty years had added to their beauty.

[Illustration: Château de Combourg]

In the other direction, south and east, the landscape offered a quite
different view: through the windows of the great hall one saw the
houses of Combourg, a pond, the embankment of the pond along which ran
the Rennes high-road, a water-mill, a meadow covered with herds of cows
and separated from the pond by the embankment. Along the edge of this
meadow stretched a hamlet forming a dependency of a priory founded
in 1149 by Rivallon, Lord of Combourg, and containing his mortuary
statue, recumbent in a knight's armor. Beyond the pond, the ground rose
gradually and formed an amphitheater of trees, whence issued village
belfries and the turrets of country-houses. On the far horizon, between
the west and the south, were outlined the heights of Bécherel. On that
side, a terrace lined with large coppices skirted the foot of the
castle, passed behind the stables, and repeatedly joined the fountain
garden which communicated with the Great Mall.

If, after this too long description, a painter were to take up his
pencil, would he produce a sketch resembling the castle? I do not think
so; and yet the subject lives in my memory as though I had it before
my eyes: so great is the power of recollection, so small the power of
words in the expression of material things. When I begin to speak of
Combourg, I quote the first couplets of a ballad which will charm none
but myself: ask the Tyrolean herd why he finds pleasure in the three
notes or four which he sings to his goats, notes of the mountain, flung
from echo to echo to resound from one side of a torrent to the other.

My first appearance at Combourg lasted but a short while. When a
fortnight had passed, the Abbé Porcher arrived, the principal of Dol
College; I was handed over to him, and followed him despite my tears.
I was in a fashion, connected with Dol; my father was a "canon" of the
town, as the descendant and representative of the house of Guillaume de
Chateaubriand, Lord of Beaufort, who in 1529 founded one of the first
stalls in the cathedral choir. The Bishop of Dol was M. de Hercé, a
friend of my family, and a prelate of great moderation in politics,
who, kneeling, and crucifix in hand, was shot at Quiberon on the
Champ du Martyre, together with his brother, the Abbé de Hercé[82].
On reaching the college, I was entrusted to the special care of M.
l'Abbé Leprince, professor of rhetoric and a thorough geometrician,
a man of intelligence, handsome, devoted to the arts, and a fair
portrait-painter. He undertook to teach me my Bezout[83]; the Abbé
Égault, master of the third form, became my Latin master: I studied
mathematics in my own room, Latin in the common school-room.

It took some time for an owl of my species to grow accustomed to a
school cage and to measure its flight by the sound of a bell. I was
not able to make those quick friends with whom fortune supplies one,
for there was nothing to be made out of a poor urchin who was not even
endowed with pocket-money; nor did I join any set of hangers-on, for
I hated protectors. In our games, I did not claim to lead others, but
neither did I wish to be led: I was fitted to be neither a tyrant nor a
slave, and so I have always remained.

And yet it happened that I soon became the centre of a set; later, in
my regiment, I exercised the same power: plain ensign though I were,
the older officers spent their evenings with me, and preferred my
quarters to the coffee-house. I do not know whence this came, unless it
were due to the ease with which I entered into the minds and adopted
the manners of others. I was as fond of hunting and coursing as of
reading and writing. To this day, it is a matter of indifference to me
whether I speak of the most commonplace things or discuss the loftiest
subjects. I am very little attracted by cleverness, and find it almost
disagreeable, although I am not a fool. No imperfection offends me,
except mockery and self-conceit, which I have great difficulty in not
defying. I find that others are always my superiors in some respect,
and if perchance I feel myself to have an advantage, I am quite
embarrassed in consequence.

[Sidenote: My power of memory.]

Qualities which my early training had allowed to lie dormant were
awakened at college. My aptitude for work was remarkable, my memory
extraordinary. I made rapid progress in mathematics, to which I brought
a clearness of apprehension that astonished the Abbé Leprince. At the
same time, I displayed a decided taste for languages. The rudiments,
the torture of school-boys, cost me no trouble to learn; I awaited the
time of the Latin lessons with a sort of impatience, as a relief from
my figures and geometrical problems. In less than a year, I was well
ahead in the fifth form. In an odd manner, my Latin sentences shaped
themselves so naturally into pentameters that the Abbé Égault called me
the Elegist, a nickname which long clung to me among my schoolfellows.

I can quote two instances of my power of memory. I learnt my tables
of logarithms by heart: that is to say, a number being given in
geometrical proportion, I could quote from memory its exponent in
arithmetical proportion, and _vice versâ._

After evening prayers, which were said in public in the college chapel,
the principal used to read to us. One of the boys, taken at random,
had to give an account of what had been read. We came to prayers from
our games tired and very sleepy; we flung ourselves upon the forms,
trying to hide in a dark corner so as not to be seen and consequently
questioned. There was a confessional, in particular, which we fought
for, as offering a safe retreat. One evening I had the good fortune to
gain this harbor and thought myself safe from the principal; unluckily
he perceived my stratagem, and resolved to make an example. Slowly and
at great length he read the second head of a sermon; every one went
to sleep. By mere chance, I remained awake in my confessional. The
principal, who could only see the tips of my feet, thought that I had
dropped off like the rest, and suddenly called me by my name and asked
me what he had been reading.

The second head of the sermon contained an enumeration of the various
ways in which it is possible to offend against God. I not only
related the substance of the matter, but repeated the divisions in
their proper order, and recited almost word for word several pages of
mystical prose, devoid of meaning to a child. A murmur of applause ran
through the chapel: the principal called me to him, gave me a tap on
the cheek, and in reward allowed me to stay in bed next morning till
breakfast-time. I modestly withdrew from my schoolfellows' admiration,
and took good care to avail myself of the favour accorded me. This
memory for words, which I have partly lost, has been replaced in my
case by another and more singular kind of memory, of which I shall
perhaps have occasion to speak.

One thing I find humiliating: memory is often the one accomplishment
that accompanies stupidity; it belongs generally to ponderous minds,
which it makes yet heavier with the luggage with which it overcharges
them. And yet, without memory, where should we be? We should forget
our friendships, our loves, our pleasures, our business; genius would
be unable to collect its ideas; the fondest heart would lose its
tenderness, if it lost its memory; our existence would be reduced to
the successive moments of an incessantly gliding present; there would
be no longer a past. Alas, unhappy that I am! Our life is so vain as to
be but a reflex of our memory.


I went to Combourg for the holidays. Country-house life in the
neighbourhood of Paris can give no idea of country-house life in a
distant province. The Combourg property consisted, as its sole domain,
of moorland, a few mills, and the two forests of Bourgouët and Tanoërn,
in a district where timber is of almost no value. But Combourg was
rich in feudal rights. These rights were of different kinds: some
fixed certain dues in exchange for certain concessions, or established
customs sprung from the ancient order of politics; others seemed from
the first to have been sports and nothing more.

[Sidenote: Rustic sports at Combourg.]

My father had revived some of the latter rights, so as to prevent
their lapsing by prescription. When the whole family were together,
we took part in these Gothic amusements; the three principal were the
Fishermen's Leap, the Quintain, and a fair called the Foire Angevine.
Peasants in clogs and breeches, men of a France that is past, watched
these sports of a France that is past. There were prizes for the
winners, forfeits for the beaten.

The Quintain kept up the tradition of the tournaments: it had doubtless
some connection with the old military service of the fiefs. It is very
well described in Du Cange[84] (_voce_ QUINTANA). The forfeits had to
be paid in old copper money, up to the value of two _moutons d'or à la
couronne of 25 sols Parisis_ each[85].

The Angevin Fair was held in the meadow by the pond on the 4th of
September of each year, my birthday. The vassals had to take up arms
and come to the castle to raise the liege lord's banner; thence they
went to the fair to establish order and enforce the collection of a
toll due to the Counts of Combourg on each head of cattle, a sort of
royalty. During that time my father kept open house. We danced for
three days: the gentry in the great hall, to the scraping of a fiddle;
the vassals in the Cour Verte, to the squealing of a bag-pipe. We sang,
cheered, fired off arquebuses. These noises mingled with the lowing
of the droves at the fair; the crowd wandered through the woods and
gardens, and at least once in the year one saw at Combourg something
akin to merriment.

Thus have I been so singularly placed in life as to have assisted at
the tilting at the Quintain and at the proclamation of the Rights
of Man; to have beheld the train-bands of a Breton village and the
National Guard of France, the banner of the Lords of Combourg and the
flag of the Revolution. I am as it were the last surviving witness of
the feudal customs.

The visitors whom we received at the castle consisted of the
inhabitants of the market-town and the neighboring gentry: these good
people were my first friends. Our vanity attaches too much importance
to the part we play in the world. The citizen of Paris laughs at the
citizen of a small town; the Court noble scoffs at the provincial
noble; the well-known scorns the unknown man, without reflecting
that time does equal justice to their pretensions, and that they are
all equally ridiculous or insignificant in the eyes of successive

The principal resident of the place was a M. Potelet[86], a retired
ship's captain of the Indian Company's service, who told us long
stories about Pondicherry. He related them with his elbows resting on
the table, and my father always had a mind to throw his plate in his
face. Next came the bonder of tobacco, M. Launay de La Billardière[87],
the father of a family of twelve, like Jacob, nine girls and three
boys, of whom the youngest, David, was my playmate[88]. The worthy
man bethought himself of aspiring to nobility in 1789: he chose
a good time! In that house there was plenty of gaiety and many
debts. Gesbert[89] the seneschal, Petit[90] the procurator-fiscal,
Corvaisier[91] the receiver, and the Abbé Chalmel[92], the chaplain,
formed the society of Combourg. I did not at Athens meet persons more
celebrated than these.

Messieurs du Petit-Bois[93], de Château d'Assie[94], de Tinténiac, and
one or two other noblemen would come on Sundays to hear Mass in the
parish church, and afterwards to dine with the owner of the castle. We
were more intimately acquainted with the Trémaudan family, consisting
of the husband[95], the wife, who was extremely beautiful, a natural
sister, and several children. This family lived on a small farm, with
a dove-cote for sole evidence of nobility. The Trémaudans are still
living. Wiser and happier than I, they have not lost sight of the
turrets of the castle which I left thirty years ago; they are still
doing what they did when I went to eat brown bread at their table; they
have never left the port to which I shall never return. Perhaps they
are speaking of me at the very moment at which I write this page: I
reproach myself for dragging their name from its protective obscurity.
They long hesitated to believe that the man of whom they heard speak
was "the little chevalier." The rector or curate of Combourg, the Abbé
Sévin[96], to whose sermons I used to listen, at first displayed the
same incredulity: he could not persuade himself that the urchin, the
peasants' friend, was the same as the defender of religion; he ended
by believing it, and quotes me in his sermons, after having held me on
his knees. Would these good people, who import no foreign idea into
their image of me, who see me as I was in my childhood and in my youth,
would they recognize me today through the disguise of time? I should be
obliged to tell them my name before they would feel a wish to press me
in their arms.

I bring bad luck to my friends. A game-keeper called Raulx, who
was attached to me, was killed by a poacher. The murder made an
extraordinary impression upon my mind. What a strange mystery lies
in human sacrifice! Why should it be both the greatest crime and the
greatest glory to shed the blood of man? My imagination pictured
Raulx holding his entrails in his hands as he dragged himself to the
cottage where he expired. I conceived the idea of vengeance; I should
have liked to fight his murderer. In this respect I am curiously
constituted: at the first moment of an offense, I hardly feel it;
but it becomes imprinted on my memory; the recollection of it grows
stronger, rather than fainter, with time; it sleeps within my heart for
months, for whole years, and then awakens at the least circumstance
with renewed force, and my wound becomes more painful than on the first
day. But if I do not pardon my enemies, I do them no harm: I bear
ill-will, but am not vindictive. If ever I have the power to revenge
myself, I lose the wish: I should be dangerous only in misfortune.
Those who have tried to make me yield by oppressing me have deceived
themselves; adversity is to me what the earth was to Antæus: I gather
fresh strength in my mother's bosom. If ever Good Fortune had taken me
in her arms, she would have stifled me.


[Sidenote: Military visitors.]

I returned to Dol, much to my regret. The next year, a plan was
formed for a descent upon Jersey, and a camp was established at
Saint-Malo. Troops were quartered at Combourg; M. de Chateaubriand,
through courtesy, entertained in succession the colonels of the
Touraine and Conti Regiments. One was the Duc de Saint-Simon[97], the
other the Marquis de Causans[98]. A score of officers were invited
daily to my father's table. The jokes of these strangers displeased
me; their walks disturbed the peacefulness of my woods. It was from
seeing the lieutenant-colonel of the Conti Regiment, the Marquis de
Wignacourt[99], gallop under the trees that the idea of travelling
first passed through my mind.

When I heard our guests speak of Paris and the Court, I became sad; I
tried to imagine what society was: I discovered a confused and distant
something; but soon I turned giddy. Casting my eyes upon the world from
the tranquil region of innocence, I had a swimming in the head, as when
one looks down upon the earth from the top of a tower lost in the sky.

One thing, nevertheless, delighted me: the parade. Every day the
soldiers going on guard marched past, to the sound of the drum and
band, at the foot of the steps in the Cour Verte. M. de Causans offered
to show me the camp on the coast: my father gave his leave. I was
taken to Saint-Malo by M. de La Morandais[100], a gentleman of very
good family, whom poverty had reduced to accept the stewardship of the
Combourg property. He wore a coat of grey camlet, with a little silver
lace at the collar, and a helmet-shaped peaked cap with flaps. He set
me astride behind him, on the crupper of his mare Isabelle. I held fast
by the belt of his hunting-knife, which he wore outside his coat: I was
delighted. When Claude de Bullion and the father of the Président de
Lamoignon, as children, went to the country, "they were both carried by
the same donkey, in panniers, one on one side, the other on the other,
and a loaf of bread was placed on Lamoignon's side because he was
lighter than his fellow, to keep the balance." (_Mémoires du président
de Lamoignon[101]._)

M. de La Morandais took cross-roads:

    Moult volontiers, de grand' manière,
    Alloit en bois et en rivière:
    Car nulles gens ne vont en bois
    Moult volontiers comme François[102].

We stopped for dinner at a Benedictine abbey which, for want of a
sufficient number of monks, had just been incorporated in one of the
chief communities of the order. We found only the father procurator,
who had been left behind to dispose of the chattels and sell the
timber. He ordered an excellent fish dinner to be served for us, in
what was formerly the prior's library: we ate a quantity of new-laid
eggs with huge pikes and carps. Through the arch of a cloister, I saw
tall sycamores at the edge of a pond. The woodman's axe struck at their
feet, their tops trembled in the air, and they fell to make a show for
us. Carpenters, come from Saint-Malo, sawed off green branches, which
dropped to the ground like the hair of a child cut for the first time,
or squared the felled trunks. My heart bled at the sight of those
impaired woods and that dismantled monastery. The general sack of the
religious houses has since called up to my mind the spoliation of the
abbey which was to me an omen.

[Sidenote: The Camp at Saint-Malo.]

I found the Marquis de Causans at Saint-Malo, and went through the
streets of the camp under his escort. The tents, the stacked arms, the
picketed horses made a fine spectacle in conjunction with the sea,
the ships, the walls, and the distant steeples of the town. I saw
gallop past me at full speed, in an hussar's uniform and mounted on a
Barbary horse, one of those men who marked the end of a world, the Duc
de Lauzun[103]. The Prince de Carignan[104] had come to the camp, and
married the daughter of M. de Boisgarein, a charming creature, though a
little lame: this caused a great sensation and gave rise to a law-suit
in which' M. Lacretelle[105] the Elder is pleading to this day. But
what have these things to do with my life? "It is pitie," says
Montaigne; "I have assayed by the trial of some of my private friends:
according as their memory hath ministered to them a whole and perfect
matter, who recoil their narration so farre-backe, and stuff it with so
many vaine circumstances, that if the story bee good, they smoother the
goodnesse of it: if bad you must needs either curse the good fortune of
their memorie, or blame the misfortune of their judgement.... I have
heard some very pleasant reports become most irkesome and tedious in
the mouth of a certaine Lord[106]." I am afraid of being that certaine

My brother was at Saint-Malo when M. de La Morandais set me down there.
One evening he said to me:

"I am taking you to the play: get your hat."

I lost my head; I ran straight to the cellar to fetch my hat which was
in the garret. A company of travelling play-actors had just arrived. I
had seen a Punch and Judy show, and presumed that the puppets at the
theatre were much finer than those in the street. With beating heart I
reached a wooden building in an unfrequented street in the town. I went
through dark passages, not without a certain movement of dread. A small
door was opened, and I found myself with my brother in a half-full box.

The curtain was up, and the piece had commenced: they were playing
the _Père de famille[107]._ I saw two men walk about the stage
talking, while everybody looked on. I took them for the managers of
the puppet-show, chatting before the time came for Madame Gigogne to
tumble head over heels, awaiting the arrival of the audience: I was
only surprised that they should discuss their business so loudly, and
that they were listened to in silence. My amazement increased when
other persons came upon the stage and began to make great gestures and
shed tears, and when everybody began to cry in sympathy. The curtain
fell without my having understood a word of all this. My brother went
down to the green-room between the acts. I remained in the box among
strangers, in an agony of shyness, and wished myself back at school.
That was the first impression which I received of the art of Sophocles
and Molière.

The third year of my life at Dol was marked by the wedding of my two
eldest sisters: Marianne married the Comte de Marigny, and Bénigne
the Comte de Québriac. They accompanied their husbands to Fougères:
the first signal for the dispersion of a family whose members were
soon to part. My sisters received the nuptial benediction at Combourg
on the same day, at the same hour, at the same altar, in the castle
chapel[108]. They wept, my mother wept; I was astonished at their
grief: I understand it now. I never assist at a christening or a
wedding without smiling bitterly or feeling anguish of heart. After the
misfortune of being born, I know none greater than that of giving birth
to a human being.

In this same year began a revolution, not only in my family, but in
my own person. Chance caused to fall into my hands two very different
books: an unexpurgated Horace and a history of _Confessions mal
faites._ An incredible perturbation of ideas was produced in my mind
by these two books: an unknown world arose around me. On the one side,
I suspected the existence of secrets incomprehensible to one of my
age, of a manner of living different from mine, of pleasures beyond my
vision, of charms of an unknown nature in a sex in which I had only
met a mother and sisters; on the other side, spectres dragging chains
and vomiting flames threatened me with eternal torture for one sin
concealed. I could not sleep; at night I thought I saw black hands and
white pass by turns through the curtains of my bed: I began to imagine
that the latter hands were cursed by religion, and this idea increased
my terror of the infernal shades. In vain I sought in Heaven and Hell
for the explanation of a two-fold mystery. Smitten at one and the same
time in my moral and physical being, I continued to struggle with my
innocence against the storms of premature passion and the terrors of

Thenceforward I felt escape from me some sparks of that fire which
is the transmission of life. I was construing the fourth book of the
_Æneid_ and reading _Télémaque_: suddenly I discovered in Dido and
Eucharis beauties that delighted me; I felt the harmony of those
admirable verses and of that classic prose. One day I translated

    _Æneadum genitrix, hominum divinumque voluptas_[109]

at sight, with such spirit that M. Égault snatched the poem from my
hands and set me to do my Greek roots. I stole a Tibullus: when I came
to the

    _Quam juvat immites ventos audire cubantem_[110],

these expressions of voluptuous melancholy seemed to reveal to me my
own nature. The volumes of Massillon[111] which contained the sermons
on the _Pécheresse_ and the _Enfant prodigue_ never left my side. I
was allowed to read them, for no one suspected what I found in them.
I stole short candle-ends from the chapel to enable me at night to
read those alluring descriptions of the disorders of the soul. I fell
asleep stammering incoherent phrases, in which I strove to employ the
sweetness, the rhythm, and the grace of the writer who has been most
successful in transmitting to prose the euphony of Racinian verse.

If, later, I have with some measure of truthfulness depicted the
impulses which, mingled with Christian remorse, sway the heart, I
am convinced that I owe this success to the chance which made me
acquainted at the same moment with two hostile empires. The ravages
made in my imagination by a bad book found their antidote in the
terrors with which another book inspired me, and the latter were as
it were allayed by the enervating thoughts drawn from pictures of the

Misfortunes are said never to come singly, and the same may be said
of passions: they come together, like the Muses or the Furies. With
the propensity which began to torture me, there was born in me the
sense of honor, an exaltation of the soul which preserves the heart
uncorrupted in the midst of corruption, a sort of restorative principle
placed beside a devouring principle, as the inexhaustible source of the
prodigies which love demands of youth and of the sacrifices which it

When the weather was fine, the college boarders went out on Thursdays
and Sundays. We were often taken to Mont Dol, on the top of which were
some Gallo-Roman ruins: from the summit of this isolated eminence, the
eye looks down on the sea and on marshes over which by night hovers
the will o' the wisp, the wizard's light that burns in our lamps to
this day. Another object of our walks was the fields in which stood a
seminary of Eudists, after Eudes, brother of Mézeray the historian[112]
and founder of their congregation. One day in May, the Abbé Égault, the
prefect of the week, had taken us to this seminary. We were allowed
full liberty in our games; only we were expressly forbidden to climb
the trees. The master left us in a grassy lane, and walked away to say
his breviary.

The lane was bordered by elms: right at the top of the tallest, a
magpie's nest was clearly visible. We were all agog at the sight,
pointing out to each other the mother sitting on her eggs, and smitten
with the keenest longing to capture that superb prize. But who would
dare to make the attempt? The orders were so strict, the prefect so
near, the tree so high! Every hope was turned upon me; I climbed like a
cat. I wavered, and then love of glory carried the day: taking off my
coat, I flung my arms around the elm and began the ascent. The trunk
had no branches, except at two-thirds of its height, where it split
into a fork, one of whose extremities bore the nest.

[Sidenote: A Painful Predicament.]

Gathered beneath the tree, my friends applauded my efforts, looking up
at me, looking in the direction whence the prefect might come, stamping
with joy in their hope of the eggs, trembling with fear in their
expectation of punishment. I approached the nest; the magpie flew away;
I seized the eggs, put them inside my shirt, and began to climb down.
Unfortunately, I slipped between the twin sections of the trunk and
remained seated astraddle. The tree had been pruned, I could find no
foothold on either side by which to raise myself and recover the outer
limb, and I remained hanging in mid-air, fifty feet from the ground.

Suddenly a cry arose of "The prefect is coming!" and I saw myself
incontinently abandoned by my friends, as always happens. One boy
alone, called Le Gobbien, tried to assist me, and was soon obliged to
relinquish his generous attempt. There was only one way to extricate
myself from my painful position, which was to hang on outside, by my
hands, to one of the two teeth of the fork, and to try, with my feet,
to seize the trunk below the place where it split in two. I carried out
this operation at the risk of my life. In the midst of my tribulations,
I had not let go of my prize; I should have done better to fling it
away, as I have since done with so many others. In sliding down the
trunk, I rubbed the skin off my hands, bruised my legs and chest, and
smashed the eggs: this last proved my ruin. The prefect had not seen me
in the tree; I contrived to hide the traces of blood, but there was no
concealing the brilliant yellow with which I was smeared.

"Very well, sir," he said, "you shall have the cane."

If that man had stated that he would commute this sentence to one of
death, I should have experienced a thrill of joy. The notion of shame
had never yet presented itself to one of my untrammeled upbringing: at
no period of my life would I not have preferred any punishment to the
horror of having to blush before a living creature. My heart filled
with indignation; I answered the Abbé Égault, in the accents not of
a child but of a man, that neither he nor any other should ever lay
a hand upon me. This reply incensed him; he called me a rebel and
promised to make an example of me.

"We shall see," I retorted, and began to play at ball with a coolness
which confounded him.

We returned to the college; the prefect took me to his room and ordered
me to prepare for punishment. My exalted sentiments gave place to
floods of tears. I represented to the Abbé Égault that he had taught me
Latin; that I was his scholar, his disciple, his child; that he could
not wish to dishonor his pupil and make the sight of my schoolfellows
unbearable to me; that he could lock me up on bread and water, stop
my recreations, set me impositions; that I would thank him for his
clemency and love him the more for it. I fell upon my knees, I folded
my hands, I besought him in the name of Jesus Christ to spare me; he
remained deaf to my entreaties. I rose in a fit of fury, and aimed at
his legs a kick so violent that he yelled. He limped to the door of his
room, locked it, and came back to me. I entrenched myself behind the
bed; he struck out at me across the bed with a cane. I rolled myself in
the bed-clothes and, heated with the fray, exclaimed:

    _Macte animo, generose puer!_[113]

This brattish erudition made my enemy laugh in spite of himself; he
suggested an armistice: we concluded a treaty; I agreed to refer the
matter to the arbitration of the principal. Without giving his award in
my favour, the principal consented to cancel the punishment which I had
refused to take. When the excellent priest pronounced his acquittal,
I pressed my lips to the sleeve of his gown with so great a display
of heartfelt gratitude that he could not refrain from giving me his
blessing. Thus ended the first combat which restored to me the honour
which has been the idol of my life and which has so often cost me my
repose, my pleasure, and my fortune.

[Sidenote: Holidays at Combourg.]

The holidays in the course of which I entered upon my twelfth year
were sad ones. The Abbé Leprince accompanied me to Combourg. I went
out only with my tutor; we took long rambles together. He was dying
of consumption, and was silent and melancholy; I myself was not much
livelier. We walked for hours without saying a word. One day we lost
our way in the woods; M. Leprince turned to me and asked:

"Which way shall we go?"

I answered without hesitation:

"The sun is setting; it is now striking the window in the big tower;
let us go that way."

M. Leprince the same evening told the incident to my father: the future
traveller showed himself in that decision. Many a time, when I saw
the sun set in the forests of America, have I recalled the woods of
Combourg: my memories are echoes one of the other.

The Abbé Leprince wanted them to give me a horse; but according to my
father's notions, the only thing a naval officer need know how to steer
was his ship. I was reduced, therefore, to riding two fat coach-horses
or a big piebald by stealth. The latter was not, like Turenne's _Pie_,
one of those steeds which the Romans called _desultorii equi_[114]
and trained to aid their masters; it was a moon-eyed Pegasus, which
overreached in trotting, and bit my legs when I set it at a ditch.
I never cared much about horses, although I have led the life of a
Tartar; and, contrary to the effect which my early training should have
produced, I ride with an elegant rather than a firm seat.

A tertiary fever, the germs of which I had brought with me from the
marshes of Dol, rid me of M. Leprince. A quack passed through the
village; my father, who did not believe in doctors, believed in
charlatans: he sent for the empiric, who undertook to cure me in
twenty-four hours. He returned the next day, in a green, gold-laced
coat, a huge, powdered wig, wide ruffles of dirty muslin, false
diamonds on his fingers, worn black satin breeches, bluey-white silk
stockings, and shoes with enormous buckles. He pulled back my curtains,
felt my pulse, made me put out my tongue, jabbered a few words with an
Italian accent on the necessity for purging me, and gave me a little
piece of burnt sugar to eat. My father approved of the treatment, for
he maintained that all sickness came from indigestion, and that for
every kind of ill you should purge your man till the blood came.

Half-an-hour after swallowing the caramel, I was seized with a
terrible vomiting; they sent to tell M. de Chateaubriand, who wanted
to throw the poor wretch from the window of the tower. The latter,
terrified, took off his coat, tucked back his shirt-sleeves, and made
the most grotesque gestures. At each movement, his wig turned in every
direction; he repeated my cries, adding after each: "_Che, Monsou
Lavandier?_" This Monsieur Lavandier was the village druggist, who
had been called in to lend his aid. I did not know, in the midst of
my pain, whether I should die from taking the man's nostrums or from
bursting with laughter at his behavior. The effects of this overdose of
emetic were stopped in time, and I was set on my legs again.

The whole of our life is spent in wandering round our tomb: our
illnesses are so many puffs of wind that send us more or less near to
the haven. The first corpse I saw was that of a canon of Saint-Malo:
he lay dead upon his bed, his features distorted with the final
convulsions. Death is beautiful, he is our friend: and yet we do not
recognize him, because he comes to us masked, and his mask frightens us.

I was sent back to school at the end of autumn.


I have been permitted to leave Dieppe, whither a police order had
driven me, and to return to the Vallée-aux-Loups, where I continue my
narrative. The soil trembles beneath the steps of the foreign soldier,
who is invading my country at this very moment; I am writing, like the
last of the Romans, to the sound of the Barbarian invasion. By day I
compose pages as agitated as the events of the day[115]; at night,
while the rolling of the distant cannon dies away in my woods, I return
to the silence of years that sleep in the grave, to the peace of my
youngest memories. How short and narrow is a man's past beside the vast
present of the nations and their immeasurable future!


Mathematics, Greek, and Latin occupied all my winter at school. The
time that was not devoted to study was given up to boyish sports,
which are the same all over the world. The little Englishman, the
little German, the little Italian, the little Spaniard, the little
Iroquois, the little Bedouin, all trundle the hoop and throw the ball.
Brothers of one great family, children do not lose their features of
resemblance until they lose their innocence, everywhere the same. Then
the passions, modified by climates, governments, and customs, make
different nations; the human race ceases to speak and understand the
same language: society is the real Tower of Babel.

[Sidenote: The Abbé de Chateaubriand.]

One morning I was taking very energetic part in a game of base in the
playground, when I was told that I was wanted. I followed the servant
to the front gate. There I found a stout, red-faced man, with abrupt
and impatient manners and a fierce voice; he carried a stick in his
hand, wore a black and ill-curled wig, a torn cassock with the ends
tucked into his pockets, dusty shoes, and stockings with holes at the

"You little scamp," said he, "are not you the Chevalier de
Chateaubriand de Combourg?"

"Yes, monsieur," I replied, quite bewildered at his manner of
addressing me.

"And I," he retorted, almost foaming at the mouth, "am the last senior
of your family; I am the Abbé de Chateaubriand de La Guerrande[116]:
take a good look at me."

The proud ecclesiastic put his hand into the fob of a pair of old plush
breeches, took out a moldy six-franc crown-piece wrapped in a piece of
dirty paper, flung it at my head, and continued his journey on foot,
muttering his matins as he went, with a furious air. I have since
learnt that the Prince de Condé[117] had offered this rustic rector
the post of tutor to the Duc de Bourbon[118]. The overbearing priest
replied that the Prince, as the owner of the Barony of Chateaubriand,
ought to know that the heirs of that barony could have tutors, but
could not act as such. This haughtiness was the fault of my family; in
my father it was hateful; my brother pushed it to a ridiculous length;
it has descended in a certain measure to his eldest son. I am not sure
that I myself, in spite of my republican inclinations, have entirely
shaken it off, although I have been careful to conceal it.


The time approached for making my First Communion, when the family used
to decide upon the child's future condition. This religious ceremony
took the place among young Christians of the assumption of the _toga
virilis_ among the Romans. Madame de Chateaubriand had come in order to
be present at the First Communion of her son, who, after being united
to his God, was about to part from his mother.

My piety seemed to be sincere; I edified the whole college; there was
ardor in my eyes; I was so persistent in my fasting as to make my
masters uneasy. They feared lest I should drive devotion to excess;
their religious enlightenment sought to temper my fervor. My confessor
was the superior of the Eudist Seminary, a man of fifty, of stern
appearance. Each time that I presented myself at the confessional, he
anxiously questioned me. Surprised at the unimportance of my sins, he
did not know how to reconcile my distress with the triviality of the
secrets I confided to his bosom. The nearer Easter approached, the more
pressing did the priest's questions become. "Are you keeping nothing
back?" he would ask. I replied, "No, father." "Have you not committed
such and such a sin?" "No, father." And it was always: "No, father."
He dismissed me doubtfully, sighing, gazing into my very soul, while I
left his presence pale and out of face, like a criminal.

[Sidenote: Confession and Absolution.]

I was to receive absolution on the Wednesday in Holy Week. I spent the
night of Tuesday in praying and in reading with terror the _Confessions
mal faites._ At three o'clock on the Wednesday afternoon, we started
for the seminary, accompanied by our parents. All the vain renown that
has since attached itself to my name would not have given Madame de
Chateaubriand one moment of the pride which she felt, as a Christian
and a mother, on beholding her son prepared to participate in the great
mystery of religion.

On reaching the church, I prostrated myself before the altar, and lay
as though annihilated. When I rose to go to the sacristy, where the
superior awaited me, my knees trembled beneath me. I flung myself at
the priest's feet; it was only in the most broken accents that I was
able to pronounce the _Confiteor._ "Well, have you forgotten nothing?"
asked the messenger of Jesus Christ. I remained silent. He began to
question me again, and the fatal "No, father," came from my lips.
He lapsed into meditation, asked counsel of Him who conferred upon
the Apostles the power of binding and loosing souls. Then, making an
effort, he prepared to give me absolution.

Had the sky shot a bolt at me, it would have caused me less dread. I

"I have not confessed everything!"

This formidable judge, this deputy of the Sovereign Arbiter, whose
visage inspired me with so much fear, became the tenderest of
shepherds; he took me in his arms and burst into tears:

"Come, my dear child," said he, "courage!"

I shall never experience such another moment in my life. Had the weight
of mountains been lifted from me, I should not have been more relieved:
I sobbed with happiness. I venture to say that it was from that day
forward that I became an upright man; I felt that I should never
outlive a remorse: how great must be the remorse for a crime, when I
could suffer so terribly for concealing the little sins of a child! But
also how divine is the religion which can thus take hold of our best
instincts! What precepts of morality can ever take the place of these
Christian institutions?

The first admission made, the rest cost me nothing. My suppressed
childish offenses, which would have made the world smile, were weighed
in the balance of religion. The superior was very much perplexed; he
would have liked to postpone my Communion; but I was about to leave Dol
College, soon to enter the Navy. With great perspicacity, he discerned
the nature of my proclivities from the very character of my juvenile
faults, insignificant though they were; he was the first man to fathom
the secret of the possibilities of my life. He divined my future
passions; he did not conceal from me what he thought he saw good in me,
but he also predicted the evils to come.

"After all," he added, "though time is short for your repentance, you
are cleansed of your sins by your courageous, if tardy, confession."

Raising his hand, he pronounced the Absolution. On this second
occasion, the fulminating hand showered upon my head only the heavenly
dew; I bent my brow to receive it; my feelings partook of the joy of
the angels. I rose and threw myself upon the bosom of my mother, who
was awaiting me at the foot of the altar. I no longer appeared the
same being to my masters and school-fellows; I walked with a light step
my head held high, a radiant air, in all the triumph of repentance.

On the next day, which was Holy Thursday, I was admitted to the sublime
and touching ceremony which I have vainly endeavored to describe in the
_Génie du Christianisme._[119] I might here have felt again my usual
little humiliations: my nosegay and my clothes were less fine than
those of my companions; but that day everything was of God and for God.
I know exactly what Faith means: the Real Presence of the Victim in the
Blessed Sacrament of the altar was as evident to me as the presence of
my mother by my side. When the Host was laid upon my lips, I felt as
though a light had been kindled within me. I trembled with veneration,
and the only material thing that occupied my thoughts was the dread of
profaning the sacramental bread.

    Le pain que je vous propose
    Sert aux anges d'aliment,
    Dieu lui-même le compose
    De la fleur de son froment[120].--RACINE.

I conceived besides the courage of the martyrs; at that moment I could
have confessed Christ on the rack or in the midst of the lions.

I delight in recalling these joys which my soul felt but a little while
before it became filled with the tribulations of the world. Those who
compare these ardours with the transports which I shall presently
depict, who see the same heart experiencing, within a space of three or
four years, all that is sweetest and most wholesome in innocence and in
religion and also all that is most seductive and most baneful in the
passions, will choose one of the two forms of joy; they will see in
which direction to seek happiness and, above all, peace.

Three weeks after my First Communion, I left Dol College. I retain
a pleasant remembrance of this house: our childhood leaves a trace
of itself upon places it has beautified by its presence, as a flower
communicates a perfume to the objects it has touched. To this day I am
affected when I think of the scattering of my first friends and my
first masters. The Abbé Leprince was appointed to a living near Rouen,
but died soon after; the Abbé Égault received a cure in the Diocese of
Rennes; and I saw the death of the good principal, the Abbé Porcher,
at the commencement of the Revolution: he was a learned, gentle, and
simple-hearted man. The memory of that obscure Rollin[121] will always
be dear and venerable to me.


At Combourg I found a Mission on which to feed my piety; I followed its
exercises. I received confirmation on the manor steps, with the peasant
lads and lasses, from the hand of the Bishop of Saint-Malo. After that,
a cross was erected; I helped to hold it, while it was being fixed upon
its base. It still exists: it stands in front of the tower in which my
father died. For thirty years, it has seen no one appear at the windows
of that tower; it is no longer saluted by the castle children; every
spring-time it waits for them in vain; it sees none return save the
swallows, the companions of my childhood, more faithful to their nest
than man to his house. How happy should I have been, had my life been
spent at the foot of that mission cross, had my hair been whitened only
by the years which have covered the arms of that cross with moss!

[Sidenote: I go to Rennes College.]

I did not long delay my departure for Rennes, where I was to continue
my studies and complete my mathematical course, before submitting
myself for examination as a Naval Guard[122] at Brest. M. de Fayolle
was principal of Rennes College. The staff of that Breton Juilly[123]
included three distinguished professors: the Abbé de Chateaugiron,
master of the second form, the Abbé Germé, master of rhetoric, and
the Abbé Marchand, of physics. There were a large number of boarders
and day-scholars, and the classes were strong. Within living memory,
Geoffroy[124] and Ginguené[125], who were educated at the college,
would have done honour to Sainte-Barbe[126] or the Plessis. The
Chevalier de Parny[127] had also studied at Rennes; I succeeded to his
bed in the room allotted to me.

Rennes seemed to me a Babylon, the college a world. The crowd of
masters and school-boys, the size of the buildings, garden, and
play-grounds appeared immense to my eyes[128]. I grew accustomed to
it, however. On the saint's-day of the principal, we had a holiday; at
the top of our voices we sang in his praise superb lines of our own
composing, in which we said:

    Ô Terpsichore, ô Polymnie,
    Venez, venez remplir nos vœux;
    La raison même vous convie[129].

At the cost of a few buffets, I assumed over my new schoolfellows
the same ascendant that I had exercised over my old companions at
Dol. The young Bretons are quarrelsome monkeys; on half-holidays we
sent each other challenges to fight in the shrubbery of the garden
of the Benedictines, called "the Thabor." Our arms consisted of
compasses fastened to the end of a walking-stick, which gradually
led to a hand-to-hand fight, more or less treacherous or courteous
according to the gravity of the challenge. We had umpires who decided
if battle was to be waged and how the champions should use their
hands. The combat did not end until one of the two parties owned
himself vanquished. I found my old friend Gesril presiding over these
engagements, as at Saint-Malo. He offered to be my second in an affair
in which I was engaged with Saint-Riveul[130], a young noble who
became the first victim of the Revolution. I fell under my adversary,
refused to surrender, and paid dearly for my pride. I said, like Jean
Desmarets[131] on his road to the scaffold, "I cry mercy to God alone!"

I met at this college two men who have since become famous in different
ways: Moreau[132], the general, and Limoëlan[133], the author of the
infernal machine, who is now a priest in America. There is only one
portrait of Lucile extant, a bad miniature by Limoëlan, who turned
portrait-painter during the revolutionary troubles. Moreau was a
day-boy, Limoëlan a boarder. Rarely have two such singular destinies
been found at the same time, in the same province, the same small town,
the same school[134].

[Sidenote: My intellectual disposition.]

Although the training at Rennes College was very religious, my fervor
abated: the number of my masters and schoolfellows tended to multiply
the occasions for distraction. I made progress in the study of
languages; I became strong in mathematics, for which I have always had
a decided leaning: I should have made a good naval officer or sapper.
I was born with a generally quick disposition, I was susceptible to
serious and agreeable things alike: I commenced with poetry before
taking up prose; the arts delighted me; I have always passionately
loved music and architecture. Although disposed to be easily bored, I
was capable of grasping the smallest details; gifted with a patience
that was proof against anything, however wearied I might be of the
subject in hand, my perseverance overcame my distaste. I have never
abandoned a matter that was worth completing; there are things which I
have pursued for fifteen or twenty years of my life, as full of ardor
on the last day as on the first.

This intellectual suppleness was again apparent in matters of secondary
importance. I was good at chess, handy at billiards, a good shot, an
expert swordsman; I drew tolerably; I should have sung well, if my
voice had been trained. All this, added to the manner in which I was
brought up and to the life I led as a soldier and traveller, produced
the result that I have never played the prig nor displayed the stupid
self-sufficiency, the awkwardness, the slovenly habits of the men
of letters of former days, still less the conceited assurance, the
jealousy and the blustering vanity of the new authors.

I spent two years at Rennes College; Gesril left eighteen months
before I did. He entered the navy. Julie, my third sister, was
married in the course of these two years; she gave her hand to the
Comte de Farcy[135], a captain in the Condé Regiment, and settled
with her husband at Fougères, where my two eldest sisters, Mesdames
de Marigny and de Québriac were already living. Julie's wedding took
place at Combourg, and I was present at it. I there met the Comtesse
de Tronjoli[136], who distinguished herself by her courage on the
scaffold: she was the cousin and close friend of the Marquis de La
Rouërie, and was implicated in his conspiracy. I had never yet seen
beauty except in my own family; I was confused on perceiving it in the
face of a strange woman. Each step in life opened out a new perspective
before me; I heard the distant and alluring voice of the passions which
were coming to me; I hastened towards those sirens, attracted by an
unknown harmony. It appeared that, like the High Priest of Eleusis, I
had a different incense for each divinity. But could the hymns which I
sang while burning that incense be called "balsams," like the poems of
the hierophant[137]?


After Julie's marriage, I set out for Brest. On leaving the great
College of Rennes, I did not feel the same regret that I had
experienced on bidding farewell to the little College of Dol; perhaps
I had lost the bud of innocence which turns everything into a charm
for us; time was beginning to open it. My mentor in my new position
was one of my maternal uncles, Vice-Admiral the Comte Ravenel de
Boisteilleul[138], one of whose sons[139], a very distinguished
artillery-officer in the armies of Bonaparte, married the only
daughter[140] of my sister the Comtesse de Farcy.

[Sidenote: My life at Brest.]

On my arrival at Brest, I did not find my cadet's commission awaiting
me; some accident had delayed it. I remained what was called an
"aspirant," and, as such, was exempt from following the regular
studies. My uncle put me to board in the Rue de Siam, at a cadets'
ordinary, and introduced me to the naval commander, the Comte
d'Hector[141]. Left for the first time to my own resources, instead of
becoming intimate with my future messmates, I indulged in my instinct
for solitude. My usual society was confined to my fencing-master, my
drawing-master, and my mathematical tutor.

The sea which I was to behold upon so many coasts bathed, at Brest,
the extremity of the Armorican Peninsula: beyond that prominent cape
lay nothing but the boundless ocean and unknown worlds. My imagination
revealed in all this space. Often, seated on some mast lying along the
Quai de Recouvrance, I watched the movements of the crowd: shipwrights,
sailors, soldiers, custom-house officers, convicts passed to and fro
before my eyes. Passengers embarked and disembarked, pilots directed
the steering, carpenters squared blocks of wood, cordwainers twisted
hawsers, ship's boys lit fires under coppers from which issued a thick
smoke and the healthy smell of tar. Bales of merchandise, sacks of
victuals were carried to and from the quay; trains of artillery were
rolled from the sea to the magazines, from the magazines to the sea.
Here, carts were pushed backwards into the water to receive cargoes;
there, loads were hoisted with tackle, while cranes lowered stones and
dredging-machines dug out the alluvium. Forts fired signals, ships'
boats came and went, vessels set sail or returned to harbor.

My mind became filled with vague ideas on society, its blessings and
its evils. An indefinite sadness overtook me; I left the mast on which
I was sitting, walked up the Penfeld, which runs into the port, and
reached a turn where the port disappeared from view. Here, with nothing
before me except a turfy valley, but with the confused murmur of the
sea and human voices still in my ears, I lay down upon the bank of
the little river. Watching by turns the rippling of the water and the
flight of the sea-mew, enjoying the silence around me or listening to
the strokes of the calker's hammer, I fell into the deepest musing. In
the midst of this reverie, if the wind carried to me the sound of the
gun of a ship leaving port, I started, and tears moistened my eyes.

One day I had walked in the direction of the outer extremity of the
harbor, to the side of the sea: it was warm; I lay down upon the beach
and fell asleep. Suddenly I was awakened by a grand noise; I opened
my eyes like Augustus to see the triremes in the anchorage of Sicily
after the victory over Sextus Pompey: reports of artillery followed
one upon the other; the roads were crowded with men-of-war; the great
French squadron was returning after the signing of peace[142]. The
ships manœuvred under full sail, bathed themselves in flame, hoisted
ensigns, turned their poops, bows, broadsides towards the shore,
stopped short by dropping anchor while still under sail, or continued
to skim over the billows. Nothing ever gave me a higher idea of the
human intelligence: man seemed at that moment to borrow something from
Him who said to the sea, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further."

All Brest hastened to the port. Boats left the fleet and landed at the
mole. The officers with whom they were crowded, their faces bronzed
by the sun, had that foreign look which is brought back from another
atmosphere, and the indescribable air of gaiety, of pride, of daring,
worn by men who had restored the honour of the national ensign.
These officers, so deserving, so illustrious, these companions of
Suffren[143], Lamotte-Piquet[144], Couëdic, d'Estaing[145], had escaped
from the blows of the enemy only to fall beneath those of Frenchmen!

[Sidenote: I meet Gesril.]

I was watching the gallant troop march by, when one of the officers
disengaged himself from the others and fell upon my neck: it was
Gesril. He seemed taller, but weak and ailing from a sword-thrust he
had received in the chest. He left Brest the same evening to join his
family. I only saw him once since, shortly before his heroic death: I
will tell the occasion of the meeting later.

Gesril's sudden appearance and departure made me take a resolve which
changed the course of my life: it was written that that young man
should have an absolute empire over my destiny. One can see how my
character was shaping, the turn my ideas were taking, the first attacks
of my genius; for I can speak of that genius as a malady, whatever it
may have been, rare or vulgar, worthy or unworthy of the name I give it
for want of a word wherewith to express myself. Had I been more like
the rest of mankind, I should have been happier: any one who could have
succeeded, without depriving me of my intelligence, in killing what is
called my talent would have treated me as a friend.

When the Comte de Boisteilleul took me to M. d'Hector, I heard old and
young sailors discuss their campaigns and talk of the countries they
had visited: one had returned from India, another from America; this
one was to set sail to go round the world, the other was about to join
the Mediterranean station, to visit the shores of Greece. My uncle
pointed out La Pérouse[146] to me in the crowd, a new Cook, the manner
of whose death has remained the secret of the tempests. I listened
to everything, I looked at everything, without uttering a word; but
there was no sleep for me that night: I spent it, in imagination, in
delivering combats or discovering unknown lands.

Be that as it may, on seeing Gesril return to his parents, I thought
that there was nothing to prevent me from going home to my own. I
should have much liked the naval service, if my spirit of independence
had not disinclined me to service of any kind: I was born with an
incapacity for obedience. Voyages tempted me, but I felt that I should
enjoy them only in solitude, left free to follow my own will. At last,
giving my first proof of fickleness, without telling my uncle Ravenel,
without writing to my parents, without asking permission of anybody,
without waiting for my cadet's commission, I left one morning for
Combourg, where I dropped as though from the clouds.

I am to this day astonished to think how, in view of the terror with
which my father inspired me, I could have dared to take such a resolve;
and what is quite as astonishing is the manner in which I was welcomed.
I had every reason to expect transports of the most furious anger, and
I was gently received. My father was content to shake his head, as
though to say, "Here's a pretty trick!" My mother embraced me with all
her heart, grumbling the while, and my Lucile kissed me in an ecstasy
of joy.

[75] This book was written at Dieppe in September and October 1812 and
at the Vallée-aux-Loups in December 1813 and January 1814, and was
revised in June 1846.--T.

[76] The author's forty-fourth birthday.--B.

[77] Étienne Denis Duc Pasquier (1767-1862), became Prefect of Police
under Bonaparte in 1810, President of the Chamber of Deputies under
Louis XVIII. in 1816, Foreign Minister in 1819. In 1821, on the fall
of the Villèle Ministry, Pasquier received his peerage. Louis-Philippe
made him President of the Chamber of Peers in 1830, Chancellor in 1837,
and created him a duke in 1844. In his capacity as a peer, therefore,
and also as an Academician, he eventually became Chateaubriand's

[78] The River Arques, which discharges itself at Dieppe, was formerly
called the Deep.--T.

[79] Abraham Marquis Duquesne (1610-1688), the famous sailor. His
religion--he was a Huguenot--prevented Louis XIV. from making him an
admiral; the highest rank he obtained was that of lieutenant-general. A
statue of Duquesne was erected at Dieppe in 1844.--T.

[80] Robert Wace, a native of Jersey, author of the _Brut d'Angleterre_
or _Artus de Bretagne_, the _Roman du Rou_ (Rollo Duke of Normandy),
and the _Chronique ascendante des ducs de Normandie._ He was
reading-clerk to Henry I. and Henry II., later a canon of Bayeux, and
died in England _circa_ 1184.--T.

[81] Pliny, III. X. 15.--T.

[82] Urbain René de Hercé (1726-1795), consecrated Bishop of Dol in
1757, was shot not at, but after, Quiberon, at Vannes, 28 July 1795,
together with Sombreuil and fourteen other victims, including his
brother, François de Hercé (1733-1795), Grand-Vicar of Dol, and Gesril
(_vide supra_).--B.

[83] Étienne Bezout (1730-1783), author of a number of mathematical
works employed in schools in the eighteenth century.--T.

[84] Charles Dufresne Ducange (1610-1688), a learned expert in
historical research, author of the _Glossarium mediæ et infimœ
Latinitatis_, in which the description of the quintain occurs, and a
number of other works of value.--T.

[85] The Manuscript of 1826 here contains a short description of the
sport of the quintain: "All the bridegrooms of the year within the
holding of Combourg were obliged, in the month of May, to come and
break a wooden lance against a post placed in a sunk road that ran
above the Great Mall. The tilters were on horseback; the bailiff, who
acted as lord of the lists, examined the lance, and declared that
there was no fraud nor guile in the arms: it was allowed to tilt three
times at the post, but at the third time, if the lance was not broken,
the jibers of the rustic tournament covered the awkward tilter with
pleasantries, who paid a crown-piece to the liege lord."--T.

[86] Noble Maître François Jean Baptiste Potelet, Seigneur de
Saint-Mahé et de La Durantais.--B.

[87] Gilles Marie de Launay, Sieur de La Billardière, successively
procurator-fiscal of Bécherel, _sénéchal des juridictions_ of the
Vauruffier, the Viscounty of Besso and the Marquisate of Caradenc, and
bonder of the King's tobacco taxes at Combourg.--B.

[88] I have met my friend David again since: I shall tell when and
how.--_Author's Note_ (Geneva, 1832).

[89] Jean Baptiste Gesbert, Seigneur de La Noé-Sécho, seneschal of the
manorial jurisdiction of Combourg.--B.

[90] Maître René Petit, procurator-fiscal of the County of Combourg.--B.

[91] Maître Julien Corvaisier or Le Corvaisier, notary and attorney of
the jurisdiction.--B.

[92] The Abbé Jean François Chalmel, chaplain of Combourg Castle.--B.

[93] Jean Anne Pinot du Petitbois (1737-1789) lived in the Château du
Grandval at Combourg, still occupied by his descendants.--B.

[94] Michel Charles Locquet, Comte de Château-d'Assis, lived in the
Château de Triaudin, Combourg, now owned by the Vicomte Roger du

[95] Nicolas Pierre Philippes, Seigneur de Trémaudan.--B.

[96] René Malo Sévin, rector of the parish of Combourg in 1776, refused
to subscribe to the civil constitution of the clergy, and went to
Jersey in 1792. He returned in 1797, was reinstated in his parish in
1803, and died at Combourg in 1817.--B.

[97] Claude Anne, successively Vicomte, Marquis, and Duc de
Saint-Simon, emigrated to Spain, entered the Spanish service, and
became Captain-General of Old Castile. King Charles IV. created him
a grandee of Spain, King Ferdinand VII. a duke. He died in Madrid in
1819. In 1808, on the capture of Madrid by the French, he was sentenced
to death by court-martial; the sentence was commuted to imprisonment
for life, and he was confined in the Citadel of Besançon until the fall
of the Empire in 1814.--B.

[98] It gave me a genuine pleasure to renew my acquaintance, during
the Restoration, with this gallant officer, so distinguished for his
loyalty and his Christian virtues.--_Author's Note_ (Geneva, 1831).

Jacques Vincent Marquis de Causans de Mauléon (1751-1824), was promoted
to the rank of lieutenant-general in 1814, and sat in the Chamber of
Deputies as member for Vaucluse from 1815 until his death.--B.

[99] Antoine Louis Marquis de Wignacourt, Knight of St. Louis.--B.

[100] François Placide Maillard, Seigneur de La Morandais. The
Maillards de La Morandais delivered proofs of eight generations of
nobility in 1670. Those who had settled at Combourg had degenerated
through poverty.--B.

[101] Guillaume de Lamoignon (1617-1677), First President of the
Parliament of Paris, founder of a most distinguished legal family, and
great-grandfather of Lamoignon de Malesherbes.--T.


    "Right gladly and in brave array,
    By wood and river made his way:
    For no folk through the woods advance
    Right gladly like the folk of France."--T.

[103] Armand Louis de Gontaut de Biron, Duc de Lauzun (1747-1793), and
Duc de Biron on the death of his father in 1788. He was one of the
handsomest men at the Court of Louis XVI. In 1789 he joined the party
of the Duc d'Orléans, and served as a general in the Republican army,
but was guillotined on the last day of December 1793.--T.

[104] Prince Eugène de Savoie-Carignan (1753-1785), younger son of
Prince Louis Victor de Savoie-Carignan, and brother of the Princesse de
Lamballe. A scion of the younger branch of the Royal House of Savoy,
he entered the French service under the title of Count of Villafranca,
and was made colonel of the Villefranche Regiment. In 1781 he married
Elizabeth Anne, daughter of Jean François Nicolas Magon, Seigneur
de Boisgarein; but the marriage was annulled by parliament upon the
petition of the Prince's parents. He struggled desperately to obtain a
revision of the decree of annulment. On the accession of the younger
branch to the throne of Sardinia in 1831, the grandson of Prince Eugène
and Mademoiselle de Boisgarein was restored to his ancestral rank, and
in 1888 his morganatic children received from the late King of Italy
the name of Villafranca-Soisson, with the title of count.--B.

[105] Pierre Louis Lacretelle (1751-1824), known as Lacretelle the
Elder, to distinguish him from his brother, Charles Joseph Lacretelle,
the Younger. He was a member of the French Academy, and author of a
number of legal works and political and philosophical treatises.--T.

[106] Florio's MONTAIGNE, Booke I. chap. 9: _Of Lyers._--T.

[107] By Diderot; printed in 1738, and first performed at the Comédie
Française ten years after, when it met with indifferent success,
attaining a total of seven performances.--B.

[108] 11 January 1780, Marie Anne Françoise married Jean Joseph
Geffelot, Comte de Marigny; Bénigne Jeanne married Jean François Xavier
Comte de Québriac, Seigneur de Patrion.--B.

[109] LUCRETIUS, I. i.--T.

[110] TIBULLUS, I. i, 45.--T.

[111] Jean Baptiste Massillon (1663-1742), Bishop of Clermont, and a
famous Catholic preacher. He left nearly a hundred sermons, in addition
to a great number of other religious works. Massillon was elected an
Academician in 1789.--T.

[112] François Eudes de Mézeray (1610-1683). The Eudists, founded by
Jean Eudes, hare still a house at Rennes. The community is also known
as the Congregation of Jesus and Mary.--T.

[113] STAT., _Th._, VII. 280.--T.

[114] SUET, _Cæs._ 39.--T.

[115] _De Buonaparte et des Bourbons.--Author's Note_ (Geneva, 1831).

[116] Charles Hilaire de Chateaubriand (1708-1782), rector successively
of a number of country livings.--B.

[117] Louis Joseph (Louis V.) Prince de Condé (1736-1818), fourth in
descent from the Great Condé, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army of
the Emigrants, 1789-1800. At the Restoration, King Louis XVIII. made
his kinsman Grand-Master of the Household and Colonel-General of the

[118] Louis Henri Joseph (Louis VI.) Duc de Bourbon (1756-1830), son
of Louis V. Prince de Condé and of the Princesse Louise d'Orléans,
and father of the unhappy Duc d'Enghien. The Duc de Bourbon was found
strangled-whether by his own hands or those of his mistress, Madame de
Feuchères, is uncertain--a few days after the Revolution of 1830. He
left the greater part of his large fortune to the late Duc d'Aumale.--T.

[119] Part I. book I. chap. 7: _De la communion._--T.


    "The bread I offer for your taking
    Is that which the angels eat;
    It is bread of God's own baking
    From the first fruits of his wheat."--T.

[121] Charles Rollin (1661-1741), a famous French professor and

[122] The French Naval Guard (_Garde marine_) was a body of nobles from
which the naval officers were appointed.--T.

[123] The name of a celebrated Oratorian college, near Meaux,
suppressed by the Revolution of 1789.--T.

[124] Julien Louis Geoffroy (1743-1814), a distinguished dramatic
critic. He originated the literary _feuilleton_ in the _Journal des

[125] Pierre Louis Ginguené (1748-1815), Ambassador to Turin under the
Directory, and author of the _Histoire littéraire d'Italie_ and some
poems, mostly imitated from the Italian.--T.

[126] The famous college on the Montagne Sainte-Généviève in Paris,
founded by Jean Hubert in 1430.--T.

[127] Évariste Désiré Desforges, Chevalier de Parny (1753-1814), the
author of a number of elegies and love-poems, which earned for him the
name of "the French Tibullus."--T.

[128] Rennes College was one of the most important in France. It was
founded by the Jesuits in 1607. When they left it, in 1762, a communal
college was established in the same buildings. These are now occupied
by the Lycée de Rennes, which, however, is greatly diminished in


    "Listen to the vows we offer,
    O Terpsichore, Polyhymnia!
    Reason herself her prayers doth proffer."--T.

[130] André François Jean du Rocher de Saint-Riveul (1772-1789), son
of Henri du Rocher, Comte de Saint-Riveul.--B. The Manuscript of 1826
mentions that he was killed in the street at Rennes, as he was going
with his father to the Chamber of Nobles.--T.

[131] Jean Desmarets, advocate-general to the Parliament of Paris,
beheaded in 1382 for his failure to suppress the revolt of the

[132] Jean Victor Moreau (1763-1813), one of the greatest generals
of the Revolution, and the victor of the Battles of Hochstädt and
Hohenlinden. He subsequently entered into relations with the Royalist
Generals Pichegru and Cadoudal, was tried and sentenced to two years'
imprisonment, a sentence commuted to exile in the United States. Here
he received offers from the Tsar Alexander to join the army of the
Allies, which he eventually accepted; but was killed by a cannon-ball
immediately after reaching the head-quarters of the Allied Army outside

[133] Joseph Pierre Picot de Limoëlan de Clorivière (1768-1826)
entered the army, espoused the Royalist cause, and refused to accept
the pacification of 1799. He returned to Paris, and was on the eve
of marrying a charming young lady of Versailles, Mademoiselle Julie
d'Albert, when the explosion of the infernal machine took place in the
Rue Saint-Nicaise (24 December 1799). Limoëlan was one of the principal
agents in the plot. Thanks to the devotion of his betrothed, he escaped
to America, and upon his arrival in New York wrote to Mademoiselle
d'Albert to come out to him and be married there. The reply came as a
shock to him. Mademoiselle d'Albert had taken a vow to devote herself
to God, if her lover succeeded in making good his escape. She besought
him to forget the past and to think only of his eternal future. In 1808
the young officer entered the seminary at Baltimore. He commenced a
new life, changed his name to Clorivière, was ordained priest in 1812,
and received a curacy at Charleston. He returned to France in 1815 to
collect what remained of his fortune, the whole of which he devoted
to pious works in America, including the re-endowment of the Convent
of the Visitation at Georgetown, founded by Miss Alice Lalor in 1805.
Mademoiselle d'Albert survived Father de Clorivière for many years.
She kept her vow of celibacy, but did not take the veil, for want of
a vocation. At the age of fifty she was relieved by Pope Gregory XVI.
from her vow. She died at Versailles, advanced in years, after a life
devoted entirely to works of piety and charity.--B.

[134] I omit a short anecdote.--T.

[135] Annibal Pierre François de Farcy de Montavallon. The wedding took
place in 1782.--B.

