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Title: Heroines of French Society - in the Court, the Revolution, the Empire and the Restoration
Author: Bearne, Catherine Mary Charlton
Language: English
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  _Painted by herself. Uffizi, Florence_



                             HEROINES OF
                            FRENCH SOCIETY

                     IN THE COURT, THE REVOLUTION


                             Mrs. Bearne

               Author of “A Queen of Napoleon’s Court,”
                  “Early Valois Queens,” etc., etc.



                               NEW YORK

                       E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY

                     31 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET


(_All rights reserved._)






In the histories of the four women whose lives are here related, I
have tried, as far as is possible in the limited space, to give an
idea of the various ways in which the Revolutionary tempest at the
close of the eighteenth century and the eventful years which preceded
and followed it, affected, and were regarded by, persons of the
different parties and classes to which they belonged.

The characters of the four heroines form as strong a contrast as their
circumstances, principles, and surroundings.

In Mme. Le Brun, the most gifted of all, we see a beauty, a genius,
and a woman unusually charming and attractive, thrown, before she was
sixteen, into the society of the magnificent, licentious court of
Louis XV. Married to a dissipated, _bourgeois_ spendthrift, for whom
she had never cared; sought after, flattered, and worshipped in all
the great courts of Europe; courted by fascinating, unscrupulous men
of the highest rank, without the protection of family connections and
an assured position; yet her religious principles, exalted character,
and passionate devotion to her art, carried her unscathed and honoured
through a life of extraordinary dangers and temptations.

She emigrated early, and far from being, as in most cases, a time of
poverty and hardship, her exile was one long, triumphant career of

Owing to her brilliant success, to the affection and friendship
which surrounded her wherever she went, to her absorbing interest
in her art, the delightful places and society in which she spent
her time, and also to her own sunny, light-hearted nature, her long
life, in spite of certain serious domestic drawbacks and sorrows,
was a very happy one. Her wonderful capacity for enjoyment, her
appreciation of beauty in nature and art, the great interest she took
in matters intellectual and political, her pleasure in the society of
her numerous friends, and her ardent devotion to the religious and
royalist principles of her youth, continued undiminished through the
peaceful old age which terminated her brilliant career.

With the same religious and political principles, the conditions of
life which surrounded the Marquise de Montagu were totally different.
A contrast indeed to the simple, artistic household, the early grief,
poverty, and hard work, the odious step-father, the foolish mother,
the worthless husband and daughter, the thousand difficulties and
disadvantages which beset Mme. Le Brun, were the state and luxury, the
sheltered life, the watchful care, and powerful protection bestowed
upon the daughter of the house of Noailles; her mother, the saintly,
heroic Duchesse d’Ayen, her husband the gallant, devoted Marquis de

She also was thrown very early into society; but she entered it as a
member of one of the greatest families in France, surrounded by an
immense number of relations of the highest character and position.

Neither a genius nor yet possessed of any great artistic or
intellectual talent, without worldly ambition, little attracted by the
amusements of society, she was a sort of mixture of a _grande dame_
and a saint.

The lofty asceticism of her theories and practice was perhaps almost
too severe for ordinary mortals living in the world, and in some
respects better adapted for a monastic than a secular life; her
emigration, so long delayed, was no time of success and happiness:
long years of terror, danger, poverty, fearful trials, and sorrows
endured with heroic fortitude and angelic patience, passed before she
was restored to France and to the ancient castle which was the home
and refuge of her later life.

In Mme. Tallien we have a woman exactly opposite to the other two in
character, principles, and conduct. Differing from both of them in
birth and circumstances—for she was the daughter of a Spanish banker
of large fortune—with extraordinary beauty, the hot, passionate blood
of the south, a nature, habits, and principles undisciplined by
authority and unrestrained by religion, she was early imbued with the
creed of the revolutionists, and carried their theories of atheism and
licence to the logical consequences.

Yet the generosity and kindness of her heart, and the number of
victims she saved, outweighed, though without effacing, the disorders
of her earlier life,[1] during the latter part of which, as the wife
of a Catholic, royalist prince, whose love she returned and to whose
opinions she was converted, she deeply regretted the errors of Notre
Dame de Thermidor.

In Mme. de Genlis we have a fourth and more complex type, a character
in which good and evil were so mingled that it was often hard to
say which predominated. With less beauty than the other three but
singularly attractive, with extraordinary gifts and talents, with
noble blood and scarcely any fortune, she spent a childhood of
comparative poverty at her father’s _château_, where she was only half
educated, and at seventeen married the young Comte de Genlis, who had
no money but was related to most of the great families of the kingdom.

From this time began her brilliant career. Essentially a woman of the
world, delighting in society and amusement, though always praising
the pleasures of solitude and retirement, she entered the household
of the Duchesse d’Orléans, wife of the infamous Philippe-Égalité,
and while constantly declaiming against ambition managed to get all
her relations lucrative posts at the Palais Royal, and married one
if not both her daughters to rich men of rank with notoriously bad

Perpetually proclaiming her religious principles and loyalty to the
throne, she was suspected of being concerned in the disgraceful libels
and attacks upon the Queen, was on terms of friendship with some of
the worst of the revolutionists, rejoiced in the earliest outbreaks of
the beginning of the Revolution, and while she educated the Orléans
children with a pompous parade of virtue and strictness, was generally
and probably rightly looked upon as the mistress of their father.

She was a strange character, full of artificial sentiment,
affectation, and self-deception, and, unlike the first three heroines
of this book, the mystery and doubts which hung over her have never
been cleared up.

Against the saintly Marquise de Montagu no breath of scandal could
ever be spoken. Such calumnies as were spread against Mme. Le Brun,
the work of the revolutionists, who hated her only for her religion
and loyalty, never believed by those whose opinion would be worthy of
consideration, soon vanished and were forgotten.

The _liaisons_ of Mme. Tallien had nothing doubtful about them.

But the stories against Mme. de Genlis have never been cleared up.
Much that was said about her was undoubtedly false, but there remain
serious accusations which can neither be proved nor disproved; and
that a long, intimate friendship between a prince of the character of
Philippe-Égalité and a young, attractive woman who was governess to
his children should have been no more than a platonic one, passes the
bounds of credibility.

