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Title: Reminiscences of Prince Talleyrand, Volume II (of 2)
Author: Colmache, Édouard
Language: English
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REMINISCENCES OF PRINCE TALLEYRAND.

Edited from the Papers of the Late

M. COLMACHE,

Private Secretary to the Prince,

by

Madame Colmache.

In Two Volumes.

VOL. II.



London:
Henry Colburn, Publisher,
Great Marlborough Street.
1848.



CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.


  CHAPTER I.

                                                                    PAGE
  The Duc D’Aiguillon and Madame Dubarri—Talleyrand’s return from
    America—Chénier, Madame de Staël, and Madame de la Bouchardie      1


  CHAPTER II.

  The Abbé Cerutti                                                    48


  CHAPTER III.

  The Salons of Paris before the Revolution                           92


  CHAPTER IV.

  Talleyrand’s Boudoir—Portraits—Madame de Brionne—Madame de
    Flahaut—A Gambling Scene—The Chevalier de Fénélon—Madame
    Grandt—Princess Talleyrand                                       118


  CHAPTER V.

  Talleyrand’s desire for Amity between England and France—Louis
    Dixhuit—The Archbishop de M.—Madame de Krudener—Alexander
    of Russia                                                        179


  CHAPTER VI.

  The last Moments of Prince Talleyrand                              232


  EXTRACTS FROM PRINCE TALLEYRAND’S MANUSCRIPTS, SPEECHES, &
    POLITICAL WRITINGS.

  Prince Talleyrand’s Maxims for Seasoning Conversation              261

  Prince Talleyrand’s Opinion of Fox                                 270

  Private Letter from Prince Talleyrand to Marshal Sebastiani, on
    the Policy of suffering Belgium to be created an Independent
    Monarchy                                                         276

  From Prince Talleyrand to Marshal Sebastiani, on the same subject
    as the preceding                                                 280

  Letter from Prince Talleyrand to Count Sebastiani, on the Affairs
    of Belgium                                                       284

  Observations on the Trial of Peers by the Chamber of Peers, and
    the Reasons on which Talleyrand Grounded his Vote in the Affair
    of Lieutenants-General Guilleminot and Bordesoulle               289

  Another Fragment from Prince Talleyrand’s Memoirs                  296

  Letter to his Majesty King William IV., from Prince Talleyrand,
    on his being appointed Ambassador from France                    306

  Opinion of Prince Talleyrand on the Plan of Law Relative to
    Journals and Periodical Publications                             307

  Opinion of the Bishop of Autun on the Subject of Ecclesiastical
    Property, Delivered in the National Assembly in the Year 1789    317

  Extracts from the Speech of the Bishop of Autun, on the Occasion
    of his Motion on the Subject of Ecclesiastical Reform, on the
    10th of October, 1789                                            322

  Opinion of the Bishop of Autun on Banks, and on the
    Re-establishment of Order in the French Finances                 326


  INDEX                                                              347



  REMINISCENCES
  OF THE LATE
  PRINCE TALLEYRAND.



CHAPTER I.

  THE DUC D’AIGUILLON AND MADAME DUBARRI—TALLEYRAND’S RETURN FROM
    AMERICA—CHÉNIER, MADAME DE STAËL, AND MADAME DE LA BOUCHARDIE.


“You have begun, _malgré vous_,” said I to C., the next time we met
_tête-à-tête_, “the _vie anecdotique_ of the prince, which I have
always felt sure would prove so full of interest. Your strange story
of Madame de la Motte is quite sufficient to excite curiosity in those
who love to see the _truth_ established where prejudice and falsehood
have reigned so long. It would be a curious study to follow in the
same manner, step by step, the life of the Prince de Talleyrand, and
give to those who seek for _truth alone_ (and they are many) the real
impressions made upon a powerful organization, like his own, by the
wondrous changes in which he bore so conspicuous a part; the conduct
of those with whom he co-operated in the great reform which, from the
very outset of his career, it is evident he had at heart; and his
own conduct with regard to the confederates with whom the strange
circumstances amid which he found himself compelled him to associate
sometimes, ‘_malgré lui et à son corps defendant_.’”

“It would be difficult,” replied C., “to destroy prejudices which have
taken root. Mankind in general cling to them with tenacity, and adopt
ready-formed opinions with the greatest facility in proportion as
they are improbable and absurd. The Prince de Talleyrand has been the
victim of many such errors. From the great reserve, partly natural to
his character, and no doubt strengthened by his clerical education,
the motives by which he was guided, unexplained by himself, have been
left to the interpretation of the mass; and the mass will ever be loth
to yield conviction save to the evidence of facts alone. One of the
most extraordinary delusions which exist in the public mind with regard
to the prince, founded I should think upon no better authority than a
brutal attempt at wit made by Napoleon, has been often adopted as a
basis for the judgment of his character. ‘Kick Talleyrand behind,’ said
the coarse-minded _sabreur_, ‘and look in his face, you will perceive
no indication of any sense of the insult.’ The _dictum_, which was
first uttered by the chattering buffoon of a Parisian _salon_, has been
gravely quoted by more than one historian, and has in many cases gone
forth as the standard whereby to judge one of the proudest characters
that the Almighty ever sent among mankind!

“Again—how often has he been accused of participating in the murder
of the Duc d’Enghien: though his whole life disproves the accusation.
What single action of his long career can justify this supposition?
His aversion to bloodshed—his avoidance of all violent measures—his
forgiving temper, which was constitutional—all tend to combat the
suspicion; and yet it has been greedily received, not only by his
enemies, but even by the writers least interested in the affair—those
of foreign nations, strangers to party-spirit in French politics, and
who may be supposed to be mere spectators of the struggle. I think M.
de Talleyrand owes this unjust and offensive accusation entirely to
the reserve he has always maintained with regard to this event. Had he
been more explicit, had he ‘_spoken out_,’ in short, upon the subject,
his vilest detractors would not have dared to affix this stain upon
his name, while the panegyrists of his great contemporary would have
hesitated before the _proofs_ which M. de Talleyrand can still produce.
Although he even yet mentions with caution all the circumstances
connected with this affair, which he himself calls ‘_déplorable_,’ yet
I have gathered enough to make the recital interesting to you, and in
_tems et lieu_ I will put you in possession of the facts; but as you
wish me to proceed _par ordre de date_, they will find no place here.
Accusation and defiance are contrary to the whole system of conduct of
the prince. His forbearance towards his enemies would sometimes excite
the indignation of Mirabeau, whose fiery soul gloried in attack, and
scorned defeat, from which he rose with fresh venom and fresh vigour.

“‘One thing is needed to complete the character of Talleyrand,’ said
the giant, in despair at the mildness of the prince, ‘he needs unjust
imprisonment!’ The secret of the whole existence of Mirabeau—of his
success—his energy and defiance, may perhaps be found in this simple
exclamation. Mirabeau might accuse Talleyrand of coldness and over
caution; but it was left for the coarse mind of Napoleon to tax him
with baseness and want of self-respect. Now I, who have lived in the
intimacy of the prince for many years, and have been in the habit of
observing the impression produced upon his temper by outward events,
have arrived at the conviction, that it is the very excess of pride,
of which Napoleon denied him the slightest portion, that destroys the
otherwise perfect equilibrium of his character. I am a believer in the
influence of _race_, and can respect the philosophy which tells us that
the qualities of the soul are handed down through long generations as
well as the features of the body. The proud motto of the sovereign
counts of Perigord, adopted in the sixth century, was borne with
justice by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, their descendant: _Ré que
Diou!_ In the old Perigord language, ‘NO KING BUT GOD!’

“Would not the simple utterance of this haughty device form an
argument against the accusation of ‘versatility of opinion,’ of ‘change
of masters’? The parallel might be carried further still, down to the
famous Cardinal de Perigord, friend and confidant of Petrarch, he who
is called in Italian history the pope-maker, who in the twelfth century
was the nominator of four different pontiffs, and then dethroned
the Emperor Louis V. to crown in his stead Charles IV. He, too, was
the most able diplomatist of his time, and was deputed to London to
negotiate the ransom of the French King John. He succeeded in reducing
the ransom, and in obtaining a truce, by the influence of his ‘_langue
mielleuse et dorée_,’ as says the quaint old chronicler of the time.

“Henri de Chalais might have saved his life had he but spoken the one
word of supplication to his master. ‘The king has said that he will
pardon you if you will but sue,’ said his good old confessor the night
before his execution. ‘What prevents you, then, Monseigneur, from
asking?’

“‘The blood of the Talleyrands!’ said the prince, and, turning to the
wall, spoke no more that night.

“You see they have ever been a taciturn and haughty race, faithful to
the battle-cry of their fierce forefathers. ‘_Ré que Diou_’ must have
been graven on their hearts, as well as painted on their banner. Did
it never occur to the hard mind of the emperor, that Talleyrand might
be insensible to insult from _contempt_ of the aggressor? But come, I
am wasting time in theory, and you, I am well aware, prefer facts and
example.

“The political career of Prince Talleyrand may be said to have begun
at his very entrance into life. I have given you a sketch of his
childhood—to detail the events of his youth would be to give the
history of the close of the eighteenth century. I have heard him say
often that few men could boast of having passed through life as he had
done—always in a crowd, having to elbow his way through the thickest
ranks. During those early years he cannot remember to have enjoyed or
experienced a single week’s solitude. Always in a crowd, and that crowd
composed of all that was celebrated at the time, for wit, fashion,
and beauty, by his own merit he was continually in advance, and, long
before the age when other men enter the lists, he had already travelled
far on the road to fame and fortune. It is this circumstance which
makes his age for ever a subject of dispute. His name has been so
long before the public eye, in connexion with those of individuals
who had begun their career so many years before him, that it seems as
if he himself belonged to another epoch than our own. At the age of
twenty-six, when he was named _agent-général_ of the clergy, he had
already acquired the conviction that the society amid which he was born
was tottering to its basis, and, moreover, that it was unworthy of an
effort to save it from destruction. I remember being much amused by his
description of the very first visit he paid after being invested by his
uncle with the title and power of his new office, which, at the time,
was one of great trust and influence, and one which demanded great
industry and talent.

“He was one day _en confidence_ with me, and mentioning several events
of the last century. ‘How has that poor _siècle_ been calumniated,’
said he, gaily, ‘and yet, after all, I do not see that the _productive_
power of your system equals that of the one you so much condemn.
Where is the wit of your _salons_, the independence of your writers,
the charm and influence of your women? What have you received in
exchange for all these, which have fled for ever? Were I young, I
should regret, and wish that I were old, to enjoy, at least in memory,
the delicious _existence morale_ of _my_ time. I would not give the
remembrance of those times for all the novelty and what you call
_improvements_ of the social system of to-day, even with the youth
and spirit necessary to enjoyment. ’Tis true there were abuse and
exaggeration in many of our institutions, but where is the system in
which these do not exist? If our people was devoured with misery and
taxes, yours is wasting to the core with _envy_ and with discontent.
Our _noblesse_ was corrupt and prodigal, yours is _bourgeoise_ and
miserly—greater evils still for the prosperity of the nation. If our
king had many mistresses, yours has many masters. Has _he_ gained
by the exchange? Thus you see it clearly demonstrated that not one
of the three orders has advanced in happiness by these wonderful
_improvements_ which you so much admire.’

“He joined good-naturedly in the laugh which I could not repress at
his last regret, and I asked him if he had ever seen the _dernière
maîtresse en titre du Roi de France_, Madame Dubarri.

“‘Frequently,’ replied he, ‘both before and after her disgrace, and,
moreover, the last visit I ever paid her has been impressed upon my
memory, by the circumstance of its being the first I made after having
obtained the dignity of _agent-général du clergé_, which my mother had
been soliciting for me so long. I had been the whole morning closeted
with my uncle, listening to his various instructions and counsels
relative to my new duties. So anxious was the dear good man to make me
perfectly aware of the new dignity with which I had just been invested,
that he had kept me for more than two hours standing before him. So
strict was the clerical etiquette of the time, that he dared not
request me to be seated in the presence of the two acolytes, who, by
the law of that same etiquette, never left him, night or day, save when
he himself was admitted into the presence of a superior.

“‘As you may imagine, both my strength and patience were exhausted
before my dear uncle’s allocution was over, and most heartily did I
rejoice when he stretched forth his hand for me to kiss, in token of
dismissal. He told me that he had much more to say (I shivered), but
that he was anxious I should pay my respects to the minister that
very day, as the neglect of such attention might bring disgrace and
_défaveur_ at the very outset of my career. I had just time sufficient
to gain the minister’s hôtel before the closing of his cabinet, so made
all speed to quit my uncle’s presence, glad to escape even with the
prospect of another lecture.

“‘I was just descending the steps of the hôtel, when I met the young
Duc d’Aiguillon, all excited and _ébouriffé_ as usual, with his vest
wide open, and his garments in disorder.

“‘Where are you going so fast?’ exclaimed he, seizing my arm.

“‘To call upon the minister, _mon ministre_,’ said I, laughing at the
look of surprise with which he eyed me, and which betrayed plainly the
troubled state of his intellect.

“‘_Parbleu!_’ exclaimed he, with the twinkling of the eye peculiar to
persons in the same state of blessedness in which he then was, ‘and so
am I going to call upon the minister. My coach is waiting at the corner,
let us go together.’

“‘To this proposal I could of course offer no objection, being, as I
tell you, horribly fatigued with my long _séance_, and having at that
time no carriage of my own at command. We walked to the end of the
street arm-in-arm together. He leaned upon me heavily, but was laughing
heartily the whole way, as if inspired by some merry thought.

“‘You see me thus delighted,’ said he, suddenly stopping short, ‘at the
remembrance of the glorious fun we have just been having at the Trois
Marroniers. Why were you not there? We were but three, but diverted
ourselves _comme quarante_. Liancourt was _en verve_, and told some of
his best anecdotes about—(he hiccupped slightly)—about Madame Dubarri!
I should like to see that woman. Did you ever see her?’ He nodded
assent in answer to his own question, and then, with a tipsy giggle, he
pushed me in the side, exclaiming, ‘Well, then, jump into the carriage,
and I will tell you all about her as we drive along to the minister’s.’

“‘He spoke some few words to his lackey, and seated himself beside me.
The moment he entered, he drew down the blinds of the carriage, and,
far from opposing such a measure, I was enchanted at what, in my own
mind, I termed his discretion, as I thought that he was beginning to
be aware of the state he was in, and was afraid of making himself the
public gaze.

“‘The duke was one of the most witty men I ever met with. It would be
difficult to find a more piquant narrator than himself; and upon this
occasion, the little _pointe de vin_ which he had taken had awakened
his imagination, and caused him to be even more lively and amusing
than usual. His gaiety was contagious; and as he told one after the
other the most _échevelé_ anecdotes of the ex-favourite, all of the
kind most likely to have been served up by M. de Liancourt for the
entertainment of his dissolute companions, the peals of laughter which
his recitals caused me to emit, rivalled his own in noise and duration.
So absorbed was I in listening to his merry stories, and so diverted
by his pleasant manner of telling them, that I did not perceive the
tremendous rate at which the horses were going, nor the length of time
which seemed to have been occupied in our short journey to the hôtel of
the minister.

“‘Once, indeed, d’Aiguillon had stopped in the midst of one of his
best narrations to draw aside the blind, exclaiming, ‘What, shall we
never reach _ce diable de ministre_?’ and, after looking out, had
thrown himself back with another of those comical laughs, in which I
could not help joining with all my heart; but I was so much amused,
and felt myself so extremely happy, that no suspicion entered my head
concerning the direction we had taken, and my only fear began to be,
lest we should arrive at our destination before his stock of anecdote
was exhausted. In short, any one who had followed in our wake, and
heard the peals of laughter which issued from the carriage, would
certainly have thought me to have been as drunk as he. This mirth,
however, at least as far as I was concerned, was destined to receive
a tremendous check by the stopping of the vehicle, and the sudden
appearance at the door of the officer of _octroi_, who asked for the
toll, which then it was the custom for all private carriages to pay on
leaving the capital.

“‘Good God! where are we?’ exclaimed I, in alarm, now for the first
time, since I had left my uncle’s presence, remembering the importance
of the errand upon which I had been despatched, his earnest injunctions
to use no delay in paying my official respects to the minister, and the
short space of time I had allowed myself to execute his command, even
when I had first set out.

“‘At the Barrière des Bonshommes!’ returned the _employé_, slamming the
door, and making the usual sign to the coachman that he might proceed.

“‘Before I had recovered from my astonishment, the carriage was again
flying along the road, at the full gallop of the horses; and, while
I was bawling myself hoarse, to induce the coachmen to stop, again
was d’Aiguillon roaring with laughter! I was by this time in a state
of great vexation, which seemed rather to increase than diminish my
friend’s merriment. In vain I pulled the check-string with all my
might, and in despair leaned my body from the window to make myself
heard by the grinning lackeys: my endeavours to arrest the progress of
the carriage, seemed but to increase the speed at which we were going.

“‘’Tis useless,’ exclaimed d’Aiguillon, drawing me back into my
seat, ‘the varlets have _my_ orders, and _I_ am their master _ne
vous déplaise_; besides,’ continued he, pulling out his watch, ‘your
minister by this time is as far on the road to Versailles as we are on
this; therefore, let us no longer trouble our heads about business,
but give ourselves up to pleasure. I promise you as much satisfaction
this evening from the remembrance of our trip, as your uncle would have
promised you from the security of a good conscience. We are going to
spend a delightful hour, so _en avant, et vogue la galère_.’

“‘It was in vain that I protested against the deception which he had
played upon me. The hair-brained young scamp was too much excited
with wine and merriment to listen to reason, and I, myself, could
not long resist the influence of his piquant wit, his bon-mots, and
comical descriptions, and gave way, with all the good-will of youth and
light-heartedness, to the mirth of the moment. I really imagined that
he was taking me to some one of the delightful _petites maisons_, with
which the environs of Paris abounded at that time, and that we should
meet some of his joyous friends to spend the night, as it was evident
he had done the one preceding, in fun and frolic, with one or two of
the choice spirits with whom he associated. Meanwhile, the carriage
went on with increasing rapidity.

“‘Where does your friend reside?’ inquired I. D’Aiguillon put his
finger to his nose, winked and looked cunning, but said nothing. Ruel,
Nanterre, Bougival, all were passed, and still we paused not.

“‘We are evidently going to St. Germain,’ thought I. ‘Well, ’tis of no
consequence; the mischief is done, and nothing can save me now from
the minister’s wrath and my poor uncle’s displeasure.’ But no—I was
wrong. When we came to the bottom of the hill upon which is situated
St. Germain, the carriage turned suddenly off the road to the left,
and entered a fine avenue of chestnut trees, at the end of which I
could perceive a pair of lofty iron gates, and, just peering above the
trees, the numerous chimneys and shining slates, of what appeared, at
the distance, a tolerably-sized château. The adventure now assumed a
different aspect; and I began to fear that, so far from the joyous
party I had before anticipated, we were destined to swell the number
of _convives_ at the table of some rich old dowager _en retraite_, and
that the treacherous kidnapping of d’Aiguillon was but a wily invention
to diminish his own _ennui_ by making me share in it.

“‘But the reproaches which I addressed to d’Aiguillon were unheard by
him; for, having exhausted his stock of scandal, and being himself
exhausted by the sleepless night he had passed, he had quietly folded
his arms, and sunk back into a sound and heavy slumber; and, proceeding
at the same rapid pace with which we had set out, up the avenue within
the iron gates, we were soon before the _perron_. As the carriage
stopped, I rubbed my eyes, scarcely able to believe my senses. Was
I in a dream? Every object which presented itself to my astonished,
horror-stricken gaze seemed familiar to my memory. The marble steps—the
hedge of geraniums—the open vestibule with the porphyry columns—and now
the doubt becomes certainty! The footman who comes with such agility
down the steps to assist us in alighting from the carriage, wears the
livery of—I was in a perspiration from head to foot—of Madame Dubarri!
Yes—the detestable _plaisanterie_ of d’Aiguillon was now evident. He
had brought me to Luciennes, and we were standing, four years too
late, before the Pavillon. The trees had grown since I was there last,
therefore I had not at first recognised the place.

“‘I was now really perplexed and angry, and by a violent shake awoke
the Duke, who, torn thus rudely from his well-earned slumber, seemed
even more astonished than myself. The door was open, the steps let
down, and the gold-lace varlets waiting patiently our determination to
alight. The situation was most embarrassing; there was a great deal of
hurry and bustle in the interior of the Pavillon, a running to and fro
in the vestibule, and a great calling of “Clarisse” and “Marianne.”
It was evident that our arrival had been already perceived, and had
already caused a certain sensation. I was determined, however, not to
lend myself to the folly of my tipsy friend, and bade the coachman, in
a peremptory tone, to use no delay in turning his horses, and conveying
us back to Paris; although feeling myself compelled, from the courtesy
due to the fair sex, much against my inclination, to give some token of
my visit; I left my name, with inquiries after the health of Madame la
Comtesse, and regrets that business in Paris prevented my alighting to
pay her a visit in person. To this d’Aiguillon, who had been sleeping
off, in some degree, the fumes of the past night, offered no objection.
He had, no doubt, recovered his senses sufficiently to perceive that he
was not in a fit state, either _au moral_ or _au physique_, to appear
before the lady, and therefore, to my great delight, remained silent.
We had once more gained the great gate of the park, and were waiting
while the _concierge_ was opening to it to let us pass out, when we
were overtaken by one of the countess’s pages, who came running,
panting and breathless, to request, on the part of his mistress, as
a great favour, that we would return, as she would be quite unhappy
at the idea of losing my visit. Of course there was no possibility of
refusal, and we were forced to turn back, myself in no very pleasant
mood, as you may imagine, and even d’Aiguillon, whose impudence
equalled that of Don Juan himself, rather subdued as the moment of
trial drew nigh.

“‘We were ushered into a saloon on the ground-floor, looking into the
garden, where Madame Dubarri was waiting with evident impatience. I
was indeed quite overcome, almost to embarrassment, by the eagerness
of welcome with which she received me, and the evident delight with
which she accepted the introduction of my young friend. Poor Dubarri!
the days were gone when her _salons_ were crowded with the _élite_ of
the court, when her boudoir was the rendezvous of all that was elegant
and _distingué_ in the capital. The solitude in which she lived at the
Pavilion, for which she was so unfit, formed a strange contrast to the
crowded gallery at Versailles, where I had seen her last.

“‘No individual has ever been more calumniated than the poor, unhappy
Dubarri. In most of the histories of “My own Times,” the “Mémoires
pour Servir,” and the Souvenirs of M. This and Madame That, which have
been vomited from the press during the last fifty years, she has been
accused of every vice, of every crime that perverted human nature
is capable of committing. Nothing was ever more unjust than these
accusations. She had never forgotten, even amid all her grandeur,
her ancient calling, and always felt a weight of _ennui_, of which
she complained openly, with the greatest _naïveté_, at the pomp and
ceremony which surrounded her at Versailles; and, above all, at the
obsequious homage of which she was the object. She had succeeded
in debasing her royal lover to her own level; but she was without
ambition, and never sought to raise herself, or to use the influence
she had acquired over the mind of the king for wanton mischief or
malice. In the king’s cabinet, in his council-cabinet, or in the
_galerie des glaces_, when assisting the king in his reception of
foreign ambassadors, she was always the same “_Jeanne la Folle, de chez
la Mère Morry_.” She had remained in everything the very type of the
successful members of the unfortunate class from which she had been
taken. Violent and vindictive against those who offended her, her
wrath was speedily forgotten in the more powerful passion for amusement
and pleasure, which seemed, like a very demon, to have possession of
her soul. Night and day, from sunrise to sunset, was she ever ready for
a noisy game, or a brawling dance.

“‘I think it must have been her very indifference to the political
intrigues going on at court, which caused her to maintain her influence
so long. Louis Quinze was weary of the propriety of demeanour and
great talents of Madame de Pompadour, and was glad, for the sake of
variety, to _encanailler_ his royalty with the representation, such
as poor “Jeanne la Folle” could give to the life, of the habits and
manners of a class of persons of whose existence he ought scarcely to
have been aware. One great justice ought to be done to her memory—she
was no hypocrite. She never sought to play the fine lady, or to assume
the airs and state of the _noblesse_. On the contrary, her great
delight was in talking of the _happy_ days of her youth. I have heard
from those who were admitted to the private _réunions_ in the _petits
appartemens_ at Versailles, that no actress ever possessed greater
flexibility of histrionic power than Madame Dubarri. Her talent at
mimicry and caricature would have done honour to any stage, and it was
one of the king’s greatest enjoyments to listen to her description of
the scenes and circumstances with which she had been familiar, before
the happy chance which opened to her a life so different from that
to which she then aspired. It seems that her comic powers were so
great, that the satiated and _ennuyé_ old king was once known to take
a brilliant ring from his finger in the enthusiasm of the moment, and
place it on her own, and, forgetting the presence of the courtiers,
kiss her heartily on both cheeks, after one of these representations,
at the same time declaring that she had given him more pleasure than he
had ever received from the best actors of the Comédie Française.

“‘She alone furnished the amusement of the royal _petits soupers_ for
many years, and, while the people imagined that the king had retired
for a while from public affairs, for the benefit of his health, and to
recruit his strength, before entering on the great measures of reform
which he had so long proposed for the advantage of the nation, roars of
laughter and lewd songs were heard by the sentinel on duty at the gate
of Trianon, issuing from the royal retreat, and making him imagine
that he was pacing before one of the unholy dens which infest the
narrow streets of the Quartier de la Cité.

“‘Six years had elapsed since I had seen Madame Dubarri. I found her
but little altered in appearance, and much subdued in manner—she was
humbled to the very soul. It was evident that she was perishing with
_ennui_, not with regret for the splendour in which she had lived,
nor the power which she might have possessed, had she so willed, but
for the gay and gallant company she had enjoyed, the laughter, the
practical jokes, the _guerre pampan_—a game which she had introduced,
and which was still played at court, although she was no longer allowed
to be there to share in the mirth which it excited. Her lamentations
at her _délaissement_, as she called the comparative solitude in which
she lived, were at first most piteous; but, as of old, her griefs were
soon forgotten in the delight of the moment, and she soon gave way,
with all the frankness and _bonhomie_ of her character, to the unwonted
delight imparted by the visit of two persons who could give her news of
the court, and of what was said and what was done among those whom, so
short a time before, she had ruled as queen, but whom she could not now
either bribe or flatter into the slightest demonstration of courtesy.

“‘You are, no doubt, curious to hear an opinion of Madame Dubarri’s
beauty from the lips of one who has seen her both in the days of her
prosperity and after her downfall. She was a person of small, almost
diminutive stature, extremely frail and delicate in feature, which
saved her from being vulgar; but, even from the first, she always wore
that peculiarly _fané_ look, which she owed to a youth of dissipation,
a maturity of unbounded indulgence. At the period of my visit, she was
about six-and-thirty years of age, but, from her childlike form and
delicacy of countenance, appeared much younger, and her _gambades_,
and unrestrained gestures of supreme delight, on having, as she said,
_quelqu’un à qui parler_, did not seem displaced. Although alone, and
evidently not in expectation of visitors, her toilet was brilliant and
_recherché_, the result of the necessity of killing time. The portrait,
which is popular from the engraving, in which she is represented
sipping coffee, is the best resemblance of her which has ever been
attempted, and the likeness was most striking on this day, from her
being attired in the same style as that represented in the picture.
I could see that d’Aiguillon was charmed, and in spite of the clouds
through which his reason had to make its way, he behaved in a discreet
and gentlemanlike manner.

“‘It really was a curious day, that 16th of August, 1780—begun in the
drawing-room of the Archbishop of Rheims, listening on bended knee to
the exhortations of the good and pious prelate, and finished in the
boudoir of “Jeanne la Folle!” It might be taken as the very type of the
chaos which, from one end to the other of the social system, existed
at the period. I was impatient to return to Paris, and did not wish to
prolong my visit, but the poor comtesse sued so earnestly for another
and another _petit quart d’heure_, that I had not the heart to hurry
away. She showed us, with great complacency, all through the grounds
belonging to the Pavillon, which were really beautiful, particularly
the _jets-d’eau_ and the artificial fountains which decorated the
gardens; and there was something particularly touching in the tone in
which she spoke of the kindness of poor “France” (the name by which
she still designated the late king), who had caused the water-works
of Marly to be brought down to the Pavillon, in order to give her
a pleasant surprise on her birthday. Their removal must have cost
several millions of the public money, but what was that compared to the
pleasure of winning a smile of delight from “Jeanne la Folle!”

“‘On returning to the Pavillon, we found a splendid collation spread
in the saloon. Here was the ’vantage ground of the Comtesse Dubarri;
no one could better do the honours of a well-served table. In vain we
excused ourselves upon the plea of our _negligé_ toilet. She would take
no refusal, saying, with a sigh, “I excuse you with all my heart; and
fear not, we are sure to be alone; there is no danger of intrusion from
visitors.”

“‘It was impossible to resist the melancholy tone in which she uttered
the words; and, moreover, d’Aiguillon was not proof against the
assurance which she gave him that she would make him judge of the Tokay
which King Casimir sent as a present to Louis XIV. So we yielded to the
gentle violence of the comtesse, and consented to remain. We were both
well rewarded for the good deed, each of us in the way most agreeable
to himself—d’Aiguillon with plenteous libations of the most exquisite
wine, and myself with stories and adventures of the court of Louis
Quinze, which to me served as most precious _renseignemens_, and gave
me the clue to much that has taken place in France since that time.

“‘As for Madame Dubarri herself, she soon turned from her lamentations
concerning the behaviour of the young court towards her, to give
herself up to all the merriment of the hour, and was soon excited by
the good fellowship of d’Aiguillon, whose “discretion” had worn off
with the first few glasses, and who had retrograded into the same state
of hilarity as when he met me in the morning. I could not quote now one
half of the _bon mots_, the puns, the _quolibets_, uttered during the
course of that repast. It was a complete souvenir of the _régence_, and
I could well understand that the influence which Madame Dubarri had
possessed over the mind of the king had owed its origin to the nature
of the _joyeux propos_ with which her conversation teemed, and which
to Louis Quinze must have worn the mask of originality, as it was not
probable that he could ever have heard the like before. I know not
what hour of the night it could have been when we rose from table, of
course much too late to think of returning home.

“‘We adjourned to the boudoir of the comtesse—a delicious retreat which
poor “France” had taken a pleasure in adorning with his own hands—and
here the gaiety of the pair became even more uproarious. Madame Dubarri
told us much of her past life, never sparing details which would have
excited astonishment, even had she told them of another, but which,
related of herself, became unaccountable. She showed us, among other
curiosities which the boudoir contained, a little volume, richly bound
in white silk, and which consisted of the manuscript journal of the
king, during an absence of a few days that he was once compelled to
make at Versailles, while she remained at Fontainebleau. By one of
those curious chances, which I believe happen to all who _observe_, my
eye fell upon a passage which immediately set at rest, in my mind, the
long discussions and disputes which had been excited concerning the
dismissal of M. de Choiseul from the ministry. It ran thus, and forget
not, that it was in the handwriting of the king himself.

“‘_Friday, 10th._—Sent off the courier with the morning billet to
you, _ma chère_, then arose. Looked from the window to see if the
weather would be fine for the hunt. Saw on the wall of the _Cours des
Veneurs_, an impertinent allusion to somebody, chalked in letters large
enough for me to read even at that distance. One of the _valets de
meute_ must have been the perpetrator. Left my chamber in great anger.
Found M. de Choiseul waiting in my study. Showed him the writing, took
occasion to say (as much for himself, as in reference to the offence
of which I complained) all the good I know (and it is not a little)
of somebody. Wishing to anticipate all the malicious thoughts which I
feared my unrestrained praise of somebody might give rise to in his
mind, said, in conclusion, “After all, the worst that can be said is,
that I succeeded Saint Foix in her affections.” “Exactly so, sire,”
muttered Choiseul, “just as your majesty succeeded to King Pharomond,
as sovereign of this country.” I did not choose to speak further on
this subject, so changed the conversation. Choiseul likes an innocent
_plaisanterie_, but there is no harm in Choiseul.”

“‘Upon what a slight thread will sometimes hang the destinies of men
and of nations! Is it not evident that this “innocent _plaisanterie_,”
as it was called by the good-natured but obtuse Louis Quinze, was of
the kind most likely to inflame the hasty, choleric temper of Jeanne
la Folle? In my own mind, I feel perfectly convinced that it was
this ill-timed joke of the minister which caused his disgrace, as
I find upon reference to dates, that it was upon the king’s return
to Fontainebleau that the famous scenes of the oranges, “Saute
Choiseul—Saute Praslin,” was enacted, and both Choiseul and Praslin
were disgraced. It was evident that the page had been often read, for
it was worn, and the writing in some places dimmed, as if with tears.
Perhaps it was this circumstance which had caused the book to open
just at this very passage, and rendered me the involuntary sharer in a
secret which is not generally known even to this day.

“‘After we had sufficiently examined all the curiosities and expensive
baubles with which the boudoir was decorated, Madame Dubarri, whose
dread of seeing us depart seemed to increase as the hours flew by, then
insisted on displaying the jewels which “_ce cher France_” had given
her on various occasions. It was, indeed, a splendid sight; but, when
I complimented her upon the possession of the finest rubies I had
ever beheld, she shook her head mournfully, and said with a sigh, that
she would give them all for a few days participation in the rejoicings
which were going on _there_ (she pointed to Versailles), not as she
once had been, planner and promoter, but even as mere spectator. I
asked why she did not seek forgetfulness in change of scene; why she
did not travel. No, she could not tear herself away from the spot where
she had reigned so long; she still had hope that the young queen would
consent to receive her at court; she scarcely seemed to care upon what
footing she was admitted, so long as she were allowed to join in the
gaieties and festivities which were going on, almost beneath her very
eye, and from which she felt it such a misfortune to be thus excluded.

“‘Her emotion was but momentary, however; for with the tears which the
memory of the change in her situation had called up still in her eyes,
she turned to my companion, and defied him to a game at _bilboquet_,
declaring that she had, in former times, passed whole hours at this
play with the king, who was passionately fond of it, but could never
win when she was his adversary. D’Aiguillon readily consented, the
_bilboquets_ were brought, and more wine was served. In spite of the
noisy rattle of the balls, and the noisier laughter and loud disputing
of the players, I fell asleep, nor did I awake until daylight. To my
astonishment, I found the comtesse and her host as eager and busy in
the childish game as when they first began—not a whit fatigued, and
seemingly disposed to continue for some hours longer. D’Aiguillon was
by this time totally incapable of understanding my meaning when I
warned him that it was time to go; and I withdrew unobserved, resolving
to return alone to Paris, leaving him to finish the adventure as best
he could.

“‘Just as I reached the gate, I perceived the royal hunt dashing down
the side of the hill, and was glad to conceal myself behind the wall
until the _cortège_ had passed by, ashamed of being seen issuing from
the dwelling of Madame Dubarri, although well aware that there was not
one of those dainty courtiers, who now passed by with head averted
and with eyes cast down, who had not thought it the greatest honour,
but a short time before, to be admitted within the walls of that
self-same Pavillon, which they seemed now to shun with such disdain.
This circumstance would be too trifling to mention, were it not for
the _moral_ it contains; finer, because _true_, than all those which
flourish just above the vignette at the close of the “_Contes Moraux_”
of Marmontel, or those “_dédiés à la Jeunesse_” by Madame de Genlis.’

“M. de Talleyrand paused, with that peculiar smile on his countenance
which those who live in his intimacy, know so well, as being meant to
fill the place of some satirical trait which he does not choose to
utter at the time, but which is not wholly lost notwithstanding.

“‘Yes, this was the last time I ever beheld the Comtesse Dubarri,
_ex-maîtresse en titre_. As for d’Aiguillon, so enchanted did he seem
with his new acquaintance, that, from that day forward, he spent a
great portion of his time at the Pavillon; and, when I rallied him
upon the attraction which seemed so irresistible, and reminded him of
Ninon de L’Enclos and Diane de Poitiers, he shrugged his shoulders,
and answered me with the greatest coolness—“_Que voulez-vous, mon
cher?_ where on earth could I go to get such exquisite Tokay as that
which the old fool, King Casimir, sent as a present to Louis XIV.?” By
this I judged, when his absences became less frequent, that the Tokay
was drawing to a close, and when they ceased altogether, that it had
totally disappeared. _Autre moralité!_ as dear old Perrault has it at
the end of his fairy tales.’

“The prince paused again more thoughtfully, and added, ‘Alas! it makes
one’s heart ache to remember the sad fate which befel both of those
gay, light-hearted individuals. The one died upon the scaffold for
having sold her jewels (the jewels she had shewn me with such pride
as the gifts of poor dear “France”) to send the money which the sale
produced to the _émigré noblesse_—that _noblesse_ who had treated
her with such scorn—with such contempt! The other met a death more
frightful still—the gay, the witty, the high-born d’Aiguillon fled to
Holland, and perished there, they say, of misery and _starvation_!’

“This souvenir of Madame Dubarri,” said C., “forms one of the prince’s
favourite _nouvelles de boudoir_, as he gracefully calls these fugitive
anecdotes with which his memory is stored. I have observed that,
from his youth upwards, his heart has ever softened towards the fair
sex. I never heard him speak disparagingly of any woman, not even of
those who, he is aware, have done him ill offices; while he is ever
ready to allow that he owed much of his success in early life to the
kindness and protection of his female friends. They alone had tact and
penetration enough to discover the future influence of the Abbé de
Perigord; while their ‘lords and masters’ beheld in him nothing more
than the blind tool of an insane and furious party. Madame de Staël,
who was his first conspicuous protectress, inspired, notwithstanding
this, far less gratitude in the mind of her _protegé_ than the humble
confederate with whom she leagued to obtain his pardon and recall,
Madame de la Bouchardie. You will smile when I tell you, that even to
this hour he cannot speak of this charming woman without emotion. I
myself have heard his voice falter when he has mentioned her name. He
loves to talk of her with those who still remember the matchless graces
of her person, the exquisite sensibility and goodness of her heart.

“I shall never forget the reply he made one day to my foolish _banal_
question of ‘What kind of person was she?’

“‘You could no more understand what _kind_ of person she was,’ he
replied, with a contemptuous smile, ‘than _I_ can comprehend the
admiration you bestow upon the poor, vapid puppets with which your
modern drawing-rooms are filled, or the influence you allow to the
female _bourgeoise_, the wives and daughters of your bankers, and
your _agents de change_, who, if admitted at all to the _salons_ of
the aristocracy of my day, would not occupy, as they now do, the high
places, but those afar off, nearest the door. Any endeavour to make
you understand the peculiar fascination of Madame de la Bouchardie
would be useless; for you, in your generation, cannot have seen the
like. She belonged to that class of women that followed the downfall of
the monarchy, whose manners and habits were far different from those
of the charming marquises of the _ancien régime_, and were, perhaps,
even more charming still. Born amid strife and contention, daughters
of the revolution, their part was to calm excitement, to soothe the
angry passions which had been aroused, and well did they fulfil their
gentle destiny. History will preserve the names of Madame Beauharnais,
of Madame Tallien, of Madame Hamelin, not so much for their talents and
courage as for their gentleness and influence in turning aside wrath,
and saving the weak from the fury of the strong.’

“It is pleasant to listen to the praises of this fair and gentle
creature from the lips of M. de Talleyrand, mingled as they are with
the expression of the gratitude which time has not yet diminished
towards her. The only _romantic_ incident in the whole life of the
prince is connected with Madame de la Bouchardie, and there lies,
perhaps, the secret of the tenderness with which he remembers her;
while the gratitude which he is _compelled_ to feel towards her
proud rival, Madame de Staël, has left him cold and unimpassioned.
The latter, who, by her own confession, envied the grace she could
not imitate, was bound by the ties of friendship to Madame de la
Bouchardie, and disdained not to make use of her influence when
occasion required; and often was her _amour propre_ severely wounded
to find that those in power, who had been proof against her own
blandishments, yielded at once, with scarcely an effort at resistance,
to the wondrous fascination of Madame de la Bouchardie. The comtesse
occupied at that time a small hotel, not far from the site of the
Bastille, and here she sought to live in retirement; but this was soon
discovered to be no easy matter for one whose name had already been
immortalized in some of the most glowing verses in the language, and
her _salon_ soon became the rendezvous of all the wit and talent of the
capital.

“The young General Buonaparte was one of her most ardent admirers;
’tis even said that she had precedence of Josephine Beauharnais in his
affections. Her answer to his proposal of marriage is well known, and
proves that she already felt a presentiment of his future greatness.
‘No, general, you will advance too far for one like myself, who loves
to remain stationary.’

“Joseph Chénier, the poet, the dramatist, the ardent republican, had
also laid his talents and his triumphs at her feet, and it was upon
his influence that Madame de Staël had reckoned to obtain the recall
from exile of M. de Talleyrand. It was a work of time and patience, and
required all the power of the one, all the more powerful weakness of
the other, to obtain even so much as a hearing for their bold demand.
At length, the fair Eugénie had recourse to a graceful expedient, which
had more effect than all the philosophical reasonings of her learned
friend. It was the custom of Chénier to spend his evenings at the
little Hôtel d’Esparda, and there, in the society of the comtesse and
Corinne, after a day spent in toil and strife, amid the loud uproar of
the tribune, or the furious declamation of the club, would he love to
_retremper son âme_ and imbibe fresh inspiration for the composition
of those splendid odes with which he has enriched our language. He was
accompanied in these visits by his little dog, Stella, which had been
a present from the comtesse, and knew her well. The little animal was
in the habit of running on before her master to the hotel, where she
would bark and scratch for the porter to open the gate, so that her
master might not be kept waiting. Madame de la Bouchardie was aware of
this, and, every evening, at the well-known signal which announced the
approach of Chénier, she would seat herself at the harp and begin to
sing the beautiful touching ballad of _Le Proscrit_. Her voice was most
splendid, and she possessed great talent as a composer, having herself
set to music many of those exquisite ballads written by Chénier’s
brother, André.

“This was the sure way to reach the poet’s soul. She well knew that
he stood without and listened to the end, not daring to enter while
the fascination lasted. When at length the ballad was concluded,
and Madame de la Bouchardie had risen from the instrument, she was
sure to behold Chénier standing on the threshold, leaning against the
doorway, with saddened countenance, and tears glistening in his eyes.
It was then, while still beneath the spell of that heavenly strain,
that he was greeted with the words, which must at such a moment have
sunk deep into his heart: ‘Dear Joseph, what has been done to-day
for M. de Talleyrand?’ For some time the devoted friends had to
sustain discouraging refusals or embarrassed excuses on the part of
Chénier, but the stern principles of the republican yielded at last
to the generous perseverance of the comtesse, and one evening he was
enabled to answer the accustomed question by the information that the
Convention had consented to listen to the justification of citizen
Maurice, and that he himself was appointed to plead the cause of the
exile on the morrow. The whole evening was spent by the three friends
in fixing what should be said, what arguments used, to move the pity of
his listeners, most of whom were disposed against the measure which he
was about to propose. The night passed away in the amicable discussion;
so anxious were the trio not to lose a single advantage of argument
which could be given in Chénier’s speech.

“The keen wit of Madame de Staël and the fiery energy of Chénier were
for ever coming in contact, and causing the whole fabric of the poet’s
intended _plaidoyer_ to fall to the ground, after it had been raised
with so much care and pains. Sometimes the gentle spirit of Eugénie
would suggest some conciliatory word which would flatter the irritable
self-love of both her friends and soothe their wounded vanity, and
again they would go on smoothly with their task until fresh cause of
difference arose, and Eugénie was again appealed to. It was thus that,
with these petty causes of delay, morning had arrived and no speech
was prepared, and Chénier went forth to the tribune disheartened and
discouraged at the unwonted sterility of his imagination, dreading,
after all, that his own want of eloquence might cause the appeal in
favour of M. de Talleyrand to be rejected by the assembly. He found the
indefatigable friends already arrived, and waiting in the ante-room.
Madame de Staël submitted to his judgment several new reasonings which
had entered her mind since he had left her, but they found poor Chénier
still cold and uninspired; and, as he turned to enter the _salle_
where the members of the Convention were fast assembling, he said,
in despair, ‘Pray for me, for I need it; I fear that I shall have no
success in this cause, though you have made it yours.’

“Madame de la Bouchardie approached and laid her hand upon his arm.
She looked up into the face of the poet with a countenance bathed in
tears. Chénier tried to tear himself away, but she still detained him,
and, in a low, tremulous voice, fearful of being overheard by those
beyond the door, she sang the opening couplet of the ballad which had
first roused him to exertion for the sake of the exile. She saw by
his heightened colour and his quivering lip that he was moved, and,
as she proceeded with the song, her own emotion became more painful
still. Just as she concluded, the bell, which summoned the assembly
to silence and attention, was heard, and Chénier rushed into the hall
with that powerful emotion still upon his soul. Before the last strain
uttered by those sweet tones had died upon his ear, he had mounted the
tribune, and without forethought, without preparation, gave utterance,
in impassioned language, to one of the most brilliant appeals which had
ever been pronounced before that stern, unpitying senate. Enthusiasm
was roused; the motion, supported by Legendre and Boissy, was carried
without a murmur, and citizen Maurice was declared free to return to
France whenever it might suit his own pleasure. Madame de Staël, by
her interest with Barras, certainly forwarded the measure, and she has
reaped the fame, while Madame de la Bouchardie has gathered all the
gratitude.