[136] Thérèse Josèphe de Moëlien (1759-1793), daughter of Sébastien
Marie Hyacinthe de Moëlien, Chevalier, Seigneur de Trojolif (not
Tronjoli), Kermoisan, Kerguelenet, &c. She was twenty-three years
of age when Chateaubriand saw her at Combourg, and when writing his
Memoirs he must have recalled her with his school-boy eyes; for
contemporary evidence declares that she was not beautiful, nor even
pretty. The words "and close friend of the Marquis de La Rouërie" do
not occur in the Manuscript of 1826. Thérèse de Moëlien was in love,
not with La Rouërie, but with Major Chafner, an American officer, whom
she was to have married if she outlived the plot in which they were
both engaged. She was guillotined, however, in Paris on the 18th of
June 1793. Major Chafner was in London at the time of the discovery of
the so-called Breton Conspiracy. He returned to Brittany, and perished
at Nantes, after fighting on the side of the Vendeans to revenge the
death of Mademoiselle de Moëlien.--B.

[137] An allusion to the mystical hymns of Orpheus, which were called
"perfumes" (αρώματα).--B.

[138] Jean Baptiste Joseph Eugène de Ravenel du Boisteilleul
(1738-1815), first cousin of Chateaubriand's mother, and therefore
uncle in the manner of Brittany of the great writer.--B.

[139] Hyacinthe Eugène Pierre de Ravenel du Boisteilleul (1784-1868), a
captain of artillery, and decorated on the battle-field at Smolensk, 17
August 1812.--B.

[140] Pauline Zoé Marie de Farcy de Montavallon (1784-1850) married
Hyacinthe de Ravenel du Boisteilleul, 16 November 1814.--B.

[141] Vice-Admiral Charles Jean Comte d'Hector (1722-1808), commander
of the port of Brest from 1780 to 1791. He joined the Princes' Army at
Coblentz, and was made colonel of a regiment consisting exclusively
of naval officers. He died at Reading in Berkshire at the age of

[142] The Peace of Versailles, 1783.--T.

[143] Pierre André de Suffren-Saint-Tropez (1726-1788), known as the
Bailli de Suffren, had fought the English in India by sea and land in
the war of 1782.--T.

[144] Comte de Lamotte-Piquet (1720-1791), lieutenant-general of
the French Navy. Between 1737 and 1783 he took part in twenty-eight
campaigns, and distinguished himself especially in America.--T.

[145] Charles Hector Comte d'Estaing (1720-1794), admiral in command
of the combined fleets at Cadiz on the signature of the treaty of
peace. He embraced the principles of the Revolution, and served in the
Republican army and naval forces; but was guillotined in 1794.--T.

[146] Jean François Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse (1741-1788[?]) set out
on a voyage of discovery in 1785. He was known to have visited Japan
and New Holland when, in 1788, all traces of him were lost. In 1827,
Captain Dillon discovered the wrecks of his ships, the _Boussole_ and
the _Astrolabe_, off the coast of Vanikoro, since called the Pérouse,
one of the Santa Cruz group, between the Solomon Islands and the New


At Montboissier--Reminiscences of Combourg--Dinan College--Broussais--I
return home--Life at Combourg--Our days and evenings--My
donjon--Change from childhood to manhood--Lucile--Last lines written
at the Vallée-aux-Loups--Revelations concerning the mystery of my
life--A phantom of love--Two years of delirium--Occupations and
illusions--My autumn joys--Incantation--Temptation--Illness--I
fear and decline to enter the ecclesiastical state--A moment in my
native town--Recollection of Villeneuve and the tribulations of my
childhood--I am called back to Combourg--Last interview with my
father--I enter the service--I bid farewell to Combourg

Three years and six months have elapsed between the last date attached
to these Memoirs, Vallée-aux-Loups, January 1814, and the date of
today, Montboissier, July 1817. Did you hear the Empire fall? No:
nothing has disturbed the repose of this spot. Nevertheless the Empire
is lost; the immense ruin has crumbled in the course of my life like
Roman remains overturned in the bed of some unknown stream. But events
matter little to one who does not reckon them: a few years escaping
from the hands of the Eternal Father will do justice to all these
reports with an endless silence.

The previous chapter was written under the expiring tyranny of
Bonaparte and by the light of the last flashes of his glory: I am
commencing the present chapter under the reign of Louis XVIII. I have
been in close proximity to kings, and my political illusions have
vanished, as have the sweeter fancies of which I am continuing the
tale. Let me first say what makes me resume my pen: the human heart is
the toy of everything, nor can we foresee what trivial circumstance
will cause its joys and sorrows. Montaigne remarked this: "There
needeth no cause," he says, "to excite our minde. A doating humour
without body, without substance, overswayeth and tosseth it up and

I am now at Montboissier, on the borders of the Beauce and the
Perche[149]. The castle situated upon this property, belonging
to Madame la Comtesse de Colbert-Montboissier[150], was sold and
demolished during the Revolution; only two pavilions remain, divided by
a railing, and formerly inhabited by the lodge-keeper. The park, which
is now laid out in the English style, retains some traces of its former
French symmetry: straight walks, copses set within hedges give it a
serious aspect; it has the attraction of a ruin.

Yesterday evening I was walking alone; the sky was like an autumn sky;
a cold wind blew at intervals. I stopped at an opening in a thicket
to look at the sun: it was sinking into the clouds above the tower of
Alluye, from which Gabrielle[151], occupying that tower, saw the sun
set, as I did, two hundred years ago. What has become of Henry and
Gabrielle? The same that shall have become of me when these Memoirs are

I was drawn from my reflections by the twittering of a thrush perched
on the topmost branch of a birch-tree. At once that magic sound brought
back before my eyes my father's domain: I forgot the catastrophes which
I had lately witnessed, and suddenly carried back into the past, I saw
once more the fields where I had so often heard the thrush's song. When
I listened to it then, I was sad, as I am today; but that first sadness
was of the kind which springs from a vague longing for happiness, at
a time when we are without experience; the sadness which I now feel
comes from the knowledge of things appreciated and judged. The song of
the bird in the Combourg woods told me of a happiness which I hoped to
achieve; the same song in the park at Montboissier reminded me of days
wasted in the pursuit of that unattainable happiness. I have nothing
more to learn; I have travelled faster than others, and have made the
circuit of life. The hours fly and drag me with them; I have not even
the certainty of being able to complete these Memoirs. In how many
places have I already commenced to write them, and in what place shall
I finish them? How long shall I wander on the edge of the wood? Let me
make the most of the few moments left to me; let me hasten to depict my
youth, while I am still in touch with it: the traveller quitting for
ever an enchanted shore writes his journal in sight of the land which
is withdrawing, soon to disappear from sight.

I have described my return to Combourg and my reception by my father,
my mother, and my sister Lucile. The reader will perhaps remember
that my three other sisters were married and living on the estates of
their new families in the neighbourhood of Fougères. My brother, whose
ambition was beginning to display itself, was oftener in Paris than at
Rennes. He first bought a post as _maître des requêtes_, which he sold
in order to enter the military service. He entered the Royal Cavalry
Regiment; he then joined the diplomatic service, and accompanied the
Comte de La Luzerne to London, where he met André Chénier[152]; he was
on the point of obtaining the Vienna Embassy, when our troubles broke
out. He asked for Constantinople, but found a formidable competitor
in Mirabeau, who had been promised this embassy as the price of his
alliance with the Court party. My brother had therefore almost taken
leave of Combourg at the time when I came to live there.

My father entrenched himself in his manor, which he never left, not
even to attend the sittings of the States[153]. My mother went to
Saint-Malo for six weeks in every year, at Eastertide; she looked
forward to that time as the period of her deliverance, for she detested
Combourg. A month before the journey, it was discussed as though
it were a hazardous enterprise; preparations were made; the horses
were rested. On the eve of departure, we went to bed at seven in the
evening, in order to get up at two o'clock in the morning. My mother,
to her great contentment, set out at three, and occupied the whole day
in covering twelve leagues.

[Sidenote: I am sent to Dinan College.]

Lucile, who had been received as a canoness to the Chapter of the
Argentière, was about to be transferred to that of Remiremont: while
awaiting this change, she remained buried in the country. As for
myself, after my escapade from Brest, I declared my wish to embrace
the ecclesiastical state: the truth is that I was only seeking to gain
time, for I did not know what I wished. I was sent to the college at
Dinan to complete my humanities. I knew Latin better than my masters;
but I began to learn Hebrew. The Abbé de Rouillac was the principal of
the college, and the Abbé Duhamel my tutor.

Dinan, adorned with old trees, fortified with old towers, is built
upon a picturesque site, on a high hill at the foot of which flows the
tidal Rance, and overlooks sloping and pleasantly-wooded valleys. The
mineral waters of Dinan have some renown. This historic city, which
gave birth to Duclos[154], displayed among its antiquities the heart of
Du Guesclin: an heroic dust which, stolen during the Revolution, was on
the point of being pounded by a glazier to be used for paint. Was it
intended for pictures of victories won over the enemies of the country?

M. Broussais, my fellow-townsman, became my fellow-student at Dinan.
The students were taken to bathe on Thursdays, like the clerks under
Pope Adrian I., or on Sundays, like the prisoners under the Emperor
Honorius. Once I was nearly drowned; on another occasion, M. Broussais
was bitten by ungrateful leeches, which failed to foresee the
future[155]. Dinan was at an equal distance from Combourg and Plancoët.
I visited my uncle de Bedée at Monchoix and my own family at Combourg
by turns.

M. de Chateaubriand, who found it cheaper to keep me at home, my
mother, who wished me to persist in my religious vocation, but who
would have scrupled to urge me, no longer insisted upon my residence
at college, and I found myself imperceptibly settling down under the
paternal roof.

I should take pleasure in recalling the habits of my parents even if
they were no more to me than a touching remembrance; but I reproduce
them the more readily in that the picture will appear as though traced
from the vignettes in mediæval manuscripts: centuries separate the
present days from those which I am about to depict.


On my return from Brest the gentry at Combourg Castle consisted
of four: my father, my mother, my sister, and me. A woman-cook, a
waiting-maid, two footmen and a coachman composed the whole household:
two old mares and a sporting-dog were huddled in a corner of the
stable. These twelve living beings were lost to sight in a manor-house
where a hundred knights, their ladies, squires, and varlets, and King
Dagobert's chargers and pack might almost have gone unnoticed.

All through the year, not a visitor presented himself at the castle,
save a few gentlemen, the Marquis de Montlouet[156], the Comte de
Goyon-Beaufort[157], who begged a night's lodging on their way to plead
their suits before the Parliament. They used to arrive in winter, on
horseback, with pistols in their saddle-bows, hunting-knives at their
sides, and followed by a servant, also on horseback, with a livery
trunk behind him.

[Sidenote: Visitors to Combourg.]

My father, always very ceremonious, received them bareheaded on the
steps, in the midst of the wind and rain. Once inside the house, the
country gentlemen would talk of their Hanoverian campaigns, their
family affairs, their law-suits. At night they were conducted to the
North Tower, to Queen Christina's bed-chamber, a state-room containing
a bed seven feet by seven, hung with a double set of curtains in green
muslin and crimson silk, and held up by four gilt Cupids. The next
morning, when I came down to the great hall and looked out through
the windows upon the country covered with floods or hoar-frost, I saw
nothing except two or three travelers on the lonely embankment of the
pond: it was our guests riding away to Rennes.

These visitors did not know much about the things of life; nevertheless
our view was by their means extended a few miles beyond the horizon of
our woods. When they were gone, we were reduced on week-days to our
family circle, and on Sundays to the company of the village commoners
and the neighboring gentry.

On Sundays, in fine weather, my mother, Lucile, and I went to the
parish church across the Little Mall and along a country road; when it
rained, we went by the abominable Combourg High Street. We were not
carried, like the Abbé de Marolles[158], in a light chariot drawn by
four white horses, captured from the Turks in Hungary. My father went
but once a year to the parish church to perform his Easter duties; the
rest of the year he heard Mass in the castle chapel. Seated in the
pew of the lord of the manor, we received the incense and the prayers
in front of the black marble sepulchre of Renée de Rohan: a symbol of
mortal honors; a few grains of incense before a tomb!

Our Sunday diversions vanished with the day; they did not even recur
regularly. During the bad weather, entire months would pass and not a
single human being knock at the gate of our fortress. The sadness was
great that hung over the moors of Combourg, but greater still at the
castle: as one made his way beneath its vaultings, he experienced the
same feeling as on entering the Carthusian Monastery at Grenoble[159].
When I visited the latter in 1805, I crossed a wilderness which
increased in desolation as I went; I thought it would end at the
monastery, but I was shown, within the very convent walls, the gardens
of the Carthusian Friars even more neglected than the woods. And
at length, in the centre of the monument, I found, shrouded in the
folds of all this solitude, the former graveyard of the community, a
sanctuary from which eternal silence, the genius of the place, spread
its dominion over the mountains and forests around.

[Sidenote: Life at Combourg Castle.]

The gloomy stillness of Combourg Castle was increased by my father's
taciturn and unsocial humour. Instead of drawing his family and his
retainers closer to him, he had dispersed them to all the winds of
the building. His bedroom was in the small east tower, his study in
the small west tower. The furniture of this study consisted of three
chairs in black leather and a table covered with parchments and
title-deeds. A genealogical tree of the Chateaubriand family adorned
the chimney-mantel, and in the embrasure of a window hung arms of
all sorts, from a pistol to a blunderbuss. My mother's room extended
over the great hall, between the two small towers; it had a parqueted
flooring and was adorned with faceted Venetian mirrors. My sister
occupied a closet leading out of my mother's room. The waiting-maid
slept far away, on the ground floor between the two great towers.
Myself, I was nestled in a sort of isolated cell at the top of the
turret containing the staircase which led from the inner yard to the
different parts of the castle. At the foot of this staircase, my
father's valet and the other man-servant lay in a vaulted basement, and
the cook kept garrison in the great west tower.

My father rose at four o'clock in the morning, winter and summer alike:
he went to the inner yard to call and wake his valet at the entrance
to the turret staircase. A cup of coffee was brought to him at five;
he then worked in his study till midday. My mother and sister each
breakfasted in her own chamber at eight o'clock. I had no fixed time
for rising or breakfasting; I was supposed to study till noon: the
greater part of the time I did nothing.

At half-past eleven, the bell rang for dinner, which was served at
twelve. The great hall did duty as both dining-room and drawing-room:
we dined and supped at one end, on the east side; when the meal was
over, we went and sat at the other end, the west side, before a huge
chimney. The hall was wainscoted, painted whity-grey, and adorned with
old portraits ranging from the reign of François I. to that of Louis
XIV. Among these portraits one recognized those of Condé and Turenne: a
picture representing Achilles slaying Hector beneath the walls of Troy
hung over the chimney-piece.

After dinner we remained together until two o'clock. Then, if it was
summer, my father went fishing, visited his kitchen-gardens, walked
within the limits of the home park; in the autumn and winter he went
shooting. My mother withdrew to the chapel, where she spent some hours
in prayer. This chapel was a gloomy oratory, adorned with fine pictures
by the greatest masters, such as one would scarcely expect to find in a
feudal castle in the heart of Brittany. I still have in my possession
a Holy Family by Albani, painted on copper, which was taken from this
chapel: it is all that remains to me of Combourg. When my father had
left the house and my mother gone to her prayers, Lucile withdrew to
her room and I either returned to my cell or went out to roam about the

At eight o'clock the bell rang for supper. After supper, in fine
weather, we sat out on the steps. My father, armed with his gun, shot
at the brown owls which issued from the battlements at nightfall. My
mother, Lucile and I watched the sky, the woods, the dying rays of the
sun, the rising stars. At ten o'clock we went in and retired to bed.

The autumn and winter evenings were different. Supper over, the four of
us would leave the table and gather round the chimney. My mother flung
herself, with a sigh, upon an old couch covered in imitation Siam; a
stand was put before her with a candle. I sat down with Lucile by the
fire; the servants cleared the table and withdrew. My father then began
a tramp which lasted till he went to bed. He was dressed in a white
ratteen gown, or rather a kind of cloak, which I have seen no one wear
except him. His half-bald head was covered with a big white cap that
stood straight up on end. When he walked away to a distance from the
fire-place, the huge hall was so badly lighted by its solitary candle
that he was no longer visible; we could only hear him still walking
in the darkness: then he would slowly return towards the light and
gradually emerge from the dusk, like a ghost, with his white gown, his
white cap, his long pale face. Lucile and I exchanged a few words in
a low voice when he was at the other end of the hall; we hushed when
he drew nearer to us. He asked, as he passed, "What were you talking
about?" Terror-stricken, we made no reply; he continued his walk. For
the rest of the evening, the ear heard nothing save the measured sound
of his steps, my mother's sighs, and the murmuring of the wind[160].

The hour of ten struck on the castle clock: my father stopped; the
same spring which had raised the hammer of the clock seemed to have
arrested his steps. He drew out his watch, wound it, took a great
silver candle-stick holding a tall candle, went for a moment to the
small west tower, then returned, candle in hand, and went towards
his bedroom, which formed part of the small east tower. Lucile and I
placed ourselves on his way; we kissed him and wished him good-night.
He turned his dry, hollow cheek to us without replying, continued
his road, and withdrew inside the tower, the doors of which we heard
closing behind him.

The spell was broken: my mother, my sister and myself, who had been
changed into statues by my father's presence, recovered the functions
of life. The first effect of our disenchantment took the form of an
overflow of words: silence was made to pay us dear for having so
long oppressed us. When this torrent of words had sped, I called the
waiting-woman and escorted my mother and sister to their rooms. Before
I went, they made me look under the beds, up the chimneys, behind the
doors, and inspect the surrounding stairs, passages and corridors. All
the traditions of the castle concerning robbers and ghosts returned
to their memory. The servants were persuaded that a certain Comte
de Combourg, with a wooden leg, who had been dead three centuries,
appeared at certain intervals, and that he had been seen in the great
staircase of the turret; sometimes also his wooden leg walked alone,
accompanied by a black cat.

These stories took up the whole of the time occupied by my mother and
sister in preparing for the night: they got into bed dying of fright; I
climbed to the top of my turret; the cook returned to the main tower,
and the men went down to their basement.

[Sidenote: My lonely nights.]

The window of my donjon opened upon the inner courtyard; by day I had a
view of the battlements of the curtain opposite, where hart's-tongues
grew and a wild plum-tree. Some martins, which in summer buried
themselves, screeching, in the holes in the walls, were my sole
companions. At night I could see only a small strip of sky and a few
stars. When the moon shone and sank in the east, I knew it by the beams
which struck my bed across the lozenged window-panes. Owls, flitting
from one tower to the other, passed and passed again between the moon
and me, outlining the mobile shadow of their wings upon my curtains.
Banished to the loneliest part, at the opening of the galleries, I
lost not a murmur of the darkness. Sometimes the wind seemed to trip
with light steps; sometimes it uttered wailings; suddenly my door was
violently shaken, groans issued from the basement, and then these
sounds would die away, only to commence anew. At four o'clock in the
morning, the voice of the master of the castle, calling the footman at
the entrance to the venerable vaults, made itself heard like the voice
of the last phantom of the night. This voice supplied for me the place
of the sweet harmony with the sound of which Montaigne's father was
wont to awaken his son[161].

The Comte de Chateaubriand's stubbornness in making a child sleep alone
at the top of a tower might have had its inconvenience, but it turned
out to my advantage. This violent manner of treatment left me with
the courage of a man, without taking from me that vivid imagination
of which it is nowadays the tendency to deprive the young. Instead of
seeking to persuade me that ghosts did not exist, they obliged me to
set them at defiance. When my father asked me, with an ironical smile,
"Is monsieur le chevalier afraid?" he could have made me sleep with
a corpse. When my excellent mother said, "My child, nothing happens
without God's leave; you have nothing to fear from evil spirits so
long as you remain a good Christian," I was more reassured than by
all the arguments of philosophy. So complete was my success, that the
night winds, in my uninhabited tower, served but as playthings for my
fancies and wings for my dreams. My imagination, thus kindled, spread
over every object, found nowhere sufficient nourishment, and could have
devoured heaven and earth. It is this moral condition which it is now
my task to describe. Immersed once more in the days of my youth, I will
try to grasp myself in the past, to depict myself such as I was, such
as perhaps I regret that I no longer am, despite the torments which I
then endured.


Scarcely had I returned from Brest to Combourg when a revolution took
place in my existence; the child vanished and there appeared the man,
with his joys which pass and his troubles which remain. At first all
became passion with me, pending the arrival of the passions themselves.
When, after a silent dinner, at which I had dared neither to eat nor
speak, I succeeded in escaping, my delight was incredible. I could not
descend the steps then and there: I should have flung myself headlong.
I was obliged to sit upon one of the steps to allow my excitement to
subside; but so soon as I had reached the Cour Verte and the woods, I
began to run, to leap, to bound, to skip, to rejoice until I fell down
exhausted, panting, drunk with frolic and liberty.

My father took me with him shooting. I was seized with the taste for
sport, and carried it to excess; I still see the field where I killed
my first hare. Often, in autumn, I have stood for four or five hours
to my waist in water, waiting at the edge of a pond for wild-duck; to
this very day I lose my composure when I see a dog point. Nevertheless,
my first ardor for sport was built upon a basis of independence; to
leap ditches, to tramp over fields, marshes, moors, to find myself
with a gun in an unfrequented spot, alone and powerful, all this was
my natural manner of being. When out shooting, I would go so far that
I had not the strength to walk back, and the keepers were obliged to
carry me on twisted branches.

However, the pleasures of the chase no longer satisfied me; I was
fretted with a longing for happiness which I could neither control nor
understand; my mind and my heart ended by forming as it were two empty
temples, without altars or sacrifices; it was not yet known which god
would be worshipped there. I grew up by the side of my sister Lucile:
our friendship was all our life.


Lucile was tall and endowed with remarkable, but serious, beauty. Her
pale features were shaded with long black tresses; she often fixed her
eyes on heaven or cast looks around her full of sadness or fire. Her
gait, her voice, her smile, her expression showed something pensive and

[Sidenote: Lucile.]

Lucile and I were mutually useless. When we spoke of the world, it was
of that which we carried within ourselves, a world very unlike the true
world. She saw in me her protector, I in her my friend. She was seized
with gloomy fits of thought which I had difficulty in dispelling: at
the age of seventeen she bewailed the loss of her youth; she wished to
bury herself in a convent. Everything to her was a care, a sorrow, a
hurt: an expression she sought for, an illusion she entertained would
torment her for months on end. I have often seen her, with one arm
thrown over her head, dream without life or movement; the life that was
in her ebbed to her heart, and ceased to show itself without; her very
bosom no longer heaved. Her attitude, her melancholy, her beauty gave
her the air of a funeral Genius. I then endeavored to console her, and
the next moment was myself plunged in inexplicable despair.

Lucile liked to read some pious book, in the evening, alone: her
favourite oratory was the junction of two country-roads, marked by a
stone cross and a poplar-tree, whose long stylus rose into the sky like
a pencil. My mother, devout and quite charmed, said that her daughter
reminded her of a Christian of the primitive Church, praying at the
stations called _Lauræ._

My sister's concentration of mind gave birth to extraordinary
intellectual effects: in her sleep, she dreamt prophetic dreams;
waking, she seemed to read the future. A clock ticked upon a landing of
the staircase in the main tower, and struck the hours amid the silence.
Lucile, when unable to sleep, would go to sit upon a stair opposite
the clock and watch its face by the light of her lamp placed upon the
ground. When the two hands met at midnight and in their formidable
conjunction engendered the hour of disorder and crime, Lucile heard
sounds which revealed distant deaths to her. She was in Paris a few
days before the 10th of August, staying with my other sisters near the
Carmelite Convent, and casting her eyes upon a mirror, she gave a cry,
and said, "I have just seen Death come in." On the moors of Scotland,
Lucile would have been one of the celestial women of Walter Scott,
gifted with second sight; on the moors of Brittany, she was no more
than a lonely creature favoured with beauty, genius and misfortune.


The life which my sister and I led at Combourg heightened the
exaltation natural to our age and character. Our chief pastime was
to walk side by side in the Great Mall, in spring on a carpet of
primroses, in autumn on a bed of dead leaves, in winter on a sheet
of snow edged by the footprints of birds, squirrels, and weazels.
We were young as the primroses, sad as the dead leaves, pure as the
newly-fallen snow: our recreations were in harmony with ourselves.

It was during one of these walks that Lucile, hearing me speak
rapturously of solitude, said, "You ought to write all that down."
These words revealed the muse to me; a divine inspiration passed over
me. I began to lisp verses, as though it were my natural language; day
and night I sang my pleasures, in other words my valleys and my woods;
I wrote a multitude of little idylls or pictures of nature[162]. I
wrote in verse long before writing in prose: M. de Fontanes used to
maintain that I had received both instruments.

Did this talent which friendship foresaw for me ever really come to me?
How many things have I awaited in vain! In the _Agamemnon_ of Æschylus,
a slave is placed as sentry on the roof of the palace of Argos; his
eyes seek to discern the concerted signal for the return of the ships;
he sings to while away his vigils, but the hours speed by and the stars
set, and the torch does not shine forth. When, after many years, its
tardy light appears upon the billows, the slave is bent beneath the
weight of time; there is naught left for him but to reap misfortunes,
and the chorus says to him that "an old man is a shadow that wanders by

    Οναρ ἡμερόϕαντον ἀλαίνει

Under the first spell of my inspiration, I engaged Lucile to do as I
did. We spent days in mutual consultation, in communicating to each
other what we had done and what we proposed to do. We undertook works
in common; guided by our instincts, we translated the finest and
saddest passages in Job and Lucretius upon life: the _Tædet animam
meam vitæ meæ_[163], the _Homo natus de muliere_[164], the _Tum porro
puer, ut sævis projectus ab undis navita_[165], and so forth.
Lucile's thoughts were sheer feeling; they issued with difficulty from
her soul; but when she succeeded in expressing them, there was nothing
higher. She has left some thirty pages in manuscript; it is impossible
to read them without profound emotion. The elegance, the suavity,
the dreaminess, the passionate tenderness of these pages present a
combination of the Greek and German genius[166].


[Sidenote: Lucile's manuscript.]

My brother sometimes vouchsafed to spend a few moments with the
hermits of Combourg. He was in the habit of bringing with him a young
counsellor of the Parliament of Brittany, M. de Malfilatre[167],
cousin to the unfortunate poet of the same name[168]. I believe that,
unknown to herself, Lucile felt a secret passion for this friend of
my brother's, and that this stifled passion lay at the root of my
sister's melancholy. She possessed, moreover, Rousseau's folly without
his pride: she thought that everybody was in a conspiracy against her.
She came to Paris in 1789, accompanied by her sister Julie, whose loss
she deplored with an affection tinged with the sublime. All who knew
her admired her, from M. de Malesherbes to Chamfort[169]. Thrown into
the revolutionary crypts at Rennes[170], she was on the point of being
imprisoned at Combourg Castle, which had been turned into a gaol during
the Terror. After her release from prison, she married M. de Caud[171],
who left her a widow within a year. I met the friend of my childhood
on my return from my emigration: I will tell how she disappeared, when
it pleased God to afflict me.


I have returned from Montboissier, and these are the last lines that I
shall trace in my hermitage; I have to leave it, filled with the tall
striplings which already hide and crown their father in their close
ranks. I shall not see again the magnolia which promised its blossom
to the tomb of my fair Floridan, the Jerusalem pine-tree and the cedar
of Lebanon consecrated to the memory of Jerome, the laurel of Granada,
the Greek plane-tree, the Armorican oak, at whose feet I drew Blanca,
sang Cymodocée, invented Velléda. These trees were born and grew with
my dreams, of which they were the hamadryads. They are about to pass
under another's sway: will their new master love them as I have loved
them? He will allow them to wither, he will cut them down perhaps: I am
doomed to keep nothing upon this earth. While bidding farewell to the
woods of Aulnay I shall recall the farewell which long ago I bade to
the woods of Combourg: my days are all farewells.


The taste for poetry with which Lucile had inspired me was as fuel
added to the flames. My sensations gathered new strength; vain thoughts
of fame passed through my mind; for a moment I believed in my "talent,"
but soon recovered a proper mistrust of my own powers, and began to
entertain doubts of that talent, as I have always done. I looked upon
my work as a temptation of the Evil One; I was angry with Lucile for
arousing an unfortunate propensity within me: I ceased writing and
began to mourn my future glory as one might mourn his glory that is

Returning to my former state of idleness, I felt more strongly what was
lacking to my youth: I was a mystery to myself. I could not see a woman
without feeling confused; I blushed if she spoke to me. My shyness,
already excessive with people in general, became so great in the
presence of a woman that I would have preferred any torture to that of
being left alone with her: no sooner was she gone than I recalled her
with all my wishes. The descriptions of Virgil, Tibullus and Massillon,
it is true, presented themselves to my memory; but the image of my
mother and sister covered all with its purity and made thicker the
veils which nature sought to raise: my filial and brotherly affection
deceived me with respect to an affection less disinterested. Had the
loveliest slaves of the seraglio been handed over to me, I should not
have known what to ask of them. Chance enlightened me.

A neighbor of the Combourg domain came to spend a few days at the
castle with his wife, a very pretty woman. Something, I know not what,
happened in the village; we ran to one of the windows of the hall to
look. I reached the window first, the fair visitor followed close upon
my heels, I turned to give her my place. Involuntarily she obstructed
my way, and I felt myself pressed between her and the window. I was no
longer conscious of what was happening around me.

[Sidenote: Vague longings.]

From that moment I was aware that to love and be loved in a manner
unknown to me must be the supreme happiness. Had I done what other men
do, I should soon have become acquainted with the pains and pleasures
of the passion whose germs I bore within me; but everything in me
assumed an extraordinary character. The ardor of my imagination, my
shyness, the solitude in which I lived caused me, rather than rush
out of doors, to fall back upon myself; for want of a real object, I
evoked, by the strength of my vague longings, a phantom which never
left my side. I do not know whether the history of the human heart
offers another instance of this nature.


And so I built up a woman out of all the women whom I had seen: she
had the figure, the hair, the smile of the stranger who had pressed
me to her bosom; I gave her the eyes of one of the young girls of the
Village, the complexion of another. The portraits of the fine ladies
of the time of François I., Henry IV. and Louis XIV. which adorned
the drawing-room supplied me with other features, and I even borrowed
graces from the pictures of the Virgins that hung upon the church walls.

This invisible charmer accompanied me wherever I went; I communed
with her as with a real being; she varied in the measure of my folly:
Aphrodite unveiled; Diana clad in the dew and the blue of heaven;
Thalia with her laughing mask; Hebe bearing the cup of youth; sometimes
she became a fairy who laid nature at my feet. I touched and retouched
my canvas; I took one attraction from my beauty to replace it with
another. I also changed her finery; I borrowed it from every country,
every century, every art, every religion. Then, when I had completed
a masterpiece, I dispersed my drawings and paints again; my one woman
turned into a crowd of women in whom I idolized separately the charms
I had adored when united.

Pygmalion was less enamored of his statue: my difficulty was how to
please mine. Recognizing in myself none of the qualities calculated
to awaken love, I lavished upon myself all that I lacked. I rode
like Castor and Pollux; I played the lyre like Apollo; Mars wielded
his arms with less power and skill: a hero of romance or history, I
heaped fictitious adventures on fiction itself! The shades of Morven's
daughters, the sultanas of Bagdad and Granada, the ladies of the
castles of olden time; baths, perfumes, dances, Asiatic delights were
all borne to me by a magic wand.

See this young queen coming, decked in diamonds and flowers (it
was still my sylph): she fetches me at midnight, across gardens of
orange-trees, in the galleries of a palace bathed by the waves of the
sea, on the balmy shore of Naples or Messina, beneath a sky of love
pierced by the light of Endymion's star; she advances, an animated
statue by Praxiteles, amidst motionless statues, pale pictures and
frescoes white and silent in the moonlight: the soft sound of her
progress over the marble mosaic mingles with the imperceptible murmurs
of the deep. The royal jealousy encompasses us. I fall at the knees of
the sovereign of Enna's plains; the silk waves from her loosened diadem
fall caressingly upon my brow as she bends her girlish head over my
face, and her hands rest upon my breast, throbbing with respect and
with desire.

On emerging from these dreams, when I found myself once more a poor
little obscure Breton lad, without fame, beauty, or talents, who would
attract the looks of none, who would pass unknown, whom no woman would
ever love, I was seized with despair: I no longer dared lift my eyes to
the dazzling image I had attached to my steps.

This delirium lasted two whole years, during which the faculties of my
soul attained the loftiest pitch of exaltation. I used to speak little,
I now spoke not at all; I used still to study, I flung my books aside;
my taste for solitude redoubled. I had all the symptoms of a violent
passion: my eyes grew hollow; I fell away; I could not sleep; I was
absent, melancholy, ardent, fierce. My days slipped by in a manner that
was wild, odd, insensate, and yet full of delights.

To the north of the castle stretched a waste land strewn with druidical
stones; I would go and sit upon one of these stones at sunset. The
gilded summit of the woods, the splendor of the earth, the evening
star twinkling through the rosy clouds brought me back to my dreams:
I longed to enjoy this sight with the ideal object of my desires. I
followed in thought the luminary of the day; I gave him my beauty to
escort, so that he might present her all radiant with himself to the
homage of the universe. The evening breeze shattering the web woven by
insects upon the tips of the blades of grass, the field-lark alighting
upon a pebble recalled me to reality: I turned my steps back to the
castle, with heart oppressed and downcast face.

[Sidenote: The Sylph of my dreams.]

On stormy days in summer, I climbed to the top of the great west
tower. The thunder roaring beneath the castle lofts, the torrents of
rain which fell dashing upon the cone-shaped roof of the towers, the
lightning which furrowed the clouds and marked the brass weathercocks
with its electric flame aroused my enthusiasm: like Ismen on the
ramparts of Jerusalem, I invoked the thunder, I hoped that it would
bring Armida to me.

If the sky was clear, I crossed the Great Mall, around which lay
meadows divided by hedges of willow-trees. In one of these willows, I
had contrived a seat, like a nest: here, isolated between heaven and
earth, I spent hours with the singing birds; my nymph was by my side. I
also associated her image with the beauty of those spring nights filled
with the freshness of the dew, the sighs of the nightingale and the
murmuring of the breeze.

At other times I followed a deserted path, a stream adorned with
its river-side plants; I listened to the sounds that issued from
unfrequented parts; I lent an ear to every tree; I thought I heard
the moonlight singing in the woods: I tried to tell these pleasures,
and the words died upon my lips. I know not how I found my goddess
again in the accents of a voice, the vibration of a harp, the velvety
or liquid sounds of a horn or an harmonica. It would take too long to
describe the fine journeys I took with my flower of love; how, hand
in hand, we visited famous ruins, Venice, Rome, Athens, Jerusalem,
Memphis, Carthage; how we crossed the seas; how we asked happiness of
the palm-trees of Otaheite, of the scented groves of Timor and Amboyna;
how, on the summit of the Himalayas, we went to wake the dawn; how we
descended the sacred rivers whose spreading waves encircle gilt-domed
pagodas; how we slept on the banks of the Ganges, while the Bengali,
perched on the mast of a bamboo wherry, sang his Hindoo boat-song.
Earth and Heaven no longer existed for me; above all, I forgot the
latter; but though it no longer received my prayers, it heard the
voice of my secret misery: for I suffered, and sufferings pray.


The sadder the season, the greater its harmony with myself; the time of
hoar-frost makes communication less easy and isolates those who dwell
in country-places: one feels more beyond the reach of men.

A moral character clings to autumn scenery: those leaves which fall
like our years, those flowers which fade like our days, those clouds
which fleet like our illusions, that light which fails like our
intelligence, that sun which cools like our love, those streams which
freeze like our life bear a secret relation to our destinies.

I beheld with ineffable pleasure the return of the season of storms,
the passing of the swans and the ring-doves, the muster of the crows
on the pond field, and their perching at nightfall on the tallest
oaks in the Great Mall. When the evening raised a bluish vapor in the
cross-roads of the forest, and the plaintive lays of the wind moaned
in the withered moss, I entered into full possession of the sympathies
of my nature. If I met some ploughman at the end of a field, I stopped
to look at that man who had shot up in the shadow of the wheat with
which he was to be reaped, and who, turning over the earth of his tomb
with the plough-share, mingled his burning sweat with the icy rains of
autumn: the furrow which he dug was the monument intended to outlive
him. What did my elegant dæmon then do? By means of her magic, she
wafted me to the banks of the Nile, and showed me the Egyptian pyramid
sunk beneath the dust, as one day the Armorican furrow would lie hidden
beneath the heather: I congratulated myself on having placed the fables
of my felicity beyond the circle of human realities.

In the evening I embarked upon the pond, and, alone in my boat, rowed
amidst the rushes and the broad floating leaves of the water-lilies.
Overhead was the meeting-place of the swallows preparing to quit
our climes. Not one of their twitterings did I lose; the child
Tavernier[172] followed less closely the traveller's tale. They played
on the water at sundown, chased the flies, darted together into the
air, as though to test their wings, dropped down upon the surface of
the lake, and then perched upon the reeds, which scarcely bent beneath
their weight, and which were filled with their warbling turmoil.

Night fell; the reeds shook their fields of swords and distaves, among
which the feathered caravan of moor-fowl, teal, kingfishers, snipe
lay silent; the lake washed against its shores; the loud voices of
autumn issued from the woods and marshes; I ran my boat aground and
returned to the castle. Ten o'clock struck. I went to my room, and at
once opened the windows, fixed my eyes upon the sky, and commenced an
incantation. In company with my witch I mounted the clouds: enveloped
in her tresses and her veil, I was swept along by the tempest, shaking
the forest-tops, hustling the mountain-summits, whirling upon the seas.
I plunged into space, I dropped from the Throne of God to the gates of
the abyss, and the worlds were surrendered to the power of my love.
Amid the disorder of the elements, I frenzically wedded the idea of
danger to that of pleasure. The breath of the north wind brought to me
but the sighs of voluptuousness; the murmur of the rain summoned me
to sleep upon a woman's breast. The words which I addressed to that
woman would have revived the senses of old age and warmed the marble
of the tombs. Nothing-knowing and all-knowing, at once maid and lover,
Eve before and after the fall, the enchantress from whom I derived my
madness was a commixture of mystery and passion: I placed her on an
altar and worshipped her. The pride of being loved by her yet further
increased my love. When she walked, I prostrated myself to be trod
beneath her feet or kiss their traces. I grew confused at her smile; I
trembled at the sound of her voice; I thrilled with desire if I touched
what she had touched. The air exhaled from her moist mouth penetrated
into the marrow of my bones, coursed through my veins instead of blood.
At a look from her I would have flown to the ends of the earth: a
desert would have sufficed me with her! With her at my side, the lions'
den would have changed into a palace, and millions of centuries would
have been too short to exhaust the fires with which I felt myself

[Sidenote: Nocturnal incantations.]

To this madness was added a moral idolatry: by a further play of my
imagination, the Phryne that clasped me in her arms also represented
glory to me and, above all, honour; virtue performing its noblest
sacrifices, genius conceiving the rarest thoughts would scarcely give
an idea of this other kind of happiness. I found at one and the same
time in my marvelous creation all the blandishments of the senses and
all the joys of the soul. Overwhelmed and as it were submerged beneath
these dual delights, I no longer knew which was my true existence: I
was a man and was not a man; I became cloud, wind, sound; I was a
pure spirit, a creature of the air, singing the sovereign felicity.
I divested myself of my nature to become one with the maiden of my
desires, to be transmuted into her, to touch beauty more closely, to
be at once passion given and received, love and the object of love.
Suddenly, struck with my madness, I flung myself upon my couch; I
rolled myself in my grief; I watered my pillow with scalding tears
which none saw, piteous tears which flowed for a nonexistent thing.


Soon, no longer able to remain in my tower, I climbed down through
the darkness, furtively opened the door leading to the steps, like
a murderer, and went to wander in the great wood. After walking at
random, waving my hands, embracing the winds which escaped me like
the shadow, the object of my pursuit, I leant against the trunk of
a beech-tree; I watched the crows which I made fly from one tree to
settle on another, or the moon lingering over the unclothed summits
of the forest: I would have liked to inhabit this dead world, which
reflected the pallor of the tomb. I felt neither the cold nor the
dampness of the night; not even the icy breath of dawn would have drawn
me from the depth of my thoughts, if at that hour the village bell had
not made itself heard.

In most of the villages of Brittany, it is the custom at daybreak to
toll the bell for the dead. The peal consists of three repeated notes,
which give a monotonous, melancholy, rustic little tune. Nothing suited
my sick and wounded soul better than to be recalled to the tribulations
of existence by the bell which announced its end. I pictured to myself
the herdsman expiring in his unknown hut, and laid in a graveyard no
less unknown. What had he come to do in the world? And I, what was I
doing in this world? Since I should have to go at last, was it not
better to depart in the cool of morning, to arrive early, than to
complete the journey beneath the weight and in the heat of day? The
blush of longing mantled on my face; the idea of ceasing to exist took
possession of my heart in the manner of a sudden joy. At the period of
the errors of my youth, I often hoped not to outlive happiness: there
lay in the first success a measure of felicity that led me to aspire to

Bound ever more closely to my phantom, unable to enjoy what did not
exist, I was like those mutilated men who contemplate a state of bliss
to them unattainable and conjure up dreams whose pleasures rival the
tortures of hell. I had, moreover, a presentiment of the misery of my
future lot; ingenious in the fabrication of sufferings, I had placed
myself between two forms of despair: sometimes I thought myself a mere
nullity, incapable of rising above the vulgar herd; sometimes I seemed
to feel within myself qualities which would never be appreciated. A
secret instinct warned me that, as I moved onward through the world, I
should find no part of that which I sought.

Everything furnished food for the bitterness of my disgust: Lucile
was unhappy; my mother did not console me; my father made me feel the
terrors of life. His moroseness increased with years; old age stiffened
his soul as it did his body; he constantly spied upon me to chide me.
When I returned from my wild rounds and saw him sitting on the steps,
one might have killed me rather than make me enter the castle. Yet this
but postponed my torture: obliged as I was to appear at supper, I sat
down sheepishly upon the edge of my chair, my cheeks wet with the rain,
my hair entangled. I sat motionless beneath my father's glances, and
the perspiration stood upon my brow: the last glimmer of reason escaped

[Sidenote: I attempt my life.]

I now come to a moment when I shall need some strength to confess my
weakness. The man who attempts to take his own life displays less
the vigor of his soul than the exhaustion of his nature. I owned a
fowling-piece whose worn trigger often went off when uncocked. I loaded
this gun with three bullets, and went to a remote part of the Great
Mall. I cocked the gun, placed the muzzle of the barrel in my mouth,
and struck the butt-end against the ground; I several times repeated
the ordeal; the charge did not go off; the appearance of a keeper
stopped my resolve. Involuntary and unconscious fatalist that I was,
I presumed that my hour had not come, and I deferred the execution of
my project to another day. Had I killed myself, all that I have been
would have been buried with me; none would have known of the history
that led to my catastrophe; I should have swelled the crowd of nameless
unfortunates, I should not have let myself be followed by the traces of
my sorrows as a wounded man is followed by the traces of his blood.

Those who might be troubled by these descriptions and tempted to
imitate these follies, those who might attach themselves to my memory
through my illusions, must remember that they are listening only to a
dead man's voice. Reader, whom I shall never know, nothing remains:
nought is left of me save that I am in the hands of the living God who
has judged me.

An illness, the fruits of this unruly life, put an end to the torments
which brought me the first inspirations of the Muse and the first
attacks of the passions. These passions with which my soul was
overwrought, these yet vague passions resembled the storms at sea which
rush from every point of the horizon: inexperienced pilot that I was, I
knew not in which direction to spread my sail to the uncertain winds.
My chest swelled, a fever laid hold of me; they sent to Bazouges, a
small town some five or six leagues from Combourg, for an excellent
doctor called Cheftel, whose son[173] played a part in the affair
of the Marquis de La Rouërie. He examined me attentively, ordered
remedies, and declared that it was essential that I should be removed
from my present mode of life. I lay six weeks in danger. One morning my
mother came and sat on my bed, and said:

"It is time for you to take a decision; your brother is in a position
to obtain a benefice for you; but before going to the seminary, you
must take good counsel with yourself, for although I wish you to adopt
the ecclesiastical state, I would rather see you a man of the world
than a scandalous priest."

Those who have read the foregoing pages will be able to judge if the
proposal of my pious mother came at a good moment. I have always, in
the more important events of my life, at once known what to avoid:
I am prompted by a movement of honor. As a priest, I struck myself
as ridiculous. As a bishop, the majesty of the sacerdotal office
overawed me, and I respectfully recoiled before the altar. Should I,
as a bishop, make efforts to acquire virtues, or content myself with
hiding my vices? I felt myself too weak to take the first course,
too candid to adopt the second. They who treat me as a hypocrite and
an ambitious man know me but little; I shall never succeed in the
world, precisely because I lack one passion and one vice: ambition and
hypocrisy. The first of these would with me be at the most a form of
injured self-love; I might sometimes wish to be a minister or king in
order to laugh at my enemies; but in twenty-four hours I should throw
my portfolio or my crown out of window.

[Sidenote: My new career.]

I therefore told my mother that my religious vocation was not
sufficiently strong. For the second time I changed my plans: I had
refused to become a sailor, and now I was no longer willing to be a
priest. There remained the military career, which I loved: but how
to suffer the loss of my independence and the restraint of European
discipline? I took an absurd idea into my head: I declared that I would
go to Canada and clear forests, or to India and take service in the
armies of the princes of that country. By one of those contrasts which
we perceive in all men, my father, so reasonable in other respects, was
never greatly shocked by an adventurous project. He chided my mother
for my fickleness, but decided to ship me to India. I was dispatched to
Saint-Malo, where an expedition was being fitted out for Pondicherry.


Two months elapsed: I found myself back and alone in my maternal
island. Villeneuve had just died there. I went to weep for her beside
the poor, empty bed on which she had breathed her last, and saw the
little wicker go-cart in which I had learnt to stand upright upon this
world of sorrows. I pictured my old nurse lying on her pillow and
fixing her feeble gaze upon that basket on wheels: this first memorial
of my life opposite the last memorial of the life of my second mother,
the thought of the wishes for the happiness of her nursling which the
kind Villeneuve addressed to Heaven on leaving this world, this proof
of an attachment so constant, disinterested and pure broke my heart
with tenderness, gratitude and regret.

I found nothing else to remind me of my past at Saint-Malo: in the
harbor I sought in vain for the ships in whose rigging I had played;
they were gone or broken up; in the town, the house where I was born
had been turned into an inn. I was scarce out of my cradle, and already
a whole world had fallen into decay. I was a stranger in the parts of
my childhood; people who met me asked who I was, for the sole reason
that my head rose a few inches higher above the ground towards which
it will sink again in a few years. How rapidly and how often we change
our manner of existence and our illusions! Friends leave us, others
take their place; our ties alter: there is always a time at which we
possessed nothing of what we now possess, at which we have nothing of
what we once had. Man has not one self-same life: he has several on
end, and that is his calamity.


Henceforward friendless and alone, I explored the beach which had
borne my sand-castles: _campos ubi Troja fuit._ I walked on the shore
deserted by the sea. The strand abandoned by the rising tide offered me
the picture of those desolate places which our illusions leave around
us when they go. Abailard, my fellow-Breton[174], like myself watched
these rollers eight hundred years ago, thinking of his Héloïse; like
me, he saw some vessel speed (_ad horizontis undas_), and his ear,
like mine, was lulled with the monotone of the waves. I exposed myself
to the breakers while indulging in the baleful imaginings which I had
brought with me from the woods at Combourg. A head called Cap Lavarde
was the limit of my walks: seated at the extremity of this head, I
remembered with the bitterest reflections that these same rocks had
served to hide me as a child during the fairs; I had there gulped down
my tears, while my playmates elated themselves with joy. I felt neither
better loved nor happier than at that time. Soon I was to leave the
country of my birth to crumble away my days in various climes. These
reflections wounded me to death, and I was tempted to let myself fall
into the waves.

A letter called me back to Combourg: I arrived, I supped with my
family, monsieur my father did not speak a word, my mother sighed,
Lucile appeared dismayed. At ten o'clock we retired. I questioned my
sister; she knew nothing. At eight o'clock the next morning I was sent
for. I went downstairs: my father was waiting for me in his study.

"Monsieur le chevalier," he said, "you must renounce your follies. Your
brother has procured you a sub-lieutenant's commission in the Navarre
Regiment. You will go first to Rennes, and thence to Cambrai. Here are
a hundred louis: be sparing with them. I am old and ill; I have not
long to live. Conduct yourself as a good man and never disgrace your

He kissed me. I felt that severe, wrinkled face press with emotion
against mine: it was the last paternal embrace I was to receive.

At that moment the Comte de Chateaubriand, a man so formidable in my
eyes, appeared to me only as a father most worthy of my affection. I
flung myself upon his emaciated hand and wept. He was threatened with
an approaching attack of paralysis, which brought him to the grave; his
left arm had a convulsive movement which he was obliged to check with
his right hand. He was thus holding his arm when, after giving me his
old sword, without leaving me time to recover myself, he led me to the
cabriolet which was waiting for me in the Cour Verte. He made me get in
before him. The post-boy drove off, while I with my eyes bade farewell
to my mother and sister, who dissolved into tears on the steps.

I drove along the road by the pond; I saw the reeds of my swallows, the
mill-stream and the meadow; I cast a look at the castle. Then, like
Adam after his sin, I proceeded towards unknown ground, and "the world
was all before me[175]."


[Sidenote: Last visits to Combourg.]

From that day I saw Combourg but three times: after my father's death
we met, in mourning, to share our inheritance and take leave of each
other. On another occasion I accompanied my mother to Combourg: she was
engaged in furnishing the castle, in expectation of the arrival of my
brother, who was to bring my sister-in-law to Brittany. My brother did
not come; he was soon, with his young wife, to receive at the hands of
the executioner a different pillow from that prepared by my mother's
hands. Lastly, I passed through Combourg a third time on my road to
Saint-Malo to embark for America. The castle was abandoned, I had to
put up at the steward's lodge. Wandering through the Great Mall, from
the bottom of a dark avenue I caught sight of the deserted steps, the
closed door and windows, and fainted away. I had difficulty in making
my way back to the village: I sent for my horses and left in the middle
of the night.

After an absence of fifteen years, and before again leaving France on
my visit to the Holy Land, I went to Fougères to embrace what remained
of my family. I had not the courage to undertake the pilgrimage to the
fields to which the most vivid portion of my existence was attached. It
is in the woods of Combourg that I became what I am, that I began to
feel the first attacks of the weariness which I have dragged with me
through life, of the sadness which has been my torment and my felicity.
There I sought for a heart that could beat in touch with mine; there I
saw my family united only to disperse. My father there dreamt of his
name restored, of the fortunes of his house revived: another illusion
which time and the revolutions have dispelled. Of six children that we
were, we remain but three: my brother, Julie and Lucile are no more, my
mother died of grief, my father's ashes were snatched from his grave.

If my works survive me, if I am to leave a name behind me, perhaps one
day, prompted by these Memoirs, some traveller will come to visit the
spots I have depicted. He will be able to recognize the castle; but
he will look in vain for the great wood: the cradle of my dreams has
vanished like those dreams. Left standing alone upon its rock, the
ancient keep mourns the oaks, the old friends that surrounded it and
protected it against the storm. Isolated also, I too have seen falling
around me the family which beautified my days and lent me its shelter:
fortunately my life is not built upon the earth so solidly as the
towers in which I spent my youth, nor does man offer to the tempests a
resistance so great as that of the monuments raised by his hands.

[147] This book was written at the Château de Montboissier (July-August
1817) and at the Vallée-aux-Loups (November 1817), and revised in
December 1846.--T.

[148] Florio's MONTAIGNE, Booke III. chap. 5: _Of Diverting and

[149] In the Orléannais.--T. The castle stands in the commune of
Montboissier, canton of Bonneval, Arrondissement of Châteaudun

[150] The Comtesse de Colbert-Montboissier, grand-daughter of
Malesherbes, and daughter of the Marquis de Montboissier. In 1803 she
married Édouard Charles Victornien Comte de Colbert de Maulevrier,
who was descended from the Comte de Maulevrier, brother to the great

[151] Gabrielle d'Estrées (_circa_ 1565-1599), mistress to Henry IV.,
who created her Duchesse de Beaufort--T.

[152] André de Chénier (1762-1794), son of the French Consul at
Constantinople, and elder brother of the better-known Marie Joseph
de Chénier. A poet of some merit, and a courageous antagonist of the
Revolution.--T. He was a secretary at the London Embassy when M. de La
Luzerne took it over in 1788.--B.

[153] The States of Brittany, which held their sittings at Rennes.--T.

[154] Charles Pineau Duclos (1704-1772), historiographer of France
(1745), member of the French Academy (1747), and perpetual secretary of
that body (1755).--T. Mayor of his native city from 1744 to 1750.--B.

[155] Broussais belonged to the school which carried the use of dieting
and leeches to excess.--T.

[156] François Jean Raphaël de Brunes, Comte (not Marquis) de Montlouet
(1728-1787), Commissary of the States of Brittany.--B.

[157] Luc Jean Comte de Gouyon-Beaufort (1725-1794), Knight of St
Louis. Guillotined 15 February 1794.--B.

[158] The Abbé Michel de Marolles (1600-1681), an indifferent but
indefatigable translator, and author of some historical works,
including the Memoirs from which this reference is taken.--T.

[159] The Grande-Chartreuse is the waste-land near Grenoble which gives
its name to the Carthusian Order.--T.

[160] "A solitary incident would vary these evenings, which might
figure in a romance of the eleventh century. Sometimes my father would
interrupt his walk and come and sit down by the hearth to tell us
the story of his youthful distress and the crosses of his life. He
described storms and dangers, a journey in Italy, a shipwreck on the
Spanish coast.

"He had seen Paris; he spoke of it as he might speak of a haunt of
abomination and of a foreign country. The Bretons looked upon China as
being in their neighbourhood, but Paris seemed to them the end of the
world. I eagerly listened to my father. When I heard this man who was
so hard to himself regret that he had not done enough for his family
and complain in short but bitter words of his fate, when I saw him
at the conclusion of his recital rise brusquely, wrap himself in his
cloak, and renew his tramp, first hastening his steps and then slowing
them to correspond with the movements of his heart, filial love would
fill my eyes with tears; I revolved my father's troubles in my mind,
and it seemed to me that the sufferings undergone by the author of my
days should have fallen upon me and me alone."--_Manuscript of_ 1826.

[161] _Cf_ Florio's MONTAIGNE, Booke I. chap. 25: _Of the Institution
and Education of Children._--T.

[162] See my Complete Works.-_Author's Note._

[163] JOB, X. I.--T.

[164] JOB, XIV. I.--T.

[165] LUCR., V. 223.--T.

[166] I omit three short prose poems by Lucile de Chateaubriand. The
curious will find them in a volume entitled, _Lucile de Chateaubriand,
ses contes, ses poèmes, ses lettres, précédés d'une Étude sur sa vie_,
edited by M. Anatole France (Paris: 1879).--T.

[167] Alexandre Henri de Malfilatre (1757-1803). He took orders during
the Emigration, and died at Somers Town, London.--B.

[168] Jacques Charles Louis de Clinchamp de Malfilatre (1733-1767), a
minor poet and translator, who died of hunger and the results of his
excesses at the early age of thirty-four.--T.

[169] Sebastien Roch Nicolas (1741-1794) adopted the name of Chamfort
on commencing his career as a poet and man of letters. He was private
secretary to the Prince de Condé, and later reader to the Princesse
Élisabeth. On the outbreak of the Revolution he joined Mirabeau's
party. In 1794 he was arrested and tried to commit suicide; he was
subsequently released, but died in a few weeks of his self-inflicted

[170] She was arrested in December 1793, imprisoned in the Convent of
the Good Shepherd, and released in November 1794.--B.

[171] Lieutenant-Colonel Jacques Louis René Chevalier de Caud
(1727-1797), Knight of St. Louis. He was sixty-nine years of age when
he married Lucile, then thirty-one, in August 1796; and he died seven
months later, 16 March 1797--B.

[172] Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1686), a great traveller and
linguist, and author of a famous book of Voyages in Turkey, Persia, and

[173] As I advance in years, I continue to meet persons mentioned in
my Memoirs: the widow of Dr. Cheftel's son has just been admitted
to the Marie-Thérèse Infirmary; this is a further proof of my
veracity.--_Author's Note._ (Paris, 1834).

Doubtless from pity and from gratitude to the doctor who tended him,
Chateaubriand does not describe the part played by Cheftel the Younger.
He was not content with selling the Marquis de La Rouërie's secrets: he
betrayed the very corpse of him who had been his friend. His perfidious
operations led to the revolutionary tribunal those whose plans he had
pretended to serve; and he was the cause through which three heroic
women mounted the scaffold: Thérèse de Moëlien, Madame de La Motte de
la Guyomarais, and Madame de La Fonchais, sister to André Desilles.--B.

[174] Pierre Abailard, or Abélard (1079-1142), the hero of the Héloïse
idyll, was a native of Pallet, near Nantes, in Brittany.--T.

[175] _Cf._ MILTON, Paradise Lost, XII., 646-647:

    "The world was all before them, where to choose
    Their place of rest, and Providence their guide."--T.

BOOK IV[176]

Berlin--Potsdam--Frederic the Great--My brother--My cousin
Moreau--My sister, the Comtesse de Farcy--Julie a worldly
woman--Dinner--Pommereul--Madame de Chastenay--Cambrai--The Navarre
Regiment--La Martinière--Death of my father--My regrets--Would my
father have appreciated me?--I return to Brittany--I stay with my
eldest sister--My brother sends for me to Paris--First inspiration of
the muse--My lonely life in Paris--I am presented at Versailles--I hunt
with the King--Adventure with my mare _Heureuse_

It is a far cry from Combourg to Berlin, from a young dreamer to an
old ambassador. In the foregoing pages I find these words: "In how
many places have I already commenced to write these Memoirs, and in
what place shall I finish them?" Nearly four years have passed between
the date at which I wrote down the facts I have just related and that
at which I resume these Memoirs. A thousand things have happened;
a second man has shown himself in me, the politician: I care very
little for him. I have defended the liberties of France, which alone
can secure the duration of the lawful Throne. With the aid of the
_Conservateur_[177], I have set M. de Villèle in power; I have seen
the Duc de Berry die, and done honor to his memory[178]. In order to
reconcile everybody, I have gone away; I have accepted the Berlin

Yesterday I was at Potsdam, an ornate barrack, now void of soldiers:
I studied the mock Julian in his mock Athens. At Sans-Souci, I was
shown the table on which a great German monarch turned the maxims of
the Encyclopædists into little French verses; the room occupied by
Voltaire, decorated with carved monkeys and parrots; the mill which he
who laid provinces waste made light of respecting; the tomb of the
horse César and of the greyhounds Diane, Amourette, Biche, Superbe, and
Pax. The royal infidel took pleasure in profaning even the religion
of the tomb by raising mausoleums to his dogs; he had marked out a
burying-place near them for himself, less from contempt of mankind than
an ostentation of annihilation.

They showed me the New Palace, already falling to pieces. In the old
palace of Potsdam, they preserve the tobacco-stains, the worn and
soiled chairs, in a word, all the traces of the renegade Prince's
uncleanliness. This place immortalizes at once the dirt of the cynic,
the impudence of the atheist, the tyranny of the despot, and the glory
of the soldier. One thing alone attracted my attention: the hands of a
clock fixed at the moment of Frederic's death; I was deceived by the
immobility of the picture: hours never stay their flight; it is not
man that stops the career of time, it is time that stops the career of
man. Besides, it matters little what part we have played in life; the
brilliancy or obscurity of our doctrines, our riches or poverty, our
joys or sorrows in no way influence the length of our days. Whether the
hands of the clock move over a golden or wooden face, whether the face
be large or small, and fill the bezel of a ring or the rose-window of a
cathedral, the hour has but one duration.

In a vault of the Protestant church, immediately below the pulpit of
the unfrocked schismatic, I saw the coffin of the crowned sophist. The
coffin is of bronze; when you strike it, it resounds. The dragoon who
slumbers in this brassy bed would not even be roused from sleep by the
noise of his fame; he will awake only to the sound of the trumpet which
shall summon him to his last battle-field, face to face with the Lord
of Hosts.

I had so great a need of a change of impressions that I found relief
in visiting the Marble House. The king who built it once spoke some
flattering words to me when, a poor officer, I passed through his army.
This king at least shared the ordinary failings of mankind: vulgar like
other men, he took refuge in pleasures. Do the two skeletons trouble
themselves today about the difference that once existed between them,
when one was Frederic the Great and the other Frederic William[180]?
Sans-Souci and the Marble House are both ruins without masters.