The history of Mme. de Genlis in the emigration differs from the other
two, for having contrived to make herself obnoxious both to royalists
and republicans her position was far worse than theirs.

But the deep affection she and her pupils displayed for each other,
the devotion and kindness she showed them during their misfortunes,
the courage and cheerfulness with which she bore the hardships and
dangers of her lot, and the remorse and self-reproach which, in spite
of the excellent opinion she usually entertained of herself, do
occasionally appear in her memoirs, prove that many good qualities
existed amongst so much that was faulty.

As to her writings, then so much in vogue, they were mostly works
intended either to explain, assist, or illustrate the system of
education which was the hobby of her life and which, if one may judge
by “Adèle et Théodore,” one of the most important of her tales, can
only be called preposterous.

That the false sentiment, the absurd rules of life, the irksome,
unnecessary restrictions, the cramping and stifling of all the
natural affections and feelings of youth here inculcated should have
been regarded with approval, even by the sourest and most solemn of
puritans, seems difficult to believe; but that in the society of Paris
at that time they should have been popular and admired is only another
example of the inconsistency of human nature. She had a passion for
children, but kindness to animals does not seem to have been one
of the virtues she taught her pupils. We may hope that the fearful
little prigs described as the result of her system never did or could

I have endeavoured to be accurate in all the dates and incidents,
and have derived my information from many sources, including the
“Mémoires de Louis XVIII., recueillis par le Duc de D——,” Mémoires de
la Comtesse d’Adhémar, de Mme. Campan, MM. de Besenval, de Ségur, &c.,
also the works of the Duchesse d’Abrantès, Comtesse de Bassanville,
Mme. de Créquy, Mme. de Genlis, Mme. Le Brun, MM. Arsène Houssaye, de
Lamartine, Turquan, Dauban, Bouquet, and various others, besides two
stories never yet published, one of which was given me by a member of
the family to which it happened; the other was told me in the presence
of the old man who was the hero of it.


[1] Tallien, on hearing of her proposed marriage with the Prince de
Chimay, remarked, “_Elle a beau faire, elle sera toujours Madame



  PREFACE                                                           vii




  The _ancien régime_—Close of the reign of Louis XIV.—The
  Regent Orléans—The court of Louis XV.—The philosophers—The
  artists—M. Vigée                                                    3


  The childhood of Lisette—Extraordinary talent—The convent—The
  household of an artist—Death of M. Vigée—Despair
  of Lisette—Begins her career—Re-marriage of
  her mother—The Dauphine                                            15


  Brilliant success of Lisette—Love of her art—The Vernet—Life
  in Paris before the Revolution—Mme. Geoffrin—Marriage
  of Lisette to M. Le Brun—A terrible prediction                     29


  Marie Antoinette—Birth of Mme. Le Brun’s daughter—The
  Royal Family—Brussels—Antwerp—The charms of
  French society—The Opera ball—An incident in the
  terror—A Greek supper—_Le jeu de la Reine_                         45


  The theatre—Raincy—Chantilly—Calonne—Attempt to ruin
  the reputation of Mme. Le Brun—Two deplorable
  marriages—Fate of Mme. Chalgrin—Under the shadow
  of death—Mme. Du Barry                                             60


  End of the _ancien régime_—Foretaste of the
  Revolution—Threatened—Resolves to emigrate—Another
  alarm—Preparations—“You are wrong to go”—A terrible
  journey—Safe across the frontier                                   79


  Turin—Parma—The Infanta—Florence—Rome: Delightful
  life there—Artistic success—Social life—The French
  refugees—The Polignac—Angelica Kaufmann—An Italian
  summer—Life at Gensano—The Duchesse de Fleury                      90


  Naples—Lady Hamilton—Marie Caroline, Queen of Naples—Mesdames
  de France—Their escape—_Les chemises de
  Marat_—Rome—Terrible news from France—Venice—Turin—The
  Comtesse de Provence—The 10th August—The
  Refugees—Milan—Vienna—Delightful society—Prince
  von Kaunitz—Life at Vienna                                        104


  Dresden—St. Petersburg—The Empress Catherine
  II.—Orloff—Potemkin—Russian hospitality—Magnificence of society
  at St. Petersburg—Mme. Le Brun is robbed—Slanders
  against her—The Russian Imperial family—Popularity
  and success of Mme. Le Brun—Death of the Empress Catherine        122


  Paul I.—Terror he inspired—Death of the mother of Mme.
  Le Brun—Marriage of her daughter—Moscow—The
  Tsarevitch Alexander—Assassination of Paul I.—“I
  salute my Emperor”—Mme. Le Brun returns to
  Paris—Changes—London—Life in England—Paris—Separated
  from M. Le Brun—Society during the Empire—Caroline
  Murat—Switzerland—Fall of the Empire—Restoration—Death
  of M. Le Brun—Of her daughter—Travels in
  France—Her nieces—Conclusion                                      139




  The House of Noailles—The court of Louis XV.—The
  Dauphin—The Dauphine—An evil omen—The Queen—The
  Convent of Fontevrault—Death of Mme. Thérèse—The
  Infanta—Madame Henriette and the Duc d’Orléans—Mesdames
  Victoire, Sophie, and Louise                                      161


  The Greatest Names in France—The Maréchale de Noailles—Strange
  proceedings—Death of the Dauphin—Of the Dauphine—Of the
  Queen—The Children of France—Louis XIV. and Louis XV.             173


  The Duchesse d’Ayen—Birth and death of her sons—Her five
  daughters—Their education at home—Saintly life of the
  Duchess—Marriage of her eldest daughter to the Vicomte
  de Noailles—Of the second to the Marquis de la Fayette—Of
  the Dauphin to the Archduchess Marie Antoinette—The
  Comtesse de Noailles—Marriages of the Comtes de
  Provence and d’Artois to the Princesses of Sardinia—Death
  of Louis XV.—Unhappy marriage of the third
  daughter of the Duc d’Ayen to the Vicomte du Roure—Afterwards
  to Vicomte de Thésan—Paulette and Rosalie
  de Noailles—Adrienne de la Fayette—Radical ideas of
  the Vicomte de Noailles and Marquis de la Fayette—Displeasure
  of the family and the King—La Fayette and
  de Noailles join the American insurgents—Grief and
  heroism of Adrienne—Marriage of Pauline to the Marquis
  de Montagu                                                        182