“The first visit of M. de Talleyrand on his arrival in Paris, was, of
course, to Chénier, and it was agreed between them that they would
proceed together that same evening to the little Hôtel d’Esparda,
which no longer echoed with the prayers and lamentations of the two
fair _solliciteuses_, but had once more resumed its tone of gaiety and
_insouciance_ ever since the successful termination of their efforts in
favour of their absent friend. Chénier entered the drawing-room alone,
requesting M. de Talleyrand to remain for a moment in the shadow of the
doorway. By a little artifice he led the conversation to the subject of
the exile, and both Madame de Staël and her friend expressed anxiety
and surprise that he had not yet arrived from Berlin. They complained
of this delay, reproaching him with coldness and ingratitude in thus
remaining so long in voluntary banishment.

“‘Were he to hear your ballad of the “Proscrit,” it would hurry his
return,’ said Chénier to Madame de la Bouchardie, at the same time
taking her by the hand, and leading her to the harp, and Eugénie,
although declaring that the song was a _pièce de circonstance_ and
out of date, yielded to his entreaty that she would sing it; and,
finding inspiration in the remembrances which the music called up,
she gave it with all the impassioned energy which had before roused
the soul of her lover to pursue with such unwearied perseverance the
cause he had himself at first condemned. While she was singing, M.
de Talleyrand had drawn near unperceived, and when her hand fell to
her side at the conclusion of the _ritournelle_, he seized it in a
transport of delight, and imprinted on those fairy fingers a fervent
kiss of gratitude. The loud shriek of surprise uttered by Madame de
la Bouchardie roused Madame de Staël from the reverie into which the
melody of the voice of her friend never failed to plunge her. In an
instant, the arms of both ladies, with the true republican _sans gêne_
of the day, were around the neck of the happy ‘Proscrit,’ and while
Madame de Staël expressed with fluency all the joy she felt at again
beholding him, the Comtesse de la Bouchardie shed tears of happiness,
more eloquent in their silence than all the florid declamations of her
friend. It would enchant you to hear the prince describe that scene,
the mixture of the burlesque and the pathetic which he can paint so
well.”

“What became of Madame de la Bouchardie?” said I. “Her name is never
mentioned in the annals of that time, and yet it seems difficult to
suppose that she could have sunk so completely into obscurity as to
have left no trace. The friend of Buonaparte and Talleyrand, the
mistress of Chénier, the companion of Corinne, must of necessity have
been a personage of note, not a mere _comparse_ to occupy the back of
the stage.”

“Alas! you should not have asked me this,” said C., mournfully. “It
seems as if a curse hung over all that was fair and virtuous at that
stormy time. There is a tale connected with Madame de la Bouchardie,
of such frightful injustice, of such base ingratitude, that it would
harrow up your soul were I to tell it. At Chénier’s death, she went
to live on her estate, but was brought back to Paris, some few years
ago, a confirmed, incurable lunatic. When the prince seems overcome
by sadness, and calls for his carriage before the hour at which he is
accustomed to take his daily drive, I know almost by instinct that Dr.
E. has been closeted with him for some time—and I can easily guess who
has formed the melancholy subject of their conference.”



CHAPTER II.

THE ABBÉ CERUTTI.


“The sudden change from the frivolous _papillotage_ of the _ancien
régime_ to the sombre enthusiasm which broke out at the epoch of the
American war, made but little impression on M. de Talleyrand. He was
evidently prepared, and at once declared his opinion, not by pamphlets
or inflammatory speeches, but by an argument far more forcible than
either. Conjointly with his friend, the Count Choiseul Gouffier, he
equipped a privateer, which he called the ‘Holy Cause,’ and which left
the harbour of Brest in the month of May, 1779. The Duc de Castries,
then minister of marine, furnished the guns. This single fact would
almost serve to paint the time. A vessel of war armed and equipped by
the _agent-général du clergé de France_, aided by a _savant_ of the
_haute noblesse_, and countenanced by one of the ministers, exhibits at
once the utter confusion of ideas which must have existed just then.

“I have heard that the privateer, which, placed under command of a
runaway scion of nobility, was to have carried death and destruction
among the English merchant ships trading from the West Indies, never
more made its appearance on the French coast. Be this as it may, I
know that the prince does not like to talk of this little episode
in his life, and the other day, when questioned rather closely upon
the subject, he answered, ‘_Laissons cela, c’est un de mes péchés de
jeunesse_.’

“One of the most curious documents in the world, and which I hope
will be preserved in the prince’s memoirs, must be his answer to the
letter of Pope Benedict XIV. His holiness had thought fit to pass
censure upon the warlike demonstration of the Abbé de Perigord, and
the Abbé de Perigord had excused himself in a reply so full of wit
and eloquence, so full of instances taken from the history of every
country, that the good-natured prelate fairly owned himself vanquished,
and withdrew, with much grace and frankness, from the contest. This
I think is the first action by which the Abbé de Perigord publicly
displayed his adherence to the new principles, and separated himself
in opinion from the _haute clergé_ and the _haute noblesse_, who all,
with scarcely an exception, were loud in their disapprobation of the
unjust and unjustifiable interference of France in the quarrel between
Great Britain and her rebellious colony. The step was considered in the
light of a secession from the society of which he was a member, both
by his lofty birth and holy profession; and many and many a prognostic
was now beginning to be drawn of his future eminence or his approaching
degradation, according to the mind which judged him.

“It was during the few years which elapsed between this period, and the
events of 1789, that M. de Talleyrand first became acquainted with the
Abbé Cerutti, the friend and colleague of Mirabeau, and that, together
with them, he laid the foundation of the very first popular journal
ever published in France. The design was spirited and bold; it was
addressed to the inhabitants of the distant provinces of the kingdom;
and, immediately on its appearance, obtained a success hitherto
unrivalled in this species of literature.

“It has been falsely accused of having excited many of the atrocities
of the Revolution. It did not appear until the flames had spread, and
could no longer be repressed, and he who now turns to the _Feuille
Villageoise_, will recognise at once, amid the burning columns from
the pen of Mirabeau, and the cold, bitter irony of Cerutti, the calm
reflective genius of Talleyrand, in those articles on the Division of
Church Property—on the Improvements in National Education—on the Abuse
of Power—on the Unity of Weights and Measures—which served to act as
soothing balsam to the irritation produced by the fiery appeals of his
more impassioned colleagues.

“He puts forth, in these addresses to the people, the promulgation
of which has been deemed so criminal, nothing which he had not said
before—not a single word of which he does not retain the most powerful
conviction, ay, even to this very hour. Some of them might be quoted as
models of reasoning and eloquence, although failing in the refinement
of style and diction, which can only be acquired by that early
familiarity with the classics, the want of which he has lamented all
his life.

“Cerutti was a man gifted with the most splendid talents. His peculiar
position claimed, perhaps, undue attention, from the very moment when
he first appeared upon the revolutionary horizon. The reception of
this champion of the people was most enthusiastic. Wherever he went,
he was followed by an admiring crowd—every public meeting resounded
with his praise—streets were called after his name; in short, he tasted
every gratification of _amour propre_ arising from popularity. But
Cerutti was a misanthrope, and, far from seeking distinction, he shrank
with disgust from publicity. The canker-worm was at his heart, and I
have heard M. de Talleyrand declare that, during the whole time their
intimacy lasted, he never once beheld him smile. His was another of
those anomalous existences created by the revolution. A gentleman, bred
in indolence, yet adopting the obligations and active vigilance of a
Jesuit; then becoming even a priest, the better to defend the cause
of his beloved order; chosen as the private counsellor and friend of
the dauphin (father of Louis Seize), and then suddenly—without pause,
without gradation,—plunging headlong into the delirium of democracy.

“It is singular that the cause of this unnatural course of events
should never have been thoroughly investigated by any of the historians
of the time, who all seem to agree in passing over without comment
the motives which actuated Cerutti, or else in declaring them either
altogether inscrutable or the instigations of insanity. The close
observer of the human heart can, however, at once discern the existence
of some secret spring of action, some powerful incentive to this
inconsistency, and will not remain satisfied with the abuse heaped
upon poor Cerutti by the Abbé Georgel, the wordy historian of the
diamond necklace, defender, _coûte que coûte_, of Louis de Rohan; nor
yet with the light indifference with which he is mentioned by another
author, who describes him in these words—‘A man of some capacity both
as an orator and writer, but whose career was too short to allow him
to display that ability in government which he seemed confident of
possessing. He was of a sombre and taciturn character, which, combined
with his almost total deafness, rendered him of difficult access. ’Tis
said that the hopeless passion he had conceived for one of the ladies
of the court brought on paralysis, which occasioned his infirmity, and
ultimately ended in his death.’

“I have heard the history of Cerutti from M. de Talleyrand himself, and
it forms one of the most extraordinary episodes of this extraordinary
time. The prince related to me that, one evening after their work was
over, the three _collaborateurs_ of the _Feuille Villageoise_, led on
by the very nature of the composition upon which they had been engaged,
began to talk of the events of their past lives, and of the various
causes which had led to the desertion of caste, of which all three had
been guilty. What a glorious study would it have been for the moralist,
to have listened to those dark histories, as told by those three fiery
spirits, each the hero of his own bitter tale. One can imagine all the
hatred and the scorn of Mirabeau, as he related the circumstances of
his youth of strife and misery; of his manhood, crushed and blighted
by his father’s unjust tyranny; his burning satire and his bitter
scoffing must have been terrific. Then came the calm, deep mockery of
Talleyrand; _his_ history of neglect and injustice must have been more
frightful still. Three mighty souls were they, rising in condemnation
of the country and the times in which they had thus been spurned and
persecuted.

“Every one knows the history of Mirabeau’s long imprisonment and harsh
treatment, and I have already told you the events which marked the
youth of Talleyrand; but the story of Cerutti is known only to the few
with whom he was most intimate, and is, perhaps, more illustrative
of the spirit of the times than that of either of his friends. The
man’s career was short, and very like the flash which precedes the
tempest—everything, while he was on the stage moving before the public
eye—nothing, so soon as his part was over and the curtain dropped. He
died and left nought behind to save him from oblivion—not even the
memory of the manner in which he had performed his character, and in
which he had been so much applauded.

“His father was a wealthy silk-grower in the environs of Turin, and
his childhood was passed amid the shady groves, which stretched for
miles around the château where his family resided. His younger brother
had taken to books and learning, and had been appointed to accompany
the young Count Hercules V—— on his travels; while Joseph Cerutti, the
eldest of the family, remained at home to assist his father in the
direction of his fortune and the improvement of the estate. His life
was that of an Italian gentleman of the middle class at the time—that
is to say, his studies were neither very deep nor his occupations
very grave, and his days passed pleasantly enough in the exercise
of small practices of piety, the cultivation of small adventures of
gallantry, very little reading, and great indulgence in the _dolce far
niente_; added to which, he was compelled to superintend the progress
of the silkworms, which formed the whole wealth of the father and
the patrimony of his sons. But this occupation was far from being
sufficiently interesting to rouse him from the dream in which he lived,
and in which his days might all have passed, had it not been for the
one event which, sooner or later, will turn the tide of all men’s
lives, making the hitherto troubled sea of existence at once calm and
placid, or changing its smooth surface into a raging hell.

“Count Hercules V—— returned from Rome, whither he had been journeying
with young Cesario Cerutti, the brother of our hero. The estate of the
noble family of V—— joined that of the Cerutti, and from the friendship
which existed between the young nobleman and the companion of his
studies, sprung an intimacy between the two families, which was at
variance with the Italian habits of the period, wherein distinctions
and caste were more respected than in any other country in Europe.

“‘I was struck,’ said the Abbé Cerutti, as he told the story to his
fellow-labourers, ‘with the change which a few months had made in the
habits and temper of my brother Cesario. He had left us full of the
enthusiasm and spirit natural to his age; he had returned taciturn
and reserved in speech, gloomy and abstracted in manner. He seemed
to have a weight of care and misery upon his mind, which neither
the affectionate attentions of his family nor the fondness of his
mother, to whom he was devotedly attached, could succeed in shaking
off. I observed that he was for ever seeking me, and requesting me to
converse in private with him, as though he had something of moment to
communicate; and then he would suddenly check himself, and talk of
light matters, so much in contrast with the mournful tone of his voice
and the gloom upon his brow, that the contemplation was most painful.
But I dared not question him concerning the cause of this change in
his disposition, fearing to exasperate him, in the irritable mood in
which he was. One day, when he seemed more communicative than usual, I
sought to enliven our conversation by endeavouring to extort from him
some little narrative of his journey to Rome, concerning which he had
hitherto observed an unnatural silence.

“‘He said he had been happy, very happy with Count Hercules (and yet
he shuddered as he spoke the words,) and the kindness of the good
Abbé Giordoni, the young Count’s preceptor, had so mingled pleasure
with study, that the time had passed away swiftly and pleasantly as
in a charmed dream. Why then did he gaze upon me with that strange
expression in his eye? I could not resist the impulse which prompted
me to seize the opportunity of seeking to discover the cause of his
melancholy, and said, as I pressed his hand with affection, “Dearest
Cesario, do not suffer the secret which hangs so heavy on your soul to
crush you thus beneath its ponderous weight. Confide in me, my brother.
What is it has disturbed your happiness, and thus changed your very
nature?”

“‘You are deceived,’ replied Cesario, hastily, and with a kind of
convulsive laugh; ‘I never was more happy or in better spirits than at
this moment. Come with me this evening to the Villa V——, and see if it
be not as I tell you. By-the-bye, I had forgotten to mention, that the
whole family at the villa are anxious to welcome you, the old count and
his son, and the abbé, and—and—(he hesitated)—in short, the whole of
them will be glad to see you. So come to-night—yes, to-night—’tis time!’

“‘His head sank upon his bosom as he concluded, and he once more
relapsed into his abstracted musing. I made no observation regarding
the singular forgetfulness of which he had been guilty, nor of the
want of attention on the part of the V—— family, in not inviting me
themselves to the villa, but seized with avidity upon the opportunity
thus afforded of penetrating the secret of my brother’s altered
demeanour. I already knew Count Hercules, a studious and pious youth,
who was considered a pattern for the whole country. I had also
frequently seen the Abbé Giordoni, the preceptor, towards whom I felt
an instinctive aversion, although railed at by my friends for my too
great facility, in “taking dislikes;” but there yet remained one member
of the V—— family whom I had not yet beheld, and a sudden conviction
seized my mind, that she was the cause of my brother’s misery, and
that it was her name at which he had hesitated in his speech to me. I
was therefore determined to watch every look, to listen to every word,
which should pass between the pair, and to base my counsels to my
brother upon what I should observe.

“‘At the hour appointed, we set forth to pay our evening visit at the
villa. The gloom and pre-occupation of my brother increased as we drew
near to our destination, and I began to doubt if such would have been
the bearing of an impassioned expectant lover.

“‘We entered the great saloon unannounced. Cesario was free and
intimate as a _fils de la maison_. The room was large, and dimly
lighted by the shaded lamp upon the mantelpiece. The old count was
buried in a slumber in his large arm-chair, and his grey head stood
out from the fauteuil, calm and peaceful, the very emblem of contented
and respectable old age. Not so was the expression of the individual
who was seated near, and upon whom the light of the lamp fell, as if
on purpose to light up the shadow which was passing at the very moment
over his countenance—a very gleam of hell! It was the Abbé Giordoni,
who was seated at the small table, ostensibly playing chess with
the young Count Hercules—that is to say, the chess-board was placed
between them, and the chess-men stood upright upon the board; but I
instantly perceived that not one single piece had been disturbed from
its primitive position, and it was evident that their occupation was of
far more import, for the young man sat pale and trembling before the
abbé, whose infuriated countenance and vehement gesture plainly bespoke
the violence of the discussion in which he had been engaged, although I
could not judge of its nature, from the low tone in which it had been
carried on, doubtless through fear of disturbing the poor old count,
who slumbered on, little dreaming of the storm of hate and passion
which had been conjured up close at his very ear.

“‘Our entrance disturbed the conversation, and I was painfully struck
with the eagerness of welcome with which Count Hercules rushed forward
to greet my brother; and which, considering that he had already seen
him in the morning, and that almost every day since his return had been
spent in his company, seemed forced and unnatural. He started from
his chair, upsetting the table and the chess-board in his haste, and
throwing his arms around my brother’s neck, he exclaimed, faintly,
“God be praised, you are come at last, Cesario!”

“‘The abbé, meanwhile, advanced towards me with ecclesiastical grace
and dignity. I ought at once to have suspected the man who could so
easily replace the expression of rage which his features wore when I
entered, by the smile of intense delight with which he held forth his
hand to me, uttering, by a singular coincidence, almost the very words
which Count Hercules had whispered to my brother, “_Eccolo alfin—questo
caro amico_.”

“‘I ought to have suspected such heartiness of welcome from one who
had displayed hitherto no stronger feeling towards me than that of
common courtesy, whenever by chance we had met, which was but seldom,
in our walks and drives around the neighbourhood. I could understand
such warmth of greeting between the two young friends, but was sorely
puzzled to discover by what right and title _I_ was admitted to share
in such strong demonstrations of friendship. However, any feeling of
astonishment which I might have experienced was soon forgotten in
the courteous reception which I met with from the old count, who,
thus rudely roused from slumber, by the falling of the table and
the upsetting of the chess-men, rose to meet us with all the frank
politeness which has ever distinguished the Piedmontese gentlemen
of the old school, and completely put me at my ease, by immediately
entering upon the subject which he knew would be most interesting
to me, the improvement of my father’s land, and the culture of our
mulberry-grounds. The two young men were soon engaged in deep and
earnest conversation together, and the Abbé Giordoni shaded his eyes
with his hand and attentively watched them both.

“‘The evening passed pleasantly enough, but I thought of little beside
the young countess, whom I had not yet seen, and, when the door
opened slowly and she was announced, my heart beat so violently, for
my brother’s sake, that any one who had witnessed my emotion, would
have imagined that I was already deeply in love with her myself. She
entered without embarrassment, notwithstanding the presence of the
strangers whom she found assembled in the saloon, and whom she had not
expected to meet there, went up to her father, and kissed him on the
forehead, and then turning to us, saluted us gracefully. I was struck
with her extreme beauty, and at the first glance felt sure that my
suspicions were right, and that Cesario was enslaved; but presently
all my suspicions fell to the ground; for, as soon as she caught his
eye, she stepped lightly across the floor, and accosted him easily and
with grace, but with the happy calm of perfect indifference; while
he, although roused for an instant by the duties of courtesy, having
bowed politely, sank backward in the fauteuil from which he had risen
on her entrance, without a word—without a glance, for I watched him
narrowly—and resumed the conversation with Count Hercules, which had
been interrupted on her entrance.

“‘I was fairly puzzled by this unexpected _denoûment_ to the intrigue
I had been at so much pains to invent. It was in vain that I sought
to detect the slightest intelligence between them—there was none. The
young girl seemed engrossed during supper by her attentions to her
father, and scarcely raised her eyes towards any of us, save in the
courtesy which she might consider to be due from the hostess to her
guests; whilst my brother, whose seat at table was immediately opposite
to hers, never once even glanced towards her. I left the villa that
night full of strange feelings, and from that hour my existence was
changed.

“‘How _can_ I tell you, my friends, how it became so? I know not
myself, save that a web was spun around me, from which I am not free
at this very hour! There seemed, from the very first, an overstrained
demonstration of attachment towards me, and absolute _appropriation_
of my time and of my actions, nay, my very thoughts were no more my
own. The Abbé Giordoni was never absent from my side, and, what seemed
stranger still, he was acquainted with the most minute secrets of our
existence—the value of our land—the produce of our plantations—the
revenue which we drew from the silkworms; he even knew of the
circumstances of the loan which we had been compelled to raise a few
years before, and which, as we thought, had been kept a profound
mystery between ourselves and the party of whom the money had been
borrowed. I have lain awake whole nights to discover how this could be,
and yet could not compass the mystery. I cannot tell you how much this
circumstance preyed upon my spirit, for Heaven had gifted me with an
independent soul, and an utter abhorrence of control, and the invisible
fetters with which I felt myself manacled became more and more galling
as I grew more determined to be free.

“‘It was on the occasion of my father’s death that I felt this most of
all. The abbé took upon himself, unsolicited and unapproved, the whole
management of our affairs. He it was who arranged the retirement of our
mother to the neighbouring convent of the Annunciata, to which I most
decidedly objected; but my opinion in this, as well as in everything
else, was entirely overruled by that of the abbé. The next occurrence
in the family, which gave me the strangest trouble and perplexity, was
the determination of Cesario to sell the portion of the estate which
had become his by my father’s will; and my amazement was increased
tenfold upon learning who was the purchaser—it was the Abbé Giordoni. I
was angry with my brother, and reproached him bitterly, but he replied,
in a despairing voice, and with the tears flowing from his eyes, “What
could I do? The land was needed by the good abbé!”

“‘My God, what could be the meaning of all this? How came it that this
man had thus obtained such influence? Day by day did it increase and
grow more irksome, still drawing, as it were, a charmed circle round
my very existence, diminishing in circumference until it had grown
so small that I could not even turn without feeling wounded by its
pressure; every day and every hour drew the coils yet closer. It was
then that I ended where I ought to have begun, and set myself earnestly
to work to examine the character of the man, who had, in spite of me,
gained such ascendancy over my family. To my great astonishment, I
found him a man of the keenest wit and most consummate knowledge of
the world, whose practical learning and experience were universal,
whose energy and perseverance were dauntless. I soon discovered, with
a feeling of terror which I cannot describe, that he had fathomed my
character with as much accuracy as though I had lived with him from
my youth upwards. He _knew_ of my scorn and hatred of restraint, and
therefore had used none. He _knew_ that I was of a proud and melancholy
temperament, and therefore had never roused my ire by opposition. I
felt a bitter contempt for myself, when I found that in all things it
was his system to _humour_ me. The hour came at last, however, for the
unravelling of all the mystery.

“‘One day, Giordoni came to me with busy and important looks, and with
a hurried air, to consult me upon the plan of a building he was about
to erect upon the ground which he had bought of Cesario. It was within
view of the windows of my own château, and therefore it was the act of
a friend to consult me upon the form and fashion of its structure, and,
as in duty bound, I thanked him heartily for the kind attention.

“‘It was a chapel to Saint Ignatius which he was about to erect, “_en
attendant_ the convent,” he added, with a smile bland and affable,
“which it was his intention to found when he should grow richer.” The
dedication startled me.

“‘Not a convent of Jesuits?’ said I, faintly, for I had imbibed a share
of the popular hatred, which, just at that time, the Order had inspired
throughout the whole of Europe.

“‘The abbé smiled again, yet more peaceably than before. “Pardon me,”
replied he, in a gentle tone, “our Order has need of a station in this
part of the country. We are poorly represented, my friend, observe—”
and he drew forth his memorandum-book, “from Saint Tomaso to Mabli,
eight leagues, from Mabli to this place, seventeen; it is too far.”

“‘The secret then was out; the whole mystery of the man, his
perseverance and his patience, his confidence in himself, his utter
contempt of me. He was a Jesuit—an active, busy, meddling Jesuit—one
who held a degree in the Order—one who had command and authority, and
could bid any of his underlings, slaves to his will, who was himself a
slave, do his pleasure at the moment and without a murmur, even though
the order should have been to murder his best friend, or betray to
death his own mother; who himself durst not hesitate in the commission
of any crime, provided it were done for the honour and advancement of
the “Blessed Order of Jesus!”

“‘I am now convinced that, natural and simple as this avowal then
appeared, it had been prepared _de longue main_, and that much was
at that very moment depending upon the manner in which it would be
received by me. He managed well, however, in hiding the emotion which
my startled manner and my exclamations of surprise and displeasure
must have occasioned him, and launched forth at once, with graceful
eloquence, upon the advantages of the Order of Jesus over all
others—the power, the influence, which the meanest member of the
“Society” possessed over every individual within his sphere. He said
that the confidence and strength of the association were so great, that
nought could resist its influence. He showed me on the map how its
ramifications had spread throughout Europe, until they had enveloped
every civilized country as in a web, from which it was impossible to
get free, and, when he had concluded, he took me out to inspect the
workmen at the chapel, and to view the new plantation which he had
commenced. I beheld it indeed, and with a sad presentiment remarked
that the avenues of lime trees, which were already laid down, were
all turned in the direction of my own château. I scarcely knew what
it was that I dreaded, and yet felt a certainty of coming evil which
completely overpowered every faculty.

“‘You will smile at the determination which I took that very night—you
will say that it was that of a schoolboy—a coward—but you cannot know
the terror which pervaded the population of our country at that very
period, on account of the subtlety of the Jesuits. It had become the
bugbear of society. The feeling had been nursed by the secret enemies
of the Order, sent from France, where its dissolution had already
been decreed in the boudoirs of Trianon, by the vindictive hatred of
Madame de Pompadour. I determined, then, to flee—to leave my property
in the hands of the agent, and to travel for a while, until the power
of the serpent which was thus gaining ground upon me was weakened, or
that I felt myself strong enough to encounter its cold and slimy coils
without fear. I passed several days in making my preparations for the
journey I meant to take, and confided my intentions to no one on earth
save the overseer of the estate in whose hands I was about to place my
interests. Cesario was absent. I would not even venture to write to him
until I had set forth, for my terror of betrayal had grown so puerile
that I even feared the letter might be opened!

“‘Everything was ready for my departure. The agent, a plain, honest
man, had sworn to be as secret as the grave, and when, one evening,
I took my leave of the eternal Giordoni, who now passed not a single
day without paying me his lengthened visit, I laughed at his form of
farewell. “_À demain, à demain!_” called he from the gate; “to-morrow
we will talk about the road from your grounds to my chapel—there _must_
be a road, Cerutti—the high wall must come down. What need of walls
between such friends as we?”

“‘I laughed as I pressed his hand in feigned warmth, echoing his
portentous words of adieu. I knew that on the morrow I should be far
enough away. He smiled likewise as he exclaimed, once more looking me
earnestly in the face, “Farewell, my friend, my dearest friend, _à
demain donc, à demain_!”

“‘He turned, and I watched his retreating form gradually fade in the
moonlight, with a heart bounding with gratitude and joy at the prospect
of my approaching deliverance. The horses were waiting on the by-road
by the side of the château, and I could hear their joyous neigh from
the gate where I was leaning to gaze after Giordoni. Everything seemed
to breathe of peace and happiness. There was a nightingale perched
among the branches of the mulberry tree beneath which I stood, and
her joyous melody gushed forth unsubdued, more free and unconstrained
methought when the shadow of Giordoni no longer darkened the pathway;
multitudes of the bright green glow-worms peculiar to the summer nights
of our country, were chasing each other over the smooth turf. I thought
I had never beheld a night of such calm, such placid beauty.

“‘I was like the schoolboy about to escape the dominion of his
pedagogue; eager to be free, yet scarcely as yet decided on the use
that he would make of his long-coveted liberty. I had many plans in
view, but none as yet decided.

“‘I will go from hence to Lyons,’ said I to myself, as I returned
with light step towards the house; ‘there will I remain for a while,
to study the manners of the people of whom I have heard so much; then
on—on to Paris; ’tis there and there alone “_qu’on trouve le génie si
on n’en a pas_.” I could scarcely contain my feelings at the thought
of the change which by my own address and discretion I was about to
work in my destiny, and I whistled and sang aloud in glee at the bare
thought of so much happiness.

“‘No more slavery, no more espionnage, and—shall I own it, my
friends?—no more fear of a cold and disdainful love! Yes, _there_ was
the secret of the discontented misery of the last few months of my
existence. From the evening of my first visit at the villa of Count
V——, I had become the slave of the fair Signora Isabella. Her disdain
of my advances, her coldness, had served to increase my passion, but
had changed its character. Hope had given way to defiance, defiance
to despair, yet still I loved, _and this was the reason why I wished
to flee in secret_ from the home where I was born, like a thief or an
usurper—this it was that drove me forth to seek elsewhere the liberty
I felt that I had lost—the repose which I so greatly needed. All these
subjects for the future passed rapidly through my mind as I returned up
the avenue. I had just gained the hall, I was ascending the steps which
led to my apartment, when I was startled by the sound of footsteps
close behind me. I was alarmed: I knew that the domestics had been all
dismissed, and had long before retired from that part of the building,
while the agent had my orders to await me with the horses. I turned in
trepidation, my heart fluttered in my bosom, and my cheek grew pale as
marble—it was _Giordoni who followed me_!

“‘Such was the state of abject fear in which I lived that, in the
nervous agitation of the moment, I was about to confess my guilty
design, and to sue for pardon; but there was neither anger nor
suspicion upon the brow of the Jesuit, and it was with a calm and
gracious smile that he spoke, as he held up before me a little billet
which scented the air with the sweetest perfume.

“‘See what a faithless messenger am I,’ said he, shaking his head with
a _bonhomie_ quite paternal; ‘I was commissioned to deliver this letter
with great dispatch, and had well-nigh forgotten it altogether! ’Twas
well I thought of it before I got home, for I know not how I might have
been received had I returned without the answer.’

“‘I was seized with sudden faintness as I mechanically unsealed the
billet and gazed at the signature. It was from the demoiselle Isabella
de V——, and, as I read the contents, my very soul gave way beneath the
influence of the kindness and the _tender_ tone it breathed.

“‘Need I say that I departed not that night—that I even retired to
rest _rejoicing_ that I had been prevented from listening to the rash
suggestions of my evil genius, for such I was soon taught to believe
the secret warnings of my better reason, to which had I but hearkened
then, I should have been saved a whole life of misery.

“‘To you, who are both men of the world, there is no need to describe
the sequel. Before three months had elapsed, I had become as fervent
a proselyte to the principles which governed the “blessed Order” as
Giordoni himself!—In three months more, the land which my father
had saved with so much care and pains, and which I myself had toiled
so assiduously to improve, deeming it a heritage to descend to my
children’s children, was no longer my own; it belonged by promise to
the holy society of Jesus, of whom I now was proud to sign myself a
weak, unworthy member. During all this time I had lived in a dream—a
delusion the more wild and stirring, inasmuch as I am of a cold and
torpid character, requiring the most powerful emotions to rouse me from
my apathy. I do not think that I ever reflected on the future. It was
enough that the Contessa Isabella loved me. She told me so again and
again, and each time that she had spoken the words, I had granted some
concession of which I repented not, deeming no sacrifice too great to
win that single smile which I had by this time learned to prize more
highly than my fortune—than my very life—to deem more precious than my
father’s memory or my mother’s love! I was roused from the trance into
which I had fallen by a letter from my brother Cesario, which was put
into my hand on my return home late one evening from the villa V——. It
contained but few words, full of darkness and mystery—the restraint of
one labouring under the terror of discovery.

“‘I have much to tell you,’ wrote he; ‘beware! you are deceived. I
shall be with you to-night, but let it not be known. I wish to say but
one word to you, and must depart again before dawn, without leaving the
slightest trace of my visit. Let the gate at the bottom of the garden
be left unlocked to-night, and, when all in the château have retired to
rest, meet me by the tank close to the entrance. Hesitate not—I shall
wait there till you come. You will find upon the first step of the
reservoir a branch of the alder which grows there, which I will cut the
moment I arrive, as a signal that I am waiting for you.’

“‘I cannot describe to you the perplexity into which I was thrown by
the contents of this letter—nor the anxiety with which I awaited the
opportunity of complying with the request contained in it. It seemed
as if that moment was destined never to arrive, so tediously did the
evening pass—so slow did the domestics seem in their preparations for
retiring to rest.

“‘At length all was quiet in the château, and, with thanks to Heaven
that it should at last be so, I muffled myself in my cloak, and
ventured forth. The night was dark; there were neither moon nor stars;
but so impressed was I by the tone of mystery in which my brother
wrote, that I did not even carry with me the lantern with which I had
returned from the villa, and drove back with blows my faithful dog who
had attempted to follow me as usual, lest his bark might alarm the
servants. It was a calm, still night—not a whisper was heard among the
trees, nor the movement of any living thing among the bushes which
skirted the garden-path down which I passed, with beating heart,
towards the tank. It was situated in a hollow at the bottom of the
garden, and in a place well fitted for concealment, being embosomed in
trees, and surrounded by a thick hedge in order to shade the water from
the sun, so that, even in the heat of summer, the air always struck
damp and chill to any one coming to it from the broad sunlit alleys of
the garden.

“‘At the end of the narrow path, so narrow that even two persons
could not walk in it abreast, a flight of stone steps, always wet and
slippery, reached to the edge of the reservoir, which, at certain
seasons of the year, was extremely deep and dangerous. I stood upon
the steps, and endeavoured to penetrate the darkness, but I could
discern nothing, save here and there the reflection in the water of
some faint vapoury star, struggling to disperse the cloud which hung
before it. I stooped and ran my hand along the stone. Cesario was
already there—the branch of alder was laid where he had mentioned in
his letter. I called in low whispers, ‘Are you here, Cesario?’ There
was no answer—not a sound, save, just at the very moment, and almost
as if in reply, the low, melancholy howling of the dog whom I had
repulsed on leaving the château, and who had remained watching at the
door! I walked round stealthily to the gate by which my brother must
have entered—perhaps I should find him awaiting me there. But no, the
gate was open—he _must_ be in the garden. Again did I call, and again,
and still the same silence, and so I fancied that he must have arrived
early, and, tired of tarrying in the same spot, was wandering through
the grounds, but would most assuredly return to the place where he had
appointed me to meet him. I sat down on the steps of the reservoir,
consoled with this reflection, and waited on.

“‘Once or twice I fancied I heard footsteps approaching, and then I
rose and paced in the direction whence I fancied the sound came. Then
would I again call upon Cesario—again to meet with disappointment,
and to sink once more upon the cold stone, in a paroxysm of anguish
and impatience. By degrees, however, my ear became accustomed to the
silence, and my eye to the utter darkness; and it happened with me
then, as it has often done with others—my faculties became fatigued
with watching and with listening, and I bent my head upon my knees,
and fell into an unquiet slumber. I know not how long I remained thus,
but when I awoke it was already dawn—the cold grey early dawn which
precedes the rising of the sun. The birds were already twittering and
chattering in the branches above my head, and old Volpe, the hound,
whom I had beaten back on the night preceding, apparently set free by
the opening of the door, was thrusting his cold nose into my hand, to
attract my attention. I patted him kindly—he looked up into my face
with an expression I shall never forget, and howled so very piteously
that the sound thrilled to my very soul.

“‘I rose from my seat—every limb was paralysed with cold—every joint
stiffened by the uneasy posture which I had maintained so long. I
walked to and fro for an instant, in order to dissipate the sensation
of misery which I experienced, and reflected with vexation on the
situation in which I had been compelled to pass the night. I could
not help accusing Cesario of negligence and want of feeling, in thus
leaving me to watch and wait in uncertainty for so many hours. I was
about to move from the spot, when I know not what instinct prompted
me to gaze around the place once more. I even looked over the hedge
into the tank, and the dog ran hurriedly down the steps and stood at
the bottom, whining in that sorrowful, uneasy tone, which expresses a
sense of misery and danger with more power than any human language. I
was attracted by the peculiar steadiness with which the animal stood
looking towards the opposite side of the tank, and mechanically I
suffered my gaze to wander in the same direction.

“‘Suddenly the beating of my heart was stilled, my very respiration
checked, and the cold perspiration oozed in large drops from my
forehead, as though I had been standing beneath the heat of a burning
sun! There, beneath the leaden light of the misty dawn, I could
distinctly see a human form lying at the water’s-edge, still and
motionless; the face was concealed, turned downwards from the light;
but I _knew_ that it was my brother, and with a shriek of agony I
sprang forward to the spot, with frantic excitement tearing through the
bushes which impeded my path. Before I had touched the body, I knew
that life must be extinct. Not for a single moment did I labour under
the puerile delusion so common to people in the like situation, but at
once felt the certitude that my brother lay dead before me!

“‘Death is at all times a ghastly spectacle, but there are hours and
seasons wherein its presence inspires far less horror than at others;
the bed of sickness—the darkened room—the lighted tapers—the priest
murmuring consolation to the lingering soul—these are the natural
attendants on death, and soften the disgust and dread that we feel at
its approach. But here, in the full light of the rising dawn, the birds
carolling amid the branches—the distant song of the merry vintagers
who were already busy at their labours on the opposite hill—all seemed
to jar upon the feelings, and to inspire a supernatural horror, from
which I am not free even now when thinking of that hour. I raised my
brother in my arms. He had fallen forward from the bank, for his head
was in the water, which circumstance I thought at first might have
caused suffocation. The bank was steep and slippery, likely to have
given way beneath his feet, and he must have been thus precipitated
into the water, whence he could not extricate himself without help.
This was my first impression, but, as I raised that lifeless form to
the light, I perceived a deep and ghastly wound in his side, from which
the blood had flowed, not freely, but in a thick, turbid pool, and, as
it were, drop by drop! The knife with which the deed was done lay by
his side upon the grass. I recognised it as his own—my father’s gift to
him when a boy—the very knife he must have used to cut the branch from
the alder, as the signal of his arrival in the garden. Cesario had died
thus, this miserable death, while I had been the whole night within
sight of his dying struggles—within hearing of his dying groan, and yet
had seen, had heard nothing—and when tired of cursing his tardiness,
had sat me down and _slept_ almost within arm’s length of his bleeding
corpse!

“‘The event caused the greatest consternation throughout the whole
country. We were much beloved, for my father’s sake, and every inquiry
was set on foot which could lead to a discovery of the means by which
Cesario had met his death. But every measure proved fruitless, and
I was forced to console myself with the opinion of Giordoni, who
expressed a conviction that my brother, giving way to the melancholy
which so long had preyed upon his mind, had committed suicide. The
letter I had received seemed to many, by its tone of mystery, to betray
symptoms of the excitement which usually precedes the execution of such
a deed. Cesario was the first person buried in the new chapel of Saint
Ignatius, Giordoni generously consenting to give absolution for his
crime, and to attribute its commission to insanity.

“‘As my destiny had begun, so did it proceed. The whole of my property
was given up to the Order. I had been led on, step by step, by the hope
of meeting with my reward—the hand of Isabella—she who had prevailed
upon me to concede every point to Giordoni, by promises of eternal
love. In the hopes she had held out, consisted now my only happiness,
for I had no longer a future of my own. Of the flourishing fortune
which my father left me, I was permitted to claim but the share which
fell to me as one of the meanest members of the “Society.”

“‘Even then I did not despair—for how could I imagine that I was to
be deceived? How can I tell you all that followed—how the illusions,
one by one, dropped from my vision, and left me as I am—without faith,
without belief either in God or man!

“‘I had for some time observed a change in Isabella—an embarrassment
for which she herself, when taxed with it by me, would account by
attributing it to the perpetual disputes and _tracasseries_ which
she had to endure with her father, concerning her attachment to me.
The old count had long since forbidden all intercourse between us,
but we had kept up an active correspondence, and obtained frequent
interviews together by means of the Abbé Giordoni, and I was therefore
justified in believing in her truth. Judge, then, of my despair, when
told that the contessa, weary of the struggle she had to endure in her
own home on my account, had resolved to retire to a convent, with the
determination never to see or correspond with me until her father
should consent to our union! She well knew that this condition was
equivalent to a total rupture. I had given up everything for her sake,
and she now deserted me!

“‘You, my friends, have both of you passed through the ordeal of
passion, and can best judge of the storm of hate and rage which this
conviction raised within my bosom—how in my bitterness I forswore her
love, and cursed her very name! It was then that Giordoni came to my
aid with his specious arguments and eloquent reasonings. He pointed out
to me the utter nothingness of human love, and persuaded me to turn my
energies into another channel, and, by taking priest’s orders, to seek
forgetfulness of my wrongs in satisfied ambition.

“‘I was now, as I have told you, without resource, a blighted and a
disappointed man; his proposition suited well with the state of feeling
which I experienced at the time, and I accepted it without hesitation.
I was actuated, in taking this step, by a sentiment of revenge, and was
glad to prove to the faithless Isabella that I relied no longer on her
_promises_—that I reckoned no longer on her love. You know how well and
how truly I fulfilled my office—how ardently I strove in the cause of
the Jesuits—and how at Lyons I succeeded in my mission—and when the
dauphin called me to be his counsellor and director, how indefatigably
I strove to avert the evil day, which I felt was dawning for the
“Society.”

“‘I worked in earnest, and spared neither toil nor anxiety in the
fulfilment of my task. I might have persisted to this day, had it
not been for a circumstance which changed the whole end and aim of
my existence. I had not been long an inmate of Saint Cloud, when I
received, from Turin, a packet from my agent, the man whom I had
chosen to manage the estate when I was about to depart, to fly from
the influence of Giordoni. He had written to me when at the point of
death, and the torments of his conscience had instigated him to make a
full confession of the deceptions of which I had been the victim, and
in which he had been assisted by Giordoni. The Order of Jesus had long
coveted the estate belonging to the Cerutti. The abbé had undertaken to
acquire it. My unhappy brother, being of a religious turn, had fallen
an easy victim.

“‘Once a member of the order, his task was to betray every word and
action which passed in our family, to act as spy upon every proceeding
in his father’s house, it was his remorse at the part he was compelled
to play, which had caused the bitter melancholy that had so distressed
me in former years. He had been commissioned to draw me to the villa
V——. This he had resisted, well knowing to what end I was to be
attracted thither. My own desire had, however, served his vow of
blind obedience; but, as he had proved himself a weak servant, he was
dismissed in disgrace, and despatched to another station. The agent
was chosen in his stead, and well did he execute his foul task. Not a
look, not a thought of ours but what was written down and conveyed to
Giordoni; not a letter but was opened, not a message but was reported.
As you have seen, I fell an easy prey to the cunning of the Jesuit—the
falsehood of the _Jesuitess_. The man, in his confession, went on to
relate, with tears of repentance, he said, that he himself had stabbed
Cesario, by “higher command.” He had read the letter before delivering
it to me, and the person “in command” had feared that our meeting would
have marred all.

“‘There was no further revelation; the name of the person “in command”
was withheld, but hypocritical still, even at the dying hour, the
fellow ended abruptly by calling on me to offer up my prayers for the
repose of his eternal soul. _My_ prayers! he has my everlasting curses
even in his grave.’

“M. de Talleyrand told me that Cerutti had grown so excited while
relating the latter portion of his history, that the two friends
desired him to desist, and to leave the recital till another time. It
appears that, even with this dread secret on his mind, further misery
was yet in reserve for Cerutti.

“The Order of Jesus was tottering to its basis. Agents of the Society
filled every court in Europe, in spite of the contumely cast upon
them, most especially in France; yet was it there that they were most
active in their manœuvres. By a fatality, which, however, will not
appear singular when we remember the talent which she had already
displayed, and the high position she held in the Order—it was the
Contessa Isabella de V——, now become Marquise de F——t, who was deputed
to Saint Cloud, which had become the head-quarters of Jesuitical
intrigue. There was no witness to the first interview which took place
between Cerutti and his faithless love; but they say that the scene
must have been terrific, for he was carried from the apartment to his
bed in a senseless state, and remained for months paralysed in every
limb. He never recovered from the shock which this event had given to
his constitution. Twenty years afterwards, when intimate with Mirabeau
and Talleyrand, he could not mention the name of the Marquise de F——t,
without betraying every symptom of the most powerful emotion, and would
confess that, even amid the excitement of the stirring events in which
he had been called to take a part, her image was never absent from his
mind.

“There is little doubt that, had circumstances taken their natural
course, she would have regained as great an influence as she had before
possessed. It is certain that, during the proscription of the nobility,
_her_ safety alone caused anxiety to Cerutti, and even at his latest
hour, her name was hovering on his lips. The death of Cerutti was
severely felt by the republicans, who hesitated not to attribute to him
a greater share of talent than even that possessed by Mirabeau; and I
have heard M. de Talleyrand frequently declare that the plan of every
speech pronounced by the latter was submitted to Cerutti before it was
uttered in the assembly.

“The attachment of the two friends was ardent and sincere, proof
against calumny, and firm in spite of jealous intrigue. Chosen to
pronounce the funeral oration of Mirabeau, Cerutti burst into tears as
he concluded, declaring that he should not long survive the loss he had
sustained. His prediction was fulfilled. In less than a year from that
very day, he himself descended to the tomb, and M. de Talleyrand alone
remained of that all-powerful trio, whose efforts, combined, would have
given another turn to the destinies of Europe.”



CHAPTER III.

THE SALONS OF PARIS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION.