Upon the whole, though the immensity of the events of our own time
has lessened past events, though Rosbach, Lissa, Liegnitz, Torgau are
mere skirmishes beside the battles of Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, the
Moskowa, Frederic suffers less than other personages by comparison with
the giant enchained at St. Helena. The King of Prussia and Voltaire
are two strangely-grouped figures who will live: the second destroyed
a society with a philosophy which assisted the first in founding a

The Berlin evenings are long. I occupy a house belonging to the
Duchesse de Dino[181]. My secretaries[182] leave me so soon as night
sets in. When there is no entertainment at Court for the wedding of
the Grand-Duke and Grand-Duchess Nicholas[183], I stay at home. Seated
all alone by a cheerless stove, I hear nothing save the call of the
sentry at the Brandenburg Gate and the steps on the snow of the man
who whistles the hours. How shall I spend my time? With books? I have
scarcely any. If I were to continue my Memoirs?


You last saw me on the road from Combourg to Rennes: I alighted in the
latter place at the house of one of my kinsmen. He informed me with
delight that a lady of his acquaintance, who was going to Paris, had a
seat to give away in her carriage, and that he undertook to persuade
this lady to take me with her. I accepted, cursing my kinsman's
civility as I did so. He settled the matter, and quickly presented me
to my traveling-companion, a sprightly, free-and-easy milliner, who
began to laugh when she saw me. The horses arrived at midnight and we
set out.

[Sidenote: My first visit to Paris.]

Behold me in a post-chaise, alone with a woman, in the middle of the
night. How was I, who had never in my life looked at a woman without
blushing, to descend from the height of my dreams to this terrifying
reality? I did not know where I was; I clung to my corner of the
carriage for fear of touching Madame Rose's gown. When she spoke to me,
I stammered without being able to reply. She had to pay the postilion,
to take everything upon herself, for I was capable of nothing. When
day broke, she looked with fresh amazement at this booby with whom she
regretted having saddled herself.

When the aspect of the landscape began to change and I ceased to
recognize the dress and accent of the Breton peasants, I fell into a
profound despondency, which increased the contempt in which Madame
Rose held me. I noticed the feeling I inspired, and I received from
this first trial of the world an impression which time has not wholly
effaced. I was born shy but not shamefaced; I had the modesty but not
the embarrassment of my years. When I suspected that I was ridiculous
because of my good side, my shyness changed into insurmountable
timidity. I was unable to speak a word: I felt that I had something to
conceal, and that this something was a virtue; I made up my mind to
self-concealment in order to wear my innocence in peace.

We sped towards Paris. As we came down from Saint-Cyr, I was struck
by the width of the roads and the evenness of the plantations. Soon
we reached Versailles: the orangery with its marble stairs amazed me.
The success of the American War had brought triumphs to Louis XIV.'s
palace; the Queen reigned there in all the splendour of youth and
beauty; the Throne, so near its fall, seemed never to have been more
solidly established. And I, an obscure passer-by, was destined to
outlive this pomp, to survive to see the woods of Trianon as deserted
as those which I was then leaving.

At last we drove into Paris. I saw a bantering look in every face:
like the Périgord squire, I thought people looked at me to make fun of
me. Madame Rose made them drive to the Hôtel de l'Europe in the Rue
du Mail, and hastened to rid herself of her simpleton. Scarce had I
stepped from the carriage when she said to the porter:

"Give this gentleman a room. Your servant," she added, with a bob

I never saw Madame Rose again in my life.


A woman preceded me up a dark and steep staircase, holding a labelled
key in her hand; a Savoyard followed with my little trunk. When we
reached the third floor, the chamber-maid opened a room; the Savoyard
put the trunk across the arms of a chair.

The chamber-maid asked: "Does monsieur require anything?"

I answered, "No."

[Sidenote: My cousin Moreau.]

Three whistles sounded; the chamber-maid cried, "Coming!" rushed out,
closed the door, and tumbled downstairs with the Savoyard. When I found
myself alone in my room, my heart became so strangely full that I was
nearly taking the road back to Brittany. All that I had heard tell
of Paris returned to my mind; I was embarrassed in a hundred ways. I
should have liked to go to bed, and the bed was not made; I was hungry,
and did not know how to set about dining. I was afraid of committing
a solecism: ought I to call the people of the hotel? Ought I to go
downstairs? To whom should I apply? I ventured to put my head out of
the window: I saw only a small inner yard, deep as a well, through
which people came and went who would never dream of giving a thought to
the prisoner on the third floor. I went and sat down beside the dirty
recess in which I was to sleep, reduced to examining the figures on the
paper with which its walls were hung. A distant sound of voices reached
my ears, increased, drew nigh; my door opened: in came my brother and
one of my cousins, the son of a sister of my mother's who had made
none too good a marriage. Madame Rose had after all taken pity on the
numskull, and had sent word to my brother, whose address she learnt
at Rennes, that I had arrived in Paris. My brother clasped me in his
arms. My Cousin Moreau was a big fat man, daubed all over with snuff,
who ate like an ogre, talked a great deal, was always trotting about,
puffing, choking, with his mouth half open, his tongue half out, who
knew everybody, and was equally at home in gaming-houses, antechambers,
and drawing-rooms.

"Come, chevalier," he cried, "so here you are in Paris; I am going to
take you to Madame de Chastenay's!"

Who was this woman whose name I heard uttered for the first time? This
proposal set me against my Cousin Moreau.

"The chevalier is no doubt in need of rest," said my brother; "we will
go and see Madame de Farcy, and then he shall come back to dine and

A feeling of gladness entered my heart: the thought of my family amid
an indifferent world was as balm to me. We went out. Cousin Moreau
raised a storm about the badness of the room, and charged my host to
put me at least one floor lower. We stepped into my brother's carriage
and drove to the convent where Madame de Farcy lived.

Julie had been some time in Paris to consult the physicians. Her
charming appearance, her elegance and her wit had soon caused her to
be sought after. I have already said that she was born with a real
talent for poetry. She became a saint, after having been one of the
most attractive women of her age: the Abbé Carron wrote her life[184].
The apostles who go everywhere in search of souls feel for her the love
which one of the Fathers of the Church attributes to the Creator: "When
a soul reaches Heaven," says this Father, with the simplicity of heart
of a Primitive Christian and the directness of Greek genius, "God takes
it upon His knees and calls it His daughter."

Lucile has left a striking lament: _À la sœur que je n'ai plus._
The Abbé Carron's admiration for Julie explains and justifies Lucile's
words. The narrative of the saintly priest also shows that I said true
in the preface to the _Génie du Christianisme_, and serves as a proof
for some portions of my Memoirs.

The innocent Julie gave herself up to repentance; she consecrated the
treasures of her austerities to the redemption of her brothers; and
following the example of the illustrious African her patron saint[185],
she became a willing martyr.

The Abbé Carron, author of the _Vie des justes_, is the ecclesiastic
from my part of the country[186], the Francis of Paula of exile, whose
fame, revealed by the afflicted, pierced even through the fame of
Bonaparte. The voice of a poor proscribed priest was not stifled by
the noise of a revolution which overthrew society; he seems to have
returned expressly from foreign shores to write of my sister's virtues:
he sought among our ruins and found a forgotten victim and tomb.

When the new hagiographer describes Julie's pious cruelties, it is as
though one heard Bossuet preach his sermon on the profession of faith
of Mademoiselle de la Vallière[187]:

"Will she dare to touch that body so tender, so dear, so gently
treated? Will she not take pity on that delicate complexion? On the
contrary, it is that principally which the soul arraigns as its most
dangerous seducer; she hems herself round with safeguards; fenced in in
every direction, she can no longer breathe except heavenwards!"


I cannot suppress a certain confusion at reading my name in the last
lines traced by the hand of Julie's venerable biographer. What have I,
with my weaknesses, to do with such lofty perfections? Have I kept all
that my sister's letter made me promise, when I received it during my
emigration in London? Is a book sufficient for God? Is it not my life
that I ought to offer Him? And is that life, pray, true to the _Génie
du Christianisme?_ What matter that I have drawn more or less brilliant
pictures of religion, if my passions cast a shade over my faith! I have
not gone on to the end; I have not donned the hair-shirt: that tunic of
my viaticum would have drunk up and dried my sweat. Instead, a weary
traveller, I sat down by the roadside: tired or not, I shall have to
get up again in order to arrive where my sister has arrived.

[Sidenote: My sister Julie.]

There is nothing wanting to Julie's glory: the Abbé Carron has written
her life; Lucile has mourned her death.


When I saw Julie again in Paris, she was in all the pomp of
worldliness; she appeared covered with those flowers, adorned with
those necklaces, veiled in those scented fabrics which St. Clement
forbids the early Christian women. St. Basil wishes the middle of the
night to be for the solitary what the morning is for the others, so
that he may profit by the silence of nature. The middle of the night
was the hour at which Julie went to parties at which her verses,
recited with marvelous euphony by herself, formed the principal

Julie was infinitely handsomer than Lucile: she had soft blue eyes
and dark hair, which she wore plaited or in large waves. Her hands
and arms, models of whiteness and shape, added, by their graceful
movements, something yet more charming to her already charming figure.
She was brilliant, lively, laughed much, but without affectation, and,
when she laughed, showed teeth like pearls. A crowd of portraits of
women of the time of Louis XIV. resembled Julie, among others those
of the three Mortemarts; but she had more elegance than Madame de

Julie received me with the affection which one finds only in a sister.
I had a sense of protection when pressed in her arms, her ribbons,
her bouquet of roses, and her laces. Nothing replaces the attachment,
delicacy and devotion of a woman; a man is forgotten by his brothers
and friends, denied by his companions: but never by his mother, his
sister, or his wife. When Harold was slain at the Battle of Hastings,
none could point him out in the crowd of the dead; they had to seek the
assistance of a young girl whom he loved. She came, and the unfortunate
Prince was recognized by Edith the swan-necked:

    _Editha swaneshales, quod sonat collum cycni._

My brother took me back to my hotel; he ordered my dinner and left me.
I dined alone, and went sadly to bed. I passed my first night in Paris
regretting my moors and trembling before the dimness of my future.

At eight o'clock the next morning, my fat cousin arrived; he had
already done five or six errands:

"Well, chevalier, we are going to breakfast; we shall dine with
Pommereul, and this evening I shall take you to Madame de Chastenay's."

This seemed to me a fate, and I resigned myself. Everything happened
as my cousin had proposed. After breakfast he pretended to show me
Paris, and dragged me through the dirtiest streets in the neighbourhood
of the Palais Royal, telling me of the dangers to which a young man
was exposed. We were punctual in keeping our appointment for dinner,
at an eating-house. Everything put before us seemed bad to me. The
conversation and the dinner-guests revealed a new world to me. The talk
turned upon the Court, the financial projects, the Academy sittings,
the women and intrigues of the day, the latest piece, the success of
the actors, actresses and authors.

Several Bretons were among the guests, including the Chevalier de
Guer[189] and Pommereul[190]. The latter was a good talker, who has
since described some of Bonaparte's campaigns, and who, when I met him
again, was at the head of the Publishing Department.

Under the Empire, Pommereul achieved a sort of renown by his hatred for
the nobility[191]. And nevertheless Pommereul claimed, and with just
cause, to be of gentle birth himself. He signed his name "Pommereux,"
and spoke of his descent from the Pommereux family mentioned in the
letters of Madame de Sévigné[192].

[Sidenote: Madame de Chastenay.]

After dinner my brother wanted to take me to the play, but my cousin
claimed me for Madame de Chastenay, and I went with him to meet my
destiny. I saw a handsome woman, no longer in her first youth, but
still capable of inspiring an attachment. She received me kindly, tried
to put me at my ease, asked me about my part of the country and my
regiment. I was awkward and embarrassed; I made signs to my cousin to
cut short the visit. But he, without looking at me, was inexhaustible
on the subject of my merits, declaring that I had written verses at my
mother's breast, and calling upon me to sing Madame de Chastenay. She
relieved me from this painful situation, begged me to forgive her for
being obliged to go out, and invited me to come back and see her the
next morning, in so gentle a voice that I involuntarily promised to

The next day I returned alone: I found her in bed in an elegantly
fitted room. She told me that she was not very well, and that she had
the bad habit of rising late. For the first time I found myself by the
bedside of a woman who was neither my mother nor my sister. She had
observed my shyness on the evening before, and so far conquered it that
I ventured to express myself with some sort of ease. She stretched
towards me a half-bared arm and the most beautiful hand in the world,
and said with a smile:

"We shall become friends."

I did not even kiss that beautiful hand; I withdrew quite confused. The
next day I left for Cambrai. Who was this Dame de Chastenay? I have no
idea: she passed like a charming shade across my life.


The mail-coach brought me to my quarters. One of my brothers-in-law,
the Vicomte de Chateaubourg (he had married my sister Bénigne, widow
of the Comte de Québriac[193]) had given me letters of recommendation
to some of the officers of my regiment. The Chevalier de Guénan, a man
of very good company, introduced me to a mess at which dined officers
distinguished for their talents, Messieurs Achard, des Mahis, La
Martinière. The Marquis de Mortemart[194] was colonel of the regiment;
the Comte d'Andrezel[195] major: I was placed under the special
protection of the latter. I met both of them in after years: one of
them became my colleague in the House of Peers; the other applied to me
for some services which I was happy to show him. There is a melancholy
pleasure in meeting persons whom we have known at different periods of
our life, and in contemplating the changes that have taken place in
their mode of existence and our own. Like landmarks left behind us,
they trace for us the road which we have followed in the desert of the

I joined my regiment in mufti; within twenty-four hours I had assumed
the military dress, and I felt as though I had worn it always. My
uniform was blue and white, like my vowing-clothes of years before: I
marched under the same colours as a young man and as a child. I was
submitted to none of the trials which the sub-lieutenants were in the
habit of inflicting upon a newcomer; for some reason not known to me,
they did not venture to indulge in this military child's-play with me.
Before I had been a fortnight with the regiment, I was treated like an
"ancient." I learnt the manual exercise and theory with ease; I passed
my steps of corporal and sergeant to the applause of my instructors.
My room became the meeting-place of the old captains as well as of the
young sub-lieutenants; the former went over their campaigns with me,
the latter confided to me their love-affairs.

La Martinière would come to fetch me to hang about the door of a belle
of Cambrai whom he adored; this happened five or six times a day. He
was very ugly, and his face was pitted with the small-pox. He told me
of his passion while quaffing large glasses of gooseberry-syrup, which
I sometimes paid for.

[Sidenote: Regimental life.]

All would have gone wonderfully well, but for my insane rage for dress.
At that time they affected the stiffness of the Prussian uniform: a
small hat, small curls pressed tight to the head, a pig-tail tied very
fast, a closely-buttoned coat. I disliked this greatly; I submitted
to these shackles during the day, but in the evening, when I hoped
to escape the eyes of my superior officers, I put on a larger hat;
the barber lowered the curls of my hair and loosened my pig-tail;
I unbuttoned and turned back the facings of my coat. In this fond
undress, I would go a-wooing on La Martinière's behalf under the cruel
Fleming's windows. But one fine day brought me face to face with M.

"What is this, sir?" said the terrible major. "Consider yourself under
arrest for three days."

I felt somewhat humiliated, but recognized the truth of the proverb
that it is an ill wind that blows nobody good: I was delivered from my
messmate's love-affairs.

I read _Télémaque_ beside Fénelon's tomb[196]: I was not much in the
humour for the philanthropic tale of the cow and the bishop. It amuses
me to recall the beginning of my career. When passing through Cambrai
with the King, after the Hundred Days, I looked for the house I had
lived in and the coffee-house I used to frequent, but could not find
them: all had vanished, men and monuments.


In the same year in which I was undergoing my military apprenticeship
at Cambrai, we heard of the death of Frederic II.[197]; I am now
ambassador to that great King's nephew[198], and am writing this
portion of my Memoirs in Berlin. Upon that piece of important public
news followed sorrowful news for me: Lucile wrote to me that my father
had been carried off by a fit of apoplexy two days after the Angevin
Fair, one of the delights of my childhood.

Among the authentic documents which I keep for consultation I find the
death-certificates of my parents. As these documents also in a special
manner mark the death of a century, I place them on record here as
constituting a page of history.

    "Extract from the death-register of the parish of Combourg,
    for 1786, upon which is written as follows, page 8, _verso_:

    "The body of the high and mighty Messire René de
    Chateaubriand, knight, Count of Combourg, Lord of Gaugres,
    the Plessis-l'Épine, Boulet, Malestroit in Dol, and other
    places, husband of the high and mighty Dame Appoline Jeanne
    Suzanne de Bedée de La Bouëtardais, Lady Countess of
    Combourg, aged about sixty-nine years, who died in his castle
    of Combourg, on the sixth of September, about eight o'clock
    of the evening, was interred on the eighth, in the vault of
    the said lordship, situated in the crypt of our church of
    Combourg, in presence of messieurs the undersigned noblemen,
    officers of the jurisdiction, and other notable burgesses.
    Signed in the register: Comte de Petitbois, de Monlouët, de
    Chateaudassy, Delaunay, Morault, Noury de Mauny, advocate;
    Hermer, procurator; Petit, advocate and procurator-fiscal;
    Robion, Portal, le Donarin, de Trevelec, Rector and Dean of
    Dingé; Sévin, rector."

In the "collated copy" delivered in 1812 by M. Lodin, Mayor of
Combourg, the nineteen words giving the titles "high and mighty
Messire" &c., are struck out.

    "Extract from the death-register of the town of Saint-Servan,
    first arrondissement of the Department of Ille-et-Vilaine,
    for the Year VI. of the Republic, page 35, _recto_, upon
    which is written as follows:

    "On the twelfth of Prairial Year Six of the French Republic,
    before me, Jacques Bourdasse, municipal officer of the
    commune of Saint-Servan, elected to public office on the
    fourth of Floréal last, have appeared Jean Baslé, gardener,
    and Joseph Boulin, day-labourer, who have declared to me that
    Appoline Jeanne Suzanne de Bedée, widow of René Auguste de
    Chateaubriand, died this day, at one o'clock after noon, at
    the house of Citizeness Gouyon, situated at the Ballue, in
    this commune. After which declaration, of the truth of which
    I have made sure, I have drawn up the present deed, which
    Jean Baslé alone has signed with me, Joseph Boulin declaring
    that he did not know how, after question put.

    "Done at the communal house on the said day and year. Signed:
    Jean Baslé and Bourdasse."

In the first extract, the old society exists: M. de Chateaubriand is
a "high and mighty lord," &c., &c.; the witnesses are "noblemen"
and "notable burgesses"; among the signatories I find the Marquis de
Monlouët, who used to stop at Combourg Castle in the winter, the Curé
Sévin, who had so much difficulty in believing me to be the author of
the _Génie du Christianisme_: faithful guests of my father even at his
last abode. But my father did riot sleep long in his shroud: he was
cast out of it when Old France was cast into the common sewer.

In the mortuary extract of my mother, the earth revolves upon another
axis: a new world, a new era; even the computation of the years and the
names of the months are changed. Madame de Chateaubriand is nothing
more than a poor woman who departs this life at the residence of
"Citizeness" Gouyon; a gardener and a day-labourer, who does not know
how to sign his name, alone testify to my mother's death: of friends
and relations there are none; no funeral state; sole by-stander, the


[Sidenote: Death of my father.]

I mourned the death of M. de Chateaubriand: it showed him to me better
than he was; I remembered neither his harshness nor his failings. I
seemed to see him as he walked in the evenings in the hall at Combourg;
I was moved by the thought of these family scenes. If my father's
affection for me was affected by his natural severity, it was none
the less deep at heart. The ferocious Marshal de Montluc[200], who,
disfigured by a terrible cut in the nose, was obliged to conceal the
horrible nature of his glory beneath a strip of rag, this man of blood
reproaches himself for his harshness towards a son whom he has lost:

    "This poor lad," he said, "has seen nothing of me save
    a frowning face and full of scorn; he has died in this
    belief, that I neither knew how to love him nor to esteem
    him to his deserts. For whom did I keep it to discover the
    singular affection which I bore him in my soul? Was it not
    he who should have had all the pleasure of it and all the
    obligation? I have constrained and tortured myself to keep
    on this vain mask, and in thus doing have lost the pleasure
    of his converse, and his will in all things, which he
    cannot have borne to me other than very coldly, having never
    received from me aught save rudeness, nor been treated save
    in tyrannous fashion."

My "will was not borne very coldly" towards my father, and I do not
doubt that, in spite of his "tyrannous fashion," he loved me tenderly:
he would, I am sure, have regretted me had Providence called me before
him. But would he, had we remained on earth together, have set store
by the fame that has sprung from my life? A literary reputation would
have wounded his nobility; he would have seen nothing but degeneration
in his son's gifts; even the Berlin Embassy, conquered by the pen,
not the sword, would have indifferently satisfied him. His Breton
blood, besides, made him a political malcontent, a great opponent
of taxation and a violent enemy of the Court. He read the _Gazette
de Leyde_, the _Journal de Francfort_, the _Mercure de France_, and
the _Histoire philosophique des deux Indes_, the declamatory style
of which delighted him. He called the Abbé Raynal[201] "a master
man." In diplomacy, he was an anti-Mussulman; he declared that forty
thousand "Russian rascals" would march over the Janissaries' stomachs
and take Constantinople. Hater of the Turks though he were, my father
nevertheless bore a grudge in his heart against the "Russian rascals,"
because of his encounter at Dantzic.

I share M. de Chateaubriand's opinions as regards literary and other
reputations, but for different reasons. I do not know of a fame in
history that tempts me: had I to stoop to pick up at my feet and to
my advantage the greatest glory in the world, I would not take the
trouble. If I had formed my own clay, perhaps I would have created
myself a woman, for love of them; or if I had made myself a man,
I would in the first place have granted myself beauty; next, as a
safeguard against weariness, my stubborn enemy, it would have suited me
fairly well to be a consummate but unknown artist, using my talent only
for the benefit of my solitude. In life, weighed by its light weight,
measured by its short measure, relieved of all its cheating, there are
but two things true: religion with intelligence, love with youth; that
is to say, the future and the present: the rest is not worth while.

With my father's death ended the first act of my life; the paternal
home became empty; I pitied it, as though it were capable of feeling
desertion and solitude. Thenceforth I was independent and master of my
fortune: this liberty frightened me. What should I do with it? To whom
give it? I mistrusted my strength: I retreated before myself.


I obtained a furlough. M. d'Andrezel, promoted to Lieutenant-colonel
of the Picardy Regiment, was leaving Paris: I served as his courier.
I passed through Paris, where I refused to stop for a quarter of an
hour; I set eyes upon the moors of my Brittany with more joy than that
with which a Neapolitan, banished to our climes, would gaze again
upon the shores of Portici, the champaign of Sorrento. My family came
together; we settled the division of the property; when that was done,
we dispersed, as birds fly away from the paternal nest. My brother, who
had come from Paris, returned there; my mother established herself at
Saint-Malo; Lucile accompanied Julie; I spent a part of my time with
Mesdames de Marigny, de Chateaubourg and de Farcy. Marigny[202], my
eldest sister's country-seat, is pleasantly situated, three leagues
from Fougères, between two lakes, and amidst woods, rocks and meadows.
I stayed there peacefully for some months; a letter from Paris came to
disturb my repose.

[Sidenote: Ambitious projects.]

At the moment of entering the service and marrying Mademoiselle de
Rosanbo, my brother had not yet quitted the long robe; for this reason
he was unable to obtain the privilege of riding in the King's coaches.
His eager ambition suggested to him to make me enjoy Court honors in
order to prepare the way for his own rise. Our proofs of nobility had
been made out for Lucile when she was received into the Chapter of the
Argentière, so that everything was ready; the Marshal de Duras was to
be my sponsor. My brother wrote to me that I was on the high-road to
fortune; that already I was to obtain the rank of a cavalry captain,
an honorary and courtesy rank; that it would be easy to secure my
admission to the Order of Malta, by means of which I should enjoy fat

This letter came upon me like a thunder-bolt: to return to Paris, to
be presented at Court, I who almost swooned away when I met three or
four strangers in a drawing-room! To imbue me with ambition, who only
dreamt of living forgotten! My first impulse was to reply to my brother
that it was his duty, as the eldest, to keep up his name; that, as for
me, a plain Breton younger son, I would not give up the service, as
there was a chance of war; but that, though the King might have need of
a soldier in his army, he had no need of a poor gentleman at his Court.

I hastened to read this romantic reply to Madame de Marigny, who
uttered loud cries; she sent for Madame de Farcy, who laughed at me;
Lucile would have supported me, but she dared not contend with her
sisters. They tore my letter from me, and, weak as always where I
myself am concerned, I informed my brother that I was ready to go.

I did go; I went to be presented at the first Court in Europe, to make
the most brilliant start in life; and I looked like a man who is being
dragged to the galleys or expecting a sentence of death.


I entered Paris by the same road which I had taken the first time; I
went to the same hotel, in the Rue du Mail: I knew no other. I was
taken to a room next door to my old one, but a little larger and
overlooking the street.

My brother, whether because he felt embarrassed by my manners, or
because he took pity upon my shyness, did not take me with him into
the world, and introduced me to nobody. He lived in the Rue des
Fossés-Montmartre; I went to him at three o'clock every day for dinner;
we then parted and did not see one another till the next day. My fat
Cousin Moreau was no longer in Paris. I walked twice or thrice past
Madame de Chastenay's house, without venturing to ask the porter if she
was still there.

Autumn set in. I rose at six; went to the riding-school; breakfasted.
Luckily at that time I had a passion for Greek; I translated the
_Odyssey_ and the _Cyropædia_ until two o'clock, interspersing my
labours with the study of history. At two o'clock I dressed and went to
my brother; he asked me what I had done, what I had seen; I replied,
"Nothing." He shrugged his shoulders and turned his back upon me. One
day there was a noise outside; my brother ran to the window and called
to me: I refused to leave the arm-chair in which I lay stretched at
the back of the room. My poor brother prophesied to me that I should
die unknown, useless to myself or my family. At four o'clock I went
home and sat down at my window. Two young girls of fifteen or sixteen
used to come at that hour to sketch at the window of a house opposite,
on the other side of the street. They had noticed my punctuality, as I
had theirs. From time to time they raised their heads to look at their
neighbor; I was infinitely grateful to them for this mark of attention:
they formed my only society in Paris.

[Sidenote: My life in Paris.]

When night drew near, I went to the play. I took pleasure in the
desert of the crowd, though it always cost me a little effort to
take my ticket at the door and mix with other men. I corrected the
ideas which I had formed at the Saint-Malo theatre. I saw Madame
Saint-Huberti[203] as Armida; I felt that there had been something
lacking in the sorceress of my creating. When I did not imprison
myself in the Opera-house or at the Français, I wandered from street
to street or along the quays until ten or eleven in the evening. To
this day I cannot see the row of street-lamps from the Place Louis
XV. to the Barrière des Bons-Hommes, without remembering the agonies
which I endured when I followed that road to go to Versailles for my

On returning home, I spent a portion of the night with my head bowed
over my fire, which told me nothing: I had not, like the Persians,
an imagination rich enough to persuade me that the flame resembled
the anemone, the cinders the pomegranate. I listened to the carriages
coming, going, crossing each other; their distant rolling imitated the
murmur of the sea upon the shores of my Brittany or of the wind in
the Combourg woods. These worldly sounds which reminded me of those
of solitude aroused my regrets; I conjured up my old trouble, or
else my imagination would invent the story of the persons whom those
chariots were bearing away: I saw radiant drawing-rooms, balls, loves,
conquests. Soon, relapsing into myself, I saw myself as I was, alone
in an inn, seeing the world through the window and hearing it by the
echoes of my fireside.

Rousseau considers that he owes it to his sincerity, and to the
instruction of mankind, to confess the covert pleasures of his life;
he even supposes that he is being seriously questioned and asked for
an account of his sins with the _donne pericolante_ of Venice. Had
I prostituted myself to the courtesans of Paris, I should not have
thought myself obliged to inform posterity of the fact; but I was too
shy on the one hand, too much exalted on the other, to allow myself to
be seduced by women of the town. When I passed through groups of these
unfortunates falling upon the passers-by in order to drag them up to
their rooms, like the Saint-Cloud cabmen trying to induce travellers to
enter their flies, I was seized with horror and disgust. The pleasures
of adventure would have suited me only in the days of old.

In the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries,
our imperfect civilization, our superstitious beliefs, our strange and
half-barbarous customs mingled romance with everything: characters
were strongly marked, imagination was powerful, existence mysterious
and concealed. At night, around the high walls of the graveyards and
convents, beneath the deserted ramparts of the town, along the chains
and ditches of the market-places, on the skirts of enclosures in
narrow, lampless streets, where robbers and murderers lay in ambush,
where meetings took place sometimes by torchlight, sometimes in the
thick of darkness, it was at the risk of his head that one sought the
trysting-place granted by some Héloïse. To abandon himself to disorder,
one had really to love; to violate public morals, one had to make great
sacrifices. Not only was it a matter of confronting fortuitous dangers
and defying the sword of the law, but one was obliged to overcome the
empire of regular habits, the authority of the family, the tyranny
of domestic customs, the opposition of conscience, the terrors and
duties of the Christian. All these obstacles doubled the energy of the

In 1788, I would not have followed a starving wretch who would have
dragged me to the den where she lived under police supervision; but it
is probable that, in 1606, I should have seen the end of an adventure
of the kind which Bassompierre[204] has told so well.


"Five or six months ago," says the marshal, "each time that I passed
over the Petit Pont"--for in those days the Pont Neuf was not built--"a
pretty woman, a sempstress at the sign of the Two Angels, made me
deep courtesies and followed me with her eyes as far as she could; and
as I had heeded her action, I also looked at her and greeted her with
greater care.

"It happened that when I arrived from Fontainebleau in Paris, passing
over the Petit Pont, so soon as she saw me coming, she put herself at
the door of her shop, and said, as I passed:

"'Sir, I am your servant.'

"I returned her greeting, and turning round from time to time, I saw
that she followed me with her eyes as far as she could."

Bassompierre obtained an assignation.

[Sidenote: Bassompierre's adventure.]

"I found," he says, "a very beautiful woman, twenty years of age, who
had her head dressed for the night, wearing naught but a very fine
shift and a short petticoat of green stuff, and slippers on her feet,
with a wrapper around her. She pleased me mightily. I asked her if I
could not see her once again.

"'If you wish to see me again,' she replied, 'it shall be at the
house of one of my aunts, who lives in the Rue Bourg-l'Abbé, near
the Markets, next to the Rue aux Ours, the third door on the side of
the Rue Saint-Martin; I will await you there from ten o'clock till
midnight, and later yet; I will leave the door open. At the entrance,
there is a little passage through which you will go quickly, for the
door of my aunt's room opens on it, and you will find a stair which
will bring you to the second floor.'

"I came at ten o'clock and found the door she had indicated, and a
great light, not only on the second floor, but on the third and the
first too; but the door was closed. I knocked to show that I had come;
but I heard a man's voice ask who I was. I returned to the Rue aux
Ours, and having returned for the second time, finding the door opened,
I climbed to the second floor, where I found that the light was the
straw of the bed which they were burning, and two naked bodies lying
upon the table in the room. Thereupon I retired greatly amazed, and in
going out I met some crows"--buriers of the dead--"who asked me what I
sought; and I, to make them turn aside, took sword in hand and passed
out, returning to my lodging, somewhat moved by this unlooked-for


I in my turn went on a voyage of discovery, with the address given, two
hundred and forty years before, by Bassompierre. I crossed the Petit
Pont, passed the Markets, and followed the Rue Saint-Denis as far as
the Rue aux Ours, on the right; the first street on the left, ending in
the Rue aux Ours, is the Rue Bourg-l'Abbé. Its inscription, smoky as
though through time and a fire, gave me good hope. I found the "third
little door on the side of the Rue Saint-Martin," so faithful are the
historian's directions. There, unfortunately, the two centuries and a
half, which at first I thought had lingered in the street, disappear.
The frontage of the house is modern; no light issued from the first,
nor from the second, nor from the third floor. From the attic-windows,
beneath the roof, hung a garland of nasturtiums and sweet peas; on the
ground-floor, a hairdresser's shop displayed a variety of towers of
hair behind the window-panes.

In great discomfiture, I entered this museum of the Eponines: since the
Roman Conquest, the Gallic women have always sold their yellow tresses
to foreheads less richly decked; my Breton countrywomen still let
themselves be shorn on certain fair-days, and barter the natural veil
of their heads for an Indian kerchief. Addressing a barber, who was
drawing a wig over an iron comb:

"Sir," said I, "do you happen to have purchased the hair of a young
sempstress who used to live at the sign of the Two Angels, near the
Petit Pont?"

He stood dumfoundered, unable to say either yes or no. I asked a
thousand pardons, and made my way out through a labyrinth of toupees.

I wandered next from door to door: no sempstress, twenty years of age,
making me "deep courtesies;" no frank, disinterested, passionate young
woman, "her head dressed for the night, wearing naught but a very fine
shift, a short petticoat of green stuff, and slippers on her feet, with
a wrapper around her." A grumbling old crone, ready to join her teeth
in the tomb, was near to beating me with her crutch: perhaps it was the
aunt of the assignation!

What a fine story, that story of Bassompierre's! One of the reasons
for which he was so resolutely loved has to be understood. At that
time, the French were divided into two classes, one dominant, the other
semi-servile. The sempstress clasped Bassompierre in her arms like a
demi-god who had descended to the bosom of a slave: he gave her the
illusion of glory, and Frenchwomen alone among women are capable of
intoxicating themselves with that illusion. But who will reveal to us
the unknown causes of the catastrophe? Was the body which lay upon the
table by the side of another body that of the pretty wench of the Two
Angels? Whose was the other body? Was it the husband, or the man whose
voice Bassompierre had heard? Had the plague (for the plague was raging
in Paris) or jealousy reached the Rue Bourg-l'Abbé before love? The
imagination can easily find matter for its exercises in such a subject
as this. Mingle with the poet's inventions the chorus of the populace,
the approaching grave-diggers, the "crows," and Bassompierre's sword,
and a magnificent melodrama springs from the adventure.

You will also admire the chastity and reserve of my youthful life
in Paris: in that capital I was free to give way to all my whims,
as in the Abbey of Thélème, where each acted according to his wish.
Nevertheless, I did not abuse my independence: I had no commerce except
with a courtesan two hundred and sixty years of age, who had formerly
been smitten with a marshal of France, the rival of the Bearnese[206]
for the affections of Mademoiselle de Montmorency, and the lover of
Mademoiselle d'Entragues, sister to the Marquise de Verneuil[207], who
speaks so ill of Henry IV. Louis XVI., whom I was about to see, had no
suspicion of my secret relations with his family.


[Sidenote: Versailles.]

The fatal day arrived; I had to set out for Versailles, more dead
than alive. My brother took me there the day before my presentation,
and carried me to the Maréchal de Duras, a worthy man with a mind
so commonplace that it reflected a certain homeliness over his fine
manners; nevertheless, the good marshal frightened me terribly.

The next morning I went alone to the palace. He has seen nothing who
has not seen the pomp of Versailles, even after the disbanding of
the old Royal Household: Louis XIV. still lingered there. All went
well so long as I had only to pass through the guard-room: military
display has always pleased and never awed me. But when I entered the
Œil-de-bœuf and found myself among the courtiers, my distress
commenced. I was scrutinized; I heard them ask who I was. One must
remember the former prestige of royalty to realize the importance
of a presentation in those days. A mysterious destiny clung to the
_débutant_; he was spared the contemptuous air of protection which,
coupled with extreme politeness, composed the inimitable manners of
the grandee. Who was to tell that that _débutant_ would not become
the master's favourite? In him was respected the future familiarity
with which he might be honoured. Nowadays we rush to the palace with
even greater eagerness than before, and, strangely enough, with no
illusions: a courtier reduced to living on truths is very near to dying
of hunger.

When the King's levee was announced, the persons not presented
withdrew; I felt an impulse of vanity: I was not proud of remaining,
but I should have felt humiliated at leaving. The door of the King's
bed-chamber opened; I saw the King, according to custom, complete
his toilet, in other words take his hat from the hand of the first
lord-in-waiting. The King came towards me on his way to Mass; I bowed;
the Marshal de Duras mentioned my name:

"Sire, the Chevalier de Chateaubriand."

The King looked at me, returned my bow, hesitated, appeared to wish
to address me. I should have replied boldly: my shyness had vanished.
To speak to the general of the army, to the head of the State, seemed
quite simple to me, though I could not account for what I felt The
King's embarrassment was greater than mine; he could think of nothing
to say to me, and passed on. The vanity of human destinies: this
sovereign whom I saw for the first time, this powerful monarch was
Louis XVI., but six years removed from the scaffold! And the new
courtier at whom he scarcely looked, charged with separating dead bones
from dead bones, after having been presented, upon proof of nobility,
to the majesty of the son of St. Louis, was one day to be presented to
his dust upon proof of fidelity! A two-fold tribute of respect to the
two-fold royalty of the sceptre and the palm. Louis XVI. might have
answered his judges as Christ answered the Jews: "Many good works I
have showed you ... for which of those works do you stone me[208]?"

We hurried to the gallery to find ourselves in the way of the Queen on
her return from the chapel. She soon appeared in sight, environed with
a glittering and numerous retinue; she made us a stately courtesy; she
seemed enraptured with life. And those beautiful hands, which at that
time carried with such great grace the sceptre of so many kings, were
destined, before being bound by the executioner, to mend the rags of
the widow, a prisoner at the Conciergerie!

My brother had obtained a sacrifice of me, but it was beyond his power
to make me go through with it. He vainly entreated me to stay at
Versailles in order to assist at the Queen's cards at night:

"You will be presented to the Queen," he said, "and the King will speak
to you."

He could have given me no stronger reason for taking to flight. I
hastened to go and hide my glory in my hotel, happy to escape from
Court, but seeing still before me the terrible day of the coaches, of
the 19th of February 1787.

[Sidenote: Hunt with the King.]

The Duc de Coigny[209] sent to inform me that I was to hunt with the
King in the forest of Saint-Germain. I set out in the early morning
towards my punishment, in the uniform of a _débutant_, a grey coat,
red waistcoat and breeches, lace tops, Hessian boots, a hunting-knife
in my belt, a small, gold-laced French hat. There were four of us
_débutants_ at the Palace of Versailles, myself, the two Messieurs de
Saint-Marsault, and the Comte d'Hautefeuille[210]. The Duc de Coigny
gave us our instructions: he warned us not to interrupt the hunt, as
the King flew into a passion if any one passed between him and the
quarry. The Duc de Coigny bore a name fatal to the Queen[211]. The meet
was at Val, in the forest of Saint-Germain, a domain leased by the
Crown from the Maréchal de Beauvau[212]. The custom was for the horses
of the first hunt in which the newly-presented men took part to be
supplied from the royal stables[213].

The drums beat the salute: a voice gave the order to present arms.
They cried, "The King!" The King left the house and entered his coach:
we rode in the coaches following. It was a long cry from this hunting
expedition with the King of France to my hunting expeditions on the
moors of Brittany; and further still to my hunting expeditions with the
savages of America: my life was to be filled with these contrasts.

We reached the rallying-point, where a number of saddle-horses, held
in hand under the trees, showed signs of impatience. The coaches drawn
up in the forest with the keepers; the groups of men and women; the
packs held back with difficulty by the huntsmen; the baying of the
hounds, the neighing of the horses, the sound of the horns composed a
very animated scene. The hunting-parties of our kings recalled both the
old and the new customs of the monarchy, the rude pastimes of Clodion,
Chilperic, and Dagobert and the gallantries of François I., Henry IV.,
and Louis XIV.

I was too full of my reading not to behold on every hand Comtesses de
Chateaubriand[214], Duchesses d'Étampes[215], Gabrielles d'Estrées,
La Vallières, and Montespans. My imagination seized upon the historic
aspect of this hunting-party, and I felt at my ease: besides, I was in
a forest, and therefore at home.

On alighting from the coaches, I handed my ticket to the huntsmen. A
mare called L'_Heureuse_ had been provided for me, a fast animal, but
hard-mouthed, skittish, and full of tricks; a tolerable likeness of my
fortune, which has constantly set back its ears. The King mounted and
rode off; the members of the hunt followed, taking different roads. I
stayed behind, struggling with L'_Heureuse_, who refused to let her new
master get astride of her; I ended, however, in leaping upon her back:
the hunt was already far ahead.

[Illustration: Louis XVI.]

At first I mastered L'_Heureuse_ fairly well; compelled to shorten
her stride, she put down her neck, shook her bit, which was white with
foam, and bounded along sideways; but when she drew near the scene of
action, it became impossible to hold her. She bore down her head, drove
my hand down upon the saddlebow, dashed at full gallop into a group of
hunters, clearing everything in her course, and only stopped when she
struck against the horse of a woman whom she nearly knocked over, amid
the roars of laughter of some and the screams of terror of others. I
have made useless efforts today to remember the name of the woman who
received my excuses so politely. There was nothing else talked of than
the _débutant's_ "adventure."

[Sidenote: Louis XVI.]

I had not come to the end of my trials. About half-an-hour after my
discomfiture, I was riding through a long opening in a deserted part
of the wood; at the end stood a summer-house: I at once began to think
of the palaces scattered through the Crown forests, in memory of the
origin of the long-haired kings and their mysterious pleasures. A shot
was heard; L'_Heureuse_ turned short, scoured the thicket with lowered
head, and carried me to the exact spot where the roebuck had just been
killed: the King appeared.

I then remembered, but too late, the Duc de Coigny's injunctions: the
accursed _Heureuse_ had done all I leapt to the ground, pushing my mare
back with one hand, holding my hat low in the other. The King looked
and saw only a _débutant_ who had come in at the death before himself;
he felt a need to speak; instead of flying into a passion, he said, in
a good-natured voice and with a broad laugh:

"He did not hold out long."

That is the only word I ever had from Louis XVI. People came up
from every side; they were astonished to find me "talking" with the
King. The _débutant_ Chateaubriand created a sensation with his two
"adventures;" but, as has ever happened to him since, he did not know
how to turn either his good or his bad fortune to account.

The King hunted three other buck. As the _débutants_ were only allowed
to hunt the first animal, I returned to Val with my companions to await
the return of the hunt. The King came back to Val; he was in spirits
and discussed the accidents of the chase. We drove back to Versailles.
A fresh disappointment for my brother: instead of going to dress in
order to be present at the unbooting, the moment of triumph and favour,
I flung myself into my carriage and drove home to Paris, rejoicing at
being delivered of my honors and my troubles. I told my brother that
I was determined to return to Brittany. Satisfied with having made
his name known, and hoping one day to bring to maturity, by means of
his own presentation, what had proved abortive in mine, he placed no
obstacle in the way of the departure of so eccentric a spirit[216].

Such was my first experience of the Town and the Court Society appeared
even more hateful in my eyes than I had imagined it; but, though it
frightened, it did not discourage me; I felt, in a confused fashion,
that I was superior to what I had seen. I took an invincible dislike
to the Court; this dislike, or rather this contempt, which I have been
unable to conceal, will either prevent me from succeeding or will cause
me to fall from the summit of my career.

For the rest, if I judged the world without knowing it, the world, in
its turn, knew nothing of me. None, at my first entrance, guessed what
I might be good for, and when I came back to Paris, they guessed it no
more. Since attaining my sad celebrity, I have been told by numbers
of people, "How we should have noticed you, if we had met you in your
youth!" This obliging contention is only the illusion attaching to
an established reputation. Outwardly men resemble each other; it is
in vain for Rousseau to tell us that he had a pair of small, quite
charming eyes; it is none the less certain, witness his portraits, that
he had the appearance of a schoolmaster or a cross-grained shoemaker.

To have done with the Court, I will add that after revisiting Brittany
and coming back to Paris to live with my younger sisters, Lucile and
Julie, I plunged more deeply than ever into my habits of solitude. You
ask what became of the story of my presentation. It remained where it

"Then you did not hunt with the King again?"

"No more than with the Emperor of China."

"And you never went back to Versailles?"

"I twice went as far as Sèvres; my heart failed me, and I returned to

"So you made nothing of your position?"

"Nothing at all."

"What did you do then?"

"I was bored."

"So you felt no ambition?"

[Sidenote: I print my first poem.]

"Yes, indeed: by means of intrigue and trouble, I attained the glory of
printing in the _Almanack des Muses_ an idyll the appearance of which
almost killed me with hope and fear[217]. I would have given all the
King's coaches to have written the ballad, _Ô ma tendre musette!_ or,
_De mon berger volage._"

Good for everything where others, good for nothing where I myself am
concerned: there you have me.

[176] This book was written in Berlin in March and April 1821 and
revised in July 1846.--T.

[177] The _Conservateur_ was founded by Chateaubriand in October 1818,
with the motto, _Le Roi, la Charte et les Honnêtes Gens._ Some of
Chateaubriand's most perfect work is to be found in this collection,
and the other writers included the Abbé de Lamennais, the Vicomte de
Bonald, Fiévée, Berryer the Younger, Eugène Genoude, the Vicomte de
Castelbajac, the Marquis d'Herbouville, M. Agier, the Cardinal de La
Luzerne, the Duc de FitzJames, &c. The _Conservateur_ ceased to appear
in March 1820 in consequence of the revival of the censorship.--B.

[178] _Cf._ the _Mémoires sur la vie et la mort de Monseigneur le Duc
de Berry_ (April 1820).--T.

[179] Chateaubriand was appointed, by an Order in Council of 28
November 1820, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the
Court of Prussia.--B.

[180] Frederic William II. (1744-1797), the nephew and successor of
Frederic the Great--T.

[181] Dorothea Princess of Courlande (1795-1862) married in 1810 the
Comte Edmond de Périgord, nephew to Talleyrand, who abandoned to him
his title of Duc de Dino. The duke subsequently came into the title of
Duc de Talleyrand-Périgord, by which the duchess was known at the time
of her death.--B.

[182] The Comte Roger de Caux and the Chevalier de Cussy.--B.

[183] Now Emperor and Empress of Russia.--_Authors Note_ (Paris, 1832).

Nicholas I. (1796-1855) married Charlotte, daughter of King Frederick
William III. of Prussia. He ascended the Russian throne in 1825, on
the death of his eldest brother, the Tsar Alexander I., and by virtue
of the renunciation, for himself and his heirs, of the Grand-Duke

[184] I have inserted the life of my sister Julie in the supplement to
these Memoirs.--_Author's Note._ This life, extracted from the Abbé
Carron's _Vie des justes_, I omit. It will be found in the last series
of the _Vie des justes_, entitled, _Dans les plus hauts rangs de la
société._ The Abbé Guy Toussaint Julien Carron (1760-1820) was the
founder of the Institut Royal de Marie-Thérèse, established under the
patronage of the Duchesse d'Anjoulême for the daughters of families
which had lost their fortune in the Revolution, in addition to a number
of charitable institutions founded during the Emigration at Somers
Town, to which Chateaubriand refers _infra._-T.

[185] St. Julia, Virgin and Martyr (22 May), was born at Carthage, and
died for the Faith in Corsica, _circa_ 439.--T.

[186] The Abbé Carron was born at Rennes.--T.

[187] Louise Françoise de La Baume Le Blanc de La Vallière (1644-1710),
the unselfish mistress of Louis XIV. After twice seeking refuge in a
convent, she definitely withdrew to the Carmelites in the Faubourg
Saint-Jacques in 1674, and took the veil in 1675, from which date
to that of her death she submitted herself to exercises of the most
austere piety.--T.

[188] The Marquise de Montespan (1641-1707), mistress to Louis XIV.
and successor to Mademoiselle de La Vallière, was one of the three
daughters of Gabriel de Rochechouart, Duc de Mortemart; her sisters
were the Marquise de Thianges and the Abbesse de Fontevrault.--T.

[189] Julien Hyacinthe de Marnière, Chevalier de Guer (1748-1816), born
at Rennes, an active member of the Royalist party.--B.

[190] François René Jean, Baron de Pommereul (1745-1823), born at
Fougères, became a general of division in 1796 and director-general of
the State press and publishing department in 1811. The work to which
Chateaubriand alludes is Pommereul's _Campagnes du général Bonaparte en
Italie pendant les années IV, et V. de la République Française._--B.

[191] I omit a remark of Pommereul's, applied to the nobles who
accepted the post of Chamberlain at the Imperial Court, which is too
indelicate for translation.--T.

[192] Of 4, 11, and 18 December 1675.--B.

[193] Bénigne Jeanne de Chateaubriand, Comtesse de Québriac, married
as her second husband, in 1786, Paul François de la Celle, Vicomte de
Chateaubourg, a captain in the Condé Regiment, and a knight of St.

[194] Victurnien Bonaventure Victor de Rochechouart, Marquis de
Mortemart (1753-1823), served in the army of Condé under the
Emigration, and was created a peer of France and lieutenant-general at
the Restoration.--B.

[195] Christophe François Thérèse Picon, Comte d'Andrezel (1746-1821),
also emigrated and fought in the Princes' Army. On the return of the
Bourbons he exercised the functions of sub-prefect of Saint-Dié from
1815 till the year of his death.--B.

[196] François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715), author of
the _Aventures de Télémaque_ was Archbishop of Cambrai and is buried in
the cathedral.--T.

[197] Frederic II., or the Great (1712-1786), King of Prussia, died on
the 17th of August, twenty days before the Comte de Chateaubriand, as
mentioned above.--T.

[198] Frederic William III. (1770-1840), son of Frederick William
II., and grand-nephew of Frederick the Great, succeeded his father in

[199] My nephew, Breton fashion, Frédéric de Chateaubriand, son
of my cousin Armand, has purchased the Ballue, where my mother
died.--_Author's Note._

[200] Marshal Blaise de Montluc (_circa_ 1502-1577), a valiant
captain of François I., Henry II. and François II. Under Charles IX.
he defeated the Huguenots in several encounters, and set himself to
extirpate heresy by means of wholesale executions, which earned for him
the nickname of the Royalist Butcher. He received his marshal's baton
at the hands of Henry III.--T.

[201] Guillaume Thomas François Raynal (1713-1796), editor of the
_Mercure_ and author of, among other works, the _Histoire philosophique
des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les Deux-Indes_
(1770). This work is full of political and anti-religious declamations,
and was placed upon the Index in consequence. He published in 1780 a
new and still bolder edition, which was condemned in 1781.--T.

[202] The Château de Marigny exists in the commune of
Saint-Germain-en-Coglès, canton of Saint-Brice-en-Coglès,
Arrondissement of Fougères (Ille-et-Vilaine). Balzac laid the scene of
his _Chouans_ in the neighbourhood of Fougères, and wrote his novel
at Marigny, where he was staying as the guest of General the Baron
de Pommereul. The Comtesse de Marigny died 18 July 1860, in her one
hundred and first year.--B.

[203] Antoinette Cécile Clavel (_circa_ 1756-1812), first singer at
the Opera. Her features were not beautiful but exceedingly expressive;
she excelled in Gluck's operas. She was first married to an adventurer
called Saint-Huberti, and later to the Comte d'Entragues, whom she had
followed into the Emigration. They were both assassinated at their
cottage on the Terrace, Barnes, by an Italian servant who had been
dismissed the day before.--T.

[204] François Maréchal Baron de Bassompierre (1579-1646), figured
at the Court of Henry IV., and in the wars of Henry IV. and Louis
XIII. The latter monarch created him a marshal, and employed him upon
various embassies. He succeeded, however, in incurring the displeasure
of Richelieu, who imprisoned him in the Bastille in 1631, where he
remained until the Cardinal's death in 1643. It was there that he wrote
his famous Memoirs.--T.

[205] _Mémoires du maréchal de Bassompierre, contenant l'histoire de
sa vie et ce qui s'est fait de plus remarquable à la cour de France
jusqu'en_ 1640, I. 305.--B.

[206] Henry IV. (1553-1610), King of France and Navarre, born at Pau in
the Province of Béarn.--T.

[207] Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues, Marquise de Verneuil
(1583-1633), daughter of François d'Entragues, Governor of Orléans,
and of Marie Touchet, mistress of Charles IX. She became Henry IV.'s
mistress after the death of Gabrielle d'Estrées, and bitterly resented
his marriage to Marie de Médicis, the more so as the King had given
her a written promise of marriage, which was torn up by the Duc de

[208] JOHN, X. 33.--T.

[209] Marie Henry François Franquetot, Duc de Coigny (1737-1821), the
King's First Equerry. Under the Restoration, he was created a peer of
France in 1814, appointed Governor of the Invalides in 1816, and a
marshal of France in the same year.--B.

[210] I have met M. le Comte d'Hautefeuille again; he is engaged in
translating selections from Byron; Madame la Comtesse d'Hautefeuille is
the gifted author of the _Âme exilée_, &c.--_Author's Note._

Charles Louis Félicité Texier, Comte d'Hautefeuille (1770-1865), after
fighting in the Princes' Army, took service in Sweden, in the Royal
Guards, and did not return to France till 1811. He married, in 1823,
Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire, daughter of one of the bravest officers
in the Vendean Army. The Comtesse d'Hautefeuille published a number of
noteworthy works under the pseudonym of "Anna-Marie."--B.

[211] The Duc de Coigny was accused by the detractors of Marie
Antoinette of having been in her good graces in the early years of the
reign of Louis XVI.--T.

[212] Charles Juste Maréchal Duc de Beauvau (1720-1793), member of the
French and Della Cruscan Academies.--T.

[213] The following appears in the _Gazette de France_ of Tuesday 27
February 1787:

"The Comte Charles d'Hautefeuille, the Baron de Saint-Marsault,
the Baron de Saint-Marsault Chatelaillon and the Chevalier de
Chateaubriand, who had previously had the honor of being presented to
the King, had, on the 19th, that of riding in His Majesty's carriages
and following him in the hunt."--_Author's Note._

[214] Françoise Comtesse de Chateaubriand (1475-1537), daughter of Jean
de Foix, Vicomte de Narbonne, and sister of the Vicomte de Lautrec
and the Maréchal de Foix. She inspired a passion in François I., but
after a year was supplanted by the Duchesse d'Étampes (_vide infra_),
and remained the victim of the jealousy of her husband, who has been
accused of hastening her death.--T.

[215] Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse d'Étampes (_circa_ 1508-_circa_ 1576),
first known as Mademoiselle d'Heilly, maid-of-honour to the Comtesse
d'Angoulême, mother of François I. She became the King's mistress
at the age of eighteen; he married her to a certain Jean de Brosse,
and gave her the county of Étampes, first raising it to a duchy. She
practically governed France for two-and-twenty years, until the King's
death in 1547, when she retired into obscurity and solaced her solitude
by embracing the Reformation.--T.

[216] The _Mémorial historique de la Noblesse_ has printed a hitherto
unpublished document, annotated in the King's hand, taken from
the Archives of the Kingdom, register M 813 and portfolio M 814;
it contains the "Entrances." My own name and my brother's appear
in it: this shows that my memory has not been at fruit as regards
dates.--_Author's Note_ (Paris, 1840).

[217] This idyll appears in the _Almanack des Muses_ for 1790, p.
205, under the title: L'_Amour de la campagne_ and the signature: "By
the Chevalier de C***." Chateaubriand included it in his
Complete Works.--B.

BOOK V[218]

Stay in Brittany--In garrison at Dieppe--I return to Paris with Lucile
and Julie--Delisle de Sales--Men of letters--Portraits--The Rosanbo
family--M. de Malesherbes--His predilection for Lucile--Appearance
and change of my sylph--Early political disturbances in Brittany--A
glance at the history of the monarchy--Constitution of the States
of Brittany--The holding of the States--The King's revenue in
Brittany--Private revenue of the province--Hearth-money--I am
present for the first time at a political meeting--A scene--My
mother moves to Saint-Malo--I receive the tonsure--The country
round Saint-Malo--The ghost--The sick man--The States of Brittany
in 1789--Riots--Saint-Riveul, my schoolfellow, is killed--The year
1789--Journey from Brittany to Paris--Movement on the road--Appearance
of Paris--Dismissal of M. Necker--Versailles--Delight of the Royal
Family--General insurrection--Capture of the Bastille--Effect of
the capture of the Bastille on the Court--The heads of Foullon
and Bertier--Recall of M. Necker--Sitting of the 4th of August
1789--The day's work of the 5th of October--The King is taken to
Paris--The Constituent Assembly--Mirabeau--Sittings of the National
Assembly--Robespierre--Society-Aspect of Paris--What I did amidst all
this turmoil--My solitary days--Mademoiselle Monet--I draw up with
M. de Malesherbes the plan of my journey in America--Bonaparte and
I both unknown subalterns--The Marquis de La Rouërie--I embark at
Saint-Malo--Last thoughts on leaving my native land.

All that has been read in the previous chapter was written in Berlin. I
have returned to Paris for the christening of the Duc de Bordeaux[219],
and have resigned my embassy through political fidelity to M. de
Villèle[220], who has left the Cabinet. Restored to leisure, let me
write. The more these Memoirs become filled with my years that have
passed, the more do they remind me of the lower bulb of an hour-glass
which marks what has fallen from my life: when all the sand shall have
passed through, I would not turn over my glass clock, if God gave me
power to do so.


The new solitude into which I entered in Brittany, after my
presentation, was no longer that of Combourg; it was not so entire,
nor so serious, nor, to tell the truth, so forced: I was free to
leave it; it lost its value. An old armorial lady of the castle,
an old escutcheoned baron, watching over their last son and their
last daughter in a feudal manor, presented what the English call
"characters:" there was nothing provincial, nothing narrow in that
life, because it was not the common life.

With my sisters, provincial life went on as usual amid the fields:
neighbours danced at each other's houses or acted plays, in which
I performed occasionally and very badly. In the winter one had, at
Fougères, to submit to the society of a small town, with its balls,
assemblies, and dinners, and I could not live forgotten, as in Paris.

On the other hand, I had not seen the army, the Court, without
undergoing a certain change in my ideas. In spite of my natural
inclinations, an indefinite something struggled within me against
obscurity, and besought me to emerge from the shadow. Julie detested
country life, and the instinct of genius and beauty impelled Lucile
towards a wider stage.

I thus felt a discomfort in my existence which warned me that that
existence was not my destiny.

[Sidenote: Garrison life at Dieppe.]

Nevertheless, I continued, to love the country, and round about Marigny
it was charming[221]. My regiment had moved its quarters: the first
battalion was garrisoned at the Havre, the second at Dieppe. I joined
the latter; my presentation at Court made a personage of me. I acquired
a taste for my profession; I worked hard at my training; I was placed
in charge of recruits, whom I drilled on the pebbly beach: the sea has
been the background of almost all the scenes of my life.

La Martinière did not concern himself at Dieppe with his homonym of
Lamartinière[222], nor with the Père Simon[223], who wrote against
Bossuet, Port-Royal, and the Benedictines, nor with Pecquet[224] the
anatomist, whom Madame de Sévigné[225] calls "little Pecquet;" but
La Martinière was in love at Dieppe as at Cambrai: he pined away at
the feet of a lusty woman of Caux[226], whose cap and head-dress were
half a fathom high. She was not young: by an odd chance, her name was
Cauchie, and she was apparently the grand-daughter of that other native
of Dieppe, Anne Cauchie, who, in 1645, was one hundred and fifty years

In 1647, Anne of Austria, like myself watching the sea from the windows
of her chamber, amused herself by seeing the fire-ships bum for her
diversion. She allowed the nations which had been faithful to Henry IV.
to guard young Louis XIV., and gave endless benisons to those nations
"in spite of their villainous Norman speech."

At Dieppe there still prevailed some of the feudal fines which I had
seen paid at Combourg: there were due to the burgess Vauquelin three
pigs' heads, each with an orange between its teeth, and three marked
sous of the oldest known coinage.

I went to spend a week at Fougères. There reigned a noble spinster,
called Mademoiselle de La Belinaye[227], aunt to the Comtesse de
Tronjoli of whom I have spoken. An agreeable, but ugly, sister of an
officer in the Condé Regiment attracted my admiration: I was not bold
enough to raise my eyes to beauty; I dared to risk a respectful tribute
only by favour of a woman's imperfections.

Madame de Farcy, continuing in ill-health, at last resolved to leave
Brittany. She persuaded Lucile to accompany her; Lucile, in her
turn, overcame my repugnance: we set out for Paris; it was the sweet
partnership of the three youngest birds of the brood. My brother was
married; he lived with his father-in-law, the President de Rosanbo, in
the Rue de Bondy. We agreed to settle in his neighbourhood: through the
good offices of M. Delisle de Sales[228], who lived in the Pavilions
de Saint-Lazare, at the top of the Faubourg Saint-Denis, we secured an
apartment in these same "pavilions[229]."

[Sidenote: Delisle de Sales.]