  The Marquis de Montagu rejoins his regiment—Life of Pauline
  at the _hôtel de Montagu_—Affection of her
  father-in-law—Brilliant society—Story of M. de Continges—Death
  of Pauline’s child—Marriage of Rosalie to Marquis de
  Grammont—Birth of Pauline’s daughters—The court of Louis
  XVI.—The royal family—Dissensions at court—Madame
  Sophie and the storm—Extravagance of the Queen and
  Comte d’Artois—The Comte d’Artois and Mlle. Duthé—Scene
  with the King—_Le petit Trianon_—The Palace of
  Marly—A sinister guest                                            194


  Weak character of Louis XVI.—Quarrels at court—Mme. de
  Tessé—Forebodings of Mme. d’Ayen—La Fayette—Saintly
  lives of Pauline and her sisters—Approach of the
  Revolution—The States-General—Folly of Louis XVI.—Scenes
  at Versailles—Family political quarrels—Royalist
  and Radical—Death of Pauline’s youngest child                     206


  The Château de Plauzat—Varennes—Increasing danger—Decided
  to emigrate—Triumphal progress of La Fayette—The
  farewell of the Duchesse d’Ayen—Paris—Rosalie—A
  last mass—Escape to England                                       219


  M. de Montagu returns to Paris—M. de Beaune—Richmond—Death
  of Noémi—Aix-la-Chapelle—Escape of the Duc
  d’Ayen and Vicomte de Noailles—La Fayette arrested in
  Austria—The Hague—Crossing the Meuse—Margate—Richmond—Hardships
  of poverty—Brussels—Letter from Mme. de Tessé—Joins her in
  Switzerland—Murder of M. and Mme. de Mouchy—Goes to meet the
  Duc d’Ayen—He tells her of the murder of her grandmother, Mme.
  de Noailles, her mother, the Duchesse d’Ayen, and her eldest
  sister, the Vicomtesse de Noailles—Mme. de la Fayette
  still in prison                                                   227


  Illness—Leaves Switzerland with Mme. de Tessé—They settle
  near Altona—Hears of Rosalie’s safety—Life on the farm—Release
  of Adrienne—Her visit—Farm of Wittmold—Peaceful
  life there—Rosalie and Adrienne—Birth of
  Pauline’s son—He and her other children live—Release
  of La Fayette—Their visit to Wittmold—Meeting of
  Adrienne, Pauline, and Rosalie at the Hague                       248


  Return to France—The inheritance of the Duchesse d’Ayen—Loss
  of the Noailles property—Inherits the Castle of
  Fontenay—Death of Mme. de la Fayette—Prosperous
  life at Fontenay—Conclusion                                       258




  Térèzia Cabarrus—Comes to Paris—Married to the Marquis
  de Fontenay—Revolutionary sympathies—Unpopularity
  of royal family—The wig of M. de Montyon—The
  Comte d’Artois and his tutor—The Comte de Provence
  and Louis XV.                                                     269


  The makers of the Revolution—_Fête à la
  Nature_—Tallien—Dangerous times—An inharmonious
  marriage—Colonel la Mothe—A Terrorist—The beginning of
  the emigration—A sinister prophecy                                281


  The 10th of August—The September massacres—Tallien—The
  emigrant ship—Arrest at Bordeaux—In prison—Saved by Tallien       297


  Divorced—M. de Fontenay escapes to Spain—The mistress of
  Tallien—Her influence and his save many
  lives—Robespierre—Singular circumstances at the birth of
  Louis XVII.—The vengeance of the Marquis de —— —Enmity
  of Robespierre—Arrest of Térèzia—La Force                         308


  The Bastille—Prisons of the Revolution—Les Carmes—Cazotte—The
  Terrorists turn upon each other—Joséphine
  de Beauharnais—A musician in the Conciergerie—A
  dog in prison—Under the guardianship of a
  dog—Tallien tries to saves Térèzia—A dagger—La Force—The
  last hope—The Tocsin—The 9th Thermidor                            323


  “Robespierre is dead!”—Notre Dame de Thermidor—End of
  the Terror—The prisons open—Decline of Tallien’s
  power—Barras—Napoleon—“Notre Dame de Septembre!”—M.
  Ouvrard—Separates from Tallien—He goes to Egypt—Consul
  in Spain—Dies in Paris—Térèzia stays in Paris—Ingratitude
  of some she had saved—Marries the Prince de Chimay—Conclusion     335




  Birth of Félicité Ducrest—Château de Saint-Aubin—Made
  _chanoinesse_—Story of her uncle and her mother—Her
  childhood—Comes to Paris—Goes into society—Evil
  reputation of the _hôtel Tencin_                                  351


  M. de la Haie—Death of the Dauphin—M. de Saint-Aubin
  goes to St. Domingo—Taken prisoner by the English—Returns
  to France—Imprisoned for debt—His death—Difficulties
  and poverty—Félicité marries the Comte de
  Genlis—His family—The Abbesse de Montivilliers and
  the robbers—Life in the convent—Birth of a daughter               362


  Presentation at Versailles—La Rosière—Father and son—Mme.
  de Montesson—A terrible scene—The Comtesse
  de Custine—Mme. de Genlis enters the Palais Royal                 375


  Society of the Palais Royal—Philippe-Égalité—An apparition—Mlle.
  Mars—M. Ducrest—Marriage of Mme. de
  Montesson—Marly—The Prime Minister of France                      386


  La Muette—Sunrise—Italy—Nocturnal adventure—Governess
  to the children of Orléans—Scandalous reports—Marriages
  of her daughters—Death of the elder one—The
  Comte de Valence                                                  397


  Death of the Duc d’Orléans—M. de Genlis—Sillery—Coming
  of the Revolution—The Bastille—Anger of the Duchesse
  d’Orléans—Dissensions                                             411