“With Cerutti, Mirabeau, and the _Feuille Villageoise_, began for
Talleyrand a new era, a fresh existence, outwardly, at least, for,
after all, it was but the realization of the splendid dreams with
which he had solaced his young ambition ever since that memorable
day on which he had changed the dark blue broad cloth and bright
buttons of the _joyeux collegien_ for the black serge soutane of the
_séminariste_. I have often heard him declare, in his moments of
_épanchement_, that, during the years of hardship and trial which
followed the first brief triumph of the new ideas, while toiling for
existence in America, or struggling to keep up a precarious position
in Hamburg, he never once looked back with regret upon the splendour
of his life as Bishop of Autun, surrounded by luxury and grandeur;
he never murmured at the loss of wealth, the change of station; but
what he should lament to the latest hour of existence is the decay of
that _society_ in which he had been bred, which was lost in ’89 never
to return, and which he, perhaps, by his peculiar tone of mind, was
fitted more than any other man to enjoy. The events of ’89 divided his
life into two epochs, so distinct, so far distant from each other,
that it often seems to him, when looking back upon the past, that he
has realized the old fable, and indeed lived and breathed during two
separate periods, and enjoyed two lives, with all their individual
hopes and fears, their several joys and sorrows, the triumphs and
defeats peculiar to each.

“I have been much struck with some few observations of his upon the
charm of the intellectual existence which he had enjoyed before
the breaking up of the old system; he scarcely ever reverts to the
Revolution without bestowing a regret upon the moral intercourse which
it destroyed. He was even then sadly aware that the great changes
he desired so much must of necessity bring others which he dreaded
even more. Even then he was sometimes led to doubt whether the good
which had been gained could ever compensate for that which had been
forfeited. So impressed was he with this idea, that he was like the
traveller, who, having arrived at the summit of the mountain, up whose
flowery path he has been climbing so gaily, turns back to throw one
wistful glance upon the country which he has left behind, with a sad
presentiment that he shall not behold the like again. When he is in
good humour at Valençay, he loves to linger in memory on that time,
and I have known him remain whole days, and even weeks, absorbed in
the past, disdaining the present, as unworthy of a good man’s interest
or a wise man’s concern. It is then that his conversation is most
interesting; and, after having spent a few hours in listening to those
anecdotes which with him seem to _couler de source_, one might almost
be led to fancy that one has been holding communion with the dead.

“I remember, on one occasion, to have felt a chill come over me upon
hearing him begin an anecdote in these words. ‘I was one evening at
Madame de Boissière’s, when who should enter but Madame Geoffrin’—Why,
the very name is sufficient to bring back the whole of the eighteenth
century, with its strange mixture of elegant _badinage_ and fierce
philosophy, its motley crowd of rude encyclopedists and elegant
_marquis à talons rouges_!

“Talleyrand had the good fortune to enter the world of fashion under
the very best auspices. It was at the house of the Marquis de Brignolé,
one Saturday evening in the year 1772, that he made his _début_ on
leaving the _séminaire_. It was a memorable event in his life, of
quite as great importance as any of those which have succeeded it, and
he felt far more emotion upon this occasion than he did when, some
thirty years later, he stepped forward to receive the key of _grand
chambellan_, or the _portefeuille_ of the _affaires étrangères_. Can
you not fancy him as he entered that old aristocratic saloon in his
_petit collet_? (the coquettish distinction, now gone by, of the
candidate for clerical honours.) He was a remarkably handsome youth,
and his fresh complexion and long golden hair must have appeared to
great advantage among the crowd of withered _savans_ in powdered wigs,
with which the _salon_ was already filled. To hear him relate the
adventures of this his first _soirée_ is like reading a page torn from
some old memoir, and can seldom fail to inspire a feeling of interest
almost akin to awe in the mind of the listener. He tells a story, too,
with peculiar gusto, and seems to grow young again in the memory of the
circumstances which marked his first appearance in society.

“Madame de Brignolé was one of the most witty clever women at that time
in Paris, and held a peculiar position in society, from having had the
address to shake off the trammels of caste and clique, and to avow
herself the admirer of all that was admirable, whether it proceeded
from this set or from that, from the daring _philosophe_ or shrinking
_vrai-croyant_. She had thus succeeded in gathering together in harmony
and good-will elements the most discordant in themselves, and which
could be made to amalgamate nowhere save beneath her roof—Madame du
Deffand and Madame Geoffrin, Voltaire and Jean Jacques.

“All agreed to consider her _salon_ as neutral ground, and to accept at
her hands the flag of truce, which she held out to each with so much
grace and affability. It happened that the reception wherein the young
Abbé de Perigord made his first appearance was a particularly brilliant
one, owing to the return of Baron Holbach, after a long absence from
Paris. It was on this occasion that he made the acquaintance of the
Chevalier de Boufflers, one of the leaders of fashion of the day,
a specimen of the elegant _roué_, the _gredin de bonne compagnie_,
who still maintained much of the power they had acquired. Their
friendship commenced with a quarrel, and lasted through every change of
circumstance until the death of Boufflers, which happened during the
Restoration in 1815.

“It would delight you to hear the prince relate this story. He laughs
even now at the boyish _espièglerie_, although expressing great
contrition for the horrible pun which passion and circumstance wrung
from him in the heat of the moment. It was his first, and he says
it was his last also, although its great success might certainly
have warranted many a repetition of the attempt. The young abbé had
ensconced himself in a vacant seat, quite aloof from the rest of the
company, being bent on observing all that passed, and caring not for a
share in the conversation. He had not long been seated in this place
when he was accosted by Philidor, the renowned chess-player, who,
like himself, was a man of few words, and of most modest and retiring
habits. He was an old _habitué_ of the house, and therefore a valuable
neighbour for our young novice, and they soon fell into close and
friendly conversation. D’Alembert was there, and Diderot, and many
other of the bright particular stars of the day, and Philidor, with
good-natured attention, pointed them out to the abbé, much diverted
with the great interest the latter seemed to take in each illustrious
individual, who swept past him on his way to lay his homage at the feet
of the lady of the house. They had been some time conversing thus, when
their retirement was invaded by two young officers, the one an hussar,
the other belonging to the regiment of Royal Cravatte, poor Marie
Antoinette’s favourite regiment, and the most insolent and saucy one in
the whole service. They were evidently very deep in the enjoyment of
some good story, for they were speaking low and laughing heartily.

“‘Let us get a seat down yonder against the wall,’ said the one to the
other, ‘and I will tell you the rest of the joke. I should not like it
to be overheard.’

“‘But I see no room,’ replied his companion; ‘there is Philidor down
there talking to some unfledged blackbird from the _séminaire_.’

“‘No matter, we must have the place. Philidor will soon yield, and the
abbé cannot hold out against us.’

“They advanced straight to where Philidor and his companion were
seated, and, with an insolence which can hardly be understood in our
day, but which it appears was quite the mark of high birth and fashion
at that time, began to annoy, by their loud talking and rude behaviour,
the occupants of the two seats which they coveted. Poor Philidor,
whose meekness and patience were proverbial, soon became alarmed, and
sounded a retreat at once without parley. He rose, with a frightened
look at the abbé, and, remarking that the room was so insupportably hot
that he was stifled, walked away on tip-toe, not even daring to cast
a glance behind. The Chevalier de Boufflers, one of the _garnemens_,
immediately seized the vacated chair, and sat upon it soldier-fashion,
astride upon the seat, with his chin resting on the back, staring with
effrontery at the young abbé, who, nothing daunted, remained quietly in
the same position that he had maintained during the whole evening. He
had overheard every word of the conversation which had passed between
the two friends as they approached, and was determined not to move an
inch. The Royal Cravatte stood beside the hussar, and the abbé was thus
completely hemmed in, save on the side next the door, through which it
was the evident intention of the two friends to make him soon vanish.
Finding, however, their intention completely defeated by the cool
manner with which it was received, the Royal Cravatte lost patience,
and asked the abbé, with a sneer, if the heat of the place did not
incommode him, at the same time advising him, with condescending
kindness, to seek the refreshing coolness of the second _salon_, as his
friend had already done at their approach. But the abbé answered with a
bland politeness peculiar to his manner even then, thanking the officer
for his attention, but assuring him that, being of a rather chilly
nature, he preferred remaining in the warmer apartment. Royal Cravatte
thereupon grew angry; he was a Cadet de Montigny, not long arrived from
Normandy, and had not yet lost his miserable Norman drawl.

“‘_Dites donc, mon cher abbé_,’ said he. ‘Perhaps, as you are just
born, you may not yet have been to school; you have yet to learn many
things, Monsieur l’Abbé, among which—’ ‘Pardon me,’ interrupted the
abbé, starting up, with heightened colour and with flashing eye, and
mimicking the lengthened nasal twang of the officer, ‘I _have_ been to
school, and have learnt my letters, and know that an _abbé_ (A B) is
not made to _céder_ (C D), and ’tis not your _épée_ (E P) can make me
_ôter_ (O T).’

“The loud voice and insolent gesture of the officer had caused a
little knot of the assembled guests to gather round, and this sally
was received with roars of laughter. Boufflers, who never could resist
pleasantry, seemed more diverted than any one present; and, while the
discomfited Royal Cravatte slunk among the company, unable to bear
the mockery which the witty retort of the abbé had brought upon him,
Boufflers shook him heartily by the hand, and applauded the jest with
right good will.

“This is the very first _bon-mot_ of the prince upon record, and
although he expresses himself heartily ashamed of its perpetration,
yet it was the means of establishing his reputation as a person
not to be slighted, one with whom it would be necessary to reckon
before venturing on pleasantry. The story, of course, went round the
_salon_, to the infinite delight of the _savans_, who were enchanted at
witnessing the military insolence of the Royal Cravatte receive a check
from a quarter whence it would have been so little expected. Rumour of
the witticism soon reached the ears of Madame du Deffand, who instantly
requested that the young abbé might be presented to her. It was the
Chevalier de Boufflers himself who undertook the office, and, with
a fluttering heart, young Talleyrand walked across the _salon_, and
accosted the venerable lady, whose great fame for making reputations
had reached even to the _séminaire_ from which he had just escaped.
It was an awful moment of his life, and he describes it as one of the
greatest emotion he has ever experienced.

“Madame du Deffand was at that time the oracle of the witty circles of
Paris; her verdict was sufficient at once to make or mar the reputation
of a man of wit; and it cannot be wondered at, therefore, if our young
_séminariste_ approached with reverence the high fauteuil in which
the lady sat, as it were enthroned, presiding over the assembly
with undisputed sway, nor if the whole scene should have produced an
impression upon his memory which time has not even yet been powerful
enough to efface. Madame du Deffand was surrounded by a select circle
of her chosen friends, the favourite few whom she honoured with
especial notice; and in the midst there stood, beside her chair, a low
stool, reserved for those with whom she wished to hold more private
converse than could possibly be enjoyed with any member of the circle.
It was to this seat that the Chevalier de Boufflers led the young Abbé
de Perigord, who thus in a moment found himself the object of curiosity
and criticism to the whole collection of _beaux-esprits_, who served as
a kind of body-guard to their queen elect. The abbé was, however, at
the moment, but little occupied with the effect which he might produce
upon the company; his attention was entirely absorbed by Madame du
Deffand herself; and if he _did_ experience a slight nervous agitation
as he took his seat beside her, it was in dread of her all-powerful
verdict alone.

“It was almost impossible to imagine a countenance of greater benignity
than that of Madame du Deffand; she was a complete specimen, both
in person and costume, of venerable beauty; and as the abbé gazed
upon her, he _felt_ that there was no longer ridicule in the platonic
love of Horace Walpole, or in the enthusiastic passion of her later
admirers. She had been, as you are aware, totally blind for many
years, and this infirmity, instead of being a disfigurement, as might
be imagined, seemed to increase the mild placidity of her features
almost to beatitude. At the moment of young Talleyrand’s approach, she
was still under the influence of the delight which his boyish retort
had inspired, and, as soon as he was seated, she bade him recount
the story, which he was fain to do, and, aided by her encouragement
and the applause of the circle, he told it with so much _verve_ and
good-humour, that his success was complete. He was welcomed among the
_coterie_ as a kindred spirit, and from that hour was considered an
acquisition to that choice ‘circle.’ He was thus thrown at once into
the midst of the society of _gens-de-lettres_ of that epoch, the most
brilliant ever registered in the annals of the world. The schoolboy
pun of Talleyrand is forgotten now—lost amid the more sterling wit
of the many _bon-mots_ and trite aphorisms to which he has given
utterance, and which have become popular in every country. Not so the
_naïve_ exclamation of Madame du Deffand upon the occasion, when she
learned the fright and sudden retreat of Philidor. ‘That man was born a
_fool_,’ said she; ‘nothing but his _genius_ saves him!’

“It is by the multiplicity of anecdotes of this nature that the prince
has the power of conveying the listener, at a single bound, back to
the eighteenth century. The absence of all passion, or, what is more
probable, the great command he has acquired over it, gives a greater
interest to his recitals than any I have ever experienced while reading
the best written memoirs. I have heard from another quarter of the
judgment of the prince’s character pronounced by the blind woman on
that very same evening, and which, if true, ought to stamp her fame as
a physiognomist beyond compare. After having passed her hand slowly
over the features of the young abbé, as was her wont when any stranger
was presented to her notice, she exclaimed, ‘_Allez, jeune homme._
Nature has been lavish of her gifts, and your own foresight will render
you independent of those of fortune.’

“The immense variety of pictures like the foregoing, which the prince
can command at will from the storehouse of his memory, is almost
incredible. No one seems to have understood so well as himself that
stupendous epoch, the latter half of the eighteenth century, that
glorious reign of intellect and reason, when, for the first time in
the history of society, genius and talent were admitted to greater
consideration than high birth or riches; when every passion—the love of
pleasure—the love of power—even the love of the marvellous—had given
place to the love of _truth_—sometimes the greatest of all marvels;
when the old aristocracy, tottering with decay, seemed to call in
weak and puny accents upon its robust successor, the aristocracy of
letters, for succour in its hour of need, ‘Help us, or we perish!’
and was answered sturdily, ‘Be of us; or look to yourselves;’ when
the high-born and the long-descended sought no more to _honour_ with
patronage, but to _flatter_ by imitation, those whom their ancestors
would have deemed of scarcely more importance than their lacqueys;
when, to be admitted to the circle of Madame Geoffrin, or the
_déjeuners_ of the Abbé Morellet, was a distinction more eagerly sought
for than the admission into the royal circles had been during the
preceding reign.

“This short pause before the revolution, which might be compared to
the breathing time allowed to combatants, or rather to the cold shiver
which precedes the raging fever, has been described by the prince as
the most intoxicating period of his life. In this unprecedented mixture
of society, he was viewed with favour by each and all. Whether as the
nobleman of aristocratic descent, or the man of wit and talent, he
was admitted into every circle, and perhaps was thus singular in his
perfect acquaintance with them all. He, who has so little enthusiasm in
his character, will sometimes grow quite enthusiastic when speaking of
that time; and I have heard him exclaim with melancholy pride, ‘Could
I, by forfeiting the memory of that brief space of light and glory, add
thrice the number of years so spent to my existence _now_, I would not
do it. I hold too dear even the privilege which I possess of exclaiming
with Ovid, “_Vidi tantùm_,” and often mourn those days in the very
words of old Brantôme: “Nothing is left of all that wit and gallantry,
that vast expenditure (_folle dépense_) of bravery and chivalry. What
good remains to _me_ of all this pomp? None—save _that I have seen
it_!”’

“The greatest of all the regrets expressed by the prince is for the
art of conversation, ‘_l’art de causer_,’ which, he declares, never
flourished in any country save France, and has been lost even there
ever since the revolution. He himself is perhaps the only individual
left to tell us in what that ‘art’ consisted. Like every gift of the
Muses, it seemed to shun the circles of the great, and to flourish
best where reigned equality. The réunions of Madame Necker in Paris,
when her husband was minister, were always stiff and embarrassed; her
charming _déjeuners_ at St. Ouen, where all state and ceremony were
laid aside, will be for ever celebrated in the annals of letters. The
proper cultivation of the ‘art of conversation’ was dependent on the
union of many circumstances, and success could not be relied on even by
those who appeared in every way best qualified for the attempt. None
could tell why it was that some succeeded thus while others failed—why
the same wit which shone so brightly in one _salon_ was dull and frigid
in another. D’Alembert declared that _he_ could find conversation but
in one single _salon_ in Paris, that of Madame Suard, the wife of the
celebrated translator and commentator of Hume and Robertson, of whom
Boufflers said to M. de Talleyrand one day, ‘_She is the only pretty
woman of my acquaintance with whom I have never been in love; and yet
she is the woman I love best on earth_.’ A more delicate compliment to
virtue than this was, perhaps, never paid. Diderot was most animated
in the house of Madame Helvetius, and nursed his powers for her
reception-days.

“Madame Geoffrin herself presided over her own _salon_ after the
death of Fontenelle, who, for many years, deaf, purblind, and almost
centenary, had thrown such lustre on her meetings, that foreigners
of rank, and wealth, and talent, had crowded to Paris merely to be
presented there; and such was the charm of the society into which they
found themselves ushered, that many of them renounced their country to
enjoy it without molestation. Buffon, who in ordinary intercourse was
vulgar in the extreme (so at least says M. de Talleyrand, who knew him
well), became sublime at Moulin-Joli, where Watelet the painter had
the good luck to assemble all the wit and talent of the capital. Here
it was that Buffon one day grew inspired, and recited whole chapters
of his work without missing a single word, much to the astonishment of
many of the strangers there, who thought that it was all improvisation.
These intellectual _soirées_ of the _roture_ had succeeded in the
guidance and government of ‘conversation’ to the _petits soupers_ of
the _ancien régime_, but differed from them, inasmuch as the intellect
alone was fed. The principle of equality had gone so far, that it was
agreed among the _literati_ to avoid the tables of the rich, lest he
who gave a good dinner should feel a right to direct the conversation.

“At most of these literary meetings, therefore, no set repast was to be
found; the refreshments provided were but scanty and of the simplest
kind. One single cup of coffee for each guest at Madame Suard’s,
one single glass of punch (sometimes prepared by Franklin, though)
at Madame Helvetius’s, formed the whole of the _menu_. Sobriety was
considered indispensable to the clearness and steadiness of debate, and
the intellect remained unthickened by eating and drinking. The Abbé
Morellet alone had chosen to add music and feasting to the attraction
of the conversation held at his house, and had done so with success.
But the _déjeuners_ were exquisite, although slight. ‘_Eat a little and
of little_’ was the abbé’s recommendation to his guests, and the music,
that of Glück, was presided over by himself and executed by Mellico.
The first representation of ‘Orphée’ took place at one of these
_déjeuners_, the _romance_ of which had such an effect on Rousseau,
that he almost fainted on hearing it, declaring that ‘It was music
never to be heard at all, or listened to for ever.’

“There was but little jealousy at these different réunions; each
came prepared to contribute to the general amusement, and to listen
to the contributions of others. Every one was openly criticised and
honestly applauded according to his merit. The barren fecundity of
Parny could find admirers as well as the noble poetry of Delille. There
was scarcely, indeed, a distinction of _coterie_, so nicely were the
elements of this society blended. The only dissidence which existed
was between Madame Geoffrin and the Abbé Morellet, in consequence of
the preference of Jean Jacques Rousseau for the house of the latter.
Madame Geoffrin had sought by every means in her power to conciliate
the good-will and favour of Jean Jacques, but she was too fond of
patronage. And to all her advances he had answered, in his surly
language, ‘that he hated both benefits and benefactors.’

“The well-known _mot piquant_ of Madame Geoffrin upon the abbé’s
guests, which she declared were composed of ‘_trompeurs_, _trompés_,
_trompettes_,’ amply revenged her disappointment, but widened the
breach between the rival camps.

“‘The chief delight of the abbé’s réunions,’ says M. de Talleyrand,
‘was the perfect equality which reigned there. The terror of any
encroachment or assumption of superiority was so great, that Madame
Suard, on being accused of allowing D’Alembert to act as _president_
of the society gathered at her house, by placing him on a higher
_fauteuil_ than those occupied by the other guests, was obliged to
_apologize_ for so doing, and to plead the ill health and weakened
digestion of the philosopher, which compelled him to remain continually
in an almost upright position.’

“‘Good Heavens! what a quantity of pattens!’ exclaimed, in a sneering
tone, M. de Creutz, the Swedish ambassador, as he entered the ante-room
at Madame du Deffand’s, where Madame Necker had undertaken to present
him.

“‘So much the better,’ answered the lady, ‘they give us promise of good
company.’

“It was in the frank reception of talent, no matter whence it emanated,
wherein lay the secret charm of these _conversaziones_. No individual
was excluded as a matter of course, none admitted as a matter of right.

“I remember being once much delighted with an argument which took
place upon this very subject between the prince and one of the best
writers of our own day, who has since risen to greatness and power by
the assistance of his pen alone. The latter maintained that a greater
knowledge of mankind was to be obtained by the study of well-written
books, than could be acquired even by personal experience. The prince,
in reply, gave utterance to some of the most beautiful and original
thoughts which I have ever heard him express.

“‘Tell me not of books,’ said he, good-humouredly, ‘they never can
contain the _natural_ impressions of the writer. They can express
neither surprise nor fear—the very anger which they convey has been
all premeditated. Tell me not of books—they are “composed” by men, and
are even greater hypocrites than they. The history of every age would
be found with far greater truth in the history of its conversations
(_causeries_) than in the most brilliant of its literary productions.
Few men write, all converse; authors have copied each other both in
style and sentiment ever since the world began, but the _causeur_ is
himself, and speaks as he feels and thinks. The old axiom, _verba
volant_, is a great evil, but the addition to the proverb, _scripta
manent_, is a greater still. You, who are preparing to write the
history of one of the greatest struggles which ever took place in the
annals of the universe, would do well to study the history of the
conversations of the generations preceding; you will find there the
preconception of many an event which falsely seems to have occurred
spontaneously, and which overwhelms us with wonder at its apparent
rashness. Even Louis Quatorze, whose Bastille yawned so greedily for
those who dared to _write_ a syllable against the justice of his
measures, was known to wince beneath the lash of the witty _causeurs_
of his day; he felt that he was powerless against their attacks, and
was compelled to flatter and to pardon, as Richelieu, that greater
tyrant still, had been forced to do before him. He was too clever to
affect to despise their ridicule, and trembled, lest resenting it might
expose him to further stings.’

“‘These witlings are as troublesome as summer-flies,’ said the
magnificent monarch one day to Colbert, who had reported to him an
epigram which he had heard in the _salon_ of Madame Cornuel.

“‘Yes, sire, _and just as unconquerable_,’ replied Colbert.

“‘To which remark the greatest sovereign of the world could only answer
with a sigh of mortified conviction. Not a privilege was granted during
the reign, not a decree was passed, which had not first been debated
in the circles of fashion, with as much bitterness and energy as it
afterwards created in the royal council chamber. The memoirs of the
time, the letters of Madame de Sevigné, bear ample evidence of this.
The regent who succeeded, was himself of a spirit too near akin to
the intrepid _causeurs_ of his reign to visit them with severity. He
laughed with them and at them, while his harshness to those writers
who displeased him was even greater than that of his predecessor.
Louis Quinze encouraged not the persecution of authors, but loved to
listen to the daily report of the “conversations” which took place,
not only among the court circles, but even down to those of the
lowest _bourgeoisie_. Madame de Pompadour complains bitterly, in one
of her letters, of this extraordinary apathy concerning the libels
which were published both against herself and him. “He cares not for
what is written, only for what is said,” exclaimed she, “as if any
consideration could restrain the tongues of ungrateful courtiers.”

“‘The author of the gross epigram upon Marshal Saxe was suffered to
go scot-free, while the poor parrot who recited it at Madame de la
Vaillière’s for the amusement of the company, was punished with the
Bastille for life. Now compare all these _causeries_ and their results
to the _conversations_ of the eighteenth century, and their gigantic
issue—the great revolution. The displacing of a minister—the puerile
questions of religious form—the end and aim of Télémaque—these were the
kind of questions which had formed the subjects of debate during the
reign of Louis Quatorze. The acrimony with which they were discussed,
and the genius and passion which were displayed in the disputes to
which they gave rise, sometimes went far enough to alarm the throne,
without creating the slightest interest in the minds of the people.

“‘How different the consequences of that single remark, made in the
midst of a gay and laughing _coterie_, soon after the accession
of Louis Seize, when everything promised security and happiness,
prosperity within and peace without, when not a single indication of
the distant tempest had as yet appeared; and the old nobleman asked,
in jeering pleasantry, of his son, who was speaking of the power of
the law—“And pray, young man, will you tell me what _is_ the law?”
and was answered by the young man with sudden inspiration, “The law
is the expression of the general will!” The axiom has since been
repeated to satiety, and has formed the text and basis of the grandest
arguments of the revolutionary orators, but few know that it was
first pronounced in the manner I have described. I found the whole
account of this “conversation” in a letter among my uncle’s papers,
in which the writer, who was present when it occurred, gives also the
description of the high disputes which the remark created, after the
first moment of silence with which it was received—the silence of
conviction in the young, the silence of disapproval in the old—had
passed away. This maxim, which, dropped thus at random, buried like the
acorn, not forgotten, and which brought forth such goodly fruit in its
due time and season, is another proof of the tremendous power of our
_soi-disant_ “gay and frivolous” CONVERSATION.’”



CHAPTER IV.

  TALLEYRAND’S BOUDOIR—PORTRAITS—MADAME DE BRIONNE—MADAME DE
    FLAHAUT—A GAMBLING SCENE—THE CHEVALIER DE FENELON—MADAME
    GRANDT—PRINCESS TALLEYRAND.


On the morning after the conversation on the art of conversing, which
I have just transcribed, I happened to find myself for some little
time alone with C. in the prince’s dressing-room. I had been summoned
to the sanctum by M. de Talleyrand himself, who had received letters
from England by that day’s post, in answering which my English might,
he thought, be turned to account. I had obeyed the message with the
greatest pleasure, as C. had already informed me that admission to
his boudoir at the hour of his toilet was an honour sought by many,
and accorded but to few. In this exclusion he was most rigid, and he
reserved the admission as a _distinction_, refusing to yield it as a
right even to his most intimate friends. It was perhaps well that he
did so, for, by a singular inconsistency, he who has been so often
reproached with prudence and caution, was at this moment unguarded and
unsuspicious as a child. As I had, according to the etiquette of the
place, forestalled by some little time the precise moment fixed by the
prince for our rendezvous, I profited by the vacant time to examine
attentively the furniture and ornaments of this favourite retreat of
the diplomatist, wherein perhaps the peace or discord of European
states had been at various times planned and promoted.

It was a light and cheerful apartment, looking out into the fosses
surrounding the château, which, at that season of the year, were all
gay with verdure and flowering shrubs; then far away the view extended
over the park, at the end of which the dark forest encircles the
landscape with a belt of sombre hue, and shuts out the distant horizon.
The room contained but little furniture, and that all of the antique
cast, in use at the time of the Empire, hard and angular, stiff and
naked. The large leathern chair for the prince, which stood in the
centre of the room beside an old-fashioned dressing-table, upon which
were already spread the divers utensils for his approaching toilet,
although giving my _English_ prejudices a slight _inquietude_, yet
awoke certain pleasurable reminiscences of the court of Louis Seize
and the _toilette du matin_ of the beaux and _muscadins_ of ’89. Near
these stood a mahogany bureau, upon which his secretary wrote while the
prince dictated the correspondence even amid the elaborate manœuvres
of two valets-de-chambre, which kept him for the moment in a state of
discomfort and subjection.

The walls were hung round with portraits. C. told me that they were,
without exception, those of _friends_, and I examined the collection
with the greatest interest. They were arranged without any attempt at
order, neither by age nor date, merely according to the shape of the
frame, and the size of the panel, and it was curious to observe the
confusion to which such an arrangement had given rise; Alexander the
autocrat and Mirabeau the democrat hung side by side, while Fréron
and Voltaire gazed at each other with that peculiar smirk which has
been so happily denominated the “painter’s smile.” I was struck with
the vast number of female portraits, of all ages and denominations,
which met the eye; there was a beautiful crayon drawing of Madame de
Genlis with her harp, and another of Madame de Staël with her book
and pencil, and a full-length painting of Madame Roland hung opposite
to one of Madame de Lamballe. I glanced over the collection with most
intense interest; it was the romantic chapter of the life of M. de
Talleyrand, one with which diplomacy and politics had nought to do.
“How I should love you to tell me the history of the individuals whose
representations are assembled here,” said I to C., who was watching me
as I walked leisurely round; “what admirable illustrations to your ‘Vie
Anecdotique’ they would furnish!”

“Indeed,” returned my friend, “the ‘Vie Anecdotique’ would scarcely be
complete without them. As I have already told you, M. de Talleyrand,
from his earliest youth, has relied upon the support and patronage of
women. There is scarcely one of these ladies who has not played some
part in the advancement of his fortune. You might follow the epochs
of his life by the title and social position of his patronesses.
You smile; but it is even so. No _English_ mind can ever be made
to comprehend the sort of _liaison_ which sometimes exists between
persons of different sex in France. It is of every kind of friendship
the most pure and disinterested; _love_ is seldom generated by
these attachments; that sentiment would on the one side tend to mar
the devotion, and on the other, render the feeling liable to the
changes and chances of caprice. I could call to mind numberless
examples of this species of allegiance, which, having begun in youth,
have continued unto old age with the same confidence, the same
self-sacrifice. Come hither; you will find an apt illustration of my
meaning.”

He led me to a portrait placed in the shadow of the chimney. “This was
the first friend of M. de Talleyrand, when he was a youth just let
loose from the _séminaire_, and she whom this picture represents was
a woman already advancing to maturity. Surely we cannot suspect the
existence of love _there_. This lady, whose name was so long associated
with every early success of the prince, when he was still Abbé de
Perigord, was the celebrated Comtesse de Brionne, the mother of the
unfortunate Princess de Lamballe, and grandmother of the present King
of Sardinia. She was the first to distinguish the merit of the young
abbé, and by her influence to maintain him in his position in spite of
the dislike manifested towards him by the court of Marie Antoinette.
Even lately I heard him speak of her in terms of intense gratitude
and affection; and his voice, usually so deep and grave, faltered as
he recounted to me the story of her death. She was among the first
emigrants after the breaking out of the revolution, and retired to the
Austrian dominions, having, by permission of the emperor, assumed the
title of Princess of Lorraine. There she lived in poverty and obscurity
for some years, resisting every effort made by M. de Talleyrand to
obtain forgiveness for what she deemed his _crime_ in having deserted
his caste and renounced his profession, to adopt the principles of the
revolution.

“Among the little circle of devoted friends who had gathered round
her in her exile, the conduct of M. de Talleyrand was frequently the
subject of conversation, and she has been heard to declare that his
defalcation had given her more pain than many sorrows which ought to
have touched her more nearly. In the year 1805, when M. de Talleyrand,
then in the zenith of his favour with Napoleon, accompanied the latter
on his famous tour of ‘mediation’ into Austria, he repaired to the
little town of Linz, where the princess had chosen her retreat,
expressly to obtain an interview, with the hope of soothing her into
forgetfulness of his errors. The letter which he despatched from the
inn where he alighted, was a model of grace and politeness. He had
recalled in its composition all the half-forgotten traditions of
courtesy and high breeding which he had learned in her school. He had
flattered her by every expression of gratitude for former favours,
appealed to the memory of bygone days, and announced his intention of
personally waiting upon her for the answer on the morning following,
unless he received a summons to appear before her that same evening.

“No answer came that night, and accordingly, about twelve on the day
following, the prince set forth from the little inn where he had
alighted, to gain the small château, situated a short league from the
town, where the princess resided, full of doubt, and already somewhat
disappointed at not having received, in reply to his letter, even
so much as a cold permission to present himself before her. He had
attired himself in a costume which should recall to her mind as much
as possible the period of their first acquaintance, having carefully
laid aside every token of the rank which he held at the court of the
usurper, resolving that nothing in his person or demeanour should
shock the taste and feelings of his friend. He has often owned to me
that his heart beat with such violence as he drew near the château
which the guide pointed out to him as that occupied by the princess,
that he felt half inclined to turn back, and to leave his errand
unaccomplished until he had received some token of the oblivion of his
errors, which he had been at so much pains to seek.

“At length, the carriage stopped before the gate of a ruinous-looking
building, which stood on the brow of the hill outside the town. M. de
Talleyrand alighted, and walked up to the iron gate which looked into
the forecourt, for he thought it might appear more discreet and in
better taste to avoid every semblance of state and ceremony. He wished
to bring to her mind the Abbé de Perigord alone, and hoped she might
forget what he had become since then. The whole place wore a wild and
desolate aspect, and the silence alarmed him. Not a soul was stirring
about the premises, and what was still more extraordinary, was the
circumstance of the shutters being all closed, although it was bright
noon-day.

“He pulled the bell with a violent effort, and it sent forth that
hollow, melancholy sound which is so peculiar to a deserted building.
The summons was answered by an old portress, who hobbled to the gate
with lagging pace, and eyes red and swollen with weeping, while, close
at her heels, followed the old dog, whom he recognised on the instant
as old Vaillant, who used to run so joyously down the steps of the
_perron_ to meet him when he entered the courtyard of the hotel of
Madame de Brionne in Paris. But the animal knew him no longer, for he
barked and growled with savage fury at every token of recognition, and
the woman only sobbed the louder in answer to his inquiries.

“‘The princess was _gone_!’ she said. ‘She had departed but a few
hours before. She had left the château with all her retinue, and she
feared that her highness would never return!’ M. de Talleyrand has
described the pang of that moment as being one of the most bitter that
he has ever experienced throughout his whole life; and he remained
for an instant silent from emotion. The woman drew from her pocket a
letter which she said was to be delivered to the gentleman who had
written from Linz on the evening before, and who was to call for the
answer. The prince took it in silence, not daring even to gaze upon its
contents until alone. He re-entered the carriage, and drove towards
the town, and it was not until the château was lost to sight, and the
barking of old Vaillant was heard no more, that he mustered courage
sufficient to break the seal and open the envelope.

“It contained nought but his own letter—not a word, not a syllable in
explanation. He turned to the superscription, and then no longer felt
astonishment. It was addressed to the ‘_Prince de Benevent, Ministre
de Napoleon, Empereur des Français_.’ Every word was underlined; the
meaning was clear. Such a person was unknown to the Princesse de
Lorraine! In spite of her advanced age and feeble health—in spite of
the assurance of protection which Napoleon had vouchsafed to her on
his approach, she had fled from the place rather than meet him who had
deceived all her hopes, and fallen so low (to use her own expression)
as ‘to serve as footstool to enable the usurper to sit more at his ease
upon the throne of the Bourbons.’ She returned no more to Linz even
after the departure of Napoleon, but fixed her residence at Presburg;
and when M. de Talleyrand repaired to Vienna to assist at the famous
Congress of 1814, his friendship made him forget his former repulse,
and once more did he solicit more humbly, more passionately than
before, for pardon and reconciliation. This time the appeal was not in
vain; he had returned to the good and righteous cause; he had once more
re-entered the _voie sacrée_, and she answered him in her own hand, and
by return of courier, bidding him use all despatch, as ‘the moments now
were numbered.’

“No sooner did the missive reach him, than he set out from Vienna
without a moment’s delay, travelling night and day, until he reached
Presburg. It was just at the grey peep of dawn when he traversed the
streets of that ancient city, but yet he resolved to drive at once,
prompted by one of those singular presentiments to which through life
he has always listened, to the old palace which the princess now
inhabited.

“How different was his reception from that he had experienced at Linz!
Even at this early hour, servants were standing round the gate; and
as soon as his carriage, with the broad rattling wheels and jingling
bells, had turned the corner of the street, the gates were thrown open
wide, and the carriage entered at once, without impediment. It was
evident that he had been expected with impatience, for he was received
in silence, as if there had been no time to waste in idle greeting. The
old servants whom he remembered did not speak out their welcome, but
merely bowed in acknowledgment of his kindly recognition, and hurried
him without announcement and without ceremony to the chamber of their
mistress.

“It was not until he stood upon the threshold of that silent chamber
and viewed the scene within, that the truth flashed upon his mind—then
the reason of the expectation and the silent greeting, of the haste in
which he had been ushered into her presence, became evident at once,
and he tottered forward to the bed, and fell upon his knees by the
side of the priest, whose muttered prayer filled the room with a low
mysterious murmur. Madame de Brionne was dying; her eyes were already
closed, and her fingers were already relaxing their grasp of the rosary
which lay outside the bed. It seemed as if the repose of death had
already stolen over her, when suddenly, as if a supernatural instinct
had warned her of the entrance of M. de Talleyrand, she started
up, and gazed at him fixedly; then said, with a sweet, sad smile of
affection, as she stretched forth her hand towards him, ‘Ah, Monsieur
de Perigord, _you alone_ can tell how dearly I have loved you!’ She
sighed deeply, sank back upon the pillow, and before his lips had
ceased their pressure upon her outstretched hand, it lay powerless and
dead within his own! She had died while the words of tenderness with
which she had greeted him were yet upon her lips, and while that smile
of recognition yet lingered on her placid countenance. And when M. de
Talleyrand rose from that bedside, her form was already straightened
beneath the coverlet; the tapers were already lighted round the bed,
and the sheet was thrown over her face, concealing it from view, so
that he beheld it no more!

“I have always considered this event as one of the most touching
episodes in M. de Talleyrand’s life. I have heard him speak of Madame
de Brionne in terms of the highest veneration, as a woman of the most
exalted virtue, and one of the grandest souls he had ever met with,
well fitted by nature to be that which fortune had made her—the sister
and mother of kings and princes—and there is, perhaps, a little
remorse mingled with the regret with which he laments the loss of her
society during so many years. Her advice had guided and sustained his
youth; it might, perhaps, have aided him in his maturer age; and, while
he was at the height of his power and influence during the empire, he
has often surprised, in his own mind, a slight feeling of uneasiness
respecting the sentiment with which Madame de Brionne would peruse the
journals wherein his name was mentioned in connexion with that of the
emperor. I think that the tie which bound him to Madame de Brionne
must have been the only one by which he suffered his soul to be held
captive. In other cases, he withstood the influence; in this one alone
did he submit to it, perhaps, in fact, scarcely conscious of his
slavery.

“The next link in these voluntary bonds was that woven by beauty
and talent combined. Young as he was, he was already too old to be
captivated by wit _alone_. The _liaison_ to which I now refer has made
much noise in the world, and were I attempting to represent the prince,
not as he really is, but as I should wish to find him, I might gloss
over the one spot of this kind which has darkened his career, or
endeavour to wipe off the reproach which he has incurred; but I will
give you the facts as they really were, leaving you to make your own
comments.

“It would appear that, contrary to the usual theory, the fascination
entered neither by the eye nor by the ear; it was the result of
fanatical admiration of his great powers of mind. This lady was
married, at the age of fifteen, to the Count de Flahaut, who was
fifty-eight. With the steady, uncompromising morality of your English
principles, you will, perhaps, be startled at the coolness with which
I mention this; but surely there is some excuse in this unjustifiable
union, and the unstability of principle at the time, and it is unfair
to separate crime and error from the institutions from which they have
arisen. It was not till after the death of her husband, who perished on
the scaffold in ’92, that she became acquainted with M. de Talleyrand,
having been in active correspondence with him during the whole period
of his exile, and having saved him, by her timely information of the
state of feelings and parties in Paris, from acting with precipitation,
and from yielding to the treacherous invitations of false friends, who
advised his return to certain destruction. He had received, for many
months, regular intimation of all that was passing in the capital. At
first he had paid but small attention to these anonymous epistles, but,
by degrees, as he beheld the realization of all the previsions put
forth by the unknown writer, he took confidence, and resolved to abide
by the counsels expressed in the mysterious letters, and so blindly
did he rely upon the correctness of the information contained therein,
that, being twice upon the point of re-crossing the channel, he twice
deferred the step in obedience to the advice of his anonymous friend,
and each time had cause of rejoicing that he had thus acted.

“Madame Champion, at that time, like himself, an exile in London, was
his only confidante in this affair, and to her alone did he communicate
his embarrassment touching the author of the correspondence. I have
spoken to you before about the singular fatality which has sometimes
attended upon the steps of M. de Talleyrand, and which must be
attributable to his surprising memory and great powers of observation.
In this instance did he once more experience its influence, and by its
aid alone, I have often heard him declare, did he discover the name
and station of his benefactor.

“He had one day been speaking with Madame Champion upon the subject,
and in his perplexity was enumerating the relations whose affection
could be likely thus to render them vigilant and clear-sighted; she
had called over successively every degree of relationship—aunt,
uncle, cousin, brother. But to every new suggestion, M. de Talleyrand
discovered some well-founded objection, until, at last, Madame Champion
cried, laughingly, ‘Well, it is evident, then, you have, as in the good
old fairy tales, some wise and powerful _Marraine_.’ M. de Talleyrand
shook his head. ‘Alas, Madame, neither _Marraine_ nor _Filleul_,’
returned he, quoting from Beaumarchais’s ‘Figaro,’ and the subject
dropped.

“It was soon after this that the unknown friend advised his return to
Paris, and, as he had hitherto found benefit in following the counsels
thus conveyed, he hesitated not in this instance. Upon his arrival in
the capital, he found everything in the state in which he had been
led to expect it, and his greeting was such as to make him rejoice
that he had not lingered in the execution of the step suggested by
his well-wisher. After this, he was indefatigable in his researches.
He kept the adventure no secret, but told it in every circle he
frequented; hoping thereby to obtain some clue to the discovery of his
benefactor. He felt sure that the letters were written by a female, not
from the handwriting, nor from any peculiar refinement of style, but
from the singular mixture of boldness and timidity which was evident
in every line. The deep interest expressed for his safety, and yet the
kind of awkward fear lest this interest should be exaggerated in the
mind of the reader; in short, whether it was that the conviction of
M. de Talleyrand led him to believe that such disinterested sentiment
could emanate from none but a woman, I know not, but it is certain that
never did his suspicion light on an individual of the other sex, while,
from the very moment of his return to Paris, did he begin to look
around among the women of his acquaintance, and to fix suspicion upon
each, until further research displayed the futility of his surmises.

“He had already been for some time at Paris without being able to
obtain a clue whereby to form any probable conjectures upon the
subject, when, one evening, being by chance at a _soirée_ given by
Barras, his attention was attracted to a young lady whom he had at
first observed with that languid indifference with which one is too
apt to survey a stranger, where there is nothing in particular to
arrest the attention. M. de Talleyrand had been standing, half hid by
a curtain, in a recess of one of the windows, talking to Count Réal,
and the lady had left her seat at the further end of the room, to
take one close beside him. He had paid but slight attention to this
circumstance, and after the departure of Réal, went to join the group
of talkers assembled in the doorway.

“He had not been here many moments, before he observed the same pale
lady in deep black move stealthily from the place which she had
occupied, and where she had been listening with glistening eyes and
heaving bosom to the various questions of interest which he had been
debating, and again seat herself close to his side. M. de Talleyrand,
struck with the pertinacity with which she seemed to follow his
movements, was naturally led to examine her with more attention. She
was of small stature, and delicate in feature, with eyes of most
peculiar lustre, and the sable weeds in which she was attired added to
the interest inspired by her youth and pallid countenance. ‘Who is that
lady?’ asked M. de Talleyrand, abruptly, of the person with whom he was
conversing. The lady blushed deep as scarlet. It was evident that she
had heard the question. ‘She is the widow of the Count de Flahaut,’
was the reply; but it conveyed no association to the memory of M. de
Talleyrand, and he shook his head, endeavouring to recall to mind the
name at the old court, when suddenly his informant continued, ‘You
surely must remember her marriage? It is not so very long ago. She was
a Demoiselle _Filleul_, a name of no importance—second-rate provincial
_hobereaux_.’

“The word acted like magic upon the whole nervous system of M. de
Talleyrand. By some unaccountable chain of thought, the laughing
observation of Madame Champion recurred to his mind, and he inquired
more fully concerning the lady. Everything he heard tended to confirm
the idea which had so strangely taken possession of his mind with
regard to her identity with his unknown protector. His first step, of
course, was to get himself presented to her. And how could he, with
his tact and observation, fail to perceive the strong emotion visible
in her manner of acknowledging his attentions, and the faltering,
unsteady voice in which she answered his seemingly careless, though
strictly polite address? He steadfastly avoided, however, in this first
interview, any allusion to his journey to London or to his return—he
was fearful of creating embarrassment—fearful of exciting alarm or
suspicion of his real motive for seeking her acquaintance, and he was
aware of the necessity for prudence and discretion. He despatched a
note the next morning to inquire at what hour he might be permitted to
present himself at the lady’s house. This was done designedly.

“The handwriting of the few lines of cold politeness which he received
in answer, confirmed at once the bold hope he had entertained; and
he hurried to the appointment, with what feelings of tenderness and
gratitude may well be imagined. In all the conversations which I have
held with him upon the subject, he has never been led into betraying
the particulars of this interview—no one can tell how he first broke to
the lady the discovery he had made, nor how she received his warm and
trembling thanks; but from that hour her spirit had found its master,
and bowed to his own, held captive and enslaved.