Madame de Farcy had become acquainted, I know not how, with Delisle de
Sales, who had formerly been sent to Vincennes for some philosophical
nonsense or other. At that time, one became a celebrity if he had
scribbled a few lines of prose or published a quatrain in the _Almanack
des Muses._ Delisle de Sales, a very worthy man, most decidedly under
the average, suffered from a serious relaxation of the intellect, and
allowed his years to slip from under him. The old man had got together
a handsome library consisting of his own works, which he dealt in
abroad, and which nobody read in Paris. Every year, in spring, he went
to Germany to renew his stock of ideas. He wore a greasy, unbuttoned
coat, and carried a roll of dirty paper which one saw protruding from
his pocket: on this he would jot down his thoughts of the moment at
the street-corners. On the pedestal of his own bust in marble he had
himself placed the following inscription, borrowed from the bust of
Buffon: "God, man and nature: he explained them all." Delisle de
Sales explaining everything! These boasts are very pleasant, but very
discouraging. Who is in a position to flatter himself that he possesses
real talent? May we not all, such as we are, be under the sway of an
illusion similar to that of Delisle de Sales? I would wager that some
author will read this phrase who believes himself a genius and is none
the less a blockhead.

If I have expatiated at too great length on the subject of the worthy
man of the Pavilions de Saint-Lazare, the reason is that he was the
first man of letters I met. He introduced me to the company of others.
The presence of my two sisters made life in Paris less unbearable
to me; my love of study still further overcame my distaste. Delisle
de Sales I considered an eagle. I met at his rooms Carbon Flins des
Oliviers[230], who fell in love with Madame de Farcy. She laughed at
him; he put a good face upon it, for he prided himself upon being a man
of breeding. Flins introduced me to his friend Fontanes, who became

Flins was the son of an administrator of woods and forests at Rheims,
and had received a neglected education; he was for all that a man of
sense, and sometimes of talent. It was impossible to imagine anything
uglier than he: short and bloated, with large, prominent eyes,
bristling hair, dirty teeth, and yet a not over-vulgar air. His manner
of life, which was that of nearly all the men of letters in Paris at
that time, deserves to be told. Flins occupied a lodging in the Rue
Mazarine, pretty near La Harpe, who lived in the Rue Guénégaud. He
was waited upon by two Savoyards, disguised as flunkeys by means of
livery cloaks; they followed him at night, and opened the door to
his visitors in the day-time. Flins went regularly to the Théâtre
Français, which at that time was situate in the Odéon and excelled
particularly in comedy. Brizard[231] had only just retired; Talma[232]
was commencing; Larive[233], Saint-Phal, Fleury[234], Molé[235],
Dazincourt, Dugazon[236], Grandmesnil[237], Mesdames Contat[238],
Saint-Val[239], Desgarcins, Olivier[240] were in the full vigor of
their talent, pending the arrival of Mademoiselle Mars[241], daughter
of Monvel[242], who was preparing to make her first appearance at
the Théâtre Montansier[243]. The actresses protected the authors, and
sometimes became the occasion of their fortune.

Flins, who had only a small allowance from his family, lived on credit.
When Parliament was not sitting, he pawned his Savoyards' liveries,
his two watches, his rings and underclothing, paid his debts with the
amount thus raised, went to Rheims, spent three months there, returned
to Paris, redeemed, with the money his father had given him, the
articles which he had pledged at the pawnshops, and resumed his round
of life, ever gay and popular.


[Sidenote: The Chevalier de Parny.]

In the course of the two years that elapsed between my settling in
Paris and the opening of the States-General, the circle in which I
moved increased. I knew the elegies of the Chevalier de Parny by heart,
as I know them still I wrote to him to ask leave to set eyes upon a
poet whose works delighted me; I received a civil reply, and called
upon him in the Rue de Cléry. I found a man still fairly young in
years, of very pleasant manners, tall, spare, with a face pitted with
the small-pox. He returned my visit; I introduced him to my sisters. He
cared little for society, and was soon driven from it on account of his
politics: at that time he belonged to the old party. I have never known
a writer who more closely resembled his works: poet and Creole[244] as
he was, all he needed was the Indian sky, a fountain, a palm-tree, and
a woman by his side. He dreaded noise, tried to glide unnoticed through
life, sacrificed everything to his idleness, and, amid the obscurity in
which he dwelt, was betrayed only by his pleasures, which played upon
his lyre as they passed[245].

It was this inability to escape from his indolence which turned the
Chevalier de Parny from the furious aristocrat that he was into a
wretched revolutionary, insulting persecuted religion and priests on
the scaffold, purchasing repose at all costs, and foisting upon the
muse that had sung Éléonore the language of the houses where Camille
Desmoulins went to haggle for the pleasures of love.

The author of the _Histoire de la literature italienne_, who crept into
the Revolution in Chamfort's wake, came to visit us, thanks to the
cousinship that exists among all Bretons. Ginguené lived in society
upon a reputation acquired through a rather graceful set of verses,
the _Confession de Zulmé_, which obtained for him a paltry place in M.
de Necker's[246] offices: hence his article upon his admission to the
office of the Controller-General. Somebody disputed Ginguené's claim
to the authorship of the _Confession de Zulmé_ upon which his fame was
based; but it was, as a matter of fact, his own.

The Rennes poet was a good musician and wrote ballads. Humble as he
began by being, we saw his pride grow as he succeeded in hanging upon
the skirts of some well-known man. About the time of the summoning of
the States-General, Chamfort employed him to scribble articles for the
newspapers and speeches for the clubs: he then became arrogant. At the
first Federation he said: "There's a fine entertainment! In order to
light it better, we ought to burn an aristocrat at each of the four
corners of the altar!" There was nothing original in this aspiration;
long before him, Louis Dorléans, the Leaguer, had written in his
_Banquet du Comte d'Arète_ that "one ought to fasten the Protestant
ministers by way of faggots to the stake of the Midsummer's Night
bonfires, and put King Henry IV. into the barrel where one put the

Ginguené knew of the revolutionary murders before they took place.
Madame Ginguené warned my sisters and my wife of the massacre planned
at the Carmelites, and gave them shelter: she lived in the Cul-de-sac
Férou, near the place where throats were to be cut.

After the Terror, Ginguené became a sort of head of the department of
Public Instruction; it was then that he sang the _Arbre de la liberté_
at the Cadran-Bleu, to the air of _Je l'ai planté, je l'ai vu naître._
He was considered sufficiently pious, philosophically, for an embassy
to the Court of one of the kings who were being discrowned. He wrote
from Turin to M. de Talleyrand that he had "overcome a prejudice:" he
had caused his wife to be received at Court in a _pet-en-l'air?_[247]
After falling from mediocrity to importance, from importance to
silliness, and from silliness to absurdity, he ended his days as a
distinguished critic, and what is better, as an independent writer in
the _Décade_[248]: nature had restored him to the place whence Society
had to such ill purpose taken him. His information is second-hand, his
prose dull, his verse correct and sometimes agreeable.

[Sidenote: Guinguené and Le Brun.]

Ginguené had a friend, the poet Le Brun[249]. Ginguené protected
Le Brun, in the way in which a man of talent, who knows the world,
protects the simplicity of a man of genius; Le Brun in his turn cast
his radiancy over Ginguené's eminence. Nothing more comical was seen
than the part played by these two cronies who, by a gentle commerce,
did each other all the services which two men excelling in different
spheres are able to render one to the other.

Le Brun was simply a mock gentleman of the Empyrean; his poetic spirit
was as cold as his transports were icy. His Parnassus was a top room in
the Rue Montmartre, furnished with a pile of books heaped pell-mell on
the floor, a trestle-bed, the curtains of which consisted of two dirty
towels dangling from a rusty iron rod, and the half of an ewer propped
up against a bottomless chair. It was not that Le Brun was in needy
circumstances; but he was a miser and addicted to loose women.

At M. de Vaudreuil's "classical supper[250]," he impersonated Pindar.
Among his lyrical poems are to be found energetic or elegant stanzas,
as in the ode on the ship _Vengeur_ or the ode on the _Environs de
Paris._ His elegies issued from his head, rarely from his soul; his
was a labored, not a natural, originality; he created only by sheer
force of art: he toiled to distort the meanings of words and to unite
them in monstrous alliances. Le Brun had only one real talent, that of
satire; his epistle on _La bonne et la mauvaise plaisanterie_ enjoyed a
well-deserved renown. Some of his epigrams are worthy of mention with
J. B. Rousseau's; La Harpe above all inspired him. One more justice
should be done him: he retained his independence under Bonaparte,
and has left trenchant verses directed against the oppressor of our

But unquestionably the most atrabiliary of the men of letters whom I
knew in Paris at that time was Chamfort. Attacked with the disorder
that produced the Jacobins, he was unable to forgive mankind for the
accident of his birth[252]. He betrayed the houses to which he was
admitted; he took the cynicism of his language for a picture of the
manners of the Court. It would not be possible to deny that he had
wit and talent, but wit and talent of the kind which does not reach
posterity. When he saw that he was unable to attain to any position
under the Revolution, he turned against himself the hands which he
had raised against society. No longer to his vanity did the Phrygian
cap appear as but another kind of crown, sans-culottism as a sort of
nobility, of which Marat and Robespierre were the grandees. Furious
at finding inequality of rank in the very world of sorrow and of
tears, condemned to remain no more than a "villein" in the feudality
of executioners, he tried to kill himself in order to escape from
superiority in crime; he failed in his attempt: death laughs at those
who summon it and who mistake it for annihilation.

I did not meet the Abbé Delille[253] until 1798, in London, and I never
saw Rulhière[254], who lives through Madame d'Egmont[255] and makes her
live, nor Palissot[256], nor Beaumarchais[257], nor Marmontel[258].
The same with Chénier[259], whom I never met, who has often attacked
me, to whom I never replied, and whose place at the Institute was to be
the cause of one of the crises of my life.

[Sidenote: Eighteenth-century writers.]

When I read over again the majority of the writers of the eighteenth
century, I am amazed to think of the renown which they achieved and of
my former admiration for them. Whether it be that the language has made
progress, or that it has gone backward, or that we have advanced in
civilization or retreated towards barbarism, it is certain that I find
something threadbare, antiquated, grizzled, cold, and lifeless in the
authors who were the delight of my youth. I find even in the greatest
writers of the Voltairean age things that are poor in sentiment,
thought, and style.

Whom am I to blame for my disappointment? I fear the chief guilt
lies with myself; born innovator that I am, I may perhaps have
communicated to younger generations the malady with which I was seized.
Terror-stricken, in vain I cry to my children, "Do not forget your
French!" They reply in the words of the Limosin to Pantagruel, that
they come "from alme, inclyte and celebrate academy, which is vocitated

This habit of latinizing and hellenizing our language is not new, as we
see: Rabelais cured it, it reappeared in Ronsard[261]; Boileau attacked
it. In our time it has been revived by science; our revolutionaries,
great Greeks by nature, have compelled our merchants and farmers to
calculate in hectares, hectolitres, kilometers, millimeters, decagrams:
politics have "ronsardized" everything.

I might have spoken here of M. de La Harpe, whom I knew at that time,
and to whom I will return; I might have added M. de Fontanes' portrait
to my gallery; but although my acquaintance with that excellent man
began in 1789, it was not until we met in England that I became united
to him in a friendship which ever increased with bad, and never
diminished with good fortune: I will tell you of him later in all the
effusion of my heart. I shall have no talents to depict but those which
no longer console the earth. The death of my friend has occurred at the
moment when my recollections were leading me to trace the commencement
of his life[262]. So great a flight is our existence that, if we do not
write down in the evening what has happened in the morning, our work
obstructs us, and we no longer have the time to keep it posted up. This
does not prevent us from wasting our years, from flinging to the winds
the hours which are for men the seeds of eternity.


While my inclination and that of my two sisters threw me into this
literary society, our position obliged us to frequent another set; the
family of my brother's wife was naturally the centre for us of this
second circle.

The Président Le Peletier de Rosanbo, who since died with such great
courage[263], was at the time of my arrival in Paris a model of
frivolity. At that period, men's minds and manners were in every way
unsettled, a symptom of a coming revolution. Magistrates were ashamed
to wear the robe, and mocked at the gravity of their fathers. The
Lamoignons, the Molés, the Séguiers, the d'Aguesseaus[264] wished
to fight instead of judging. The Presidents' wives ceased to be
respectable mothers of families and left their gloomy mansions in order
to seek brilliant adventures[265]. The priest in the pulpit avoided
pronouncing the name of Jesus Christ and spoke only of the "Law-giver
of the Christians;" the ministers were falling pell-mell; power slipped
through each one's fingers. The height of fashion was to be American
in town, English at Court, Prussian in the army; to be anything except
French. All that was said, all that was done, was one long series of
inconsistencies. They wished to keep up the commendatory clergy, and
would have none of religion; none could be an officer who was not
of gentle birth, whereas the nobility was railed at; equality was
introduced into the drawing-rooms together with flogging into the camps.

[Sidenote: M. de Malesherbes.]

M. de Malesherbes had three daughters[266], Mesdames de Rosanbo,
d'Aulnay, and de Montboissier; he loved Madame de Rosanbo the best,
because her opinions resembled his own. The Président de Rosanbo[267]
also had three daughters, Mesdames de Chateaubriand, d'Aulnay[268],
and de Tocqueville, and one son, whose brilliant mind clothed itself
in Christian perfection. M. de Malesherbes was happy in the midst of
his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Time after time I
have seen him, in the early days of the Revolution, arrive at Madame de
Rosanbo's, all heated with politics, fling off his wig, lie down upon
the carpet of my sister's room, and submit to the uproarious teasing
of the rebellious children. His manners would have been considered
almost vulgar, if he had not possessed a certain brusqueness which
saved him from being commonplace: at the first words he uttered, one
recognized the bearer of an old name and the superior magistrate. His
natural virtues were somewhat tainted with affectation, thanks to
the philosophy which he mingled with them. He was full of knowledge,
honesty, and courage, but impetuous and passionate to such an extent
that he once said to me, speaking of Condorcet:

"That man was once my friend; today I would not scruple to kill him
like a dog."

The tide of the Revolution overwhelmed him, and his death established
his glory. This great man would have remained hidden beneath his
merits, if misfortune had not revealed him to the world. A noble
Venetian lost his life at the moment when he discovered his title-deeds
amid the falling ruins of an old palace.

[Illustration: C. G. Lamoignon de Malesherbes.]

M. de Malesherbes' free ways removed all my constraint. He found that
I was not without information; this first point gave us something
in common: we spoke of botany and geography, two of his favourite
subjects. It was in the course of my conversations with him that I
first conceived the idea of making a journey in North America, with
the object of discovering the ocean seen by Hearne and later by
Mackenzie[269]. We also held views in common on politics: the generous
sentiments which were at the root of our earlier troubles appealed
to the independence of my character; my natural antipathy to the
Court gave strength to this inclination. I was on the side of M. de
Malesherbes and of Madame de Rosanbo as against M. de Rosanbo and my
brother, who was nicknamed "the raving Chateaubriand." The Revolution
would have carried me away, had it not started in crime: I saw the
first head carried on the end of a pike, and I drew back. Murder will
never to my eyes be an object of admiration or an argument in favour
of liberty; I know nothing more servile, more contemptible, more
cowardly, more shallow than a Terrorist. Have I not in France seen the
whole of this race of Brutus take service with Cæsar and his police?
The levellers, regenerators, cut-throats had been transformed into
lackeys, spies, sycophants, and even less naturally into dukes, counts,
and barons: such a medievalism!

[Sidenote: My great liking for him.]

Lastly, what attached me still more to the illustrious old man was his
predilection for my sister: in spite of the Comtesse Lucile's shyness,
we succeeded, with the aid of a glass of champagne, in inducing her
to take a part in a little play on the occasion of M. de Malesherbes'
birthday; her performance was so touching that it turned that good and
great man's head. He was even more eager than my brother in urging her
translation from the Chapter of the Argentière to that of Remiremont,
which insisted upon the rigorous and difficult proofs of the "sixteen
quarterings." For all his philosophy, M. de Malesherbes possessed
principles of birth in an eminent degree.

This picture of men and society at the time of my entrance into the
world must be spread over a space of about two years, from 25 May
1787, the date of the closing of the first Assembly of Notables, to 5
May 1789, that of the opening of the States-General. During these two
years, my sisters and I did not continually live in Paris, nor in the
same part of Paris. I will now go back and carry my readers to Brittany.

I must add that I was still infatuated with my illusions; now
that I no longer had my woods, I had discovered a new solitude in
remote times instead of places. In old Paris, in the enclosures of
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in the cloisters of the convents, in the vaults
of Saint-Denis, in the Sainte Chapelle, in Notre Dame, in the little
streets of the Cité, at the modest door of Héloïse, I again met my
enchantress; but beneath the Gothic arches and among the tombs she had
assumed a deathlike aspect: she was pale, she looked at me with sad
eyes; she was but the shadow or the manes of the dream which I had


My political education commenced with my different visits to Brittany
in 1787 and 1788. The Provincial States furnished the model of the
States-General; also the local troubles which heralded those of the
nation broke out in two districts possessing States, Brittany and

The transformation that had been developing for two centuries was
nearing its termination. France had passed from feudal monarchy to the
monarchy of States-General, from the monarchy of States-General to the
monarchy of parliaments, from the monarchy of parliaments to absolute
monarchy, and was now tending towards representative monarchy, across
the struggle between the magistracy and the royal power.

The Maupeou Parliament[270], the establishment of provincial
assemblies, coupled with individual voting-power, the first and second
Assemblies of Notables, the Plenary Court, the formation of grand
bailiwicks, the reinstatement of the Protestants in their civil rights,
the partial abolition of torture and of forced labour, the equal
division of taxation were so many successive proofs of the revolution
which was at work. But at that time these facts were not seen as a
whole: each event appeared in the light of an isolated accident. At
every period of history, there exists a guiding thought. Looking only
at one point, one fails to see the rays converging at the centre of
all the other points; one does not go back as far as the secret agency
which gives life and movement to the whole, like water and fire in
machinery: that is why, at the outset of revolutions, so many people
believe that it is enough to break this wheel or that to prevent the
torrent from rushing or the steam from exploding.

The eighteenth century, a century of intellectual action, not of
material action, would not have succeeded in so promptly altering
the laws, had it not found its vehicle: the parliaments, and notably
the Parliament of Paris, became the instruments of the philosophical
system. Every opinion dies an impotent or distracted death, if it be
not lodged in an assembly which turns it into a power, supplies it with
a will, furnishes it with a tongue and a pair of arms. Revolutions
succeed, and always will succeed, only by means of corporate
assemblies, lawful or unlawful.

The parliaments had their cause to avenge: absolute monarchy had stolen
from them the authority which they had usurped from the States-General.
Enforced registrations[271], beds of justice, sentences of exile,
while making the magistrates popular, drove them to demand liberties
of which, in their hearts, they were not the sincere upholders. They
called for the restoration of the States-General, not daring to admit
that they wished to secure the legislative and political power for
themselves; and thus they hastened on the resurrection of a body of
which they had gathered the inheritance, a body which, on returning
to life, would at once reduce them to their own department. Men are
almost invariably deceived as to their true interests, whether moved by
wisdom or passion: Louis XVI. restored the parliaments which forced
him to summon the States-General; the States-General, converted into
a National Assembly and soon into a Convention, destroyed the throne
and the parliaments, and sent to their deaths both the judges and the
monarch from whom justice emanated. But Louis XVI. and the parliaments
acted in this manner because they were the unconscious instruments of a
social revolution.

[Sidenote: State-General.]

The idea of the States-General was, therefore, in all men's heads; only
they did not see whither it would lead them. It was the question, for
the crowd, how to make up a deficit which the smallest banker of today
would undertake to remove. The application of so violent a remedy to so
small an evil proves that the public was being carried towards unknown
political regions. For the year 1786, the only year of which the
financial state has been affirmed, the revenue amounted to 412,924,000,
the expenditure to 593,542,000 livres, leaving a deficit of 180,618,000
livres, which was reduced to 140 millions through economies amounting
to 40,618,000 livres. In this budget, the Royal Household figures for
the immense sum of 37,200,000 livres: the Princes' debts, the purchase
of country-seats, and the Court malversations were the cause of this
additional burden.

It was desired to have the States-General in the form they assumed in
1614. The historians always quote this form as though one had never
heard speak of States-General or of a demand for their convocation
since 1614. And yet in 1651 the orders of the nobility and the clergy,
meeting in Paris, demanded States-General. A bulky collection of acts
passed and speeches delivered on that occasion exists. The Parliament
of Paris, which was then all-powerful, far from seconding the wishes of
the two upper orders, quashed their meetings as illegal: as indeed they

And since I am treating of this subject, I wish to note another
serious fact which has escaped those who have concerned, and are still
concerning, themselves with writing the history of France, without
knowing it. People talk of "the three orders" as being essential to
the constitution of the States known as States-General. Well, it often
happened that bailiwicks appointed deputies for only one or two orders.
In 1614, the bailiwick of Amboise appointed none for either the clergy
or the nobility; the bailiwick of Châteauneuf-en-Thimerais sent none
for the clergy nor for the third estate; the Puy, the Rochelle, the
Lauraguais, Calais, the Haute-Marche, Châtellerault sent none for the
clergy, and Montdidier and Roye none for the nobility. Nevertheless,
the States of 1614 were called States-General. Thus the ancient
chronicles express themselves more correctly when they say, in speaking
of our national assemblies, "the three estates," or "the burgess
notables," or "the barons and bishops" as the case may be, and they
attribute the same legislative power to the assemblies thus composed.
In the different provinces, the third estate, even though convoked,
often refrained from deputing representatives, and this for an unheeded
but very natural reason. The third estate had taken possession of the
magistracy, from which it had driven out the men-at-arms; it held
absolute sway, except in a few parliaments, in the offices of judge,
advocate, procurator, registrar, clerk, and so forth; it made civil
and criminal laws, and, thanks to its parliamentary usurpation, it
exercised even the political power. The fortune, honour, and lives of
the citizens depended upon the third estate: all obeyed its decrees,
every head fell beneath the sword of its justices. Seeing, therefore,
that it enjoyed unlimited power, to the exclusion of the other
estates, what need had it to go begging for a portion of that power in
assemblies in which it appeared upon its knees?

The people, metamorphosed into monks, had resorted to the cloisters,
and governed society through the power of religious opinion; the
people, metamorphosed into tax-gatherers and bankers, had resorted to
finance, and governed society through the power of money; the people,
metamorphosed into magistrates, had resorted to the tribunals, and
governed society through the power of the law. This great Realm of
France, so aristocratic in its parties and in its provinces, was
democratic when taken as a whole, under the direction of its King, with
whom it acted in admirable concert and nearly always went hand in hand.
This is the explanation of its long existence. There is an entirely new
history of France to be written, or rather, the history of France has
not yet been written.

All the above-mentioned important questions were especially vexed
in the years 1786, 1787, and 1788. The heads of my fellow-Bretons
found abundant cause for excitement in their natural vivacity, in
the privileges of the province, the clergy, and the nobles, in the
collisions between the Parliament and the States. M. de Calonne[272],
for a short while Intendant of Brittany, had increased the internal
strife by favouring the cause of the third estate. M. de Montmorin[273]
and M. de Thiard were not sufficiently strong leaders to ensure the
ascendency of the Court party. The nobility entered into a coalition
with the Parliament, which was itself noble; now it opposed M. Necker,
M. de Calonne, the Archbishop of Sens[274]; now it thrust back the
popular movement, which its own early resistance had favoured. It
assembled, deliberated, and protested; the communes or municipalities
assembled, deliberated and protested in opposition. The private
question of hearth-money was mixed up with the general questions and
increased the reigning ill-will. To understand this, it is necessary to
explain the constitution of the Duchy of Brittany.

[Sidenote: The States of Brittany.]

The States of Brittany varied more or less in their formation, in
common with all the States of Feudal Europe, which they resembled.
The Kings of France were established into the rights of the Dukes of
Brittany. The marriage-contract of the Duchess Anne[275], in 1491, not
only brought Brittany by way of dower to the crown of Charles VIII.
and Louis XII., but contained a covenant by virtue of which an end was
put to a contention which traced its origin to Charles of Blois[276]
and the Count of Montfort[277]. Brittany contended that daughters were
entitled to inherit the Duchy; France maintained that the succession
could take place only in the main line, and that when this line came
to be extinguished, Brittany, as a great feud, returned to the Crown.
Charles VIII. and Anne, and subsequently Anne and Louis XII., mutually
surrendered their rights or claims to each other. Claudia, daughter
of Anne and Louis XII., who became the wife of François I., on her
death left the Duchy of Brittany to François I., her husband, upon the
petition of the States assembled at Vannes, and by an edict published
at Nantes in 1532 united the Duchy to the Crown of France, guaranteeing
the Duchy's rights and privileges.

At that time the States of Brittany were summoned every year; but in
1630 the sittings became biennial. The Governor proclaimed the opening
of the States. The three orders sat, according to the place, in a
church or in the halls of a convent. Each order deliberated apart: they
formed three separate assemblies with their various tempests, which
turned into a general hurricane when the clergy, the nobles, and the
third estate came to meet together. The Court breathed discord, and
talents, vanities and ambitions came into play in this restricted field
as in any more extended arena.

The Père Grégoire de Rostrenen, a Capuchin friar, in the dedication
to his _Dictionnaire françois-breton_, addresses Their Lordships the
States of Brittany as follows:

    "If it was meet for none save the Roman orator worthily to
    praise the august assembly of the Roman Senate, was it meet
    for me to venture upon the praise of your august assembly,
    which so worthily recalls to us the image of all that ancient
    and modern Rome possessed that was majestic and venerable?"

Rostrenen proves that Celtic is one of those primitive languages which
Gomer, the eldest son of Japhet, brought to Europe, and that the
Lower Bretons, despite their short stature, descend from the giants.
Unfortunately, Gomer's Breton children, long separated from France,
allowed part of their old title-deeds to perish: their charters,
to which they did not attach sufficient importance as linking them
to general history, too often lack the authenticity to which the
decipherers of diplomas, on their side, attach too high a price.

The time of the holding of the States in Brittany was a time of
balls and festivals: one dined with M. le Commandant, dined with M.
le Président de la Noblesse, dined with M. le Président du Clergé,
dined with M. le Trésorier des États, dined with M. l'Intendant de
la Province, dined with M. le Président du Parlement; one dined
everywhere: and drank! At long refectory tables sat Du Guesclins who
were husbandmen, Duguay-Trouins who were seamen, wearing at their side
their iron swords with old-fashioned guards or their short cutlasses.
All the gentlemen assisting at the States in person bore no slight
resemblance to a Diet of Poland, of Poland on foot, not on horseback, a
diet of Scythians, not of Sarmatians.

[Sidenote: Madame de Sévigné.]

Unfortunately, they played too much. The balls never ended. The Bretons
are noted for their dances and dance-tunes. Madame de Sévigné has
described our political festivals in the midst of the waste-lands,
like the revels of fairies and goblins which were held at night on the

    "You shall now," she writes[278]," have news about our
    States for your pains of being a Breton. M. de Chaulnes made
    his entry on Sunday evening, with all the noise that Vitré
    could afford: on Monday morning he sent me a letter, which I
    answered by going to dine with him. They dine at two tables
    in the same room; there are fourteen covers at each table;
    Monsieur presides at one, and Madame at the other. The good
    cheer is excessive, whole dishes of roast meat are carried
    away uncut; and the pyramids of fruit are so tall, that the
    doorways have to be made higher. Our forefathers did not
    foresee this kind of machines, seeing that they did not even
    understand that a door ought to be higher than themselves....
    After dinner, Messieurs de Lomaria and Coëtlogon danced some
    marvelous jigs with two Breton ladies, and minuets with
    an air which our courtiers cannot approach: they execute
    Gipsy and Lower Breton steps with charming daintiness and
    precision.... Night and day there reign such play, good
    cheer, and freedom as will attract all the world. I had
    never seen the States before; it is a pretty thing enough.
    I doubt if there is a province whose assembly has so grand
    an air as this; it must be very full, I fancy, for there
    is not one of the members at the war nor at Court; except
    the little cornet[279], who perhaps may return here one day
    like the rest.... A multitude of presents, pensions, repairs
    of highways and towns, fifteen or twenty large tables, a
    continual round of dancing and gaming, plays three times a
    week, and a great deal of show and splendor: there you have
    the States. I have forgot three or four hundred pipes of wine
    which are drank out here."

The Bretons find it difficult to forgive Madame de Sévigné for her
raillery. I am less severe; but I do not like to hear her say, "You
speak very pleasantly of our miseries; we are no longer so _roué_[280]:
_one_ in eight days only, to keep justice going. 'Tis true that a
hanging now comes refreshingly to me." This is carrying the agreeable
language of the Court to excess: Barère[281] spoke with the same grace
of the guillotine. In 1793, the drownings at Nantes were called
"republican marriages:" the popular despotism reproduced the amenities
of style of the royal despotism.

The Paris fops, who accompanied messieurs the King's company to the
States, related that we country squires had our pockets lined with tin
so that we might take home M. le Commandant's fricassees of chicken
to our wives. These jests were dearly paid for. A Comte de Sabran had
erewhile lost his life in return for his idle talk. This descendant of
the troubadours and of the Provencal kings, as big as a Swiss[282],
allowed himself to be killed by a little hare-hunter of Morbihan, no
taller than a Laplander[283]. This "Ker[284]" was not a whit second to
his adversary in pedigree: if St. Elzear of Sabran was a near kinsman
of St. Louis, St. Corentin[285], collateral ancestor of the most noble
Ker, was Bishop of Quimper under King Gallon II., three centuries
before Christ.


The King's revenue, in Brittany, consisted of the benevolences, which
varied according to needs; the income from the Crown domains, which
might amount to three or four hundred thousand francs; the stamp-duty,

Brittany had her own revenues, which served to meet her expenditure:
the "great due" and the "petty due," which were laid on liquor and
the liquor traffic, produced two millions a year; and then there were
the sums raised by hearth-money. One little suspects the important
part played by hearth-money in our history; yet it was to the French
Revolution what the stamp-duties were to the Revolution in America.

Hearth-money or _fouage_ (_census pro singulis focis exactus_) was a
quit-rent, or a sort of villain tax, charged upon the goods of the
commonalty for each hearth. This hearth-money, which was gradually
increased, went to pay the debts of the province. In time of war, the
expenditure amounted to more than seven millions from one session to
the next, a sum which exceeded the receipts. A plan had been proposed
to create a capital out of the funds provided by hearth-money and to
turn it into stock for the benefit of the payers of hearth-money: in
this way the tax became only a loan. The injustice (although it was an
injustice made legal by the wording of the customary law) lay in making
it bear upon the property of the commonalty alone. The commons never
ceased protesting; the nobles, who set less store by their money than
by their privileges, would not hear of a duty which would have made
them liable to a villain-tax. This was the question when the States of
Brittany, that were to prove so bloody, came together in December 1788.

Men's minds were at that time excited by various causes: the assembly
of the Notables, the territorial impost, the traffic in corn, the
approaching sittings of the States-General and the affair of the
Necklace, the Plenary Court and the _Mariage de Figaro_, the grand
bailiwicks and Cagliostro[286] and Mesmer[287], a thousand other
serious and trivial matters formed subjects of controversy in every

[Sidenote: The Breton nobles.]

The Breton nobility had, at its own instance, assembled at Rennes to
protest against the establishment of the Plenary Court. I went to
this diet: it was the first political meeting I ever attended. I was
bewildered and amused by the cries I heard. The members climbed on the
tables and chairs; they gesticulated, and all spoke at one time. The
Marquis de Trémargat[288], who had a wooden leg, shouted in stentorian

"Let us all go to the Commandant, M. de Thiard[289]; we will say to
him, 'The nobles of Brittany are at your door; they ask to speak to
you; the King himself would not deny them!'"

At this outburst of eloquence, the cheers shook the rafters. He
commenced again:

"The King himself would not deny them!"

The shouts and stamping redoubled. We went to M. le Comte de Thiard,
a man of the Court, an erotic poet, a gentle and frivolous spirit,
mortally bored by our uproar; he looked upon us as so many _hou-hous_,
wild-boars, wild beasts; he was burning to be gone from our Armorica,
and had not the slightest desire to deny us the entrance to his house.
Our spokesman told him what he wanted, after which we went back and
drew up the following declaration:

"We declare infamous those who are capable of accepting any places,
whether in the new administration of justice, or in the administration
of the States, which shall not be approved by the constitutional laws
of Brittany."

Twelve gentlemen were chosen to carry this document to the King: upon
their arrival in Paris, they were locked up in the Bastille, whence
they soon emerged in the quality of heroes[290]; they were received
with laurel-branches on their return.

We wore coats with large buttons of mother-of-pearl bedecked with
ermine, round which buttons was inscribed in Latin the motto, "Death
before dishonor." We triumphed over the Court, over which all the world
was triumphing, and we fell with it into the same abyss.


It was at this period that my brother, continuing to prosecute his
plans, resolved to have me admitted to the Order of Malta. In order
to effect this, it was necessary that I should receive the tonsure:
this could be given me by M. Cortois de Pressigny[291], Bishop of
Saint-Malo. I therefore went to my native city, where my good mother
was living: she no longer had her children with her; she spent her days
at church, her evenings knitting. Her absent-mindedness was incredible:
I met her one day in the street, carrying one of her slippers under
her arm by way of a prayer-book. From time to time some old friends
would find their way to her retreat and talk of the good times that
were past. When she and I were alone, she would improvise beautiful
stories for me in verse. In one of these stories the devil carried off
a chimney with an evil-doer in it, and the poet exclaimed:

    Le diable en l'avenue
    Chemina tant et tant,
    Qu'on en perdit la vue
    En moins d'une heur' de temps[292].

"I cannot help thinking," said I, "that the devil does not go very

But Madame de Chateaubriand proved to me that I did not know what I was
talking about: my mother was charming.

[Sidenote: My mother's ballads.]

She had a long and plaintive ballad on the subject of
the _Récit veritable d'une cane sauvage en la ville de
Montfort-la-Cane-lez-Saint-Malo._ A certain lord had imprisoned a young
and very beautiful girl in the Castle of Montfort, with the intention
of ravishing her. Through a dormer-window she could see the church of
St. Nicholas; she prayed to the saint with eyes full of tears, and was
miraculously wafted outside the castle. But she fell into the hands
of the traitor's servants, who proposed to do by her as they presumed
their master had done. The poor girl, distraught, looking to every side
in search of help, saw only the wild-duck upon the pond of the castle.
Renewing her prayers to St. Nicholas, she besought him to allow these
birds to be the witnesses of her innocence, so that, if she was doomed
to lose her life, and was unable to accomplish the vows which she had
taken to St. Nicholas, the birds themselves would fulfill them in their
own way, in her name and on her behalf.

The girl died within the year: and behold, on the Feast of the
Translation of the Bones of St. Nicholas, 9 May, a wild-duck,
accompanied by its brood of ducklings, came to St. Nicholas' Church.
She entered the building, fluttered before the statue of the Blessed
Liberator, and acclaimed him by flapping her wings; after which she
returned to the pond, leaving one of her little ones as an offering.
Some time afterwards, the duckling disappeared unobserved. For two
hundred years and more, the duck, always the same duck, returned, on a
fixed day, with her hatch, to the church of the great St. Nicholas at

The story was written and printed in 1652: the author very justly
observes that "a poor wild-duck is not a very considerable thing in the
eyes of God; that nevertheless she acts her part in doing homage to His
greatness; that St. François' grasshopper was of even less account, and
that nevertheless its trill charmed a seraph's heart."

But Madame de Chateaubriand followed a false legend: in her ballad,
the maiden imprisoned at Montfort was a princess, who succeeded in
being changed into a duck in order to escape her captor's violence. I
remember only the following lines of one stanza of my mother's ballad:

    Cane la belle est devenue,
    Cane la belle est devenue,
    Et s'envola par une grille,
    Dans un étang plein de lentilles[293].

As Madame de Chateaubriand was a real saint, she obtained the Bishop of
Saint-Malo's promise to give me the tonsure, although he had a scruple
on the subject: to bestow the mark of an ecclesiastic upon a layman
and a soldier appeared to him to be a profanation not far removed from
simony. M. Cortois de Pressigny, now Archbishop of Besançon and a peer
of France, is a worthy and deserving man. He was young at that time,
protected by the Queen, and on the high-road to fortune, which he
attained later by a better road: persecution.

Dressed in uniform, and wearing my sword, I went down on my knees
at the prelate's feet; he cut two or three hairs from the crown of
my head: this was called the tonsure, of which I received a formal
certificate. With this certificate, it was possible for an income of
200,000 livres to fall to me, when my proofs of nobility had been
admitted in Malta: an abuse, no doubt, in the ecclesiastical order, but
a useful thing in the political order of the old constitution. Was it
not better that a kind of military benefice should be attached to the
sword of a soldier than to the cloak of an Abbé who would have spent
the revenues of his fat living on the pavement of Paris?

The fact that the tonsure was conferred on me for the foregoing reasons
has caused ill-informed biographers to state that I had at one time
entered the Church.

This happened in 1788. I kept horses, I rode all over the country,
or galloped beside the waves, the moaning friends of my youth: I
alighted from my horse and frolicked with them; the whole barking
family of Scylla sprang to my knees to fondle me: _Nunc vada latrantis
Scyllæ._ I have travelled very far to admire the scenes of nature: I
might have contented myself with those which my native land offered to
my eyes.

Nothing could be more charming than the country for five or six leagues
round Saint-Malo. The banks of the Rance alone, as one ascends the
river from its mouth to Dinan, ought to attract the traveller, forming
a constant medley of rocks and verdure, of strands and forests, of
creeks and hamlets, of the ancient manors of feudal Brittany and the
modern habitations of commercial Brittany. The latter were built at a
time when the merchants of Saint-Malo were so rich that, on days of
merry-making, they heated piastres and flung them red-hot to the people
through the windows. These dwellings are very luxurious. Bonnaban,
the country-seat of Messieurs de La Saudre[294], is in part built of
marble brought from Genoa, a magnificence of which we in Paris have no
idea. The Briantais[295], the Bosq, the Montmarin[296], the Balue[297],
the Colombier[298] are, or were, adorned with orangeries, fountains,
and statues. In some cases the gardens slope down to the shore behind
the arcade formed by a screen of lime-trees, through a colonnade of
pine-trees, to the end of a lawn; across a bed of tulips, the sea
displays its ships, its calms, and its tempests.

[Sidenote: Country round Saint-Malo.]

Every peasant, sailor, and husbandman owns a little white cottage
with a garden; among the vegetables, the currant-bushes, the roses,
the irises, the marigolds of this garden, you find a shoot of Cayenne
tea, a stalk of Virginian tobacco, a Chinese flower, some kind of
souvenir of other shores and another sun: they compose the chart and
the itinerary of the owner. The occupiers of these coast holdings
belong to a fine Norman race; the women are tall, slender, active, and
wear grey-woolen bodices, petticoats of calamanco and striped silk,
white stockings with colored clocks. Their foreheads are shaded by an
ample dimity or cambric head-dress, the flaps of which stand up in the
shape of a cap or float like a veil. A number of silver chains hang
in a bunch at their left side. Every morning, in the spring, these
daughters of the North, stepping from their boats, as though they were
coming once again to invade the land, carry to market baskets of fruit
and shells filled with curds: when, with one hand, they hold on their
heads black jars full of milk or flowers, when the lappets of their
white caps set off their blue eyes, their pink faces, their fair hair
pearled with dew, the Valkyrs of the _Edda_, of whom the youngest is
the Future, or the Basket-bearers of Athens, were less graceful. Does
the picture still resemble the original? Those women, doubtless, no
longer exist; nought remains but my recollection of them.


I left my mother and went to see my two elder sisters, who lived
near Fougères. I stayed a month with Madame de Chateaubourg. Her
two country-houses, Lascardais[299] and Le Plessis[300], near
Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, famous for its tower and its battle[301], stood
in a country of rocks, moors, and woods. My sister's steward was M.
Livoret[302], formerly a Jesuit, who had met with a strange adventure.

When he was made steward at Lascardais, the Comte de Chateaubourg, the
elder, had just died: M. Livoret, who had not known him, was installed
as care-taker of the castle. The first night that he slept there
alone, he saw a pale old man come into his room, in a dressing-gown
and night-cap, and carrying a little light. The apparition went to the
hearth, placed the candlestick on the mantel, lit the fire and sat down
in a chair. M. Livoret trembled all over his body. After two hours
spent in silence, the old man rose, took his light again, and left the
room, closing the door behind him.

The next day the steward told his adventure to the farm-people, who,
on hearing the description of the spectre, declared that it was their
old master. The matter did not end there: if M. Livoret looked behind
him in a wood, he saw the ghost; if he had to climb over a stile in a
field, the shade set itself astride the stile. One day, the unhappy
haunted man venturing to say, "Monsieur de Chateaubourg, leave me," the
ghost replied, "No." M. Livoret, a cold and practical man, possessed
of very little imagination, repeated his story as often as he was
asked, always in the same way and with the same conviction.

[Sidenote: A visit to Normandy.]

A little later I accompanied to Normandy a brave officer attacked with
brain-fever. We were lodged in a farm-house: an old tapestry, lent by
the lord of the manor, separated my bed from the invalid's. Behind this
hanging the patient was bled: to relieve him of his sufferings, they
plunged him into ice-baths; he shivered under this torture, with his
nails turned blue, his violet face haggard, and his teeth clenched. His
head was shaven, and a long beard which came down from his pointed chin
served to clothe his bare, wet, lean chest.

When the invalid had a fit of crying, he opened an umbrella, thinking
that he was sheltering himself from his tears: if this were a sure
protection against weeping, a statue should be raised to the inventor.

My only happy moments were those at which I went to wander in the
grave-yard of the village church, built upon a mound. My companions
were the dead, a few birds, and the setting sun. I dreamed of Paris
society, of my early years, of my phantom, of the Combourg woods, to
which I was so near in point of space, though so far removed in point
of time. I returned to my poor sick man: it was the blind leading the

Alas, let a blow, a fall, a moral suffering deprive Homer, Newton,
Bossuet of their genius, and those divine men, instead of exciting
profound pity, bitter and eternal regret, would be the object of a
smile! Many people whom I have known and loved have seen their reason
troubled while about me, as though I bore with me the germ of the
contagion. I can explain Cervantes' masterpiece and its cruel gaiety
only by a sad reflection: when one considers existence as a whole, and
weighs its good and evil, one feels tempted to long for any accident
that brings forgetfulness with it, as a means of escaping from one's
self; a joyful drunkard is a happy being. Putting religion aside,
happiness lies in not knowing one's self and in reaching death without
having felt life.

I brought my friend back completely cured.


Madame Lucile and Madame de Farcy, who had returned with me to
Brittany, wished to go back to Paris; but I was detained by the
unsettled condition of the province. The States had been summoned for
the end of December 1788. The commune of Rennes and, following in its
wake, the other communes of Brittany had passed a resolution forbidding
their deputies to take part in any business before the question of
hearth-money had been settled.

The Comte de Boisgelin[303], who was to preside over the order of the
nobles, hurried to Rennes. The gentry were convoked by private letters;
among them were those who, like myself, were still too young to have
votes in the deliberations. We might be attacked, strong arms needed
counting as well as votes: we went to our posts.

A number of meetings were held at M. de Boisgelin's before the opening
of the States. All the scenes of confusion at which I had assisted were
renewed. The Chevalier de Guer, the Marquis de Trémargat, my uncle
the Comte de Bedée, nicknamed Bedée the Artichoke, because of his
stoutness, as opposed to another Bedée, long and slim, who was called
Bedée the Asparagus, broke a number of chairs in climbing on them to
deliver their harangues. The Marquis de Trémargat, a wooden-legged
naval officer, made many enemies for his order. One day they were
talking of establishing a military school for the education of the sons
of poor nobles; a member of the Third Estate cried:

"And what are our sons to have?"

"The almshouse," replied Trémargat.

The phrase fell among the crowd and soon bore fruit.

At these meetings I became aware of a disposition of character in
myself which I have since found again in the field of politics and
arms: the more my colleagues or companions grew inflamed, the calmer I
became. I saw the tribune or the gun fired with indifference: I have
never bowed before either words or cannon-balls.

The result of our deliberations was that the nobles were to treat
general matters first, and not busy themselves with hearth-money until
the other questions had been disposed of; a resolution directly opposed
to that of the commons. The nobles had no great confidence in the
clergy, who often abandoned them, especially when presided over by the
Bishop of Rennes[304], a wheedling, circumspect person, who spoke with
a slight and not ungraceful lisp, and nursed his prospects at Court.
The hatred was fomented by a newspaper, the _Sentinelle du Peuple_,
edited at Rennes by a scribbler newly arrived from Paris.

The States were held in the Jacobin Convent on the Place du Palais.
We entered the sessions-hall, in the temper which I have described;
we had hardly taken our seats before we were besieged by the mob. The
25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th of January 1789 were unlucky days. The Comte
de Thiard had few troops under his command; he lacked both vigor and
decision, and moved without acting. The School of Law at Rennes, which
had Moreau at its head, had sent for the young men of Nantes; they came
to the number of four hundred, and in spite of his entreaties, the
Commandant was unable to prevent them from invading the town. Meetings
held by various factions in the cafés and on the Champ-Montmorin
resulted in collisions attended with bloodshed.

[Sidenote: Riots at Rennes.]

Tired of being blockaded in our hall, we resolved to sally forth
sword in hand; it was a pretty sight enough. At a signal given by our
president, we all drew our swords together, to the cry of "Brittany for
ever!" and, like a forlorn garrison, executed a furious sortie in order
to fight our way through. The mob received us with yells, with showers
of stones, blows of iron-shod sticks, and pistol-shots. We forced a
passage through the surging crowd, which closed in upon us. Several
gentlemen were wounded, dragged along the ground, lacerated, covered
with bruises and contusions. We succeeded with great difficulty in
extricating ourselves and reaching our respective lodgings.

Duels followed between the nobles and the law-students and their
friends from Nantes. One of these duels took place in public on the
Place Royale; the honors remained with old Keralieu[305], a naval
officer, who was attacked, and who fought with incredible vigor amid
the applause of his youthful adversaries.

Another mob had formed. The Comte de Montboucher[306] caught sight in
the crowd of a student called Ulliac, and said to him:

"Monsieur, this concerns you and me!"

A ring was formed around them; Montboucher disarmed Ulliac and handed
him back his sword: they embraced, and the crowd dispersed.

At least our Breton nobility did not succumb without honour. It refused
to send deputies to the States-General, because it had not been
convoked in accordance with the fundamental laws of the constitution
of the province; it joined the army of the Princes in vast numbers,
and was decimated in Condé's Army, or with Charette in the wars
of the Vendée. Would it have made any difference in the majority
in the National Assembly if it had joined that assembly? That is
scarcely likely: in great social transformations, cases of individual
resistance, however creditable to personal character, are powerless
against facts. Nevertheless it is difficult to say what might not
have been effected by a man of Mirabeau's genius, but of opposite
principles, if one had been found in the order of the Breton nobility.

Young Boishue and my schoolfellow Saint-Riveul had been killed in these
encounters, on their way to the chamber of the nobles: the former was
in vain defended by his father, who served as his second[307].

Reader, pause: see flow the first drops of blood which the Revolution
was to shed. Heaven decreed that they should issue from the veins of
a companion of my childhood. Suppose that I had fallen instead of
Saint-Riveul; it would have been said of me, merely changing the name,
as was said of the victim with whom commenced the great immolation:

"A gentleman called Chateaubriand was killed on his way to the
assembly-room of the States."

Those few words would have taken the place of my long history. Would
Saint-Riveul have played my part on the earth? Was he destined for fame
or for silence?

And now, reader, pass on; cross the river of blood which for all time
separates the old world, whence you are issuing, from the new, at the
entrance to which you shall die.


The year 1789, so famous in our history and in the history of the
human race, found me on the moors of my Brittany; I was not even
able to leave the country until rather late, and did not reach Paris
until after the sack of the Maison Reveillon[308], the opening of the
States-General[309], the constitution of the Third Estate into a
National Assembly, the oath of the Tennis Court[310], the Royal Speech
of the 23rd of June, and the joining of the clergy and the nobles to
the commons[311].

There was a great stir along my road: in the villages the peasants
stopped the carriages, asked to be shown passports, interrogated
the travelers. The nearer we approached to the capital, the more
the excitement increased. Passing through Versailles, I saw troops
quartered in the orangery, trains of artillery parked in the
court-yards, the provisional hall of the National Assembly erected on
the Place du Palais, and deputies moving to and fro amid sight-seers,
people of the palace, and soldiers.

[Sidenote: Disturbances in Paris.]

In Paris the streets were blocked by crowds standing before the bakers'
shops; the passers-by stood discussing at the street corners, the
tradesmen came out of their shops and gave and received the news before
their doors; the agitators gathered together at the Palais-Royal:
Camille Desmoulins began to distinguish himself in the throng[312].

I had scarcely alighted[313], together with Madame de Farcy and Madame
Lucile, at a lodging-house in the Rue de Richelieu, when a riot broke
out: the mob proceeded to the Abbaye to deliver some French Guards, who
had been imprisoned by order of their officers. The non-commissioned
officers of an artillery regiment quartered at the Invalides joined the
people. The defection of the army was commencing.

The Court, alternately yielding and resisting, a mixture of obstinacy
and weakness, of hectoring and fear, allowed itself to be bullied
by Mirabeau[314], who demanded that the troops should be removed to
a distance, and yet did not consent to remove them: it accepted the
affront and did not remove the cause of it. In Paris a rumor spread
that an army was arriving through the Montmartre sewer, that the
dragoons were about to force the barriers. It was suggested to take up
the street pavements, to carry the paving-stones to the top floors of
the houses, in order to hurl them upon the tyrant's satellites: every
one set to work. In the midst of this turmoil M. Necker was ordered
to resign. The new ministry consisted of M. de Breteuil[315], La
Galaizière, the Maréchal de Broglie[316], La Vauguyon, La Porte[317]
and Foullon[318]. These replaced Messieurs de Montmorin[319], de La
Luzerne[320], de Saint-Priest[321] and de Nivernais[322].

A Breton poet, newly landed, had asked me to take him to Versailles.
There are people who will go to see gardens and fountains amid the
downfall of empires: scribblers especially possess this faculty of
isolating themselves in their hobby during the course of the greatest
events; with them, their phrase or their strophe fills the place of

I took my Pindar to the gallery at Versailles at mass-time. The
Œil-de-Boeuf was radiant: M. Necker's dismissal had raised the
spirits of all; they felt sure of victory: possibly Sanson[323] and
Simon[324] were among the crowd, witnessing the delight of the Royal

[Sidenote: Marie Antoinette.]

The Queen passed by with her two children; their fair hair appeared
to be waiting for crowns: Madame la Duchesse d'Angoulême[325], aged
eleven, drew all eyes through a virginal pride; beautiful through
nobility of birth and maidenly innocence, she seemed to say, like
Corneille's orange-blossom in the _Guirlande de Julie_:

    J'ai la pompe de ma naissance[326].

[Illustration: Marie Antoinette.]

The little Dauphin[327] walked under his sister's protection, and M.
Du Touchet followed his pupil; he noticed me, and obligingly called
the Queen's attention to me. Casting a smiling look in my direction,
she gave me that gracious bow which she had already made me on the
day of my presentation. I shall never forget that look, so soon to be
extinguished. Marie Antoinette, when she smiled, outlined so clearly
the shape of her mouth, that the recollection of that smile (O horror!)
enabled me to recognize the jaw-bone of the daughter of kings when the
head of the unhappy woman was discovered in the exhumations of 1815.

The counter-stroke to the blow struck at Versailles resounded in Paris.
On my return I came upon a crowd hastening along and carrying the busts
of M. Necker and of M. le Duc d'Orléans[328], covered with crape. They
cried, "Long live Necker! Long live the Duc d'Orléans!" and among those
cries was heard one bolder and more unforeseen:

"Long live Louis XVII.!"

Long live the child whose very name would have been forgotten in the
funeral inscription of his family, if I had not recalled it to the
memory of the House of Peers[329]! Had Louis XVI. abdicated, Louis
XVII. been placed upon the throne, M. le Duc d'Orléans declared Regent,
what would have happened?

On the Place Louis XV., the Prince de Lambesc[330], at the head of the
"Royal German" regiment, drove back the crowd into the gardens of the
Tuileries and wounded an old man: suddenly the tocsin sounded. The
cutlers' shops were broken into, and thirty thousand muskets taken
from the Invalides. The people armed themselves with pikes, cudgels,
pitchforks, sabres, pistols; they sacked Saint-Lazare, burnt down the
barriers. The electors of Paris took in hand the government of the
Capital, and in a night sixty thousand citizens were organized, armed,
equipped into National Guards.

On the 14th of July came the fall of the Bastille. I was present, as
a spectator, at this assault against a few pensioners and a timid
governor: if the gates had been kept closed, the mob could never
have entered the fortress. I saw two or three guns fired, not by the
pensioners, but by French Guards who had climbed to the towers.

De Launey[331] was torn from his hiding-place, and after undergoing
a thousand outrages, was struck down on the steps of the Hôtel de
Ville; Flesselles[332], the provost of the merchants, had his brains
blown out by a pistol-shot: this was the spectacle which heartless
enthusiasts thought so fine. In the midst of these murders, the people
gave themselves up to orgies, as in the troubles in Rome under Otho and
Vitellius. "The victors of the Bastille," happy drunkards, declared
conquerors by pot-house votes, were driven about in hackney-coaches;
prostitutes and sans-culottes commenced to reign and escorted them.
The passers-by uncovered, with the respect born of fear, before those
heroes, some of whom died of fatigue amidst their triumph. The keys of
the Bastille multiplied; they were sent to all the important simpletons
in the four quarters of the world. How often have I missed my fortune!
If I, a spectator, had inscribed my name on the list of the victors, I
should be in receipt of a pension today.

The experts hurried to assist at the _post-mortem_ examination of
the Bastille. Temporary cafés were established under tents; people
hastened thither as to the fair at Saint-Germain or to Longchamp;
numbers of carriages drove slowly past, or stopped at the foot of the
towers, whence the stones were being hurled down amid whirlwinds of
dust. Elegantly-dressed women and fashionable young men stood upon
different points of the Gothic rubbish, and mingled with the half-naked
workmen engaged in demolishing the walls amid the acclamations of the
crowd. At this meeting-place were to be seen the most famous orators,
the best-known men of letters, the most celebrated painters, the most
renowned actors and actresses, the most popular dancers, the most
illustrious foreigners, the nobles of the Court and the ambassadors of
Europe: old France had come there to end, new France to commence, its

No event, however wretched or hateful in itself, should be treated
lightly when its circumstances are serious, or when it marks an epoch:
what should have been seen in the capture of the Bastille (and what
was not then seen) was, not the violent act of the emancipation of a
people, but the emancipation itself which resulted from that act.

[Sidenote: The fall of the Bastille.]

Men admired what they ought to condemn, the accident, and did not seek
to discover in the future the accomplishment of a peopled destiny,
the changes in morals, ideas, political power, a renovation of the
human race, of which the capture of the Bastille, like a blood-stained
jubilee, inaugurated the era. Brutal anger wrought ruins, and beneath
that anger was concealed the intelligence which laid among those ruins
the foundations of the new edifice.

But the nation, deceived as to the grandeur of the material fact, was
not deceived as to the grandeur of the moral fact: in the eyes of the
nation, the Bastille was the trophy of its servitude, and seemed to
be erected at the entrance to Paris, opposite the sixteen pillars of
Montfaucon[333], as the gibbet of its liberties[334]. In demolishing a
State fortress, the people considered that it was breaking the military
yoke, and made a tacit engagement to take the place of the army which
it was disbanding: we know what prodigies were wrought by the people
turned soldier.


Awakened by the sound of the fall of the Bastille, as though by the
premonitory sound of the fall of the throne, Versailles had lapsed
from the heights of self-confidence to the depths of despondency. The
King hurried to the National Assembly, and delivered a speech from the
president's chair; he declared that an order had been given for the
withdrawal of the troops, and returned to his palace amid a shower of
benedictions. A vain parade! Parties do not believe in the conversion
of the opposing parties: the liberty which capitulates, or the power
which degrades itself, receives no mercy from its foes.

Eighty deputies set out from Versailles to announce the making of
peace to the Capital; illuminations followed. M. de La Fayette[335]
was made Commandant of the National Guard, M. Bailly[336], Mayor of
Paris: I never knew the poor but respectable scholar, save through his
misfortunes. Revolutions possess men for each of their several periods;
some follow these revolutions to their finish, others commence but do
not complete them.

A general dispersal ensued; the courtiers left for Bâle, Lausanne,
Luxemburg, and Brussels. Madame de Polignac[337] in her flight met
M. Necker returning. The Comte d'Artois, his sons[338], the three
Condés[339] emigrated, drawing after them the higher clergy and a
portion of the nobility. The officers of the army, threatened by their
mutinous soldiers, yielded to the torrent which drifted them down
its stream. Louis XVI. alone remained behind to face the nation with
his two children and a few women: the Queen, "Mesdames[340]," and
Madame Élisabeth[341]. "Monsieur[342]," who stayed until the flight
to Varennes, was of no great assistance to his brother: although, by
declaring himself in the Assembly of Notables in favour of the vote
by heads, he had decided the fate of the Revolution, the Revolution
distrusted him; he, Monsieur, disliked the King, did not understand
the Queen, and was not loved by them.

Louis XVI. went to the Hôtel de Ville on the 17th: a hundred thousand
men, armed like the monks of the League, received him. He was harangued
by Messrs. Bailly, Moreau de Saint-Méry[343], and Lally-Tolendal[344],
all of whom wept: the last has remained subject to tears. The King
broke down in his turn; he fixed an enormous tricolour cockade on his
hat; he was then and there declared to be "an honest man, Father of the
French, King of a free people," while the said people was preparing,
by virtue of its liberty, to lay low the head of that honest man, its
father and its King.

[Sidenote: First revolutionary horrors.]

A few days after this reconciliation, I was at the windows of my
lodgings with my sisters and some Bretons; we heard cries of "Shut the
doors, shut the doors!" A troop of tatterdemalions approached from one
end of the street; from the midst of this troop rose two standards
which we could not see clearly at that distance. As they came nearer,
we distinguished two dishevelled and disfigured heads, which the
forerunners of Marat[345] were carrying, each at the end of a pike:
they were the heads of Messrs. Foullon and Bertier[346]. The others all
drew back from the windows; I remained. The assassins stopped in front
of me, stretched the pikes towards me, singing, capering, jumping up in
order to bring the pale effigies nearer to my face. One eye in one of
these heads had started from its socket, and fell upon the dead man's
lurid face; the pike projected through the open mouth, the teeth of
which bit upon the iron.

"Brigands!" I cried, filled with indignation which I was unable to
contain. "Is that how you understand liberty?"

Had I had a gun, I should have fired at those wretches as at a pack
of wolves. They shouted and yelled; they beat long at the doors of
the gate-way, in the hope of breaking them down and adding my head
to those of their victims. My sisters fainted; the poltroons of the
lodging-house overwhelmed me with reproaches. The murderers, who
were being pursued, had not time to break into the house, and passed
on. Those heads, and others which I saw soon afterwards, changed my
political tendencies; I held the banquets of cannibals in abhorrence,
and the idea of leaving France for some distant country began to take
root in my mind.


Recalled to office on the 25th of July, installed and received with
festivities, M. Necker, the third successor, after Calonne and
Taboureau[347], of Turgot[348], was soon left behind by events, and
lapsed into unpopularity. It is one of the singular facts of the
time that so serious a person should have been raised to the post of
minister through the tact of a man noted for such mediocrity and levity
as the Marquis de Pezay[349]. The _Compte rendu_[350], which replaced
in France the system of taxation by that of loans, stirred people's
ideas: women talked of receipts and expenditure; for the first time one
saw, or thought one saw, something in the mechanism of figures. These
calculations, painted in colours laid on _à la Thomas_[351], had first
established the reputation of the director-general of finance. The
banker was a clever accountant, but a resourceless economist; a noble
but turgid writer; an honest man, but devoid of the loftier virtues.
He was like the character which speaks the prologue in a classical
play, and which disappears at the rise of the curtain, after explaining
the piece to the audience. M. Necker was the father of Madame de
Staël[352]: his vanity hardly permitted him to believe that his true
title to the recollection of posterity lay in the fame achieved by his

The monarchy was demolished, in imitation of the Bastille, at the
evening sitting of the National Assembly on the 4th of August. They
who, from hatred of the past, decry the nobility to this day, forget
that it was a member of that body, the Vicomte de Noailles[353],
supported by the Duc d'Aiguillon[354] and Matthieu de Montmorency[355],
who upset the edifice which was the object of the revolutionary
onslaughts. Upon the motion of the feudal delegate were abolished all
feudal rights: rights of hunting and preserving feathered and ground
game, tithes and champerty, the privileges of the orders, of the towns
and provinces, personal servitude, manorial jurisdiction, purchase of
offices. The severest blows struck against the ancient constitution
of the State were delivered by noblemen. The patricians began the
Revolution, the plebeians completed it: just as old France owed her
glory to the French nobility, even so does young France owe to it her
liberty, if liberty there be for France.

[Sidenote: "Ô Richard! Ô mon Roi!"]