  In England—Sheridan—Strange adventure—Raincy—Farewell
  to Philippe-Égalité—Proscribed—Tournay—Pamela—Death of the King   426


  Flight and danger—Mons—Zurich—Zug—The Convent of
  Bremgarten—Death of M. de Sillery—Of Égalité—Mademoiselle
  d’Orléans and the Princesse de Conti                              438


  A wandering life—“The tyrant is no more”—Marriage of
  to France—Terrible changes—Shattered fortune—Literary
  success—The Empire—Napoleon—Mme.
  de Genlis and her friends—Death of Mme. de Montesson              449


  Interesting society—Anecdotes of the past Terror—Casimir—The
  Restoration—Madame Royale—Louis XVIII.—The
  _coiffeur_ of Marie Antoinette—The regicide—Return of
  the Orléans family—An astrologer—A faithful servant—Society
  of the Restoration—Isabey—Meyerbeer—Conclusion                    466


  MADAME LE BRUN. (_Painted by herself. Uffizi, Florence_)

  LOUIS XV. (_Rigaud_)                                                8

  MARIE ANTOINETTE, QUEEN OF FRANCE. (_Mme. Vigée Le Brun_)          45

  ANTWERP. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                          49

  CALONNE. (_Mme. Vigée Le Brun_)                                    65

  MADAME LE BRUN ET SA FILLE. (Painted by herself)                   76

  THE PONTE VECCHIO, FLORENCE. (_E. H. Bearne_)                      92

  ROME. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                            107

  VENICE. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                          112

  CATHERINE II., EMPRESS OF RUSSIA. (_Schebanoff_)                  125

  PAUL, EMPEROR OF RUSSIA. (_From picture given to Sir Home
  Popham, Capt. R.N., by the Empress Marie_)                        139

  COMTESSE D’ANDLAU. (_Mme. Vigée Le Brun_)                         152

  MADAME ADÉLAÏDE. (_Nattier_)                                      170

  COMTE D’ARTOIS, AFTERWARDS CHARLES X.                             179

  MADAME SOPHIE. (_Nattier_)                                        201

  LE PETIT TRIANON. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                203

  MARIE ANTOINETTE. (_Paul Delaroche_)                              238

  PALAIS DU LUXEMBOURG. (_E. H. Bearne_)                            245


  FRANÇOIS-MARIE AROUET DE VOLTAIRE. (_Tournières_)                 284

  Maximilien Robespierre. (_Guiard_)                                321

  GEORGES DANTON. (_Greuze_)                                        330

  NAPOLEON.                                                         340

  LA MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR. (_Boucher_)                             3523

  AMSTERDAM. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                       390

  NICE. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                            399

  CHILLON. (_E. H. Bearne_)                                         448

  MADAME ROYALE. (_Mme. Vigée Le Brun_)                             472

  JUDITH PASTA. (_Gérard_)                                          480

  MALIBRAN.                                                         484




     The _ancien régime_—Close of the reign of Louis XIV.—The Regent
     Orléans—The court of Louis XV.—The philosophers—The artists—M.

When Elisabeth Louise Vigée was born at Paris, April, 1755, the French
court and monarchy were still at the height of their splendour and

Only a few years since, the chronicler Barbier had remarked, “It is
very apparent that we make all Europe move to carry out our plans, and
that we lay down the law everywhere.”[2]

Louis XV. was upon the throne; the manners and customs of the _ancien
régime_ were in full force, though mitigated and softened by the
growing enlightenment and liberalism which were spreading not only
in the literary and professional circles, but amongst the younger
generation in all classes.

Middle-aged men and women had seen Louis XIV., _Louis le Grand_, “_le
Roi Soleil_,” as an old man; old people could remember him in the
prime of his life, the most magnificent King with the most stately
court in Christendom. The Cardinal de Luynes, the Maréchal de Croz,
the Duc de Richelieu and other _grands seigneurs_ who preserved the
manners and traditions of that time, were looked upon as models of
courtly manners and high-breeding by those who complained that in the
reaction and licence of the regency and court of Louis XV., vice and
corruption were far more unrestrained, more scandalous, less disguised
and altogether more indecorous than under the ceremonious and stately
rule of his great-grandfather.[3]

The Queen, Marie Leczinska, daughter of Stanislaus, ex-King of Poland,
was a harmless, uninteresting woman, who had no ambition, no talent,
no influence, and a great many children.

The King had been married to her when he was fifteen and she
two-and-twenty; and after the first few years had lived in an open
immorality which was very general at his court, and for a long time
did not much affect his popularity with the nation, though every now
and then caricatures and epigrams more witty than prudent appeared;
as, for instance, the following, written upon the base of the pedestal
of an equestrian statue of him, around which were grouped the figures
of Strength, Prudence, Justice, and Peace:

    “Grotesque monument, infâme piédestal.
    Les vertus sont à pied, le vice est à cheval.”

And a few days afterwards upon the same monument:

    “Il est ici comme à Versailles
    Il est sans cœur et sans entrailles.”[4]

Louis, however, was more selfish and indifferent than cruel. He was by
no means like Frederic William of Prussia, a savage to his family and
his subjects, or like three out of the four Georges of England, who
were not only outrageously immoral themselves, but brutal tyrants to
their wives[5] and bitter enemies of their parents and children.

His court was the most splendid, the most extravagant, and the most
licentious in Europe; the cruelty and oppression of many of the great
nobles and especially the princes of the blood, were notorious; the
laws were harsh and unjust to a frightful extent, but they were not
of his making. He neglected the Queen, but did not ill-treat her; he
was fond of his children and indulgent to them; while, far from being
disliked by his subjects, he was called _Louis le Bien-aimé_.

Barbier, writing in December, 1758, gives another sarcastic verse
going about in society, which, as it was directed against the King’s
all-powerful mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour, attracted general
attention, irritated the King, and caused the author, who was
discovered to be an officer of the guards, to be sentenced to a year’s
imprisonment, after which to be banished to Malta, as he belonged to
the order of St. John of Jerusalem.