“The faith and devotion of the fair young countess, were never belied
through the long years of trial and vicissitude which followed, and
instances are recorded of her risking hopes of fame and fortune, nay,
her very life itself, to aid the prince in the struggle against destiny
which he had so bravely undertaken. She twice made the journey to
England alone, without protection, going round by way of Holland, to
serve him; and when, by the sale of her first novel in England, she
had realized a small sum of money, it was shared with him, who, she
declared to the latest hour of her life, had more right to it than
she herself, for he it was who had caused her to exercise the talent
which Heaven had bestowed, and the existence of which she would never
have known had it not been for the taste and cultivation which he had
imparted.

“Their double marriage was a double error, which has never been
satisfactorily accounted for, and which must remain a secret. In the
case of the lady it brought rank and affluence, but neither ease of
mind nor happiness, while in that of the prince, which _followed_ soon
after, the consequences were humiliation and disappointment.”

“Oh!” said I, “you must surely have something to tell me concerning the
marriage of the prince? That is one of the greatest events of his life,
and one which has puzzled his biographers more than his most ambiguous
proceedings.”

“The world has been unjust to Madame de Talleyrand,” replied C. “I
knew her for many years, and she was far from being the fool which it
has pleased the public to consider her. M. de Talleyrand himself, amid
all his good-humoured quotations of her _bêtise_, or absence of mind,
cannot help pausing to commend the great tact and admirable _esprit
de conduite_ which made her, during those years when he was in high
office under Napoleon’s government, an invaluable aid and ally by the
manner in which she practised that most difficult art, so highly prized
by the French, _l’art de tenir son salon_. This, to a man of M. de
Talleyrand’s tastes, might be of much more importance than the _bon
mots_ of Madame de Staël, or the stately dignity of Madame Recamier.
Look at yonder portrait by the side of the window, and you can judge
of the beauty which had power to fascinate a man so _difficile_ and
_blasé_ as M. de Talleyrand.”

C. drew aside the blue silk curtain which shaded the casement, in order
to throw a full light upon the picture of which he spoke, and I was
positively startled at the heavenly beauty of the countenance thus
disclosed. It was indeed lovely, and I felt at once that no further
explanation was necessary to account for the step which had excited so
much astonishment and so much condemnation.

“However, many reasons did exist more worthy both of M. de Talleyrand
himself and of the object of his choice; and in spite of all that
has gone abroad respecting his caprice, I have ever found that those
who had known her longest, loved her most. I have myself heard M. de
Talleyrand recount the story of their first meeting, which he did with
most exquisite relish, smacking strongly of the good old times of
Lauzun and Richelieu, and not a whit the less amusing for all that.
It was one of the most memorable evenings in the whole private life
of Monsieur de Talleyrand. He had been attending the debates of the
Manège, and, harassed and wearied with the vast farrago of nonsense
which he had heard poured forth for so many hours, was returning home
with the intention of going early to bed, when, in the middle of the
street, his arm was seized by one of his old associates, the Chevalier
de Fénélon, who, according to custom, was hurrying to the faro-table,
and who pressed M. de Talleyrand to join him, declaring that he had
spent the day in combinations and calculations to ensure winning, and
that he was convinced that if he could only put them to the proof that
very night, he was _en veine_ to break every faro bank in Paris. It
needed but little persuasion perhaps to induce M. de Talleyrand, in the
frame of mind in which he then was, to yield to the temptation, and he
followed the chevalier with no feeling save that of curiosity, never
intending to play himself that night, but to act merely as spectator of
the wondrous success of his companion. The house chosen by the latter
as theatre of his anticipated exploits was the _tripot_ in the Palais
Royal, known even then as the famous ‘_Cent Treize_.’

“Fénélon, whose reliance on his own resources was proverbial, seated
himself at the long roulette table with perfect ease and confidence,
while M. de Talleyrand, who knew the deplorable state of his friend’s
finances at the time, stood behind him, trembling for his fate,
and watching with anxiety every roll of the balls, every slide of
the shovel. One—two—three passes had been played, however, and the
chevalier, according to his own anticipation, won on, consulting
at each call from the croupier the slip of paper which he held in
his hand, and upon which were scrawled his calculations concerning
the chances of the game. This success did not at first attract any
extraordinary attention. Examples of luck in the outset were but too
common; but when hit after hit was made, and still the chance remained
the same, whispers began to float around the table that all was not
fair and as it should be. The chevalier heeded not the effect that his
extraordinary run of luck had produced, but continued in silence to
sweep the gold into a heap before him, regarding perhaps with an undue
share of that malicious enjoyment in which it was his wont to indulge,
the astonishment and discomfiture of his opponents.

“It was evident that this state of things could not last long; the
murmurs of the players, the manifest terror of the bankers, were
beginning to disturb the game, when presently one of the croupiers
came between the friends, and with pale and trembling lips whispered
in the ear of the winner a few words which made him start. A warm
conversation, still in the same mysterious whisper, was for a few
moments carried on between them; and finally, after various signs of
supplication on the part of the croupier, and of doubt and hesitation
on the part of the chevalier, it was announced to the assembled players
that M. de Fénélon would retire from the contest upon payment of the
sum still left in the bank, which could be subscribed among them, and
thus diminish the loss to each so as to be scarcely felt by any.

“This singular proposition, unheard of in the annals of the
gaming-table, was received with the most profound indignation and
astonishment on the part of the losers, but Fénélon himself undertook
to prove that they could not lose, but must be the gainers, as his
_reine_ would most assuredly break the bank at the next roll of
the balls. After some few uncouth exclamations on the part of the
gentlemen, and a little pouting on the part of the ladies, the matter
was carried. Fénélon was ‘paid off’ by a subscription, and dismissed
with many a muttered curse from the honest and reputable assembly.

“Upon leaving the gaming-house, the chevalier’s joy became uproarious,
and he trod the silent streets, reeling with laughter at the whimsical
trick which Dame Fortune had condescended to play him. He chinked the
gold in his pockets until it rang again, and made his companion dread
lest the sound should be overheard by any of those nocturnal marauders
with whom the streets of Paris at that time abounded. He even threw
a handful of the coin down the grating of a cellar, for the sake of
wondering what the occupants of the miserable hole would think of such
good luck when they should awake the next morning. M. de Talleyrand,
who never could endure any kind of midnight brawling, was right glad
when they had reached the residence of his friend, and wished him good
night with hearty good-will, content to be rid of his uncouth laughter
and joyless gaiety.

“But Fénélon was not at all disposed to acquiesce in his friend’s
desire for rest and quiet. The excess of good fortune had wrought the
same effect as an excess of wine. He was as much excited as though he
had been drinking the whole night; and when it came to the parting
at his own door, he would not hear of M. de Talleyrand’s returning
without recruiting his strength for the remainder of his walk by a
libation in honour of the propitious fates. Had it been daylight, he
would have immediately laid out the whole of his winnings in some
wild and fanciful gala to his friends. M. de Talleyrand needed some
little pressing to enter. He was tired and sleepy; giddy, too, with
the noise and rattle of his companion, and longed to be at home and to
be at rest. However, there was no resistance possible, and before he
could even form an excuse for retiring, he found himself comfortably
seated in the _roué’s_ own private sanctum, whither few of his sex, and
certainly none of his calling, had ever penetrated before. Champagne
was now called for; the rouleaux were displayed in piles upon the
table; every taper in the girandoles was lighted; a roaring fire was
soon kindled on the hearth; the clock on the mantelpiece, which marked
two, was stopped by a jerk from the chevalier’s finger; and the cards
were brought from the drawer of a book-case in the corner of the
chimney.

“M. de Talleyrand was but little prepared for the excitement of cards;
the very sight of them was sickening, after the long hours spent
at the _tripot_, and he at once declined the game, expressing his
intention of withdrawing without further delay, as he had much business
to transact in the morning. But Fénélon laughed, as well he might, for
none ever escaped who had once fallen into his clutches, and he filled
the glasses with champagne, all the while sorting and dealing the cards
for piquet, as if his friend had not uttered a word; then looked at
his game, called out “seven for a point,” and tossed off a bumper,
while he waited for the answer. This _sang-froid_ was irresistible. M.
de Talleyrand, although grumbling at his own fatigue and the lateness
of the hour, took up the cards spread out before him, and was soon
interested in the chances of the game, which seemed at first to be as
much in favour of his adversary, as they had been already at the Rouge
et Noir table.

“‘What are our stakes?’ said Fénélon, presently; ‘it is for you to
propose, as the luck seems to be all mine to-night.’ ‘They must be
small, indeed,’ said M. de Talleyrand, drawing out his purse, which
contained but little, and throwing it carelessly on the table. ‘Done!’
cried the chevalier, turning its contents out upon the green-cloth.
‘Come, courage; double or quits until morning!’ This first trial
of skill was in a few moments decided in his favour, and he swept
the contents of the purse, as he had done the louis-d’ors of the
gaming-house, into his own heap, which seemed destined to grow
monstrous.

“M. de Talleyrand played on, and grew more resolute as his adversary
grew more ironical and insolent. He lost his watch; his chain and
seals; the ring which he had saved amid all his embarrassment and
poverty, during his uncertain wanderings in foreign climes; he
lost the very buckles off his shoes, and the knee-clasps from his
inexpressibles, and at last rose from the table, declaring that he
must now go home, as he had nothing more to lose. ‘Pardon me,’ laughed
the chevalier, ‘you have yet another stake against which I have no
objection to venture this heap of gold, without counting.’ M. de
Talleyrand still denied the possession of any article of value; but
the chevalier pointed to his breast-pin—a long gilt pin surmounted by
one of those scarlet berries with a black spot at the extremity, which
we call _grains rouges d’Amerique_. M. de Talleyrand objected that the
article was not worth a franc; scarcely, indeed, a few sous. It had
been the gift of a negress at Philadelphia, and it was by a singular
mistake that he had placed it in his bosom, instead of the one of great
value which he usually wore. He had changed his dress at twilight,
and, in passing his hand over the toilet-cushion, had drawn forth the
trumpery ornament which he now displayed, instead of the emerald he had
apparently mislaid when he had changed his cravat. The circumstance,
which had been considered a freak on his part, had even attracted the
attention of a neighbour at the club, who had pointed it out to him,
and who had been much amused by the surprise which the discovery had
occasioned.

“M. de Talleyrand vainly urged the utter worthlessness of the trinket.
The chevalier was in high glee, and, insisting upon its following the
rest of the spoils, placed it beside the goodly heap of gold upon
the table, chuckling all the while with that irritating irony which
would long before have dashed into fury any temper less calm than that
of his companion. But M. de Talleyrand laughed with him, and, as he
disengaged the pin from the plaits of his neckcloth, merely related
how that, having saved the black cook at the house where he lodged, at
Philadelphia, from a severe punishment, she had given him this bauble
as a precious remembrance of her gratitude. It had been charmed by the
Obeah man, she had told him, and was considered a talisman against evil
fortune.

“‘It has not answered to-night, at all events,’ exclaimed the
chevalier. ‘The devil’s charm which _you_ carry is stronger than the
Obeah-man’s!’ replied M. de Talleyrand; and they began their game once
more. The cards were this time more favourable; but Fénélon lost the
hard-fought battle with good grace, and whistled merrily as he cut
the cards to his adversary. How shall I tell you what followed? It
seems so strange a tale, that you will hesitate to believe it, and
yet I give you my honour that it is true. The first game was won by
M. de Talleyrand—the first during the whole evening, and it was with
a nervous eagerness that he snatched up his trumpery pin, leaving the
gold which the chevalier had staked to be doubled in the next hand,
for again was Talleyrand the winner. The tide of fortune had turned.
He went on winning, without intermission, until near daylight, when
the whole of the gold which had been won at the gaming-house was
transferred from the pocket of the chevalier to that of his friend!

“M. de Talleyrand had several times requested leave to depart, but
Fénélon had obstinately refused to allow him to withdraw, so long as
there remained a single louis on the board or a single trinket in his
possession. It was five o’clock when the adversaries at length rose, M.
de Talleyrand, embarrassed with his success, the chevalier mortified
and crest-fallen, when the latter, with a sudden inspiration, thumping
his fist upon the table, exclaimed, ‘One more trial, and I have done!
I _must_ have that confounded breast-pin! By all the powers, the
Obeah-man was right; it is that which brings the luck!’

“‘But what have you to stake against a trinket of so much value?’
returned M. de Talleyrand, endeavouring to laugh away the impression
which, in spite of himself, the occurrences of the evening had made
upon his mind. ‘Look round the room,’ was the answer, ‘choose any
article you like; I feel sure that this time I shall win it; for it was
when you were at your wit’s end that fortune changed!’

“M. de Talleyrand looked round the room, but it was only for form’s
sake. He had already in his own mind chosen his booty. It was a small
silver urn, of antique form and most delicate workmanship. Its
weight and value did not seem very great, neither was it chiselled or
adorned in any manner, but its form was so graceful and elegant, its
proportions so exquisite, that it could not fail to attract the eye of
a connoisseur, and he named it with less compunction from a knowledge
of the smallness of its intrinsic value. The moment he mentioned it,
however, all the desperate gaiety of the chevalier seemed to have
received a sudden check. He started, and set down the glass he was
about to raise to his lips, and, looking full and steadily into the
face of his companion, while, however, his lips quivered slightly, and
his voice was much subdued, he answered, ‘You have fixed upon the only
thing from which I cannot—I dare not part. I could not risk the loss of
that little vase were all the riches in the universe staked against it.’

“M. de Talleyrand was much astonished to find that there was anything
in the world to which Fénélon attached importance, and rallied him upon
the discovery; but, surprising to say, this jest was not met by the
usual spirited rejoinder. His companion answered not, but calling for
more champagne, swallowed a tremendous bumper at a single draught.

“M. de Talleyrand, of course, could offer no objection to this
reasoning, and with a heavy purse and lightened heart he bade his
friend good night, and left the room. Scarcely, however, had he reached
the outer door of the apartment, when the valet-de-chambre, who had
been fast asleep in the ante-chamber, came running after him, with
a request from his master that he would return. The chevalier was
standing over the fire, leaning against the chimney, and clasping
the urn, which he had taken from the book-case where it had reposed,
close to his heart. In an instant, M. de Talleyrand could perceive
that the bottle which he had left upon the table was now emptied;
and, as Fénélon turned towards him, he was startled at beholding his
discomposed and agitated countenance. ‘I have changed my mind,’ said
he; ‘this may be to me what the pin is to you. I have resolved to try
its magic influence against that which has protected you. Speak not a
word—ask me no question—I shall deem the slightest remark as a summons
to meet you in the _Bois de Boulogne_, with witnesses and loaded
weapons!’

“M. de Talleyrand did as he was requested; he placed his _enjeu_ before
him; but he observed that Fénélon grasped the urn with trembling
fingers, until compelled to lose his hold in order to survey his game.
A frightful oath—frightful from the compressed energy with which it was
uttered, flew from his white lips as he looked at his cards; and, with
the instinct of an experienced gamester, beheld his fate. By a really
extraordinary chance, it so happened that this time the cards held by
M. de Talleyrand were what he calls _fabuleuses_—_pique_, _repique_
and _capot_ were carried in the one hand, and the chevalier sat amazed
and stupified, not having been called upon to count a single point. He
rose from the table in desperation, and seized the urn, which M. de
Talleyrand remarked he had removed from the table with almost religious
care when the game began, and handed it to his friend, but at arm’s
length and with averted gaze. The prince had not courage to pursue the
torture, and he said, as he waved it back, ‘Do not press me to accept
the trinket, M. de Fénélon. Take it, I beseech you, as a gift from me;
’twill be but an earnest of the rest of all I have won of you, for you
are sure to have it back again. You know well that I always succeed
in keeping my winnings just long enough to make the loss of them more
severely felt.’

“‘No!’ returned the chevalier, fiercely; ‘what is lost is lost. It is
your right to keep the bauble, and I ask favour of no man. Away with
it, then! To demur in taking up your lawful gains is to give offence to
the loser.’

“‘Well, as you like,’ returned the prince; ‘but remember, I hold the
urn at your disposal should you alter your determination.’

“He took the vase, and placed it beneath his coat. The wistful gaze
of the chevalier smote him to the very heart; but, after the fierce
manner in which his attention had been received, he sought no second
rebuke, and was about to depart; when suddenly, to his great surprise
and alarm, the chevalier rushed forward and tore it from his grasp,
exclaiming, in a tone of the most bitter rage, ‘By the Lord, I am a
fool. I played for nought but the urn. ’Twas the urn alone I lost. You
cannot deny that’—and he cast a furious glance towards his astonished
guest; ‘you said not a word of the _contents_. They are mine by every
law; you _dare_ not say ’tis otherwise. I defy you to tell me that I
spoke of its _contents_.’

“M. de Talleyrand answered not; he was appalled at sight of this
sudden outburst of fury, and Fénélon having, with trembling fingers,
succeeded in tearing open the lid which covered the little vase, and
dashed it with a violent effort against the side of the chimney,
a slender column of dark-coloured ashes, almost impalpable, fell
through the small aperture into the fire, where it blazed with a
small sparkling blue flame for a single moment, then smouldered into
darkness, leaving behind a strong aromatic odour, which seemed to hang
heavily on the atmosphere of the room, causing a sensation of sickness
and a dimness of the sight. Even this died away before the chevalier
had ceased gazing at the spot where the substance had fallen; and M. de
Talleyrand, embarrassed and fearful of giving further offence in the
strange mood in which his companion was, once more slowly took up the
urn and sought the door. He could not avoid turning back to catch one
last glance of the Chevalier de Fénélon. He was leaning with his elbows
on the mantelpiece and his forehead buried in his hands. The bright
light from the tapers in the girandoles fell full upon his countenance
and _struck upon the tears_ which were rolling down his cheeks, causing
them to sparkle and to glisten as they fell.

“The prince closed the door noiselessly, and descended the stairs, full
of a solemn wonder at what he had beheld. He grasped the urn with a
nervous energy beneath his mantle, and with a trembling dread did he
pause beneath the first lamp which hung suspended above the causeway,
to examine it more closely, inspired by a far different interest from
that with which he had hitherto beheld it. He turned it again and again
to the light, but could discern no inscription whereby to gain a clue
to guess at its former destination; the same sickening odour of scented
oils and aromatic spices greeted him from the unclosed aperture, and
it was still heated almost to burning by the careless manner in which
the chevalier had held it to the fire, when shaking out its mysterious
contents.

“He was about to abandon the search, when, by accident having turned it
to replace it in his bosom, a few letters, traced beneath the pedestal,
met his eye; he lifted it to the light of the lantern, and read them
more distinctly. A few particles of the same dark dust which Fénélon
had shaken forth, dropped from the vase upon his hand, and he blew them
off with hasty impatience, nor heeded where they fell. The letters
traced upon the silver were in relief. To a stranger they would have
indicated nothing, but to M. de Talleyrand they were pregnant with a
deep and frightful meaning.

  “_C. H.—March 17th._

  “MERCY AND FORGIVENESS!—MISERERE!”

“In an instant, he remembered the story which had been afloat some
time before, and which he had treated as an old wife’s tale. The
beautiful young Countess H——; her husband’s jealousy—his violent death
by the hand of the chevalier—the wife’s despair and retirement to the
convent at Louvaine—her subsequent death and legacy to Fénélon, which
had caused such condemnation and astonishment. ‘Let my body be opened
after death,’ said she, in her will, ‘and let the heart which has beat
but for him be reduced to ashes, and let it be thus conveyed to him,
so that, when he dies, it may repose within his coffin, for it is his
own.’ She it was who had designed the vase—she who had chosen the
inscription.

“The memory of this event had passed away, and the salons of Paris
had been occupied with other subjects of more stirring import; but
the whole story burst at once, with all its attendant circumstances
of horror, upon the stricken memory of the prince. The dark stream
of ashes and the aromatic odour—the coincidence of the initials and
the date—and then the tears which had been wrung even from those eyes
burning and bloodshot with riot and debauchery—it was evident that the
story which had been told, and which he had doubted when every one else
believed, was too true. He replaced the vase within the folds of his
mantle with a feeling of disgust and hatred towards the cold-blooded
_roué_ whose rage for gaming and excitement had led him to commit this
sacrilegious deed. He inwardly resolved that no temptation should
induce him ever again to associate with the reckless libertine—a
promise, however, which he was not very long called upon to keep; for,
soon after this adventure, the chevalier was found one morning dead
in his bed, having swallowed a strong dose of corrosive acid: fit
termination to his wild, unprincipled career.”

“And what became of the silver urn?” said I.

“M. de Talleyrand, with true delicacy of feeling, sent it the very next
day to the Marquise de Cossé, an old convent friend of the unfortunate
victim, and she, I believe, took the proper means of restoring it to
the family.”

“And the mysterious pin? Have you ever seen it?”

“I have,” replied C., laughing aloud; “at least, when I asked the
prince concerning its fate, I was shewn a long brassy-looking object,
from which all gilding had long ago vanished, and was told that the
magical berry had been lost in his various peregrinations. ‘Perhaps,’
observed he, ‘it was stolen by some one who knew its value.’ But
as the remark was accompanied by the peculiar dropping of the lip
and deadening of the eye with which he usually ventures upon a
_mystification_, I knew well what to think, and questioned him no more.”

My friend paused after he had concluded this strange story, and,
beginning to fear lest he had been led away from the original purport
of the tale, I reminded him that he had not yet explained to me the
particulars of that first interview with Madame Grandt, which had had
such a powerful effect on the destinies of the after-life of the prince.

“It was indeed a fitful night,” said C.; “one of those wherein the
superstitious might easily believe that the devil is allowed to walk
abroad and mingle his curse with the vain projects of aspiring man. It
had begun for M. de Talleyrand with a scene of purgatory—it ended with
a vision of heaven.

“He hastened home full of the stormy emotions of the interview with
Fénélon, and the strange and almost terrific discovery he had made
beneath the lantern in the Rue de Montpensier. He was harassed and
fatigued; and, eager to gain the quiet and solitude of his own chamber,
was hurrying to repose, when, judge of his annoyance—his servant
informed him that a lady was waiting to receive him in his study,
whose business was of so much importance, that having called late in
the evening with the hope of finding him at home, she had preferred
awaiting his return, even although it should not take place until dawn,
so great was her fear of losing the interview she had come so far to
obtain.

“It was thus with more vexation than curiosity that M. de Talleyrand
entered, therefore, the study—where the stranger, according to the
account of the servant, had already been awaiting him for _five_
long mortal hours!—without any of the _prestige_ which had usually
accompanied his introduction to a stranger of the softer sex, perhaps
even _his_ calm temper a little ruffled at the unseasonable hour and
the unexpected _corvée_.

“The shaded lamp upon the chimney-piece threw but a dim light around
the room, and some few moments elapsed before he could even perceive
the lady, who was seated in the large arm-chair by the fire, her
figure enveloped in the mantle worn at the time, wide but not long,
reaching only to the knees, and displaying the gauze and gold tissue
of the ball-dress worn beneath. It was evident that the fair stranger,
exhausted with fatigue and watching, had fallen into a sleep so sound,
that not even the entrance of M. de Talleyrand, nor his approach,
nor his convenient fit of coughing, had power to rouse her. A letter
addressed to himself lay upon the table, and he opened it, hoping that
the noise which he made in moving to and fro would awaken her. It was
a letter from Montrond, introducing to his acquaintance the bearer,
Madame Grandt, who wished to confer with him upon urgent business, and
to seek his advice in an affair concerning which none but himself could
give information.

“The name of Madame Grandt immediately awakened all the dormant
curiosity of M. de Talleyrand, and he now turned towards the fair
stranger with a feeling of interest far different from that which he
had experienced on his entrance. He had heard much of her extraordinary
beauty, and had long desired the opportunity of judging whether the
reputation were well earned. The whole scene was unique of its kind,
and never before had M. de Talleyrand felt so much embarrassment as
when the servant, after having in vain endeavoured by every innocent
artifice to awaken the lady, left the room with an ill-suppressed
titter at the novelty of the situation in which his master was placed.
The noise of the door, however, which the cunning varlet took care to
close with as loud a report as possible, succeeded at last in awaking
the fair stranger, who started to her feet, surprised and terrified to
find herself thus discovered in slumber by a stranger, whom, however,
she instantly knew to be M. de Talleyrand, from the description which
she had already received of his appearance. The impression he produced
upon her mind, startled and alarmed as she was at the moment, was one
of awe and veneration, while the effect which she created in his was
that of admiration so intense that he has called it instantaneous
devotion.

“Madame Grandt was at that time in the full zenith of her beauty, and
of the kind of loveliness most rare and most admired in France. I have
heard that she was of English origin. This is not true. Her maiden name
was Dayot, and she was born at l’Orient; but her connexion with India,
where a great part of her family resided, and the peculiar character of
her beauty, would seem to have been the groundwork of the supposition.
She was tall, and, at that time, slight in person, with that singular
ease and languor in her carriage which have been considered the
peculiar attributes of the creole ladies. Her features were of that
soft and delicate mould but seldom seen in Europe; her eyes, large
and languishing, were of the deepest black, while her hair played in
curls of brightest gold upon a forehead of dazzling whiteness, pure
and calm as that of an infant. Throughout her whole person was spread
a singularly childlike grace, which at once interested the beholder
infinitely more than the sublime beauty which distinguished her great
rivals for the admiration of the worshippers of fashion at that day,
Madame Tallien and Madame Beauharnais.

“M. de Talleyrand, who, with remarkable independence of spirit, talks
of the princess without the slightest prejudice, observed to me, while
describing this scene, that when she first threw aside her hood and
disclosed to view that lovely countenance, all blushing with shame and
with surprise, the effect was such that even he, man of the world,
_blasé_ and _désillusioné_ as he already was, felt himself completely
deprived, for the moment, of his usual self-possession, and stood
before her almost as abashed as she herself. It was some time, indeed,
before he recovered sufficient self-command to give utterance to
the phrases of politeness usual on such occasions, and to offer his
services in whatever manner would facilitate the business concerning
which she had sought him at this hour.

“If he had reason to be astonished, first of all, at the singular time
of night she had chosen for the execution of her errand, then more
astonished still at sight of her wondrous beauty, most of all did he
own himself astonished when he came to listen to her description of
the purport of her unseasonable visit. With the _naïf_ credulity which
suited so well with the childlike beauty I have already remarked,
she proceeded to relate to him, with much trembling and with tears,
all the alarm she had experienced upon hearing the report which had
been afloat at the assembly at Madame Hamelin’s, (where she had been
spending the evening,) concerning Buonaparte’s intended invasion of
England, and his promise of delivering up the Bank to pillage as a
reward to his successful soldiery. So great, indeed, had been her
terror at this news, that she had involuntarily let slip a secret
which she had hitherto most religiously kept: ‘that, in fact, she had
long ago lodged the greater part of her fortune, and the whole of her
plate and jewels, in this very Bank of England, which Buonaparte had so
generously promised to abandon to the pillage of his victorious troops
as the reward of their valour.’ This announcement had been received at
the assembly with shouts of laughter; and again did she burst forth in
bitter weeping when complaining of the cruelty displayed towards her by
such untimely levity.

“So great was the power of her tears, that M. de Talleyrand began to
press more than ever to be informed in what manner he could be of
service in this matter. She then intimated to him that at sight of her
grief two or three of her tried and valued friends, foremost of whom
stood M. de Montrond, had recommended to her to hurry immediately to M.
de Talleyrand, for that he alone had power to save her property; that,
from his situation, he could even make himself responsible for its
safe delivery into her hands; and for this purpose M. de Montrond had
immediately penned the letter which she had brought, begging her to fly
with it immediately to his house, and not on any account to leave it
until she had obtained the guarantee.

“Although, of course, highly diverted at the mystification, and
somewhat embarrassed at the situation in which he found himself, yet
M. de Talleyrand was too gallant to disclose to the fair lady that she
had been the dupe of her own fears and of Montrond’s insatiable love
of practical fun; and in order to quiet her nerves, he instantly drew
up in due form a security, signed and sealed, for the safe delivery of
her plate and jewels into the hands of any person she might choose to
appoint to receive them, as soon as ever Buonaparte’s triumphal army
had entered the City of London. The fair applicant, highly delighted at
the success of her petition, left the house, reading again and again
with confidence the writing he had given her, and perfectly insensible
to all his gallantry and admiration amid the joy inspired by his kind
proceeding.

“Such is the history of the first interview of M. de Talleyrand with
Madame Grandt. I know it to be true, for I had it from the lips of the
prince himself, who enters with the keenest relish into the ridicule
of the whole scene, sparing himself as little as the princess. The
mystification was completely successful. Madame Grandt was fooled to
the top of her bent by the perpetrators, but the affair had a far
different sequel from that which had been anticipated, for M. de
Talleyrand became most passionately attached to the fair solicitor, and
to the surprise of all Paris, he who had resisted the refined beauty
of Madame Tallien, the elegance of Madame Recamier, and the wit and
fascination of Madame de Staël, fell an easy victim to the more plain
and unsophisticated graces of Madame Grandt. It is certain that not one
of the ladies who had laid siege to his heart had managed to obtain so
strong a hold upon his affections or to keep them so long; and I can
only account for this by the _naïveté_ which gave so strong a tinge of
originality to all she said or did, so unlike the slavery to forms and
etiquette which must ever influence professed ‘women of the world,’
such as those by whom he was surrounded.

“So much has been said about her ignorance and stupidity, that
they have passed into a proverb, while, in reality, she was neither
ignorant nor stupid; but there was certainly an _inexperience_ in the
social traditions of the world into which she was ushered through the
influence of M. de Talleyrand, which gave rise to much amusement among
the wits who frequented her society. It would be difficult to account
for the strength of the attachment with which, from the very first, she
inspired the prince. It certainly was the longest and the strongest
that he ever experienced. Various have been the conjectures respecting
the causes of his marriage, but the story which was told me by one
who was a confidant of the prince at the time, is, I think, the best
calculated to unravel the mystery which still hangs over it.

“Madame Grandt was, as I have told you, unrivalled in the tact and
_convenance_ with which she received company, dispensing politeness
to each and all alike, contenting every one, and displaying so much
cleverness in her management of the fiery spirits who frequented her
_salon_, that it was impossible for those who knew her then to deem
her either ignorant or foolish. It was this peculiar talent which had
induced M. de Talleyrand, who was quick both to perceive any peculiar
excellence and also to turn it to account, to hold his receptions at
her house instead of at his _ministère_. He had already done so for
some time without having been subjected to remarks; for the system
was, alas! too common at the period to excite the slightest degree
either of condemnation or surprise. Fouché, ever on the watch to
injure Talleyrand, had taken care to apprise the First Consul of this
arrangement. The information, which had excited no interest at the
moment, was not wholly lost, however; and a short time afterwards,
having been foiled in some of his projects by the policy of England,
he sent for Talleyrand, and, puzzled to find a subject which he could
use as a pretext for venting his spleen upon his minister, remembered
the tale borne by the enemy Fouché. ‘It is no wonder that we are
abused and vilified by England,’ said he, showing a paper in which
appeared a scurrilous article upon the First Consul—‘when we expose
ourselves to such attacks as these, and even our public ministers
give public example of disorder and ill-conduct.’ The minister looked
his inquiry concerning the meaning of this outburst. ‘Yes,’ continued
Buonaparte, waxing warm, as was his wont, with his own words, like an
ill-disciplined schoolboy—‘yes, it has reached me that you hold your
receptions at Madame Grandt’s, and thus the envoys and ambassadors from
foreign courts are compelled to wait upon your mistress. This must not
continue.’ ‘Neither shall it,’ returned the prince, colouring slightly;
‘they shall henceforth be spared; they shall wait no longer on Madame
Grandt, but on Madame de Talleyrand; no longer on my mistress, but my
wife.’

“The marriage took place before the following week’s reception, and
it is said that Buonaparte was so vexed and irritated at his own
littleness, that he even condescended to _lie_ in order to cover it.
‘What can have caused Talleyrand’s abrupt and extraordinary marriage?’
said Barras, one day, soon after the event. ‘My _promise_ to ask from
the Pope “absolution” and the cardinal’s hat as a reward for his
services,’ returned the First Consul, quickly, and immediately changed
the conversation.

“Whatever may have been the conduct of Madame Grandt, however
reprehensible her facility of morals before her marriage, it cannot be
denied that, from the very hour in which this event took place, it
became irreproachable. M. de Talleyrand himself loves to render her
every justice on that score. She was too proud of the name she bore
ever to disgrace it by any action which she would have deemed unworthy.
Like _parvenus_ in general, she grew rather intoxicated when arrived at
the summit of honour, for, as Princesse de Benevent, her _morgue_ and
insolence at the court of Napoleon became proverbial, and many amusing
anecdotes are told of her absurd pretensions to royal privileges, her
pages and her maids of honour, her chamberlain and mistress of the
robes.

“I myself once witnessed a curious instance of that total forgetfulness
of the ‘_jadis_,’ which seems to be the peculiar failing of persons
who have risen from obscurity to rank and fortune. I was one day
descending the _perron_ of the hotel in the Rue St. Florentine, when a
hackney coach entered the court-yard and drove up to the vestibule. I
was greatly surprised to behold alighting from it, fine as court robes
and towering plumes could make her, the Princesse de Benevent herself.
I of course hastened down the steps to offer her my arm on alighting.
‘My carriage struck against the lamp-post at the entrance of the
Tuileries,’ said she, in answer to my inquiring look, ‘and the wheel
came off. I was forced to return home in this absurd looking vehicle.’
Then turning to the wondering lacqueys, she added, in a tone of disgust
and scorn which no language can describe, as she pointed to the
coachman, ‘_Qu’on paie ce malheureux!_’ The mixture of the sublime and
ridiculous in the tone and gesture by which the words were accompanied,
was absolutely irresistible.

“To a mild and conciliating nature like that of the prince, and above
all with his keen sense of the ludicrous, such a disposition must have
been peculiarly irritating, added to which, Madame’s jealousy of every
member of his family to whom he showed affection grew too irksome to
be endured, and for their mutual comfort it became advisable to have
separate establishments. But even amid the bitterness and soreness
of feeling to which such an arrangement cannot fail to give rise in
every family where it unhappily takes place, did the prince, with true
generosity and liberality of sentiment, endeavour to render justice
to her undeviating devotion to his interests, by making a settlement
even too magnificent in proportion to his income, more, in fact, than
it could comfortably bear. I frequently saw her after her separation
from the prince. So far from having retained either rancour or ill-will
against him, there was something touching in the eager interest with
which she listened to the slightest details concerning him. She spared
not questioning, and seemed never weary of listening to my report of
his health and well-being. Everything in her apartment bore witness to
her constant remembrance of the days of her happiness and grandeur;
the rug before the fire, the embroidered cushion upon which her feet
were rested, the lawn handkerchief in her hand, the clock upon the
mantelpiece, all bore the impress of the arms of the Talleyrands, and
‘_Ré que Diou_’ shone forth conspicuously on each; while even the
little cage wherein reposed a couple of snow-white dormice displayed in
its mimic dome and tower a complete model of the château of Valençay.

“She told me, with a frankness I little expected, that she should
never cease to regret the life she led here; she could not even speak
of the place without tears, and questioned me, with great minuteness,
concerning every individual throughout the province; her memory never
failing her in the slightest particular with regard to the genealogy
of the different families whose estates lie in the neighbourhood of
the château. Her heart seemed to yearn towards the prince, and her
expressions of admiration concerning his great talents and wonderful
powers of mind were affecting in their truthful simplicity. In spite of
the want of elevation of soul, which neither nature nor education had
imparted, I still think that the prince entertained a real regard for
her, and of many a courteous message from him have I myself been the
bearer, whenever it became known at the hôtel Talleyrand that she was
labouring under the slightest indisposition. Towards the latter years
of her life, however, her pre-occupation concerning all that passed in
his household became one of the greatest sources of petty annoyance
to which the prince was subjected. For some time before her death, it
amounted, indeed, to positive mania. She insisted upon regulating her
establishment entirely upon the model of that of the Rue St. Florentin,
ruling the minutest details of her domestic economy in imitation of
that observed in the prince’s household. She even subjected her own
diet and hours of taking her repasts to the same system of imitation,
and upon one occasion nearly fell a victim to her over-strict
observance of the prince’s rule of never taking more than one meal in
the day.

“As to the innumerable _naïvetés_ and _coqs-à-l’âne_ which have gone
forth to the world as hers, you must not believe one half of them. I
think that many of them were invented under the erroneous impression
that the surest way of annoying M. de Talleyrand would be to ridicule
his wife. It is certain that many of the blunders which are laid to her
charge bear the unmistakeable stamp of the firm of Montrond and Co. I
once attacked the prince upon the subject, and was much amused at the
_bonhomie_ with which he laughed at the bare remembrance of all the
_bêtises_ which so many wits had employed themselves in inventing for
the poor princess. I asked him if the story, which has gone the round
of every newspaper in Europe, about Baron Denon and Robinson Crusoe,
were really true. ‘It did not actually happen,’ replied he, smiling;
‘the circumstance did not really occur as it has been represented, _for
I was there to prevent it_. However, it was _guessed at_, and that was
enough; the blunder was ascribed to her without compunction.’

“‘I certainly remember a _naïveté_ which she once uttered in the
midst of a circle of savans and literati at Neuilly, which would
be considered quite as good and become just as popular were it as
generally known. Lemercier had volunteered after dinner to read us one
of his unplayed and unplayable pieces. The company had gathered round
him in a circle; his _cahier_ lay already unfolded on his knees, and,
clearing his voice, he began in a high, shrill tone, which made us all
start from our incipient slumber, ‘_La Scène est à Lyons_.’ ‘There now,
M. de Talleyrand,’ exclaimed the princess, jumping from her chair, and
advancing towards me with a gesture of triumph, ‘now I knew that you
were wrong; you would have it that it was the _Saône_!’ To describe the
embarrassment and consternation of the company would be impossible. I
myself was perplexed for an instant, but soon remembered the difference
of opinion to which she had alluded. As our carriage was crossing
the bridge at Lyons, a little time before, she had asked me the name
of the river which flowed beneath. I had told her it was ‘Saône;’ to
which she had replied, with a truly philosophical reflection—‘Ah, how
strange this difference of pronunciation; we call it the _Seine_
in Paris!’ I had been much amused at the time, but had not thought
it worth while to correct the self-confident error, and thus had
arisen this extraordinary confusion in the troubled brain of the poor
princess. Of course we all laughed heartily at her unexpected sally;
but we were grateful, nevertheless, for it saved us the reading of the
dreaded drama, as no one that evening could be expected to _retrouver
son sérieux_ sufficiently to listen with becoming attention to all the
terrible events which Lemercier had to unfold.’

“You see the prince had succeeded in accepting his misfortune _en
homme d’esprit_, and the keenest shafts of ridicule must have fallen
pointless against one who joined with such hearty good-will in the
mirth which was thus raised, without at all agreeing with those who
deemed that it was excited at his own expense.”



CHAPTER V.

  TALLEYRAND’S DESIRE FOR AMITY BETWEEN ENGLAND AND FRANCE—LOUIS
    DIXHUIT—THE ARCHBISHOP DE M.—MADAME DE KRUDENER—ALEXANDER OF
    RUSSIA.


Just as my friend had ceased speaking, the door was opened, and the
two valets-de-chambre of the prince, armed with shaving-pot and
powder-puff, with the same solemn look as at the toilet of Louis
Quatorze, described with such humour by Saint Simon, entered and
took their station one on each side the doorway; but when the prince
himself entered likewise, in dressing-gown and slippers, leaning on
his cane, and bowing low, with a courteous “good morrow,” the picture
was complete. Le grand monarque in his old age, Fagon and Bréville,
seemed to arise before me. I have heard it said that one great test
of the temper of a man is the mood in which he awakes from slumber.
This certainly was true as applied to Prince Talleyrand, for perhaps
at no other moment in the day was he more lively, more free from care,
than at the hour of his toilet. It seemed as if the dreams of the past
night had brought with them calm and pleasant recollections, for he
was always more disposed to narrate at that moment than during the
rest of the four-and-twenty hours. He had soon despatched the business
upon which he had summoned me; but he bade me remain, and I was in no
hurry to depart; for one by one the favoured few dropped in, and the
conversation became interesting enough to make me behold without regret
the hurrying off to the wood of a joyous caravan which issued from
beneath the gateway with echoes of merriment.

C. had busied himself in turning over the journals, translating from
the various English papers the leading article of each, and pausing
here and there to extract speeches and opinions most worthy of notice.
I shall never forget that morning—it was the last opportunity which was
afforded me of judging of the never-failing faculty of that _conteur
intarissable_. The conversation had turned upon England, and it was
in reference to some observation made in one of the articles which C.
had just been reading that the prince expressed himself towards this
country with an admiration and gratitude which I shall never forget.

“It has ever been my dream,” said he, “to behold a firm and stable
alliance between England and France. I cannot live to behold what I
have yearned for all my life long; but _you_ may yet be witness to
the result to which the events of Europe have all tended for the last
three centuries. There are many countries, many climes in Europe; there
will soon be but two nations—the English and the French. Before many
generations have passed away, they will even stand face to face alone
upon the globe. They must become, not only allies, but friends. Already
you will perceive that their mutual hatred has become tradition.
The wars between these two great nations have often partaken of the
chivalrous character of the ancient duel, in which the combat was
carried on less from antipathy or thirst of vengeance, than from a
boyish valour and love of glory. Believe me, where genius and courage
are equal, peace becomes indispensable—two countries cannot make
war upon each other until both fall dead upon the field of battle;
destruction is not triumph. The good which has sprung up, even amidst
their mutual jealousies, has been immense; much more has been sown than
has yet been gathered, but the seed which has thus been buried will
bring forth fruit, in its own good time, to benefit the whole human
race.

“You will find, by the study of history, that they have proceeded in
the goodly work together, as though by a tacit agreement, working with
the same perseverance and the same success, to promote the progress
of reason and the advancement of prosperity throughout the world. It
was at the very same instant that the cry of horror at the tyranny and
oppression of the people arose from the heart of each, and hand in hand
did their philosophers and men of genius sound the first alarm at the
encroachments of despotism. They are destined to regenerate the world.”

I may be forgiven if I listened to this eloquent and soothing speech
as to a hallowed prophecy. The theme was one upon which I could have
loved to hear him expatiate yet further; but other matters soon pressed
upon his attention, and drove the subject from his mind. I observed,
however, during my stay at Valençay, that the prince took every
opportunity of exalting and approving England, and of putting forth
his favourite theory of an _exclusive_ alliance between the French and
English.

Meanwhile, the toilet was proceeding rapidly under the skilful hands
of the two veteran valets; and while I was contemplating with infinite
satisfaction a scene to me so novel in its details, the prince, who was
in excellent spirits, kept up with even more than his wonted share of
vivacity the ball of conversation. Many of the stories which he told
that morning were exceeding curious and worthy of record. I was much
struck with some observations which he made with regard to the policy
and conduct of Louis the Eighteenth, a sovereign whom he disliked
most particularly. To one who carried the principle of forgiveness of
injuries to the extent to which the Prince de Talleyrand displayed
throughout his career, the cold, vindictive nature of Louis must have
been singularly obnoxious, while the sense of obligation must have
pressed heavily enough upon the small soul of the monarch. Besides
which, a rivality of wit had sprung up between them, which served to
increase their mutual dislike and distrust of each other. Louis Dixhuit
could not bear the _succès_ which some of the bon-mots of the Prince
had obtained, and sought to humiliate and embarrass him by direct
attacks, as if to put to the proof before the courtiers the well-earned
reputation for repartee which the prince had acquired. But the prince
always came out of the affray with honour, his self-possession giving
him an immense advantage over the irritable temper of the king.

On the day when Madame de Talleyrand (who had been sent to England with
a pension) re-appeared in Paris, the king, who seized every opportunity
to annoy M. de Talleyrand before the court, exclaimed, on perceiving
him, “_Ah, monsieur, que je vous plains!_ Is it true that Madame is
arrived in France?” “Alas, it is, sire. I also was doomed to have _mon
vingt Mars!_” The king did not reply, but walked before the line of
courtiers, biting his lip, as was his wont when vexed. Presently he
returned, and again stood before the recreant wit, who alone looked all
unmoved and unconscious amidst the general hilarity.

“Prince de Talleyrand,” said he, in a severe tone, “is it not time
for you to seek the country? Paris is growing hot. I have been told
that the shades of Valençay are the coolest and most delightful in all
France.”

“Sire, they have lost that reputation since Ferdinand VII. cut down my
lime trees to make bonfires at the Emperor’s fête!”

Once more was the king reduced to silence, and this time more
effectually, for he did not return again to the charge; but he said to
M. Decazes that evening, “Talleyrand answers as though he were _afraid_
of an encounter; in short, he always seems as if he considered himself
attacked.”

I had often felt a desire to know the real opinion of M. de Talleyrand
concerning the character of Louis Dixhuit, and I considered myself
particularly fortunate that the conversation should have turned upon
the subject. It was evident that he held in small esteem the principles
of the Bourbon, whose crooked policy and cowardly revenge once drew
from him an approval of the memorable words of Fox—“Of all revolutions,
the worst is a restoration!” The indignation must have been great which
could have caused this bitter criticism upon his own work, for he it
was who, by the avowal of the king himself, had planned and executed
his great principle of legitimacy, and restored the Bourbons to the
throne.