The troops encamped around Paris had been sent away, and by one of
those contradictory counsels which vexed the will of the King, the
Flanders Regiment was summoned to Versailles. The Bodyguards invited
the officers of that regiment to dinner[356]; heads grew excited; the
Queen appeared in the middle of the banquet, with the Dauphin; toasts
were drunk to the health of the Royal Family; the King came in his
turn; the military band played the touching and favourite air, "_Ô
Richard! ô mon roi[357]!_" No sooner was this news spread through
Paris, than it was seized upon by the opposite opinion; people cried
that Louis was refusing his sanction to the Declaration of Rights with
the intention of escaping to Metz with the Comte d'Estaing[358]. Marat
propagated this rumour: he was already writing the _Ami du peuple_[359].

The 5th of October arrived. I did not witness the events of that day.
The accounts of what had occurred reached the Capital early on the 6th.
We were told at the same time to expect a visit from the King. I was as
bold in public places as I was timid in drawing-rooms: I felt myself
made for solitude or the forum. I hastened to the Champs-Élysées:
first appeared guns, upon which harpies, thieves' doxies, women of
the town rode astride, uttering the most obscene speeches, making the
most filthy gestures. Next, surrounded by a horde of people of every
age and sex, marched on foot the Bodyguards, who had exchanged hats,
swords, and bandoliers with the National Guards: each of their horses
carried two or three fish-fags, dirty bacchantes, drunk and indecently
clad. After them came the deputation from the National Assembly; the
royal carriages followed, rolling in the dusty darkness of a forest of
pikes and bayonets. Tattered rag-men, butchers with their blood-stained
aprons hanging from their thighs, their bare knives from their belts,
their shirtsleeves turned up, walked beside the carriage-doors; other
sinister guards had climbed upon the roof; others hung on to the
foot-board, lolled upon the box. They fired muskets and pistols; they

"Here are the baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's boy!"

By way of oriflamme, they carried before the descendant of St. Louis,
in mid-air, upraised on Swiss halberts, the heads of two Bodyguards,
powdered and curled by a Sèvres hair-dresser.

[Sidenote: The King brought to Paris.]

Bailly the astronomer told Louis XVI. at the Hôtel de Ville that the
"humane, respectful and faithful" people had "conquered" its King, and
the King on his side, "greatly touched and greatly pleased," declared
that he had come to Paris "of his free will:" unworthy insincerities
pertaining to the violence and fear which at that time dishonoured
all men and all parties. Louis XVI. was not insincere: he was weak;
weakness is not an insincerity, but it takes its place and fulfills its
functions: the respect with which the virtues and misfortunes of the
sainted and martyred King must needs inspire us render any expression
of human judgment almost sacrilegious.


The deputies left Versailles and held their first sitting on the 19th
of October in one of the halls of the archbishop's palace. On the 9th
of November they moved into the Riding-hall, near the Tuileries. The
remainder of the year 1789 witnessed the decrees which despoiled the
clergy, destroyed the old magistracy, and created the _assignats_[360];
the resolution of the Commune of Paris in favour of the first committee
of research; and the order of the judges for the prosecution of the
Marquis de Favras[361].

The Constituent Assembly, in spite of all with which it can be
reproached, remains nevertheless the most illustrious popular
assemblage that has ever appeared among the nations of the world, both
because of the magnitude of its transactions' and the immensity of
their results. There is no political question, however lofty, which it
did not discuss and suitably solve. What would it not have been, had it
kept to the _cahiers_[362] of the States-General and not endeavoured
to go beyond them! All that human experience and intelligence had
conceived, discovered and elaborated during three centuries is to be
found in these instructions. The various abuses of the old monarchy
are there pointed out and remedies proposed; every kind of liberty
is claimed, even the liberty of the press; every form of improvement
demanded for industries, manufactures, commerce, public roads, the
army, taxation, finance, the schools, public education, and the rest.
We have passed across abysses of crime and accumulations of glory to
no profit; the Republic and the Empire have served no purpose: the
Empire merely regulated the brute force of the arms which the Republic
had set in motion; it has left us centralization, a vigorous form of
administration which I consider an evil, but which alone, perhaps, was
able to replace the local systems of administration at a time when
these were destroyed, and when anarchy combined with ignorance filled
all men's heads. With that exception, we have not moved a step forward
since the Constituent Assembly: its labours are like those of the great
physician of antiquity, which at the same time extended and settled
the boundaries of science. Let us speak of some of the members of this
Assembly, and in particular of Mirabeau, in whom they are all summed
up, by whom they are all governed.


Connected, thanks to the disorders and the chances of his life, with
the greatest events and with the lives of malefactors, ravishers, and
adventurers, Mirabeau, the tribune of the aristocracy, the deputy of
the democracy, had in his composition something of Gracchus and Don
Juan, of Catiline and Guzman de Alfarache, of the Cardinal de Richelieu
and the Cardinal de Retz, of the _roué_ of the Regency and the savage
of the Revolution: moreover he had something of the Mirabeaus, the
exiled Florentine family, which retained a trace of those armed palaces
and of those great factionists celebrated by Dante; the naturalized
French family, in which the republican spirit of the Italian
middle-ages and the feudal spirit of our own middle-ages were united in
a succession of uncommon men.

Mirabeau's ugliness, laid on over the substratum of beauty special to
his race, produced a sort of powerful figure from the "Last Judgment"
of Michael Angelo, the fellow-countryman of the Arrighettis[363].
The scars dug into the orator's face by the small-pox had rather the
semblance of gaps left by the fire. Nature seemed to have moulded his
head for empire or the gallows, and to have hewn his arms to clasp a
nation or carry off a woman. When he shook his mane as he looked at the
mob, he stopped it; when he raised his paw and showed his claws, the
plebs ran furiously. I have seen him in the tribune, amid the awful
disorder of a sitting, sombre, ugly and motionless: he reminded one
of Milton's Chaos, shapeless and impassive in the centre of his own

[Sidenote: The Comte de Mirabeau.]

Mirabeau took after his father[364] and his uncle[365], both of whom,
like Saint-Simon[366], wrote, off-hand, pages that became immortal.
Speeches were written for him to deliver from the tribune: he took
from them what his mind was able to amalgamate with its own substance.
If he adopted them in their entirety, he delivered them badly; his
hearers perceived that they were not his own, through words which he
inserted at random and which betrayed him. He derived his energy from
his vices; those vices did not spring from a chilly temperament, but
were supported by deep, burning, tempestuous passions. Cynicism of
manners, by annihilating the moral sense, brings back into society a
sort of barbarians; these barbarians of civilisation, while equipped
for destruction, like the Goths, have not their power of creating: the
latter were the enormous children of a virgin nature, the former are
the monstrous abortions of a nature that is depraved.

I twice met Mirabeau at a banquet, once at the house of Voltaire's
niece, the Marquise de Villette[367], and on another occasion at
the Palais-Royal, with some members of the Opposition to whom
Chapelier[368] had introduced me: Chapelier went to the scaffold in the
same tumbril with my brother and M. de Malesherbes.

Mirabeau talked much, and, above all, much of himself. This lion's
whelp, himself a lion with a chimera's head, this man so positive where
facts were concerned, was all romance, all poetry, all enthusiasm in
imagination and language: one recognized the lover of Sophie[369],
exalted in sentiment, capable of sacrifice.

"I discovered her," he said, "that adorable woman.... I knew what
her soul was, that soul shaped by nature's hands in a moment of

Mirabeau delighted me with stories of love, with desires for
retirement, among which he interspersed barren discussions. He
interested me, moreover, in another direction: like myself, he had
been treated sternly by his father, who, like mine, had kept up the
inflexible tradition of absolute paternal authority.

My great table-companion enlarged upon foreign politics, and hardly
spoke of politics at home, although it was the latter which occupied
him; but he let fall a few words of sovereign contempt for those
men who proclaim themselves superior by reason of the indifference
which they affect for misfortunes and crimes. Mirabeau was by
nature generous, sensible to friendship, ready to forgive injuries.
Notwithstanding his immorality, he had not been able to warp his
conscience; he was only corrupt for himself: his firm and upright mind
did not treat murder as a sublime effort of the intelligence; he had no
sort of admiration for the sewer or the slaughter-house.

Nevertheless, Mirabeau was not wanting in arrogance; he was an
outrageous boaster; although he had become a cloth-merchant in order
to be elected by the Third Estate (the order of the nobility having
committed the honourable folly of rejecting him), he was in love with
his birth: "a refractory hawk," says his father, "whose nest was laid
among four towers." He did not forget that he had figured at Court,
ridden in the coaches, and hunted with the King. He insisted upon being
addressed by his title of count; he adhered to his colours, and put
his servants into livery when every one else ceased to do so. In and
out of season, he referred to "his kinsman," Admiral de Coligny. The
_Moniteur_ having spoken of him as Riquet[370]:

"Are you aware," he said angrily to the journalist, "that with your
'Riquet' you have set Europe at cross-purposes for three days?"

He repeated that impudent and well-known jest:

"In any other family, my brother the viscount would be the wit and the
worthless fellow; in my family, he is the fool and the good man."

[Illustration: H. G. Mirabeau.]

Some biographers ascribe the phrase to the viscount, comparing himself
humbly with the other members of the family.

The ground-work of Mirabeau's opinions was monarchical; he once uttered
these fine words:

"I have tried to cure the French of the superstition of monarchy and to
substitute its cult."

In a letter intended to be laid before Louis XVI. he wrote:

"I should not like to have worked only for a vast destruction." This,
nevertheless, is what happened to him: Heaven, to punish us for making
a bad use of our talents, gives us occasion to repent of our successes.

[Sidenote: Mirabeau's power.]

Mirabeau moved public opinion with two levers: on the one side, he
placed his fulcrum in the masses, of whom he had constituted himself
the defender, while despising them; on the other, although he was a
traitor to his order, he retained its sympathy through caste affinity
and common interest. This would not happen to a plebeian who should
become the champion of the privileged classes: he would be abandoned by
his own party, without winning over the aristocracy, which is naturally
ungrateful and not to be won by those not born within its ranks. The
aristocracy, moreover, is not able to make a noble without notice,
since nobility is the daughter of time.

Mirabeau created a school. Men imagined that by shaking off the moral
shackles they were turning themselves into statesmen. These imitations
produced only petty miscreants: this one who flatters himself that he
is corrupt and a robber is only debauched and a cheat; that other who
thinks himself vicious is only vile; a third who boasts of being a
criminal is merely infamous.

Too early for himself, too late for the Court, Mirabeau sold himself
to the Court, and the Court bought him. He staked his reputation for
a pension and an embassy: Cromwell was on the verge of bartering his
future for a title and the Order of the Garter. Notwithstanding his
haughtiness, Mirabeau did not rate himself high enough. Nowadays, when
the abundance of cash and places has raised the price of consciences,
there is not a street-boy but costs hundreds of thousands of francs and
the leading honours of the State to buy. The grave released Mirabeau
from his promises, and shielded him from the perils which he would
probably not have been able to conquer: his life would have shown his
weakness in good; his death left him in possession of his strength in

At the end of dinner, the discussion turned upon Mirabeau's enemies; I
found myself by his side and had not spoken a word. He looked me in
the face with his eyes of pride, vice and genius, and laying his hand
upon my shoulder, said:

"They will never forgive me my superiority!"

I still feel the pressure of that hand, as though Satan had touched me
with his fiery claw. When Mirabeau fixed his look upon a young mute,
had he a presentiment of my future condition? Did he think that he
would one day figure in my recollections? I was destined to become the
historian of great personages: they have defiled before me without my
hanging to their mantles to make them drag me with them to posterity.

Mirabeau has already undergone the metamorphosis which is wrought in
those whose memory is destined to survive: carried from the Pantheon
to the sewer, and back from the sewer to the Pantheon, he has raised
himself to the full height of that time which today forms his pedestal.
We no longer behold the real Mirabeau, but the idealized Mirabeau, the
Mirabeau as the painters depict him, in order to make him the symbol
or the myth of the period which he represents: he thus becomes both
more false and more true. From among so many reputations, so many
actors, so many events, so many ruins, there will remain but three men,
attached to each of the three great revolutionary epochs: Mirabeau
for the aristocracy, Robespierre for the democracy, Bonaparte for
the despotism; the monarchy has none: France has paid dear for three
reputations which virtue is unable to acknowledge!


The sittings of the National Assembly offered a spectacle of an
interest which our "Chambers" are far from approaching. One rose early
to find room in the crowded galleries. The deputies arrived eating,
talking, gesticulating; they formed groups in the various parts of
the house, according to their opinions. The orders of the day were
read; after that, the subject agreed upon was set forth, or else an
extraordinary motion. There was no question of any insipid point of
law; rarely did some scheme of destruction fail to form part of the
proceedings. The members spoke for or against; each spoke extempore as
best he could. The debates grew stormy; the galleries joined in the
discussion, applauded and cheered, hissed and hooted the speakers. The
president rang his bell, the deputies apostrophized each other from
bench to bench. Mirabeau the Younger[371] took his competitor by the
collar; Mirabeau the Elder cried:

"Silence, the 'thirty votes'!"

One day I was seated behind the royalist opposition; before me was a
Dauphiné nobleman, swarthy of visage, short of stature, who jumped upon
his seat with rage and said to his friends:

"Let us fall upon those ragamuffins, sword in hand!"

He pointed in the direction of the majority. The ladies of the markets,
who sat knitting in the galleries, heard him, rose from their seats,
and all cried at once, their stockings in their hands, and foaming at
the mouth:

"To the lantern with them!"

The Vicomte de Mirabeau, Lautrec[372], and some younger nobles proposed
to take the galleries by assault.

Soon this tumult was drowned by another: petitioners, armed with pikes,
appeared at the bar:

"The people are starving," they said: "it is time to take measures
against the aristocrats and to rise 'to the level of the situation.'"

The president assured these citizens of his respect:

"We have our eye upon the traitors," he replied, "and the Assembly will
see justice done."

[Sidenote: The National Assembly.]

Thereupon a fresh din; the deputies of the Right cried that they were
making for anarchy; the deputies of the Left replied that the people
was free to express its will, that it had the right to complain of
the abettors of despotism, seated in the very midst of the national
representatives: they spoke thus of their colleagues to that sovereign
people which was waiting for them under the street lamps.

The evening sittings surpassed the morning sittings in scandalousness:
people speak better and more boldly by candlelight. At such times the
Riding-hall became a veritable playhouse, in which was enacted one
of the greatest tragedies in the world. The leading characters still
belonged to the old order of things: their terrible substitutes, hidden
behind them, spoke little or not at all. At the end of a violent
discussion, I saw a common-looking deputy ascend the tribune, a man
with a grey and impassive face, his hair neatly dressed, decently clad
like the steward in a good house, or like a village attorney careful of
his appearance. He read a long and tedious report; he was not listened
to; I asked his name: it was Robespierre[373]. The men in leathern
shoes were ready to leave the drawing-rooms, and already the wooden
shoes were kicking at the door.


When, before the Revolution, I read the history of public disturbances
among various nations, I could not conceive how it was possible to live
in those times; I was surprised that Montaigne was able to write with
such spirit in a castle which he could not go round without running the
risk of being taken prisoner by bands of Leaguers or Protestants[374].

The Revolution made me understand the possibility of existence under
such conditions. Moments of crisis produce a reduplication of life
in men. In a society which is dissolving and Recomposing itself, the
struggle of two geniuses, the clash of the past and the future, the
mixture of old manners and new manners form a transient combination
which does not leave a moment for weariness. Passions and characters,
when at liberty, display themselves with an energy which they do not
possess in the well-regulated State. The breaches of the laws, the
emancipation from duties, social usages, and seemly manners, the
very dangers, all add to the interest of this disorder. The human
race making holiday perambulates the streets, having got rid of its
schoolmasters and returned for a moment to a state of nature, and does
not begin again to feel the need of social restraint until it bears the
yoke of the new tyrants engendered by license.

[Sidenote: The theatres.]

I cannot better depict society in 1789 and 1790 than by comparing it
with the architecture of the time of Louis XII. and François I., when
the Greek orders began to be grafted upon the Gothic style, or rather
by likening it to the collection of ruins and tombs of all ages heaped
pell-mell, after the Terror, in the cloisters of the Petits-Augustins:
only, the ruins of which I speak were alive and constantly changing.
In every corner of Paris were literary sets, political societies, and
spectacles; future celebrities wandered unrecognized in the crowd,
like the souls on the shore of Lethe, before enjoying the light. I saw
Marshal Gouvion-Saint-Cyr[375], play a part in Beaumarchais' _Mère
Coupable_[376] at the Théâtre du Marais. One went from the Club des
Feuillants to the Club des Jacobins, from the public ball-rooms and
gaming-houses to the meetings in the Palais-Royal, from the gallery
of the National Assembly to the gallery in the open air. The streets
were filled with popular deputations, cavalry pickets, infantry patrols
passing to and fro. Behind a man in a French coat, with powdered hair,
a sword, a hat carried under his arm, pumps and silk stockings, walked
a man wearing his hair short and without powder, an English frock
and an American neck-cloth. At the theatres the actors gave out the
news; the pit shouted patriotic ditties. Topical pieces drew crowds:
an Abbé appeared upon the stage; the audience cried, "Jack-priest!
Jack-priest!" and the Abbé answered:

"Gentlemen, long live the nation!"

People trooped to hear Mandini and his wife, Viganoni and
Rovedino[377], sing at the _Opera Buffa_ after hearing _Ça ira_ roared
in the streets; they went to admire Madame Dugazon[378], Madame
Saint-Aubin[379], Carline[380], little Olivier[381], Mademoiselle
Contat, Molé, Fleury, Talma at the commencement of his career, after
seeing Favras hanged.

The walks on the Boulevard du Temple and the Boulevard des Italiens,
or de Coblentz, the paths of the Tuileries Gardens were inundated with
smartly dressed women: three young daughters of Grétry's[382] shone
there, white and pink as their costumes; they soon died, all three.

"She fell asleep for ever," said Grétry, speaking of his eldest
daughter, "seated on my knees, as beautiful as in life."

A multitude of carriages ploughed across the muddy spaces in which the
sans-culottes plodded on foot, and one saw the beautiful Madame de
Buffon[383] sitting alone in a phaeton belonging to the Duc d'Orléans,
waiting at the door of some club.

All that was elegant and in good taste in aristocratic society met
at the Hôtel de La Rochefoucauld[384], at the _soirées_ of Mesdames
de Poix, d'Hénin, de Simiane, de Vaudreuil, in the few _salons_ that
remained open of the upper magisterial circle. At M. Necker's, at M.
le Comte de Montmorin's, at the houses of the different ministers
gathered (in addition to Madame de Staël, the Duchesse d'Aiguillon,
Mesdames de Beaumont[385] and de Sérilly[386]) all the new lights of
France and all the liberties of the new manners. The shoemaker knelt
to take the measure of your foot in the uniform of an officer of the
National Guard; the monk who on Friday trailed his white or black gown
along the ground appeared on Sunday in a round hat and a lay coat; the
shorn Capuchin read the paper in the public-house, and in the midst of
a circle of frivolous women, a nun appeared gravely seated: it was an
aunt or a sister turned out of her monastery. The crowd visited these
convents thrown open to the world like the travellers who, at Grenada,
wander through the deserted halls of the Alhambra, or, at Tivoli,
linger beneath the columns of the Sibyl's temple.

For the rest, many duels and love-affairs, prison attachments and
political friendships, mysterious meetings among ruins, under a
tranquil sky, amid nature's peace and poetry; silent, remote, solitary
walks, mingled with undying oaths and indefinable affections, to the
dull tumult of a fleeing world, to the distant noise of a crumbling
society, which threatened in its fall to crush the happiness set at the
foot of events. Those who had lost sight of each other for twenty-four
hours were not sure of ever meeting again. Some went the revolutionary
way; others contemplated civil war; others set out for Ohio, sending
ahead plans for country-houses to be built among the savages; others
went to join the Princes: all this cheerfully, often without a sou in
their pockets, the Royalists declaring that the thing would come to
an end one of these mornings by a decree of Parliament, the patriots,
quite as airy in their hopes, foretelling the reign of peace and
happiness together with that of liberty. People sang:

    La sainte chandelle d'Arras,
    Le flambeau de la Provence,
    S'ils ne nous éclairent pas,
    Mettent le feu dans la France;
    On ne peut pas les toucher,
    Mais on espère les moucher[387].

And that was how people spoke of Robespierre and Mirabeau!

"It is as little within the power of any earthly faculty," wrote
L'Éstoile[388], "to keep the French people from talking as to hide the
sun in the ground or bury it in a hole."

The Palace of the Tuileries, a great gaol filled with sentenced
prisoners, rose erect amid these festivals of destruction. The
condemned themselves made merry while waiting for the "cart," the
"shears," and the "red shirt" which had been put out to dry; and
through the windows one saw the dazzling illuminations of the Queen's

[Sidenote: The newspapers.]

Pamphlets and newspapers swarmed in thousands; the satires and poems,
the songs of the _Actes des Apôtres_[389] replied to the _Ami du
peuple_, or to the _Modérateur_[390] of the Club Monarchien, edited by
Fontanes; Mallet Du Pan[391], on the political side of the _Mercure_,
was in opposition to La Harpe and Chamfort on the literary side of the
same journal. Champcenetz[392], the Marquis de Bonnay, Rivarol[393],
Mirabeau the Younger (the Holbein of the sword, who levied on the Rhine
the legion of the Hussars of Death), Honoré Mirabeau the Elder amused
themselves by drawing caricatures at dinner and composing the _Petit
almanach des grands hommes_: Honoré would subsequently go off to move
martial law or the seizure of the property of the clergy. He spent the
night at Madame Le Jay's[394], after declaring that he would not leave
the National Assembly unless driven out at the point of the bayonet.
Égalité consulted the devil in the Montrouge stone-quarries, and
returned to the Jardin de Monceau to preside over the orgies prepared
by Laclos[395]. The future regicide proved himself worthy of his race:
he was twice prostituted; debauchery handed him over exhausted to
ambition. Lauzun[396], already worn out, supped in his pleasure-house
at the Barrière du Maine with dancers from the Opera, caressed
indifferently by Messrs. de Noailles, de Dillon[397], de Choiseul, de
Talleyrand[398] and other elegants of the time, of whom two or three
mummies still survive.

The majority of the courtiers celebrated for their immorality at the
end of the reign of Louis XV., and during the reign of Louis XVI.,
were enlisted under the tricolour banner: almost all of them had
been through the American war and had besmirched their ribbons with
the Republican colours. The Revolution employed them so long as it
remained at a middling height; they even became the first generals
of its armies. The Duc de Lauzun, the romantic lover of the Princess
Czartoriska, the woman-hunter of the high-road, the Lovelace who "had"
this one and then "had" that one, in the chaste and noble cant of the
Court; the Duc de Lauzun, becoming Duc de Biron, and commanding the
forces of the Convention in the Vendée: the pity of it! The Baron de
Besenval[399], the lying and cynical revealer of the corruption of
the upper classes, the fly on the wheel of the puerilities of the
expiring old monarchy; that ponderous baron, compromised in the affair
of the Bastille, and saved by M. Necker and Mirabeau only because he
was a Swiss: the disgrace of it! What had such men to do with such
events? When the Revolution had attained its full height, it scornfully
abandoned these frivolous apostates from the throne: it had needed
their vices, it now needed their heads; it disdained no blood, not even
that of the Du Barry[400].


The year 1790 brought to completion the measures outlined by the year
1789. The property of the Church, first placed in the hands of the
nation, was confiscated, the civil constitution of the clergy decreed,
the nobility abolished.

[Sidenote: The Federation of July.]

I did not attend the Federation of July 1790: a somewhat serious
illness made me keep my bed; but before that I had been much amused by
the sight of the wheel-barrows on the Champ de Mars. Madame de Staël
has written a wonderful description of that scene[401]. I shall always
regret not to have seen M. de Talleyrand say Mass, served by the Abbé
Louis[402], as I regret not to have seen him, sword at side, give
audience to the Ambassador of the Grand Turk.

Mirabeau forfeited his popularity in the year 1790; his relations with
the Court were obvious. M. Necker resigned office and withdrew into
private life, none caring to restrain him[403]. Mesdames, the King's
aunts, left for Rome with a passport from the National Assembly[404].
The Duc d'Orléans returned from England and declared himself the King's
most humble and most obedient servant. Societies of Friends of the
Constitution multiplied upon the soil and connected themselves with the
parent society, receiving its suggestions and executing its orders.

Public life met with a favourable disposition in my character: I was
attracted by what happened in public, because, in the crowd, I beheld
my loneliness and had no occasion to combat my shyness. Nevertheless,
the salons, sharing as they did in the universal agitation, had become
a little less foreign to my mood, and I had made new acquaintances in
spite of myself.

The Marquise de Villette I had met casually. Her husband[405], who bore
a slandered reputation, wrote with Monsieur, the King's brother, in the
_Journal de Paris._ Madame de Villette, still charming, lost a daughter
of sixteen, more charming than her mother, upon whom the Chevalier de
Parny wrote some verses worthy of the Anthology[406].

My regiment, which was in garrison at Rouen, preserved its discipline
pretty late. It had an encounter with the mob on the subject of the
execution of the actor Bordier[407], who underwent the last sentence
pronounced by the parliamentary power; hanged one day, he would have
been a hero the next, had he lived twenty-four hours longer. But at
last the insurrection showed itself among the soldiers of the Navarre
Regiment. The Marquis de Mortemart emigrated; his officers followed
him. I had neither adopted nor rejected the new opinions; I was as
little disposed to attack as to serve them, was unwilling either to
emigrate or to continue in the military career, and I resigned my

Freed from all bonds, I had, on the one side, somewhat animated
discussions with my brother and the President de Rosanbo; on the other,
discussions no less embittered with Ginguené, La Harpe, and Chamfort.
From my early youth, my political impartiality pleased nobody. Besides,
I attached importance to the questions then raised only through general
ideas concerning the liberty and dignity of the human race; personal
politics bored me; my real life lay in higher regions.

The streets of Paris, blocked with people night and day, were no longer
suited to my lounging inclinations. To recover the desert, I took
refuge in the theatre: I ensconced myself at the back of a box and
allowed my thoughts to wander to the sound of Racine's[408] verses,
Sacchini's[409] music, or the Opera ballets. I must have had the
courage to see _Barbe-bleue_[410] and the _Sabot perdu_[411] twenty
times in succession at the Italiens, courting tedium in order to dispel
it, like an owl in a hole in a wall; while the monarchy fell, I heard
neither the cracking of the venerable vaults nor the screeching of the
vaudeville, neither Mirabeau's voice thundering in the tribune nor
Colin's singing to Babet on the stage:

    Qu'il pleuve, qu'il vente ou qu'il neige,
    Quand la nuit est longue, ou l'abrège[412].

Madame Ginguené sometimes sent M. Monet, the director of mines, and his
young daughter to disturb my unsociable mood: Mademoiselle Monet took
her seat in the front of the box; I sat, half pleased, half grumbling,
behind her. I do not know whether she attracted me, whether I liked
her; but I was very much afraid of her. When she was gone, I regretted
her, while rejoicing at no longer seeing her. Still, I sometimes went,
with the perspiration standing on my brow, to fetch her for a walk: I
gave her my arm, and I believe I pressed hers a little.

One idea governed me, the idea of going to the United States: a
useful object was wanting for my voyage; I proposed, as I have said
in the Memoirs and in several of my works, to discover the North-West
Passage. This plan was not out of keeping with my poetic nature. No one
troubled himself about me; I was at that time, like Bonaparte, a slim
sub-lieutenant, entirely unknown; both of us emerged from obscurity at
the same period, I to seek renown in solitude, he to seek glory among
mankind. I had not attached myself to any woman, and my sylph still
possessed my imagination. I placed before myself the bliss of realizing
my fantastic wanderings in her company in the forests of the New World.
Through the influence of a new manifestation of nature, my flower of
love, my nameless phantom of the woods of Armorica, grew into _Atala_
beneath the shady groves of Florida.

[Sidenote: The North-West passage.]

M. de Malesherbes excited me on the subject of this voyage. I went
to see him in the mornings: we sat, with our noses glued to maps;
we compared the different plans of the Arctic Circle; we calculated
the distances between Behring's Straits and the furthermost part of
Hudson's Bay; we read the different narratives of the travellers and
navigators, English, Dutch, French, Russian, Swedish, Danish; we
enquired into the roads to be followed on land to reach the shores
of the Polar Sea; we discussed the difficulties to be overcome, the
precautions to be taken against the rigours of the climate, the attacks
of wild animals, the scarcity of food. This illustrious man said to me:

"If I were younger, I would go with you, I would spare myself the sight
of all the crimes, meannesses and madnesses which I see about me.
But, at my age, a man must die where he stands. Do not fail to write
to me by every ship, to keep me informed of your progress and your
discoveries: I will commend them to the ministers. It is a great pity
that you know no botany."

After these conversations, I would peruse Tournefort[413],
Duhamel[414], Bernard de Jussieu[415], Grew[416], Jacquin,
Rousseau's[417] Dictionary, the _Flores élementaires_; I ran to the
Jardin du Roi, and before long thought myself a very Linnæus[418].

At last, in January 1791, I seriously made up my mind. The chaos
was increasing: it was sufficient to bear an "aristocratic" name
to be exposed to persecution: the more moderate and conscientious
your opinions the more were you liable to suspicion and annoyance. I
therefore resolved to strike my tents: I left my brother and my sisters
in Paris, and made for Brittany.

At Fougères I met the Marquis de La Rouërie: I asked him to give me
a letter for General Washington[419]. "Colonel Armand" (the name by
which the marquis was known in America) had distinguished himself in
the American War of Independence. He made himself famous in France
through the royalist conspiracy which made such touching victims in the
Desilles[420] family. He having died while organizing this conspiracy,
his body was disinterred and recognized, and caused the misfortune of
his hosts and of his friends. The rival of La Fayette and Lauzun, the
predecessor of La Rochejacquelein, the Marquis de La Rouërie was a
more spirited person than they: he had fought oftener than the first;
he had carried off opera-singers like the second; he would have become
the companion in arms of the third. He swept the woods in Brittany in
company with an American major[421], and with a monkey seated on his
horse's crupper. The Rennes law-students loved him for his boldness of
action and his liberty of ideas: he had been one of the twelve Breton
nobles sent to the Bastille. His figure and manners were elegant, his
appearance smart, his features charming, and he resembled the portraits
of the young lords of the League.

[Sidenote: I embark for America.]

I selected Saint-Malo as my port of embarkation, in order to embrace
my mother. I have told you in the third book of these Memoirs how I
passed through Combourg and of the sentiments that oppressed me. I
stayed two months at Saint-Malo, busying myself with preparations for
my departure, as I had done before, when I was thinking of departing
for the Indies.

I struck a bargain with a captain called Dujardin[422], who was to
carry to Baltimore the Abbé Nagault[423], superior of the seminary of
Saint-Sulpice, and several seminarists under the conduct of their head.
These travelling companions would have been more to my liking four
years earlier: from being a zealous Christian I had become "a man of
strong mind[424]," in other words a man of weak mind. This change in
my religious opinions had been brought about by reading philosophical
books. I believed in good faith that a religious mind was in part
paralyzed, that there existed truths which it was unable to comprehend,
superior though it might be in other respects. This blessed pride
imposed upon me; I inferred in the religious mind that very absence of
a faculty which exists precisely in the philosophic mind: the narrow
intelligence thinks that it sees everything because it keeps its eyes
open; the superior intelligence consents to close its eyes, because it
sees everything within. Lastly, one thing finished me: the groundless
despair which I carried at the bottom of my heart.

A letter from my brother has fixed the date of my departure in my
memory: he wrote to my mother from Paris, informing her of the death of
Mirabeau[425]. Three days after the arrival of this letter, I joined
the ship lying in the roads[426]; my luggage was already on board. The
anchor was weighed, a solemn moment with mariners. The sun was setting
when the coasting pilot left us, after putting us through the channels.
The weather was overcast, the wind slack, and the swell beat heavily
upon the rocks at a few cables' length from our vessel.

My eyes remained fixed upon Saint-Malo, where I had left my mother in
tears. I saw the steeples and domes of the churches where I had prayed
with Lucile, the walls, the ramparts, the forts, the towers, the beach
where I had spent my childhood with Gesril and my other play-fellows; I
was abandoning my distracted country at the moment when she had lost a
man who could never be replaced. I was going away in equal uncertainty
as to my country's destinies and my own: which of us was to perish,
France or I? Should I ever see France and my family again?

With nightfall came a calm which kept us lying at the mouth of the
roads; the lights of the town and the beacons were kindled: those
lights which twinkled beneath my paternal roof seemed at once to smile
to me and bid me farewell, while lighting me amid the rocks, the
darkness of the night, and the blackness of the waves.

I carried with me only my youth and my illusions: I was deserting a
world whose dust I had trod and whose stars I had counted for a world
of which the soil and the sky were both unknown to me. What was to
become of me if I attained the object of my voyage? While I roamed
upon the polar shores, the years of discord which have crushed so
many generations with so loud a noise would have fallen silently over
my head; society would have renewed its aspect in my absence. It is
probable that I should never have had the misfortune to write; my name
would have remained unknown, or would have won only a peaceful renown
of the kind which is less than glory, which is scorned by envy and left
to happiness. Who knows whether I would have recrossed the Atlantic,
whether I would not have settled down among the solitudes explored and
discovered at my peril and risk, like a conqueror in the midst of his

[Sidenote: We set sail.]

But no, I was to return to my native land, there to undergo altered
miseries, to become something quite different from what I had been! The
sea in whose lap I was born was about to become the cradle of my second
life; she bore me upon my first voyage as though in the bosom of my
foster-mother, in the arms of the confidant of my first tears and my
first pleasures.

The ebb-tide, in the absence of the wind, carried us out to sea;
the lights of the shore grew smaller and smaller, and disappeared.
Exhausted with my reflections, with vague regrets, with even vaguer
hopes, I went below to my cabin: I lay down to rest, rocked in my
hammock to the sound of the billows which caressed the side of the
vessel. The wind rose; the unfurled sails, which hung flapping about
the masts, filled out, and when, next morning, I went up on deck, the
land of France was out of sight.

Here toy destinies changed: "Again to sea!" as Byron sings.

[218] This book was written in Paris between June and December 1821,
and revised in December 1846.--T.

[219] The _Moniteur_ of Sunday 29 April 1821 contains the following,
under the heading, Paris, 28 April: "M. le Vicomte de Chateaubriand,
French Minister Plenipotentiary in Berlin, arrived in Paris on the day
before yesterday." The Duc de Bordeaux was christened at Notre-Dame on
the 1st of May 1821.--B.

[220] Villèle left the Cabinet on the 27th of July 1821; Chateaubriand
resigned his ambassadorship on the 31st of July.--B.

[221] Marigny has greatly changed since my sister occupied it. It has
been sold and now belongs to Messieurs de Pommereul, who nave rebuilt
it and much improved it.--_Author's Note._

[222] Antoine Auguste Bruzen de Lamartinière (1662-1746), compiler of
the _Dictionnaire géographique, historique et critique._ He was born
and spent his youth at Dieppe, and was the nephew of Richard Simon
(_vide infra_).--T.

[223] Richard Simon (1638-1712), an early Rationalist, author of a
number of works on the Old and New Testaments, which were promptly
condemned by the Holy See.--T.

[224] Jean Pecquet (1610-1674), discoverer of the chyle reservoir or
_réservoir de Pecquet._--T.

[225] See Madame de Sévigné's letters of 22 December 1664, January
1665, 19 November 1670, and 11 July 1672.--B.

[226] The district of Caux, in Upper Normandy, which includes Dieppe,
is noted for the beauty of its women and the singularity of their

[227] Renée Élisabeth de La Belinaye (1728-1816), eldest daughter
of Armand Magdelon Comte de La Belinaye, and sister of Thérèse de
La Belinaye who married Anne Joseph Jacques Tuffin de La Rouërie,
and was the mother of the Marquis Armand de La Rouërie, the famous

[228] Jean Baptiste Isoard (1743-1816), known as Delisle de Sales, and
nicknamed Diderot's Ape. Nevertheless, and although certain of his
philosophical treatises were indicted and burned, he fought against
Atheism and Materialism. His works ran into scores of volumes and made
no mark whatever.--T.

[229] Or "villas," as we should say nowadays.--T.

[230] Claude Marie Louis Emmanuel Carbon de Flins des Oliviers
(1757-1806) edited the _Journal de la Ville et des Provinces, ou le
Modérateur_ with Fontanes, and produced, not without success, a number
of comedies in verse.--B.

[231] Jean Baptiste Britard (1721-1791), known as Brizard, a well-known
player of heavy fathers and kings. He retired on the 1st of April

[232] François Joseph Talma (1763-1826) made his first appearance
in 1787, and is regarded as the greatest actor of his day. Napoleon
Bonaparte admitted him to his intimacy, and twice paid his debts. He
had been educated in England, knew English perfectly, and played in
London on more than one occasion.--T.

[233] Jean Mauduit de Larive (1749-1827) held the stage at the Français
until eclipsed by Talma, when he retired and opened a school of
declamation. He accompanied Joseph Bonaparte to Naples as reader in
1806, and built the hamlet of Larive on his property at Montlignon,
near Montmorency.--T.

[234] Joseph Abraham Bénard (1750-1822), known as Fleury, a very
popular light-comedy actor.--T.

[235] François René Molet (1734-1802), known as Molé, another player
of light-comedy parts, principally those then known as fats and
_petits-maîtres_: fops and dandies. He was an active member of the
Comédie Française for forty-two years, from 1760 to the day of his

[236] Henri Gourgaud (1714-1809), known as Dugazon, played comic
men-servants' parts. He was the brother of Madame Vestris, the tragic

[237] Jean Baptiste Fouchard de Grandménil (1737-1816) gave up the
bar for the stage. He excelled in _rôles à manteaux_ or mysterious
strangers' parts. He was a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, and
professor at the Conservatoire.--T.

[238] Mademoiselle Contat (1760-1813), a very perfect and versatile
actress, who created the part of Suzanne in Beaumarchais' _Mariage de
Figaro_ in 1784. She married M. de Parny, nephew to the poet.--T.

[239] Mademoiselle Saint-Val the younger. Her elder sister had left the
Comédie Française in 1779.--B.

[240] Jeanne Adélaïde Gérardine Olivier (1765-1787), a native of
London. A very charming actress; she was scarcely nineteen when she
created the part of Chérubin in the _Mariage de Figaro_, achieving a
success almost equal to that of Mademoiselle Contat as Suzanne.--B.

[241] Anne Françoise Hippolyte Boutet (1779-1847), known as
Mademoiselle Mars, one of the most famous of French comic actresses.
She made her first appearance at the Théâtre Montansier when thirteen
years of age, in 1792, and did not definitely leave the stage until
1841, when she was sixty-two. She created over one hundred parts at the
Théâtre Français alone, which she joined in 1798.--T.

[242] Jacques Marie Boutet (1745-1811), known as Monvel, an exceedingly
intelligent actor. He commenced by playing Mold's parts at the Comédie
Française, and in later life made a successful heavy father at the
Théâtre de la République. He also wrote a number of successful comedies
and comic operas, and under the Empire became a professor at the
Conservatoire and a Member of the Institute.--T.

Monvel was the father of Mademoiselle Mars by a provincial actress
called Marguerite Salvetat, who acted under the name of Madame Mars,
whence the daughter took her stage-name.--B.

[243] Now the Théâtre du Palais-Royal.--B.

[244] Parny was born in the Île Bourbon.--T.

[245] I here omit some lines quoted from Parny.--T.

[246] Jacques Necker (1732-1804), Controller-General from 1776 to 1781,
1788 to 1789, and 1789 to 1790.--T.

[247] Ginguené was accredited as Ambassador of the French Republic at
Turin in the early part of 1798. By affectation of simplicity, and
also doubtless from economy, he caused his wife to be dispensed from
appearing at the audiences in Court dress. He did not lose an hour
before dispatching a special courier to carry the great piece of news
to the Foreign Minister: the Citizeness Ambassadress had appeared
in a _pet-en-l'air!_ Within a very few days, Talleyrand had signed
Ginguené's recall.--B.

A _pet-en-l'air_ is a very vulgar term for a short morning gown.--T.

[248] The _Décade philosophique_, founded 10 Floréal Year II. (29 April
1794). Ginguené was its editor-in-chief. In 1804, after the Empire had
been established, it changed its title to that of _Revue philosophique,
littéraire et politique._ It ceased to appear in 1807.--B.

[249] Ponce Denis Escouchard Le Brun (1729-1807), nicknamed the French
Pindar, a versatile poet and epigrammatist, who sang by turns, and with
equal fervor, the Monarchy, the Republic, and the Empire. Ginguené
edited and published his Collected Works in 1811.--T.

[250] For an account of this "classical supper," see the Recollections
of Madame Vigée-Lebrun. Le Brun recited imitations of Anacreon, crowned
with Pindar's laurels.--B.

[251] It is true that Le Brun wrote trenchant versus against Bonaparte,
but he kept them to himself, and took care to publish those in which he
extolled him. Bonaparte awarded him a pension of 6000 francs.--B.

[252] Chamfort was his adopted name. He never knew his real name nor
that of his father.--T.

[253] Jacques Delille (1738-1813) translated the _Georgics_, the
_Æneid_, and _Paradise Lost_ into French verse. He had a facile talent
for versification, and was admitted to the French Academy in 1774. He
appears to have been in orders, and undoubtedly for some time held the
abbey of Saint-Séverin, but he never followed an ecclesiastical career,
and he married after the Revolution.--T.

[254] Claude Carloman de Rulhière (1735-1791) was elected to the
Academy in 1787. He commenced life as aide-de-camp to the Marshal
de Richelieu in Guyenne. He then became secretary to the Baron de
Breteuil, whom he accompanied on his embassy to Russia in 1760. In
1765, having meantime enjoyed a pension of 6000 francs for that
purpose, he completed his _Histoire de la révolution de Russie en
1762._ This work, however, could not be published during the lifetime
of Catherine II., and it eventually saw the light in 1797, six years
after the death of the author. He published some poetry, in addition to
the above and other historical works.--T.

[255] The Comtesse d'Egmont was the daughter of the Maréchal de
Richelieu, and it was she who urged Rulhière to adopt a literary

[256] Charles Palissot de Montenoy (1730-1814), author of a number of
more or less polemical comedies, poems, and historical works.--T.

[257] Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), author of
the _Barbier de Séville_, the _Folle Journée, ou le Manage do Figaro,
Tarare_, &c.--T.

[258] Jean François Marmontel (1723-1799), author of the _Contes
moraux_ and a large number of miscellaneous and voluminous works.--T.

[259] Marie Joseph de Chénier (1764-1811), the poet, brother of André
de Chénier. Chateaubriand succeeded to his chair at the Institute.--T.

[260] Urquhart and Motteux' RABELAIS, Book II. chap. 6: _How Pantagruel
met with a Limosin, who affected to speak in learned phrase._--T.

[261] Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), the leading French poet of his
day, but also noted for a pedantic affectation of erudition and a
barbarous neologism which made Boileau say of him:

Que sa muse en français parla grec et latin.

("That his muse, speaking French, talked in Latin and Greek").--T.

[262] Chateaubriand wrote this page in June 1821; Fontanes had died on
the 17th of March previous.--B.

[263] Rosanbo was guillotined on 1 Floréal Year II. (20 April 1794).--B.

[264] These are the four leading magisterial or parliamentary families
of France under the Old Order. The Lamoignons produced Guillaume de
Lamoignon (1617-1677), First President of the Parliament of Paris
(1658-1677), himself the son of a chief justice; his sons Chrétien
François de Lamoignon, a chief justice (1690) and Nicolas Lamoignon
de Baville (1648-1724), Counsellor to the Parliament (1670), Master
of Requests (1675), and lastly, Intendant of Languedoc; Guillaume de
Lamoignon, Seigneur de Malesherbes, Chancellor of France (1750-1768),
son of Chrétien François; his son, Chrétien Guillaume de Malesherbes
(1721-1794), the famous minister and counsel for Louis XVI. at
the King's trial; and Chrétien François Lamoignon (_d._ 1789),
Chief Justice of the Parliament of Paris (1758) and Chancellor in
1787, great-grandson of the first Guillaume de Lamoignon. His son,
Christian de Lamoignon, was created a peer of France, and died in
1827; in him the family of Lamoignon became extinct. The Molés held
chief-justiceships from 1602 to the Revolution. The more remarkable
members of the family were Édouard Molé (1558-1641), its founder, son
of a counsellor to the Parliament, himself successively a counsellor,
Procurator-General, and Chief Justice of the Parliament of Paris
(1602); Matthieu Molé (1584-1656), his son, counsellor (1606),
Procurator-General (1614), Chief Justice (1641) and Keeper of the
Seals (1650); and more recently Matthieu Louis Molé (1781-1855), son
of the President Molé de Champlatreux, Minister of Justice under
Bonaparte (1813), who created him a count of the Empire, Minister
of Marine (1815-1818) under the Restoration, when he became a peer
of France, Foreign Minister (1830-1836), and Premier (1836-1839)
under Louis Philippe. In 1840 he was elected a member of the French
Academy. Of the Séguiers, Pierre Séguier (1504-1580) was an advocate,
Advocate-General, and Chief Justice; his son, Antoine Séguier
(1552-1626), was a counsellor to the Parliament, Advocate-General,
and Ambassador of Henry IV. at Venice; Pierre Séguier (1588-1672),
grandson of the first Pierre, was Intendant of Guyenne, Keeper of the
Seals (1633), and Chancellor (1635); Antoine Louis Séguier (1726-1791)
was Advocate-General to the Grand Council and subsequently to the
Parliament (1755-1790) and a member of the French Academy (1757); and
his son, Matthieu Séguier (_d._ 1848), was for many years a chief
justice. Henri François d'Aguesseau (1688-1751) was the son of an
intendant of Limousin, and was Chancellor of France from 1717 to 1718,
1720 to 1722, and 1737 to 1750.--T.

[265] _Cf. inter alia_, the character of the Présidente de Tourvel in
Choderlos de Laclos' _Liaisons dangereuses._--T.

[266] This must be a slip of the pen. Malesherbes had only two
daughters: Marie Thérèse, born 1756, who married, in 1769,
Louis Le Peletier, Seigneur de Rosanbo, and Françoise Pauline,
born 1758, who married, in 1775, Charles Philippe Simon de
Montboissier-Beaufort-Canillac, commanding the Orléans Regiment of

[267] The President de Rosanbo's three daughters married the Comte de
Chateaubriand, the author's brother, the Comte Lepelletier d'Aulnay,
and the Comte de Tocqueville. The last was made a lord of the
Bed-chamber and a peer of France by Charles X., and was the father of
Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the _Démocratie en Amérique._--B.

[268] Louis Le Peletier, Vicomte de Rosanbo (1777-1858) was created a
peer of France on the same day as Chateaubriand, 17 August 1815, and
together with the latter, retired from the Upper House in August 1830,
refusing to take the oath to the usurper.--B.

[269] Navigated in recent years by Captain Franklin and Captain
Parry.--(_Author's Note_ Geneva, 1831).

[270] René Nicolas Maupeou (1714-1792) succeeded his father in 1768 as
Chancellor of France. In 1771 he banished the Parliament of Paris and
installed in its stead the King's Privy Council, which was derisively
nicknamed the "Maupeou Parliament" by the public, and which continued
in power until the death of Louis XV. in 1774, when the Parliament was
restored and Maupeou banished in his turn.--T.

[271] Of the royal edicts.--T.

[272] Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802), Controller-General of
Finance (1783-1787).--T.

[273] Armand Marc Comte de Montmorin-Saint-Hérem (1746-1792), Minister
of Foreign Affairs under Necker, and killed in the massacres of

[274] Étienne Charles de Loménie, Comte de Brienne (1727-1794),
successively Bishop of Condom, Archbishop of Toulouse, Archbishop of
Sens, and a cardinal. In 1787 he was appointed Controller-General, and
soon after became Prime Minister. He was arrested in 1793 and died in
prison in 1794.--T.

[275] Anne of Brittany (1476-1514), daughter and heiress of Duke
François II., was first married by proxy to the Emperor Maximilian I.
The marriage was not consummated, and in 1491 Anne married King Charles
VIII. of France. Charles died in 1498, and in 1499 his widow married
his cousin and successor, Louis XII.--T.

[276] Charles of Blois, son of Margaret, sister of Philip VI., married
in 1337 Joan of Penthièvre, daughter of Guy, and niece of John III.,
Duke of Brittany, on the understanding that he was to succeed to the
latter's estates. Upon the death of John in 1341, a war broke out
between Charles and the Count of Montfort (_vide infra_) which lasted
until 1364, when Charles was slain at the Battle of Auray.--T.

[277] John Count of Montfort, brother of John III. Duke of Brittany,
assumed the title of John IV. He died in 1345, and was succeeded by his
son John V., who eventually entered into possession of the Duchy.--T.

[278] Letter to Madame de Grignan, 5 August 1671.--T.

[279] M. de Sévigné, her son.--_Author's Note._

[280] A play upon words: a _roué_ is a rake and also one broken on the

[281] Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac(1755-1841), President of the
Convention during the trial of Louis XVI., and member of the Committee
of Public Safety (1793-1795).--T.

[282] A Suisse, or porter.--T.

[283] This duel took place _circa_ 1735 between Jean François de
Kératry, a younger son from Cornouaille, not Morbihan, and the Marquis,
not Comte, de Sabran.--B.

[284] A large proportion of Breton names commence with Ker: one says a
"Ker" of Brittany as who should say a "Tre, Pol, or Pen" of Cornwall or
a "Thwaite" of Westmoreland.--T.

[285] St. Corentin was the first titular Bishop of Cornouaille (or
Quimper), which see was created by King Gallon, or Grallon, Mur, or the
Great, not "three centuries before Christ," but towards the close of
the fifth century A.D.--B.

[286] Giuseppe Balsamo (1743-1795), known as Alessandro Conte di
Cagliostro, the conjurer, and one of the leading spirits in the affair
of the Necklace.--T.

[287] Friedrich Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), the discoverer of animal

[288] Louis Anne Pierre Geslin, Comte (not Marquis) de Trémargat (_b._
1749), a naval officer and knight of St. Louis.--B.

[289] Henri Charles Comte de Thiard-Bissy (1726-1794), a
lieutenant-general and principal equerry to the Duc d'Orléans. In
February 1787 he succeeded M. de Montmorin in his post of King's
Commandant in Brittany. He was guillotined on the 26th of July 1794.--B.

[290] The twelve gentlemen sent to the Bastille, 15 July 1788, were
the Marquis de La Rouërie, the Comte de La Fruglaye, the Marquis de
La Bourdonnaye de Montluc, the Comte de Trémargat, the Marquis de
Corné, the Comte Godet de Châtillon, the Vicomte de Champion de Cicé,
the Marquis Alexis de Bedée, the Chevalier de Guer, the Marquis du
Bois de La Feronnière, the Comte Hay des Nétumières, and the Comte
de Becdelièvre-Penhouët. Their captivity was anything but harsh, and
lasted under two months, from 15 July to 12 September 1788.--B.

[291] Gabriel Comte Cortois de Pressigny (1745-1823). He emigrated in
1791; on the Restoration he was sent as a special envoy to the Holy
See. In 1816 he was created a peer of France, and in 1817 appointed
Archbishop of Besançon.--B.


    "Along the avenue
    The devil went so fast
    That he was lost to view
    Before an hour had passed."--T.


    "The beautiful maid became a duck,
    Became a duck, became a duck,
    And through a lattice off she flew
    To a pond where duck-weed grew."--T.

[294] Pierre and François Guillaume de La Saudre. The Château de
Bonnaban is still one of the finest seats in the neighbourhood of
Saint-Malo. It is now the property of the Comte de Kergariou.--B.

[295] The Briantais, at Saint-Servan, on the banks of the Rance, was
at that time the property of the Picot de Prémesnil family, and now
belongs to M. Lachambre, a late member of the Chamber of Deputies.--B.

[296] The Bosq and the Montmarin faced each other on opposite banks of
the Rance: the former at Saint-Servan, the latter at Pleurtuit. Both
belonged to the opulent family of Magon.--B.

[297] The Balue, at Saint-Servan, also belonged to the Magons.--B.

[298] The Colombier, at Paramé, was the property, in 1788, of the Eon
de Carissan family.--B.

[299] The Château de Lascardais was the principal residence of M. and
Madame de Chateaubourg. It is in the commune of Mézières, canton of
Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, Arrondissement of Fougères (Ille-et-Vilaine)
and is now occupied by Madame la Vicomtesse de Breil de Pontbriand, the
Comtesse de Chateaubourg's grand-daughter.--B.

[300] Le Plessis-Pillet is in the commune of Dourdain, canton of
Liffré, Arrondissement of Fougères.--B.

[301] Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier is twelve miles S.E. of Fougères. The
tower is a very tall one. The battle referred to is that in which
La Trémoille defeated the Bretons and the revolted Duc d'Orléans
(afterwards Louis XII.) in 1488.--T.

[302] Robert Lambert Livorel (not Livoret) entered the Company of Jesus
in 1753, at the age of eighteen. He was a coadjutor brother at Rennes
College at the time of the suppression of the Company in 1762.--B.

[303] Louis Bruno Comte de Boisgelin (1734-1794), Knight of St. Louis
and of the Holy Ghost, and holder of several Court and military
appointments. He was guillotined on the 7th of July 1794; his wife, a
sister of the Chevalier de Boufflers, ascended the scaffold on the same

[304] François Bareau de Girac (1736-1820).--B.

[305] The name of Keralieu does not figure upon the lists of the States
of 1788-1789, nor is it to be found in the Breton peerages. Doubtless
the name should read Kersalaün. A duel did, in fact, take place between
M. de Kersalaün and a young citizen of Rennes, Joseph Marie Jacques
Blin. Jean Joseph Comte de Kersalaün was the eldest son of the Marquis
de Kersalaün, the senior member of the Parliament. He was forty-five,
and therefore much "older" than his adversary, who was only twenty-four
years of age.--B.

[306] Captain René François Joseph de Montbourcher (1759-1835). His
name was pronounced Montboucher, as Chateaubriand spells it.--B.

[307] Louis Pierre de Guehenneuc de Boishue (1767-1789) eldest son of
Jean Baptiste René de Guehenneuc, Comte de Boishue. He was therefore
only twenty-one years of age when he was killed, on the 27th of January
1789, in the streets of Rennes, at the same time as young Saint-Riveul
(on whom see note _ante_).--B.

[308] The sacking of the house of Reveillon, the paper manufacturer of
the Rue Saint-Antoine, took place 28 April 1789.--T.

[309] 4 May 1789.--T.

[310] 20 June 1789.--T.

[311] 30 June 1789.--T.

[312] Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794) delivered his famous harangue, at
the conclusion of which he distributed leaves from the trees overhead
to the rioters as a rallying-token, in the Palais-Royal on the 12th of
July 1789. He was guillotined 5 April 1794--T.

[313] 30 June 1789.--B.

[314] Honoré Gabriel Riquetti, Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791),
represented the Third Estate of the town of Aix in the National

[315] Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier, Baron de Breteuil (_b._ 1733) was
head of the Royal Household and Governor of Paris when placed at the
head of this short-lived ministry.--T.

[316] Victor François Maréchal Duc de Broglie (1718-1804) became
Minister of War. He was a distinguished soldier, and had been created
a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1759 by the Emperor of Germany in
recognition of his services in the war against Prussia. The title is
still borne by the heads of both branches of the Broglie family.--T.

[317] Arnaud de La Porte (1737-1792), Intendant-General of the Navy. In
1790 he was appointed Intendant of the Civil List, and distinguished
himself by his fidelity and firmness in the King's cause, notably at
the time of the arrest at Varennes. He perished on the scaffold in

[318] Joseph François Foullon (1715-1789) was appointed
Controller-General of Finance on the 12th of July and hanged from a
lantern in the Rue de la Verrerie on the 22nd, thus becoming one of the
first victims of the Revolution.--T.

[319] Armand Marc Comte de Montmorin-Saint-Hérem (_d._ 1792) was
Minister of Foreign Affairs in Necker's cabinet. In 1791 he received
the portfolio of the Interior. He perished in the massacres of
September 1792.--T.

[320] César Guillaume de la Luzerne (1738-1821), Bishop of Langres,
created a cardinal in 1817.--T.

[321] François Emmanuel Guignard, Comte de Saint-Priest (1735-1821),
Minister of the Interior, created a Peer of France in 1815.--T.

[322] Louis Jules Mancini-Mazarini, Duc de Nivernais (1716-1798).--T.

[323] Charles Henri Sanson (_b._ 1739), appointed public executioner in
1778 by Louis XVI., who died by his hand fifteen years later.--B.

[324] Antoine Simon (_d._ 1794), cobbler and member of the Paris
Commune, appointed tutor to Louis XVII., 1 July 1793, guillotined 28
July 1794.--B.

[325] Marie Thérèse of France (1778-1851), daughter of Louis XVI.,
married in 1799 her cousin the Duc d'Angoulême, second son of the Comte
d'Artois, later Charles X.--T.

[326] "Of my birth I have the splendour."--T.

[327] Louis Duc de Normandie (1785-1795), second son of Louis XVI.,
became Dauphin on the death of his elder brother, and was recognised
as King of France by the emigrants and the foreign Powers after the
execution of his father. He died a wretched death in the Temple, 8 June

[328] Louis Philippe Joseph, fifth Duc d'Orléans (1747-1793), nicknamed
Philippe Égalité, voted for the King's death, and was himself
guillotined, 6 November 1793.--T.

[329] In a speech made on the 9th of January 1816, preparatory to the
general mourning ordered for the 21st, the anniversary of the execution
of Louis XVT.--B.

[330] Charles Eugène of Lorraine, Duc d'Elbeuf, Prince de Lambesc
(1754-1825), a kinsman of Marie Antoinette, whom he accompanied to
France, becoming colonel of the regiment known as Royal-Allemand. After
his trial and acquittal for charging the people at the Tuileries, he
emigrated and took service in the Austrian army, rising to the rank
of Lieutenant-Field-Marshal in 1796. He continued to live in Vienna
after the Restoration, and died there, childless, in 1825, one of the
branches of the House of Lorraine dying out with him.--T.

[331] Bernard René Jourdan, Marquis de Launey (1740-1789),
Captain-Governor of the Bastille.--B.

[332] Jacques de Flesselles (1721-1789), provost of the merchants of

[333] An unsavoury eminence, between the Faubourg Saint-Martin and the
Faubourg du Temple, on which stood a number of gibbets, erected early
in the fourteenth century.--T.

[334] After a lapse of fifty-two years, fifteen bastilles are being
built in order to oppress the liberty in whose name the first Bastille
was destroyed.--_Author's Note_ (Paris, 1841).

[335] Marie Paul Joseph Gilbert de Motier, Marquis de La Fayette
(1757-1834) had taken a leading part in the assistance rendered by the
French to the American Revolution. He was outlawed in 1792, fled, was
captured by the Austrians, and imprisoned, for his complicity in the
French Revolution, in the citadel of Olmütz, until 1797. This foreign
captivity doubtless saved him from the native guillotine. He took
no part in public affairs until the Restoration, when he sat in the
Chamber of Deputies as a member of the opposition. In 1830, after the
Orleanist usurpation he for the second time received the command of the
National Guard.--T.

[336] Jean Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793) was a member of the
French Academy and of the Academy of Science, and keeper of the
picture-gallery at Versailles. He became the first president of the
National Assembly, having presided at the occasion of the Oath of the
Tennis Court, and was the first Mayor of Paris. His popularity left him
in 1791, after his endeavour to suppress the riotous meetings in the
Champ-de-Mars; he resigned the mayoralty and quitted Paris. In 1793,
he was recognised at Melun, brought back to Paris, and guillotined (11

[337] Yolande Martine Gabrielle, Duchesse de Polignac (1749-1793),
_née_ de Polastron, wife of the Comte Jules, later Duc de Polignac,
governess of the Children of France, and favourite of Marie Antoinette.
She was the mother of the Prince de Polignac who became minister to
Charles X.--T.

[338] Louis Antoine, Duc d'Angoulême (1775-1844), and Charles
Ferdinand, Duc de Berry (1778-1820).--T.

[339] Louis Joseph Prince de Condé (1736-1818), his son Louis Henri
Joseph Duc de Bourbon (1756-1830), and his grandson Louis Antoine Henri
Duc d'Enghien (1772-1804).--T.

[340] The King's aunts, daughters of Louis XV.: Madame Adélaïde
(1732-1800) and Madame Victoire (1733-1799). They emigrated in 1791.--T.

[341] Madame Élisabeth (1764-1794), the King's sister, guillotined 10
May 1794.--T.

[342] Louis Stanislas Xavier Comte de Provence (1755-1824); succeeded
to the Crown in 1795 as Louis XVIII. "Monsieur" is the title of the
eldest brother of the King of France.--T.

[343] Médéric Louis Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry (1750-1819), chairman of
the electors of Paris. He was arrested after the 10th of August 1792,
but succeeded in making good his escape.--B.