The lines are as follows, and refer to a _château_ then being built by
Louis for the Marquise de Pompadour, whose original name was Jeanne
Antoinette Poisson:

    “Fille d’une sangsue, et sangsue elle-même
    Poisson d’une arrogance extrême,
    Étale en ce château sans crainte et sans effroi
    La substance du peuple et la honte du Roi.”

Barbier, a lawyer and man of the world, whose journal of eight volumes
gives a vivid impression of the life of that time, after remarking
that the sentence was a very lenient one,[6] that the _château_
was not so large as that of many a _fermier général_, and that the
building thereof gave employment to many poor people, goes on to say,
“As for ‘shame,’ ... if it is because the King has a mistress, why
who has not? except M. le duc d’Orléans.[7]... The Comte de Clermont,
Abbé de Saint-Germain-des-Près, openly keeps Mlle. le Duc, who was
an opera dancer; she spends three-quarters of the year at Berny, the
Abbé’s country house, where she does the honours. She has a fine house
in the _rue de Richelieu_, where the Prince often spends a week. The
fathers of the abbey who have business with him go to him there in the
morning, for he does not lodge in the palace of the abbey. This goes
on in sight of every one, and nobody says a word about it.

“For more than twenty years M. le Comte de Charolois has detained
in captivity, against her will, Mme. de Conchamp, wife of a
Maître-des-Requêtes, whom he carried off, and who would have been
much happier in her own house. Fifteen out of twenty men at the court
do not live with their wives but have mistresses, and even amongst
private people at Paris, nothing is more frequent; therefore it is
ridiculous to expect the King, who is absolutely the master, to be in
a worse position than his subjects and all the kings his predecessors.”

There had, in fact, been a strong reaction against the restraint
and dullness of the last few years of the reign of Louis XIV., when
the magnificent, pleasure-loving King, whose victorious armies had
devastated Europe, who had made princes of his illegitimate children,
lavished the riches of the country upon his mistresses, and yet in his
stately beauty and fascination been the idol of France; had changed
into a melancholy old man, depressed and disillusioned, looking
with uneasiness upon the past, with fear upon the future; while the
brilliant beauties and splendid festivities of bygone days had given
place to virtue, strict propriety, and Mme. de Maintenon.

When Louis XIV. died, people were very tired of this altered state of
things. For some time they had been extremely dull and were eager for
change and amusement.

With a King of five years old, and such a Regent as the Duke of
Orléans, they were tolerably sure of both. The reign of pleasure,
luxury, and licence began with enthusiasm. Never, during the life of
Louis le Grand, had the atmosphere of the Court been what it became
under the regency, and under his great-grandson.

The Regent Orléans was not, like the Princes of Condé, Conti,
Charolois, and others of the blood royal, cruel, haughty, or
vindictive; on the contrary, he was good-natured, easy, and indulgent;
but he was dissipated, extravagant, and licentious to such a degree
that he himself, the court, and his family were the scandal of Europe.
The same frenzied pursuit of enjoyment, the same lavish, sensual,
reckless, luxurious life, characterised the whole of the reign of
Louis XV.

In reading the memoirs and chronicles of that time one scarcely
realises the existence of the many families and households, especially
among the _noblesse de province_[8] or country gentlemen, and the
middle classes, amongst whom the principles of order and religion were
observed; and of an increasing circle of literary and philosophic
persons who inveighed against the crimes, vices, and abuses of the age.

Those whose ideas of France in the eighteenth century are derived
only from such books as Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities,” or even from
a casual acquaintance with a few of the histories and chronicles
of the time, are apt vaguely to picture to themselves a nation
composed partly of oppressed, starving peasants, and partly of their
oppressors, a race of well-bred ruffians and frivolous, heartless
women; all splendidly dressed, graceful, polite, and charming in their
manners amongst themselves; but arrogant, cruel, and pitiless to those
beneath them.




Many such undoubtedly there were; the laws were terribly
oppressive, the privileges of the favoured classes outrageously
unjust; while as for public opinion, Barbier himself remarks that the
public is a fool, and must always be unworthy of the consideration of
any man.

But still, in all ages human nature is the same, and has to be
reckoned with under all circumstances, and that people in general are
much better than the laws which govern them is evident.

If the cruel, unjust marriage laws of England, which until a few years
ago were in force, had been universally and fully carried out, making
the husband an almost irresponsible tyrant and the wife a helpless,
hopeless slave, domestic life would have been hell upon earth. But
as the great majority of men had no wish to ill-treat their wives,
confiscate their money, deprive them of their children or commit any
of the atrocities sanctioned by the laws of their country, families
upon the whole went on in harmony and affection. It was only now and
then, when a man _did_ wish to avail himself of the arbitrary power
placed in his hands, that the results of such iniquitous laws were
brought before the public. At the same time, however, the knowledge of
their existence and the tone of thought, prejudices, and customs which
consequently prevailed, had an influence upon men who were not the
least tyrannically inclined, but merely acted in accordance with the
ideas and opinions of every one around them.

And amidst all the oppression, vice, and evil of which we hear so
often in France of the eighteenth century, there was also much good
of which we hear little or nothing. The reason is obvious. Good
people are, unfortunately, seldom so amusing to write or read about
as bad ones. Has any one ever met with a child who wanted to be told
a story about a good little girl or boy? And is it not true, though
lamentable, that there are many persons who would rather read a book
about a bushranger than a bishop?

The _noblesse d’epée_ was the highest, most brilliant, and most
scandalous in France; but in its ranks were to be found heroic
examples and saintly characters; while far away in the convents
and _châteaux_ scattered over the country and in quiet _bourgeois_
families in the towns lives were led of earnest faith, devotion, and

Many an abbess, many a _châtelaine_ spent time and money amongst the
rich and poor; and there were _seigneurs_ who helped and protected
the peasants on their estates and were regarded by them with loyalty
and affection. To some extent under the influence of the ideas and
prejudices amongst which they had been born and educated, yet they
lived upright, honourable, religious lives, surrounded by a mass of
oppression, licence, and corruption in the destruction of which they
also were overwhelmed.