“Louis Dixhuit was the veriest liar that ever trode the earth,” said
the prince. “His love of falsehood was so great, that those admitted
to his intimacy had grown to dread the expression from his lips of any
kindness, feeling sure that disgrace was nigh. He was the greatest
hater I ever met with; cold and calculating in his vengeance, and
meanly taunting in its gratification. I cannot describe to you my
disappointment when I first beheld him in 1814, after the events which
had changed him from a miserable exile into the sovereign of the
greatest European country. He received me in the palace at Compiègne.
I could judge the character of the man by the manner of his greeting.
He was in the great gallery of the château, surrounded by his friends
and many of the foreign diplomates, who were all eager and _empressé_
in their congratulations—all full of hope and bright anticipations of
the future. I may, without being suspected of _fatuité_, declare that a
murmur of welcome ran through the assembly when my name was announced,
and the king advanced a few steps to meet me with a warm and friendly
welcome. He pressed my hand with great kindness, and drawing forward
a chair which stood beside him, exclaimed, ‘Prince de Benevent, be
seated—and believe me, I do not forget that had it not been for your
assistance in the late events, they might have turned in a different
chance, and _you_ might have said to _me_, “Count de Lille, be seated.”’

“The phrase appeared to me so artificial, so stiff and embarrassed,
that I involuntarily looked his majesty full in the face for an
explanation. By that single glance I could tell that I was not destined
to remain a minister of Louis Dixhuit, and my anticipations proved
true, although he knew well that had it not been for my exertions, he
would not have regained his throne until much later—perhaps, indeed,
never!

“The dinner which succeeded the grand reception I shall never forget.
Everyone had expected that the conversation would have been most
interesting; that the most important topic of the day would have been
duly discussed and commented upon. Each guest had come prepared with
his own peculiar suggestion concerning the most effective entry into
Paris. Each one had his bon-mot for approval, some appropriate phrase
to be printed in the journals. I myself am forced to plead guilty
to the like ambition, and obtained the honour of preference over
many which, in my opinion, were far better and more piquant than my
‘_Français de plus_,’ although its subsequent popularity justified in
some measure its adoption. Whatever might have been our anticipations,
it soon became evident that the monarch had learned one great
accomplishment during his exile, and he ate in silence of every dish
which was presented to him. The court, principally composed of men who
had been accustomed to the rapid and noisy dinners of the Emperor, soon
began to grow weary of the tedious deglutition of the king, and became
ere long reduced to be the mere spectators of his enjoyment.

“Not one single word had been spoken during the whole of the first
course. It would be impossible to describe the extraordinary effect of
that silence, undisturbed save by the timid rattle of the knives and
forks, and the hesitating steps of the servants. We gazed at each other
with embarrassment. No one dared to speak even to his neighbour save in
a whisper; when, just about the middle of the second course, an event
occurred which served to arouse us from the stupor into which we had
fallen. The king was about to help himself from the dish of spinach
which had been handed to him by the servant, when the intention was
suddenly arrested by a loud exclamation from the Duke de Duras, who,
rising from his chair, and leaning forward with an earnest and stricken
look, exclaimed, ‘For the love of Heaven, your Majesty, touch not
that spinach!’ The king let fall the spoon which was already half way
towards his plate, and raised his eyes in alarm—he was pale as death.
There were few, indeed, at the table who did not change countenance at
this unexpected exclamation. Suspicions of foul treason—of premeditated
crime, immediately filled every eye, and we looked aghast towards the
duke for an explanation. Even I myself, although prepared by experience
for every exaggeration of court flattery, could not resist the dread of
some terrible disclosure.

“‘_Pourquoi pas?_’ faltered out the king, his nasal twang rendered even
more tremulous than usual by the terror under which he laboured.

“‘Oh, sire, I warn you—be advised by me; eat not of that spinach—it is
drest with most villanous butter!’

“The etiquette of the royal table, of course, prevented the explosion
of the roar of laughter with which the speech would have been greeted
had it not been for the mighty presence; and even as it was, an
irrepressible titter ran round the room. The king, however, did not
laugh; the subject was of too much importance to be trifled with; he
looked first at the Duc de Duras with an expression of doubt, then
raised the dish to his nose, pushed it from him with a sigh, and
exclaiming, ‘_C’est pourtant vrai!_’ sank back in his chair to brood
upon his disappointment.

“After this event, the silence certainly continued still, but not the
embarrassment, for, during the rest of the entertainment, we were
all convulsed with suppressed laughter, and although of course good
breeding and the rules of etiquette prevented its explosion, the
conviction that we mutually understood the joke made us feel its relish
the more keenly. The dinner concluded while this ludicrous impression
lasted, and we retired to the drawing-room, glad to be emancipated
from the restraint which sitting thus face to face with royalty always
occasions.

“After a moment’s consultation amongst ourselves, we decided that
it would be advisable to proceed at once to business, as many of us
wished to return to Paris as soon as possible, to forward the measures
concerning the public entrance of his majesty into the capital. I was
spokesman upon the occasion, and ventured to suggest the propriety of
at once opening the discussion at which we were all come prepared to be
amicable wranglers. To our great surprise, his only answer was, ‘_Let
us digest first_; we will speak of business another time.’

“I leave you to imagine the effect produced by these words. The action
which accompanied them was even more expressive of his earnestness in
the pursuit which he recommended, for he sank calmly down among the
cushions of the sofa, and in another moment, before our astonishment
had subsided, was lost in the sweetest and most quiet slumber I ever
witnessed. It was a source of the greatest amusement to us all, as we
moved noiselessly about the room, and spoke to each other by signs or
in low whispers in order to avoid interrupting the important slumbers
of the sovereign, to behold from the windows of the palace the eager
expectation of the crowd assembled in the court below, whose anxious
countenances, lighted up by the glare of the illuminations which
decorated the frontage of the building, gave token of the intense
interest with which they were regarding the moving shadows of those
within.

“No doubt they deemed that the proceedings there taking place were
big with the fate of the empire—the destiny of thousands of their
fellow-countrymen. Each time that any form of more than ordinary
dimensions happened to pass before the windows, it was immediately
taken for that of the king, and was greeted with loud shouting and
applause, which, however, failed to reach the ear of him for whom it
was intended, and who still slumbered on, all unconscious either of the
disappointment of those within or the expectation of those without.

“This apparently insipid and eventless dinner was to me one of the most
extraordinary and interesting I ever remember, and it has remained a
_souvenir_, when others, more remarkable for the wit and spirit of
the guests or the generosity of the entertainer, have long ago been
forgotten. It placed me at once _au courant_ as to the views and habits
of our ‘restored sovereign.’ In no one of the anticipations formed
from this interview was I deceived. Selfish, insensible, luxurious,
ungrateful, did I ever find him. This dinner at Compiègne was the very
picture of his whole reign, and he fully justified the words of my
honest friend Dunoyer—‘Among the millions of human lives confided to
his charge, there is but _one_ of value in his eyes; and that one the
most valueless of all to the whole world besides.’”

“This repast must have equalled in its interest the famous dinner of
the Consulte, eh? you remember, prince?” said the Count de Montrond,
who had been listening attentively.

“Indeed, I do remember, and more’s the pity,” returned the prince, with
a gentle laugh, “and I often wish that I could forget the circumstances
attendant on that dinner. People talk of the _sublime_ and ridiculous;
but the _horrible_ and ridiculous which were mingled in that scene
rendered it altogether one of the most powerful and extraordinary of
any I have ever witnessed, either mimicked on the stage or played in
real life. I must tell you that I had considered myself extremely
fortunate in my transactions with the representatives of the different
Italian States who had assembled at Lyons to negotiate for the
protection of their liberties by France. There remained but one clause
of our treaty to be disputed—the most knotty point of all, and the one
which I felt would exercise my utmost powers of persuasion when it
came to be discussed in council. In order to conciliate as much as
possible the opposing belligerents, I had been obliged to have recourse
to the bait which seldom fails, if well ordered and well executed, that
of a _dîner diplomatique_, trusting to my worthy ally, Carême, who, in
cookery, had talent enough in his own person to finish what our united
talents in diplomacy had so well begun.

“The dinner, then, was decided on; the day had arrived; and I was alone
in my study, composing myself for the great struggle which was about
to take place, when M. de la Bernardière came hurrying in, pale and
breathless. ‘Well, we have committed a pretty blunder,’ said he; ‘only
see; with all the “very clever men” by whom we are surrounded, what
great fools we must be.’ He placed upon my desk an open letter which
he had just received. It was from the secretary of the Archbishop of
M—— to M. de la Bernardière, who was then supposed to be acting as
_my_ secretary. A letter purporting to be written in the strictest
confidence, from ‘one gentleman to another,’ from a secretary to a
man of honour, holding the same important office, having the same
ministerial functions to fulfil, &c.; containing a sort of mysterious
warning; a kind of covert denunciation against the whole proceedings
of the Consulte; a threat of failure in all our schemes; an assurance
that all the ambitious views of France were perfectly understood; and
the letter concluded by declaring that they would be unmasked if the
Archbishop of M—— were not invited to the dinner! I must own that this
announcement took us rather by surprise; we had reckoned upon the
Archbishop of M—— as one of the firmest allies of France, and it was,
indeed, by a most inconceivable _bévue_ that he had been left out. It
must have occurred, no doubt, through some awkward mismanagement on
the part of the servants; but, whatever the cause, and it was then too
late to enter into any examination, it became evident that the remedy
must be applied at once, and that the company of the archbishop must be
secured without delay.

“It was M. de la Bernardière, then, who was commissioned to be the
bearer of our humble excuses for the neglect of which the servants had
been guilty, and our humble request that his Grandeur would overlook
the awkwardness of our domestics, and accord us the advantage of
his presence at the dinner, which certainly would not be complete
without his company. I must confess that I awaited the return of La
Bernardière with the greatest anxiety, as I was quite as fully aware
of the necessity of securing the good-will of the Archbishop as the
officious secretary himself could possibly be. La Bernardière, however,
returned triumphant, and the description which he gave us of his
visit added to the amusement caused by our groundless fears. He had
found the archbishop attired in flowered dressing-robe and broidered
slippers, reclining on an ottoman of curious workmanship, which had
been presented to him on that very morning by a deputation of the
manufacturers of the good city of Lyons, and the scene altogether had
reminded him of an episode of the middle ages. His Grandeur the Lord
Archbishop was a singular-looking personage; the melancholy expression
of his countenance contrasting with ludicrous effect with the fat,
rubicund jollity of his form and features. He was a large, heavy man,
with a look of absolute despair, and perpetual groans issued from his
brawny chest, like the angry bellowings of Mount Vesuvius. At his feet
were seated, on a low stool, two young boys, who were chanting from
the same book, and whose rare false notes were now and then punished by
a smart kick behind, from his grandeur’s peaked slipper.

“He sighed sorrowfully when La Bernardière was announced, and received
him with many a lugubrious lamentation on the miserable weather, which,
by-the-bye, was beautiful; then he groaned deeply at the badness of
the music of the mass at the cathedral on the day before, which, being
of the very best order, and under the superintendence of the maëstro
di capello of the Emperor of Austria, had been by every one else
considered excellent; then he moaned at having been induced to leave
his own country to come to such a place as Lyons, where it was evident
his presence was neither sought nor needed, and finally pronounced a
most bitter archiepiscopal curse upon the miserable fare of the hotel
where he was staying, regretting, with most sublime energy, that he
should ever have been induced to travel without his own cook, and
vowing before the Virgin that he never would do the like again.

“This was the opportunity for La Bernardière to press his suit and to
pray forgiveness for neglect, and to urge his presence at our table
with many an assurance of the utter discomfiture and despair which
his refusal would occasion. The countenance of the worthy archbishop
lighted up at the mention of the dinner. He was evidently a _bon
vivant_ of the first class, and it was doubtless to this quality that
he owed both the rotundity of his person and the mournful discontent
under which he laboured. He apparently deemed, however, that a little
hesitation was necessary to preserve his dignity in the eyes of La
Bernardière, and he summoned his secretary to learn from him if it were
possible to accept an invitation upon so short a notice—if there were
no other engagement to interfere with his desire to prove his respect
and consideration for M. de Talleyrand by accepting both the invitation
and the excuses so courteously conveyed. Of course the secretary was
too well schooled to decide precipitately; he had to consult his
registers, his list of invitations for the week, &c.; however, La
Bernardière soon perceived that there was little danger of refusal.
The prospect of a real French dinner, Carême and Minguet, was too
much for the philosophy of the archbishop; and as La Bernardière had
anticipated, he ended by not only accepting the invitation, but almost
excusing himself for having hesitated.

“It was a real satisfaction to learn the acquiescal of his grandeur,
for we had waited in fear and trembling the return of La Bernardière.
It was immediately resolved among the little knot of gentlemen gathered
in the salon that it would be necessary to display even more courtesy
towards him at the dinner-table in consequence of this involuntary
neglect; and thus, much to my subsequent discomfiture, it was agreed
that the poor archbishop was to be placed at my right hand. I was
exceedingly diverted at the extreme self-complacency with which he
received all our demonstrations of respect, all our contrivances to
do him honour—a mixture of embarrassment and haughtiness which I have
never seen equalled. But at sight of the dinner all stiffness and
formality were banished. His heavy countenance brightened, and he
exhibited the most lively interest in every arrangement, tormenting
me terribly to know the name of every dish which was handed to him,
then questioning the servant who presented it upon the nature of the
ingredients employed in its composition, and finally calling, in a
shrill tone, for ‘Nino,’ the short fat man who stood behind his chair,
dressed in a livery which, I believe, is called heraldic, and which is
all striped and cross-barred with every colour in the rainbow—red,
yellow, blue, white, as many, in short, as there may be quarterings
in the escutcheon, producing an effect more resembling that of the
pictures on playing cards than anything else that can be imagined.

“This ‘Nino’ would stoop forward and lean his chin upon the shoulder
of his grandeur, and his grandeur would point with a fat, white,
stumpy finger to some particular dish upon the table, and after a few
moments whispered conversation between the pair, Nino would disappear
for a short time, and then return all in a heat and blaze. He had
evidently been despatched to the kitchen for information respecting
the origin and composition of the approved _morceau_, in order that
it might be reproduced at some future time upon the archiepiscopal
table. His delight at every new discovery of this nature was perfectly
uncontrollable, and he would chuckle and clap his hands like a child
whenever a fresh dish, wearing a tempting exterior, was placed before
him.

“To me his grandeur was unfolding a new chapter in the eternal history
of human eccentricity, and I watched every motion with the most intense
interest. Towards the end of the repast, the ecstasies with which he
had greeted the endeavours of our French _artistes_, and, perhaps,
also the enormous efforts which he had used to prove his admiration of
their talents, had produced a state of excitement which rather began
to alarm me, the more so as even La Bernardière had not been able
to win a moment’s attention, so absorbed had his grandeur been with
the culinary excellence of our political system. Every dish had been
discussed by the archbishop; neither _entremets_ nor _hors d’œuvre_,
however insignificant, had escaped investigation, until, at last, I
grew perfectly amazed at the quantity which had been absorbed, and
perceived, with an indescribable feeling of terror and dismay, the
hue of dark purple, which, beginning with his ears, had gradually
overspread his whole physiognomy, and more particularly the look of
stolid dulness with which he now eyed the table.

“‘Your grandeur is ill,’ said I, in a whisper; ‘allow me to order yon
window to be opened above your head, or would you prefer to retire for
a moment to breathe the air upon the staircase?’

“‘No, no,’ returned the archbishop, ‘I have not finished dinner
yet,’ and immediately helped himself most copiously from a dish of
_artichauts à la Barigoul_, (a dish for which, by-the-bye, my cook was
famous,) and fell to eating once again, as if refreshed by the pause he
had been compelled to make. I was verily astounded! His grandeur seemed
to have reserved all his energies for the _artichauts à la Barigoul_,
and devoured them with as much gusto as though he had eaten nothing
since morning.

“It was during the mastication of this most approved morsel that La
Bernardière at last succeeded in making the little request in favour of
our country which had been hovering on his tongue during the whole of
dinner. His grandeur hesitated not; he was ready to grant everything;
he could refuse nothing to any one in this hour of plenitude and
satisfaction, and I, in my turn, plied him with propositions and
demonstrations, to all of which he assented by a dignified inclination
of the head. Emboldened by the view of my unexpected success, La
Bernardière took up the burden of my discourse, with an increase of
vigour and an increase of presumption, as is invariably the case with
solicitors when undisturbed by opposition. Question after question
was proposed to the archbishop, who assented to all our demands in
the same quiet manner, until I advanced _le point culminant_ of our
requests, which really did seem to stagger him, for he raised his head
suddenly, and remained an instant gazing on me with a vacant stare,
then bent forward, as I thought, to whisper his objections more closely
into my ear, and to my terror, as I looked up to listen for his answer,
fell forward with his face upon my bosom, without sense and without
motion, the dull, gurgling sound in his throat alone giving assurance
that life still remained!

“I cannot describe to you the alarm and horror of that moment. I
could not shake him off. I had not strength to move the weighty mass.
I dreaded, of all things, making a scene and disturbing the whole
company, and called as loudly as the immense weight pressing upon my
throat and bosom would allow me to do, for ‘Nino!’ But, alas! Nino
had been deputed to the kitchen a few minutes before in search of the
receipt for the _artichauts à la Barigoul_, and I was, therefore,
compelled to support this ponderous mass unheeded, unobserved. In spite
of the alarm and the personal inconvenience which I felt, for the big
drops of perspiration were rolling down my face, and every muscle was
strained to the utmost, yet was there something so ridiculous in the
whole scene, that had it not been for that livid countenance so close
to my own, those goggling, protruding eyeballs so close to mine, it
would almost have created laughter; but it was too horrible! I shall
never forget the expression of that face; it will haunt me to my dying
day.

“How long I might have remained in this ludicrous position I know
not, for every one was busy and boisterous, chatting and laughing
with his neighbour; even the traitor La Bernardière had turned away
and was now in full heat of a good story, which he was recounting to
his companion on the other side, leaving me, as he imagined, fully
occupied with the seduction of the archbishop. At length my deliverance
was accomplished, the ever-watchful Nino, all breathless and panting
hot from the kitchen, perceived my danger even from the door of the
banqueting-hall, and, bounding across the floor, seized his master by
the collar and pulled him backwards with violence into his chair, where
he lay, motionless. By a simultaneous movement, as if attracted by
some magic spell, the whole company turned at once towards us;—a cry
of horror burst from the guests at the contemplation of that ghastly
countenance. The confusion, of course, became general, every seat was
abandoned, and the guests crowded round us with recommendations and
offers of assistance; but the screaming voice of the piebald ‘Nino’ was
heard loud above the hubbub and confusion. ‘Leave him to me; I know
him of old. Stand back. Lord, as if this were the first time! You see
he only wants to breathe, and he can’t, because his teeth are closed.’
With these words he seized upon the poor archbishop, and after looking
round the table in vain for an instrument, he drew from his pocket a
huge iron door-key, and attempted, with the effort of a Hercules, to
force it between the set, clenched jaws of the archbishop. But alas!
they were already set and clenched in death, and no human power could
now avail.

“His grandeur was dead; the melancholy fact was too visible to all
present, excepting, indeed, to the obtuse perceptions of ‘Nino,’ who,
in spite of remonstrance and opposition, would insist on repeating his
experiment, until at last, with a horrible crash, the strong front
teeth of the archbishop gave way; and roused by the certitude of
his misfortune, the unhappy Nino burst into a yell of despair which
echoed to the very roof of the apartment. I leave you to judge of the
effect of the whole scene, and of the extent of the appetite with
which we returned to the table when the ugly sight was removed; and
yet, no sooner had the ghastly corpse, borne upon men’s shoulders, and
followed by the howling Nino, passed through the yawning door, than the
conversation was resumed, perhaps even with more energy than before:
the jingling of glasses, the clatter of knives were renewed with even
more noisy glee, and soon, to all appearance, the very memory of the
awful circumstance to which we had all borne witness seemed to have
been forgotten, for the laughter and the shouting, the eager gesture
and the noisy discussion were resumed, as if nought had happened to
disturb the harmony of the meeting.

“The due meed of lying toasts were likewise bawled forth; vows for
the ‘_Fraternity of Europe_,’ and ‘_Universal Union_,’ &c., with some
few favourite names, were also shouted with much riot and applause.
Disputes of the most animated kind, concerning the rival merits of
divers of our public men, were also started and quelled, but never once
was the subject with which every heart must have needs been full made
the topic of a single observation. I observed that many, while loudest
and most clamorous in their discourse, would cast a shuddering glance
towards the chair which had so lately been filled with the violet robes
and portly dignity of the Lord Archbishop, and which stood now empty
and reproachful by my side; then, by a sudden effort turn away and grow
more clamorous and noisy than before; but, as I have already said,
not once was the subject of his miserable death alluded to in any one
of the numberless speeches which were subsequently uttered. One would
have thought that he had been forgotten on the instant, although his
cover still remained upon the board, and his jewelled snuff-box still
sparkled beside it. While yet the very presence of the man hovered
round us, he was, to outward seeming, as much unthought of as though he
had never been.”

This story gave rise to others of the same nature, and many were the
anecdotes related of sudden death, the summons which startles men
in the midst of revelry and festival, at council-board or in the
judgment-seat. Some of these are well known, others would have but
small interest for the general reader, but one of the most curious
was told by the prince himself with the piquant raciness in which
he so much excelled, and which has graven the history in my memory.
It happened during a time, too, which possessed a peculiar interest
to me—a time which, in spite of its importance, has found but few
chroniclers—the period of the occupation of Paris by the allied armies,
and the visit of the sovereigns of Europe, in 1815. Men’s minds were
so agitated by the crowding of events the one upon the other, by dread
anticipations of what would come next, that public feeling was taken by
surprise, and scarcely had time to set up its own standard, or leisure
to record its own impressions; this I take to be the reason why so few
of the memoirs of our day contain any special description of the state
of society at that time.

“I had been dining with a circle of wary, ever-watchful diplomates
of the lesser kind, Russians, Austrians, and Prussians,” began the
prince; “every word had been weighed in the balance of prudence and
_prévoyance_ before I had ventured to give it utterance. Not a syllable
of the conversation of others had been permitted to fall unheeded on
my ear, and the extreme tension of intellect which it had required,
both in weighing my own words and in watching those of others, had,
at last, so wearied my mind, that I experienced a feeling of vacancy,
an exhaustion of moral power, which might be compared to nothing but
inebriation. When the repast was over, I strolled forth on foot to
seek my old friend and comforter, Bergasse. I knew by experience that
an hour spent with him would restore my spirit to its equilibrium, and
soothe, by the counter-irritation of his fund of whimsical argument,
the agitation of my nervous system. He was not at home, however, and
I was turning away, disappointed, from his lodgings, when his valet,
an old confidential servant, followed me with the information, that,
if I needed Monsieur very much, he had left word where he was to be
found; he had gone to the _soirée_ at Madame de Krudener’s; it was to
be a grand gala night at her house, and the Emperor Alexander was to be
among the guests!

“This information of course roused me at once from the fatigue and
lethargy of my diplomatic dinner, and I determined to do that night
what I had never done before, in spite of the frequent solicitations
of the fair _philosophe_ herself, go to ‘the _soirée_ at Madame de
Krudener’s;’ nay, there was something in the very project which seemed
to revive my flagging spirits, and I set forth on my expedition,
determined to be amused; this object being already more than half
attained by the very determination alone.

“When I arrived in the Rue de Cléry, where Madame de Krudener then
resided, I found the street impassable—a crowd of carriages of every
description filling it from one end to the other. I immediately
perceived among the number admitted into the courtyard the plain green
carriage and unpretending liveries of the Emperor Alexander. It is
an extraordinary thing how time and place will suddenly tend to the
development of certain sentiments, which, even if they have existed
before, have, perhaps, been rather repulsed than encouraged. Thus
it was with me on the night in question. No sooner had I beheld the
pressure of the crowd, the difficulty of obtaining admittance into the
sanctum of Madame de Krudener, than I was seized with an indescribable
longing to press forward, and a regret that I had never been to her
receptions before. It was some time before I could force my way through
the dense mass of visitors which obstructed the staircase. However, in
all matters, great or small, everything happens, to those who know how
to wait with patience, and my turn did come in due course, and I also
found myself ushered into the mighty presence. How different did I find
this _huitaine_ from those I had witnessed at her former residence!

“The whole scene of former days flashed upon me, as I made my way
through the rooms towards the sanctorum wherein the divinity of the
place sat enshrined in mysterious and hallowed seclusion. When I had
last beheld her, before her departure for Riga, she was in the bloom
of youth and beauty; her complexion, of exquisite fairness, bespoke
her northern origin, while the delicate and graceful form bore all the
softness of the south. The long ringlets of golden hair which shaded
her face in such rich luxuriance had been the theme of many an ode and
sonnet, while her grace in the dance had made many an unhappy ‘Gustave’
among the sad _incroyables_ of the day.

“I now found her, after a lapse of years, the same in all things, and
yet, how strangely altered! Her youth was gone; and her beauty, of
which she still possessed some little share, no longer satisfied that
ardent thirst of admiration, that morbid, eager craving for popularity,
which had possessed her soul from her childhood upwards. She had
been greeted with divine honours, and divinity she would insist upon
remaining, in spite of the change which had taken place both in herself
and in her worshippers. She had exchanged her pedestal of alabaster,
wreathed with roses, for one of mere painted paste-board, and only
maintained her _àplomb_ upon its narrow surface by the strangest
efforts and contortions. It was a curious scene; such a one as I should
have thought it impossible to see enacted in the nineteenth century.

“The rooms were crowded; and, with an admirable comprehension of
theatrical display, the fair hostess remained in the furthermost of
all from the entrance. A space of the width of the doorways through
which you had to pass was kept vacant for the approach of strangers.
It was thus that, through a long lane of curious gazers, I was e’en
forced to wend my way towards the place where Madame de Krudener
sat, in her hallowed and almost solitary glory. In the midst of all
that was singular in this extraordinary reception, what struck me
most was the unearthly silence which reigned in the assembly. Not a
word was uttered above a whisper, and the few greetings of friendly
recognition with which I was hailed as I passed through the _seven_
chambers, all crowded to excess, were scarcely audible from the low
tone in which they were uttered. The room which Madame had honoured
with her preference was a very small boudoir at the extreme end of the
apartment. I observed in a moment that those which I had traversed were
dimly and poorly lighted, although there was animation enough imparted
to the assembly by the gay _parure_ of the ladies, and the glittering
uniforms of all nations, which were gathered there; but the effect was
so artistically managed, that, as you looked forward down a narrow,
shaded vista, the single point brilliantly lighted—the white dress of
the lady became the immediate centre of attraction.

“Madame received me most graciously, and I will confess that it was not
without some emotion that I bent low to kiss her hand. She courteously
reminded me of former times, and, in the sweetest tones which ever
fell upon the human ear, reproached me gently for my tardy compliance
with her oft-repeated invitation. There certainly was something
irresistible in her voice and manner; for I, who had come prepared to
resist, yielded to the charm without a struggle, and gazed at her with
an interest which I had little expected to feel. She was at that time
fast verging towards the dreaded forty, and it was even said that it
was merely owing to the disagreement in the two calendars that she
had not already passed that fatal boundary, and she defended herself,
with most amusing earnestness, against the charge brought forward by
the evil-disposed persons who accused her of being both ‘visionary
and quadragenary.’ However, time had dealt kindly with her, having
left traces of his passage more upon her figure than her face. Both
had increased and spread; the bloom and freshness had departed, but
wrinkles and suffusion had not yet arrived.

“She was attired in a robe of her own invention, made of some kind
of woollen stuff of the purest white, long, full, and flowing, with
sleeves which reached to the very ground; the whole was edged with
silver, and the robe was confined at the waist by a silver girdle.
Her hair, which was still beautiful as ever, although not quite of so
bright a golden hue as I remembered it, hung loose down her back and
over her bosom, reaching to the waist in the most beautiful ringlets,
which, whether the effect of nature or of art, were well calculated to
enhance the expression of her inspired attitudes. There was exquisite
coquetry in the manner in which, by a gentle movement, she shook the
ringlets from her brow, in order to clear her vision, when any new
visitor drew near, and in the peculiarly graceful motion with which
she would draw her hand now and then across her eyes, as if to shade
the light for an instant, during which the snowy fingers, laden with
gems, glistened through the drooping curls with an effect perfectly
bewildering.

“She was reclining upon a low divan which ran along the wall, supported
by cushions of crimson velvet, which set off her fair complexion and
the dazzling whiteness of her dress to the greatest advantage. On one
side stood the Emperor Alexander, attired in a suit of black, with
no mark of his high rank save the glittering star of brilliants on
his bosom. If he had come prepared to heighten the effect of Madame
de Krudener’s _tableau_, he could not have adopted a costume and
bearing more in harmony with her intentions. On the other side, leaning
backward in his chair, with the most perfect nonchalance imaginable,
sat the King of Prussia _en personne_. Before I had recovered from the
surprise which the latter discovery had occasioned, my hand was seized
in a friendly grasp by my old friend and ally, Bergasse, who, together
with a sombre, wild-looking individual, was seated on a low stool at
the feet of the prophetess, both having, apparently, been occupied in
transcribing the words which fell from her lips, for each was armed
with a _calpin_ and pencil-case.

“When I had paid my respects to the lady, I was about to retire, as I
supposed was the etiquette for casual visitors, but I was destined to
feel the advantage of possessing a ‘friend at court,’ for Bergasse drew
me gently back, and led me to a seat in the corner of the room, where
I remained an observer, unobserved, of all that was going on around
me. Bergasse endeavoured for a moment to satisfy my curiosity by a few
brief answers to my whispered questions, but he had no time to waste
upon a poor, uninitiated novice like myself, and he soon left me, and
resumed his seat by the side of his necromantic-looking companion.
However, from the few short words he had found time to utter, he
informed me that I was in great good luck that evening, for Madame
de Krudener was in one of her most ecstatic moods, and had already
three times experienced the state of _extase_, and, while under this
influence, had given utterance to some of the most powerful and most
beautiful prophecies and denunciations, which himself and his friend
had most righteously transcribed, word for word, and in the order of
their utterance.

“‘Who is your companion?’ said I, pointing to the long, thin figure in
black which remained gathered up at the feet of the lady.

“‘That is our new _illuminé_,’ returned Bergasse, triumphantly. ‘It
is Jüng Stilling, who has left home, family, and friends, to follow
our inspired mistress. I have attached myself to Madame de Krudener
from admiration and conviction; he has done so from the sympathy of
mystic science, the strongest of all ties. How I regret, my friend,
that I began not life as I now am ending it, in communion with the
lofty-minded, the inspired. How I grieve now over the time lost,
the unambitious aims of my youth! Why come you not with us? In our
existence is true happiness only to be found.’

“‘What further he would have added I know not, for, just then, the
dull, sepulchral voice of Jüng Stilling called him by his name, and he
slunk back to his side, leaving me to contemplate the scene before me.

“There was a moment of deadly silence after Bergasse had regained his
seat. Madame de Krudener sat motionless, staring with fixed, unmeaning
gaze upon the vacant space before her. The Emperor Alexander stood in
passive expectation, not a muscle of his features disturbed, while the
King of Prussia, who at that time never left his side and never turned
his gaze from the autocratical countenance, looked at it now with
more intent and searching earnestness. Presently the seeress started
from her dream, and slowly arose from the divan where she had been
reclining. She waved her arm aloft, while yet her fixed gaze wavered
not, and moved a step or two forward. Nothing could exceed the grandeur
of her appearance at that moment. The long robe in which she was
enveloped, drooped in graceful folds about her person, and the loose
sleeve fell back from the extended arm, and displayed its rounded
form and snowy whiteness with most bewitching effect. She spoke—her
voice was deep and solemn, and its accents fell with slow and measured
cadence on the ear.

“‘Let us pray,’ said she; then paused; while I could hear from the
rooms beyond, and which I had traversed on my entrance, that peculiar
agitation and bustle which precedes the change of position in churches.
‘Let us pray; all sinners that ye are, sink upon your knees, and
beg forgiveness from the God of heaven!’ exclaimed she, in a louder
tone; and in a moment, while yet she stood with arms uplifted, and
with her head thrown back, every person present, from Alexander, the
autocrat of all the Russias, to the very waiters who had been handing
the refreshments to the company, sank down upon their knees, and
bowed their foreheads to the very ground! She herself knelt not, but
remained standing, while she poured forth a prayer, spoken in earnest
and burning language; words of which I have not been able to recall
a syllable to memory, so absorbed was I in contemplation of all that
was passing. I verily believe that of all that multitude—for I think
there must have been at least five hundred persons present—there was
not a soul save myself who had dared to remain seated; and with me it
was neither mockery nor bravado which had caused me to disobey the
injunction, but at the moment I was so taken by surprise, so absorbed
with the novelty of the scene, that I was scarcely conscious of the
impropriety of which I was guilty. To speak truth, I was busy comparing
the circumstances now passing before me, with those under which I had
last beheld Madame de Krudener; Garat, the opera singer, and Bernardin
de St. Pierre were then her supporters. Sounds of mirth and festivity,
the light _fiorituri_ of Garat, the mildly-caustic declamation of
Bernardin, had given place to the solemn tones of the prophetess, the
language of love and gallantry to the language of prayer.

“She continued, for the space of at least an hour, in a state of
inspiration, never ceasing, during all that time, to hold on her
discourse with the same unhesitating eloquence. She spoke of Alexander,
‘the white angel of the north,’ predicting for him and his descendants,
glory, happiness, and honour, unlimited sway from the rising of the sun
to the setting of the same. Then did she revert to the black angel of
the south, foretelling that he ‘would escape from his second cage like
a chained lion.’

“The prophecies were uttered with a self-confidence, an implicit
belief, which I could not but admire; it was so well calculated
to inspire the same feeling in others. The only drawback was the
reflection that none of them had as yet come true.

“This state of _extase_ lasted for some time after the prayer was
ended, during which the whole assembly remained kneeling. I bent
forward and looked through the open door; not a single gesture of
impatience, not a single wandering glance could I detect among the
crowd. Every head was bent low. Some even kissed the very floor;
and it really was a curious sight to behold those dainty ladies,
those gaily-dressed courtiers, whose costume of white kerseymere
knee-breeches and silk stockings was anything but favourable to the
kneeling posture, remain thus without a murmur, so long as it pleased
the fair preacher to hold them in expectation that she would resume her
discourse.

“The prayer was ended at length, and every one arose, gently, without
confusion and without noise, and sank again into their seats in
silent meditation, which continued undisturbed by a single sound for
several minutes. The prophetess had fallen back upon her ottoman, and
her golden locks completely buried her face beneath their shadow.
I would have given much to have been sure of the expression of her
countenance, for once I became aware that her eye sought mine, and then
I observed that she turned aside to avoid my scrutiny. Bergasse sprang
to my side in delight and triumph. ‘Is she not splendid?’ inquired he,
with a naïveté of tone and manner at which I was highly amused. ‘You
have heard her in her glory to-night,’ he whispered in my ear, with
an air of the greatest mystery, while his countenance changed from
the expression of childish admiration, which it had worn when he had
addressed me, to that of awe and wonder—‘She has had a _pressentiment_,
and is under its influence still.’ He took my arm, and walked with me
through the crowd into the adjoining room.

“As I left the sacred boudoir, I beheld the ‘white angel of the north’
in busy conversation with the prophetess, and the unhappy King of
Prussia bending forward, eager to catch the slightest syllable which
fell from the lips of the speakers; but the effort was vain; his neck
was too short, and his eye wandered from the one to the other with the
restless, unquiet look of a person afflicted with deafness.

“Bergasse turned to me as soon as we were alone. ‘There is something
dreadful about to happen,’ said he, in a solemn whisper. ‘She has
had her _pressentiment_ to-night, and she has never deceived us yet.
Something awful is about to occur here; in this very apartment,
perhaps—in this very room, upon the very spot where we now are
standing!’ He seized my arm and drew me nearer to his side, then
added—‘My dearest friend, some one is about to DIE beneath this very
roof!’ I drew back aghast; but Bergasse seemed too much _exalté_ by
his subject to care if even he himself were the victim, provided the
prophecy of his divinity came true. ‘Yes,’ added he, with a grim smile,
‘_she_ has felt that death is walking amongst us; he is now, at this
moment, choosing his victim. She has insisted on my sending home my
nephew. She wished me to depart also, but I must not leave her. Even
while I am dallying with you, I am losing the precious words which fall
with such sweet unction from her tongue.’

“He left me abruptly, and hurried back to the boudoir of Madame de
Krudener, while I remained lost in astonishment, to think that the
man, who had once dealt terror into the heart of the boldest satirist
that ever existed—he who had for awhile, by his energy and sarcastic
bitterness alone, arrested the headlong progress of Beaumarchais,
and turned the popular tide of ridicule against him who had so long
ridiculed all things with impunity, should have thus become, in his old
age, the puling slave of a self-deluded impostor, who was prompted in
the comedy she was playing by the wild vagaries of the ex-tailor, Jüng
Stilling. I left the soirée with feelings of mingled pity and disgust,
to which was added, a strange suspicion concerning the motive which
actuated the ‘white angel of the north’ in thus making this public
display of his admiration of the prophetess, and consenting to be made
one of the _coryphées_ in the theatrical representations she was thus
in the habit of giving.

“I was scarcely awake the next morning, when Bergasse rushed into my
room, exclaiming, in a tone of triumph, ‘She did not deceive—it was
true—the _pressentiment_ was justified! Why did you not stay till
later?—you would have _seen_ the truth with your own eyes, and have
been an unbeliever no longer.’ With the artful tact of a professed
marvel-monger, he allowed me time for reflection after he had
pronounced these words, and then resumed, as soon as he perceived that
I had collected my wandering senses.

“‘You were no sooner gone, my friend, than her inspired prophecy of
last evening was fulfilled. I was seated where you had left me, at her
feet, when a young man of the Neapolitan embassy, who had been hovering
around the door, gathered sufficient courage to enter the boudoir and
make his bow to Madame de Krudener. His name was Carascola; he had
arrived but a few days since from Naples. Madame de Krudener had known
his mother, and in courtesy and kindness felt in duty bound to ask him
some few questions concerning the prospects and intentions which had
led him to Paris. He had answered her questions with that embarrassed
timidity with which young men are used to reply to their superiors, and
Madame de Krudener had already dismissed him, and turned again to the
“white angel of the north,” whose conversation had been interrupted by
the young man’s entrance, when suddenly she started from the sofa as
though a pistol-shot had been fired through her brain, and darting on
me a look of terror, she exclaimed, faintly, “Bergasse, the hour is
come—nought can save us from the approach of our Sovereign Lord and
Master. He is here—his choice is made.” At that very instant, I give
you my honour as a gentleman, I beheld Carascola, who was leaving us,
full of youthful spirit, to gain the outer room, fall forward upon the
floor, without stumbling, without resistance, without convulsion, but
rather as it were sink down softly as though seeking repose, and there
lie stretched his full length, without sense and without motion. A
crowd soon gathered round him, and they raised him up; his countenance
was pale and his features frightfully swollen, even in that minute; a
doctor who was present opened a vein upon the forehead, but it was all
of no avail. She had spoken truth. Death had chosen his victim, and
that victim was Carascola.’

“Such was the tale which Bergasse had come so early to my bedside
to tell me. I ascertained, that very day, that it was true in every
particular, and was certainly an extraordinary proof of the possibility
of an almost supernatural coincidence. I doubt not that Madame de
Krudener had often experienced these _pressentiments_ before, but
I much doubt whether any one of them ever came true so rapidly, so
_àpropos,_ as in this case. The young man had evidently been in a bad
state of health, perhaps subject to fits, from his childhood, and on
this occasion the excitement of meeting with the august personage he
had come to visit, the heat of the room, the emotion of the prayer
and prophecies, must have caused a congestion of the brain. I can,
however, vouch for the entire truth of the fact I have related; you
must yourselves arrange the causes, according to your own scepticism or
powers of belief.”

The prince arose as he concluded his story; his toilet was completed,
and he was released from his tormentors. I was sorry to behold the
morning conference thus breaking up, for I could have listened on until
sunset. I dared, however, to hazard one single question. “Did you ever
see Madame de Krudener after this?”

The prince bit his lip slily. “Never so close as on that night,”
returned he; “but from a distance, as such great luminaries should only
be gazed at by vulgar mortals like ourselves. It was at the review of
Alexander’s troops in the _plaine des Vertus_, a ceremony of which
she has left us such a flaming description. But alas! already was she
no longer the object of exclusive adoration to the ‘white angel of the
north,’ for I observed that his head was often close under the pink
bonnet of Madame du C——, while the yellow ringlets and broad straw hat
of Madame de Krudener were left to float unheeded in the wind. The
purpose for which he had been playing the comedy of such assiduous
attendance at her prayer-meetings was evidently answered, and he cared
no longer to expose himself to ridicule for her sake. Soon after this,
she left Paris for ever, and I beheld her no more. But my niece, who,
like many of her sex, was infatuated with the eloquence and talents of
Madame de Krudener, followed her to the Greuzacher Horn, whither she
had retired. Here she sank lower in the scale, and no longer preached
to kings and emperors, but to an immense army of ragged proselytes,
whom her generosity in alms-giving, more than her pious exhortations,
had drawn around her. This same army followed her, I believe, in all
her wanderings, and I am told that at her death the little colony
established itself at Karasoubazar, where it is flourishing still, and
where almost divine honours are paid to her remains; pilgrimages are
performed to her tomb to this very day, and miracles are wrought as
freely as at many other shrines.

“It is certain that the game which Alexander deemed it worth his while
to play was a deep one, for its object has not been discovered to this
very day. I know, from the best authority, that for a long time he
counterfeited entire obedience to her commands, fasted, prayed, and
wept, beat his bosom and tore his hair when she so ordered it—took
the whole responsibility of the absurd and childish project of the
Holy Alliance upon his own shoulders—and, in short, gave himself up to
the guidance of one whom he feigned to consider as Heaven-inspired.
And when the allied sovereigns—who had all, at first, been blinded
by the tinsel of the framework of that famous treaty—turned round
and laughed it to scorn, shamed by the blunt good sense of England,
who had pronounced the document _unintelligible_ and refused to
sign, Alexander—whether from misplaced _amour propre_, or from real
conviction, still remains a mystery—would never consent to withdraw his
signature. Whatever may be the merits of the conception of that mighty
work, it certainly sprang from the brain of Madame de Krudener alone;
but when complimented upon the stupendous, though ‘unintelligible,’
design, it was her wont to reply with great modesty, while she flung
back her ringlets and looked towards Heaven, ‘The Holy Alliance is
the immediate work of God. It is He who has chosen me for his weak,
uncertain instrument, and it is He who has inspired me with the idea of
uniting the sovereigns of Europe in the holy bonds of brotherly love,
for the good of the great human family under their charge.’”

The prince had moved towards the door even before his words were
quite concluded, and, to my regret, he turned and bowed to us on the
threshold, and then passed out. It was the hour for business, and he
retired to his own study until the carriage was announced for his
morning drive.

       *       *       *       *       *

That very evening, the courier from Paris brought me the summons to
repair to my station, which I dared not disobey; that official summons,
sealed with the official seal, and stamped with the official _griffe_,
which strikes such terror into the hearts of youthful aspirants to
diplomatic fame. I have grown older and wiser since that time, and
have in my turn despatched many an official summons to strike terror
into the heart of some diplomatic tyro. I have lived to satisfy even my
mother’s ambitious hopes, and have had my full share both of diplomatic
toils and their glittering reward; but I can never look back without
an overwhelming gratitude and regret towards the time when, unknown
and obscure, I passed those pleasant hours in the society of the great
and illustrious Prince de Talleyrand, during that short vacation at
Valençay.



CHAPTER VI.

THE LAST MOMENTS OF PRINCE TALLEYRAND.


It was scarcely six o’clock, on the morning of the 17th of May (1838),
when I bent my steps towards the old hotel in the Rue St. Florentin,
with a mind full of sad misgivings; for when, at a late hour on the
evening previous, I had quitted it, I had been but slightly encouraged
to hope that another day could possibly be granted to its proud and
gifted owner. The dull grey dawn was just struggling to rise above the
tall chestnuts of the Tuileries. All was still silent, and as I pulled
the heavy bell, its echo reverberated through the vast court-yard
with a sound almost unearthly. I did not pause at the porter’s lodge
to inquire news of the night, for the first object which met my eye
was the physician’s carriage, and I rushed at once to the foot of
the grand staircase, which I had so often ascended with feelings so
far different from those I now experienced. The two stone figures of
Silence, which stood on each side of the gigantic portal, humid and
dripping with the morning fog, struck a chill to my very soul. Those
huge lions, which had so often been compared to the insatiate lions of
Venice, now reminded me of those mute and motionless watchers carved by
the marble gates of an ancient sepulchre. It seemed as if every object
were already enveloped in that atmosphere of death, and that the old
mansion, at all times sad and dreary, was already pervaded with the
odour of the tomb.