[344] Trophine Gérard Marquis de Lally-Tolendal (1751-1830), delegate
of the nobles of Paris to the States-General. He too escaped from the
Abbaye after his arrest in August, and took refuge in England, whence
he wrote to the Convention in order to obtain the honour (eventually
awarded to Malesherbes) of defending Louis XVI. He was created a peer
of France under the Restoration, and made a member of the French
Academy; in 1817 he received his marquisate, the original title of the
family being Comte de Lally and Baron Tollendal in Ireland.--T.

[345] Jean Paul Marat (1744-1793), the famous demagogue of the

[346] Louis Bénigne François Bertier de Sauvigny (1742-1789), Intendant
of Paris, and son-in-law to Foullon. He was hanged from a lantern after
being made to kiss the head of his father-in-law, who had just met with
the same fate.--T.

[347] Taboureau des Réaux, Intendant of Valenciennes, was
Controller-General from October 1776 to June 1777.--B.

[348] Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de L'Aulne (1727-1781),
Controller-General from 1774 to 1776.--T.

[349] Alexandre Frédéric Jacques Masson, Marquis de Pezay (1741-1777),
commenced life as an officer of Musketeers, and made his name known
by means of some trivial drawing-room verse and of his inferior prose
translations of Tibullus, Catullus, and Propertius. He was charged
with the duty of instructing Louis XVI., then Dauphin, in elementary
tactics, managed to insinuate himself into the Prince's intimacy, and
eventually succeeded in bringing about the fall of Terray and the rise
of Necker.--T.

[350] The _Compte rendu au Roi_ was a sort of specimen budget published
by Necker in 1780, from which public opinion was for the first time
enabled to form an opinion of the working of the administration of the
public revenues, till then kept secret. The _Compte rendu_ caused a
prodigious sensation.--B.

[351] Antoine Leonard Thomas (1732-1785), a member of the French
Academy, and a man of letters noted for rhetoric and over-emphasis of
style. Chateaubriand's allusion is to the excessive optimism of the
_Compte rendu_, which showed a very large surplus.--T.

[352] Anne Louise Germaine Baronne de Staël-Holstein (1766-1817), the
most famous of women-writers. She married the Baron de Staël-Holstein,
Swedish Ambassador to France, in 1786. He died in 1802, and eight years
later she was married for the second time, but secretly, to a young
officer, M. de Rocca. In 1815 she obtained two million francs from
Louis XVIII., by way of a restitution of moneys due to her father.--T.

[353] Louis Marie Vicomte de Noailles (1756-1804), second son of
Philippe de Noailles, Marshal Duc de Mouchy, and brother-in-law of La
Fayette. He took part in the French expedition to the United States,
and pronounced himself in favour of the Revolution in 1789. He sat
in the States-General as deputy for the nobility of the bailiwick of

[354] Armand Désiré de Wignerod-Duplessis-Richelieu, Duc d'Aiguillon
(1731-1800), representative of the nobility of the seneschalty of Agen
in the States-General, and son of the Duc d'Aiguillon, Prime Minister
to Louis XV.--T.

[355] Matthieu Jean Félicité Vicomte, later Duc de Montmorency-Laval
(1767-1826), had also imbibed his revolutionary opinions in the
American Campaign. He abandoned them, however, at the Restoration,
under which he became a peer of France, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
a member of the French Academy, and a duke. In January 1826 he was
appointed governor to the Duc de Bordeaux, but died a few weeks

[356] In the Opera-house, 1 October 1789.--T.

[357] When Louis XVI. entered the hall, M. de Canecaude, commissary
of the King's Military Household, ordered the band-master to play
Grétry's "_Où peut-on être mieux qu'au sein de sa famille?_" "Where is
greater happiness found than in one's family circle?" The band-master
replied that he had not the music, and played, "_Ô Richard! ô mon Roi,
l'univers t'abandonne_:" "O Richard, O my King, the world is forsaking
thee," from Richard Cœur-de-Lion by the same composer.--B.

[358] Vice-Admiral Charles Hector Comte d'Estaing (1729-1794) was a
member of both forces, and had seen much service both on sea and land.
He embraced the side of the Revolution, and was at this time Commandant
of the National Guard. He was guillotined 28 April 1794.--T.

[359] Marat's paper was first published 12 September 1789, with the
title the _Publiciste parisien._ With the sixth issue, that is, on 17
September 1789, the title was changed to the _Ami du peuple, ou le
Publiciste parisien._--B.

[360] The paper money of the French Republic, "assigned" upon the
spoils of the clergy, &c.--T.

[361] Thomas Mahi, Marquis de Favras (1744-1790), was accused of
conspiring to assassinate La Fayette, Necker, and Bailly, and
to carry off Louis XVI. in order to place him at the head of an
anti-revolutionary army. He was condemned to be hanged, and executed 19
February 1790--T.

[362] The so-called cahiers or note-books consisted of the official
instructions of the electors to the deputies to the States-General.--T.

[363] The original name of the Riquettis de Mirabeau was Arrighetti.--T.

[364] Victor Riquetti, Marquis de Mirabeau (1715-1789). He joined
the economists, advocated liberty, and called himself the Friend of
Men, after the title of his principal work, the _Ami des hommes_:
nevertheless he proved himself the tyrant of his family, a bad husband,
and a bad father. He died on the eve of the capture of the Bastille, 13
July 1789.--T.

[365] Jean Antoine Joseph Charles Elzéar de Riquetti (1717-1794). He
adopted the title of _bailli_ in 1763, on becoming a grand-cross of the
Order of Malta, and was thenceforth known as the Bailli de Mirabeau.--B.

[366] Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon (1675-1755), author of the
famous Memoirs.--T.

[367] Reine Philiberte Marquise de Villette (_d._ 1822), _née_ Roupt
de Varicourt, was adopted by Voltaire at the instance of his niece,
Mme. Denis. She called him uncle; he called her "_Belle et bonne_,"
and married her in 1777 to the Marquis de Villette (_vide infra_, p.

[368] Isaac René Guy Le Chapelier (1754-1794), one of the most capable
members of the Constituent Assembly, and a founder of the Club Breton,
later the Club des Jacobins. He was guillotined 22 April 1794.--T.

[369] Sophie Marquise de Monnier (1760-1789), _née_ Ruffei. For eloping
with her, Mirabeau was imprisoned for nearly four years, 1777-1780,
at Vincennes by _lettre-de-cachet_ obtained at his father's instance.
His letters to Sophie from Vincennes, written in a style of exalted
sentiment, were published in 1792 in 4 vols. 8vo. The lady herself was
locked up in a convent until the death of her husband, a man very much
her senior. She eventually committed suicide because of the infidelity
of one of her lovers.--T.

[370] Riquetti, not Riquet, instead of Mirabeau. It was in the account
of the sitting in which titles of nobility were abolished that the
journalist, in conformity with that abolition, dropped Mirabeau's
territorial title, and wrote of him by his patronymic of Riquetti.--B.

[371] André Boniface Louis Riquetti, Vicomte de Mirabeau (1754-1792),
the Comte de Mirabeau's younger brother, nicknamed Mirabeau-Tonneau,
because of his stoutness, to distinguish him from his brother,

[372] M. de Lautrec de Saint-Simon was not a member of the Constituent
Assembly, but acted as one of Mirabeau-Tonneau's seconds in his duel
with the Duc de Liancourt.--B.

[373] Maximilien Marie Isidore Robespierre (1759-1794), the leader of
the Terror.--T.

[374] The Château de Montaigne stood on a hill near the village of
Saint-Michel, five leagues from Bergerac, in Guyenne. Montaigne was
on one occasion captured by marauders and likely to be shot. His
good-humour won not only his release but the restoration of the
property of which he had been robbed (_Cf._ MONTAIGNE, Booke III. chap.
12: _Of Physiognomy_).--T.

[375] Laurent Marshal Marquis Gouvion-Saint-Cyr (1764-1830), later a
distinguished officer in the armies of the Republic and the Empire. He
would appear to have achieved no great success as either an amateur or
professional actor.--T.

[376] L'_Autre Tartufe, ou, la Mère Coupable_, a prose drama in five
acts, produced 6 June 1792.--B.

[377] The four leading and accomplished singers in the Italian _Opera
Buffa_ company which first played in the Salle des Machines at the
Tuileries and later, when the Royal Family came to occupy the palace,
at the Théâtre de Monsieur, renamed Théâtre de la Rue Feydeau.--B.

[378] Louise Rosalie Lefèvre (1755-1821), wife of the actor Dugazon,
a brilliant performer of amoureuses or leading ladies at the Théâtre
Italien, later Opéra Comique, in the Rue Favart.--T.

[379] Jeanne Charlotte Dame d'Herbey (1764-1850), _née_ Schrœder, known
as Madame Saint-Aubin, a player of _ingénues'_ parts at the Opéra

[380] Marie Gabrielle Malagrida (1763-1818), known as Carline, and
married to Nivelon, the dancer at the Opera. She played _soubrettes_
charmingly at the Théâtre Italien, but her acting was better than her
singing: she had a very small voice.--B.

[381] Chateaubriand is mistaken here. He is writing of the theatres in
1789 and 1790, whereas Mademoiselle Olivier died in 1787.--B.

[382] André Ernest Modeste Gréry (1741-1813), the famous composer.--T.

[383] Marguerite Françoise Comtesse de Buffon (1767-1808), _née_ de
Bouvier de Cépoy, and wife of Georges Louis Marie Leclerc, Comte de
Buffon, son of the great writer. She was the mistress of Philippe
Égalité, to whom she bore a son who was killed when fighting in the
English army in the Peninsula. The Comte de Buffon was guillotined
10 July 1794. In 1798 his widow married M. Renouard de Bussières, a
Strasburg banker.--B.

[384] The town-house of Louis Alexandre Duc de La Rochefoucauld

[385] Pauline Marie Michelle Frédérique Ulrique Comtesse de Beaumont
(1768-1803), _née_ de Montmorin-Saint-Hérem, wife of the Comte
Christophe François de Beaumont.--B.

[386] Anne Louise Dame de Shrilly, _née_ Thomas, wife of Antoine Jean
François de Megret de Sérilly. Her husband and brother-in-law were
guillotined in 1794. Her own death-sentence was commuted owing to the
fact that she was pregnant In 1795 she married François de Pange, who
died in September 1796.--B.


    "Arras' candle so sacred and bright,
    The torch that from far Provence came,
    Although they afford us no light,
    Are setting our fair France aflame;
    We cannot touch them, no doubt.
    But hope to snuff both of them out."

Robespierre was deputy for Arras, Mirabeau for Aix, the old capital of

[388] Pierre de L'Éstoile (1540-1611) Grand-Crier to the French
Chancery, and author of a valuable diary of the times of Henry III. and
Henry IV.--T.

[389] The _Actes des Apôtres_ was published from November 1789
to October 1791; 311 numbers were issued in all. Its principal
contributors were Peltier, Rivarol, Champcenetz, Mirabeau the younger,
the Marquis de Bonnay, François Suleau, Montlosier, Bergasse, &c.--B.

[390] The _Journal de la Ville et des Provinces, ou, le Modérateur_,
edited by M. de Fontanes, first appeared 1 October 1789.--B.

[391] Jacques Mallet-Dupan (1749-1800), political editor of the
_Mercure de France._ He left France in 1792, returned first to his
native city, Geneva, and then settled in London, where he founded the
Mercure britannique (1799).--T.

[392] The Chevalier de Champcenetz (1759-1794), one of the wittiest
Royalist partisans under the Revolution; arrested and murdered in

[393] Antoine Comte de Rivarol (1753-1801), a brilliant and caustic

[394] The wife of Le Jay the bookseller, Mirabeau's publisher.--B.

[395] Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos (1741-1803), author
of _Les Liaisons dangereuses_, editor of the _Journal des amis de la
Constitution_, and secretary to the Duc d'Orléans. He served as an
artillery-general in the Army of Italy.--T.

[396] Armand Louis de Gontaut-Biron, Duc de Lauzun (1747-1793), son of
the Duc de Biron, to whose title he succeeded in 1788. He fought on
the American side in the War of Independence, and served as a general
in the republican armies until his arrest and execution, 31 December

[397] The two brothers Arthur Comte de Dillon and Theobald de Dillon,
both fought in the republican campaigns. Arthur was executed in 1794,
Theobald killed in 1792 by his soldiers, who believed that he was
betraying them.--T.

[398] Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838), Bishop
of Autun, created Prince de Bénévent by Bonaparte m 1806, Duc de
Talleyrand and Duc de Dino by Louis XVIII. in 1817.--T.

[399] Pierre Victor Baron de Besenval (1722-1791), whose Memoirs were
published in 1805-1807 by the Vicomte de Ségur, but were disowned by
the baron's family.--T.

[400] Jeanne Vaubernier, Comtesse Du Barry (1744-1794), the last
mistress of Louis XV., was guillotined 30 June 1794, having ventured
to return to France from England in order to rescue her personal

[401] _Considérations sur les principaux événements de la Revolution
française, II. 16: De la Federation du 14 juillet 1790._--B.

[402] Joseph Dominique Baron Louis (1755-1837). He had taken minor
orders and served as deacon at Talleyrand's Mass in the Champ de Mars.
He was several times Minister of Finance under the Restoration and
under Louis-Philippe.--T.

[403] 4 September 1790.--B.

[404] 20 February 1791.--B.

[405] Charles Michel Marquis de Villette (1736-1793). At the trial
of Louis XVI., he voted for imprisonment and for banishment at the
conclusion of the war.--B.

[406] I omit a poetical quotation from Parny.--T.

[407] Bordier was a comedian well known in Paris for his performances
of the character of Harlequin. He and Jourdain, an advocate from
Lisieux, placed themselves at the head of a riot on the night of 3
August 1789 and were eventually taken and hanged.--B.

[408] Jean Racine (1639-1699), the greatest of the French tragic

[409] Antoine Marie Gaspard Sacchini (1735-1786), the "Racine of
music," composer of a number of brilliant operas. His merits were never
fully appreciated, owing to the disputes between the adherents of Gluck
and Piccini, which absorbed public attention at the time.--T.

[410] A comedy in three acts, interspersed with songs; words by Michel
Jean Sedaine (1719-1797).--B.

[411] A comic opera in one act, words and the greater part of the music
by Jean Cazotte (1720-1792).--B.


    "Fall rain, or fell snow, or blow wind,
    To shorten long nights we've a mind."--T.

[413] Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708), author of an early
classification of botanical _genera_ and species.--T.

[414] Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700-1782), Inspector-General of
the Navy, and an eminent agricultural and arboricultural expert.--T.

[415] Bernard de Jussieu (1699-1777), the most learned member of a
family comprising no less than four distinguished botanists.--T.

[416] Nehemiah Grew (_circa_ 1628-1711), author of the _Anatomy of
Plants_, and an early Fellow of the Royal Society (1673).--T.

[417] Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778): the work referred to is his
_Dictionnaire botanique._--T.

[418] Charles Linnæus (1707-1778), the great Swedish botanist.--T.

[419] George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United
States (1789-1793 and 1793-1797).--T.

[420] Angélique Françoise Dame de La Fonchais (1769-1793), sister to
André Desilles, the hero of Nancy, was guillotined 13 June 1793, the
same time as her brother-in-law, Michel Julien Picot de Limoëlan,
displaying admirable courage on the scaffold.--B.

[421] Major Chafner, _vide supra_, p. 66.--B.

[422] Captain Dujardin Pinte-de-Vin of the brig _Saint-Pierre_, bound
for the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miguelon, whence she was to make
for Baltimore.--B.

[423] François Charles Nagot (_d._ 1816), not Nagault, was the
superior, not of the seminary of Saint-Sulpice, but of the community
of Robertines in Paris, one of the annexes of the seminary of
Saint-Sulpice. He left for Baltimore in order to become the superior of
a Sulpician seminary in that city, accompanied by three young priests
of the Company. The Abbé Nagot arrived at Baltimore in July 1791, and
in the September following established St Mary's Seminary, the first
and best-known seminary in the United States. In 1822 Pope Pius VII.
erected St Mary's College into a Catholic university.--B.

[424] _Esprit fort_, a free-thinker or latitudinarian.--T.

[425] 2 April 1791.--T.

[426] 8 April 1791.--B.

BOOK VI[427]

In London as Ambassador--I cross the ocean--François
Tulloch--Christopher Columbus--Camoëns--The Azores--The isle of
Graciosa--Sports on board ship--The isle of Saint-Pierre--The shores of
Virginia--Sunset--Danger and escape--I land in America--Baltimore--The
passengers separate--Tulloch--Philadelphia--General
Washington--Comparison of Washington and Bonaparte--Journey from
Philadelphia to New York and Boston--Mackenzie--The Hudson River--Song
of the lady passenger--Mr. Swift--I set out for the Falls of Niagara
with a Dutch guide--M. Violet--My savage outfit--Hunting--Wolverine
and Canadian Fox--Musk-rat--Fishing dogs--Insects--Montcalm and
Wolfe--Encampment on the shore of the Onondaga Lake--Arabs--The Indian
woman and her cow--An Iroquois--The Onondaga chief--Velly and the
Franks--Ceremonies of hospitality--The ancient Greeks--Journey from
the Onondaga Lake to the Genesee River--Clearings--Hospitality--My
bed--The enchanted rattle-snake--Niagara Falls--The rattle-snake--I
fall to the edge of the abyss--Twelve days in a hut--Change of
manners among the savages--Birth and death--Montaigne-Song of the
adder--The little Indian girl, the original of Mila--Incidents--Old
Canada--True civilisation spread by religion--False civilisation
introduced by commerce--Traders--Agents--Hunts--Half-breeds or
Burnt-woods--Wars of the companies--The Indian languages dying out--The
old French possessions in America--Regrets--A note from Lord François
Conyngham--The Canadian lakes--A fleet of Indian canoes--The American
rivers--Legends--Muscogulges and Siminoles--Our camp--Two Floridan
beauties--Ruins on the Ohio--What the Muscogulge damsels were--Arrest
of the King at Varennes--I interrupt my journey to go back to
Europe--Dangers for the United States--Return to Europe--Shipwreck.

One-and-thirty years after embarking, as a simple sub-lieutenant, for
America, I embarked for London with a passport conceived in these terms:

"Pass His Lordship the Vicomte de Chateaubriand, Peer of France,
Ambassador of the King to His Britannic Majesty," and so on.

No description: my greatness was such as to make my face known wherever
I went. A steamboat chartered for my sole use conveyed me from Calais
to Dover. On setting foot upon English soil, on the 5th of April
1822[428], I was saluted by the guns of the fort. An officer came on
behalf of the commandant to offer me a guard of honour. On alighting
at the Shipwright Inn[429], the landlord and waiters received me with
hanging arms and bareheaded. The Mayoress invited me to an evening
party in the name of the fairest ladies of the town. M. Billing[430],
who was attached to my embassy, awaited me. A dinner of huge fishes
and enormous pieces of beef restored Monsieur l'Ambassadeur, who had
no appetite and was not at all fatigued. The crowd gathered beneath my
windows rent the air with hurrahs. The officer returned and, despite my
wishes, posted sentries at my door. The next morning, after lavishly
distributing the money of the King my master, I set out for London, to
the roar of artillery, in a light carriage drawn by four fine horses
driven at full trot by two smart postillions. My staff followed in
other coaches; couriers wearing my livery accompanied the cavalcade. We
passed through Canterbury, attracting the eyes of John Bull and of the
occupants of the vehicles we passed. At Blackheath, a common formerly
haunted by highwaymen, I found a newly-built village. Soon there loomed
before me the immense cap of smoke which covers the city of London.

[Sidenote: In London as Ambassador.]

Plunging into the gulf of black mist, as though into one of the
jaws of Tartarus, and crossing the entire town, whose streets I
recognized, I reached the Embassy in Portland Place. The _chargé
d'affaires_, M. le Comte Georges de Caraman[431], the secretaries of
embassy, M. le Vicomte de Marcellus[432], M. le Baron E. de Cazes,
M. de Bourqueney[433], and the _attachés_ of the embassy received me
with dignified politeness. All the ushers, doorkeepers, footmen, and
flunkeys of the house stood gathered upon the pavement. I was handed
the cards of the English ministers and of the foreign ambassadors, who
had been informed beforehand of my coming.

On the 17th of May in the year of grace 1793, I disembarked at
Southampton for London, an obscure and humble traveller from Jersey.
No mayoress took note of my passage; the mayor of the town, William
Smith, handed me on the 18th a way-bill for London to which was added
an extract from the Alien Bill. My description ran in English:

"François de Chateaubriand, French officer in the emigrant army, five
feet four inches high, thin shape, brown hair and whiskers."

I modestly shared the cheapest conveyance with some sailors on leave; I
changed horses at the meanest inns; poor, sick, and unknown, I entered
a wealthy and famous city in which Mr. Pitt held sway; I took a lodging
at six shillings a month under the laths of a garret which a cousin
from Brittany had prepared for me at the end of a little street off the
Tottenham Court Road.

    Ah! _Monseigneur_, que votre vie,
    D'honneurs aujourd'hui si remplie,
    Diffère de ces heureux temps[434].

Still an obscurity of another kind envelopes me in London. My political
position casts into shade my literary fame: not a fool in the three
kingdoms but prefers the ambassador of Louis XVIII. to the author of
the _Génie du Christianisme_. I shall see how the matter turns after
my death, or when I shall have ceased to fill M. le Duc Decazes'[435]
place at the Court of George IV.[436], a succession as incongruous as
the rest of my life.

Now that I have arrived in London as French Ambassador, one of my
chief pleasures is to leave my carriage at the corner of some square,
and on foot to traverse the back-streets which I frequented in former
days, the cheap popular suburbs, where misfortune takes refuge under
the protection of a kindred suffering, the nameless shelters which I
haunted with my companions in distress, not knowing whether I should
have bread to eat on the morrow, I whose table today is covered with
three or four courses. At all those narrow and necessitous doors which
were once open to me, I see none but strange faces. I no longer meet my
fellow-countrymen roaming, recognizable by their gestures, their gait,
the shape and age of their clothes. I no longer perceive those martyred
priests, wearing the clerical collar, the big three-cornered hat, the
long, black, threadbare frock, whom the English used to salute as they
passed. Wide streets, lined with palaces, have been cut, bridges built,
walks planted with trees: Regent's Park, near Portland Place, occupies
the space of the old meadows filled with herds of cows. A cemetery
which formed the prospect from the dormer-window of one of my attics
has disappeared within the circumference of a factory. When I call upon
Lord Liverpool[437], I find it difficult to pick out the spot where
stood the scaffold of Charles I.; new buildings, closing in upon the
statue of Charles II.[438], have come forward, with forgetfulness, to
cover up memorable events.

[Sidenote: And as an emigrant.]

How much do I regret, in the midst of my insipid grandeur, that world
of tribulations and tears, those times in which I mingled my sorrows
with those of a colony of unfortunates! It is true, then, that all
changes, that misfortune itself comes to an end, like prosperity!
What has become of my brothers in emigration? Some are dead, others
have undergone various destinies: they have, like me, beheld the loss
of their kinsmen and friends; they are less happy in the land of
their birth than they were on foreign soil. Had we not on that soil
our meetings, our amusements, our merry-makings, and, above all, our
youth? Mothers of families and young girls commencing life in adversity
brought the weekly fruit of their toil, to revel in some dance of
their country. Attachments were formed in the course of the evening
chit-chat after work, on the grass at Hampstead or Primrose Hill. In
chapels adorned with our own hands, in old tumble-down buildings, we
prayed on the 21st of January and on the anniversary of the Queen's
death[439], and were much moved by a funeral oration pronounced by the
emigrant curate of our village. We strolled beside the Thames, now to
see the vessels laden with the world's riches entering dock, and again
to admire the country-houses at Richmond, we so poor, we who had lost
the shelter of the paternal roof-tree: all these things constitute true

When I come home in 1822, instead of being received by my friend,
shivering with cold, who opens the door of our garret to me, calls me
"thee" and "thou," sleeps on a pallet beside mine, covering himself
with his thin coat and having the moonlight for a lamp, I pass by the
light of candles between two rows of lackeys, ending in half-a-dozen
respectful secretaries. Overwhelmed along my road with the words,
"Monseigneur, my Lord, your Excellency, _Monsieur l'Ambassadeur_," I
come to a drawing-room upholstered in silk and gold.

"I beg you, gentlemen, to leave me! A truce to these my lords! What
use do you think I have for you? Go and laugh in the chancelleries
as though I were not here. Do you imagine you will make me take this
masquerade seriously? Do you think me fool enough to believe that I
have changed my nature by changing my coat? The Marquess of Londonderry
is coming, you say[440]; the Duke of Wellington[441] has asked for me;
Mr. Canning[442] is looking for me; Lady Jersey[443] expects me to
dinner, to meet Mr. Brougham[444]; Lady Gwydyr[445] hopes to see me at
ten o'clock in her box at the Opera; Lady Mansfield[446] at midnight at

Mercy! Where can I hide? Who will deliver me? Who will save me from
this persecution? Return to me, fair days of misery and loneliness!
Come back to life, companions of my exile! Come, old comrades of the
pallet and the camp-bed, let us go into the country, into the little
garden of some despised tavern, and drink a cup of bad tea on a wooden
bench, while we talk of our mad hopes and our ungrateful country,
discuss our troubles, and seek means to assist each other or to succour
one of our kinsmen in yet worse plight than ourselves!

[Sidenote: Kensington Gardens.]

That is how I feel, that is how I speak to myself in these first days
of my embassy in London. I escape from the melancholy which besets
me beneath my roof only by saturating myself with a less weighty
melancholy in Kensington Gardens. These gardens, at least, have not
changed; the trees alone have grown taller; in them, ever solitary, the
birds build their nests in peace. It is no longer even the fashion to
meet there, as in the days when the loveliest of Frenchwomen, Madame
Récamier[448], used to walk there followed by the crowd. From the edge
of the deserted lawns of Kensington, I love to watch, across Hyde
Park, the crowd of horses, the carriages of the fashionable world,
among which figures my empty tilbury; while I, once more a poor little
emigrant noble, walk along the path in which the exiled confessor was
wont to say his breviary.

It was in Kensington Gardens that I projected the _Essai historique_;
that, on reading over the diary of my travels beyond sea, I drew from
it the loves of _Atala_; it was there too, after wandering far away
in the fields beneath a lowering sky, which assumed a golden hue and
became, as it were pervaded with polar light, that I jotted down in
pencil the first sketch of the passions of _René._ At night I deposited
in the _Essai historique_ and the _Natchez_ the harvest of my dreams of
the day. The two manuscripts marched abreast, although I often wanted
money to buy paper for them, and was obliged, for lack of thread, to
fasten the sheets together with splinters torn from the mantel-boards
of my garret.

These spots where I received my first inspirations impress me with a
sense of their power; they reflect upon my present the gentle light of
my recollections; I feel in the mood to resume my pen. So many hours
are wasted in embassies! I have as much spare time here as in Berlin to
continue my Memoirs, the edifice which I am building up out of ruins
and dead bones. My secretaries in London ask leave to go to picnics in
the morning, to balls at night: by all means! The men in their turn,
Peter, Valentine, Lewis, go to the ale-house, and the maids, Rose,
Peggy, Mary, for a walk through the streets: I am delighted. They leave
me the key of the hall-door: _monsieur l'ambassadeur_ is left in charge
of his own house; if any one knocks, he will open the door. Everybody
has gone out; I am alone: let us get to work.

Twenty-two years ago, as I said, I was sketching, in London, the
outlines of the _Natchez_ and of _Atala_; I have now, in my Memoirs,
come to just the period of my travels in America: that fits in
perfectly. Let us wipe out those two-and-twenty years, as they are,
in fact, wiped out from my life, and start for the forests of the New
World: the story of my embassy shall come at its own date when God
pleases; but provided I remain here a few months, I shall have the
pleasure of coming from the Falls of Niagara to the army of the Princes
in Germany, and from the army of the Princes to my retirement in
England. The Ambassador of the King of France will be able to tell the
story of the French Emigrant in the very spot where the latter spent
his exile.


The last book ended with my embarkation at Saint-Malo. Soon we left
the Channel, and the immense swell from the west told us that we had
reached the Atlantic.

It is difficult for people who have never been to sea to imagine the
feelings which one experiences when looking over the side of a ship
and seeing nothing but the grave face of the deep on every hand. The
dangerous life of the sailor has about it an independence which comes
from the absence of land: the passions of mankind are left behind on
shore; between the world which one is quitting and that for which one
is making, one has no love and no country save the element upon which
one is borne. No more duties to fulfill, no more visits to pay, no
more newspapers, no more politics. The very language of the sailors is
not the ordinary language: it is the language spoken by the ocean and
the sky, the calm and the tempest. You inhabit a watery universe among
creatures whose garments, tastes, manners, and faces are different from
those of the auto-chthonic peoples; they combine the rudeness of the
sea-wolf with the lightness of the bird. The cares of society are not
seen upon their brow; the wrinkles which cross it resemble the folds
of the lowered sail and are hollowed out less by age than by the north
wind, as in the waves. The skin of these creatures, impregnated with
salt, is red and hard, like the surface of the surge-swept rock.

[Sidenote: Nautical talk.]

The sailors become enamoured of their ship; they weep with regret on
leaving her, with affection on rejoining her. They are unable to stay
at home with their families; after swearing a hundred times that they
will not again expose themselves to the sea, they find it impossible to
live without it, like a youth who is unable to tear himself from the
arms of a moody and faithless mistress.

In the docks of London and Plymouth, it is not unusual to find sailors
born on board ship: from their childhood to their old age they have
never set foot on shore; spectators of the world which they have never
entered, they have seen the land only from the side of their floating
cradle. In this life reduced to so small a space, beneath the clouds
and upon the depths, all things become life-like to the mariner: an
anchor, a sail, a mast, a gun are persons that excite his attachment
and that have each their history.

The sail was torn off the coast of Labrador; the master sail-maker put
in that patch which you see there.

The anchor saved the ship when she had dragged her other anchors among
the coral-reefs of the Sandwich Islands.

The mast was broken in a squall off the Cape of Good Hope; it was all
in one piece; it is much stronger since it has consisted of two pieces.

The gun is the only one which was not dismounted in the fight of the

The news on board is most interesting: they have just heaved the log;
the ship is making ten knots.

The sky is clear at mid-day: they have taken the altitude; we are at
latitude so-and-so.

We have taken our reckoning: we have made so many miles in our course.

The variation of the compass is so many degrees: we have gone up north.

The sand is running badly through the hour-glass: we shall have rain.

They have seen stormy petrels in the wake of the vessel: we must look
out for a squall.

Flying-fish have been showing in the south: the weather will settle

A clear spot has formed in the clouds in the west: that's a sign of
wind; the wind will blow from that side tomorrow.

The water has changed colour; pieces of wood and wrack have been seen
floating by; there were ducks and gulls in sight; a small bird came
and perched on the yards: we must heave to sea, for we are approaching
land, and it is not good to come alongside at night.

In the hen-coop is a favourite and, so to speak, sacred cock, which has
survived all the others; he is famous for having crowed during a fight,
as though he were in a farm-yard in the midst of his hens. Below decks
lives a cat: a greenish tabby, with a hairless tail and bushy whiskers,
firm on his paws, able to bring a back-balance and side-balance to play
against the pitching and the rolling of the ship; he has been twice
round the world and has saved himself from shipwreck by climbing on a
barrel. The ship-boys give the cock biscuits soaked in wine, and Tom
has the privilege of sleeping, when he pleases, in the second mate's

The old sailor is like the old plough-man. True, their manner of
harvesting is different: the sailor has led a wandering life, the
plough-man has never left his fields; but they both know the stars and
foretell the future while ploughing their furrows. Both have their
prophets: one, the lark, the redbreast, the nightingale; the other,
the petrel, the curlew, the halcyon. They retire to rest at night, one
in his cabin, the other in his hut: frail dwelling-houses in which the
hurricane which shakes them does not disturb peaceful consciences.

    If the wind a tempest's blowing,
       Still no danger they descry;
    The guiltless heart, its boon bestowing,
       Soothes them with its lullaby.

The sailor does not know where Death will overtake him, upon what shore
he will leave his life: perhaps, when he has mingled his last breath
with the wind, he will be cast into the bosom of the waves, fastened
to two oars, to continue his voyage; perhaps he will be buried on a
desert island, which none shall ever see again, and sleep as he slept
in mid-ocean, in his lonely hammock.

The vessel is a sight in herself: sensible to the smallest movement of
the helm, winged horse or hippogriff that she is, she obeys the hand
of the pilot as a horse does that of its rider. The grace of the masts
and rigging, the nimbleness of the sailors laying out on the yards, the
various aspects under which the ship displays herself, whether listing,
borne down by a contrary blast, or scudding before a favourable wind,
cause this intelligent machine to become one of the marvels of human
genius. At one time the swell and its foam break and burst against
the keel; at another the peaceful waves separate submissively before
the stem. The flags, the pennants, the sails complete the beauty of
this palace of Neptune: the courses, spread in their width, swell out
like huge cylinders; the topsails, confined at their waist, resemble a
siren's breasts. Driven by a stiff breeze, the ship noisily ploughs the
seas with her keel as with a plough-share.

[Sidenote: Life at sea.]

On this ocean highway, along which one sees no trees, nor villages, nor
towns, nor towers, nor steeples nor tombstones; on this road without
posts or milestones, which has no boundaries save the waves, no relays
save the winds, no lights save the stars, the finest adventure, when
one is not travelling in search of unknown lands and seas, is the
meeting of two vessels. They are mutually discovered on the horizon
through the spy-glass; they turn each in the direction of the other.
The crew and the passengers hasten on deck. The two ships approach each
other, hoist their ensigns, clew up some of their sails, heave-to. When
all is silence, the two captains take their stand upon the quarter-deck
and hail each other through the speaking-trumpet:

"The ship's name? From what port? Name of the captain? Where is he
from? How many days out? What is the latitude and longitude? Good-bye,
let go!"

They let go the reefs; the sails fall down again. The sailors and
passengers of the two ships watch each other flee from sight, without
a word: one crew goes to seek the sun of Asia, the other the sun of
Europe, both of which will see them die. Time carries off and separates
travellers on earth even more rapidly than the wind carries them off
and separates them on the ocean; they make a sign to each other at a

"God speed you, and a prosperous journey!"

The common port is Eternity.

And what if the vessel encountered were that of Cook[449] or La Pérouse?


The boatswain of my Saint-Malo ship was an old super-cargo called
Pierre Villeneuve, whose very name pleased me, because of the good
Villeneuve of my childhood. He had served in India, under the Bailli
de Suffren, and in America under the Comte d'Estaing; he had been
present at a number of engagements. Leaning against the bow of the
ship, near the bowsprit, like a veteran seated under the vine-arbour
of his little garden in the moat of the Invalides, Pierre, chewing a
plug of tobacco which filled out his cheek like a swelling, described
to me the clearing of the decks, the effect of the gun-fire below
decks, the damage done by the cannon-balls in ricochetting against
the gun-carriages, the guns, the timber-work. I made him talk of the
Indians, the negroes, the planters. I asked him how the people were
dressed, how the trees were shaped, what was the colour of the earth
and sky, the taste of the fruits; whether pine-apples were better than
peaches, palm-trees finer than oaks. He explained all this by means
of comparisons taken from things I knew: the palm-tree was a large
cabbage; the robe worn by a Hindoo was like my grandmother's; the
camels were like a humpbacked donkey; all the peoples of the East, and
notably the Chinese, were cowards and robbers. Villeneuve came from
Brittany, and we never failed to end with praises of the incomparable
beauty of our native country.

The bell interrupted our conversations; it struck the watches, the
time for dressing, for the roll-call, for meals. In the morning, at a
signal, the crew mustered on deck, stripped off their blue shirts, and
put on others which were drying in the shrouds. The discarded shirts
were forthwith washed in tubs in which this school of seals also soaped
their brown faces and tarred paws. At the mid-day and evening meals,
the sailors, seated in a circle around the mess-platters, one after
the other, regularly and without any attempt at fraud, dipped their
tin spoons into the soup which splashed to the roll of the ship. Those
who were not hungry sold their ration of biscuit or salt junk to their
messmates for a screw of tobacco. The passengers took their meals in
the captain's room. In fine weather, a sail was spread over the stern
of the vessel, and we dined in sight of a blue sea, flecked here and
there with white marks where it had been struck by the breeze.

Wrapped in my cloak, I stretched myself at night upon deck. My eyes
contemplated the stars above my head. The inflated sail threw back
upon me the coolness of the breeze which rocked me beneath the dome of
heaven: half dozing and pushed on by the wind, I was wafted towards new
skies and new dreams.

The passengers on board ship afford a different sort of society from
that of the crew: they belong to another element; their destinies are
of the land. Some travel in search of fortune, others of rest; these
are returning home, those leaving it; others cross the seas in order
to become acquainted with the manners of nations, to study science and
art. People have time to know one another in this wandering hostelry
which travels with the traveller, to have many adventures, to breed
antipathies, to contract friendships. When those young women come and
go, born of mixed English and Indian blood, who add to the beauty of
Clarissa the delicacy of Sacontala, then are formed chains which are
bound and unbound by the fragrant breezes of Ceylon, sweet and light as


[Sidenote: Francis Tulloch.]

Among my fellow-passengers was an Englishman. François Tulloch[450] had
served in the artillery: he was a painter, a musician, a mathematician;
he spoke several languages. The Abbé Nagault, Superior of the
Sulpicians, had met the Anglican officer and made him a Catholic: he
was taking his neophyte to Baltimore.

I became intimate with Tulloch: as I was at that time a profound
"Philosopher," I invited him to return to his parents. The spectacle
that lay before our eyes transported him with admiration. We used to
rise at night, when the deck was given up to the officer of the watch
and a few sailors who smoked their pipes in silence: _Tuta aequora
silent._[451] The vessel rolled at the will of the slow and silent
waves, while gleams of fire ran with a white foam along her sides.
Thousands of stars shining in the sombre azure of the celestial dome,
a boundless sea, infinity in the sky and on the waves! Never has God
confused me with His greatness more than during those nights when I had
immensity over my head and immensity beneath my feet.

Westerly winds, interspersed with calms, delayed our progress. On the
4th of May, we had reached only the level of the Azores. On the 6th,
at about eight o'clock in the morning, we came in sight of the Isle of
the Peak; this volcano long commanded unnavigated seas[452]: a useless
beacon by night, an unseen landmark by day.

There is something magical in seeing the land rise from the depths of
the sea. Christopher Columbus, surrounded by a mutinous crew, preparing
to return to Europe without having attained the object of his voyage,
perceives a small light upon a beach which the darkness had hidden
from him. The flight of the birds had guided him to America; the gleam
from the hut of a savage reveals to him the presence of a new world.
Columbus must have experienced the sort of feeling which the Scriptures
attribute to the Creator when, having out of nothing brought forth
the world, He saw that His work was good: "And God saw that it was
good[453]." Columbus created a world. One of the first lives of the
Genoese pilot is that which Giustiniani[454], when editing a Hebrew
psalter, placed in the form of a "note" at the foot of the psalm,
_Cœli enarrant gloriam Dei._[455]

Vasco da Gama must have marvelled no less when, in 1498, he approached
the coast of Malabar. Thereupon all things change on the face of the
globe: a new revelation of nature is given; the curtain which for
thousands of ages has concealed one part of the earth is raised,
discovering the birthplace of the sun, the spot whence he issues each
morning "as a bridegroom, as a giant[456];" we see in all its nudity
the wise and brilliant East, whose mysterious history was intermixed
with the journeys of Pythagoras, the conquests of Alexander, the memory
of the Crusades, and whose perfumes came to us across the plains of
Arabia and the seas of Greece. Europe sent to the East a poet to salute
it: the Swan of Tagus made his sad and beautiful voice heard upon the
shores of India; Camoëns[457] borrowed their lustre, their fame and
their misfortune; he left them only their riches.

When Gonzalo Villo, Camoëns' maternal grandfather, discovered a portion
of the Archipelago of the Azores, he ought, had he foreseen the future,
to have reserved for himself a concession of six feet of ground to
cover the bones of his grandson.

We anchored in a bad roadstead, with a rocky bottom, in five-and-forty
fathoms of water. The island of Graciosa, before which we were moored,
displayed its hills a little swollen in outline like the ellipses of
an Etruscan amphora; they were draped in the green of their cornfields
and emitted an agreeable odour of wheat peculiar to the harvests of
the Azores. In the midst of these carpets, one saw the dividing lines
of the fields, formed of volcanic stones, half black and half white,
piled one upon the other. On the summit of a mound stood an abbey, the
monument of an old world upon new soil; at the foot of this mound, the
red roofs of the town of Santa-Cruz were mirrored in a pebbly creek.
The whole island, with its indentations of bays, capes, bights and
promontories, reflected its inverted landscape in the sea. For outer
girdle it had a belt of rocks jutting from the surface of the waves.
In the background of the picture, the cone of the volcano of the Peak,
planted upon a cupola of clouds, pierced the perspective of the air
beyond Graciosa.

[Sidenote: The isle of Graciosa.]

Tulloch, the second mate and I decided to go on land; the long-boat was
lowered and rowed towards the shore, which lay about two miles away.
We saw some movement on the beach; a pram put out in our direction.
So soon as she had come within speaking distance, we distinguished a
number of monks. They hailed us in Portuguese, in Italian, in English,
in French, and we replied in all four languages. Alarm prevailed,
our vessel was the first ship of large tonnage that had ventured to
anchor in the dangerous roadstead where we were going with the tide.
On the other hand, the islanders now saw the tricolour flag for the
first time; they did not know whether we hailed from Tunis or Algiers:
Neptune had not recognized the standard so gloriously borne by Cybele.
When they saw that we had human shapes and that we understood what was
said to us, their delight was extreme. The monks took us up in their
boat, and we rowed merrily towards Santa-Cruz, where we landed with
some difficulty because of a rather violent surf.

The whole island came running up. Four or five _alguazils_, armed with
rusty pikes, took possession of us. His Majesty's uniform attracted
the honours in my direction, and I was taken for the leading member
of the deputation. We were led to the Governor's house, or hovel,
where His Excellency, dressed in a worn green uniform, which had once
been gold-laced, received us in solemn audience: he gave us leave to
replenish our stores of provisions.

Our monks took us to their convent, a roomy and well-lighted building,
surrounded with balconies. Tulloch had discovered a fellow-countryman:
the principal brother, who did all the bustling about for us, was
a sailor from Jersey whose ship had gone down with all hands off
Graciosa. The solitary survivor of the shipwreck, and not lacking
in intelligence, he had become an apt pupil of the catechists; he
learnt Portuguese and a few words of Latin; the fact of his being an
Englishman militated in his favour, and they converted him and made a
monk of him. The Jersey sailor found it much pleasanter to be lodged,
boarded, and clothed at the altar than to take in the top-gallant sail
in a storm. He had not forgotten his old trade: it was long since he
had heard his language spoken, and he was delighted to meet some one
who knew it; he laughed and swore like a true pilot's apprentice. He
showed us over the island.

The houses in the villages, built of wood and stone, were adorned
with outer galleries which gave an air of neatness to these cottages,
because of the quantity of light that prevailed. The peasants, almost
all vine-dressers, were half-naked and bronzed by the sun; the women,
short, yellow as mulattoes, but sprightly, were frank coquettes, with
their posies of syringa-blossoms and their beads worn by way of crowns
or chains.

The hill-slopes glowed with vine-stocks, the wine from which resembled
that of Fayal. Water was scarce, but wherever a spring welled, there
grew a fig-tree, there rose an oratory with a frescoed portico. The
ogives of the portico framed views of the island and portions of the
sea. On one of these fig-trees, I saw a flock of blue teal settle, not
of the web-footed variety. The tree had no leaves, but bore red fruit
set like crystals. When adorned with the cerulean birds, which let fall
their wings, its fruits appeared to be of a brilliant purple, while the
tree seemed suddenly to have shot forth an azure foliage.

It is probable that the Azores were known to the Carthaginians; it
is certain that Phœnician coins have been dug up in the island of
Corvo. The modern navigators who first landed at this island are said
to have found an equestrian statue pointing with outstretched arm
to the west, provided always that this statue is not the imaginary
engraving which adorns the old books of seaports.

In the manuscript of the _Natchez_, I have made Chactas, returning
from Europe, land at the island of Corvo, where he comes across the
mysterious statue. He thus expresses the feelings which filled my mind
at Graciosa, when I recalled the legend:

"I approached that extraordinary monument. On its base, bathed by the
foam of the ocean, were carved unknown characters: the moss and the
saltpetre of the sea corroded the surface of the time-honoured bronze;
the halcyon, perched upon the helmet of the colossus, uttered at
intervals its plaintive note; shell-fish clung to the courser's flanks
and mane of brass, and one's ear, when approached to its open nostrils,
seemed to hear confused murmurs."


[Sidenote: Supper with the monks.]

We were served with a good supper by the monks after our excursion, and
we spent the night in drinking with our hosts. The next day, at noon,
our provisions having been taken on board, we returned to the ship. The
monks took charge of our letters for Europe. The vessel had been in
danger through the rising of a stiff south-easterly wind. We heaved the
anchor; but it was caught in the rocks, and we lost it, as we expected.
We set sail: the wind continued to freshen, and we had soon passed the

    Fac pelagus me scire probes, quo carbasa laxo.

    "Muse, help me to show that I know the sea over which I
    spread my sails."

Thus, six hundred years ago, wrote Guillaume-le-Breton[458], my
fellow-countryman. Restored to the sea, I began anew the contemplation
of my solitude; but across the ideal world of my dreams, stern monitors
appeared to me: France and the events of reality. My lurking-place
during the day, when I wished to avoid my fellow-passengers, was the
main-top, to which I climbed nimbly amid the applause of the sailors. I
there sat and commanded the waves.

The vast expanse, doubly hung with azure, had the appearance of a
canvas prepared to receive the future creations of a mighty painter.
The colour of the water was like that of liquid glass. Long and steep
undulations opened within their hollows vistas of the ocean deserts:
those wavering landscapes made clear to my eyes the comparison drawn
in the Scriptures of the earth reeling before the Lord, like a drunken
man[459]. Sometimes one might have pronounced the space narrow and
restricted, for want of a vanishing point; but if a wave happened to
raise its crest, a billow to curve in imitation of a distant coast, a
shoal of dog-fish to pass along the horizon, then one had a scale to
measure by. The expanse was revealed still more when a mist, creeping
to the ocean's surface, seemed to enlarge the very immensity.

On descending from the eyrie of the mast, as when, in former days, ever
reduced to a solitary existence, I climbed down from my nest in the
willow-tree, I supped on a ship-biscuit, a little sugar, and a lemon; I
then lay down, either wrapped in my cloak on deck, or in my cot below:
I had but to stretch my arm to reach from my bed to my coffin.

The wind compelled us to bear to the North, and we came alongside of
the bank of Newfoundland. Floating icebergs roamed in the midst of a
pale, cold mist.

The men of the trident have sports which are handed down to them from
their ancestors: when you cross the Line, you must make up your mind
to receive "baptism;" the same ceremony occurs beneath the Tropics,
the same ceremony on the bank of Newfoundland, and whatever the spot,
the leader of the masquerade is always "the Old Man of the Tropics."
To the sailors, tropical and hydropical are interchangeable terms:
the Old Man of the Tropics therefore has an enormous paunch; he is
dressed, even when beneath his native Tropics, in all the sheepskins
and all the furred jackets that the crew can supply. He sits squatting
in the main-top and roaring from time to time. Every one looks at him
from below: he begins to climb down the shrouds, moving heavily like a
bear, and stumbling like Silenus. As he sets foot on deck, he utters
fresh roars, gives a bound, seizes a pail, fills it with sea-water, and
empties it over the chief of those who have not crossed the Equator
or who have not reached the line of ice. You fly beneath the decks,
you spring upon the hatches, you clamber up the masts: Old Father
Tropics is after you; all this ends in a generous gift of drink-money:
games of Amphitrite which Homer would have celebrated, even as he sang
Proteus, if old Oceanus had been known in his entirety in the time of
Ulysses; but, in those days, only his head was visible at the Pillars
of Hercules: his body lay hidden and covered the world.

We steered for the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, in search of
a new port. When we came in sight of the former, one morning between
ten and twelve o'clock, we were almost upon it; its coast showed like a
black hump through the fog.

We anchored in front of the capital of the island: we could not see it,
but we heard the sounds on land. The passengers hastened to disembark;
the Superior of Saint-Sulpice, who had been constantly racked with
sea-sickness, was so weak that he had to be carried on shore. I took a
separate lodging; I waited until a gust of wind tore the mist asunder
and showed me the place in which I was living and, so to speak, the
faces of my hosts in this land of shadows.

[Sidenote: The Isle of Saint-Pierre.]

The port and roadstead of Saint-Pierre are situated between the east
coast of the island and a long-shaped islet called the _Île aux
Chiens_, or Isle of Dogs. The port, known as the _Barachois_, or Little
Inlet, cuts into the land and ends in a brackish pool. Small, barren
mountains crowd together in the centre of the island; some are detached
and overhang the coast; others have at their feet a skirt of flat and
turfy moorland. The look-out hill is visible from the market-town.

The Governor's house faces the wharf. The church, the vicarage, the
provision warehouse are situated at the same spot; next come the houses
of the naval commissary and the harbour-master. From there, the one
street of the town runs over the shingles along the beach.

I dined two or three times with the Governor, a very polite and
obliging officer. On a sloping bank he grew a few European vegetables.
After dinner he showed me what he called his garden. A delicate
and fragrant odour of heliotrope was exhaled from a small patch of
flowering beans; it was not wafted to us by a gentle breeze from home,
but by a wild Newfoundland wind, having no connection with the exiled
plant, no sympathy of remembrance or delight. In this perfume no longer
inhaled by beauty, purified in its breast, or diffused upon its path,
in this perfume of a changed dawn, cultivation and world, lurked all
the several melancholies of regrets, absence, and youth.

From the garden we mounted towards the hills, and stopped at the foot
of the flag-staff of the look-out. The new French flag waved over
our heads; like Virgil's women, we looked at the sea, _flentes_:
it separated us from our native land! The Governor was uneasy: he
belonged to the defeated opinion; he was bored, moreover, in this
sequestered spot, which was suited to a visionary like myself, but
which was a thankless habitation for a man interested in affairs and
not endowed with the all-filling passion which causes the rest of the
world to disappear from view. My host inquired after the Revolution;
I asked him for news of the North-West Passage. He was in the van of
the wilderness, but he knew nothing of the Esquimaux and from Canada
received nothing save partridges.

One morning I had gone alone to the _Cap-à-l'Aigle_, or Eagle Head, to
see the sun rise in the direction of France. There, a wintry brook
formed a cascade which with its last leap reached the sea. I sat down
upon a projecting rock, my feet hanging over the water which broke
into foam at the bottom of the cliff. A young fisher-girl appeared
on the upper slopes of the hill-side; she was bare-legged, in spite
of the cold, and walked in the dew. Her black hair was carelessly
twisted under the figured silk kerchief bound round her head; over this
kerchief she wore a hat made out of the reed-grass of the country and
shaped like a cradle or boat. A bunch of purple heather peeped out from
her bosom, which was outlined beneath the white material of her shift.
From time to time she stooped to gather the leaves of an aromatic plant
known in the island as "homegrown tea." With one hand she dropped
these leaves into a basket which she carried in the other. She saw
me: without being frightened, she came and sat down by me, placed her
basket within reach, and began like myself to look at the sun, her legs
swinging over the sea.

[Sidenote: The fisher-girl.]

We remained some minutes without speaking; at last I proved myself the
bolder, and asked:

"What are you gathering there? The season for bilberries and atocas is

She opened two large, dark, shy, but proud eyes, and answered:

"I was picking tea."

She showed me her basket.

"Are you taking the tea home to your father and mother?"

"My father is away fishing with Guillaumy."

"What do you do in the island in the winter?"

"We make nets; we fish in the lakes by breaking the ice; on Sundays we
go to Mass and Vespers or we sing hymns; and then we play in the snow
and watch the boys hunting the polar bears."

"Will your father be back soon?"

"Oh no: the skipper is taking the ship to Genoa with Guillaumy."

"But Guillaumy will come home again?"

"Oh yes, next season, when the fishermen return. He is going to bring
me a striped silk bodice in his stock, a muslin skirt, and a black

"And you will be decked out for the wind, the mountains, and the sea.
Would you like me to send you a bodice, a skirt, and a necklace?"

"Oh no!"

She rose, took up her basket, and ran down a steep path, along a
fir-grove. In a loud voice she sang a Mission hymn:

    Tout brillant d'une ardeur immortelle,
    C'est vers Dieu que tendent mes désirs[460].

She scattered to flight, as she went, those pretty birds called egrets,
from the tuft on their heads; she looked as though she were one of
their number. When she reached the sea, she leapt into a boat, unfurled
the sail, and seated herself at the rudder; one might have taken her
for Fortune; she sailed away from me.

"Oh yes; oh no; Guillaumy:" the picture of the young sailor seated on
a yard among the winds changed the hideous rock of Saint-Pierre into a
land of delights:

    L'isole di Fortuna, ora vedete[461].

We spent a fortnight in the island. From its desolate shores one
discerns the yet more desolate coasts of Newfoundland. The hills in the
interior put out diverging chains of which the highest extends towards
Rodriguez Creek. In the dales, the granite rock, mixed with red and
green mica, is covered with a thick cushion of sphagnum, lichens, and

Small lakes are nourished by the tribute brought by the streams
from the _Vigie_, or Look-Out; the Courval; the _Pain-de-Sucre_, or
Sugarloaf; the Kergariou; the _Tête-Galante_, or Gallant Head. These
pools are known by the names of the _Étangs-du-Savoyard_, or Savoyard's
Ponds; the _Cap-Noir_, or Black Head; the Ravenel; the _Colombier_,
or Dove-cot; the _Cap-à-l'Aigle_, or Eagle Head. When the whirlwinds
strike upon these pools, they rend the shallow waters, laying bare, in
places, portions of submarine meadows, which are as suddenly covered
over by the newly-woven veil of the waters.

The _flora_ of Saint-Pierre is the same as that of Lapland and
Magellan's Straits. The number of plants diminishes as one proceeds
towards the Pole; in Spitzbergen we find only forty species of
phanerogamous plants. In changing their habitation, races of plants
become extinct: some which dwell in the frozen steppes in the North
become daughters of the mountain in the South; others which thrive in
the peaceful atmosphere of the thickest forests decrease in strength
and size until at last they expire on the stormy strands of the ocean.
At Saint-Pierre, the marsh myrtle (_vaccinium fugilinosum_) is reduced
to the condition of creeping grasses; it will soon be buried in the
wadding and cushions of the mosses which serve as its soil. Myself
a passenger plant, I have taken my precautions to disappear by the
sea-shore, the site of my birth.

The slope of the hillocks of Saint-Pierre is laid over with
balsam-trees, medlars, dwarf palms, larches, black firs, the gems of
which are used for brewing an antiscorbutic beer. These trees do not
exceed a man's stature. The ocean wind pollards them, shakes them,
bends them like so many ferns; then, gliding beneath these forests
of shrubs, it raises them again; but it finds no trunks there, nor
branches, nor arches, nor echoes to wail among, and it makes no more
noise than on a heath.

These rickety woods form a contrast with the great forests of
Newfoundland, whose fir-trees bear a silver lichen (_alectoria
trichodes_): the polar bears seem to have torn their fur against the
branches of those trees, of which they are the strange creepers. The
swamps of Jacques Cartier's[462] island contain roads beaten by these
bears: it is as though one saw rustic footpaths in the neighbourhood of
a sheep-fold. The whole night reechoes with the cries of these famished
beasts; the traveller is comforted only by the no less mournful sound
of the sea: those waves, so unsociable and so rude, become friends and

The northernmost point of Newfoundland touches the latitude of Cape
Charles I. in Labrador; a few degrees higher, the polar landscape
commences. If we are to believe the travellers, a charm lies upon
those regions: in the evening the sun, touching the earth, seems to
stay motionless, and subsequently reascends the sky instead of sinking
beneath the horizon. The snow-clad mountains, the valleys carpeted
with white moss upon which the reindeer browse, the seas covered with
whales and strewn with ice-bergs, this whole scene glitters, lighted as
it were at one time by the gleam of the setting sun and the light of
dawn: one knows not whether he is assisting at the creation or the end
of the world. A little bird, similar to that which sings in our woods
at night, utters a plaintive warbling. Then love leads the Esquimaux
to the icy rock where his mate awaits him: those human nuptials at the
extreme boundaries of the earth lack neither dignity nor happiness.


[Sidenote: We leave Saint-Pierre.]

When we had shipped stores and replaced the anchor which we had lost
at Graciosa, we left Saint-Pierre. Sailing south before the wind, we
reached the latitude of 38°. The calm delayed us at a short distance
from the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. The misty sky of the
northerly regions had been succeeded by the clearest weather; the land
was not in sight, but the odour of the pine-forests was wafted to our
nostrils. The dawn and the early morning, the rising and setting sun,
the twilight and the night were alike admirable. I was never satisfied
with gazing at Venus, whose rays seemed to envelop me like the tresses
of my sylph of former days.

One day I was reading in the captain's room; the bell struck for
prayers; I went and mingled my prayers with those of my companions. The
officers and passengers filled the quarter-deck; the chaplain, book
in hand, stood a little before them, near the helm; the sailors were
crowded promiscuously on deck; we stood with our faces turned towards
the ship's bows. All sails were furled. The disk of the sun, preparing
to plunge into the sea, appeared through the rigging of the vessel in
the midst of the boundless space: it was as though, with the rocking of
the poop, the radiant luminary at each moment changed its horizon. When
I drew this picture, which you can see in its entirety in the _Génie du
Christianisme_[463], my religious sentiments were in harmony with the
scene; but alas, when I was present at it in person, I had not yet put
off the old man: it was not God alone that I contemplated in the waves,
in all the magnificence of His works. I beheld an unknown woman and
the miracles worked by her smile; the beauties of the heavens seemed
to open out at her breath; I would have bartered Eternity for one of
her caresses. I pictured her to myself throbbing behind the veil of the
universe which hid her from my gaze. Ah, why was it not in my power to
tear aside that curtain to press the idealized woman to my heart, to
be consumed upon her breast with that love which was the source of my
inspirations, of my despair, and of my life! While I abandoned myself
to these impulses so well suited to my future career as a _coureur des
bois_, an accident occurred which very nearly put an end to my plans
and to my dreams.

The heat was overpowering; the vessel, lying in a dead calm, with
furled sails and overweighted by the masts, rolled heavily: burning
upon deck and wearied by the motion, I longed to bathe, and although
we had no boat out, I dived into the sea from the bowsprit. All went
well at first, and several passengers followed my example. I swam
without looking at the ship; but when I came to turn my head, I saw
that the current had dragged her some distance. The sailors, alarmed,
had slipped a rope to the other swimmers. Sharks appeared in the ship's
waters, and the men fired at them to drive them away. The swell was so
heavy that it delayed my return by exhausting my strength. I had an
eddy below me, and at any moment the sharks might carry off one of my
arms or legs. On board, the boatswain was trying to lower a boat, but
it was necessary to fix the tackling, and all this took time.

By the greatest good fortune, an almost imperceptible breeze sprang up;
the vessel answered her helm a little and approached me; I was just
able to catch hold of the rope, but my companions in rashness were
clinging to it; when we were pulled to the ship's side, I was at the
extremity of the line, and they bore upon me with all their weight. We
were thus fished up one by one, which took long. The rolling continued;
at each roll, we were either plunged six or seven feet into the water,
or hung up as many feet in the air, like fish at the end of a line:
at the last immersion, I felt ready to faint away; one roll more and
it would have been over. I was hoisted on deck half dead: had I been
drowned, what a good riddance for me and the rest!

Two days after this accident, we came in sight of land. My heart beat
fast when the captain pointed it out to me: America! It was barely
indicated by the crowns of a few maple-trees standing above the water.
The palms at the mouth of the Nile have since indicated the coast of
Egypt for me in the same manner. A pilot came on board; we entered
Chesapeake Bay. In the evening a boat was sent on shore to fetch fresh

I joined the party, and soon trod American soil.

Turning my looks around me, I remained for some moments motionless.
This continent, perhaps unknown during the whole course of antiquity
and a large number of modern centuries; the first wild destinies
of that continent and its second destinies after the arrival of
Christopher Columbus; the sway of the European monarchies shaken in
this new world; the old society ending in young America; a republic of
a hitherto unknown character ushering in a change in the human mind;
the part which my country had played in these events; those seas and
shores owing their independence in part to French blood and the French
flag; a great man issuing from the midst of discord and the desert;
Washington inhabiting a flourishing city in the same spot where William
Penn[464] had bought a patch of forestland; the United States handing
on to France the revolution which France had supported with her arms;
lastly, my own destinies, the virgin muse which I had come to abandon
to the passion of a new revelation of nature; the discoveries which
I desired to attempt in the deserts which still extended their broad
kingdom behind the narrow empire of a foreign civilization: such were
the thoughts that revolved through my mind.