Amongst the philosophic set, the “encyclopædists,” so-called from the
encyclopædia which had been started by Diderot, and to which Grimm,
d’Alembert, Buffon, Marmontel, and many other well-known men were
contributors, there was a spirit of passionate revolt against the
cruelties and abuses of the time, an ardent thirst for liberty, much
generous sympathy with the poor and oppressed, and desire to alleviate
the sufferings of humanity.

They were, as usual, men of all sorts, shades, and aims. Many,
inspired with lofty but unpractical enthusiasm, dreamed of an
impossible republic founded upon that of Plato; the ideal of others
was a constitutional monarchy and free parliament such as existed in
England; there were also, of course, numbers who desired to upset the
present order of things so that they might usurp the power and seize
the property of everybody for themselves.

But besides their hostility to religion, the private characters of
these philosophers did not, in many cases, by any means correspond
with their writings and professions.

Rousseau, notwithstanding his assumption of superior virtue, his
pretence of being a leader and teacher thereof, his especial
exhortations and instructions to parents about the care and education
of their children, and his theories on friendship and love, was
absolutely without gratitude for the help and kindness of his friends,
ill-tempered, conceited, and quarrelsome; saw no degradation in his
_liaison_ with a low, uneducated woman, and abandoned all his children
in their infancy at the gate of the _enfants trouvés_.

Freethinkers, deists, or open atheists most of them were, delighting
in blasphemous assaults and attacks, not only upon the Church and
religion in general, but upon God himself; and so outrageous and
scurrilous was their habitual language upon such subjects that they
found it necessary to disguise, by a sort of private slang known only
to each other, their conversation in public places where it might be
not only offensive to their hearers, but dangerous to themselves.

The _salon_ of the famous Mme. Geoffrin was the great resort of
philosophers, literary men of different kinds, painters, musicians,
and celebrities of various countries, people distinguished in the
political world, or belonging to the court and the great noblesse,
French and foreign.

In art, as in everything else, it was still the age of the artificial.
The great wigs and flowing drapery of the last reign had given place
to powder and paint, ribbons and _pompons_, pink roses, and pale blue
satin or velvet, _à la Pompadour_.

When people in Parisian society thought of the country, they thought
of lambs with ribbons round their necks, shepherdesses in fanciful
costumes with long crooks, or a “_rosière_” kneeling before the family
and friends of the seigneur to be crowned with flowers and presented
with a _rose_ as the reward of virtue, in the presence of an admiring
crowd of villagers; of conventional gardens, clipped trees, and
artificial ruins; but wild, picturesque mountain scenery was their

The taste of the day was expressed in the pictures of the favourite
artists, Watteau and Greuze, who painted the graceful groups and
landscapes every one admired: charming women sitting in beautiful
gardens dressed in costumes suitable for a ball or court festivity, or
anything on earth but being out of doors in the country.

Fragonard, the Provençal, had more depth and dramatic feeling, the
passion of the south and the love of nature in his work gave a
stronger, truer, more impressive tone to his pictures; but Boucher,
the favourite painter of Louis XV., the Marquise de Pompadour, and the
court would seem from his pictures to have looked upon everything in
life as if it were a scene in a carnival or _fête_. His goddesses and
saints, even the holy Virgin herself, were painted from models from
the theatre, and looked as if they were; his gardens, roses, silks,
satins, nymphs, fountains, and garlands were the supreme fashion;
every one wanted him to paint their portrait; he had more commissions
than he could execute, and his head was turned by the flattery
lavished upon him.

David, Chardin, the celebrated _genre_ painter, Van Loo, Gérard, La
Tour, Joseph Vernet, and many others were flourishing. Louis Vigée was
also an artist. He painted portraits in pastel, of which his daughter
says that they were extremely good, many of them worthy of the famous
La Tour; also charming scenes after the style of Watteau, in oil.

Although not a great painter he was absolutely devoted to his art,
in which he would become so absorbed as to forget everything else.
On one occasion he was going out to dinner and had already left the
house, when he remembered something he wanted to do to a picture
upon which he was working. He therefore went back, took off the
wig he was wearing, put on a night-cap, and began to retouch the
picture. Presently he got up, went out again, forgetting all about the
night-cap which he still had on, and which formed a singular contrast
to his coat trimmed with gold braid, and the sword at his side; and
would certainly have presented himself at the party to which he was
going in this costume had he not fortunately met a neighbour, who
stopped him and pointed out the strangeness of his appearance.


[2] Journal de Barbier, “Chronique de la Régence,” 1741.

[3] Louis XV. was five years old when he succeeded this
great-grandfather, Louis XIV. (1715).

[4] “Chronique de la Régence” (Barbier, 1748).

[5] George II., although in other respects much resembling the first
and fourth Georges, did not ill-treat his wife.

[6] It was afterwards changed into twenty years’ imprisonment, and
then banishment (d’Argenson).

[7] Son of the late Regent.

[8] It is, however, true that such of the _noblesse de province_ as
were inclined to be tyrannical were worse than the great nobles who
belonged to the court; and their oppression was more felt.


     The childhood of Lisette—Extraordinary talent—The convent—The
     household of an artist—Death of M. Vigée—Despair of Lisette—Begins
     her career—Re-marriage of her mother—The Dauphine.

The early years of the childhood of Elisabeth Vigée were peaceful and
happy enough, and already at a tender age the genius which was to
determine and characterise her future life began to appear. According
to the usual custom she was placed in a convent to be educated, and
though only six years old when she was sent there, she had then and
during the five years of her convent life, the habit of drawing and
scribbling perpetually and upon everything she could lay her hands on,
much to the displeasure of the good Sisters and of her companions.

For nothing was safe from her pencil: her books, her copy-books,
even those of her schoolfellows, the walls of the dormitory, every
available space was covered with heads, figures, and landscapes in
crayon or charcoal, and when out in the playground she drew with a
stick upon the sand.