What gave a colouring to this idea was the total silence which reigned
around, where in general, even at this early hour, all was hurry and
business. The antechamber was deserted, for the anxious domestics had
crowded one and all to the apartment nearest to that occupied by their
beloved master, in order to obtain the earliest information respecting
the progress of his malady. There perhaps never existed a person who,
with so little apparent effort, possessed in so great a degree the
power of conciliating the affections of his dependents as the Prince
de Talleyrand. Of those who were with him at that moment, all had,
with few exceptions, grown grey in his service; while of those who had
started in their career with him in his youth, none remained: he had
lived to see them all go down before him into the grave. The prince had
always been accustomed to treat his chief domestics as persons worthy
of confidence, and many a subject of the highest importance, which
had been nursed with the greatest secrecy through the bureaux of the
Foreign-office, has been discussed at full length, and with all liberty
of speech, before his valet-de-chambre. It was, indeed, his custom for
many years before his death to select the hour allotted to his toilet
for the transaction of the most important affairs, and the discussion
of the most weighty politics, and never, upon any occasion, was he
known to dismiss his valet from the chamber. Perhaps some apology may
be found for this apparent carelessness in the fact of his trust having
never been betrayed.

The most remarkable of the whole tribe was decidedly the venerable
Courtiade, one to whom, by reason of his long services and devoted
attachment, the prince allowed a greater latitude than to any other,
and whose homely remarks and shrewd observations upon passing events,
afforded him the greatest amusement. This man had entered the prince’s
service long before the breaking out of the first revolution, and died
“still in those voluntary bonds,” during the embassy to London. It
was said that the grief which he experienced in consequence of being
left in Paris, owing to his advanced age and growing infirmities,
contributed, in a great measure, to hasten his death.

His attachment was rather that of a member of the canine species than
of a human being. During the early years of his service he had partaken
of all the vicissitudes of the ever-changing fortunes of his master.
The prince would take a peculiar delight in recounting to strangers the
story of his flight to America, when, in obedience to a secret friendly
warning, he resolved to take his immediate departure. Courtiade was
with him at the moment that he received the letter which was the cause
of this decision, and the prince immediately confided to him the step
he was about to take, at the same time advising him, as he had a
wife and family to whom he would doubtless wish to bid adieu before
venturing on so long and perilous a journey, more especially since the
period of his return must be distant and uncertain, that he should let
him depart at once, and follow in the next packet which should sail.
“Non, non,” replied Courtiade, in the greatest agitation; “you shall
not leave the country alone and unattended—I will go with you; but only
leave me till to-morrow night!” “That cannot be, Courtiade,” returned
the prince; “the delay will endanger our position, without being
sufficiently long to be of service to yourself and your wife.” “Bah!
c’est bien de ma femme dont il s’agit!” exclaimed the valet, with the
tears rushing to his eyes; “it is that accursed washerwoman, who has
got all your fine shirts and your muslin cravats, and how, in heaven’s
name, will you be able to make an appearance, and in a foreign country
too, without them?”

I shall never forget my first interview with the prince, nor the
singular impression which this very Courtiade then produced upon me.
I was admitted, as was usual with all persons who came upon affairs
demanding attention and privacy, at the hour of the prince’s toilet. It
was a little while after the revolution of July, and just before his
embassy to London. I found the renowned diplomatist seated tranquilly
at his bureau, which mostly served him both for writing and dressing
table. It was, I believe, upon the very day that the prince was to take
his farewell audience of Louis Philippe, ere he set out for England,
and he was to appear upon this occasion in the usual court costume.
One valet was busily occupied, with a most serious countenance, in
powdering, with might and main, the thick masses of his long grey hair.
Another was kneeling low at his feet, endeavouring, although with
difficulty, from his constrained position beneath the table, to buckle
the latchets of his shoes. His secretary was seated at the bureau
beside him, occupied in opening, one after the other, a huge collection
of letters with astonishing rapidity, scanning the contents of each,
quietly throwing some into the waste-paper basket, and placing the
rest in a pile beneath for the inspection of the prince. I could not
but admire the _sang froid_ with which, while listening to my errand,
to him personally of the highest importance, he suffered himself to be
invested with the embroidered paraphernalia of his official uniform.
When the attire was completed, the door of the chamber opened, and in
stalked, with tottering steps, the aged, weather-beaten Courtiade,
laden with divers small boxes, of various forms and sizes. These were
filled with the ribands and insignia of the multifarious orders with
which the prince was decorated. It was curious to witness the total
indifference with which he suffered himself to be ornamented, as
contrasted with the eager solemnity of Courtiade, to whom the desire to
fill this office with becoming dignity (for it was the only duty which
in his latest years devolved upon him) had become the chief aim and
object of existence.

I have been led into this involuntary digression by the remembrance of
my own sensations as I traversed the now silent and deserted apartment,
and was carried back in memory to that first interview, inwardly
comparing the anticipations of that moment with those by which my soul
was on this occasion so depressed and saddened.

When I entered the chamber where reposed the veteran statesman, he
had fallen into a profound slumber, from which some amendment was
augured by the physicians, although it might partly be ascribed to the
fatigue induced by the over-excitement he had undergone a few hours
previously in the performance of the last act of the chequered drama
of his existence—his retractation; an act which, after having been
visited with praise and blame, with scorn or admiration, and each
in an exaggerated degree, must for ever remain a mystery. It must
have cost him much—those alone who were about him at the moment can
tell how much—for he well knew that the eyes of all parties would be
turned upon him, and that his motives would be discussed under various
considerations, according as the opinions or the interests of each
were concerned: for there were many from whom praise was to him more
bitter than blame, or even ridicule, from others; and he knew well
that none would view this step in its proper light, as a sacrifice
small in itself—important only because it was the last, the sacrifice
of every feeling, of every consideration, to the power to which he had
taught every sentiment to bend for so many years, until it was said
that all had been crushed by the mighty giant,—that love, revenge, even
ambition, that all-absorbing passion of the master mind, had been led
captive or perished in the struggle with his reason!

A report has gone abroad of his having been tormented and persecuted,
even on his death-bed, to execute this deed. This is, however, far
from the truth: it had for some time occupied his thoughts, and among
his papers have been found many proofs; amongst others, fragments of a
correspondence with the Pope upon the subject, which must necessarily
tend to confirm the assertion. But the fact is, he was influenced in
this measure, as in many other instances wherein he has drawn down the
blame of the sticklers for consistency, by the desire to spare pain
and trouble to his family: he knew that his relatives would suffer
much inconvenience by his resistance on his death-bed to the execution
of certain religious formalities, to which, in his own mind, he
attached not the slightest importance; and whatever may be stated by
his enemies with regard to the cold and calculating policy which had
guided all his actions, it cannot be denied that he had ever held in
view the elevation and aggrandizement of his family. In this aim he had
never been deterred, neither by dulness, nor incapacity, nor even by
ingratitude; and, as we have seen, he moreover made it his care beyond
the grave: his powerful and passionless soul rejected all the petty
sentiments which actuate men of ordinary character: he was governed by
his reason alone, and listened to nought beside.

The slumber, or rather lethargy, into which the Prince had fallen, had
continued for about an hour after my arrival, and it was curious to
observe, as time drew on, the uneasiness which was manifested, even,
alas! by those nearest and dearest, lest this repose, however salutary,
should endure beyond the hour fixed by the king for his visit. It
was with some difficulty that he was aroused from this oblivion, and
made to comprehend the importance of the event which was about to
occur. He was scarcely lifted from his reclining position and seated
on the edge of the bed, when, punctual as the hand upon the dial, his
majesty, followed by Madame Adelaide, entered the apartment. It was
a study both for the moralist and painter to observe the contrast
between these two individuals, as, seated thus side by side, beneath
the canopy of those old green curtains, they seemed grouped as for the
composition of some historical picture. It was startling to turn from
the broad, expansive forehead, the calm and stoic brow, and the long
and shaggy locks which overshadowed it, giving to the dying statesman
that lion-like expression of countenance which had so often formed the
theme of admiration to poets and to artists, and then to gaze upon
the pointed crown, well-arranged _toupée_, the whole outward bearing,
_tant soit peu bourgeois_, of the king, who, even at this early hour
of the morning, was attired, according to his custom, with the utmost
precision and primness. Despite the old faded dressing-gown of the one,
and the snuff-coloured coat, stiff neckcloth, and polished boots of the
other, the veriest barbarian could have told at a glance which was the
“last of the nobles,” and which the “First Citizen” of the empire. His
majesty was the first to break silence, as in etiquette bound to do.
It would be difficult to define the expression which passed across his
features as he contemplated what might be called the setting of his
guiding-star. Perhaps he could not himself have rendered an account of
the exact impression which the scene produced upon his mind.

“I am sorry, prince, to see you suffering so much,” said he, in a low,
tremulous voice, rendered almost inaudible by extreme emotion.

“Sire, you have come to witness the sufferings of a dying man, and
those who love him can have but one wish, that of seeing them shortly
at an end.”

This was uttered in that deep, strong voice so peculiar to himself, and
which age had not had the power to weaken, nor the approach of death
itself been able to subdue. The effect of the speech, short as it was,
was indescribable,—the pause by which it was preceded, and the tone
of reproach, calm and bitter, in which it was conveyed,—produced an
impression which will not be soon forgotten by those who were present.

The royal visit, like all royal visits of an unpleasant nature, was of
the shortest duration possible. It was evident that his majesty felt it
to be an irksome moment, and that he was at a loss what countenance to
assume; and, after uttering some expressions of consolation, he rose to
take his leave, but too visibly pleased that the self-imposed task was
at an end. Here the prince once more, with his usual tact, came to his
relief, by slightly rising and introducing to his notice those by whom
he was surrounded,—his physician, his secretary, his principal valet,
and his own private doctor; and then a reminiscence of the old courtier
seemed to come across him, for with his parting salutation he could not
forbear a compliment,—“Sire, our house has received this day an honour
worthy to be inscribed in our annals, and one which my successors will
remember with pride and gratitude.”

I must confess that I was grievously disappointed in the anticipations
which I had formed of this visit. I had looked upon it as the farewell
of the safely-landed voyager (landed, too, amid storm and tempest) to
the wise and careful pilot who had steered him skilfully through rock
and breaker, and now pushed off, alone, amid the darkness, to be seen
no more. But no: there was the hurry and impatience of one to whom
the scene was painful; and that it was painful who can doubt? There
was, too, that evident secret self-applause, in the performance of an
irksome duty; but not the slightest expression of any one sentiment
of friendship or attachment, such as I had imagined to have bound
these two men together. A friend of mine—a man of great sense and
discernment—to whom I made this observation, remarked, drily, “It is
plain that his majesty has no fear to see him die; but wait a little
while, and we shall see that he will have regret enough that he should
be dead!”

As a kind of relief to the gloomy side of the picture, might be
observed the anxious feminine flurry displayed throughout the interview
by Madame, who appeared to suffer much uneasiness lest the coldness of
her royal brother should be noticed, and who endeavoured, by a kindly
display of interest and busy politeness, to make amends for what might
appear wanting elsewhere.

I should not perhaps have deemed it necessary to record thus minutely
the particular details of this scene, had not it already been so much
dwelt upon in another light. Astonishment and admiration, frivolous
and exaggerated, have been expressed with regard to this remarkable
act of condescension on the part of Louis Philippe, as though royalty
were alone exempt from the debt of manly and honourable gratitude.
Why, there is not one of the sovereigns beneath whom Talleyrand had
lived, who would not have hurried to show respect to the death-bed of
this truly great statesman; and yet all had not been raised to the
throne by his means! Napoleon, the stern—the iron-hearted—even he
would not have hesitated, because he scorned not to avow that he had
owed as much of his political success to the timely counsels of his
minister for foreign affairs as to his own skill and foresight. Louis
Dixhuit—neither would he have deemed such a step beneath his dignity:
he, too, needed no reminding that he was deeply indebted to the Prince
de Talleyrand, not perhaps for zeal and activity, but for what,
according to time and circumstance, was to him of far more value—his
wise, discreet, and generous forbearance: while Charles X. would have
come, with pious resignation, to mourn the quenching of this last
beacon of the old French aristocracy, and would have rejoiced that by
his means it should have been extinguished amid becoming dignity and
honour.

It was shortly after the departure of the king that the first symptoms
of dissolution were observed by the physicians. The whole family, every
member of which had been apprised of this, immediately gathered around
the prince. The Duke de P—— was there among the number, and I could
not forbear a smile as I remembered the satirical observation made by
the prince himself, a short time before his illness, upon the occasion
of rather a ceremonious visit from this personage,—“Just leaves me in
disappointment,” said he, as he departed; “one would think, by his
melancholy visage and his lugubrious costume, that he was deputed
hither by some _entrepreneur des pompes funèbres_.”

Towards the middle of the day, the prince began to grow more restless
and feverish. I could not resist the temptation of seeking relief from
the stifled air of that close chamber, and passed through to the
drawing-room. I was verily astounded at the scene which there met my
eyes. Never shall I forget the impression produced by the transition
from that silent room—that bed of suffering—to the crowded apartment
where “troops of friends”—all the _élite_ of the society of Paris—were
assembled. There was a knot of busy politicians, with ribbons at their
button-holes—some with powdered heads, some with bald heads—gathered
around the blazing fire; their animated conversation, although, by the
good taste and feeling of him who directed it, conducted in a low tone,
filling the apartment with its unceasing murmur. I observed, too, some
of the diplomatist’s oldest friends, who had come hither from real and
sincere attachment, and who took no part in the eager debates of these
political champions.

Among others the Count de M——, he whom I had never seen but as the
prime wit of all joyous réunions—whose pungent joke and biting sarcasm
have become the terror of bores and twaddlers, for they cling for ever,
like burrs, to those against whom they are hurled:—the only man, in
short, with whom the prince himself dared not, upon all occasions,
to measure himself in the keen skirmish of intellect, now sat silent
and sorrowful, apart from the rest, apparently lost in thought, nor
heeding the various details of the scene which was enacting around him,
and which, had it been elsewhere, would not have failed to call forth
some of the sharp and bitter traits of satire for which he is so much
dreaded. In one corner was seated a _coterie_ of ladies discussing
topics entirely foreign to the time and place. Sometimes a low burst
of light laughter would issue from among them, in spite of the
reprimanding “Chut” which upon such occasions arose from the further
end of the room. On a sofa near the window lay extended, at full
length, the youthful and lovely Duchess de V——, with a bevy of young
beaux—all robber-like and “jeune France,” kneeling on the carpet beside
her, or sitting low at her feet on the cushions of the divan.

The scene was altogether one of other times. It seemed as though the
lapse of centuries might be forgotten, and that we were carried back at
a bound to the days of Louis Quatorze, and to the death-bed of Mazarin.
There was the same _insouciance_, the same weariness of expectation.
Some were gathered there from _convénance_, some from courtesy to
the rest of the family; many from curiosity, and some few from real
friendship; while none seemed to remember that a mighty spirit was
passing from the world, or that they were there assembled to behold a
great man die. Presently, however, the conversation ceased—the hum of
voices was at an end—there was a solemn pause, and every eye was turned
towards the slowly-opening door of the prince’s chamber. A domestic
entered with downcast looks and swollen eyes, and advancing towards Dr.
C——, who, like myself, had just then sought an instant’s relief in the
drawing-room, whispered a few words in his ear. He arose instantly and
entered the chamber. The natural precipitation with which this movement
was executed but too plainly revealed its cause. It was followed by the
whole assembly. In an instant every one was on the alert, and there was
a simultaneous rush to the door of the apartment. M. de Talleyrand was
at that moment seated on the side of the bed, supported in the arms of
his secretary. It was evident that Death had set his seal upon that
marble brow, yet was I struck with the still-existing vigour of the
countenance. It seemed as if all the life which had once sufficed to
furnish forth the whole being were now centred in the brain. From time
to time he raised his head, with a sudden movement shaking back the
long, grey locks which impeded his sight, and gazed around; and then,
satisfied with the result of his examination of that crowded room, a
triumphant smile would pass across his features, and his head would
again fall upon his bosom.

From the circumstances in which I have been placed, it has fallen to
my lot to be witness of more than one death-scene, but never in any
case did the sentiments displayed at that awful hour appear so utterly
consistent with the character borne by any individual during life,
as in the case of the Prince de Talleyrand. He saw death approach
neither with shrinking nor with fear, nor yet with any affectation
of scorn or of defiance, but rather with cool and steady courage, as
a well-matched, honourable foe with whom he had wrestled long and
bravely, and to whom, now that he was fairly vanquished, he deemed it
no shame to yield, nor blushed to lay down his arms and surrender.
If there be truth in the assertion that it is a satisfaction to die
amid the tears and lamentations of multitudes of friends and hosts of
relatives, then indeed must his last feeling towards the world he was
for ever quitting have been one of entire approbation and content,
for he expired amid regal pomp and reverence; and of all those whom
he, perhaps, would himself have called together, none were wanting.
The aged friend of his maturity, the fair young idol of his age, were
gathered on bended knee beside his bed, and if the words of comfort
whispered from the book by the murmuring priest failed to reach his
ear, it was because their sound was stifled by the louder wailings of
those whom in life he had loved so well.

Scarcely, however, were those eyes, whose every glance had been watched
so long and with such deep interest, for ever closed, when a sudden
change came over the scene. One would have thought that a flight of
crows had suddenly taken wing, so great was the precipitation with
which each one hurried from the hotel, in the hope of being first to
spread the news among the particular set or coterie of which he or she
happened to be the oracle. Ere nightfall, that chamber, which all the
day had been crowded to excess, was abandoned to the servants of the
tomb; and when I entered in the evening, I found the very arm-chair,
from whence I had so often heard the prince launch the courtly jest or
stinging epigram, now occupied by a hired priest, whispering prayers
for the repose of his departed soul.

It was after the death of the prince that the awe and devotion with
which he had inspired his household became evident. Not one of the
domestics left his station upon any pretext whatever. The attendants
waited, each in his turn, and at the same stated hour, to which he had
been accustomed during his life. I myself saw the cook, punctual to the
hour in the morning at which he had for so many years been summoned to
receive his orders, now followed by his bevy of _marmitons_, with their
snow-white costumes and long carving-knives, walk with solemn step
to the foot of the bed, and, kneeling down with cotton cap in hand,
breathe a short prayer: each sprinkled the corpse with holy water, and
then the whole procession withdrew in the same silence with which they
had entered. I was deeply struck with the mixture of the sublime and
the ludicrous in this scene. It reminded me of many of the whimsical
creations to be met with in some of the old German legends.

Contrary to the usual French custom, which ordains that interment shall
ensue eight-and-forty hours after decease, the public funeral, upon the
occasion of the depositing of the body in the church of the Assumption,
did not take place until the following week, owing to the embalmment,
which was a work of time; while the transferring of the corpse to its
final resting-place at Valençay could not be accomplished until the
month of September, the vault, which was preparing even before the
Prince’s death, being yet unfinished.

Independently of the interest which I felt in the ceremony, as well
as the desire to render this last homage to one who had, upon every
occasion of my intercourse with him, been all kindness and urbanity to
me, I determined to repair to Valençay and witness the funerals—for at
one fell stroke had death swept from the earth all that remained of
that one generation. The Prince de Talleyrand—the wise, the witty, the
clever, and the cunning—was to go down to the grave with the guileless
and the simple-hearted Duke, his brother! Upon the same occasion,
too, the small tomb of the infant Yolande, wherein she had peacefully
slumbered for a space of two years, was routed, and the tiny coffin
was to accompany that of the Prince on its long and dreary journey.
The hearse which was to convey the bodies was the same which had been
constructed expressly for the removal of the corpse of the ex-Queen
of Holland from Switzerland, in appearance something resembling an
ammunition-waggon, with covered seats in front, wherein were stationed
two of the personal attendants of the Prince. The body was raised from
the vaults of the Assumption at midnight, and the little snow-white
coffin was placed upon the elaborately-wrought oaken chest which had
contained it.

I was told by a friend, who witnessed the scene, that nothing could
exceed the dramatic effect of the departure of the corpse-laden vehicle
from Paris. The disinterment of the child from the lonely cemetery
of Mont Parnasse—the lading of the ponderous coffin by the light of
torches—the peculiar rattle of the hearse through the silent streets at
that solemn hour, and beneath that calm moon, which makes “all that is
dark seem darker still.” One incident is worth recording. On starting
from the iron gates of the chapel, one of the postillions turned and
shouted the usual question, “_Vers quelle barrière?_” and was answered
by a voice proceeding from the hearse itself, “_Barrière d’Enfer_.”

We arrived at Valençay on the third day after our departure from
Paris, and it was at about ten o’clock on the same night that the
worn and dust-covered hearse was descried wending its way up the
long avenue of chestnut trees leading to the château. Every honour
which had been paid to the lord of the mansion during his life was
now rendered, with scrupulous exactness, to his lifeless corpse. No
ceremony, however trifling, was omitted. The wide gates were thrown
open to admit the sombre vehicle, which entered the court of honour
with the same ceremony that had denoted the approach of the stately
carriage which had been wont to drive at a somewhat ruder pace through
the regal portal. The whole of the numerous household, with the heir
of the domain in advance of the rest, were assembled on the perron.
The Prince’s nephew himself took his seat in front of the hearse,
to conduct it down into the town; the goodly array of servants and
huntsmen and foresters all following on foot, and bearing torches, to
the church, wherein the body was deposited for the night, previous to
the final ceremony, which was to take place on the morrow.

Early in the morning all was astir in the little burgh. Never before
had a sight so fraught with interest been witnessed by its inhabitants.
It seemed like a gala day through every street. Not a window but was
crowded with spectators, while the footway was choked with peasants
from all the neighbouring districts, in their gayest attire. The
National Guard of the town was all afoot from the earliest hour in
the morning; and altogether so cheerful was the whole aspect of the
place, that the traveller who had passed through on that day would
have imagined it to have been the anniversary of some great public
rejoicing. The corpse of the Duke had arrived in far different plight.
No pomp, no pageantry, was here—a solitary post-carriage, with a single
pair of horses—no train of mourners. The physician who had attended his
last illness alone accompanied the body from St. Germain.

There was food for reflection in the contrast! No needless expense had
been wasted upon idle ornament and funeral trappings, for, when the
coffin was uncovered, an exclamation of surprise burst from those
around. It was of plain elm, such as those used by people of middling
degree, and, when placed beside those of his more favoured relatives,
formed a melancholy contrast. But now one pall conceals the whole, the
rich velvet, and the plain, unvarnished planks. One long stream of
melody ascends to Heaven, one prayer for the repose of those who sleep
beneath that gorgeous catafalque—for him who died full of wealth and
honour, whose vast and powerful intellect had held dominion over men’s
minds even to the very last—and for him who closed his eyes in solitude
and neglect, and whose intellect had wavered even on the very verge
of madness. Both were transported to the chapel of the sisters of St.
André, founded by the Prince himself, and wherein he had already placed
the family vault. His body was the first to descend, amid the firing of
muskets, and the noisy demonstrations of respect of those without: then
that of the Duke, amid silence unbroken, save by the harsh creaking of
the coffin, as it slid down the iron grating: then, last and least,
although the oldest denizen of the tomb, the little Yolande, the fairy
coffin seeming, with its silver chasings and embossed velvet, of
snowy whiteness, rather a casket destined to ornament the boudoir of a
youthful beauty, than to become a receptacle of corruption and decay.

The vault was closed, and all was over. Each one had contributed the
last token of Catholic respect, and we all turned from the chapel
to take the road to the château, where entertainment for those who
attended the funeral had been liberally prepared by its new master. It
was then that we began to look around, and to feel some curiosity to
know who had shared with us in rendering this last homage to one who
was entitled to the gratitude of every individual of his nation. We
gazed right and left, but few were there, and these were _all_ those
who had _served him_ devotedly and faithfully—the grateful domestic,
the obscure and humble friend; but of the great ones of the earth whom
_he had served_—of those whom _he_ had raised to greatness and to
honour—there was not ONE!



EXTRACTS FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS, SPEECHES, AND POLITICAL WRITINGS OF
PRINCE TALLEYRAND.


PRINCE TALLEYRAND’S MAXIMS FOR SEASONING CONVERSATION.

Our welcome of a stranger depends upon the name he bears,—upon the
coat he wears: our farewell upon the spirit he has displayed in the
interview.


There is so great a charm in friendship, that there is even a kind of
pleasure in acknowledging oneself duped by the sentiment it inspires.


Unbounded modesty is nothing more than unavowed vanity: the too humble
obeisance is sometimes a disguised impertinence.


The reputation of a man is like his shadow—gigantic when it precedes
him, and pigmy in its proportions when it follows.


The “point of honour” can often be made to produce, by means of vanity,
as many good deeds as virtue.


More evil truths are discovered by the corruption of the heart than by
the penetration of the mind.


Beauty, devoid of grace, is a mere hook without the bait.


Schismatic wranglers are like a child’s top, noisy and agitated when
whipped, quiet and motionless when left alone.


He who cannot feel friendship is alike incapable of love. Let a woman
beware of the man who owns that he loves no one but herself.


The rich man despises those who flatter him too much, and hates those
who do not flatter him at all.


The spirit and enterprise of a courtier are all expended in the search
after place and preferment; nothing remains for the fulfilment of the
duties to which success compels him.


The Count de Coigny possesses wit and talent, but his conversation is
fatiguing, because his memory is equally exact in quoting the date of
the death of Alexander the Great and that of the Princess de Guéménée’s
poodle.


My passion for Madame de Talleyrand was soon extinguished, because she
was merely possessed of beauty. The influence of personal charms is
limited: curiosity forms the great ingredient of this kind of love; but
add the fascination of intellect to those attractions which habit and
possession diminish each day, you will find them multiplied tenfold;
and if, besides intellect and beauty, you discover in your mistress
caprice, singularity, and inequality of temper, close your eyes and
seek no further—you are in love for life.


The imagination of men is often the refuge of their prejudices.


To contradict and argue with a total stranger, is like knocking at a
gate to ascertain if there is any one within.


That sovereign has a little mind who seeks to go down to posterity
by means of great public buildings. It is to confide to masons and
bricklayers the task of writing History.


Love is a reality which is born in the fairy region of romance.


The love of glory can only create a hero; the contempt of it creates a
great man.


The mind of the Duc de Laval is like a dark lanthorn, only capable of
lighting his own path.


The errors of great men, and the good deeds of reprobates, should not
be reckoned in our estimates of their respective characters.


A court is an assemblage of noble and distinguished beggars.


Theologians resemble dogs, that gnaw large bones for the sake of a very
little meat.


The stream of vice will flow as naturally into palaces, as the common
sewer flows into the river, and the river flows onward to the sea.


It is sometimes quite enough for a man to feign ignorance of that
which he knows, to gain the reputation of knowing that of which he is
ignorant.


A long continuance of wise administration is the best and surest means
of arriving at despotism. Our present government gives us no alarm.


Both erudition and agriculture ought to be encouraged by government;
wit and manufactures will come of themselves.


The endeavour to convince a _bel esprit_ by the force of reason, is as
mad an undertaking as the attempt to silence an echo by raising the
voice.


Metaphysics always remind me of the caravanserais in the desert. They
stand solitary and unsupported, and are therefore always ready to
crumble into ruin.


A man should make his _début_ in the world as though he were about to
enter a hostile country; he must send out scouts, establish sentinels,
and ever be upon the watch himself.


Too much sensibility creates unhappiness; too much insensibility
creates crime.


What I have been taught, I have forgotten; what I know, I have guessed.


An elderly coxcomb may be compared to a butterfly deprived of wings—he
becomes a caterpillar once more.


Certain acts may be rendered legal; but can never be made legitimate.


Human life is like a game at chess; each piece holds its place upon the
chess-board—king, queen, bishop, and pawn. Death comes, the game is up,
and all are thrown, without distinction, pell-mell into the same bag.


The bold defiance of a woman is the certain sign of her shame—when she
has once ceased to blush, it is because she has too much to blush for.


Life, to a young man, is like a new acquaintance, of whom he grows
disgusted as he advances in years.


When certain absurd opinions become too generally adopted, they must
be replaced by less noxious errors—that is the best way of arriving at
Truth.


It is an attribute of true philosophy, never to force the progress of
Truth and Reason, but to wait till the dawn of Light; meanwhile, the
philosopher may wander into hidden paths, but he will never depart far
from the main track.


Prudence in a woman should be an instinct, not a virtue.


Churchmen and men of letters have peculiar difficulties in the
world,—the first are continually divided between scandal and hypocrisy,
the second between pride and baseness.


The thought of death throws upon life a lurid glow, resembling that of
a conflagration, lighting up that which it is about to devour.


In love we grow acquainted, because we are already attached—in
friendship we must know each other before we love.


A great capitalist is like a vast lake, upon whose bosom ships can
navigate, but which is useless to the country, because no stream issues
thence to fertilize the land.


With a great seigneur, there is more to be gained by flattering his
vices than by improving his estates.


Truth and virtue can do less good in the world than their false,
well-acted semblance can do evil.


A generous man will place the benefits he confers beneath his
feet,—those he receives, nearest his heart.


A narrow-minded man can never possess real and true generosity—he can
never go beyond mere benevolence.


General maxims applied to every-day life are like routine applied to
the arts, good only for mediocre intellects.


If you wish to appear agreeable in society, you must consent to be
taught many things which you know already.


We must learn to submit with grace to commit the follies which depend
upon character.


There are many vices which do not deprive us of friends,—there are many
virtues which prevent our having any.


In reading over the memoirs of the reign of Louis Quatorze, we find
many things in the worst manners of that day, which are wanting in the
very best society of our own.


I remember having, in my youth, been amused at the resolution of one
of my friends to give up the society of the demoiselles de l’opéra,
to which he was much addicted, in consequence of his having made the
discovery that there existed among these girls as much falsehood and
hypocrisy as amongst honest women.


Certain women can find buyers for their charms, who would find no one
to take them were they to be had for nothing.


I remember having often been told in my youth that the love of glory
was a virtue. Strange must be that virtue which requires the aid of
every vice.


There are two things to which we never grow accustomed,—the ravages of
time, and the injustice of our fellow men.


The written memoirs which a man leaves after him _pour servir à
l’histoire de sa vie_, and above all, _pour servir à l’histoire_ of his
vanity, always remind me of the story of that saint, who left by will a
hundred thousand crowns to the Church, to pay for his canonization.


To succeed in the world, it is much more necessary to possess the
penetration to discover who is a fool than to discover who is a clever
man.


PRINCE TALLEYRAND’S OPINION OF FOX.

(_A Fragment from the Prince’s Memoirs._)

            January 15th, 1807.

I have just heard of the death of Mr. Fox. It is now fifteen years
since I was introduced to him by Mr. Ogilvie, the husband of his aunt,
the Duchess of Leinster. It was at his own house, in South-street, and,
I think, in June, 1791.

Shortly before his death, false reports led him to form an unjust
opinion of me; yet my regret for his loss is not the less deep and
sincere, and I feel a firm conviction that, had his life been spared,
he would have rendered me justice.

Mr. Fox united in his own character the apparently incompatible
qualities of the mildest of men, and the most vehement of orators. In
private life he was gentle, modest, kind-hearted, and remarkably simple
in his manners. His dislike of ostentation, and of any approach to
dogmatism, sometimes gave to his conversation an air of listlessness;
his superiority was manifested only by the information he diffused
around him, and by the generous feeling which always prompted him to
direct the greatest share of his attention to the most obscure members
of the company in which he happened to be. The simplicity of his
manners did not, in the least, detract from that urbanity, and perfect
politeness, which resulted more from the gentleness of his nature,
than from his familiar intercourse with the most polished society of
Europe. His conversation, when not restrained by the languor arising
from fatigue, or by his delicacy towards others, was truly charming.
It may, perhaps, be said, that never was the pleasantry of a man of
wit so perfectly natural, as that of Mr. Fox; it seemed more like the
outpouring, than the creation, of his fancy. He had lived on terms of
close intimacy with all those of his contemporaries most distinguished
for talent, learning, and political eminence. For the space of thirty
years, he maintained intercourse with almost every man in Europe whose
conversation and correspondence were of a nature to fortify, enrich,
or polish the intellectual faculties. His own literary attainments
were varied and profound. In classical erudition, which in England is
specially understood by the term learning, he was not inferior to some
of the most distinguished scholars of his day. Like all men of genius,
he was passionately fond of poetry; the study and cultivation of that
branch of literature, formed his favourite source of recreation, amidst
the fatigues and annoyances of public life. His own poetic effusions
were easy and agreeable, and deserving of a high place in that class of
writing which the French call _vers de société_. The character of his
mind was manifested in his predilection for the poetry of the two most
poetic nations (or at least most poetic languages) of eastern Europe,
viz., the ancient Greek and the modern Italian. Fox did not like
political discussions in conversation, and he never voluntarily took
part in them.

Any attempt to render justice to his oratorical talents would carry
me far beyond the limits of these brief remarks. He was always, and
everywhere, natural; and, in public, his manner and appearance were
stamped with much of the simplicity which characterized him in private
life. When he began to speak, an ordinary observer would have supposed
him to be labouring under embarrassment, and even a discriminating
listener would only have been struck by the just accuracy of his ideas,
and the lucid simplicity of his language; but, after speaking for
some time, he was transformed into another being. He forgot himself,
and everything around him. His thoughts were wholly absorbed in his
subject. His genius warmed as he advanced, and his sentences flashed
like rays of light; until at length, in an impetuous and irresistible
torrent of eloquence, he earned along with him the feelings and the
conviction of his hearers. Fox certainly possessed, beyond any public
speaker of modern times, that union of reasoning power, of simplicity,
and of vehemence, which characterizes the prince of orators. Next to
Demosthenes, he was the most Demosthenian of public speakers. “I knew
him,” observes Mr. Burke, in a pamphlet written after their unfortunate
difference, “when he was only nineteen years old. From that time he
continued rising, by slow degrees, until he has now become the most
brilliant and accomplished debater that ever lived.”

The tranquil dignity of mind, (never disturbed but by great causes)—the
total absence of vanity—the contempt of ostentation—the hatred of
intrigue—the candour, the honesty, and the perfect _bonhomie_, which
were the distinguishing qualities of Fox, would seem to render him
the faithful representative of the old national English character—a
character which it would be presumptuous to hope can be succeeded
by anything better, were it ever to change. The amiability of his
disposition inspired confidence—the ardour of his eloquence excited
enthusiasm—and the urbanity of his manners invited friendship. Mr.
Gibbon has truly observed, that in Fox the highest intellectual powers
of man were blended with the engaging gentleness and simplicity of
childhood. No human being, he adds, was ever more free from every
trace of malignity, vanity, or falsehood. The combination of so many
admirable qualities of public and private character, sufficiently
accounts for the fact that no English statesman, during so long a
period of adverse fortune, retained so many attached friends and
zealous adherents, as Charles Fox. The union of great ardour, in the
sentiments of the public man, with extreme gentleness in the manners of
the social being, would appear to have been an hereditary qualification
in Fox, whose father is said to have possessed the same power of
winning the attachment of all who knew him. Those who are acquainted
with another generation of his descendants, must feel that this
engaging quality is not extinct in the family.

Nothing, perhaps, can more forcibly portray the impression produced by
this peculiarity in the character of Fox, than a remark made by Burke.
In 1797, six years after all intimacy between Burke and Fox had ceased,
the former, speaking to an individual honoured by the friendship of the
latter, said, “Certainly, Fox is a man formed to be loved;” and these
words were uttered with a warmth and emphasis, which precluded all
doubt of their cordial sincerity.

The few lines I have here hastily traced, have been written under
feelings too sorrowful and serious to admit of any intention to
exaggerate; and the affection which I cherished for Mr. Fox will
not suffer me to profane his memory by any allusion to the factious
contentions of the day. The political conduct of Fox belongs to
history. The measures he supported, and those he opposed, may divide
the opinions of posterity, as they have those of the present age; but
Charles Fox will, assuredly, command the unanimous respect of future
generations, by his pure sentiments as a statesman—by his zeal for the
civil and religious rights of all mankind—by his advocacy of liberal
government, the free exercise of human faculties, and the progressive
civilization of the human race—by the ardent love he cherished for his
country, whose welfare and happiness can never be disconnected from his
glory—and by his profound veneration for that free constitution, which,
it will be acknowledged, he understood better than any politician of
his time, both in its legal and in its philosophical character.


  PRIVATE LETTER FROM PRINCE TALLEYRAND TO MARSHAL SEBASTIANI, ON THE
    POLICY OF SUFFERING BELGIUM TO BE CREATED AN INDEPENDENT MONARCHY.

            London, January 3rd, 1831.

MY DEAR GENERAL,—I have read over several times, with the utmost
attention, your letter of the 30th ult., and I wish to explain to you
confidentially my views relative to its contents. It is evident that,
at the present time, France is divided between two parties, whose
opinions have their echoes in the council of the king. One of these
parties urges us to war, and employs every means, direct and indirect,
to bring about that end. The views of this party are directed solely
to the attainment of power, and therefore it is necessary to be on
one’s guard against the suggestions and speeches which they put forth.
The other party, which is so ably headed by yourself, maintains that
peace alone can consolidate the new state of things in France, and,
consequently, it may be presumed that all its efforts tend to the
preservation of peace. It has been truly observed, that a kingdom may
rise up amidst the turmoil of war, but that it can only be firmly
established in time of peace.

The new line of policy which you suggest in reference to the affairs of
Belgium is at variance with all my ideas on the subject, and it would,
I am sure, be equally opposed to the views of the English ministers and
the members of the conference. Of this fact I have had opportunities
of convincing myself in the course of several conversations I have
casually entered into for the purpose of sounding opinions on the
subject.

We might succeed, but not without difficulty, in obtaining the
sovereignty of Belgium for Prince Leopold, on his marriage with a
French princess; and I cannot comprehend how the speeches of certain
members of the party decidedly favourable to war, should have
determined you to renounce the only arrangement by which peace can now
be secured.

It must be evident to you, as it is to me, that Prince Leopold is very
far from being what is called English. He is attached to England only
by the 50,000_l._ per annum, of which he cannot be deprived, and which
gives him the advantage of presenting a civil list, ready settled, to
the country he may be called to rule.

Like all great political events, the Belgian revolution appears to me
to pass through different phases. The establishment of a monarchical
government in Belgium seems a step calculated to relieve that country
from the embarrassments in which she is enthralled—viz., the division
of the debt between Belgium and Holland; the debt contracted by Belgium
to Russia; together with many other matters connected with Belgian
independence.

When all these questions shall be adjusted, and Europe shall have
approved the adjustment, we may, after the lapse of a few years,
entertain with some hope of success, the project of uniting Belgium
to France. The very adjustment of the points above referred to, would
favour the chance of success, because it would remove difficulties
which every one is capable of appreciating. But I am convinced that war
would be the inevitable consequence of the proposition now made for
annexing Belgium to France.

The present spirit of the members of the conference, and of the English
Cabinet, is extremely favourable to us; but, my dear General, I affirm,
in the full confidence of being correct, that if we were suspected
of entertaining other intentions than those which I have deemed it
expedient to express, our position with reference to all the Courts
of Europe, including that of England, would be changed much to our
disadvantage.

I entreat you, therefore, to reflect maturely before you enter upon
so perilous a course. War may compromise so many questions, that it
appears to me of all things most to be feared and avoided. The wisdom
of the king, who well knows how to resist party clamour, and your
prudence, my dear General, must avert this misfortune, and control the
turbulent spirits who would drive us to extremities, unmindful that the
glory of France now depends on peace. It is easy to commence war,—the
difficulty is how to maintain and to terminate it. In short, I am
averse to the project of the acquisition of Belgium. The aggrandizement
of France by that acquisition would doubtless be flattering to French
vanity, but it would in many respects be injurious to French industry.
The case is different with respect to the Rhine and Saxony. But,
General, your position enables you to judge more accurately than I can,
the various questions adverted to in this letter.


  FROM PRINCE TALLEYRAND TO MARSHAL SEBASTIANI, ON THE SAME SUBJECT AS
    THE PRECEDING.

The importance of the crisis at which we have arrived cannot fail
frequently to claim your attention. At the present juncture we may,
by prompt and honest decision, preserve peace, or by prolonged
hesitation we may enable intriguers (too numerous a class both here and
in Belgium) to compromise the destinies of Europe, and of the dynasty
which the voice of the nation has raised to the throne of France. I
await with the utmost anxiety and impatience the reply of the French
Cabinet to the various questions proposed by the four Powers; the
delay of that reply probably causes indecision in the opinions of
the plenipotentiaries assembled here. For Heaven’s sake let not the
Belgians, who are so stupid as not to perceive all that has been done
for them, and the Dutch, who are stimulated by bitter hatred, draw us
into this deplorable contest! Let us not suffer an affair, trivial
in itself, to disturb the equilibrium of the world, and to unbridle
the fiercest passions. All will be ended, all consummated on the day
when France, conjointly with the four other Powers, shall declare that
Belgium is to retain her _old boundaries, her independence, and her
neutrality_. On that day the Dutch will be paralysed, the Germanic
Confederation will halt, the Belgians will be subdued, the conference
will choose Prince Leopold for king, and peace will be secured. If
France be so blind as to censure your administration for having saved
her in spite of herself—if she be unjust to those who have preserved
her—then, sir, you will cease to be minister, and I shall cease to
be ambassador. We shall forfeit our posts for having defended and
maintained a great principle, for which future ages will honour us.
In short, we may be sacrificed, but let it be in the cause of peace,
in the cause of civilization and of good order, and in defence of a
sovereign whom we love, and whose throne will fall in the general
destruction now impending. There is but little time for averting the
terrible disaster which my old experience foresees, and of which your
quick and accurate discernment must have enabled you to warn the
council. But, sir, let your decisions be formed singly with yourself.
The powers of the clearest head, and soundest judgment, cannot be
freely exercised except when withdrawn from the turbulence of one
party, the timidity of another, and unbiassed by the ignorance of
outward affairs which is so marked a trait in the French character.
The intelligence of the French people, shrewd as it is, scarcely ever
extends beyond the frontiers of their own country, and therefore they
labour under the singular mistake of supposing that England cannot
go to war with us. They do not perceive that the vast concession made
by the recent Reform Bill has conferred on the English ministry a
temporary popularity, of which they will freely avail themselves to
obtain the means of opposing us; and that this means will be much more
readily accorded to the present administration than it would have been
to that of the Duke of Wellington. Our July revolution is tarnished
by circumstances which have greatly obscured its lustre; and it has
been justly observed that anarchy and disorder are not very formidable
ramparts to be opposed to an enemy. However, there appears to be no
disposition to attack us, more especially since the questions of right
and law have been entrusted to you. But whenever we give reason to
warrant suspicions of our good faith, or of our capability to repress
turbulent movements, then, rest assured, that England will, though
reluctantly, oppose us with an immensity and a facility of power at
which France will be astounded.

On the other hand all that is required of us is to be firm at home
and moderate abroad. There is no intention to take anything from
us; on the contrary, many concessions on the part of neighbouring
powers have been assented to. But it is wished to preserve general
peace and security, and not to grant to nations, whose independence
has been recognised in spite of old treaties, the right of conquest
over countries which have never belonged to them, and which are the
guaranteed property of others. For our own sake, sir, as well as for
the general good, it were to be wished that every individual composing
the French cabinet could comprehend the principle of _non-intervention_
in the way in which it was understood by M. de Rigny at Navarino.


  LETTER FROM PRINCE TALLEYRAND TO COUNT SEBASTIANI, ON THE AFFAIRS OF
    BELGIUM.

            London, January 25th, 1831.

MONSIEUR LE COMTE,—Count Flahaut arrived here the day before yesterday,
and delivered to me the letter which you entrusted to his charge. I
thank you for having chosen him as the bearer of it.

The raising of the siege of Antwerp, and the irritation of the King of
Holland, prove that the conference was sufficiently rigorous towards
both parties to obtain the wished-for result.

My conversation with M. de Flahaut has furnished me with some valuable
information respecting the ideas and intentions of the king’s
government relative to the affairs which I am directed to manage
here, and also respecting the state of public opinion in France.
I, however, regret that Count Flahaut had left France before my
despatch of the 21st reached you. The intelligence it contained of the
resolution adopted by the conference must necessarily influence the
views of the king and his council, as well as the line of policy to
be pursued towards Belgium. I congratulate myself on the declaration
of neutrality, which has been received with great satisfaction by the
statesmen of this country. All, to whatsoever party they belong, regard
it as a measure of wise policy, honourable to modern civilization,
and calculated to ensure the maintenance of peace by the facility it
affords for conciliating, if not all claims, at least all essential
interests. I must add, however, that whilst acceding to the measure,
they regard it as wholly tending to the advantage of France.

I am aware that, in the juncture at which affairs have arrived in
Belgium, and amidst the embarrassment which this state of things
entails on France and Europe, the public mind has been agitated by
schemes of the most opposite character. The avowed neutrality has now
rendered most of these plans utterly impracticable, and has enabled me
to revive, with advantage, the question of the Prince of Naples, to
which, at first, so much opposition was manifested. I even think that
we shall completely succeed in rendering the city of Antwerp a free
port, or rather in making it one of the Hanse Towns; and I am not quite
certain but that we may arrive at this result without Antwerp ceasing
to belong, as a free port, to Belgium. From the day on which the
protocol was signed, such is the line of policy I have pursued, and I
shall continue to follow it up, unless I receive contrary instructions
from you.