[Sidenote: Chesapeake Bay.]

We walked towards a dwelling-house. Woods of balsam-trees and Virginian
cedars, mocking-birds and cardinal-birds proclaimed by their aspect
and shade, their song and colour, that we were in a new clime. The
house, which we reached in half-an-hour, combined the characteristics
of an English farm-house and a West-Indian cabin. Herds of European
cattle grazed in pastures surrounded by glades, in which played
striped squirrels. Blacks were sawing logs of wood, whites cultivating
tobacco-plants. A negress of thirteen or fourteen years of age, nearly
naked and of singular beauty, opened the gate of the enclosure to us,
like a young figure of Night. We bought cakes of Indian corn, chickens,
eggs, milk, and returned to the ship with our demi-johns and baskets. I
gave my silk handkerchief to the little African: a slave welcomed me to
the soil of liberty.

We weighed anchor in order to make the roads and port of Baltimore: as
we approached, the waters grew narrow; they were smooth and motionless;
we appeared to be ascending a lazy stream lined with avenues. Baltimore
presented itself to us as though at the further end of a lake. Opposite
the town rose a wooded hill, at the foot of which they were commencing
to build. We moored alongside the quay. I slept on board and did not go
on shore till the next day. I went to stay at the inn with my luggage;
the seminarists retired to the establishment prepared for them, whence
they have since dispersed over America.

What became of François Tulloch? The following letter was handed to me
in London on the 12th of April 1822:

    "Thirty years have elapsed, my dear viscount, since the
    'epoch' of our journey to Baltimore, and it is very doubtful
    whether you will remember as much as my name; but if I may
    judge from the feelings of my heart, which has always been
    loyal and true to you, this is not so, and I flatter myself
    that you would not be displeased to see me again. Although
    we are living almost opposite each other (as you will see by
    the date of this letter), I am only too well aware how many
    things separate us. But should you show the smallest wish
    to see me, I shall be eager to prove to you, in so far as I
    can, that I am ever, as I always have been, your faithful and

                                               "FRANCIS TULLOCH.

    "P.S.--The distinguished rank which you have won and which
    you have earned by so many claims has not escaped me; but
    the memory of the Chevalier de Chateaubriand is so dear
    to me that I cannot write to you (this time, at least) as
    Ambassador, &c., &c. So pardon the style for the sake of our
    old alliance.

    "30 Portland Place,

    _Friday_, 12 _April._"

And so Tulloch was in London; he did not become a priest; he is
married; his romance ended as did mine. This letter testifies to the
truthfulness of my Memoirs and the faithfulness of my recollections.
Who would have given evidence of the "alliance" and "friendship" formed
thirty years ago upon the sea, if the other contracting party had not
appeared upon the scene? And what a sad and retrogressive perspective
this letter unfolds before me! Tulloch, in 1822, was again living in
the same city as myself, in the same street; the door of his house was
opposite mine, as when we met on the same ship, upon the same deck,
cabin facing cabin. How many of my other friends I shall never meet
again! Every night, on retiring to rest, a man can count his losses:
there is naught save his years that does not leave him, although these
pass; when he reviews them and calls their numbers, they reply, "Here!"
Not one but answers the roll-call.


Baltimore, like all the other capitals of the United States, had not
the dimensions which it now possesses: it was a pretty little Catholic
town, neat and lively, with customs and a society closely resembling
the customs and society of Europe. I paid the captain my passage-money
and gave him a farewell dinner. I booked my seat in the stage-coach
which ran three times a week to Pennsylvania. I climbed up to it
at four o'clock in the morning, and found myself rolling along the
high-roads of the New World.

The road we followed was marked out rather than made, and crossed a
somewhat flat tract of country: there were hardly any trees, some
straggling farms, and thinly-scattered villages. The climate was
French: swallows flew over the water as on the pond at Combourg.

[Sidenote: Philadelphia.]

As we drew nearer to Philadelphia, we met country-folk going to market,
public carriages and private carriages. Philadelphia struck me as a
fine town, with wide streets, some of which were planted with trees,
intersecting each other at right angles in regular order from north
to south and east to west. The Delaware runs parallel to the street
which follows its west bank. This river would be considered a large
one in Europe: it is not spoken of in America; its banks are low and

At the period of my journey (1791), Philadelphia had not yet spread as
far as the Schuylkill; the ground running towards that tributary was
divided into lots, upon which houses were being built at intervals.

Philadelphia presents a monotonous aspect. In general, the Protestant
cities of the United States fall short in great works of architecture:
the Reformation, young in years, and sacrificing nothing to the
imagination, has rarely erected those domes, those aerial naves, those
twin towers with which the old Catholic religion has crowned Europe. No
monument, in Philadelphia, in New York; at Boston, one pyramid rising
above the mass of walls and roofs: the eye is saddened by this uniform

First alighting at an inn, I next took a room in a boarding-house in
which were staying planters from San Domingo and Frenchmen who had
emigrated with other ideas than mine. A land of liberty offered an
asylum to those who were fleeing from liberty: nothing better proves
the high value of generous institutions than this voluntary exile of
the partisans of absolute power in a pure democracy.

A man who had landed in the United States as I had, filled with
enthusiasm for the classic races, a colonist who sought on every
side the rigidity of the early Roman manners, was necessarily much
scandalized to find on every hand the luxury of private carriages,
frivolity of conversation, inequality of fortunes, the immorality of
banking and gaming-houses, the excitement of theatres and ball-rooms.
In Philadelphia I might have thought myself in Liverpool or Bristol The
appearance of the inhabitants was agreeable: the Quakeresses with their
grey gowns, their uniform little bonnets and their pale features seemed

At that period of my life, I had a great admiration for republics,
although I did not believe them possible at the stage of the world's
history which we had reached: my idea of liberty was that conceived
by the ancients, liberty the daughter of the manners of a new-born
society; but I knew nothing of the liberty which is the daughter of
enlightenment and of an old civilization, a form of liberty which the
representative republic has proved to be real: God grant that it may be
lasting! A man, to be free, is not obliged himself to plough his small
field, to storm at arts and sciences, to wear hooked nails and a dirty

General Washington was not in Philadelphia when I arrived there; I was
obliged to wait a week. I saw him go past in a carriage drawn by four
prancing horses, driven four-in-hand. Washington, according to my then
ideas, was necessarily Cincinnatus; Cincinnatus in a chariot somewhat
upset my republic of 296 B.C. Could Washington the Dictator be anything
save a boor, driving his oxen with a goad and holding the tail of his
plough? But when I went to carry my letter of recommendation to him, I
found once more the simplicity of the ancient Roman.

A small house, resembling the neighbouring houses, was the palace of
the President of the United States: no sentries, no footmen even. I
knocked, and a young maid-servant opened the door. I asked if the
general was at home; she replied that he was in. I said I had a letter
for him. The servant asked my name, which is difficult to pronounce in
English and which she could not remember. She then said softly, "Walk
in, sir," and led the way down one of those narrow passages which serve
as an entrance-hall to English houses: she showed me into a parlour
where she asked me to wait until the general came.

I felt no agitation; greatness of mind or fortune in no way overawe
me: I admire the first without being crushed by it; the second calls
forth my pity rather than my respect: no man's countenance will ever
disconcert me.

[Illustration: General Washington.]

After a few minutes, the general entered the room: tall in stature, of
a calm and cold rather than noble bearing, he resembled his engraved
portraits. I handed him my letter in silence; he opened it and
glanced at the signature which he read aloud, exclaiming:

"Colonel Armand!"

This was the name by which he knew the Marquis de La Rouërie and by
which the latter had signed himself.

We sat down. I explained to him as best I could the object of my
journey. He replied in monosyllables in English and French, and
listened to me with a sort of astonishment. I remarked this and said to
him, with some little animation:

"But it is less difficult to discover the North-West Passage than to
create a people, as you have done."

"Well, well, young man!" he exclaimed, giving me his hand.

He invited me to dinner for the next day, and we parted.

[Sidenote: General Washington.]

I took care to keep the appointment. We were only five or six guests at
table. The conversation turned upon the French Revolution. The general
showed us a key from the Bastille. These keys, as I have already said,
were rather silly toys which passed from hand to hand at that time. The
consigners of locksmiths' wares might, three years later, have sent
to the President of the United States the bolt of the prison of the
monarch who bestowed liberty upon France and America. If Washington
had seen the "victors of the Bastille" disporting themselves in the
gutters of Paris, he would have felt less respect for his relic. The
seriousness and strength of the Revolution did not spring from those
blood-stained orgies. At the time of the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, in 1685, the same mob from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine
demolished the Protestant temple at Charenton with as much ardour as
when it laid waste the church of Saint-Denis in 1793.

I left my host at ten o'clock in the evening, and never saw him again;
he went away the next day, and I continued my journey.

Such was my meeting with the citizen soldier, the liberator of a
world. Washington descended to the grave before a vestige of fame
had become attached to my footsteps; I passed before him as the most
unknown of beings; he was in all his lustre, I in all my obscurity; my
name perhaps did not linger one whole day in his memory: well for me,
nevertheless, that his looks fell upon me! I have felt warmed by them
for the rest of my life: there is virtue in a great man's looks.


Bonaparte is but lately dead[465]. As I have just knocked at
Washington's door, it is natural that the parallel between the founder
of the United States and the Emperor of the French should occur to my
mind: the more so since, at the time when I am writing these lines,
Washington himself is no more. Ercilla[466], singing and battling in
Chile, stops in the middle of his journey to describe the death of
Dido; why should not I stop at the commencement of my ramble through
Pennsylvania to compare Washington with Bonaparte? I might have delayed
my notice of them until I came to the time at which I met Napoleon;
but should I happen to sink into the grave before reaching the year
1814 in my chronicle, the reader would never know what I had to say on
the subject of the two mandataries of Providence. I remember the case
of Castelnau[467]: he was Ambassador to England like myself, and like
me wrote a part of his life in London. On the last page of Book VII.,
he says to his son, "I will treat of this fact in the Eighth Book,"
and the Eighth Book of Castelnau's Memoirs does not exist: that is a
warning to me to take advantage of life while it lasts.

Washington does not, like Bonaparte, belong to the race that surpasses
human stature. There is nothing astonishing attached to his person; he
is not placed upon a vast stage; he is not engaged in a struggle with
the ablest captains and the most powerful monarchs of the time; he
does not rush from Memphis to Vienna, from Cadiz to Moscow: he defends
himself with a handful of citizens in a land not yet famous, within the
narrow circle of the domestic hearth. He delivers none of those battles
in which the triumphs of Arbela and Pharsalia are renewed; he overturns
no thrones to build up others from their ruins; he does not send word
to the kings at his gate:

    Qu'ils se font trop attendre, et qu'Attila s'ennuie[468].

A certain silence covers the actions of Washington; he acts slowly; it
is as though he felt that he was entrusted with the liberty of the
future and feared to compromise it. It is not his own destiny that
a hero of this kind carries in his hand: it is that of his country;
he does not suffer himself to stake that which does not belong to
him; but from this profound humility see how great a light arises!
Seek the woods in which flashed Washington's sword: what do you find?
Tombstones? No: a world! Washington left the United States as a trophy
on his battle-field.


[Sidenote: Washington and Bonaparte.]

Bonaparte has none of the features of this grave American: he fights
noisily upon an old world; he seeks to create nothing but his fame; he
entrusts himself with nothing but his own lot. He seems to know that
his mission will be short, that the torrent which descends from so
great a height will soon flow away; he hastens to enjoy and to misuse
his glory, as though it were a fleeting season of youth. Like Homer's
gods, he wishes to reach the end of the world in four steps. He appears
on every shore; precipitously he inscribes his name upon the annals
of every nation; he tosses crowns to his family and his soldiers; he
makes haste with his monuments, his laws, his victories. Bending over
the world, with one hand he fells the kings to the ground, while with
the other he lays low the revolutionary giant; but in crushing anarchy,
he stifles liberty, and ends by losing his own upon his last field of

Each is rewarded according to his works: Washington raises a nation
to independence; a peaceful magistrate, he falls asleep beneath his
roof-tree amid the regrets of his fellow-countrymen and the veneration
of the nations. Bonaparte robs a nation of its independence: a fallen
emperor, he is hurled into exile, where the affrighted earth does not
think him sufficiently closely imprisoned, even when guarded by the
ocean. He dies: the news, posted on the gate of the palace before which
the conqueror has caused so many funerals to be proclaimed, does not
delay nor astonish the passer-by: what had the citizens to mourn for?

Washington's republic is in existence; Bonaparte's empire is destroyed.
Washington and Bonaparte issued from the bosom of democracy: both were
born of liberty; the first was faithful to her, the second betrayed her.

Washington was the representative of the needs, the ideas, the
judgment, the opinions of his day; he seconded, rather than opposed,
the changes in men's minds; he desired what he was bound to desire,
the very thing for which he had been called: hence the coherent and
perpetual character of his work. This man who strikes the imagination
little, because he is in proportion, merged his existence in that of
his country: his glory is civilization's inheritance; his fame towers
like one of those public sanctuaries from which flows a fertile and
inexhaustible spring.

Bonaparte had it equally in his power to enrich the commonwealth; he
worked upon the most intelligent, the most gallant, the most brilliant
nation on earth. How high would be the rank held by him today, if he
had added magnanimity to the heroism which was his, if, Washington and
Bonaparte in one, he had appointed liberty the universal legatee of
his glory! But this giant did not link his destinies with those of his
contemporaries; his genius belonged to modern times: his ambition was
of a by-gone age; he did not perceive that the miracles of his life
surpassed a diadem in value, and that that Gothic ornament would become
him badly. Now he flung himself into the future, again he drew back
towards the past; and according to whether he reascended or followed
the course of time, thanks to his prodigious force, he drew with him
or pushed back the waves. Men, in his eyes, were but a means of power;
no sympathy was established between their happiness and his; he had
promised to deliver them, and he enchained them; he isolated himself
from them, and they withdrew from him. The Kings of Egypt placed their
funeral pyramids, not among thriving pastures, but in the midst of
barren deserts; those great tombs rise like eternity in the solitude:
Bonaparte built the monument of his fame in their image,


I was impatient to continue my journey. I had not come to see the
Americans, but something quite different from the men I knew, something
more in harmony with the habitual order of my ideas; I burned to throw
myself into an enterprise for which I had nothing prepared except my
imagination and my courage.

At the time when I formed the project of discovering the North-West
Passage, it was not known whether North America extended towards
the Pole and joined Greenland, or whether it terminated in some sea
adjoining Hudson's Bay and Behring's Straits. In 1772, Hearne had
discovered the sea at the mouth of the Copper Mine River in latitude
71° 15' N. and longitude 119° 15' W. of Greenwich[469].

On the Pacific coast, the efforts of Captain Cook and subsequent
travellers had left doubts. In 1787, a vessel was said to have entered
an inland sea of North America; according to the story told by the
captain of this ship, all that had been taken for uninterrupted coast
to the north of California consisted merely of a closely-knit chain
of islands. The British Admiralty sent Vancouver[470] to verify these
reports, which proved to be false. Vancouver had not yet made his
second voyage.

[Sidenote: Arctic exploration.]

In 1791, people in the United States were beginning to discuss the
road taken by Mackenzie: starting from Fort Chippeway on Mountains
Lake[471], 3 June 1789, he descended to the Arctic Ocean by the river
to which he gave his name.

This discovery might have changed my direction and caused me to take my
route due north; but I should have scrupled to alter the plans agreed
upon between M. de Malesherbes and myself. I proposed, therefore, to
travel westwards, so as to strike the north-west coast above the Gulf
of California; from there, following the outline of the continent,
and always keeping the sea in sight, I intended to explore Behring's
Straits, double the northernmost cape of America, descend on the east
along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and return to the United States
by way of Hudson's Bay, Labrador, and Canada.

What means had I to carry out this prodigious peregrination? None
at all. Most of the French travellers have been isolated men, left
entirely to their own resources; it is but rarely that the government
or any company has employed or assisted them. Englishmen, Americans,
Germans, Spaniards, Portuguese, thanks to the concurrence of the
national volition, have accomplished the things which, with us,
destitute individuals have begun in vain. Mackenzie and many others
after him have, to the profit of the United States and Great Britain,
made conquests upon the immensity of America, with which I had dreamed
of aggrandizing my native land. In case of success, I should have had
the honour of bestowing French names upon unknown regions, of endowing
my country with a colony upon the Pacific Ocean, of taking away the
rich fur-trade from a rival Power, and of preventing that Power from
opening out a shorter road to the Indies, by placing France herself in
possession of that road. I have stated these projects in the _Essai
historique_, published in London in 1796, and these projects were taken
from the manuscript of my Travels written in 1791. These dates prove
that I was ahead, both in thought and work, of the latest explorers of
the Arctic ice-fields.

I received no encouragement in Philadelphia. I foresaw from then
that the object of this first journey would be missed, and that my
expedition would be but the precursor of a second and longer journey.
I wrote in this sense to M. de Malesherbes, and while looking forward
to the future, I promised to poetry what should be lost to science. In
fact, if I did not find in America what I had come to seek, the Arctic
world, I did find there a new muse.

A stage-coach, similar to that which brought me from Baltimore, took
me from Philadelphia to New York, a gay, populous, commercial town,
which was nevertheless far from being what it is today, far from what
it will be in a few years; for the United States grow faster than does
this manuscript. I made a pilgrimage to Boston to salute the first
battlefield of American liberty. I saw the plains of Lexington; I there
sought, as I since sought at Sparta, the tomb of the warriors who died
"in obedience to the sacred laws of their country[472]." A noteworthy
instance of the concatenation of human affairs: a finance bill passed
by the English Parliament in 1765 erects a new empire upon the earth in
1782, and causes one of the oldest kingdoms of Europe to disappear from
the world in 1789!


I embarked at New York in the packet which sailed for Albany, situated
on the upper reaches of the Hudson River. The company was numerous. On
the evening of the first day we were served with a collation consisting
of fruits and milk; the women sat on the benches on deck, the men on
the deck at their feet. Conversation was not long maintained: at the
sight of a beautiful natural picture, one involuntarily lapses into
silence. Suddenly some one or other exclaimed:

"There is the place where Asgill[473] was arrested."

A Quakeress from Philadelphia was asked to sing the ballad known as
_Asgill._ We were passing between mountains; the fair passenger's
voice died away on the water, or rang out when we hugged the bank more
closely. The fate of a young soldier, a lover, a poet and a hero,
honoured by the interest of Washington and the generous intervention
of an unfortunate queen, lent additional charm to the romance of
the scene. The friend whom I have lost, M. de Fontanes, let fall
some courageous words in memory of Asgill at the time when Bonaparte
was preparing to ascend the throne upon which Marie Antoinette had
sat. The American officers appeared touched by the song of the fair
Pennsylvanian: the memory of the past troubles of their country made
them appreciate more highly the calm of the present moment. They gazed
with emotion upon those spots but lately filled with troops, resounding
with the clash of arms, and now wrapped in profound peace; those spots
gilded with the fading light of day, enlivened with the singing of
the cardinal-birds, the cooing of the ring-doves, the song of the
mocking-birds, while the inhabitants, leaning against their fences
fringed with trumpet-flowers, watched our bark pass below them.

[Sidenote: I arrive at Albany.]

On arriving at Albany I went in search of a Mr. Swift, for whom I had
been given a letter. This Mr. Swift traded in furs with the Indian
tribes enclosed in the territory ceded to the United States by England;
for the civilized Powers in America, republican and monarchical alike,
unceremoniously share among themselves land which does not belong to
them. After listening to what I had to say, Mr. Swift made some very
reasonable objections. He told me that I could not undertake a journey
of this importance at first sight, alone, without assistance, without
support, without letters of recommendation to the English, American,
and Spanish stations by which I should be obliged to pass; that if I
had the good fortune to cross so many solitary tracts of country, I
should arrive at frozen regions where I should perish of hunger; he
advised me to begin by acclimatizing myself, suggested that I should
learn the Sioux, Iroquois, and Esquimaux languages, and live among the
coureurs and the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company. Having gained this
preliminary experience, I might then, in four or five years, with the
assistance of the French Government, proceed on my hazardous mission.

This advice, whose justice, in my heart of hearts, I admitted, annoyed
me. Had I trusted to my own judgment, I should have set out then and
there to go to the Pole, as I might go from Paris to Pontoise. I
concealed my vexation from Mr. Swift, and asked him to find me a guide
and horses to take me to Niagara and Pittsburg: from Pittsburg I would
go down the Ohio and gather ideas for my future plans. I still had my
first project in my head. Mr. Swift engaged a Dutchman on my behalf,
who spoke several Indian dialects. I bought two horses and left Albany.

The whole stretch of country between the territory surrounding
that town and Niagara is now inhabited and cleared; the New York
Canal crosses it; but at that time a great part of the district was
unfrequented. When, after crossing the Mohawk, I entered woods which
had never known the axe, I was seized with a sort of intoxication of
independence; I went from tree to tree, left and right, saying to

"Here are no more roads, no more cities, no more monarchies, no more
republics, no more presidents, no more kings, no more men!"

And, in order to test whether I was really reinstated in my original
rights, I indulged in acts of will which infuriated my guide, who in
his heart believed me mad.

Alas, I imagined myself to be alone in that forest in which I was
carrying my head so high! Suddenly I almost broke my nose against
a shed. Under that shed, my amazed eyes beheld the first savages I
had seen in my life. There were a score of them, men and women, all
bedaubed like wizards, with half-naked bodies, slit ears, crows'
feathers on their heads, and rings through their nostrils. A little
Frenchman, all powdered and curled, in an apple-green coat, a drugget
vest, and a muslin frill and ruffles, was scraping a pocket fiddle and
making those Iroquois dance _Madelon Friquet._ M. Violet (that was his
name) was the savages' dancing-master. They paid him for his lessons
in beaver-skins and bear's hams. He had been a scullion in the service
of General Rochambeau[474] during the American War. He remained in New
York after the departure of our army, and resolved to instruct the
Americans in the fine arts. His views widened with success, and the new
Orpheus carried civilization to the savage hordes of the New World. In
speaking to me of the Indians, he always said:

"Those savage ladies and gentlemen."

He took great pride in the nimbleness of his pupils; indeed I never
saw such capers before or since. M. Violet, holding his little violin
between his chest and his chin, tuned the fatal instrument; he cried to
the Iroquois:

"Take your places!"

And the whole troop leaped about like a band of demons.

Was it not an overwhelming thing for a disciple of Rousseau, this
introduction to savage life through a ball which General Rochambeau's
late scullion was giving to the Iroquois? I had a great longing to
laugh, but I felt cruelly humiliated.


I bought a complete outfit of the Indians: two bearskins, one to serve
as a demi-toga, the other as a bed. I added to my new equipment the red
ribbed-cloth cap, the cloak, the belt, the horn to call in the dogs,
the bandoleer of the _coureurs des bois._ My hair hung over my bare
neck; I wore a long beard: I had something of the savage, the hunter,
and the missionary. I was invited to a hunt which was to take place the
next day to track a wolverine.

[Sidenote: Life in Canada.]

This race of animals is almost entirely destroyed in Canada, as are the
beavers. We took boat before daybreak to go up a river which issued
from the wood in which the wolverine had been seen. There were some
thirty of us, both Indians and American and Canadian _coureurs_: one
part of the troop walked alongside of the flotilla with the dogs, and
the women carried our provisions. We did not find the wolverine; but we
killed lynxes and musk-rats. Formerly the Indians used to go into deep
mourning when they had inadvertently killed any of the latter animals;
for the female of the musk-rat is, as everybody knows, the mother of
the human race. The Chinese, with their finer powers of observation,
know to a certainty that the rat changes into a quail, the mole into a

Our table was abundantly furnished with river-side birds and fish. The
dogs are trained to dive; when they are not hunting, they go fishing:
they plunge into the streams and seize the fish down at the bottom of
the water. The women prepared our meals at a large fire around which we
took our places. We had to lie flat down, with our faces against the
ground, to protect our eyes from the smoke, the clouds of which floated
above our heads and indifferently preserved us from the stings of the

Seen through the microscope, the various carnivorous insects are
formidable animals; they were once perhaps those winged dragons whose
skeletons are sometimes found: decreasing in size in proportion as
their matter decreased in energy, these hydras, griffins and others
would today be reduced to the condition of insects. The antediluvian
giants are the little men of our time.


M. Violet offered me his credentials for the Onondagas, the remnant
of one of the six Iroquois nations. I first came to the Lake of the
Onondagas. The Dutchman selected a suitable spot at which to pitch our
camp: a river issued from the lake; our gear was set up in the curve of
the river. We drove two forked stakes into the ground, at a distance
of six feet one from the other; in the forks of these stakes we hung,
horizontally, a long pole. Strips of birch bark, one end resting on the
ground, the other on the transversal pole, formed the sloping roof of
our mansion. Our saddles served as pillows, our cloaks as blankets. We
fastened bells to our horses' necks and turned them loose in the woods
near our camp: they did not wander far.

Fifteen years later, when I was bivouacking in the sand of the Saba
Desert, at a few steps from the Jordan on the banks of the Dead Sea,
our horses, those swift sons of Araby, looked as though they were
listening to the tales of the sheik and taking part in the story of
Antar and of the horse in Job[475].

It was hardly four o'clock in the afternoon when we were hutted. I
took my gun and went for a stroll round about There were few birds.
A solitary, pair alone fluttered before my eyes, like the birds
which I had followed in my paternal woods; by the colour of the
male, I recognised the white sparrow, the _passer nivalis_ of the
ornithologists. I also heard the osprey, very clearly characterized by
its note. The flight of the "screamer" had led me to a dale hemmed in
by tall and rocky heights; on a mountain-side stood a poor hut; a lean
cow roamed in a field below.

I like small shelters: "_A chico pajarillo chico nidillo_: a little
bird, a little nest." I sat down on the slope facing the hut planted on
the hillside opposite. In a few minutes, I heard voices in the valley:
three men were driving five or six fat cows; they put them to graze
and drove away the lean cow with blows of a switch. An Indian woman
came out of the hut, went towards the frightened beast, and called it.
The cow ran to her, stretching out its neck with a little low. The
planters shook their fists at the Indian woman, who returned to her
hut The cow followed her.

[Sidenote: The Indian woman.]

I got up, climbed down the declivity of the hillside, crossed the glen,
and climbing the opposite hill, reached the hut. I uttered the greeting
I had been taught:

"_Siegoh!_ I have come!"

The Indian woman, instead of returning my greeting by the customary
repetition, "You have come," made no reply. Then I petted the cow: the
Indian woman's yellow and saddened face showed signs of softening.
I was touched by these mysterious relations of misfortune: there is
sweetness in lamenting ills that none have lamented beside.

My hostess looked at me a little longer, with a remnant of doubt
lingering in her eyes, and then came forward and passed her hand over
the forehead of her companion in misery and solitude. Encouraged by
this mark of confidence, I said in English, for I had exhausted my

"She is very lean."

The Indian woman replied, in broken English:

"She eats very little."

"They drove her away roughly," I added.

And the woman replied:

"We are both accustomed to that."

I asked:

"Does not this meadow belong to you then?"

She answered:

"This meadow belonged to my husband, who is dead. I have no children,
and the pale-faces drive their cows into my meadow."

I had nothing to offer this creature of God. We parted. My hostess
said a number of things to me which I did not understand; they were
doubtless wishes for prosperity; if they have not been heard by Heaven,
it is not the fault of her who prayed, but the infirmity of him for
whom the prayer was offered. All souls have not an equal aptitude for
happiness, just as all lands do not bear equal harvests.

I returned to my wigwam, where a collation consisting of potatoes and
Indian corn awaited my arrival. The evening was splendid: the lake,
smooth as a flawless mirror, showed not a ripple; the murmuring river
bathed our peninsula, which the calycanthuses perfumed with the scent
of apple-blossom. The whip-poor-will uttered its song: we heard it, now
nearer, now farther away, according as the bird changed the spot of its
amorous calls. No one called me. Weep, poor Will!

The next day I went to pay a visit to the sachem of the Onondagas;
I reached his village at ten o'clock in the morning. I was at once
surrounded by young savages, who spoke to me in their language, mixed
with English phrases and a few words of French; they were very noisy
and wore an air of light-heartedness, like the first Turks whom I saw,
later, at Koroni, when landing on the soil of Greece. These Indian
tribes, enclosed in the clearings made by the whites, own horses and
cattle; their huts are filled with utensils purchased at Quebec,
Montreal, Niagara, and Detroit on the one side, and in the markets of
the United States on the other.

The explorers of the interior of North America found in a state of
nature, among the different savage tribes, the several forms of
government known to the peoples of civilization. The Iroquois belonged
to a race which seemed destined to conquer the Indian races, if
strangers had not come to exhaust his veins and stop the progress of
his genius. That fearless man was not astonished at fire-arms when
these were first used against him; he stood fast amid the hiss of the
bullets and the roar of the cannon, as though he had heard them all his
life; he seemed to pay no more heed to them than to the storm. So soon
as he was able to procure a musket, he made better use of it than the
European. He did not abandon for it the tomahawk, the scalping-knife,
the bow and arrow; but to these he added the carbine, the pistol, the
dagger, and the axe: he seemed never to have enough arms to satisfy his
valour. Doubly equipped with the murderous instruments of Europe and
America, his head decked with plumes, his ears slit, his face streaked
with various colours, his arms tattooed and smeared with blood, this
champion of the New World became as redoubtable in appearance as in
battle, on the shores which he defended foot by foot against the

The Onondaga chief was an old Iroquois in the fullest sense of the
word; he kept up in his person the ancient traditions of the desert.
The English narratives never fail to speak of the Indian sachem as
"the old gentleman." Now, the old gentleman is perfectly naked; he
wears a feather or a fish-bone in his pierced nostrils, and sometimes
covers his head, which is smooth and round as a cheese, with a laced
three-cornered hat, as an European sign of honour. Has not Velly[476]
depicted history with the same veracity? The Frankish chieftain
Khilpérick[477] rubbed his hair in sour butter, _infundens acido comam
butyro_, stained his cheeks with woad, and wore a party-coloured jerkin
or a greatcoat made of the skin of some beast; he is represented by
Velly as a prince magnificent to the point of ostentation in his
furniture and equipage, voluptuous to the point of debauchery, and
scarcely believing in God, whose ministers formed the subject of his

[Sidenote: With the Onondagas.]

The sachem of the Onondagas received me well and made me sit down
on a mat. He spoke English and understood French; my guide knew
Iroquois: conversation was easy. Among other things, the old man told
me that, although his nation had always been at war with mine, he had
always respected it. He complained of the Americans; he thought them
greedy and unjust, and regretted that, in the division of the Indian
territories his tribe had not gone to swell the lot of the English. The
women served us with a meal. Hospitality is the last virtue left to
the savages in the midst of European civilization; their hospitality
is well known of old; the hearth had all the power of the altar.
When a tribe was driven from its woods, or when a man came to demand
hospitality, the stranger began what was called the dance of the
supplicant. The child touched the door-sill and said:

"Here is the stranger."

And the chief replied:

"Child, bring the man into the hut."

The stranger entered, under the protection of the child, and sat down
by the ashes on the hearth. The women sang the song of consolation:

    The stranger has found a mother and a wife; the sun will rise
    and set for him as of old.

These customs seem borrowed from the Greeks: Themistocles, visiting
Admetus, kisses the Penates and his host's young son (I have possibly
at Megara trod upon the poor wife's hearthstone beneath which Phocion's
cinerary urn lay concealed[478]); and Ulysses, visiting Alcinous,
implores Arete:

"Noble Arete, daughter of Rhexenor, after suffering cruel ills, I throw
myself at your feet[479]."

Having spoken these words, the hero goes towards the hearth and seats
himself by the ashes.

I took leave of the old chief. He had been present at the capture of
Quebec. In the shameful years of the reign of Louis XV., the episode of
the Canadian War comes to our consolation as though it were a page from
our ancient history discovered in the Tower of London.

Montcalm[480], left to defend Canada unaided against forces often
relieved and four times his own in number, fights successfully for two
whole years; he defeats Lord Loudon[481] and General Abercromby[482].
At last fortune forsakes him; he falls wounded beneath the walls of
Quebec, and two days later breathes his last: his Grenadiers bury him
in a hole dug by a shell, a grave worthy of the honour of our arms! His
noble enemy Wolfe[483] dies facing him; he pays with his own life for
Montcalm's life and for the glory of expiring upon a few French flags.

Once more my guide and I mounted our horses. Our road became more
difficult and was marked only by some felled trees. The trunks of these
trees served as bridges over the streams or as hurdles in the bogs.
The American population was at that time moving towards the Genesee
grants. These grants were sold at prices more or less high according
to the goodness of the soil, the quality of the trees, the current and
abundance of the water.

It has been observed that colonists are often preceded in the woods
by bees: these are the van-guard of the tillers of the soil, and the
symbols of the industry and civilization whose coming they proclaim.
Foreign to America, these peaceful conquerors came in the wake of
Columbus' sails, and have robbed a new world of flowers of those
treasures only of whose use the natives were ignorant; nor have they
employed those treasures other than to enrich the soil whence they
derived them.

The clearings along both sides of the road which I travelled displayed
a curious mixture of the state of nature and the state of civilization.
In one comer of a wood which had never known any sound save the yells
of the savage and the belling of the stag, one came across a ploughed
field; one saw from the same point of view the wigwam of an Indian and
the dwelling of a planter. Some of these dwellings, when completed,
reminded one of the neatness of the Dutch farm-houses; others were only
half finished, and had nothing but the sky for a roof.

[Sidenote: Indians and settlers.]

I was welcomed in these dwellings, the results of a morning's work;
often I would find a family displaying European elegancies, mahogany
furniture, a piano, carpets, mirrors, at a few steps from the hut of an
Iroquois. In the evening, when the farm-servants returned from working
in the woods or fields with the axe or the hoe, the windows were
opened. My host's daughters, with their beautiful fair hair dressed in
ringlets, would sing, to the accompaniment of the piano, the duet from
Paisiello's[484] _Pandolfetto_ or some _cantabile_ by Cimarosa[485],
all in full view of the wilderness, and sometimes to the murmuring
sound of a waterfall.

Small market-towns rose in the better districts. The spire of a new
steeple shot up from the midst of an old forest. The English are
accompanied by English customs wherever they go: after crossing
districts containing no trace of habitation, I came upon the sign of an
inn swinging from the bough of a tree. Hunters, planters, and Indians
mingled at these caravansaries: the first time I rested there, I swore
that it should be the last.

It so happened that, on entering one of these hostelries, I stood
dumfoundered at the sight of a huge bed set up in a circle around a
post: each traveller took a place in this bed, with his feet against
the post in the centre and his head on the circumference of the circle,
so that the sleepers were arranged symmetrically, like the spokes of
a wheel or the sticks of a fan. After a momentary hesitation, I got
into this affair because I saw no one there. I was just falling asleep,
when I felt something sliding against me: it was the leg of my big
Dutchman; I never in my life experienced a greater fright. I sprang
out of the hospitable work-basket, cordially cursing the customs of
our good ancestors. I went and slept in my cloak by the moonlight:
this companion of the traveller's bed had at least nothing but was
agreeable, and fresh, and sweet.

On the bank of the Genesee we found a ferry-boat. A troop of colonials
and Indians crossed the river with us. We camped in meadows bright
with butterflies and flowers. With our varied costumes, grouped around
our several fires, and our horses tethered or grazing, we looked like
a caravan. I there first met the rattlesnake, which allows itself to
be bewitched by the sound of a flute. The Greeks would have turned my
Canadian into Orpheus; the flute into a lyre; the snake into Cerberus,
or, possibly, Eurydice.


We rode towards Niagara. When we had come within a distance of eight
or nine leagues of our destination, we perceived, in an oak grove, the
camp-fire of some savages, who had settled down on the bank of a stream
where we ourselves were thinking of bivouacking. We took advantage of
their preparations: after grooming our horses and dressing ourselves
for the night, we accosted the band. With legs crossed tailor-wise, we
sat down among the Indians around the blazing pile, and began to roast
our maize cakes.

The family consisted of two women, two infants at the breast, and three
braves. The conversation became general, that is to say, interspersed
with a few words on my side and many gestures; after that, each fell
asleep in the place where he sat I alone remained awake, and went to
sit by myself on a root trailing by the bank of the stream.

[Sidenote: The Falls of Niagara.]

The moon showed above the tops of the trees; a balmy breeze, which
the Queen of the Night brought with her from the East, seemed to go
before her through the forests, as though it were her cool breath. The
solitary luminary climbed higher and higher in the sky, now pursuing
her even way, again surmounting clusters of clouds, which resembled
the summits of a snow-clad mountain-chain. All would have been silence
and repose, but for the fall of a few leaves, the passing of a sudden
gust of wind, the hooting of the wood-owl; in the distance was heard
the dull roar of the Falls of Niagara, which, in the calm of night,
extended from waste to waste and expired in the lonely forests. It was
during those nights that an unknown muse appeared to me; I gathered
some of her accents; I marked them on my tables, by the light of the
stars, as a vulgar musician might write down the notes dictated to him
by some great master of harmony.

The next day, the Indians armed themselves, the women collected the
baggage. I distributed a little gunpowder and vermilion among my hosts.
We parted, touching our foreheads and breasts; the braves shouted the
order to march and walked in front; the women went behind, carrying
the children, who, slung in furs on their mothers' backs, turned their
heads to look at us. I followed this progress with my eyes until the
whole band had disappeared among the trees of the forest.

The savages of the Falls of Niagara in the English dominion were
entrusted with the police service of the frontier on that side. This
outlandish constabulary, armed with bows and arrows, prevented our
passage. I was obliged to send the Dutchman to the fort of Niagara for
a permit in order to enter the territory of the British government.
This saddened my heart a little, for I remembered that formerly France
had ruled in both Upper and Lower Canada. My guide returned with the
permit: I still have it; it is signed, "Captain Gordon." Is it not
strange that I should have found the same English name on the door of
my cell in Jerusalem? "Thirteen pilgrims had inscribed their names
on the door and walls of the chamber: the first was called Charles
Lombard, who visited Jerusalem in 1669; the last was John Gordon, and
the date of his passage is 1804[486]."


I stayed two days in the Indian village, whence I wrote another letter
to M. de Malesherbes. The Indian women busied themselves with different
occupations; their nurslings were slung in nets from the branches of a
tall purple beech. The grass was covered with dew, the wind issued all
perfumed from the woods, and the cotton-plants of the country, throwing
back their capsules, looked like white rose-trees. The breeze rocked
the cradles in mid-air with an almost imperceptible movement; the
mothers stood up from time to time to see if their children were asleep
and had not been awakened by the birds.

From the Indian village to the cataract was some three or four leagues:
it took my guide and me as many hours to reach it. Already at six
miles' distance, a column of vapour indicated the situation of the weir
to my eyes. My heart beat with joy mingled with terror, as I entered
the wood that concealed from my view one of the grandest spectacles
which nature has offered to mankind.

We dismounted. Leading our horses by the bridle, we passed through
heaths and thickets until we came to the bank of the Niagara River,
seven or eight hundred paces above the falls. As I never ceased going
forward, the guide caught me by the arm; he stopped me on the very
edge of the water, which passed with the swiftness of an arrow. It did
not seethe, but glided in one sole mass to the slope of the rock; its
silence before its fall contrasted with the uproar of the fall itself.
The Scriptures often compare a people to the mighty waters: here it was
a dying people which, deprived of its voice by the agony of death, went
to hurl itself into the abyss of eternity.

The guide continued to hold me back, for I felt, so to speak, drawn on
by the stream, and I had an involuntary longing to fling myself in. At
one time, I would turn my eyes up the river, to the banks; at another,
down to the island which divided the waters. Here the waters suddenly
failed, as though cut off in the sky.

After a quarter of an hour of vague and perplexed admiration, I
went on to the falls. The reader will find in the _Essai sur les
révolutions_[487] and in _Atala_[488] the two descriptions which I have
written of the scene. Today, high-roads run to the cataract; there
are inns on the American side and on the English side, and mills and
factories overhang the chasm.

I was unable to utter the thoughts that stirred me at the sight of so
sublime a disorder. In the desert of my early life, I was obliged to
invent persons to adorn it; I drew from my own substance beings whom
I did not find elsewhere and whom I carried within myself. In the
same way, I have placed memories of Atala and René on the edge of the
cataract of Niagara, as the expression of its sadness. What meaning
has a cascade which falls eternally in the unfeeling sight of heaven
and earth, if human nature be not there, with its destinies and its
misfortunes? To be steeped in this solitude of water and mountains and
not to know with whom to speak of that great spectacle! To have the
waves, the rocks, the woods, the torrents to one's self alone! Give the
soul a companion, and the smiling verdure of the hill-slopes, the cool
breath of the water, will all turn into charm: the journey by day, the
sweetest repose at the end of the day's march, the gliding over the
billows, the sleeping upon the moss, will call forth from the heart its
deepest tenderness. I have seated Velléda upon the shores of Armorica,
Cymodocea beneath the porticoes of Athens, Blanca in the halls of the
Alhambra. Alexander created towns wheresoever he hastened: I have left
dreams behind me wherever I have dragged my life.

I have seen the cascades of the Alps with their chamois and those of
the Pyrenees with their izards; I did not go sufficiently high up the
Nile to meet its cataracts, which are reduced to rapids; I will not
speak of the azure zones of Terni or of Tivoli, graceful fragments of
ruins or subjects for the poet's song:

    Et præceps Anio ac Tiburni lucus[489].

Niagara eclipses everything. I gazed upon the cataract the existence
of which was revealed to the old world, not by puny travellers like
myself, but by missionaries who, seeking solitude for the love of God,
flung themselves upon their knees at the sight of some marvel of nature
and received martyrdom while completing their hymn of admiration. Our
priests greeted the fine sites of America and consecrated them with
their blood; our soldiers clapped their hands at the ruins of Thebes
and presented arms to Andalusia: the whole genius of France lies in the
double army of our camps and of our altars.

[Sidenote: Two hair-breadth escapes.]

I was holding my horse's bridle twisted round my arm; a rattlesnake
came and rustled in the bushes. The startled horse reared and backed
towards the falls. I was unable to release my arm from the reins; the
horse, still more terrified, was dragging me after it. Already its
fore-feet were off the ground; cowering over the edge of the abyss,
it maintained its position only by the strength of its loins. It was
all up with me, when the animal, itself astonished at its fresh peril,
gave a sudden turn and vaulted inwards. Had my soul left my body amidst
the Canadian woods, would it have carried to the Supreme Tribunal the
sacrifices, the good works, the virtues of the Pères Jogues[490] and
Lallemant[491], or empty days and wretched idle fancies?

This was not the only danger I encountered at Niagara. A ladder of
creepers was used by the savages to climb down to the lower basin;
it was at that time broken. Wishing to see the falls from below, I
ventured, in the face of my guide's representations, down the side of
an almost perpendicular rock. In spite of the roar of the water which
seethed below me, I kept my head and climbed down to within forty feet
of the bottom. When I had reached so far, the bare and vertical rock
gave me nothing to lay hold of; I was left hanging by one hand to the
last root, feeling my fingers open beneath the weight of my body: few
men have spent two such minutes, as I counted them. My tired hand let
go; I fell. By an unparalleled stroke of good fortune, I found myself
upon the pointed back of a rock upon which I ought to have been smashed
into a thousand pieces, and yet I felt no great hurt; I was at half
a foot from the abyss and had not rolled into it; but when the cold
and the damp began to penetrate me, I saw that I had not come off so
cheaply: my left arm was broken above the elbow. The guide, who was
watching me from above and saw my signals of distress, ran off to fetch
some savages. They hoisted me with ropes along an otter's path, and
carried me to their village. I had only a simple fracture: two splints,
a bandage and a sling were enough to effect my cure.


I stayed twelve days with my surgeons, the Niagara Indians. I saw
tribes pass which had come down from Detroit or from the districts
lying south and east of Lake Erie. I inquired into their usages; in
return for small presents, I was given representations of their former
customs, for the customs themselves no longer exist. Nevertheless, at
the commencement of the War of American Independence, the savages still
ate the prisoners, or rather the killed: an English captain, helping
himself to soup with a ladle from an Indian stew-pot, drew out a hand.

The practices attendant upon birth and death have lost least, because
these do not pass lightly like the life which divides them; they are
not things of fashion that come and go. The Indians still bestow upon
the new-born, in order to do him honour, the name of the oldest person
under his roof: his grandmother, for instance; for the names are
always taken in the maternal line. From that time forward, the child
fills the place of the woman whose name it has taken; in speaking to
it, they give it the degree of relationship which the name revives;
thus an uncle might address his nephew by the title of "grandmother."
This apparently ludicrous custom is nevertheless touching. It restores
the old dead to life; it reproduces the weakness of the last in the
weakness of the earliest years; it brings closer the two extremities of
life, the commencement and the end of the family; it confers a kind of
immortality upon the ancestors and implies that they are present in the
midst of their posterity.

[Sidenote: The Niagara indians.]

In what regards the dead, it is easy to find motives for the savage's
attachment to sacred relics. Civilized nations are able to preserve the
memory of their country by means of the mnemonics of literature and
the arts: they have cities, palaces, towers, columns, obelisks; they
have the track of the plough in fields once cultivated; their names are
carved in marble and brass, their actions recorded in the chronicles.

The desert peoples have none of these advantages: their names are not
written upon the trees; their huts, built in a few hours, disappear
in a few moments; the butt of their ploughing only grazes the ground,
and is not able even to raise a furrow. Their traditional songs perish
with the last memory which retains them, and die away with the last
voice which repeats them. The tribes of the New World, therefore, have
but one monument: the tomb. Take away from savages the bones of their
fathers, and you take away their history, their laws, and their very
gods; you rob those men, in the future generations, of the proofs both
of their existence and of their annihilation.

I wished to hear my hosts' songs. A little Indian girl of fourteen,
called Mila and very pretty (the Indian women are pretty only at that
age) sang something very pleasant. Was it not perchance the canzonet
quoted by Montaigne? "Adder stay, stay good adder, that my sister may
by the patterne of thy partie-coloured coat drawe the fashion and
worke of a rich lace, for me to give unto my love; so may thy beautie,
thy nimblenesse or disposition be ever preferred before all other

The author of the _Essaies_ saw Iroquois at Rouen, who, according to
him, were "not verie ill; but what," he adds, "of that? They weare no
kinde of breeches nor hosen[493]!"

If ever I publish the Στρωματεὶς or patchwork of my youth, to talk like
St. Clement of Alexandria[494] you shall there see Mila[495].

The Canadians are no longer the same as when they were described by
Cartier, Champlain[496], La Hontan[497], Lescarbot[498], Lafitau[499],
Charlevoix[500], and the _Lettres édifiantes_; the sixteenth century
and the commencement of the seventeenth were still the time of a
boundless imagination and ingenuous customs: the marvel of the first
reflected a virgin nature, and the candour of the second reproduced the
simplicity of the savage. Champlain tells us at the end of his first
journey to Canada, in 1603, that "near Chaleur Bay, verging to the
south, there is an island where dwells a frightful monster which the
savages call Gougou."

Canada had its giant as well as the Cape of Storms. Homer is the true
father of all these inventions; it is always the Cyclopes, Scylla and
Charybdis, ogres or _gougous._

The savage population of North America, not including the Mexicans and
Esquimaux, does not today amount to four hundred thousand souls on
either side of the Rocky Mountains; there are travellers who put it
so low as one hundred and fifty thousand. The degradation of Indian
manners has kept pace with the depopulation of the tribes. Their
religious traditions have become confused; the instruction spread by
the Canadian Jesuits has mixed foreign ideas with the inborn ideas
of the natives: through their rude fables, one sees the Christian
beliefs disfigured; the majority of the savages wear crosses by way
of ornaments, and the Protestant traders sell them what the Catholic
missionaries give them. Let us say at once, to the honour of our
country and to the glory of our religion, that the Indians had become
greatly attached to us; that they never cease to regret us; and that a
"black robe," or missionary, is still an object of veneration in the
forests of America. The savage continues to love us under the tree
where we were his first guests, on the soil which we have trod, where
we have left tombs in his care.

When the Indian was naked or clad in skins, he had something great
and noble about him; at present, rags of European clothing, without
covering his nakedness, bear witness to his destitution: he is a beggar
at the door of a counting-house, he is no longer the savage in his

Lastly, a kind of hybrid people has been formed, born of colonial
fathers and Indian mothers. These men, called "Burnt-woods," because of
the colour of their skin, act as brokers between the authors of their
dual origin. They speak the language of their fathers and of their
mothers, and have the vices of both races. These bastards of civilized
and of savage nature sell themselves to the Americans and the English
by turns, to hand over to them the monopoly of the fur-trade; they
keep alive the rivalry between the English companies, the Hudson's Bay
Company and the North-West Fur Company, and the American companies, the
Columbian American Fur Company, the Missouri Fur Company and others:
they themselves go hunting for account of the traders and with hunters
paid by the companies.

[Sidenote: The Wars of the Companies.]

The great war of American Independence is the only one which people
know of. They are ignorant of the fact that blood has been shed on
behalf of the paltry interests of a handful of merchants. The Hudson's
Bay Company in 1811 sold to Lord Selkirk[501] a tract of land on the
bank of the Red River. The North-West or Canadian Company took umbrage
at this transaction. The two companies, allied to various Indian
tribes and seconded by the "Burnt-woods," came to blows. This domestic
conflict, so horrible in its details, took place on the frozen wastes
of Hudson's Bay. Lord Selkirk's colony was destroyed in the month
of June 1815[502], at the exact period of the Battle of Waterloo.
Upon those two theatres, one so brilliant, the other so obscure, the
misfortunes of the human species were the same.

Seek no longer in America the skillfully constructed political
constitutions of which Charlevoix has written the history: the monarchy
of the Hurons, the republic of the Iroquois. A somewhat similar
destruction has been accomplished and is still being accomplished
in Europe under our very eyes; a Prussian poet, at a banquet of the
Teutonic Order, held about the year 1400, sang in old Prussian the
heroic deeds of the ancient warriors of his country: no one present
understood him, and he received one hundred empty walnuts by way of
recompense. Today, the language of Lower Brittany, the Basque and
Gaelic languages, are dying out from cottage to cottage, keeping pace
with the deaths of the goatherds and husbandmen.

In the English County of Cornwall, the language of the natives became
extinct about the year 1676. A fisherman said to some travellers:

"I know hardly more than four or five persons who speak Cornish, and
they are old folk like myself, between sixty and eighty years of age;
none of the young people know a word of it."

Whole tribes of the Orinoco have ceased to exist; of their dialect
there remain but a dozen words articulated in the tree-tops by parrots
that have regained their freedom, like Agrippina's thrush, which
warbled Greek words upon the balustrades of the Roman palaces. This,
sooner or later, will be the fate of our modern jargons, the remains
of Latin and Greek. Some raven escaped from the cage of the last
Franco-Gallic curate will say, from the top of a ruined steeple, to
peoples that shall be foreign to our successors:

"Accept these last strains of a voice once known to you; you will put
an end to all this talk."

It is well worth while to be Bossuet, so that, in the ultimate event,
your masterpiece may survive, in the recollection of a bird, your
language and your memory among men!


When speaking of Canada and Louisiana, when considering on the old maps
the extent of the former French colonies in America, I asked myself
how the government of my country could have suffered the loss of those
colonies, which would be an inexhaustible source of prosperity for us
at this day.

From Arcadia[503] and Canada to Louisiana, from the mouth of the
St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Mississippi, the territory of "New
France" surrounded what formed the confederation of the first thirteen
United States: the eleven others[504], together with the District of
Columbia, the North-Western Territory, the Territories of Michigan,
Missouri, Oregon, and Arkansas either belonged to us or would now
belong to us, as they belong to the United States by the cessions of
the English and Spaniards, our successors in Canada and Louisiana[505].
The country enclosed by the Atlantic on the north-east, the Arctic
Ocean on the north, the Pacific Ocean and the Russian possessions on
the north-west, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, in other words
more than two-thirds of North America, would now be recognizing the
laws of France.

[Sidenote: Former French possessions.]

I fear that the Restoration will ruin itself through holding ideas
contrary to those which I have here expressed: the mania for adhering
to the past, a mania which I never cease impugning, would be in
no sense fatal if it subverted only myself, by robbing me of the
Sovereign's favour; but it may yet subvert the Throne. Political
stagnation is impossible; it is absolutely necessary to keep pace
with human intelligence. Let us respect the majesty of time; let us
reverentially contemplate past centuries, rendered sacred by the memory
and the footsteps of our fathers: but let us not try to go back to
them, for they no longer possess a vestige of our real nature, and if
we endeavoured to seize hold of them, they would fade away. The Chapter
of Our Lady of Aix-la-Chapelle caused the tomb of Charlemagne[506] to
be opened, we are told, about the year 1450. The Emperor was found
seated in a gilt chair, holding in his skeleton hands the Book of the
Gospels written in letters of gold; before him were laid his sceptre
and his golden buckler; by his side hung his sword "Joyeuse," sheathed
in a golden scabbard. He was clad in the imperial robes. On his head,
which was held erect by a golden chain, was a winding-sheet covering
what had been his face and surmounted by a crown. They touched the
phantom: it crumbled into dust.

We once possessed vast countries beyond the seas: they offered a
refuge for our surplus population, markets for our commerce, stations
for our navy. We are now excluded from the new world in which the human
race is beginning life afresh: in Africa, Asia, Oceania, in the South
Sea Islands, on the continent of North and South America, the English,
Portuguese, and Spanish languages serve to interpret the thoughts of
many millions of men; and we, disinherited of the conquests of our
valour and our genius, scarce hear the tongue of Colbert and Louis
XIV. spoken in some petty market-town of Louisiana or Canada, under a
foreign government: it lingers there only as a witness to the reverses
of our fortune and the errors of our policy.

And who is the king whose dominion now succeeds the dominion of the
King of France in the forests of Canada? He who yesterday caused this
note to be sent to me:

                                         "Royal Lodge, Windsor,

                                           "4 _June_ 1822.

    "Monsieur le Vicomte,

    "I am commanded by the King to invite Your Excellency to dine
    and sleep here on Thursday the 6th instant.

    "Your Excellency's most humble and obedient servant,

                                      "Francis Conyngham[507]."

It was fated that I should be plagued by princes. I lay down my pen;
I recross the Atlantic; I mend my arm broken at Niagara; I take off
my bearskin; I resume my gold-laced coat; I leave the wigwam of an
Iroquois to repair to the Royal Lodge of His Britannic Majesty, King of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Lord of the Indies;
I leave my hosts with the exposed ears and my little girl-savage with
her bead: wishing Lady Conyngham[508] the charm of Mila, together with
the age which as yet belongs only to the earliest spring-time, to the
days which precede the month of May and which our Gallic poets called
the _avrillée_, the April shower.


The tribe of the little girl with the bead departed; my guide, the
Dutchman, refused to accompany me beyond the cataract; I paid him
and joined a party of traders who were leaving to go down the Ohio;
before setting out, I took a glance at the Canadian lakes. There is
nothing so mournful as the aspect of these lakes. The liquid plains
of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean open highways to the nations,
and their shores are, or were, inhabited by civilized, numerous, and
powerful peoples; the lakes of Canada display only the nakedness of
their waters, which, in its turn, is joined to a bare soil: they are
deserts dividing other deserts. Shores devoid of inhabitants look upon
seas devoid of ships; you alight from the unfrequented waves upon
unfrequented coasts.

[Sidenote: Lake Erie.]

Lake Erie is over one hundred leagues in circumference. The nations of
the water-side were exterminated by the Iroquois two centuries ago. It
is an appalling thing to see the Indians venturing in their birch-bark
wherries upon this lake famed for its tempests, in which myriads of
serpents swarmed in former days. These Indians hang their manitous upon
the prow of their canoes and dart into the midst of the eddies among
the heaving waves. The waves, level with the aperture of the canoes,
seem ready to swallow them up. The hunters' dogs, with their front-paws
resting on the side, utter loud barks, while their masters, preserving
a profound silence, beat the waves in cadence with their paddles. The
canoes proceed in Indian file: in the prow of the first stands a chief
who repeats the diphthong _oah_: _o_ in a long, dull note, _ah_ in a
short, sharp tone. In the last canoe is another chief, who also stands
up, and works an oar by way of rudder. The other braves squat upon
their heels at the bottom of the well. Across the mist and the winds
one perceives nothing save the plumes adorning the Indians' heads, the
outstretched necks of the baying dogs, and the shoulders of the two
sachems, the pilot and the augur: as it were the gods of these lakes.

The rivers of Canada play no part in the history of the world of
antiquity: how different from the destiny of the Ganges, the Euphrates,
the Nile, the Danube, and the Rhine! What changes have not these beheld
upon their banks! How much sweat and blood has been poured forth by
conquerors to cross, in their current, waters over which, at their
source, a goatherd passes with a single step!


Leaving the lakes of Canada, we came to Pittsburg at the confluence
of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers; here the landscape unfolds an
extraordinary stateliness. Nevertheless, this magnificent country is
called Kentucky after its river, whose name means "river of blood." It
owes this name to its beauty: for more than two centuries the nations
on the side of the Cherokees and of the Iroquois nations fought for the
possession of its hunting-fields.

Will the European generations be more virtuous and more free upon those
banks than were the exterminated American generations? Shall slaves
not till the soil beneath the lash of their masters, in these deserts
of man's primeval independence? Shall prisons and gallows not fill the
places of the open hut and the tall tulip-tree where the bird builds
its nest? Shall the richness of the soil not cause new wars to burst
forth? Shall Kentucky cease to be the "Land of Blood," and shall the
monuments of the arts beautify the banks of the Ohio to better purpose
than the monuments of nature?

After passing the Wabash, the Cypress, the Cumberland, the Cherokee,
or Tennessee, the Yellowbank, one comes to a tongue of land often
submerged beneath the mighty waters: here is formed the confluence
of the Ohio and the Mississippi in latitude 36° 51'. The two rivers
oppose an equal resistance to one another and relax the force of their
currents; for some miles they sleep side by side without mingling in
the same bed, like two great peoples at first of different origins and
then combining to form but one race; like two illustrious combatants
sharing the same couch after a battle; like a husband and wife born of
hostile blood, who at first have but little inclination to mingle their
destinies in the nuptial bed.

And I, too, even as the mighty urns of the rivers, have poured forth my
life's small current, now on this, now on that side of the mountain;
capricious in my straying, but never malignant; preferring the poor
glens to the rich plains, stopping at the flowers rather than at the
palaces. For that matter, I was so charmed with my rambles that I gave
scarce a further thought to the Pole. A party of traders, who had come
from among the Creeks, in Florida, gave me leave to accompany them.

We set out for the countries known at that time by the general name
of the Floridas, today divided into the States of Alabama, Georgia,
South Carolina, and Tennessee. We followed, more or less closely, paths
now connected by the high-road which runs from Natchez to Nashville,
through Jackson and Florence, and which enters Virginia by way of
Knoxville and Salem: a country very little frequented at that time,
although Bartram[509] had explored its lakes and sites. The planters
of Georgia and Florida proper went to the various tribes of the Creeks
to buy horses and half-wild cattle, which multiplied indefinitely in
the savannahs pierced by the wells at whose edges I placed Atala and
Chactas. They even extended their journey as far as Ohio.

[Sidenote: I sail up the Ohio River.]

We ran before a stiff breeze. The Ohio, swollen by a hundred rivers,
passed now through the lakes which opened out before us, now through
the woods. Islands stood out in the middle of the lakes. We made sail
for one of the largest of these: we came alongside at eight in the

I crossed a meadow strewn with ragwort with its yellow flowers,
hollyhocks with their pink plumes, and obelarias with purple egrets.
An Indian ruin struck my eyes. The contrast between this ruin and the
youth of nature, this monument of men in a desert, caused a great
emotion. What people dwelt upon this island? Its name, its race, the
time of its passing? Did it live at the time when the world in whose
midst it lay hidden was as yet unknown to the three other quarters of
the globe? The silence of this people was perhaps contemporaneous with
the fame of some great nations that have in their turn lapsed into

Sandy anfractuosities, ruins or _tumuli_ issued from amid poppies with
red flowers hanging at the end of bent, pale-green stalks. The stem and
the flower have an aroma which clings to the fingers when one touches
the plant. The perfume which outlives the flower is an image of the
memory of a life spent in solitude.

I observed the nymphæa: it was preparing to hide its white lily beneath
the surface at the close of day; the "tree of sadness[511]" was
awaiting the night before unfolding its own: the wife retires to bed at
the hour when the courtesan rises.