Little did the other children who made complaints that their
books were “spoiled,” or the nuns who gave reproofs and decreed
punishments, imagine what valuable possessions these scribbled, spoilt
books and papers would have become in future years if they had taken
care of them, for the artistic genius was in them even then. One
evening, when she was seven or eight years old, the child drew the
head of a man with a beard which she showed to her father. Transported
with delight, he exclaimed:

“_Tu seras peintre, mon enfant, ou jamais il n’en sera._”[9]

She always kept this drawing, her foretaste of the brilliant success
that began so early and never forsook her.

Lise, or Lisette, as she was generally called, was a delicate child,
and her parents, who were devotedly fond of her and very anxious about
her, frequently came and took her home for a few days, greatly to her
delight. With them and her brother Louis, their only child besides
herself, she was perfectly happy. Louis was three years younger, and
did not possess her genius for painting, but the brother and sister
were always deeply attached to one another.

Her mother was extremely beautiful, of rather an austere character,
and very religious. With her the children attended High Mass and
the other offices of the Church, especially during Lent; and upon
the sensitive, impressionable girl the solemn beauty of the music,
and especially the deep notes of the organ, produced an almost
overpowering effect. Often as she sat or knelt by her mother the
rich, melodious tones echoing through choir and nave in the dim,
religious gloom would throw her into a kind of rapture, and end in
a passion of tears which she could not always conceal. This intense
feeling for music, especially religious music, lasted all her life.

But her greatest love was for her father; it was almost adoration.
Louis Vigée was exactly opposite in disposition to his wife, to whom
he was, however, devoted. Kindly, affectionate, light-hearted, and
thoughtless, his love for her did not interfere with his admiration
for other women; a pretty grisette was quite able to turn his head,
and on New Year’s day he would amuse himself by walking about Paris,
saluting the prettiest young girls he met, on pretence of wishing them
a happy new year.

Among his friends he was universally popular; every evening at his
house were to be found some of the artists, poets, and other literary
men who formed the society in which he delighted, and came to the
suppers the gaiety and pleasantness of which were quite appreciated by
the child who was always allowed to be of the party, but not to sit
up after the dessert was upon the table. She would lie awake in her
room, listening to the laughter and songs which she enjoyed without
understanding, long after she was in bed.

The days were as happy as the evenings, for they were spent in her
father’s studio, where he allowed her to paint heads in pastel and to
draw all day long with his crayons.

At eleven years old Lisette was taken from the convent to live at
home, after having made her first Communion. She had so outgrown her
strength that she stooped from weakness, and her features gave at
present little promise of the well-known beauty of her after-life. Her
brother, on the contrary, was remarkably handsome, full of life and
spirits, distinguished at his college by his talents and intelligence,
and the favourite of his mother, while the father’s preference was for
the daughter whose genius was his pride and delight, and to whom his
indulgence and tenderness made up for the strictness or inequality she
observed in the dealings of her mother with her brother and herself.
Speaking in her “Souvenirs”[10] of her deep affection for her father,
she declares that not a word he ever said before her had she forgotten.

Amongst the friends who frequented their house her surprising talent
naturally excited much attention and interest. One of those she liked
best was the historical painter, Doyen,[11] a man full of culture,
information, and good sense, whose remarks upon persons and things, as
well as upon painting, she found very useful.

Poinsinet, the author, was a man of very different calibre. That
he had plenty of ability was proved by the fact that on the same
evening he obtained three dramatic successes, _i.e._, _Ernelinde_
at the Opera, _Le Cercle_ at the Français, and _Tom Jones_ at the
Opéra-Comique. But his absurd credulity made him the object of
continual practical jokes, or _mystifications_ as they were called.

On one occasion his friends made him believe that there existed the
post of “fire-screen to the King,” and that it might possibly be
given to him. In order to qualify himself, they persuaded him to
stand frequently before the fire until his legs were quite scorched,
assuring him when he wished to move away that if he did not persevere
he would never be able to fill that post.

Yet his delineation of the society of the day was so true that
somebody remarked about his play, _Le Cercle_, that Poinsinet must
have been listening at the doors. He was drowned in Spain while
crossing the Guadalquivir.

Caresne was a painter and poet whose poems and pictures were bad, but
his conversation amusing. He wrote the following verses to Lisette,
whose rapid progress and intelligence made her seem to be already
passing out of childhood into girlhood:

    Plus n’est le temps, où de mes seuls couplets
    Ma Lise aimait à se voir célébrée.
    Plus n’est le temps où de mes seuls bouquets
    Je la voyais toujours parée.
    Les vers que l’amour me dictait
    Ne répétaient que le nom de Lisette,
    Et Lisette les écoutait.
    Plus d’un baiser payait ma chansonette,
    Au même prix qui n’eût été poëte?

He gave Lisette lessons in oil-painting for which his wife used to
come and fetch her. They were so poor that on one occasion when
she wished to finish a head she was painting, and accepted their
invitation to stay and dine, she found the dinner consisted only of
soup and potatoes.

Time passed only too quickly in the happy sheltered life of the
gifted child in her father’s house. The days were full of delight
as she sat absorbed in the work which was a passion to her in the
studio of the father she idolised. The evenings were full of pleasure,
interest, and variety, as she listened to the brilliant conversation,
artistic, intellectual, and political, of her father and the friends
of many different ideas and opinions with whom he associated.

Louis Vigée was neither in principles nor tastes at all in sympathy
with the new philosophic party; on the contrary, he looked with
disapproval and uneasiness upon the future, from which they were so
eagerly expecting their millenium.

Returning home one day after dinner with Diderot, d’Alembert,
Helvetius, and others of their set, he seemed to be so out of spirits
that his wife asked if anything were the matter.

“_Ma chère amie_,” he replied, “all that I have been hearing makes me
think that the world will very soon be upside down.”

He was not, however, to live to see the realisation of his fears.
Not much more than a year after Lisette’s return from her convent, a
terrible calamity befell her in the loss of the father whose love and
protection had made the sunshine of her life, and by whose death her
lot was entirely changed and her happiness ruined.