This plan has the advantage of showing how utterly useless would be any
concession made to England on the continent. I will even acknowledge
that it was with the view of banishing any idea of that nature that I
adopted the system I am now pursuing. I should have deeply regretted
to see the king’s name and yours attached to a clause which, in my
opinion, would render our government liable to the charge of being
indifferent to the judgment of posterity.

History bears evidence to the difficulties entailed by the prolonged
occupation of Calais by the English, and it records the favours
lavished on the Guises, when they relieved France from that disgrace.
These lessons ought not to be thrown away upon us. The same mistakes
may be followed by the same results, and may obliterate the stamp
of independence which is attached to all the acts of the king’s
government. I am certain that his majesty is too high-minded to dwell
long on the idea of a plan which, without having any direct effect on
our own country, would cause us to be reproached for the manner in
which we have exercised our continental power.

No one will go so far as to deny that the annexation of Belgium to
France would be an advantage, though an aggrandizement of territory
on the bank of the Rhine would be more in accordance with my notions
of French policy. I admit that the annexation of Belgium would render
popular, for a time, the government that might bring it about,
notwithstanding its injurious effects on French industry. But you may
rely on it, Count, that that popularity would be exceedingly transient,
if purchased at the price that is proposed to be paid for it. There is
no reputation, however solid, that would not be shaken by a measure of
such a nature. Does not every one blame the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle,
for having brought the Russians into Europe? What a heavy judgment
would fall on those who should bring the English back on the continent!
It is best not to throw ourselves into contact with those whom we
cannot reach on their own ground.

I am convinced, Monsieur le Comte, if you were plenipotentiary here,
you would never affix your name to an act which not even the most
protracted and most disastrous war would justify.

  NOTE OF M. COLMACHE.—The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Count
  Sebastiani) made no reply to the above severe, but just comments
  on the unworthy proposition which Count Flahaut had undertaken to
  communicate to the French embassy.


  OBSERVATIONS ON THE TRIAL OF PEERS BY THE CHAMBER OF PEERS, AND THE
    REASONS ON WHICH TALLEYRAND GROUNDED HIS VOTE IN THE AFFAIR OF
    LIEUTENANTS-GENERAL GUILLEMINOT AND BORDESOULLE.

Our political laws have existed only during the space of a few years.
We have witnessed their creation and their birth. As yet they are
scarcely anything more than theories. Time alone will convert them into
practical laws. In other words, we possess laws, but we do not yet
possess jurisprudence.

Amidst all the uncertainties necessarily arising out of such a state of
things, it has appeared to me that my duty, as a Peer of France, was
to seek, in reflection, for that light and knowledge which experience
cannot afford. The following chain of ideas has aided me in the
accomplishment of this duty.

The first question I put to myself was, What is the Court of Peers?
The answer is, An extraordinary tribunal, instituted by the Charter,
for judging certain affairs which that Charter has withdrawn from the
ordinary tribunals, either on account of the serious nature of the
crimes, or by reason of the rank of the individuals accused. Such, it
appears to me, are the meaning and the spirit of Articles 33 and 34 of
our fundamental law.

Is this a wise institution? Is it beneficial to the country? I
would answer in the affirmative. But these points are not for me to
determine. The Charter has decreed, and that is sufficient.

Now, in what does this extraordinary tribunal resemble the ordinary
tribunals? Can it be tied down to the same forms of procedure? I find
that the law—the faithful guardian of the interests of society, whilst
it declares that crime must not escape punishment, is, nevertheless,
more watchful in protecting the innocent than in punishing the guilty.
It has therefore wisely established hierarchical degrees in the
judiciary organization. It separates the accusation from the judgment,
and even after judgment the condemned is empowered to appeal for its
annulment, if, in the long course of proceedings, a single one of the
prescribed tutelary forms shall have been violated or disavowed.

But in the Court of Peers there are no hierarchic degrees; there is
not, and cannot be, a chamber of accusation distinct from the court of
judgment, where the accusers are themselves the judges. When the Court
of Peers has pronounced, the condemned party has no appeal, either on
the score of form or fact. The mercy of the king alone can save him.
The justice of the Court of Peers is one and indivisible; its action is
prompt and irreformable, and against its decisions there is no appeal.
It must not be supposed that public feeling rises in alarm against a
tribunal which, by its inflexible rapidity, promptly terminates the
most important affairs. On the contrary, innocence will always appeal
for its protection, and guilt itself will seek refuge in the august
sanctuary. The reason is, that the guarantee afforded by the tardy
forms of the ordinary courts, is abundantly atoned for by the vast
number of the judges in the Court of Peers—by the importance attached
to their elevated position—and by the sort of religious awe which takes
possession of them, when, at distant intervals, the law calls them from
the peaceful habits of their lives, and arms them with the sword of
justice.

Thus it is shown that ordinary justice is hierarchical and successive,
whilst, that of the Peers is indivisible and instantaneous. Ordinary
justice, by reason of its hierarchical character, is susceptible of
change both in its nature and in its forms; the justice of the Peers,
inasmuch as it is indivisible, is incapable of change.

But this is not the only difference existing between ordinary justice
and that which the Charter has confided to our administration. The
course of ordinary justice commences in secrecy and ends in publicity.
Over the proceedings of the Court of Peers publicity presides, from
their commencement to their close.

When ordinary justice conceives suspicions against a private
individual, it silently takes measures for repressing the crime or the
offence. Even in cases in which it is deemed necessary to deprive the
accused of his liberty, the accusation may remain a secret between the
magistrate and the accused. Should the suspicion prove unfounded, and
the accused be restored to liberty by the Chamber of Accusation, (the
first degree in the judicial hierarchy,) that liberation sufficiently
repairs the injury sustained by personal honour in the sphere of
society to which the accused belongs. But, gentlemen, is it so when
the Peers are called upon to render justice in the case of any one of
those accused persons whom the law consigns to their judgment? Is not
a discussion in the Chamber of Peers an important event in itself?
Does not the matter to which it refers immediately become the subject
of general conversation? and, if the names compromised should include
those of men whose services to the State have long rendered them
objects of public esteem, or even of national pride, what a sensation
is excited! what conjectures are afloat! what a fine field is opened
for calumny, for the outpourings of envy, hatred, and every vile
passion! And, in the face of all this, are we to acquit clandestinely
and without publicity, our colleagues, so injuriously compromised;
and, by a silent absolution, to deprive them of the atonement they are
entitled to expect from your courageous and just impartiality?

A serious affair has been submitted to our deliberation by the
crown. Our duty is to judge it as a Court of Peers. In this chamber
accusations have been uttered, more or less grave. We cannot forget
that the names of several noble Peers have, from base motives, been
compromised in this affair. It is our duty to render them full and
complete justice. By what means shall we do so?

In my endeavours to solve this question, I had almost arrived at the
conclusion, that the proper course would be to arraign the accused
before the court, to hear the sentence pronounced on them. But further
consideration soon convinced me that we had entered on a mistaken and
perilous course, and that our first duty is to end the scandalous
controversy, in which virtue and honour have been exposed to the vilest
attacks. What, in reality, is the question at issue? Great errors have
been committed. French treasure has been improvidently wasted. But
improvidence cannot be made amenable to the law. On looking over the
list of the accused, I perceive only the names of men more or less
obscure, suspected of acts more or less mean and contemptible—acts
for the commission of which war ever has and ever will afford ample
opportunity.

Three hundred millions have been expended in the Spanish war. Of
that enormous sum scarcely the sixth part has been absorbed by the
victorious army; and yet, inconceivable as it may appear, that army has
been made to bear the whole responsibility.

However painful the recollection, it is nevertheless necessary to bear
in mind the dismay which prevailed throughout Paris when, shortly after
the departure of the Prince Generalissimo, the _Moniteur_ officially
announced the existence of a military conspiracy. The nucleus of that
conspiracy was alleged to be in the Staff of His Royal Highness. But
the descendant of Henry IV. was not intimidated; he showed that he
could trust to the honour of French officers, and victory was the
reward of his confidence. Thus were the intrigues of the past defeated;
and in like manner will be thwarted the intrigues of the present. All
has been intrigue throughout this affair. It has already occupied too
much of our attention; and it were to be wished that we should never
hear more of it either in the Chamber of Peers or in any other court. I
can vote only for the full and complete acquittal of all the accused,
and I recommend that the verdict be accompanied by the declaration that
our colleagues have forfeited none of our esteem.


ANOTHER FRAGMENT FROM PRINCE TALLEYRAND’S MEMOIRS.

The king insisted that the favourable opinion entertained of the
services I had rendered him, required that he should instal me in one
of the high offices of the crown. The post of grand ecuyer could not
be said to be either vacant or filled, as M. de L—— had not tendered
his resignation. The king, who still had a leaning to old usages,
thought he could not dispose of the post, though the conduct of M.
de L——, since the Restoration, had not been congenial with French
feeling, but altogether in unison with Austrian ideas. The office of
grand chamberlain seemed to be suited to me, though I had filled it
under Bonaparte, who deprived me of it to mark his dissatisfaction
at the attentions I showed the Spanish princes at Valençay, and at
the manner in which I had expressed myself concerning the war against
Spain. I lost my post of grand chamberlain, with a salary of 100,000
francs, because I had rendered some assistance, and offered some
little solace, to the princes of Spain, during their sojourn at
Valençay; and subsequently, the Restoration took from me the post
of vice-chamberlain, with a salary of 333,000 francs. Yet I never
expressed the least disquietude respecting my fortune, or any desire to
seek the means of enlarging my income.

The king restored me to the post of grand chamberlain, with the
emolument of 100,000 francs. This post, owing to the pretensions of the
gentlemen of the bedchamber, had become a mere sinecure. It conferred
rank, dignity, and emolument, without requiring the performance of any
duties. The gentlemen of the bedchamber had returned to their places,
with all their old pretensions; vanity prompted them to encroach on
the highest and most honourable services, whilst courtly meanness made
them ready to perform the most annoying and undignified duties. In
the circumstances in which I was placed, I felt that my proper course
of conduct was to avoid all expression of disapprobation towards the
ministers who had succeeded me, and to take no part in the numerous
reproaches vented on their administration. My old-fashioned notions of
decorum suggested to me the delicacy due from the ministers who had
gone out of office, to the ministers who had come in; and I determined
to confine myself completely within the sphere of my post of grand
chamberlain. Accordingly, I presented myself to the king once a week:
the rest of my time I spent among my old books, and in narrating the
events I have witnessed in my life-time, or in which I have taken
part. I never spoke in the Chamber of Peers, because I wished to avoid
alike the expression of censure or approval. I rarely voted; and, in
short, I endeavoured, as much as possible, to maintain the character of
indifference;—a most essential qualification in a grand chamberlain. I
imagined that, in observing this line of conduct towards my successors,
I should secure, on their part, respect, or, at all events, their
silence in reference to the administration of my colleagues and
myself. I was, consequently, not a little astonished, when I found,
in the journals under the control of their censorship, that all the
mean adulation lavished on the existing ministers, was accompanied
by comparisons prejudicial to the ministers who had preceded them.
Certain comments on the treaty I had refused to sign, and to which
they had affixed their signature, appeared to me at once exceedingly
unfair and maladroit; for future generations will not fail to compare
the truly French feeling of the men who quitted office because they
would not sign, and the pliant principles of the men who signed, in
order to keep office. The fact is, that the interests of France were
completely disregarded in this matter. The Allies took advantage of
the inexperience of the Duke de Richelieu’s administration; and that
circumstance cost France the loss of some portion of her territory, at
the same time entailing so many other sacrifices, that I have sometimes
reproached myself for my resignation at that particular juncture.
Certainly, had I been in office, France would not have been subject
to the humiliations she has suffered, and which no power should have
presumed to inflict on her. It is for me alone to reproach myself. In
the estimation of others, I stand in that position in which it was
more noble to have resigned office, because I would not sign, than to
have signed for the sake of keeping my place. After all, there is some
grace in knowing when to resign. The position in which I stood ought
not to have exposed me to the insults of journalists. Silence would
have been more becoming; but it is difficult for people of mean spirit
to restrain themselves by silence. At first I considered these attacks
unworthy of notice, and it was only by their daily renewal that I was
enabled to perceive they were the result of a settled plan. It was
only when they were perseveringly forced on my attention, that I found
it necessary to adopt means to repress them. Public credulity readily
imbibes erroneous impressions. I tried the effect of absence. I went
into the country, and remained there for some time; but all in vain!
Unpopularity rendered my successors dissatisfied with themselves. It
is the nature of man to blame others, and not himself, for his own
errors; accordingly, I was still the individual against whom censure
was directed. But for my influence, it was alleged, certain things
would have been done, and certain measures would have succeeded—a more
decided course would have been taken, &c. &c. Little-minded people
always assign their failures to causes in which they themselves have
no part. I now thought it time to show less forbearance, and I openly
avowed, to my friends and others, whom I casually saw, that I did
not approve the line of policy adopted by the ministers, nor indeed
of any of the means resorted to for establishing the government of
the Restoration. The ministerial interference with the elections, (an
example which has been followed in latter times, with such disastrous
results,) afforded me an opportunity of declaring my sentiments.

The first person to whom I spoke on this subject was Baron Pasquier,
with whom I dined one day at the English Ambassador’s. We were each
waiting for his carriage, and consequently our conversation was but
short. Nevertheless, it would appear that enough passed to afford
grounds for misrepresentation, and the king was pleased to think that
the best mode of supporting his ministry, was to show his disapproval
of me. In a letter, written by the first gentleman of the bedchamber,
his majesty forbade my appearing at court, without the royal
permission. Thus, in the same _fauteuil_ in which I had twice installed
him, did Louis XVIII. sign, without any previous explanation, and on
the report of a man whom he scarcely knew, an order prohibiting me from
going to the Tuileries.

Whilst I was suffering under this species of disgrace, I had many
visitors. The marshals, and other persons to whom I had never rendered
any service, came to see me more frequently than those on whom I had
conferred obligations. These latter were prudent; they feared lest
they might themselves incur courtly disfavour. I have remarked the
proneness to this kind of ingratitude at the present day. The false
position in which every one has been placed since the Restoration has
doubtless helped to create it. That sort of police which society itself
exercises, for repressing the wrongs of society, having ceased to
exist, the evil passions of human nature show themselves more openly.
The emigration has largely contributed to bring about this state of
things.

My disgrace did not tend to raise the king in public estimation, either
abroad or at home; and his majesty was therefore desirous of bringing
the matter to an end. The same Gentleman of the Chamber who wrote
the letter forbidding my appearance at court, now wrote to acquaint
me that the king would receive me again with pleasure. I went, and,
to spare the king embarrassment, I did not attempt to enter into any
explanation. I was aware that he would not acknowledge he had been in
the wrong, and yet that acknowledgment was the only great and gracious
thing he could have uttered.

I felt that what passed between the king and myself entitled me to
censure or disapprove measures which appeared to me injurious to
France; and I began occasionally to deliver my opinion in the Chamber
of Peers on the questions discussed in that assembly. I endeavoured
to show that the government would gain strength by taking an honest
and constitutional course, and disavowing all falsehood and evasion;
that sincerity in the management of public affairs would simplify
everything, and consolidate at once the position of the king and of
the country. The French people are too shrewd to be imposed on for
any length of time, and when once they find themselves deceived they
are ever afterwards distrustful. In the interval between the sessions
I made two excursions into the provinces. The aspect of nature has a
wonderful effect on the mind, especially when one has just escaped from
the strife and agitation of public affairs. Matters which fret and
weary us in the active business of life, dwindle into insignificance
in the retirement of the country. On the summit of a mountain we feel
alike beyond the reach of towering ambition and grovelling malice.
There all the annoying phantoms of life vanish.

At the beginning of winter I returned to Paris. My associations were
limited to persons whose opinions coincided with my own, and I took
part in no public business except the discussions on the liberty of the
press, which were maintained during two or three years successively.
I observed the course of events in all parts of Europe, and watched
the contest that was maintained between despotism and constitutional
government. The first decided outbreaks of this contest were manifested
at Naples and at Venice. Speedily the revolution in Spain spread
agitation throughout France, and brought to light the work in which the
Jesuits had been secretly engaged since the Restoration. The ministry,
which was composed of emigrants, or of persons whose minds were tainted
with the prejudice and bigotry which the emigration had brought
back to France, conferred all government appointments on persons of
their own way of thinking, or on those who, from interested motives,
affected to coincide in their views. Then followed congress upon
congress, intrigue upon intrigue; and the Emperor Alexander showed
his feebleness of character by seeking refuge in that Holy Alliance
which too plainly demonstrated that sovereigns had interests apart from
those of their subjects. I often think of what must be the result of
the existing conflict between intelligence and despotism. I reflect on
the great change that will be wrought by new compacts between subjects
and sovereigns. It is only by this means that social order can be
established. We are told that this or that particular country requires
more stringent measures of government than others; but all nations
have rights, which vary according to the greater or less degree of
civilization they may have reached. The recognition of these rights is
at once the security of thrones and the guarantee of public freedom.
These rights may and can be enforced without popular convulsions; but,
in proportion as the rights of mankind are disavowed or withheld, the
more violent will be the struggles to recover them, and in the end
these struggles will prove triumphant. This is my opinion, and it will
remain unaltered to the latest day of my life.


  LETTER TO HIS MAJESTY KING WILLIAM IV., FROM PRINCE TALLEYRAND, ON
    HIS BEING APPOINTED AMBASSADOR FROM FRANCE.

“SIRE,—His Majesty the King of the French has been pleased to make me
the interpreter of the sentiments he cherishes for your Majesty.

“I have joyfully accepted a mission which gives so noble a direction to
the last steps of my long public career.

“Sire, amidst all the vicissitudes through which I have passed during
my long life—amidst all the changes of good and ill fortune I have
undergone during the last forty years, no circumstance has afforded
me such perfect gratification as the appointment which brings me back
to this happy country. But how great is the change between the period
when I was formerly here and the present time! The jealousies and
prejudices which so long divided France and England have given place to
enlightened sentiments of esteem and affection. Unity of feeling rivets
the bonds of amity between the two countries. England, like France,
repudiates the principle of intervention in the internal affairs of
neighbouring states; and the ambassador of a sovereign unanimously
chosen by a great nation, feels himself at home in a land of freedom,
as the missionary to a descendant of the illustrious house of Brunswick.

“I feel that I may with confidence implore your Majesty’s kind
consideration of the subjects which I am commanded to submit to your
attention, and I beg, Sire, to offer the homage of my profound respect.”


  OPINION OF PRINCE TALLEYRAND ON THE PLAN OF LAW RELATIVE TO JOURNALS
    AND PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS.

  _Delivered in the Chamber of Peers, in the sitting of Tuesday,
    July 24, 1821._

“GENTLEMEN,—In presenting myself before this assembly, I experience
the embarrassment of feeling the utter inutility of the observations
I am about to make, but to which, nevertheless, I consider it my duty
to give utterance. By a deplorable fatality, the causes of which it is
not my purpose at present to inquire into, the questions in appearance
submitted to our consideration, are already resolved—irrevocably
resolved. We discuss, as though our discussions were affairs of some
import; whilst, in reality, we are but the instruments of imperious
necessity. Laws and budgets are laid before us, and they who would
naturally be our opponents in discussing them, are not here; their
absence operates as a sort of command upon us. The Chamber of Peers, by
the position in which it is placed, will soon degenerate into a Court
of Registration, a mere semblance of the constitutional hierarchy.
Hence, it follows, that those who absolutely desire to see in France
a real Chamber of Peers—that those who regard it as essential to the
monarchy—seeing it annihilated for the present, look forward to the
future. In their inability to remedy the present evil, they indulge in
prophetic warnings, which it is easy to turn into ridicule; or they
offer advice which levity despises and weakness rejects.

“I apply, gentlemen, these considerations to the law now submitted to
your attention. Is it the work of the Ministry? No; for, on the one
hand, it is more limited in its duration than the primitive law, a
circumstance of which I am certainly not disposed to complain; and,
on the other hand, its restrictions extend to literature, science, and
the arts, (heretofore exempt from the coercion of the censorship:)
and at these restrictions I am assuredly not disposed to rejoice. Is
it certain that these various modifications meet the concurrence of
the majority of this Chamber? Possibly they do not; and yet, what
can we do? Are we free to amend, in our turn, the amendments of the
all-powerful Chamber of Deputies? No, gentlemen; and I say so, not with
the view of reflecting blame on the Chamber of Deputies, (which has
merely exercised its constitutional privileges in a very constitutional
manner,) but to complain that the Chamber of Peers is stripped of all
its privileges by tardy presentations, which leave it neither time to
deliberate nor power to resist.

“Convinced as I am that the fate of the present law is determined
beforehand; that a discussion, however warm, will not influence its
rejection, or even tend to modify its effects; I present myself here,
less for the purpose of opposing it, than to prevent its reappearance,
when it shall have lived through its legal period of existence. I speak
for the interest of the future session, and not for the interest of
the present one. I do not hope, gentlemen, to convince you now; my
object is to pave the way for a more free and more profound discussion
at a future time.

“The liberty of the press, applied to politics, is, as has already been
stated, neither more nor less than the liberty of the journals.

“We are all desirous to enjoy the blessings of representative
government; it is the government which the king has granted to us.

“Representative government cannot exist without the liberty of
the press, which is one of its essential instruments; indeed, its
principal instrument. Every government has its own machinery; and it
must always be borne in mind that institutions which are salutary to
one government, may be injurious to another. It has been proved to
demonstration by several members of this Chamber, who, during the
present and preceding sessions, have spoken on the subject now under
consideration, that, without the liberty of the press, there can be
no representative government. I will not, therefore, weary you by
repeating that which you must all have heard or read, and which must
frequently have been the subject of your own meditations.

“But there are two points of view in which it appears to me that the
question has not been adequately considered, and which I will reduce to
the two following propositions—

“I. The liberty of the press is a necessity of the age.

“II. A government endangers its stability when it obstinately refuses
to grant that which the age proclaims to be necessary.

“The human mind is never completely stationary. The discovery of
yesterday is but the medium for arriving at a new discovery to-morrow.
Nevertheless it is true that human intelligence would seem to advance
by crises; there are periods when that intelligence is urged forward
by the desire of creating and producing; and there are times when,
satisfied with its acquisitions, it appears to repose within itself,
and to be occupied in arranging and setting in order the riches it
possesses, rather than in earning new wealth. The seventeenth century
was one of these fortunate epochs. The human mind, amazed at the vast
treasures of which it had become possessed through the invention of
printing, seemed to stop short in its onward movement, as if eager
to rest in the enjoyment of its magnificent heritage. Revelling in
the luxuries of literature, science, and the arts, it set its glory
on the production of master-pieces. The great men of the age of
Louis XIV. vied one with another in embellishing a state of society,
beyond which they could see nothing or wish for nothing, and which
seemed destined to endure as long as the glory of the great king who
engrossed all their respect and enthusiasm. But the fertile mine of
antiquity being exhausted, the activity of the human mind was turned,
as it were by force, into another channel, and it found novelty in
those speculative studies which embrace the whole future, and whose
limits are indefinable. Such were the circumstances which ushered
in the commencement of the eighteenth century, destined to prove so
dissimilar to the century that had preceded it. The poetic lessons of
Telemachus were succeeded by the theories of the Esprit des Lois; and
the Port-Royal was superseded by the Encyclopedia.

“I beg you to observe, gentlemen, that I am neither concurring nor
approving, but merely narrating.

“On looking back to the disasters which befel France during the
Revolution, we should guard against being wholly unjust to those
master spirits whose writings gave the first impulse to that great
event. We must not forget that if those writers did not always steer
clear of error, yet that we owe to them the revelation of many great
truths. We must bear in mind that those men are in no way responsible
for the inconsiderate precipitancy with which France, almost
unanimously, rushed into the career which they had merely traced out
in perspective. Views which had been only theoretically developed
were suddenly carried into practical effect; and the result has shown
the awful consequences which ensue when man, prompted by insane
self-confidence, ventures to go beyond the necessities of the age—the
gulf of misfortune then yawns before him. But in merely working such
changes as are dictated by the wants of the age, we are certain not to
diverge very far from the right course.

“Now, gentlemen, let us see what were the real necessities of the
age in the year 1789. The changes which were suggested by the mature
reflection of enlightened men may be fairly regarded as necessities.
The Constituent Assembly was merely the interpreter of those
necessities when it proclaimed the liberty of religious worship,
equality in the eye of the law, the free right of jurisdiction, (every
one being amenable to his natural judges,) and the liberty of the press.

“But the Constituent Assembly was not in accordance with the spirit
of the age when it instituted a single Chamber; when it destroyed the
royal sanction; when it tortured consciences, &c. Yet, notwithstanding
the errors of that Assembly, (errors of which I have named only a few,
and which were followed by great calamities,) it will enjoy, in the
judgment of posterity, the glory of having established the bases of
our new public law. The august author of the charter—the monarch who
is worthy of France, as France is worthy of him—has consecrated in
his noble work the only great principles furnished by the Constituent
Assembly.

“Let us take it for granted that laws which are wished for—which
are proclaimed to be good and salutary by the most enlightened men
of a country, and which have been so proclaimed during a series of
years—are necessities of the age. One of these laws, gentlemen, is the
liberty of the press. I appeal to all those among you who are most
especially my contemporaries—was not the liberty of the press an
object ardently desired by all those excellent men whom we have admired
in our youth—the Malesherbes, the d’Estignys, and the Trudaines?—who,
to say the least, were not inferior to any of the statesmen who have
flourished since their time. The place which the men I have just named
occupy in our recollections, sufficiently proves that the liberty of
the press consolidates legitimate renown, and if it ruins usurped
reputations, where is the evil?

“If I have said enough to prove that the liberty of the press is, in
France, the necessary result of the present state of society, it now
only remains for me to establish my second proposition—viz., that a
government endangers its stability when it obstinately refuses to grant
that which the age proclaims to be a necessity.

“In the most tranquil and happy conditions of society there is always a
certain number of men who aspire to gain, by the help of disorder, the
wealth which they possess not, and the importance which they ought not
to possess. Is it wise to place in the hands of these enemies of social
order, weapons of discontent, without which their perversity would ever
remain powerless? Why give them the privilege of continually claiming
the fulfilment of a promise? They will but abuse that privilege, and
in this instance they are not, as in some others, seeking merely a
chimerical good.

“Society, in its progressive advance, is destined to feel new
necessities. I readily admit that governments ought not rashly
to acknowledge them or to convert them into laws. But when these
necessities have once been acknowledged, to take back what has been
granted, or (which amounts to the same thing) to withhold that which
has been granted, or to suspend it unceasingly, is a dangerous course,
of which I earnestly hope those who have put it in practice may not
have reason to repent. A government should never compromise its own
good faith. In the present age, it is not easy to carry on deception
for any lengthened period of time. There is a power whose wisdom is
superior to that of Voltaire, whose intelligence is greater than that
of Bonaparte—a power, in short, superior to the directors or to any of
the ministers, past, present, or to come—that power is the great mass
of mankind. To engage, or at least to persist, in a conflict on any
question on which the majority of the world conceive their interests to
be at stake, is an error, and all political errors are dangerous.

“When the freedom of the press exists, when people know that their
interests will be defended, they trust that time will render them
justice, however tardily that justice may come. They rely on hope,
and with reason, for even hope cannot be long deceived. But when the
liberty of the press is restricted, when no complaint is permitted to
be heard, discontent forces a government either into too much weakness
or too much severity.

“But these reflections are carrying me too far, and I must conclude.
For the interest of the King and of France, I demand a repressive law,
and I vote against the censorship.”


  OPINION OF THE BISHOP OF AUTUN ON THE SUBJECT OF ECCLESIASTICAL
    PROPERTY, DELIVERED IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN THE YEAR 1789.

[The following extracts comprise the principal points of this address.]

“I have stated, gentlemen, the reasons which lead me to believe that
ecclesiastical property is national property. If those reasons,
which nothing has for an instant shaken in my own mind, appear to
you of some weight in themselves, how much more weighty, how much
more decisive must they not appear under all the circumstances of the
present juncture? Let us only look around us; the public fortune is
tottering—its approaching fall threatens all other fortunes, and in
this universal disaster who would have greater cause to fear than the
clergy? Invidious comparisons have long been made between the public
indigence and the private opulence of many among us; let us silence in
one moment these unpleasant murmurs, so offensive to our patriotism.
Let us deliver up to the nation both our persons and our fortunes;—the
nation will never forget the act.

“Let us not say that the clergy, merely from being no longer landed
proprietors, will on that account become less worthy of public
consideration. No! the clergy will not be the less revered by the
people from their being paid by the nation; for the heads of offices,
ministers, and even kings themselves, receive salaries without being
the less honoured on that account. No! the clergy will not become
odious to the people, for it is not from the individual hands of
the citizens that the minister of religion will seek his tribute,
but from the public treasury, like all the other mandatories of the
government. Do we not constantly see the people consenting to forget
that the functionaries of the state are in their pay, and uniting
with their generous tributes the personal homage of respect for men
whose duties are often opposed to their passions, and sometimes even
to their interests? Who shall persuade us to believe that the French
people, whose sense of justice is greater than their calumniators would
lead us to suppose, would withdraw their grateful esteem from those
who ought not, who will not, who cannot inspire them with any but
virtuous sentiments; who would pour into their bosoms the consolations
of charity, and discharge towards them at all times the most paternal
duties?

“Say not that the cause of religion is bound up with this question;—say
rather, what we all know, say that the greatest act of religion which
would redound to our own honour, would be to hasten the arrival of
that period when a better order of things will sweep away the abuses
of corruption, and will prevent the occurrence of that multitude of
open crimes and secret offences which are the fruits of great public
calamities. Say that the noblest homage that can be paid to religion,
is to contribute to the formation of a state of social order which
should foster and protect the virtues religion ordains and rewards,
and which, in the perfection of society, should constantly remind men
of the benefactor of nature. The people, brought back to religion
by the feeling of their own happiness, will remember, not without
gratitude, the sacrifices which the ministers of religion will have
made for the general good. Everything unites in demanding it. Public
opinion everywhere proclaims the law of justice, united to that of
necessity. A few moments longer, and we shall lose, in an unequal and
degrading struggle, the honour of a generous resignation. Let us meet
necessity, and we shall seem not to fear it, or rather, to use a form
of expression more worthy of you, we shall in reality not fear it. We
should not then be dragged to the altar of the country; we should be
bearing to it a voluntary offering. Of what use is it to defer the
moment? What troubles, what misfortunes might not have been prevented,
if the sacrifices consummated here for three months past had been made
in proper time a gift of patriotism? Let us show that we wish to be
citizens, and citizens only, and that we really desire to join in the
national unity which France so ardently longs for. Finally, in ceasing
to form a body which is a constant object of envy, the clergy will
become an assemblage of citizens, and objects of national gratitude.

“In conclusion, then, I would recommend that the principle involving
the proprietorship of the ecclesiastical revenues should be at once
determined; and, to avoid all appearance of equivocation, I would
recommend it should be decreed by the National Assembly that the nation
is the real proprietor, and can dispose of them for the public good.
The nation must at the same time pledge itself to preserve for each
incumbent that which really belongs to him, and to provide for the due
settlement (in such manner as may be deemed most fitting) of the real
obligations with which those properties are burthened.”


  EXTRACTS FROM THE SPEECH OF THE BISHOP OF AUTUN, ON THE OCCASION OF
    HIS MOTION ON THE SUBJECT OF ECCLESIASTICAL REFORM, ON THE 10TH OF
    OCTOBER, 1789.

“THE state has for a long time had to struggle with the greatest
difficulties: none of us are ignorant of this fact, and therefore
powerful means must be employed to meet them. Ordinary measures have
been exhausted; the people are hard-pressed on every side, and the
slightest additional burden would naturally be felt insupportable. In
fact, it is not to be thought of. Extraordinary resources have just
been tried, but they are principally destined for the extraordinary
necessities of the present year. We want provision for the future—we
want provision for the entire restoration of order. There exists
one immense and decided resource, and one which in my opinion (for
otherwise I should repel the idea) may be combined with a rigid respect
for property. This resource appears to me to lie entirely in the
ecclesiastical revenues.

       *       *       *       *       *

“I do not mean a contribution towards maintaining the burthens of the
state proportional to that arising from other kinds of property; this
could never be viewed in the light of a sacrifice. The operation I
point at is one of far greater importance to the nation.

       *       *       *       *       *

“It appears evident to me that the clergy are not in the position of
other landed proprietors, because the property they enjoy (and which
they cannot dispose of) has been given, not for personal interest, but
for the performance of certain duties.

“It would also appear that the nation, in virtue of the extensive
powers it possesses over all the bodies contained within it, has a
right to destroy, if not the whole, at all events, portions of the
ecclesiastical body, if they are considered hurtful, or even useless,
and that this right over their existence necessarily carries with it an
extensive right over the disposal of its property.

“It is moreover certain that the nation, precisely because it is
the protector of the wishes of the founders, can, and even ought to
suppress those livings which have become sinecures.

“Thus far there is no difficulty; but the question is, Can the nation
also reduce the revenue of the actual incumbents, and dispose of a
portion of that revenue? There appears to me one very simple answer to
the arguments of those who deny this right.

“However inviolable may be the possession of a property which is
guaranteed by law, it is clear that the law cannot change the
nature of the property by guaranteeing it; and that, in the case of
ecclesiastical property, it can only ensure to each actual incumbent
the enjoyment of what has really been granted to him by the act of
his foundation. Now, it is well known that all the foundation-titles
of ecclesiastical property, as well as the various laws of the church
explanatory of the sense and the spirit of those titles, show that
only that portion of the property which is necessary for the decent
maintenance of the incumbent really belongs to him—that he is merely
the administrator of the remainder, which remainder is really destined
for the relief of the poor, or the repair of the temples of God. If,
then, the nation carefully ensures to each incumbent (whatever may
be the nature of his living) that respectable maintenance, it will
not be encroaching upon his individual property. If, at the same
time, it takes upon itself, as it has the undoubted right to do, the
administration of the rest; if it undertakes the other obligations
attached to these properties, such as the maintenance of hospitals
and charitable institutions, the repairs of churches, the expenses of
public education, &c.; if, above all, these resources are drawn upon
only at the moment of a general calamity, it appears to me that all the
intentions of the founders will be fulfilled, and full justice will
have been rigidly accomplished.

“Thus, in brief recapitulation, I would state my belief, that the
nation may, without injustice, in a period of general distress, 1st,
dispose of the properties of the different religious communities which
it may be desirable to suppress, ensuring, at the same time, means of
subsistence to the incumbents; 2ndly, turn to immediate account (always
carrying out the general spirit of the founders) the revenues of all
the sinecure livings which may be vacant, and secure those of all
similar livings as they become vacant; and 3rdly, reduce, according to
a certain proportion, the present revenues of the incumbents, whenever
they shall exceed a certain given sum, the nation taking upon itself a
portion of the obligations with which those properties were originally
charged.”

       *       *       *       *       *


  EXTRACTS FROM THE ADDRESS OF THE BISHOP OF AUTUN ON THE SUBJECT OF
    BANKS, AND ON THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF ORDER IN THE FRENCH FINANCES.

_Delivered in the National Assembly, on Friday, Dec. 4th, 1789._

“As a member of the committee whose report you have just heard, I
consider myself entitled to address you, both for the purpose of
submitting to you some ideas of my own on the subject of the _caisse
d’escompte_, and more especially with the view of bringing to bear
upon this subject some important questions, inseparable from it, and
essentially connected with the great interests which now so urgently
engage your attention.

“The idea of the establishment of a national bank in France, is one
which has excited great attention, and which has gained great favour in
public opinion.

“Many persons who entertain sound views on the subject of credit,
consider such an establishment as indispensable, whilst even those
who are least acquainted with the subject—those who scarcely know
what a bank is, and who are totally ignorant of the organization
suitable to a national bank, seem to derive confidence, amidst the
present want of credit, simply from understanding that the National
Assembly contemplates the establishment of a national bank. It would
indeed seem as if the mere name of a bank were alone sufficient to
settle everything; but we must be careful to observe that it is only a
well-constituted bank that ought to be established, and not a national
bank of any sort. Banks are by no means simple institutions; their
object is indeed everywhere the same—to facilitate the circulation
of exchanges, and to lower the interest of money; but the means they
employ must vary extremely. Banks may be likened to highly-tempered
instruments, which must be managed with caution and skill, because
either great good or great evil may result from their use. Here, above
all, you must be upon your guard against the various systems suggested
by cupidity, by superficial knowledge, or by that half-acquaintance
with the subject which is so common and so dangerous. It cannot,
therefore, be entirely useless to recall to your attention, for
the purpose of refuting them, the different ideas which have been
promulgated on the creation of a national bank in France, particularly
as some of these views have neither been opposed nor discussed, and
are, perhaps, of a nature to mislead the well-intentioned. Let us take
a cursory view of them.

“The creation of a national bank has been proposed. My opinion is, that
a well-constituted bank ought not to be a national bank, whether by
that title we understand simply the responsibility of the nation, or
that the nation should have established the bank on its own account.

“People are led to believe that, because the nation is about to render
itself responsible for the public debt, it might also be answerable for
the funds of a bank; but it is very important that these two things
should not be confounded.

“The nation ought undoubtedly to become responsible for the public
debt, inasmuch as the sums which compose that debt have been lent to
the nation, have been employed by the nation, and have been entrusted
to the only recognised representative of the nation. In fact, properly
speaking, the nation cannot be said to be security for the debt, for
the nation is the debtor itself.

“The guarantee which the nation would grant to the bank should be of a
totally different nature.

“So far from this national guarantee imparting credit to a bank, such
an arrangement would have the effect of depriving of all credit the
nation capable of adopting it. Who would place confidence in a nation
which should be imprudent enough to entrust to a small number of
individuals the management of a bank whose operations would necessarily
be unlimited, and whereby all the national property would become
mortgaged?

“It may readily be imagined that every possible precaution would be
taken to prevent the managers of the bank from being unfaithful to
their trust; but still the possibility will always remain, that, should
a misfortune befal the bank, it would be necessary either to levy
enormous contributions on the property of the country, or to declare
the nation itself bankrupt. Would any prudent nation incur the risk
of reducing itself to such an alternative? Would any honest nation,
valuing a character for integrity, offer a responsibility which might
prove illusory?

“The nation, then, cannot, ought not, to become guarantee for the bank.

“Still less ought the nation to establish the bank on its own account;
for, to all the inconveniences resulting from responsibility, there
would be added many others. The nation would have only two methods to
choose between, either to entrust the administration of the bank to
salaried officials, or to personally interested managers. In the first
case, there would be too much reason to fear that the management of the
bank would not receive due attention; while, in the second case, there
would be an equal risk of the directors seeking immoderate profits,
under the pretence of serving the interests of the nation with which
they would be associated. In either case, should any misfortune befal
the bank, the representatives of the country would, with much less
freedom, deliver their opinion on events in which the interest of the
whole nation would be compromised, than if they had merely to judge the
conduct of private directors. And, finally, in both cases the annual
expenses of management would be increased, and the portion of profits
which the nation might directly claim from the operations of the bank,
would certainly not indemnify it for the incalculable loss resulting
from the diminished interest of money in the kingdom.

“The nation, therefore, cannot become guarantee for the bank, nor can
the bank be established on account of the nation.”

“It has been proposed to establish banks of discount (_caisses
d’escompte_) in different towns of the kingdom, and this plan certainly
looks somewhat plausible; for it would seem at first sight that if
banks of discount are useful, they cannot be too much multiplied, and
that if they are favourable to commerce, they ought, above all, to be
established in commercial towns.

“But it is easy to perceive that a single bank of discount, or bank
of aid (_banque de secours_), placed in the capital, in the centre
of circulation, would not only animate the commerce of the place in
which it is established, but would necessarily extend its influence
throughout the whole of the kingdom.

“Now, a number of banks of discount, or banks of aid, would not produce
the same advantages; for by mutually increasing their credit, they
would infallibly injure each other.

“In the first place, the multiplicity of these banks would oblige every
individual to examine all the different bank-notes presented to him,
whilst at present a great portion of the confidence with which these
notes are received, proceeds from the circumstance of their requiring
no examination, being recognisable at first sight, almost as readily as
pieces of coin.

“This observation is, perhaps, more important than it may appear. There
can be no doubt that a degree of credit would be attached to the notes
of a single bank applicable to the whole kingdom, which would never
be accorded to the notes of a number of banks, dispersed among the
provinces; for, as each of these several banks would enjoy a different
degree of credit, the notes of each would require previous examination,
before being taken in payment.

“But, independently of this consideration, another very grave
inconvenience would arise. The embarrassments of any one of these banks
would inevitably operate prejudicially on the credit of the rest, from
the correspondence which would exist among them. To multiply the places
where these embarrassments might ensue, would be to multiply their
probability, and it is, doubtless, important not to augment the chances
which may compromise the trade and the monetary circulation of the
kingdom.

“A plan has been proposed for supplying the place of this multiplicity
of banks, by admitting the existence of one general bank alone, having
in most of the provincial towns branch establishments, where the notes
of the bank would be paid on presentation. This idea is the most
impracticable of all. With the inconveniences of the preceding plan, it
combines a still greater inconvenience of its own; for it is evident
that the bank, instead of merely holding in its principal treasury
such portion of its capital as prudence might show to be necessary,
would at the same time require to hold a similar portion in each of
its branch establishments. But for this precaution, it would be in
the power of evil-disposed persons to convey a considerable number of
notes into any particular town in which there was a branch bank; even
chance, or some circumstance impossible to foresee, might draw a great
quantity of notes at one time into some particular branch bank, which
might not be in a condition to honour them. If there were but fifty of
these branch offices dispersed in different towns of the kingdom, the
probability is, that there would be a failure of the bank in different
places almost every day of the year, though the sums it held in cash,
distributed among its different treasuries, might, in the aggregate, be
very much beyond the whole demands made upon it.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“As to the banking plan which has been proposed to you by the Minister
of Finance, and which, on that account, merits your deepest attention,
I shall add little to the observations which have already been made
in opposition to it. I shall confine myself to a single remark,
which, however, I must confess, appears to me decisive. This plan is
founded on the creation of a paper circulation _not convertible into
money at will_, consequently, on the creation of a paper-money. Now,
there do not exist, at least in my opinion, two ideas more opposed to
each other than the existence of paper-money and of a bank: the one
bears the character of constraint and authority, whilst the other, on
the contrary, can be maintained only by the most free and unlimited
confidence.

“Although I have thus shown, or at least mentioned, the inconveniences
of most of the banking systems which have been proposed, it is not my
intention to submit to you any plan of my own. I will, however, add
a few observations bearing on the questions now under consideration.
They may perhaps throw some light on principles which seem to me not
sufficiently understood.

“The fundamental law of any bank whatever, is to fulfil its engagements
when they fall due: I know of no other. If the particular position of
the bank is such as to enable it to undertake engagements at sight,
and payable at any moment, then this bank should be so regulated as to
be at all times fully prepared to pay its engagements on presentation.
Such is the rule which common sense would dictate.

“It is a common idea that the direct object of a bank is to throw
notes into circulation. Undoubtedly the power of issuing notes is an
immediate consequence of the credit of a bank; but we must beware of
confounding this result with the real object of the institution of a
_banque de secours_. When we seek a principle, we must of necessity
disengage it from its consequences, however clear and direct they may
be.

“The object of a bank composed of partners _en commandite_, like the
caisse d’escompte, is to furnish assistance to commerce by bringing
together funds to be applied to discounting good bills at a moderate
rate of interest. When bills are presented for discount at this bank,
the directors, provided they agree to give the accommodation, grant a
_bon_, or order, to receive the cash at their treasury. The bearer of
this order proceeds to the treasury, procures the cash, and carries it
away. This is the natural course of proceeding, which was pursued at
the commencement; but after going through the process of discounting
paper repeatedly, and finding that the order on the treasury was always
paid on presentation, it was soon perceived that it would be paid with
equal punctuality on the following day, and that it was sometimes
more convenient to carry home the order, and send for the cash when
required. This order was next given in payment to some third party,
who, being also aware of the exactness with which it would be paid,
was in no hurry to present it; and thus, the knowledge of the punctual
payment of the orders furnished by the directors of the bank upon their
treasury produced in the end the effect, that everybody felt it to be a
matter of indifference whether he held the note, or the cash which it
represented.

“The consequence of this has been that those holding an interest in
the establishment, finding that many parties abstained from sending for
payment of the notes made payable at sight at the treasury, thought
they were justified, when good bills were brought to them with dates
not too distant, in discounting them with a part of the cash destined
to meet their own notes. It is clear, however, that they could not
properly employ for this purpose any portion of the cash beyond that
which, in the nature of things, would not be demanded of them before
the period fixed for the return of the money which had been advanced
upon the bills they had discounted.