The pyramidal œnothera, which is seven or eight feet high, with
pale leaves dentated with dark green, has other habits and another
destiny: its yellow flower begins to half-open in the evening, during
the space of time which Venus occupies in descending below the horizon;
it continues to expand by the light of the stars; the dawn discovers it
in all its brilliancy; midway through the morning it fades; it falls at
noonday. It lives for but a few hours; but it despatches those hours
beneath a placid sky, between the breaths of Venus and Aurora: what
matters, then, the shortness of life?

A streamlet trickled through a garland of dionæas; a multitude of
day-flies buzzed all around. There were also humming-birds and
butterflies which, decked in their brightest gauds, rivalled the motley
flowers in splendour.

In the midst of these walks and studies, I was often struck by their
futility. What! Did the Revolution, which already weighed down upon
me and drove me into the woods, inspire me with no graver thoughts
than these? What! Was the time of my country's confusion that which I
chose to occupy myself with descriptions of plants, and butterflies,
and flowers? The individuality of mankind serves as a measure of the
littleness of great events. How many men are indifferent to those
events! To how many others do they remain unknown! The aggregate
population of the globe is estimated at from eleven to twelve hundred
millions; a man dies every second: thus in each minute of our
existence, of our smiles, of our joys, sixty men expire, sixty families
moan and weep. Life is a permanent pestilence. The chain of mourning
and funerals that winds us about is never broken, grows ever longer:
we ourselves form one of its links. And then tell us to magnify the
importance of the catastrophes of which seven-eighths of the world will
never hear speak! To pant for a fame which will spread its wings at but
a few leagues from our tomb! To plunge into the ocean of a felicity of
which each minute slips away between sixty graves incessantly renewed!

    Nam nox Nulla diem, neque noctem aurora sequuta est Quæ non
    audierit mixtos vagitibus ægris Ploratus, mortis comites et
    funeris atri.

The savages of Florida tell of an island in the middle of a lake
where live the most beautiful women in the world. The Muskhogulges
have repeatedly attempted its conquest; but this Eden flees before
the canoes, a natural image of the chimeras which retreat before our
desires. The country also contained a fountain of youth: who would wish
to rise from the dead?

But little was wanting to make these fables assume a semblance of
reality in my eyes. At a moment when we least expected it, we saw a
flotilla of canoes come out of a bay, some with oars, others with
sails. They landed at our island. They were two families of Creeks, of
which one consisted of Seminoles, the other of Muskhogulges, including
some Cherokees and Burnt-woods. I was struck with the grace of these
savages, who in no respect resemble those of Canada.

[Sidenote: Two fair Floridans.]

The Seminoles and Muskhogulges are fairly tall, and, by an unusual
contrast, their mothers, wives, and daughters are the smallest race
of women known in America. The Indian women who landed near us, born
of mixed Cherokee and Castilian blood, were tall in stature. Two of
them were like the creoles of San Domingo and Mauritius, but yellow
and delicate as the women of the Ganges. These two Floridan women,
cousins on the father's side, served as my models, one for Atala, the
other for Céluta: they excelled the portraits I drew of them only
by that variable and fugitive truth of nature, that physiognomy of
race and climate which I was not able to express. There was something
indefinable in that oval visage, in that shaded complexion, which one
seemed to see through a light, orange-tinted smoke, in that hair so
black and soft, those eyes so long, half-hidden beneath the veil of
two satiny eyelids that opened indolently; in short, in the two-fold
seduction of the Indian and the Spanish woman.

The meeting with our hosts occasioned a certain alteration in our
movements: our trading agents began to inquire about horses; it was
decided that we should go to fix ourselves in the neighbourhood of
the studs. The plain in which our camp stood was covered with bulls,
cows, horses, bisons, buffaloes, cranes, turkeys, pelicans: these birds
mottled the green background of our savannah with white, black, and
pink stains.

Our traders and hunters were stirred by many passions: not passions of
race, education, or prejudice, but natural passions, full and absolute,
making straight for their object, having for witnesses a tree fallen
in the depths of an unknown forest, a nameless stream. The relations
between the Spaniards and the Creek women formed the ground-work of
the adventures; the "Burnt-woods" played the principal part in those
romances. One story was famous: that of a trader in strong waters
seduced and ruined by a "painted woman" or courtesan. This story, put
into Seminole verse with the title of _Tabamica_, was sung in passing
through the woods[512]. Carried off in their turn by the colonists, the
Indian women soon died forsaken at Pensacola[513]: their misfortunes
went to swell the _Romanceros_ and to be numbered among the ballads of


The earth is a charming mother; we issue from her womb: in childhood,
she holds us to her breasts swollen with milk and honey; in youth and
old age, she lavishes upon us her refreshing waters, her harvests and
her fruits; she offers us, wherever we may go, a shade, a bath, a table
and a bed; she opens her entrails again to receive us after death, and
throws a coverlet of herbs and flowers over our remains, while she
secretly transforms us into her own substance, to reproduce us under
some graceful shape. That is what I said to myself on waking, when my
first look fell upon the sky, the canopy of my bed.

The hunters had set out for the work of the day; I remained behind
with the women and children. I never left the side of my two sylvan
goddesses: one was proud, the other sad. I did not understand a word
of what they said to me, and they did not understand me; but I went to
fetch water for their cup, shoots for their fire, mosses for their bed.
They wore the petticoat and the wide, slashed sleeves of the Spanish
women, the body and cloak of the Indian women. Their bare legs were
cross-gartered with a lace-work of birch. They plaited their hair with
posies or filaments of rushes; they mailed themselves in chains and
necklaces of glass beads. From their ears hung purple berries; they
had a fine talking paroquet: the bird of Armida; they fastened it on
their shoulder like an emerald, or carried it hooded on their hand, as
the great ladies of the tenth century carried their hawks. To harden
their breasts and arms, they rubbed themselves with the apoya, or
American gallingale. In Bengal the nautch-girls chew the betel-nut,
and in the Levant the almes suck the mastic of Chio: the Floridan
maidens pounded, between their teeth of a bluey whiteness, tears of
liquid-amber and roots of _libanis_, which blended the fragrance of
angelica, cedrat, and vanilla. They lived in an atmosphere of perfumes
emanating from themselves, like orange-trees and flowers living in
the pure exhalations from their leaves and chalices. I amused myself
by placing a little ornament upon their heads: they submitted, gently
dismayed; witches themselves, they thought I was working a charm upon
them. One of them, the "proud" one, often prayed; she seemed to me half
a Christian. The other sang in a voice of velvet, uttering at the end
of each phrase a note that troubled one. Sometimes they spoke hastily
to each other: I thought I could recognize the accents of jealousy, but
the "sad" one wept, and silence was restored.

Weak as I was, I sought examples of weakness, in order to encourage
myself. Had not Camoëns in the Indies loved a black Barbary slave,
and might not I in America do homage to two young jonquil sultanas?
Had Camoëns not addressed _endechas_, or stanzas, to his _Barbaru


A fishing-party was arranged. The sun was nearing its setting. In the
foreground appeared sassafras, tulip-trees, catalpas, and oaks, from
whose boughs hung skeins of white moss. Behind this foreground rose the
most charming of trees, the papaw, which might have been taken for a
chased silver style, surmounted by a Corinthian urn. In the background
reigned balsam-trees, magnolias, and liquid-ambers.

[Sidenote: An exquisite landscape.]

The sun dropped behind that curtain: a ray piercing through the crown
of a thicket sparkled like a carbuncle set in the sombre foliage; the
light diverging between the trunks and branches projected heightening
columns and mobile arabesques upon the sward. Below were lilacs,
azaleas, annulated creepers with gigantic sheaves; above, the clouds,
some fixed, like promontories or old towers, others fleeting, like
rosy vapours or carded silk. By means of successive transformations,
one saw the mouths of furnaces opening up in those clouds, heaps of
embers piling themselves up, streams of lava flowing: all was dazzling,
radiant, gilded, opulent, saturated with light.

After the Morean insurrection in 1770, some Greek families took refuge
in Florida; they could still believe themselves in that Ionian climate
which seems to have relented, together with men's passions: at Smyrna,
in the evening, nature sleeps like a courtesan wearied with love.

On our right were ruins belonging to the great fortifications that
were found on the Ohio, on our left an old savage camp. The island on
which we were, pictured in the water and reproduced by a mirage, poised
its double perspective before us. In the east, the moon rested upon
distant hills; in the west, the vault of the sky was melted into a sea
of diamonds and sapphires, in which the sun, half-immersed, appeared to
be dissolving. The animals of creation were keeping watch; the earth,
in adoration, seemed to offer incense to the sky, and the amber exhaled
from its bosom fell back upon it in the form of dew, as prayers fall
back upon those who pray.

Abandoned by my companions, I lay resting by the edge of a clump of
trees: its darkness, glazed with light, formed the penumbra in which
I sat. Fire-flies gleamed among the crape-covered shrubs and became
obscured when they passed through the irradiations of the moon. I
heard the sounds made by the rise and fall of the lake, the leap of the
gold-fish, and the rare cry of the diver. My eyes were fixed upon the
water; I gradually lapsed into the state of drowsiness known to men who
travel the world's highways: I lost all clearness of recollection; I
felt myself living and vegetating with nature in a kind of pantheism.
I leant back against the trunk of a magnolia-tree and fell asleep; my
slumbers floated upon a vague surface of hope.

When I emerged from this Lethe, I found myself between two women: the
odalisks had returned; they did not wish to arouse me; they had sat
down silently by my side; whether they had feigned sleep or had really
slumbered, their heads had fallen on my shoulders.

A breeze blew through the grove and deluged us in a shower of
rose-leaves from the magnolia. Then the younger of the Seminoles began
to sing: let whomsoever is not sure of his life beware of ever thus
exposing himself! No one knows the strength of the passion that glides
with melody into a man's breast. A rude and jealous voice replied: a
" Burnt-wood" was calling the two cousins; they started and rose: the
dawn was beginning to break.

In the absence of Aspasia alone, I have since repeated this scene
on the shores of Greece: ascending to the columns of the Parthenon
with the dawn, I saw the Cithæron, Mount Hymettus, the Acropolis of
Corinth, the tombs, the ruins, bathed in a dew of golden, transparent,
shimmering light, reflected by the seas and wafted like a perfume by
the zephyrs from Salamis and Delos.

We finished on the bank our voyage without words. At noon, we broke up
the camp to inspect the horses which the Creeks wished to sell and the
traders to buy. Women and children, all were summoned as witnesses,
according to the custom in solemn bargains. Stallions of every age
and colour, foals and mares, with bulls, cows and heifers, began to
scamper and gallop around us. Amid this confusion, I became separated
from the Creeks. A thick group of men and horses gathered on the
skirt of a wood. Suddenly, in the distance, I perceived my two fair
Floridans; vigorous hands seated them upon the cruppers of two barbs
ridden bare-backed by a "Burnt-wood" and a Seminole. O Cid, why had
not I thy swift Babieça that I might overtake them! The mares galloped
off, the immense squadron followed them. The horses rushed, jumped,
bounded, neighed, amid the horns of the bulls and buffaloes, their
hoofs clashed in mid-air, their tails and manes flew blood-stained.
A whirlwind of voracious insects swarmed about this wild cavalry. My
Floridans disappeared from sight like Ceres' daughter, snatched by the
god of the nether world.

[Sidenote: End of my Floridan romance.]

Thus does everything prove abortive in my life, thus is nought left
me save pictures of what has passed so quickly: I shall descend to
the Elysian Fields with more shades than mortal man has ever taken
with him. The fault lies with my organization: I am never able to take
advantage of any piece of good fortune; I can never take an interest in
anything whatever that interests others. Putting religion aside, I have
no beliefs. Shepherd or king, what should I have done with my sceptre
or my crook? I should have wearied equally of glory or genius, work or
leisure, prosperity or misfortune. Everything tires me: laboriously I
tow my weariness after my days, and, wherever I go, I yawn away my life.


Ronsard[515] shows us Mary Stuart[516] ready to set out for Scotland
after the death of François II[517]. Was I like Mary Stuart wandering
through Fontainebleau, when I wandered about my savannah after my
widowerhood? One thing is certain, that my mind, if not my person, was
wrapped in "a long crape, subtil and flowing," as Ronsard also says,
that old poet of the new school.

The devil having flown away with the Muskhogulge damsels, I was told
by the guide that a "Burnt-wood," who was in love with one of the two
women, was jealous of me and had resolved with a Seminole, the brother
of the other cousin, to carry Atala and Céluta off from me. The guides
spoke of them bluntly as "painted girls," which shocked my vanity.
I felt the more humiliated in that the "Burnt-wood," my favoured
rival, was a lean, ugly, dark-skinned mosquito, possessing all the
characteristics of the insects which, according to the entomologists of
the Grand Lama, are animals whose flesh is inside their bones. Solitude
appeared empty to me after my misadventure. I gave the cold shoulder
to my sylph, who generously hastened to console her faithless lover,
like Julie when she forgave Saint-Preux his Parisian Floridans[518]. I
lost no time in quitting the desert in which I have since resuscitated
the drowsy companions of my night. I know not whether I gave back to
them the life they gave me: at least I made a virgin of one, a virtuous
spouse of the other, by way of expiation.

We again crossed the Blue Mountains, and approached the European
clearings in the neighbourhood of Chillicothe. I had gathered no light
upon the principal object of my enterprise; but I was escorted by a
world of poetry:

    Comme une jeune abeille aux roses engagée
    Ma muse revenait de son butin chargée[519].

On the bank of a stream I saw an American house: at one end a
farm-house, at the other a mill. I went in, asked for food and shelter,
and was well received.

My hostess led me by a ladder to a room above the shaft of the
hydraulic apparatus. My little casement-window, festooned with ivy and
cobæas with iris bells, opened above the stream which flowed, narrow
and solitary, between two thick borders of willows, elms, sassafras,
tamarinds, and Carolina poplars. The moss-grown mill-wheel turned
beneath their shade and let fall long ribands of water. Perch and trout
leapt in the foam of the eddy; water-wagtails flew from bank to bank,
and various kinds of kingfishers fluttered their blue wings above the

How happy should I have been there with the "sad" one, had she been
faithful to me, seated dreaming at her feet, my head laid upon her
knees, listening to the noise of the weir, the rotations of the wheel,
the rolling of the mill-stone, the sifting of the bolter, the even
beating of the clapper, breathing the freshness of the water and the
scent from the husks of the pearl-barley.

Night came. I went down to the sitting-room of the farm-house. It was
lighted only by maize-straw and husks of beans blazing in the hearth.
The fire-arms of the master of the house, lying horizontally in the
gun-rack, gleamed in the reflections from the fireplace. I sat down
upon a stool in the chimney-corner, near a squirrel, which jumped from
the back of a large dog to the shelf of a spinning-wheel and back
again. A kitten installed itself upon my knee to watch this sport. The
miller's wife put a large stew-pot on the fire, the flames of which
played round the pot's black bottom like a radiant golden crown. While
I watched the sweet potatoes boiling for my supper, I amused myself by
reading by the firelight, with lowered head, an English newspaper which
had fallen on the floor between my legs. Printed in large letters I
read the words:


It was the story of the flight of Louis XVI., and the arrest of the
unfortunate monarch at Varennes[520]. The paper also described the
progress of the emigration and the gathering of the officers of the
army around the flag of the French Princes.

A sudden conversion took place within my mind. Rinaldo beheld his
weakness in the mirror of honour in Armida's gardens; I was not Tasso's
hero, but the same looking-glass showed me my image in the midst of an
American orchard. The clash of arms, the world's tumult resounded in
my ears under the thatch of a mill hidden in unknown woods. I abruptly
interrupted my travels, and said to myself:

"Go back to France."

Thus it happened that my sense of duty upset my early plans, and
occasioned the first of the revolutions that have marked my career.
The Bourbons no more needed that a cadet of Brittany should return
from across the seas to offer them his obscure devotion than they have
needed his services since he has emerged from his obscurity. Had I lit
my pipe with the newspaper which changed the course of my life, and
continued my journey, no one would have remarked my absence; my life
was at that time as unknown and weighed as little as the smoke from my
calumet. A simple contest between myself and my conscience flung me
upon the world's stage. I could have acted as I pleased, since I alone
was a witness of the struggle; but, of all witnesses, that is the one
before whose eyes I should most fear to blush.

Why is it that the solitudes of Erie and Ontario present themselves to
my thoughts today with a charm which the brilliant spectacle of the
Bosphorus is not able to possess in my memory? It is because, at the
time of my journey in the United States, I was full of illusions: the
troubles of France commenced at the same time as the commencement of my
existence; nothing was complete in myself or in the land of my birth.
Those days are dear to me because they recall to me the innocence of
sentiments inspired by the family and the pleasures of youth.

Fifteen years later, after my journey in the Levant, the Republic,
swollen with ruins and tears, had discharged itself like a torrent from
the deluge into despotism. I no longer deluded myself with chimeras; my
recollections, thenceforth taking their source in society and passions,
lacked candour. Deceived in both my pilgrimages to the West and to the
East, I had failed to discover the passage to the Pole, I had failed to
snatch glory on the banks of Niagara, where I had gone in search of it,
and I had left it seated on the ruins of Athens.

After setting out to be a traveller in America and returning to be a
soldier in Europe, I did not go the whole length of either of those
careers: an evil genius snatched the staff and the sword from my hand,
and put the pen there in its stead. Fifteen more years have elapsed
since, finding myself at Sparta, and contemplating the sky during the
night, I recalled the countries that had already witnessed my peaceful
or troubled sleep: on the commons of England, in the plains of Italy,
upon the high-seas, in the Canadian forests, I had already saluted the
same stars which I saw shine upon the land of Helen and Menelaus. But
what would it avail me to complain to the stars, the fixed witnesses
of my vagrant destinies? One day their gaze will cease to tire itself
by pursuing me; meantime, indifferent to my fate, I will not ask those
stars to move it with a gentler influence nor to restore to me that
portion of life which the traveller leaves behind in the places at
which he touches.

Were I to revisit the United States today, I should no longer recognize
them: there where I left forests, I should find tilled fields; there
where I traced a path for myself across the thickets, I should travel
on the high-roads; at Natchez, instead of Céluta's hut, stands a town
of some five thousand inhabitants; Chactas might today be sent to
Congress. I have lately received a pamphlet printed among the Cherokees
and addressed to myself, in the interests of those savages, as "the
defender of the liberty of the press."

In the land of the Muskhogulges, the Seminoles, the Chickasaws, we find
a city of Athens, another of Marathon, another of Carthage, another of
Memphis, another of Sparta, another of Florence; there is a County of
Columbia and a County of Marengo: the glory of every country has placed
a name in the same wastes where I met Father Aubry and the obscure
Atala. Kentucky exhibits a Versailles; a territory called Bourbon has
a Paris for its capital.

All the exiles, all the fugitives from oppression who have taken refuge
in America have carried there the memory of their country.

    Falsi Simoentis ad undam
    Libabat cineri Andromache[521].

The United States offer in their bosom, under the protection of
liberty, an image and a memory of the greater part of the famous spots
of antiquity and of modern Europe: the Emperor Hadrian caused copies
of the monuments of his empire to be placed in his garden in the Roman

[Sidenote: American progress.]

Thirty-three high-roads run out of Washington, as formerly the Roman
roads started from the Capitol; spreading asunder, they end at the
circumference of the United States and trace a circulation of 25,747
miles. Posting-stations are established on a large number of these
roads. One now takes the coach for the Ohio or Niagara as in my time
one took a guide or an Indian interpreter. The means of transport are
two-fold: lakes and rivers abound, and are connected by canals; you
can travel alongside of the high-roads in rowing or sailing-boats,
barges or steamers. Fuel is inexhaustible, since immense forests cover
coal-mines level with the surface.

The population of the United States has increased in every decade
from 1790 to 1820 at the rate of 35 per cent. It is calculated that
in 1830 the population will amount to 12,875,000 souls. Continuing to
double every twenty-five years, it should amount in 1855 to 25,750,000
souls, and twenty-five years later, in 1880, it should exceed fifty

This human sap causes the wilderness to thrive on every side. The
Canadian lakes, on which lately no sail was to be seen, now resemble
docks in which frigates, corvettes, cutters and barks pass Indian
pirogues and canoes, in the same way in which the big ships and galleys
mix with the pinks, sloops and caiques in the waters of Constantinople.
The Mississippi, the Missouri, the Ohio no longer pursue a solitary
course: three-masters ascend their currents; over two hundred
steam-boats enliven their banks. This immense inland navigation, which
alone would ensure the prosperity of the United States, does not
lessen their distant expeditions. Their vessels sail all the seas,
engage in all forms of enterprise, carry the Stars and Stripes from the
horizon of the setting sun to the shores where the sun rises, shores
that have never known aught but slavery.

To complete this surprising scene, one must picture to one's self
cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston,
Savannah, New Orleans, lighted at night, filled with horses and
carriages, adorned with coffee-houses, museums, libraries, ball-rooms,
theatres, displaying all the enjoyments of luxury.

At the same time, the United States must not be searched for that which
distinguishes man above the other beings of creation, for that which
constitutes his certificate of immortality and the ornament of his
days: literature is unknown in the new republic, although called for
by a multitude of institutions. The American has replaced intellectual
by positive operations. Do not impute to him as an inferiority his
mediocrity in the arts, for it is not in that direction that he has
turned his attention. Cast through various causes upon a desert soil,
he made agriculture and commerce the first objects of his cares: before
thinking, one must live; before planting trees, one must fell them, in
order to till the ground.

The primitive colonists, it is true, their minds steeped in religious
controversy, carried the passion for disputation into the very heart
of the forests; but it was necessary for them first to shoulder their
axes and march to the conquest of the desert: their sole pulpit, in
the intervals between their labours, was the elm they were engaged
in squaring. The Americans have not passed through the ages of other
nations: they left their childhood and their youth in Europe; the
artless words of the cradle were unknown to them; they enjoyed the
delights of home only through the medium of their regrets for a native
land which they had never seen, and of which they mourned the eternal
absence and the charm they had heard of from others.

The new continent has no classical literature, nor romantic literature,
nor Indian literature: for the classical, the Americans have no models;
for the romantic, no middle-ages; I for the Indian, the Americans
despise the savages and loathe the sight of the woods as of a prison to
which they were once condemned.

And thus it comes that literature as a thing apart, literature
properly so-called, does not exist in America; what one finds is
applied literature, answering to the different needs of society: the
literature of workmen, merchants, sailors, farmers. Americans succeed
in mechanics and science, because science has its material side.
Franklin[523] and Fulton[524] took possession of lightning and steam
for the benefit of mankind. It fell to America to endow the world with
the discovery, thanks to which no continent can henceforward escape the
mariner's search.

Poetry and imagination, the portion of a very small number of idlers,
are regarded in the United States as puerilities appertaining to the
first and to the last age of life. The Americans have had no childhood
and have as yet had no old age.

[Sidenote: The American presidents.]

Hence it follows that men engaged upon serious studies have necessarily
been obliged to take part in the affairs of their country in order to
become acquainted with them, and in the same way they inevitably found
themselves actors in their revolution. But one melancholy fact must be
observed, which is the prompt degeneration of talent, from the first
men, who figured in the American troubles, down to the men of these
latter days; and yet those men all touch. The old presidents of the
Republic have a religious, simple, lofty, calm character, of which we
find no trace in the blood-stained tumults of our own Republic and
Empire. The solitude with which the Americans were surrounded reacted
upon their nature; they achieved their liberty in silence.

General Washington's farewell address[525] to the people of the United
States might have been uttered by the gravest characters of antiquity:

    "How far in the discharge of my official duties," says the
    General, "I have been guided by the principles which have
    been delineated, the public records and other evidence of my
    conduct must witness to you, and to the world. To myself,
    the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least
    believed myself to be guided by them....

    "Though, in reviewing the incidents of my Administration, I
    am unconscious of intentional error--I am nevertheless too
    sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may
    have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently
    beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which
    they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my
    country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and
    that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its
    service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent
    abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon
    be to the mansions of rest."

Jefferson[526] in his house at Monticello, wrote, after the death of
one of his two children:

    "The loss which I have experienced is a really great one.
    Others may lose of that which they possess in abundance,
    but I, of my whole portion, have now to deplore the loss of
    one-half. The declining years of my life are now held up by
    the slender thread of one human life. Perhaps I am destined
    to see the last tie of a father's affection broken!"

Philosophy, which is rarely touching, is here touching in the highest
degree. And this is not the idle grief of a man who had played no part
in life. Jefferson died on the 4th of July 1826, in the eighty-fourth
year of his age, and the fifty-fourth year of the independence of his
country. His remains lie covered with a stone, having for sole epitaph
the words:

                    THOMAS JEFFERSON,


Pericles and Demosthenes pronounced the funeral oration of the young
Greeks who had fallen for a people that disappeared soon after
themselves: in 1817, Brackenridge[527] celebrated the death of the
young Americans whose blood gave birth to a nation.

We have a national gallery of portraits of distinguished Americans, in
four volumes octavo, and what is more singular, a biography containing
the lives of over one hundred of the principal Indian chiefs.
Logan[528], the Virginian chief, uttered these words before Lord

"Colonel Cresap[530], the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked,
murdered all the relations of Logan. There runs not a drop of my blood
in the veins of any living creature that called on me for revenge. I
have sought it; I have killed many.... Who is there to mourn for Logan?
Not one."

Without loving nature, the Americans have applied themselves to the
study of natural history. Townsend[531] set out from Philadelphia
and traversed on foot the regions separating the Atlantic from the
Pacific Ocean, jotting down numerous observations in his journal.
Thomas Say[532], who travelled in Florida and in the Rocky Mountains,
has published a work on American entomology. Wilson[533], a weaver who
became an author, has left some rather finished pictures.

[Sidenote: American literature.]

To turn to literature proper, although it does not amount to much,
there are, nevertheless, a few writers to be mentioned among the
novelists and poets. Brown[534], the son of a Quaker, is the author
of _Wieland_, which is the source and model of the novels of the new
school. Unlike his fellow-countrymen:

"I prefer," said Brown, "roaming in the forests to thrashing corn."

Wieland, the hero of the novel, is a Puritan whom Heaven has commanded
to kill his wife:

"'I have brought thee hither,' says he to her, 'to fulfil a divine
command. I am appointed thy destroyer, and destroy thee I must.'

"Saying this, I seized her wrists. She shrieked aloud, and endeavoured
to free herself from my grasp....

"'Wieland.... Am I not thy wife? And wouldst thou kill me? Thou wilt
not; oh!... Spare me-spare-help, help--'

"Till her breath was stopped she shrieked for help-for mercy."


Wieland strangles his wife, and experiences unspeakable delights by the
side of her dead corpse. The horror of our modern inventions is here
surpassed. Brown had trained his mind by reading _Caleb Williams_[535],
and in _Wieland_ he copied a scene from _Othello._

At the present day, the American novelists Cooper[536] and Washington
Irving[537] are obliged to take refuge in Europe to find chronicles
and a public. The language of the great English writers has been
"creolized," "provincialized," "barbarized," without gaining anything
in energy in the midst of a virgin nature; it has become necessary to
draw up catalogues of American expressions.

As to the American poets, their language has charm, but they rarely
rise above the common-place. Still, the _Ode to the Evening Breeze_,
the _Sunrise on the Mount_, the _Torrent_, and some other poems,
deserve a passing glance. Halleck[538] has sung the death of Bozzaris,
and George Hill[539] has wandered among the Ruins of Athens:

    Alas! for her, the beautiful, but lone,
    Dethroned queen[540]!...

And again:

    There sits the queen of temples[541]--grey and lone.
       She, like the last of an imperial line,
    Has seen her sister structures, one by one,
       To time their gods and worshippers resign[542].

It pleases me, a traveller on the shores of Hellas and Atlantis, to
hear the independent voice of a land unknown to antiquity lamenting the
lost liberty of the old world.

[Sidenote: American politics.]

But will America preserve her form of government? Will the States not
become divided? Has not a representative of Virginia already maintained
the theory of ancient liberty with slaves, the result of paganism,
against a representative of Massachusetts, defending the cause of
modern liberty without slaves, as Christianity made it? Are not the
Northern and Southern States opposed in mind and interests? Will not
the Western States, so far removed from the Atlantic, wish to have a
separate government? On the one hand, is the federal bond sufficiently
powerful to maintain the union, and to compel each State to draw closer
to it? On the other hand, if the presidential power be increased, will
not despotism come with the guards and privileges of the dictator?

The isolation of the United States has permitted them to spring into
being and to increase: it is doubtful whether they would have been able
to exist and grow in Europe. Federal Switzerland subsists in our midst;
but why? Because she is small, poor, cantoned in the bosom of the
mountains, a nursery of soldiers for kings, a goal for travellers.

Separated from the old world, the population of the United States still
inhabits the solitude: its deserts have been its liberty; but already
the conditions of its existence are altering.

The existence of the democracies of Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Chile,
Buenos Ayres, always troubled as they are, constitute a danger. When
the United States had nothing near them except the colonies of a
Transatlantic kingdom, no serious war was probable; now, are there not
rivalries to be dreaded? Let men on both sides have recourse to arms,
let the military spirit seize upon the children of Washington, and a
great captain may rise to the throne: glory loves crowns.

I have said that the Northern, Southern, and Western States were
divided in interests; that is common knowledge: if these States break
up the union, will they be reduced by force of arms? In that case,
what a leaven of hatred will be spread through the social body! Will
the dissenting States maintain their independence? In that case, what
discords will not break out among those emancipated States! Those
republics across the sea, once uncoupled, would no longer form aught
save feeble units without weight in the social balance, where they
would be successively subjugated by one of their number (I leave on
one side the serious question of alliances and foreign intervention).
Kentucky, peopled as it is with a race of men bred in the open air,
harder and more soldier-like, would seem destined to become the
conquering State. In this State devouring the others, the power of one
would soon rise upon the ruins of the power of all.

I have spoken of the danger of war; I must point out the dangers of
a long peace. Since their emancipation, the United States have, with
the exception of a few months, enjoyed the most profound tranquillity;
while Europe was shaken with a hundred battles, the United States
tilled their fields in safety. Hence we find an overflowing population
and riches, with all the drawbacks of a superabundance of riches and
population. If hostilities came unexpectedly upon an unwarlike people,
would it be able to offer resistance? Would its fortunes and habits
consent to sacrifices? How could it give up the bland usages, the
comfort, the indolent well-being of life? China and India, asleep in
their muslin draperies, have constantly endured the foreign yoke. That
which is best suited to the complexion of a free society is a state of
peace moderated by war, and a state of war tempered with peace. The
Americans have already worn the olive-crown too long continuously: the
tree that provides it is not a native of their shores.

The commercial spirit is beginning to take possession of them;
self-interest is becoming their national vice. Already the speculations
of the banks of the different States clash with one another, and
bankruptcies threaten the fortunes of the community. So long as liberty
produces gold, an industrial republic does wonders; but when the gold
is acquired or exhausted, it loses its love of independence, which is
not based upon a moral sentiment, but arises from the thirst for gain
and the passion for trade.

Moreover, it is difficult to create a mother-country among States which
have nothing in common in religion or interests, which, issuing from
various sources and at various times, live on a different soil and
under a different sun. What connection is there between a Frenchman of
Louisiana, a Spaniard of Florida, a German of New York, an Englishman
of New England, Virginia, Carolina, Georgia, who are all reckoned as
Americans? One is thoughtless and a duelist; the next a Catholic,
lazy and haughty; the other a Lutheran, a husbandman, with no slaves;
another, an Anglican and a planter, with negroes; yet another, a
Puritan and a merchant: how many centuries will be needed to make these
elements homogeneous?

A chrysogenous[543] aristocracy is ready to appear with the love of
distinctions and the passion for titles. Men think that a general level
prevails in the United States: that is a complete mistake. There are
sets in their society which despise one another and refuse to mix;
there are houses in which the arrogance of the master exceeds that of
a German prince with sixteen quarterings. These plebeian nobles aspire
to form a caste in the face of the progress in enlightenment which made
them equal and free. Some of them speak of nothing but their ancestors,
proud barons, bastards apparently and companions of William the
Bastard. They display the knightly blazons of the Old World, enriched
with the serpents, lizards, and parrots of the New. A Gascon younger
son, landing on the republican shores with nothing but his nobility and
his umbrella, becomes a person of consideration on the steam-boats, if
he will only take care to call himself "marquis."

[Sidenote: American manners.]

The enormous inequality of fortunes threatens still more seriously to
kill the spirit of equality. There are Americans with incomes of one
or two millions a year; and already the Yankees of high society are no
longer able to live as Franklin did: the true "gentleman," disgusted
with his new country, goes to Europe in search of the old; one meets
him at the inns, making "tours" in Italy like the English, tours marked
by extravagance or spleen. These ramblers from Carolina or Virginia
buy ruined abbeys in France, and lay out English gardens with American
trees at Melun. Naples sends its singers and perfumers to New York,
Paris its fashions and dancers, London its grooms and prize-fighters:
exotic delights which do not add to the gaiety of the Union. There
they amuse themselves by jumping into the Falls of Niagara, amid the
applause of fifty thousand planters, semi-savages whose merriment is
with difficulty aroused by the sight of death.

And what is so extraordinary is that, at the very time when the
inequality of fortunes is extending and an aristocracy is springing
into being, the great levelling movement outside obliges the industrial
or landed proprietors to hide their luxury, to dissimulate their
wealth, for fear of being knocked on the head by their neighbours.
These refuse to recognize the executive power; they dismiss the local
authorities whom they have chosen at will, and elect others in their
stead. This in no way disturbs order; practical democracy is observed,
while the laws laid down by the same democracy in theory are laughed
at. The family spirit scarcely exists; so soon as the child is fit to
work, he has to fly with his own wings, like the newly-fledged bird.
Out of these generations emancipated in a premature orphanage, and out
of the emigrants arriving from Europe, are formed nomadic companies
which clear the land, dig canals, and carry their trade in every
direction without becoming attached to the soil; they run up houses in
the desert in which the transient owner will live scarce a few days.

A cold and hard egotism reigns in the towns; piastres and dollars,
bank-notes and silver, the rise and fall of stocks, these form the sole
subject of conversation: one imagines one's self on 'Change or in the
counting-house of a large shop. The newspapers, huge in dimensions, are
filled with business articles or scurrilous gossip. Could the Americans
be unconsciously submitting to the law of a climate in which vegetable
nature seems to have benefited at the expense of living nature, a law
combated by some distinguished minds, and yet not put entirely out of
court by its refutation? It might be worth while to inquire whether the
American has not been too soon used up in philosophic liberty, as the
Russian has been in civilized despotism.

To sum up, the United States give the idea of a colony, not of a parent
country; they have no past, their manners owe their existence to the
laws. These citizens of the New World took rank among the nations at
the moment when political ideas were entering upon an upward phase:
this explains why they change with such extraordinary rapidity. A
permanent form of society seems to become impracticable in their case,
thanks, on the one hand, to the extreme weariness of individuals; on
the other, to the impossibility of remaining in one spot, the necessity
for movement, by which they are dominated: for one is never very firmly
fixed where the household gods are wandering gods. Placed on the ocean
road, at the head of progressive opinions as new as his country, the
American seems to have received from Columbus a mission to discover
fresh worlds rather than to create them.


On returning to Philadelphia from the desert, as I have already said,
having hurriedly written on the road "what I have just related," like
the old man in La Fontaine, I did not find the remittances I expected:
this was the commencement of the pecuniary difficulties in which I have
been plunged ever since. Fortune and I conceived a mutual dislike at
first sight. According to Herodotus, certain Indian ants used to heap
together piles of gold; according to Athenæus, the sun gave Hercules a
golden ship in which to accost the island of Erythia, the home of the
Hesperides: ant though I be, I have not the honour to belong to the
great Indian family; and navigator though I be, I have never crossed
the sea, save in a wooden bark. It was a vessel of this kind which
brought me back to Europe from America. The captain gave me my passage
on credit. On the 10th of December 1791, I embarked with several of
my fellow-countrymen who were returning to France, like myself, for
various reasons. The ship's destination was the Havre.

[Sidenote: I return to Europe.]

A westerly gale caught us at the mouth of the Delaware and drove us
right across the Atlantic in seventeen days. Often, scudding under
bare poles, we were scarcely able to bring to. The sun did not appear
a single time. The vessel, steering by a dead reckoning, flew before
the waves. I crossed the ocean among shadows; never had it looked to me
so sad. I myself, sadder still, was returning deceived, after my first
step taken in life:

"Palaces are not built upon the sea," says the Persian poet

I felt a vague heaviness of heart, as at the approach of a great
misfortune. Turning my eyes over the waves, I asked them to tell me my
destiny, or else I used to write, more inconvenienced by their motion
than troubled by their threats.

So far from calming, the tempest increased the nearer we came to
Europe; but it blew steadily: the uniformity of its raging produced
a sort of furious lull in the wan sky and leaden sea. The captain,
having no means of taking the altitude, was uneasy; he climbed into
the shrouds and scanned each point of the horizon through a telescope.
A look-out was placed on the bowsprit, another in the main-top-mast
cross-trees. The sea became choppy, and the colour of the water
changed, signs that we were approaching land: what land? The Breton
sailors have a proverb, "Who sees Belle-Isle sees his isle; who sees
Groie sees his joy; who sees Ouessant's shore sees his gore."

I had spent two nights in walking the deck, to the hissing of the
waves in the dark, the moaning of the wind in the rigging, and the
constant dashing of the sea which swept the decks: the waves rioted
all around us. Tired with the shocks and jerks of the vessel, I went
below early on the third night. The weather was terrible; my hammock
creaked and rocked with the blows of the sea, which, breaking over
the vessel, threatened to dislocate her very planks. Soon I heard
men running from one end of the deck to the other, and coils of rope
falling: I experienced the motion which one feels when a vessel is put
about. The hatch of the steerage ladder was thrown open; a frightened
voice called for the captain: that voice, in the middle of the night
and the tempest, sounded tremendous. I listened; I thought I heard
sailors discussing the lie of a coast. I tumbled out of my hammock; a
sea drove in the quarter-deck, flooded the captain's room, knocked over
and rolled pell-mell tables, mattresses, chests, furniture, and arms; I
made my way on deck half-drowned.

When I put my head out of the steerage, a splendid sight met my eyes.
The ship had tried to put about; but, failing in this attempt she had
become embayed under the stress of the wind. By the light of the moon,
her horns broken by the clouds, from beneath which she emerged only
to be hidden by them again, we discovered on either side of the ship,
through a yellow fog, a coast bristling with rocks. The sea threw
up waves like mountains in the channel in which we found ourselves
engulfed: now they scattered into foam and spray; again they presented
merely an oily and vitreous surface, mottled with black, coppery, or
greenish stains, according to the colour of the bottom over which they
roared. During two or three minutes, the moaning of the abyss and that
of the wind would be confused; the next moment, one distinguished the
ripple of the currents, the hissing on the reefs, the voice of the
distant surge. From the hold of the ship issued sounds which made the
hearts of the stoutest sailors beat faster. The stem of the vessel cut
through the thick mass of waves with a hideous crash, and, at the helm,
torrents of water flowed away eddying as from the mouth of a sluice.
Amid all this uproar, nothing was so alarming as a certain dull,
murmuring sound, like that of a vase filling.

Lighted by a ship's lantern and held down by weights, harbour-books,
charts, and log-books lay spread out upon a hen-coop. A gust of wind
had put out the binnacle-lamp. Every one was at variance about the
land. We had entered the Channel without noticing it; the vessel,
staggering under each wave, was drifting between the islands of
Guernsey and Alderney. Our shipwreck appeared inevitable, and the
passengers put up their valuables to save them.

The crew included some French seamen; one of them, in the absence
of a chaplain, raised the hymn to "Our Lady of Succour," the first
thing I had learnt as a child; I repeated it in sight of the coast
of Brittany, almost under my mother's eyes. The American Protestant
sailors joined in chorus in the song of their French Catholic mates:
danger teaches men their weakness and unites their prayers. All,
passengers and sailors, were on deck, one clinging to the rigging,
another to the sides, another to the capstan, others to the bills
of the anchors, in order not to be swept away by the sea or thrown
overboard by the heaving of the ship. The captain shouted, "An axe! an
axe!" to cut away the masts; and the rudder, of which the tiller had
been forsaken, swung from side to side with a harsh sound.

[Sidenote: And I am nearly shipwrecked.]

One experiment remained to be tried: the lead marked only four fathoms
on a sand-bank which crossed the channel; it was just possible that the
swell might enable us to clear this bank and carry us into deep water;
but who would dare to seize the helm and charge himself with the common
safety? One false turn of the tiller, and we were lost.

One of those men who spring from events and who are the spontaneous
children of danger was found: a New York sailor took the post deserted
by the steersman. I seem still to see him in his shirt and canvas
trousers, his bare feet, his tangled streaming hair, holding the tiller
in his powerful grasp, while, with turned head, he looked over the
stern at the sea which was to save or sink us. See that great wave
coming, embracing the whole width of the channel, rolling high without
breaking, as it were a sea invading the billows of another sea: large
white birds go before with a calm flight, like the birds of death.
The ship touched and struck; there was a complete silence; every face
turned pale. The swell came: at the moment when it touched us, the
sailor put down the helm; the vessel, just ready to fall on her side,
turned her stern, and the swell, which seemed about to swallow us,
lifted her. The lead was heaved; it registered twenty-seven fathoms. A
cheer rose to the sky, and we added a shout of "Long live the King!"
God did not hear it for Louis XVI.; it benefited none save ourselves.

Although clear of the two islands, we were not out of danger; we were
unable to run up above the coast of Granville. At last the ebbing
tide carried us out, and we doubled Cape La Hougue. I experienced no
agitation during the semi-shipwreck and felt no delight at being saved.
Better to give up possession of one's life while young than to be
evicted from it by time.

The next day we entered the Havre. The whole population had come out
to see us. Our top-masts were broken, our boats carried away, our
quarter-deck cut down, and we shipped water at every pitch of the
vessel. I landed on the jetty. On the 2nd of January 1792, I once more
trod my native soil, which was soon again to slip from under ray feet I
brought with me no Esquimaux from the Polar regions, but two savages of
an unknown species: Chactas and Atala.

[427] This book was written in London between April and September 1822,
and revised December 1846.--T.

[428] The 5th of April was the date of Chateaubriand's arrival in
London. He landed at Dover from the French packet Antigone, on the
evening of the 4th (_Moniteur_, 11 April 1822).--B.

[429] This should read the Ship Inn, also known as Wright's Hotel.--T.

[430] Baron A. Billing, _attaché_ to the French Embassy in London
(1822), and afterwards _chargé d'affaires_ at Naples (1834).--B.

[431] The Comte Georges de Caraman, son of the Duc de Caraman,
Ambassador to Vienna.--B.

[432] Marie Louis Jean André Charles Demartin du Tyrac, Comte de
Marcellus (1795-1865). While secretary of embassy in 1820, he
discovered the Venus of Milo, now at the Louvre. He was _chargé
d'affaires_ in London during Chateaubriand's absence at the Congress
of Verona, and was appointed Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs
in the Polignac Ministry. Marcellus was the author of, among other
works, a valuable volume on the subject of these Memoirs, entitled,
_Chateaubriand et son temps._--B.

[433] François Adolphe Comte de Bourqueney (1799-1869). Here signed
upon Chateaubriand's dismissal in 1824. In 1840 he was again secretary
of embassy in London, _chargé d'affaires_ in 1841, Ambassador to
Constantinople in 1844, and Ambassador to Vienna under the Second
Empire. Louis-Philippe created him a baron (1842), and Napoleon III. a
count (1859).--B.


    "Ah, my Lord, how your Lordship's life,
    In which such honours now are rife,
    Differs from those happy days!"

[435] The Duc Decazes was French Ambassador in London from 17 February
1820 to 9 February 1822.--B.

[436] George IV. (1762-1850) came to the throne in 1820, after being
Prince Regent since 1811.--T.

[437] Robert Banks Jenkinson, second Earl of Liverpool (1770-1828),
Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827.--T.

[438] Chateaubriand refers to the statue of James II., not Charles II.,
which stood until recent years in Whitehall Gardens, behind Whitehall,
and was entirely hidden from view by the United Service Institute.
This very beautiful statue has now been placed in a more conspicuous
position in a garden standing back from the Whitehall pavement, beside
Gwydyr House.--T.

[439] Marie Antoinette was guillotined 16 October 1793; 21 January was
the date of the execution of Louis XVI.--T.

[440] Robert Stewart, second Marquess of Londonderry, K.G. (1769-1822),
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Liverpool Ministry. He
bore the title of Viscount Castlereagh until the death of his father
in 1821. He cut his throat on the 13th of August of this same year

[441] Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, K.G. (1769-1852)
became Premier in 1828.--T.

[442] George Canning (1770-1827) became Foreign Secretary upon the
suicide of Castlereagh.--T.

[443] Sarah Child Villiers, Countess of Jersey (1787-1867), was Lady
Sarah Fane, eldest daughter of the tenth Earl of Westmorland, and
grand-daughter of Robert Child the banker, whose fortune she inherited.
She married George Villiers, fourth Earl of Jersey, who assumed the
additional surname of Child in 1812, and became one of the reigning
queens of London society.--T.

[444] Henry Brougham, first Lord Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868), had
lately made his name as counsel for Queen Caroline at her trial (1820).
He became Lord Chancellor and a peer in 1834.--T.

[445] Priscilla Barbara Elizabeth Lady Gwydyr (1761-1828) _née_ Bertie,
widow of the first Lord Gwydyr, and Baroness Willoughby de Eresby in
her own right.--T.

[446] Louisa Murray, Countess of Mansfield (_d._ 1843), was the
Honourable Louisa Cathcart, daughter of the ninth Baron Cathcart, and
became Countess of Mansfield in her own right. In 1776 she married her
cousin David, seventh Viscount Stormont and second Earl of Mansfield.
He died in 1793, and in 1797 she married the Honourable Fulke Greville,
retaining her title as Countess of Mansfield.--T.

[447] Almack's, the ball-room in King Street, St. James's, retained its
vogue from 1765 to 1840. Lady Mansfield was one of the lady patronesses
of Almack's.--T.

[448] Julie Récamier (1777-1849), _née_ Bernard, wife of Récamier the
banker. A woman of great beauty and charm; she was painted by David and
Gérard, and sat to Canova for his bust of Beatrix. Chateaubriand became
and remained until his death the most intimate and assiduous of her

[449] Captain James Cook (1728-1779). His discoveries were still fresh
in the public mind in 1792.--T.

[450] Chateaubriand met François Tulloch in 1826, after writing this
portion of his Memoirs. He does not tell us much about him even in the
_Essai sur les Révolutions_, where he speaks of Tulloch at some length.
It would appear, according to Chateaubriand, that he was the son of an
English father and a Scotch mother, and that he did not eventually take
orders, but remained in the world and married.--T.

[451] VIR., _Æ._ I. 164. The correct quotation runs: _Æquora tuta

[452] The Azores were known to the Carthaginians, but fell out of the
map until rediscovered in 1431.--T.

[453] GEN. i. 10.--T.

[454] Agostino Pantaleone Giustiniani (1470-1531), Bishop of Nebbis in
Corsica, and author of the _Psalterium hebraicum, græcum, arabicum,
chaldaicum, cum tribus latinis interpretationibus et glossis_, the
first work of its kind published. Giustiniani was drowned in crossing
from Genoa to Corsica.--T.

[455] Ps. XVIII.--T.

[456] _Ibid._ 6.--T.

[457] Luiz de Camoëns (1517 or 1525-1579), author of the _Lusiad_ which
treats of the exploits of Vasco da Gama, spent many years in India and
in exile in Macao, where he wrote his principal poem. On his return
from banishment, he was wrecked off the coast of Cochin China, where
he is said to have lost all he possessed, except the manuscript of the

[458] Guillaume le Breton (_circa_ 1165-_circa_ 1220), the historian
of Philip Augustus. The quotation is from his chronicle entitled,
_Philippidos libri duodecime, sive Gesta Philippi Augusti, versibus
heroïcis descripta._--T.

[459] Ps. CVII. 27.--T.


"Burning with immortal ardour,
'Tis to God my hopes are turned."--T.

[461] TASSO, _Gerusalemme Liberata_, XV. 27.--B.

[462] Jacques Cartier (1494--_circa_ 1554), the discoverer of
Newfoundland and of the greater part of Canada.--T.

[463] _Génie du Christianisme_, Part I. book V. chap. 12: _Deux
perspectives de la Nature._--B.

[464] William Penn (1644-1718), the Quaker. He commuted a claim upon
the Crown for a grant of land in North America, where he founded
the colony of Pennsylvania (1682), laying out Philadelphia as the

[465] Bonaparte died 5 May 1821.--T.

[466] Alonso d'Ercilla y Zuffiga (_circa_ 1525-_circa_ 1600), a famous
Spanish poet and warrior. He began life as a page to Philip II., whom
he accompanied in his travels to France, Italy, Germany, and England.
In 1547 he joined the Chilean expedition, covered himself with glory in
the campaign against the Araucanians, and celebrated his own exploits
in the _Araucana_, an epic poem of very great merit.--T.

[467] Michel de Castelnau, Sieur de La Mauvissière (_circa_ 1520-1592),
was five times Ambassador to England under Charles IX. and Henry III.
His Memoirs run from 1559 to 1570.--T.

[468] CORNEILLE, _Attila_, Act I. scene I.:

    "Ils ne sont pas venus, nos deux rois; qu'on leur die
    Qu'ils se font trop attendre, et qu'Attila s'ennuie."

    "Our two kings have not come; go out to them and say
    That Attila is wearied, and brooks not such delay."--T.

[469] These measurements have since been rectified as being too high in
both cases.--_Author's Note_ (Geneva, 1832).

[470] George Vancouver (1750-1798) accompanied Cook in his second and
third voyages round the world, and subsequently served under Rodney. He
was despatched on the expedition in question in 1790--T.

[471] This appears to be an error for Lake Athabasca, on which Fort
Chippeway is situated, and which communicates by means of the Slave
River with Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River.--T.

[472] Chateaubriand, in a footnote to the _Itinéraire_, confesses his
mistake in searching for the stone lion which, according to Herodotus,
marks the tomb of Leonidas and his companions, at Sparta instead of at

[473] Sir Charles Asgill (1760-1823), an English general serving
under Cornwallis. He was taken prisoner by the insurgents and picked
out by lot to be shot by way of reprisals. He was saved through the
intervention of the French Government, and an act of the American
Congress revoked the sentence of death. Asgill visited Versailles to
thank Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, who had actively interceded on
his behalf. The episode furnished a subject for a number of popular
novels and plays.--B.

[474] Jean Baptiste Donatien de Viveur, Comte de Rochambeau
(1725-1807), was sent to America with 6000 men to assist the insurgents
and contributed towards effecting the capitulation of Cornwallis in
1781. He returned to France when peace was declared, became Governor
of Picardy and Artois, and was created a Marshal of France in 1791,
and given the command of the Northern Army. He vainly endeavoured to
restore discipline and resigned his command in 1792. He was condemned
to death by Robespierre, but made his escape.--T.

[475] JOB, XXXIX. 19-25.--T.

[476] The Abbé Paul François Velly (1709-1759) wrote the first seven
or eight volumes of the History of France in thirty volumes known as
the _Histoire de Velly, Villaret et Garnier._ These first eight volumes
which cover the period to the reign of Philip the Fair, are the weakest
of the whole compilation, especially the two first, which embrace the
history of the Frankish kings.--T.

[477] Khilpérick or Chilperic I. (_d._ 584), King of Soissons, later
King of the Franks, youngest son of Clotaire I., King of the Franks.--T.

[478] _Cf._ Plutarch's Life of Phocion.--B.

[479] _Odyssey_, VII.--B.

[480] Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm (1712-1759), entrusted with the
defense of Canada against the English in 1756.--T.

[481] John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudon (1705-1782),
Governor-General of Virginia and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in
America (1756), but recalled in 1757.--T.

[482] Sir Robert Abercromby (1740-1827), younger brother of the more
famous Sir Ralph Abercromby. He had distinguished himself, as a
volunteer, by his gallantry at the battle of Ticonderoga in 1758, after
which he was appointed an ensign, and was present at the Battle of
Niagara and the capture of Montreal.--T.

[483] General James Wolfe (1727-1759), although only thirty-two years
of age at the time of his glorious death, had been present at the
battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy, Falkirk, and Culloden, and served in
the expedition against Rochefort.--T.

[484] Giovanni Paisiello (1741-1816), composer of a number of operas,
most of which were written during his long residence at St Petersburg,
and of some meritorious sacred music.--T.

[485] Domenico Cimarosa (1754-1801), composer of over 120 grand and
comic operas, of which the _Matrimonio segreto_ is the best known.--T.

[486] _Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem_, Book II.--B.

[487] _Essai sur les révolutions_: Book I. Part ii. chap. 23.--B.

[488] _Atala_: Epilogue.--B.

[489] HOR., _Od._ I. 7.--T.

[490] Isaac Jogues (1607-1646), a Jesuit priest placed at the head of
the Canadian Mission in 1636. He suffered martyrdom at the hands of the
Mohawks ten years later.--B.

[491] Jerome Lallemant (1593-1673), also a Jesuit father, preached the
Gospel to the savages of Canada for nearly forty years. He died at
Quebec as Superior-General of the Canadian Mission.--B.

[492] Florio's MONTAIGNE, I. 30: _Of the Caniballes._--T.

[493] _Ibid._--T.

[494] St Clement of Alexandria (_d._ 217) does not figure in the
Roman Calendar. The work in question, the Στρωματεὶς, is a medley or
patchwork of philosophical maxims and Christian thoughts set down at
random, without order or connection, as the title implies.--T.

[495] She appears in the _Natches_, which was published in 1826, four
years after the above was written.--B.

[496] Samuel Champlain (_circa_ 1570-1635) explored a part of Canada,
in 1608 founded the city of Quebec, and in 1620 became governor of
the province. He was attacked by the English in 1627, and obliged to
capitulate; in 1629 Canada was restored to France and Champlain resumed
his command, which he retained until his death.--T.

[497] Armand Louis de Delondarce, Baron de La Hontan (_circa_
1667-1715) served in Canada in 1703 and was subsequently the King of
France's lieutenant in Newfoundland; he was accused of peculation
and fled to Portugal and thence to Denmark. In 1705 he published his
_Voyages dans l'Amérique septentrionale._--T.

[498] Marc Lescarbot (_circa_--_circa_ 1630) served in Florida under
Admiral Coligny. He annotated an edition of Champlain's Voyages.--T.

[499] Père Joseph François Lafitau (1670-1740), a Jesuit priest of
the Canadian Mission, author of the _Mœurs des sauvages américains
comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps_ (1723), &c.--T.

[500] Père Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761), another
Jesuit, author of the _Histoire de la Nouvelle-France._ (1744)--T.

[501] Thomas Douglas, fifth Earl of Selkirk (1771-1820). This tract of
land covered forty-five million acres, and comprised large portions of
what are now Manitoba and Minnesota.--T.

[502] The date of the defeat of the Hudson's Bay Company by the
North-West Company and their half-breed allies was 10 June 1815.--T.

[503] The French name for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.--T.

[504] The original thirteen United States, in the order of their
ratification of the National Constitution, were Delaware, Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South
Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode
Island. The eleven others, completing the twenty-four existing at
the time at which Chateaubriand was writing, were Vermont (detached
from New York, 1791), Tennessee (detached from North Carolina, 1796),
Kentucky (detached from Virginia, 1796), Ohio (created, 1802),
Louisiana (purchased from France in 1803 and raised into a State in
1812), Indiana (created, 1816), Mississippi (separated from Georgia,
1817), Illinois (created, 1818), Alabama (detached from Georgia, 1819),
Maine (detached from Massachusetts, 1820), and Missouri (detached from
Louisiana, 1821).--T.

[505] The western portion of Louisiana was ceded to Spain in 1763, but
restored to the French in 1800. In 1803 Bonaparte, despairing of being
able to hold it against the English, sold it to the United States for
80,000,000 francs.--T.

[506] Charles I., King of France and Emperor of the West (742-814),
known as Charlemagne, had been dead for more than six centuries when
this experiment was made.--T.

[507] Lord François Nathaniel Conyngham (1797-1876), second son of the
first Marquess Conyngham, and first groom of the Bedchamber and Master
of the Robes to George IV. He succeeded to the Marquisate in 1832.--T.

[508] Elizabeth Marchioness Conyngham (1769-1861), _née_ Dennison,
married in 1794 to the third Lord Conyngham, Lord Steward of the
Household to George IV., and created successively Viscount Conyngham,
Earl of Conyngham, and Marquess Conyngham by that monarch. She was
George IV.'s mistress, and presented a complete contrast to Mila in
other respects than age alone.--T.

[509] William Bartram (1739-1823), an American traveller and
naturalist, author of _Travels through North and South Carolina, East
and West Florida, the Cherokee country_, &c.--T.

[510] The ruins of Mitla and Palenque in Mexico prove today that the
New World rivals the Old in antiquity.--_Author's Note_ (Paris, 1834).

[511] _Arbor tristis_, the nyctanthes or night-jasmine.--T.

[512] I have quoted it in my Travels.--_Author's Note_ (Geneva, 1832).
The story of _Tabamica_ is told in the _Voyage en Amérique_, where it
is called the Song of the Pale-face.--B.

[513] The Spanish capital of Florida.--T.

[514] I omit a quotation from Camoëns.--T.

[515] I omit a quotation from Ronsard.--T.

[516] Mary Stuart (1542-1 £87), Queen of Scots, was married in 1558
to the Dauphin of France, who in 1559 became king, with the title of
Francis II. She was left a widow eighteen months after marriage, in the
seventeenth year of her age.--T.

[517] François II., King of France (1544-1560).--T.

[518] _Cf._ ROUSSEAU, _La Nouvelle Héloïse._--T.


    "Like a young bee which among the roses toils,
    My muse returned to me all laden with rich spoils."--T.

[520] Louis XVI. was arrested at Varennes on the 22nd of June 1791.--T.

[521] VIR., _Æn._, I. 302-303.--B.

[522] These predictions have been verified with wonderful accuracy.
According to the census of 1 June 1880, the population of the United
States on that day amounted to 50,445,336 inhabitants.--B.

[523] Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), discoverer of the identity of
lightning and electricity.--T.

[524] Robert Fulton (1765-1815), one of the first to apply steam to
the propulsion of vessels; he built a steamboat to navigate the Hudson
River in 1807; it made five miles an hour.--T.

[525] Issued 17 September 1796, before his retirement from his second

[526] Thomas Jefferson (1743-1816), third President of the United
States, 1801-1805, and again, 1805-1809. Jefferson died at Monticello,
Virginia, on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, 4 July
1826. John Adams, the second President of the United States, died at
Quincy, Massachusetts, on the same day.--T.

[527] Henry M. Brackenridge (1786-1871), author of, among other works,
the _History of the late War between the United States and Great
Britain._ Baltimore, 1817.--T.

[528] Tah-Gah-Jute (_circa_ 1725-1780), a famous Cayuga chief,
named John Logan, after James Logan, secretary of Pennsylvania. The
famous speech was not spoken in person, but sent by an interpreter
in October 1774. Logan was eventually shot by an Indian through a

[529] John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore (1732-1809), Governor of
Virginia at the outbreak of the American Revolution.--T.

[530] Captain Michael Cresap (1742-1775). His memory was attacked by
Thomas Jefferson, and vindicated by his son-in-law, J. J. Jacob.--T.

[531] John K. Townsend (1809-1861), author of _Narrative of a Journey
across the Rocky Mountains and a Visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chile_,
&c., 1833-37 (1839).--T.

[532] Thomas Say (1787-1834), author of an _American Entomology_ (1824)
and an _American Conchiliology_ (1830).--B.

[533] Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), a Scotsman by birth, emigrated at
an early age to America. He was by turns a weaver, a schoolmaster, and
a pedlar. He applied himself to the study of birds, and eventually
published his _American Ornithology_ in seven volumes, containing the
finished illustrations referred to by Chateaubriand.--T.

[534] Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810), author of several novels, of
which _Wieland_ was the most popular.--B.

[535] _Caleb Williams_, by William Godwin (1756-1836), father of Mary
Wollstonecraft, Shelley's second wife, appeared in 1794, one year
before the publication of _Wieland._--T.

[536] James Fenimore Cooper (1780-1851), probably the most popular of
American novelists.--T.

[537] Washington Irving (1783-1859). He was American Minister in Madrid
for a short period (1842).--T.

[538] Fitz-Greene Halleck (1795-1867), author of _Marco Bozuaris._ The
curious will find a criticism of his work in Poe's _Literati of New

[539] George Hill (_b._ 1796), author of the _Ruins of Athens_, and a
few shorter poems.--T.

[540] _Ruins of Athens_, II.--T.

[541] The Parthenon.--T.

[542] _Ruins of Athens_, XVII.--T.

[543] Chateaubriand coins the word _chrysogène_ to express the idea of
being born in wealth: I have ventured to retain it.--T.

[544] Feryd-Eddyn-Atthar (_circa_ 1226--_circa_ 1280), author of the
_Pend-Nâmek_, or Book of Counsels.--T.


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