“So long as bank directors conform, in this respect, to the rules of
prudence, their notes obtain such a degree of confidence, on account of
the readiness with which they are handled and circulated, that cash is
often brought for the purpose of buying notes on their treasury. If,
on the contrary, abusing this confidence, and desirous of extending
their transactions and their profits, they allow themselves at any
time to alienate a portion of their funds, to such an amount as might
subject them to the risk of being applied to for more cash than
they possess, in that case there is at once an end of confidence.
Thenceforward, their notes are looked upon only as paper, of which the
payment is uncertain; and, as the business relations of the _Banque de
Secours_ connect its directors with all the bankers of the capital,
and with almost all the branches of circulation in the kingdom, there
arises a feeling of great distrust at home, and still greater abroad,
which rapidly turns the exchange to our disadvantage, and leads to a
restriction of the currency and all the evils resulting therefrom.

“What, then, should be the conduct of the directors of such an
establishment at periods when confidence is shaken? Their course is
very simple. They ought to know that at those times they may be applied
to for payment of a portion of their notes, perhaps of all. They ought,
therefore, to use only an unimportant portion, or even none, of the
funds in their treasury destined to redeem their notes.

“It would be absurd, therefore, for the directors of a _Banque de
Secours_ to pretend there was nothing wrong in its management so long
as they should maintain in their treasury an amount of cash equivalent
to the _third_ or _fourth_ part of the amount of their notes in
circulation. In this respect, it is impossible to fix any absolute
proportion. It is necessary that the directors of a bank should
possess a sufficient degree of foresight to provide themselves, not
with a fourth or a third, but with a half, or three fourths, or even
the whole amount of the funds representing the notes, whenever any
corresponding number of notes are likely to be presented for payment.

“But, it may be said, the bank would in that case make no profit.
To this I reply, that the chief object of the protection which the
government or the nation may grant to a _Banque de Secours_, is not
to enable those holding an interest in the bank to make, under all
possible circumstances, considerable and uninterrupted profits.
Undoubtedly the nation should desire to see the bank prosper, because
it is by profit alone that the interested parties can be induced to
maintain an establishment of the sort, and because the existence of
such an establishment is useful in a state; but the nation has no
interest in desiring more than that the shareholders should make such
profits as are sufficient to induce them to carry on the bank.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“At periods when confidence is shaken, it is necessary for a
public bank to restrict its operations. The directors of such an
establishment would be very imprudent, or even culpable, if, instead of
resigning themselves to bear their portion of the misfortunes of the
times, they were to persist, contrary to the natural course of things,
in giving always an equal extension to their operations, at the risk of
being at length compelled to come to a stop.

“The _Caisse d’Escompte_ seems to have fallen into some of these
difficulties, and to have failed to recognise the fundamental principle
of all banks, which consists in never failing to meet engagements.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“The _Caisse d’Escompte_ has undoubtedly transgressed the rules
prescribed to it; and yet it is, perhaps, allowable not to weigh
its conduct in an ordinary balance. It had furnished money which,
doubtless, it had not the right to furnish, because it did not belong
to it; but it has given that assistance in a crisis which has baffled
all human foresight, and out of deference to a minister in whom the
nation has so justly placed confidence. It is not necessary that the
Assembly should convert the _Caisse d’Escompte_ into a national bank,
but it is unquestionably necessary that it should keep account of its
advances with the _Caisse_.”

“M. Necker’s suggestion on this point does not, I must confess, appear
to me to attain the object desired. I can recognise no real payment in
paper-money, or, if there is a real payment, I see in it a preference
accorded to the _Caisse d’Escompte_, which may have the appearance
of an injustice to the other creditors of the state. Why create a
paper-money specially in favour of the _Caisse d’Escompte_, and leave
other parties to suffer whose claims upon the nation are at least as
sacred?”

       *       *       *       *       *

“The claims of the _Caisse d’Escompte_ are not less sacred than
those of others, I grant, but neither are they more so. I will
not, therefore, recommend you to create paper-money for the other
creditors, as well as for the _Caisse_, but I would conjure you not
to create it at all. The inevitable effect of all paper-money is, as
you know, the rapid disappearance of cash. The fictitious currency
drives away the real; and as the former can never be a perfectly exact
representation of the latter, it happens that it drives away far more
than it replaces. From that moment the paper no longer maintains an
equality with cash; it falls below par, and hence the most fatal
consequences. All the creditors who receive payment in notes lose the
difference, while, on the other hand, all the debtors to whom cash had
been advanced, gain the difference, and hence arise a destruction of
property and a general want of faith in payments—a want of faith the
more odious as it has the sanction of legality. Moreover, as soon as
one set of engagements between individuals is settled, fresh ones will
be formed, or there would be an end of all business transactions; and
here recommences, in an opposite direction, an operation no less fatal,
no less convulsive, by which the creditors, in their turn, will ruin
the debtors. Fearing a repayment in notes, and adding by anticipation
the present loss upon those notes to the still greater loss which
they expect may afterwards be incurred, they swell out their claims
to an unreasonable extent. Thus they entail the ruin of their debtors
when the time arrives at which there shall be no more notes, or when
confidence shall have brought them to an equality with cash. It is
evident that this is not a reparation of the injustice first alluded
to, but an entirely new species of injustice, inasmuch as there is
neither the same proportion, nor the same contracting parties, nor the
same engagements.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“The more we reflect on the true principles of credit, the more are
we convinced that there exists in this respect no difference between
a nation and a private individual. A nation, like a private person,
possesses credit only so long as it is known to have the will and the
power to pay. A nation, like an individual, can do nothing better
towards its creditors than to pay in ready money its engagements when
due. If, through some unfortunate circumstances, the means of payment
in cash are wanting, the best—the only course which a nation, like an
individual, can then adopt, is to propose to its creditors only such
arrangements as are secure of being carried into effect, for nothing
destroys confidence like exaggerated promises.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“Rest assured that every mechanical means of bringing about the
re-appearance of specie, such as the melting down of plate, the
purchase of materials at a great expense, or other such temporary
expedients, though they may afford the appearance of relief, have
really nothing substantial or durable in their nature. When once the
public feeling leads to the hoarding or the exportation of specie,
that which you produce in this way will speedily be withdrawn from
the circulation like the rest. It is only by securing public opinion,
and by furnishing irresistible motives of confidence, that credit can
be ensured; and those who fear that, even after the restoration of
order, the specie which seems to have vanished from among us will not
re-appear, are mistaken. Gold and silver are necessarily transported,
like other articles of merchandize, wherever there exist the will and
the power to pay for them; they are even transported more readily by
reason of the ease with which they are removed. So long as the nation
has a surplus to dispose of, the gold and silver required will always
be procured; for it must not be forgotten that, if gold and silver
are the purchasing medium for all other things, all other things are
equally the purchasing medium for those metals. For a nation which has
nothing to give, there can be nothing to obtain; but those nations
which have an immense surplus, cannot long want anything which may be
purchased, and, least of all, gold and silver.

“Since the position of your finances compels you to be the debtors of
other nations, prove yourselves to be the best possible debtors; you
have the means to do so. Only show that you know how to set about
it, and you will soon see flowing into the country the capital of the
foreigner, who only awaits that moment to come and exchange it for
your effects. You will see immense sums brought to light which are
at present yielding nothing, and which would be gladly exchanged for
productive securities bearing annual interest, when once it is felt
that the payment of that interest is certain, and that the capital will
not be endangered.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In conclusion, the Bishop of Autun submitted to the National Assembly
a series of articles having for their object the establishment of a
sinking fund for the gradual extinction of the public debt, the means
of raising the necessary portions of which for each succeeding year
were to be determined at the commencement of each session of the
legislature.



INDEX.


  Acquaintance, delights of meeting an old one, i. 12.

  Adelaide, Madame, the King’s sister, secret message to, i. 67;
    precaution of, 68;
    visits Talleyrand, ii. 241.

  Alexander, Emperor, goes to the _soirée_ of Madame de Krudener,
          ii. 209, 210, 215, 218, 219.

  Antonio, Don, brother of the Spanish king, i. 81, 83;
    yields to the wishes of the king, 115;
    arrives at Bayonne, _ib._

  Archbishop, the uninvited, ii. 195;
    the omission rectified by Prince Talleyrand, 196;
    his personal appearance, _ib._;
    at length consents to accept the invitation, 198;
    honours paid to, 199;
    his inquiries answered, 200;
    his love of French cookery, 201;
    testifies his high satisfaction, 202;
    alarm occasioned by, 203;
    sudden death of, 205.

  Asturias, Prince of, friendship of Napoleon for, i. 96;
    his dilatory character, 98;
    letter of, to Napoleon, 99;
    arrested in the palace of the Escurial, _ib._;
    accusations against, 100;
    received into favour, 103;
    his father abdicates in his favour, _ib._;
    sends his brother to meet Napoleon, 104;
    quits Madrid for Burgos, 105;
    proceeds to Vittoria, 107;
    arrives at Irun, 108;
    surprising intelligence received by, 109, 115;
    his interview with Napoleon, 110–113;
    resigns the crown out of respect to his father, 114.

  Avenue de Gâtines, at Valençay, its splendid appearance, i. 9.


  Bank of England, intended pillage of, ii. 166.

  Barras, soirée given by, ii. 136;
    his inquiry of Napoleon, 171.

  Bar-sur-Aube, Convent at, i. 344.

  Beau, an antiquated Parisian one, i. 20.

  Beauharnais, M. de, the French ambassador, i. 94;
    interviews of M. d’Escoïquiz with, 94, 96, 97.

  Beaumetz, a friend of Prince Talleyrand, remarkable story of, i. 36;
    his melancholy fate, 41.

  Beggarwoman’s prophecy fulfilled, i. 245.

  Belgium, private letters of Prince Talleyrand, on the affairs of,
          ii. 276, 280, 284.

  Benedict XIV., Pope, answer of Talleyrand to, ii. 49.

  Berg, Grand-Duke of, appointed lieutenant-general of the kingdom,
          i. 115.

  Bergasse, a friend of Talleyrand’s, ii. 209;
    present at the _soirée_ of Madame de Krudener, 216;
    his admiration of that lady, 222;
    strange conviction of, 223;
    finds the prophecy fulfilled, 225.

  Bernardière, M. de la, agitation of, ii. 194;
    singular letter received by, 195;
    commissioned to wait on the Archbishop of M——, 196;
    his interview with that prelate, 197.

  Berrichon character, trait of, i. 24.

  Boehmer, the Parisian jeweller, and the diamond necklace, i. 354, 356.

  Bois de Boulogne, fête in the, i. 158.

  Bonaparte, Napoleon, letter of the Prince of Asturias to, i. 99;
    arrives at Bordeaux, 104;
    his visits to Ferdinand, 110;
    proposition to him, 112;
    characteristic trait of, 113;
    his alarm relative to the prisoners at Valençay, 119;
    bold speech of Talleyrand to, 120;
    his occasional want of tact, 300;
    proposes to marry Madame de la Bouchardie, ii. 39;
    his intended invasion of England, 166;
    his reproof of Talleyrand, 171;
    his reply to Barras, _ib._

  Bon-mot, attributed to Talleyrand, i. 64.

  Bouchardie, Madame de la, her person and fascinations described,
          ii. 37;
    General Bonaparte one of her admirers, 39;
    her abilities as a musician, 40;
    gratitude of Talleyrand to, 45;
    her sad fate, 47.

  Boudoir of Talleyrand, described, ii. 119;
    some account of the portraits in it, 120.

  Boufflers, M., his visit to Cagliostro, in company with Prince
          Talleyrand, i. 126, 130, 131, 132, 134;
    amazement of, 135;
    circumstances attending his acquaintance with Talleyrand, ii. 97;
    insulting behaviour of, 100;
    witty retort to, 101;
    introduces Talleyrand to Madame du Deffand, 102;
    compliment paid by, 109.

  Boulainvilliers, M. de, strange scene at his château, at Passy,
          i. 335;
    illicit still discovered in his garden, 343;
    taken to prison, _ib._

  Boulainvilliers, Marquise de, her benevolence, i. 335, 336;
    malady of, _ib._

  Bride, speculations with regard to one, i. 158;
    intrigue of, discovered, 164;
    sent back to the convent, 165.

  Brignolé, Madame, her peculiar position in society, ii. 96.

  Brionne, Countess de, mother of the Princess de Lamballe, ii. 122;
    some account of her history, 123;
    letter of Talleyrand to, 124;
    flies from her château, 126, 127;
    returns the Prince’s letter, _ib._;
    Talleyrand’s second appeal to, 128;
    her last moments, 130;
    influence of, 131.

  Buffon, his inspiration at Moulin-Joli, ii. 110.


  Cabanis, the physician, attends on Mirabeau, i. 234, 239.

  Cagliostro, the famous magician, i. 43;
    visit of Talleyrand to, 122;
    his proceedings, 126;
    personal appearance of, described, 127;
    his graceful attitude, 128;
    mysterious veiled figure consulted by, 129, 130;
    secret of, 133;
    suspected of imposture, _ib._;
    his statements verified, 135;
    the phial given by him, 137;
    marvellous effect of its contents, 139;
    visited by the police, 140; _nonchalance_ of, 141.

  Carascola, attached to the Neapolitan embassy, ii. 225;
    sudden death of, 226.

  Carlos, Don, brother of Don Ferdinand, i. 81;
    fond of the chase, 85.

  Carriage that conveyed the Spanish princes to Valençay, described,
          i. 75.

  Casimir, King, his present to Louis XIV., ii. 34.

  Castries, Duc de, minister of marine, ii. 48.

  Cerutti, Abbé, his acquaintance with Talleyrand, ii. 50;
    great popularity of, 52;
    his character and motives, 53;
    his history, as related by Talleyrand, 54;
    particulars relative to his family, 55;
    remarkable change in the conduct of his brother, Cesareo, 57;
    death of his father, 66;
    strange power obtained over him, _ib._;
    discovers the secret, 69;
    determines to leave his estate, 71;
    takes leave of the wily Abbé, 72;
    who follows him, 74;
    and delivers a letter, 75;
    becomes a member of the Order of Jesuits, 76;
    receives a letter from his brother, 77;
    repairs to the trysting-place, 78;
    his disappointment, 79;
    discovers his brother’s dead body, 82, 83;
    despair of, 85;
    takes priest’s orders, 86;
    his exertions in the cause of the Jesuits, 87;
    confessions of his agent, _ib._;
    his interview with his faithless love, 90;
    shock given to his constitution, _ib._;
    his death, 91.

  Cevallos, M. de, opinion of, i. 113;
    entreaty of, _ib._

  Champfort, his language compared with that of Voltaire, i. 148,
          149, 150, 153;
    story of his fellow-prisoner, related by Talleyrand, 155.

  Champion, Madame, her conversation with Talleyrand, ii. 134.

  Charles IV. abdicates the Spanish throne, in favour of his son,
          i. 103;
    declares his decree to be null and void, 106;
    arrives with his queen at Bayonne, 114.

  Charles X., government of, i. 51;
    inconsistencies of, _ib._;
    his good qualities in private life, _ib._;
    public indignation against, 54;
    fall of, 58;
    his flight, 66–70.

  Chénier, Joseph, an admirer of Madame de la Bouchardie, ii. 39;
    inspiration of, 43;
    his eloquent appeal on behalf of Talleyrand, _ib._;
    visit of the Prince to, 44.

  Choiseul, M. de, his dismissal from the ministry, ii. 29;
    ill-timed joke of, 31.

  Colbert, his sage reply to Louis XIV., ii. 115.

  Collard, Royer, a specimen of the ancient French gentleman, i. 22.

  Compiègne, a dinner at, with Louis XVIII., described, ii. 187,
          192, 193.

  Contat, Mademoiselle, enthusiasm in favour of, i. 194, 197.

  Conversation, the art of, regret for the loss of, ii. 108;
    Maxims for Seasoning, ii. 261.

  Conversations of the 18th century, and their issue, ii. 116.

  Cossé, Marquis de, the friend of Fénélon, ii. 159.

  Count, French, career of a, i. 18.

  Courtiade, his attachment to Prince Talleyrand, ii. 235;
    anecdote of, 236;
    his duties, 238.

  Creutz, M. de, the Swedish ambassador, remark of, ii. 112.

  Cure, a miraculous one, i. 138.


  D’Aiguillon, Duc de, his meeting with Talleyrand, i. 151;
    a pleasant story-teller, ii. 13;
    his frolic with Talleyrand, 15;
    hilarity of, 28;
    plays at _bilboquet_ with Madame Dubarri, 32;
    his frequent visits to that lady, 34;
    his sad fate, 35.

  D’Argenton, Duc, i. 139.

  Death, under different aspects, ii. 82.

  Death, sudden, melancholy instances of, ii. 205, 226.

  De Dino, Duchess, niece of Talleyrand, i. 54.

  De la Motte, Countess, i. 312;
    introduced to the Princess de Gueménée, 318;
    personal appearance of, described, 321;
    her conversation and manners, 322;
    belief in her representations, 324;
    recital of her adventures, 325, 348;
    particulars relative to her family, 326;
    solicits charity, 327;
    death of her father, 330;
    long and tedious journey of, 332;
    fairy-land discovered by, 333;
    novel appeal of, 334;
    meets with a kind friend in the person of the Marquise de
          Boulainvilliers, 335;
    altered fortunes of, 339;
    her dismissal from Passy, 341;
    strange discovery of, _ib._;
    placed with Madame Leclerc, at Paris, 342;
    her disappointment, 343;
    retires to a convent at Bar-sur-Aube, 344;
    her marriage, 345;
    endeavours to obtain the restoration of her estates, _ib._;
    character acquired by, _ib._;
    aversion of the king to, 346;
    her attentions to M. de Talleyrand, 350;
    her participation in the affair of the diamond necklace, 351;
    diversity of opinion as to her guilt, 352.

  Del’ Infantado, Duke, fidelity of, i. 91;
    decree obtained by, 92;
    arrested, 100.

  D’Enghien, Duke, allusion to the murder of, ii. 3.

  Denis, Madame, niece of Voltaire, i. 145;
    hint given by, 149.

  D’Escoïquiz, Don Juan, Archdeacon of Toledo, i. 87;
    his letters relative to the Prince of the Peace, 88, 89;
    scheme of, 90;
    his secret communications with Count Orquez, _ib._;
    obtains a letter from the Prince of Asturias, 91;
    acts in concert with the Duke del Infantado, 91, 92;
    decree drawn up by, 93;
    his interview with the French ambassador, 95, 96;
    astonishment of, 97;
    advised to write to Napoleon, _ib._;
    arrested, 100;
    appointed to negotiate with the French ambassador, 103;
    his audience with Napoleon, 111;
    spirited reply of, 112.

  Diamond necklace, affair of the stolen one, i. 351;
    mystery relative to it, 354.

  Dubarri, Madame, ii. 9–18;
    visit of Talleyrand to, 20;
    unjustly calumniated, 21;
    her great comic powers, 23;
    altered life of, 24;
    her personal appearance described, 25;
    shows Talleyrand over her grounds, 26;
    splendid collation of, 27;
    her influence over the king, 28;
    her beautiful boudoir, 29;
    relates anecdotes of her past life, _ib._;
    her splendid jewels, 32;
    plays at _bilboquet_, _ib._;
    her melancholy fate, 35.

  Duchess, a prosy old one, i. 17.

  Du Deffand, Madame, introduction of Talleyrand to, ii. 102;
    her benignity of countenance, 104.

  Duras, Duke de, sudden alarm excited by, ii. 189.

  England and France, desire of Talleyrand for amity between, ii. 181.

  Etruria, Queen of, intrigue carried on by, i. 106.


  Fénélon, Chevalier de, persuades M. de Talleyrand to join him at the
          faro-table, ii. 142;
    his wonderful success at play, 143;
    dissatisfaction of the losers, _ib._;
    mysterious hint given to, 144;
    singular proposition of, _ib._;
    his uproarious hilarity, 145;
    takes Talleyrand home with him, and presses him to play at
          cards, 147;
    his continued success, 148;
    his good fortune at length forsakes him, 150;
    requests another trial of skill, 151;
    refuses to stake an urn, 152;
    resolves to try its magic influence, 153;
    his desperation on losing it, 155;
    the mystery regarding him solved, 158;
    his death, 159.

  Ferdinand, Don, Prince of the Asturias, i. 81;
    ignorance of, 85;
    his correspondence with Don Juan D’Escoïquiz, 87.

  Feuille Villageoise, a popular journal, established by Talleyrand and
          his friends, ii. 51.

  Flahaut, Count de, marriage of, ii. 132;
    his death, _ib._;
    appearance of his widow, 136;
    her faith and devotion, 139.

  Fontenelle, death of, ii. 109.

  Fouché, intimation given by, to Napoleon, ii. 170.

  Fox, Prince Talleyrand’s opinion of, ii. 270.

  Fragment, from Prince Talleyrand’s Memoirs, ii. 296.


  Geoffrin, Madame, her select circle of friends, i. 106, 109;
    _mot piquant_ of, 112.

  Georgel, Abbé, his abuse of Cerutti, ii. 53.

  Giordoni, Abbé, ii. 58, 59;
    his furious looks, 61, 63;
    mystery regarding, 65;
    strange influence obtained by, 66, 87;
    his penetration of character, 67;
    solution of the secret, 69;
    describes the subtlety of the Jesuits, 70;
    bids Cerutti farewell, 72;
    delivers a letter to him, 75;
    his specious arguments, 86;
    assists in the murder of Cesario, 87;
    his falsehood and cunning, 88.

  Gluck’s Opera of “Alceste,” i. 134.

  Godoï, Prince of the Peace, growing power of, i. 87;
    proposes to marry Donna Maria-Theresa, 89;
    secret agents of, 91;
    _surveillance_ exercised by, 97, 98;
    public indignation against, 101; arrested, 102;
    committed to prison, 103.

  Gouffier, Count Choiseul, the friend of Talleyrand, ii. 48.

  Grandt, Madame, account of her visit to Talleyrand, ii. 162;
    alarm of, 163;
    her great personal attractions, 164;
    secret divulged by, 166;
    delighted at the success of her petition, 167;
    attachment of Talleyrand to, 168;
    her inexperience of the world, 169;
    her politeness and tact, _ib._;
    Talleyrand holds his receptions at her house, 170;
    married to the Prince, 171;
    (_see_ TALLEYRAND, PRINCESS.)

  Greuzacher Horn, retirement of Madame de Krudener to, ii. 228.

  Guard, National, origin of their existence, i. 242;
    murder of a, 245.

  Guéménée, Princess de, ex-governess to the royal children, i. 313;
    extravagance of, 315;
    her dress described, 316;
    her conversation with Talleyrand, 317.

  Guizot, epithet applied to, i. 23.

  Guilleminot and Bordesoulle, Lieutenants-General, reasons on which
          Talleyrand grounded his vote in the affair of, ii. 289.


  Helvetius, Madame, _fête champêtre_ given by, i. 301;
    fascinations of, _ib._

  Henri, Commandant, commissioned to watch the Spanish Princes, i. 81.

  Henri de Chalais, reply of, ii. 6.

  Holbach, Baron, his return to Paris, ii. 97.

  Holy Alliance, absurd project of the, ii. 229, 230.

  Hôtel de Ville, conflict at the, i. 63.

  Hôtel Talleyrand, in the Rue St. Florentin, Paris, i. 1;
    silence reigning in the, on the occasion of the last illness of
          Prince Talleyrand, ii. 233.


  Intellect, glorious reign of, in France, ii. 106.

  Isabella, Queen of Spain, i. 87.


  Jacobins, declamations of the, i. 70.

  Jauregui, Don Joaquin, Colonel of Dragoons, i. 90.

  Jesuits, subtlety of the, ii. 70;
    their wonderful activity, 89.

  John, King of France, ransom of, ii. 6.

  Jüng Stilling, one of the new _illuminé_, ii. 217, 218, 224.


  Kel, Abbé de, Almoner of the Bastille, opinion of, i. 352.

  Krudener, Madame de, _soirée_ given by, ii. 208;
    altered appearance of, 212;
    her tasteful arrangements, 213;
    her gracious reception of M. de Talleyrand, 214;
    her costume and manners, 215;
    her distinguished guests, 216;
    prophecies and denunciations uttered by, 217;
    her impressive prayer, and its effect upon her visitors, 219;
    under the influence of a _pressentiment_, 222;
    fulfilment of her prophecy, 226;
    retires from Paris, 228;
    her death, and honours paid to, 229.


  Langlois, Père, the preceptor of Talleyrand, i. 182;
    his costume described, _ib._

  Law, power of the, defied, ii. 117.

  Leclerc, Madame, the _couturière_ at Paris, i. 340, 342.

  Lemercier, play written by, ii. 177, 178.

  Linz, château of the Princess de Lorraine, near, ii. 124, 127.

  Louis-le-Grand, College of, Talleyrand placed at, i. 182;
    some account of his pursuits there, 187.

  Louis XIV., policy of, ii. 114;
    sage reply of Colbert to, 115;
    subjects of debate during his reign, 116.

  Louis XV., and Madame de Pompadour, ii. 22;
    Manuscript Journal of, 29.

  Louis XV., libels published against, ii. 116.

  Louis XVI., his aversion to Madame de la Motte, i. 346;
    error of, 347.

  Louis XVIII., character of, i. 51;
    retort of, 357.

  Louis XVIII., on the policy and conduct of, ii. 183;
    reply of Talleyrand to, 184;
    opinion as to his character, 186;
    his return to France, in 1814, _ib._;
    his silence during dinner, 188;
    sudden surprise of, 189, 190.

  Louis-Philippe, visits Prince Talleyrand in his last illness, ii. 241;
    his appearance described, 242;
    his condescension, 245.

  Luçay, M. de, towers built by, i. 10.


  Magnetism, wonderful effects attributed to, i. 42.

  Maison de plaisance, choice of a site for one, i. 247.

  Mankind, best mode of obtaining a knowledge of, ii. 113.

  Maria-Theresa, Donna, her personal attractions, i. 89.

  Marie-Antoïnette, defence of, i. 273;
    her execution, 274;
    lives in splendour, 353.

  Marivaux, delightful novels of, i. 10.

  Marquis, a fashionable one, i. 159;
    remarkable adventure of, 160;
    his devotion to Madame de B——, 165;
    marries her, 166.

  Marquise, the, and the magic phial, i. 139;
    disfigurement of, 142;
    present to her maid, _ib._

  Martignac ministry, its dissolution, i. 51, 53.

  Marville, Dowager de, fête suggested by, i. 157.

  Masserano, Prince de, Spanish Ambassador at Paris, i. 99.

  Maury, Abbé, and his audience, i. 295.

  Maxims for Seasoning Conversation, ii. 261.

  Mayor, provincial, invited to Valençay, i. 26;
    his curiosity punished, 31.

  Memory, a mysterious thing, i. 154.

  Meylau, Chevalier de, remark of, i. 338.

  Mirabeau, his high opinion of Talleyrand, i. 222;
    persons admitted into his intimacy, 224;
    circumstances attending his death, _ib._;
    his visit to Talleyrand, 225;
    complains of indisposition, 226;
    his sad forebodings, 227;
    speaks of his affairs, 228;
    admonitions of, 231;
    adjourns to dine at a restaurateur’s, 232;
    his strange mirth, 233;
    takes a hot bath, 234;
    his death, 237;
    precious scrap of writing left by him, _ib._;
    his remark to the physician, 239;
    public grief at the decease of, _ib._;
    secret of his success, ii. 5;
    his early history, 54;
    funeral oration over, 91.

  Molé, Count, and the Prince de Talleyrand, i. 28, 32, 55.

  Monti, Abbé, celebrity of his Poems, i. 303;
    his conversation with Madame de Stäel, _ib._

  Montrond, M. de, his letter to Talleyrand, ii. 162, 167;
    fond of practical jokes, _ib._; 176.

  Morellet, Abbé, recommendation of, to his guests, ii. 111.


  Necker, Madame, opinion of, i. 299.

  New York, beauty of the scenery at, i. 39.

  Nun, young and beautiful, i. 201;
    relates her history to Talleyrand, 202;
    her desire to see the world, 204;
    sympathy for, 208.


  Officer, young, of _Mousquetaires_, story of, i. 155.

  Orleans, Duchess of, her château at Issy, i. 191;
    her private theatricals, 193.

  Orleans, Duke of, facts respecting, i. 60;
    secret message to, _ib._;
    proclaimed Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, 69;
    crisis in his life, 71;
    persuaded by Talleyrand to accept the crown, 72.

  Orquez, Count, attached to the Prince of Asturias, i. 90.


  Paris, its occupation by the allied sovereigns, ii. 208.

  Peers, Reflections on their Trial, by the Chamber of Peers, ii. 289.

  Perigord, Cardinal de, the friend of Petrarch, ii. 6.

  Perigord, Cardinal de, uncle to Talleyrand, i. 152.

  Perigord, the _ci-devant_ Abbé de, i. 281;
    sobriquet of, _ib._;
    his adventure with a poor woman, 283;
    astonishment of, 285;
    his humility and gratitude, 286;
    his munificent charity, 289;
    confidence reposed in, 291;
    meeting with, at Versailles, 296;
    his good fortune, 297.

  Perigords and the Talleyrands, particulars relative to, i. 147.

  Pétion, Talleyrand’s opinion of, i. 223.

  _Petit billet_, custom of the, i. 256.

  Philidor, the renowned chess-player, ii. 98;
    insulted by two officers, 99;
    remark of Madame du Deffaud on, 105.

  Pin, story of the charmed one, ii. 149.

  Pius VII., Pope, absolution granted by, i. 52.

  Princes, Spanish, their seizure and confinement at Valençay, i. 74;
    carriage which conveyed them thither, 75;
    strict watch over, 81;
    revenge taken by, 83;
    their tutor, Don Antonio, _ib._;
    secret history of the intrigues, which ended in their seizure and
          imprisonment, 86;
    impressions created by their arrival at Valençay, 115;
    attentions paid to them, 116;
    their pursuits and amusements, 117;
    attend chapel, 118;
    alarm of Napoleon relative to, 119.

  Provence, Countess de, mistake of, i. 295.

  Prussia, King of, attends the _soirée_ of Madame den Krudener,
          ii. 216, 218, 222;
    review of his troops, 227;
    obeys the behests of Madame de Krudener, 229.


  Racine’s “Phèdre,” performance of, i. 193.

  Repartee, readiness at, i. 17.

  Revolution in Paris, of July, 1830, i. 48, _et seq._

  Rheims, Archbishop of, uncle of Talleyrand, i. 221, ii. 26.

  Rigaut, Mère, nurse of Talleyrand, i. 175, 176, 179.

  Rochecotte, retirement of Prince Talleyrand to, i. 54.

  Rohan, Louis de, the Prince Cardinal, credulity of, i. 311, 324;
    introduces the Countess de la Motte, to the Princess de
          Guéménée, 318;
    contrast between his two guests, 320.

  Rousseau, declaration of, relative to “Orphée,” ii. 111;
    surly reply of, 112.


  St. Sulpice, Talleyrand placed in the Séminaire of, i. 189, 190, 268;
    history of one of the students there, 270.

  Sartines, M. de, head of the police, i. 140.

  Scheffer, his portrait of Talleyrand, i. 217.

  Scotch, customs and usages of the, i. 35.

  Sebastiani Marshal, private letters from Prince Talleyrand to, on the
          affairs of Belgium, ii. 276, 280, 284.

  Second Sight, gift of, i. 35;
    extraordinary instance of, 39.

  Sevigné, Madame de, Memoirs of, ii. 115.

  Seze, M. de, miracle explained by, i. 287.

  Sièyes, curious story related by Talleyrand respecting, i. 241;
    conceives the idea of a national guard, 242;
    goes to Versailles, 292.

  Staël, Madame de, feeling of Talleyrand towards, i. 299;
    adventure that befel her at a party given by Madame Helvetius, 301;
    gratitude of Talleyrand towards, ii. 36, 38;
    her keen wit, 42;
    her interest with Barras, 48.

  Stata, Abbé de, librarian of St. Isidore, i. 91.

  Suard, Madame, compliment paid to, ii. 109;
    apology of, 112.


  Talleyrand, Bailli de, his strange meeting with his nephew, i. 175;
    takes a last farewell of him, 180.

  Talleyrand, Prince de, visit to, i. 3;
    interesting scene with his niece, _ib._;
    his drawing-room described, 4;
    interview with, 5;
    his mode of life at Valençay, 7;
    his conversations on the past, _ib._;
    favourite residence of, _ib._;
    etiquette observed towards, _ib._;
    his noble guests, 15;
    plays at cards, _ib._;
    contrast to him, 16;
    witticism of, 21;
    his friend, Royer Collard, 23;
    his invitation to the Mayor of C——, 25;
    plays at billiards, 28;
    punishes his guest’s curiosity, 32;
    the first story-teller of his day, 34;
    remarkable particulars related by, relative to his friend,
          Beaumetz, 36;
    decision of character saves his life, 39;
    resolves to quit America and return to France, 40;
    his sad remembrances of his friend, 41;
    attributes the warning of his danger to magnetism, 42;
    his opinion of Cagliostro, 43;
    unjust ideas formed of, in England, 48;
    his conduct during the Revolution of July, 1830, _ib._;
    opinions entertained relative to, 49;
    unfavourable to the government of Charles X., 51;
    his sympathy for the new ministers, 53;
    retires to Rochecotte, 54;
    his intimates there, 55;
    his opinion of M. Thiers, 57;
    calumnies heaped upon him, 59;
    his secret message to the Duke of Orleans, 60, 67;
    his thoughts relative to the Revolution, 62;
    his presence of mind, 63;
    bon-mot attributed to, 64;
    watches the progress of the Revolution, _ib._;
    efforts of, 65;
    his great sagacity, 67;
    directs the movements of the new dynasty, 69;
    advises the Duke of Orleans to accept the crown, 72;
    part played by him, _ib._;
    his bold speech to Napoleon, 120;
    describes his visit to Cagliostro, 122;
    goes to the Opera, 134;
    and finds the statements of Cagliostro verified, 135;
    his astonishment on witnessing the effect of the contents of the
          magic phial, 139;
    his interview with Voltaire, 143;
    wins at the faro-table, 151;
    writes to his uncle, the Cardinal de Perigord, 152;
    relates the history of a young officer of _Mousquetaires_, 155;
    his faithful dog, 169;
    childhood and juvenile years of, 170;
    abandoned by his mother, _ib._;
    placed under the care of a nurse, 171;
    as is also his infant brother, 172;
    carried off from his solitude by his uncle, the Bailli de
          Talleyrand, 178;
    has an excellent preceptor, 181;
    allows him afterwards a handsome pension, 182;
    his studies at College, 183;
    his mother’s visits to him there, 184;
    becomes, on the death of his father, the Comte de Talleyrand, 184;
    astounding intimation given to, 185;
    submits to his fate, 186;
    his exercises and amusements at Louis-le-Grand, _ib._;
    his fellow-students there, 187;
    exhibits a high order of intellect, 189;
    removed to the Séminaire of St. Sulpice, _ib._;
    his dull routine of life there, 190;
    longs to be present at the private theatricals of the Duchess of
          Orleans, 192;
    scales the walls of the Séminaire, and gets up behind a
          carriage, 193;
    witnesses the performance of Racine’s “Phèdre,” _ib._;
    his admiration of Mademoiselle Contat, 196, 197;
    gets back by dawn of day to the Séminaire, _ib._;
    romantic adventure of, 198;
    is overtaken by a storm, _ib._;
    his extraordinary interview in the Rue de Vaugirard, 201;
    the young nun relates her history to him, 202;
    his sympathy towards her, 208;
    his sorrow at her sad fate, 212;
    fascinating manners of, 215;
    portraits of him, 216;
    his skill in argument, 219;
    his popularity, 220;
    an adept in the human heart, 221;
    his opinion of Pétion, 223;
    receives a visit from Mirabeau, 225;
    endeavours to cheer his friend, 227;
    his remarkable conversation with him, 229;
    Mirabeau dies in his arms, 237;
    his story relative to Sièyes, 241;
    his choice of a spot to erect a _maison de plaisance_, 247;
    _petit billet_ of the Princess to, 258;
    compiles his diplomatic memoirs, 261;
    decides not to publish them till forty years after his death,
          _ib._, 310;
    calumnies against him, 264;
    relates various adventures which befel him, 265, 268;
    his fellow-students at St. Sulpice, 269;
    recounts the story of Eugène de B——, 270;
    bequest made to, 276;
    amusing anecdotes told by, 281;
    his trust in Providence, 288;
    his opinion of Madame Necker, 299;
    his feelings towards Madame de Staël, 300;
    relates an adventure connected with that lady, 301;
    his despatches and correspondence, 308;
    active part taken by him in public affairs, 310;
    his tact and circumspection, 311;
    visits the Princess de Guéménée, _ib._;
    his conversation with her, 317;
    narrates the history of the Countess de la Motte, 325;
    his opinion relative to the affair of the diamond necklace, 351;
    motives which had actuated his conduct, ii. 2;
    _dictum_ respecting, 3;
    unjustly accused of participating in the murder of the Duc
          D’Enghien, _ib._;
    political career of, 7;
    his remarks on society, 9;
    advice given him by his uncle, 10;
    his remarkable carriage-drive with the Duke D’Aiguillon, 13;
    astonishment of, 15;
    conveyed, to Luciennes, 18;
    apologies made by, 19;
    relates his visit to Madame Dubarri, 20;
    kindness of his female friends, 36, 121;
    his description of Madame de la Bouchardie, 37;
    justifies his conduct, 41;
    eloquent appeal of Chénier in his behalf, 43;
    visits Chénier, on his return from exile, 44;
    his cordial welcome from Madame de la Bouchardie and Madame de
          Staël, 45;
    privateer equipped by, 48;
    his reply to the letter of Pope Benedict XIV., 49;
    establishes a journal in conjunction with the Abbé Cerutti, 50;
    his addresses to the people, 51;
    relates the history of his friend Cerutti, 54;
    enters upon a new era in his life, 92;
    murmurs not at his change of station, 93;
    his recollections of the past, 94;
    his début in the world of fashion, at the house of Madame de
          Brignolé, on leaving the _Séminaire_, 95;
    his appearance described, _ib._;
    makes the acquaintance of the Chevalier de Boufflers, 97;
    converses with Philidor, 98;
    his coolness under insult, 100;
    witty retort of, 101;
    introduced to Madame du Deffand, 102;
    his cordial reception by that lady, 104;
    judgment pronounced on, by a blind woman, 105;
    describes the period preceding the Revolution, 107;
    regrets the loss of the art of conversation, 108;
    his anecdotes of various literary _réunions_ at Paris, 109;
    beautiful and original thoughts of, 113;
    a peep into the interior of his boudoir, 119;
    his friendship for the Countess de Brionne, 123;
    his letter to her, 124;
    repairs to her château, near Linz, 125;
    his epistle returned, 127;
    assists at the Congress of Vienna, 128;
    his second appeal to Madame de Brionne, _ib._;
    his melancholy visit to her, 129;
    touching episode in his life, 130;
    anonymous epistle received by, 133;
    his confidante, Madame Champion, _ib._;
    proceeds to Paris at the advice of his unknown friend, 134;
    endeavours to discover his benefactor, 135;
    obtains a clue to the mystery, 137;
    visits the lady in question, 138;
    particulars regarding his marriage, 140;
    beauty of his wife, 141;
    joins the Chevalier de Fénélon at the faro-table, 142;
    and finds him a troublesome companion, 145;
    goes home with him, 146;
    and loses at cards, 147;
    stakes his watch and other valuables, 148;
    the tide turns in his favour, and he wins every game, 150;
    is pressed to play again, 151;
    chooses a tea-urn, 152;
    wins it, 154;
    his extraordinary discovery with regard to it, 158;
    his indignation at the conduct of Fénélon, 159;
    is visited by Madame Grandt, 162;
    his embarrassment on the occasion, 163, 165;
    becomes passionately attached to her, 168, 169;
    receives a severe reproof from Napoleon, 170;
    his reply, 171;
    marries Madame Grandt, _ib._;
    irreproachable conduct of his wife, 172;
    allows her a separate establishment, 173;
    his lively temperament, 180;
    desirous of amity between England and France, 181;
    his remarks on the conduct and policy of Louis XVIII., 183;
    his reply to that monarch, 184;
    his opinion of his character, 186;
    dines with him at Compiègne, 187;
    _diner diplomatique_ given by, 194;
    rectifies an important omission, 196;
    manners and bearing of his distinguished visitor, 199;
    his alarm and horror, 203;
    deliverance of, 204;
    death of his guest, 205;
    goes to a soirée at Madame de Krudener’s, 210;
    describes his flattering reception, 213;
    meets with an old friend, 216;
    listens to the prayer and prophecies of the seeress, 219, 223;
    his feelings on leaving the _soirée_, 224;
    remarkable revelation made to him by his friend, Bergasse, 225;
    illness of, 232;
    his domestic establishment, 234;
    his servant, Courtiade, warmly attached to him, 235;
    preparations for his farewell-audience of Louis-Philippe, 237;
    the last act of his existence, his retractation, 239;
    report relative to this step, 240;
    disinterested conduct of, _ib._;
    falls into a lethargic slumber, 241;
    Louis-Philippe and Madame Adelaide visit him, _ib._;
    contrast in his appearance to that of the king, 242;
    his conversation with him, _ib._, 243;
    symptoms of his approaching dissolution, 246;
    his friends assembled on the occasion, 247;
    account of his last moments, 249;
    his death, 251;
    prayers of his domestics for him, 252;
    vault prepared for his remains at Valençay, 253;
    his body conveyed from Paris at midnight, 254;
    curious incident that occurred on the occasion, 255;
    arrival of the hearse at Valençay, _ib._;
    his coffin deposited in the family vault, 257;
    last homage to, 258;
    his maxims for seasoning conversation, 261;
    his passion for Madame de Talleyrand, 263;
    his opinion of Fox, 270;
    his private letters to Marshal Sebastiani on the affairs of Belgium,
          276, 280, 284;
    reasons on which he grounded his vote, in the affair of
          Lieutenants-General Guilleminot and Bordesoulle, 289;
    fragments from his Memoirs, 296;
    his letter to William IV., on being appointed ambassador from
          France, 306;
    his opinion on the plan of law relative to journals and periodical
          publications, 307;
    on ecclesiastical property, 317;
    extracts from his speech on ecclesiastical reform, 322;
    his opinion on banks, and finance, 326.

  Talleyrand, Princess de, fascinations of, i. 80;
    inquiry of, 3;
    dismay of, 84;
    particulars relative to, 248;
    an eccentric person, 250;
    haughty behaviour of, 253;
    her adventure with the postmaster, 255;
    _petit billet_ of, 258;
    her irreproachable conduct, ii. 172;
    anecdote of, 173;
    separate establishment of, _ib._;
    her devotion to the interests of the prince, 174;
    annoyances caused by, 175;
    ridicule of, 176;
    _naïveté_ uttered by, 177;
    passion of the Prince for, 263.

  Tea-urn, story of the mysterious one, ii. 152.

  Thiers, M., his stay at Rochecotte, i. 56;
    conspires against the government of Charles X., _ib._;
    light in which Talleyrand viewed him, 57.


  Valençay, château of, invitation given by Prince Talleyrand to, i. 5;
    his mode of life there, 7;
    the favourite residence of the Prince, _ib._;
    one of the favoured spots upon earth, 8;
    a noble and stately residence, 9;
    grand approaches to, _ib._;
    the towers described, 10;
    arrival at, 11;
    beautiful view from, _ib._;
    etiquette observed at, 13;
    society at, 15;
    the visitors at, 24;
    story of the Mr. of C——, 25;
    enlivening conversation at, 34;
    beauties of the place, 45;
    seizure and confinement of the Spanish Princes at, 74;
    carriage which conveyed them thither, 75;
    impressions created by their arrival, 115;
    attentions paid to them, 116;
    their amusements and pursuits, 117;
    attentions of the Princess at, 249;
    grand dinner-party at, 252;
    picture-gallery at, 309;
    feelings on beholding the spot, ii. 233;
    vault prepared at, to receive the remains of Prince Talleyrand, 253;
    arrival there of the hearse, 255;
    cheerful aspect of the little town of, 256;
    funeral of the Prince at, 257.

  Valois, Count de St. Remy de, particulars relative to, i. 326;
    his death, 330;
    refusal to inter his remains, 331.

  Versailles, festival at, i. 293;
    members of the _Tiers Etat_ at, _ib._;
    court beauties at, 294.

  Voltaire, interview of the Prince de Talleyrand with, i. 143;
    his personal appearance, 144;
    room in which he received his visitors, 145;
    eloquent discourse of, 146, 148;
    his expressive features, 149.


  Wars between nations, remarks on, ii. 181.

  William IV., letter from Prince Talleyrand to, on his being appointed
          ambassador from France, ii. 306.

  Witticism of Talleyrand, i. 21.


  Yolande, an infant, her tomb disturbed, ii. 254;
    placed in the same vault with Prince Talleyrand, 257.


THE END.


T. C. Savill, Printer, 4, Chandos-street, Covent-garden.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unpaired
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.





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