The illness of Louis Vigée was caused by a fish-bone which he had
swallowed, and which had become fixed in the stomach. Although the
mania for operations amongst English doctors of the twentieth century,
which in this country adds a new terror to illness, did not exist
at that time in France; under the circumstances, nevertheless, more
than one operation was considered necessary; in spite of, or perhaps
because of which, although the most skilful surgeon was employed, and
was a personal friend who bestowed devoted and incessant care and
attention upon the invalid, it soon became apparent that he had not
long to live. Heartbroken, Lisette stood by her father’s bedside with
her mother and brother to receive his last blessing and farewell, and
an hour afterwards he breathed his last.

With her father’s death vanished for ever the bright, unclouded
happiness of her childhood; her life henceforth was chequered with
brilliant success, artistic and social, and acute sorrows in her
domestic life; like a picture in which the brightness of the lights
seem to deepen the gloom of the shadows. They were very badly off,
for Louis Vigée had left scarcely any provision for his family, and
Lisette for some time was so stunned with the shock and grief that
she seemed to be sunk in despair, taking no interest in anything, and
giving up even the painting which had been her passion. Doyen, amongst
other friends of Vigée, used to come to see them; his visits were the
greatest consolation to them all, especially to the young girl, who
appreciated the affection he had always shown for her father, and by
him she was persuaded to resume the studies and work which alone had
power to divert her mind in some degree from her sorrow. She began
to paint from nature, and did several portraits both in oil and in
pastel, working chiefly with another young girl about a year older
than herself, Mlle. Boquet, whose father kept a curiosity shop in the
_rue Saint Denis_ where he lived, and where Lisette used to go in the
evenings to draw from casts by candlelight with her friend.

Very often in the mornings the two girls went together to the artist
Briard, who had a studio in the Louvre, and who, though an indifferent
painter, drew well, and had several other young girls as pupils.

Lisette and her friend used to stay there all day, taking their dinner
in a basket, and had an especial weakness for certain slices of
excellent _bœuf à la mode_ which they bought of the _concierge_ of one
of the doors of the Louvre. Lisette always declared in after life that
she could never get any so good.

Lisette was now rapidly becoming very pretty, to the great
satisfaction of her mother, who, seeing that in spite of her busy life
and deep interest in her work, her spirits still suffered from the
loss of her father, tried to give her all the distraction possible.
She would take her to walk in the Tuileries gardens, where the beauty
of both mother and daughter attracted much attention; and what pleased
her most, to see all the picture galleries possible. They often went
to the Luxembourg, in the galleries of which were then the Rubens and
many others of the old masters now in the Louvre; besides which they
saw all the good private collections. By far the best at that time
was the gallery of the Palais Royal, collected by the Regent, Duc
d’Orléans. These pictures were sold in the Revolution. Many of them
were bought by Lord Stafford.

Besides her delight in wandering through these galleries where she
would stand before her favourite pictures, never tired of studying
them, absorbed in their beauty, she copied heads from Rubens,
Rembrandt, Vandyke, Greuze, and others, and although she was only
fourteen years old, the portraits she painted were not only becoming
known, but were the principal support of the family, besides paying
for the school expenses, books, and clothes of her brother.

But however hard she worked, the family finances did not become
sufficiently flourishing to satisfy Mme. Vigée, who, driven to
desperation by their poverty, and of course anxious about the future,
everything depending upon the work of a delicate girl of fourteen,
resolved to marry again, and unfortunately selected a rich jeweller of
her acquaintance, to whose house in the _rue St. Honoré_ she removed
with her children after the marriage.

She had far better have remained in her old home, poor and free; for
directly they were married she discovered the real character of her
second husband: an ill-tempered, avaricious man, who refused his wife
and step-children even the necessaries of life, although Lisette
was foolish enough to give him all she earned by her portraits. She
hated him still more because he had taken possession of her father’s
clothes, which he wore, to her grief and indignation. Joseph Vernet,
who, like many of her old friends, still interested himself in her,
was furious at all this, and represented to her that she ought to pay
a certain pension to her odious step-father and keep the rest of the
money herself; but she feared such a suggestion might make matters
worse for her mother, and therefore went on allowing herself to be

She really cared very little for the money she so easily made, all her
love was for her art, which alone had the power to raise her above the
petty miseries and troubles of her present life.

Her step-father was continually doing something or other to annoy and
distress them. Their new home was immediately opposite the gardens of
the Palais Royal, which in those days were not only very extensive but
extremely beautiful, with great forest-trees whose deep shade the sun
could not penetrate.

The great avenue was a fashionable promenade on Sundays and _fêtes_,
and to Lisette and her friend Mlle. Boquet, both of whom grew prettier
every year, it was a great amusement to walk there with the mother and
step-father of the former. The Grand-Opéra being close by, when the
performance was over, which then was at half-past eight, it was the
fashion, on summer nights, for every one to come out and walk about
these gardens, where sometimes until two o’clock in the morning it was
a scene of enchantment. People belonging to the court and society,
_bourgeois_, actors, musicians, the _demi-monde_ all went there. Every
well-dressed woman in the evening carried a large bouquet of flowers,
the scent of which filled the air, groups of people scattered about
sang or played the harp, violin, or guitar, especially on moonlight
nights; amateurs and artistes too, the delicious music of Saint
Georges, Alsoredo and Garat often attracted crowds of listeners.

The _demi-monde_ at that time kept themselves apart from the rest of
the company; Frenchmen of good position and manners did not appear
with them in public. If they were with them at the theatre it was in a
closed box; though in her “Souvenirs” Mme. Le Brun declares that the
fortunes made by them and the men ruined by their extravagance far
surpassed anything of the kind after the Revolution.

The beautiful and notorious Mlle. Duthé was often to be seen, amongst
others, attended by an Englishman who was not so scrupulous about
appearances, and whom Mme. Le Brun saw again with the same person
eighteen years afterwards at a theatre in London.

Besides the gardens of the Tuileries, Luxembourg, and Palais Royal,
there were plenty of other places to which the Parisians resorted for

There was the Colysée, an immense place in the Champs-Elysées, with a
lake on which were held regattas and round which were walks with seats
placed about; also a large concert-room with excellent music, as the
orchestra was a fine one and many of the best singers were to be heard

A flight of steps led up to the portico which was the entrance to this
concert hall, and was the favourite lounge of the idle, dissipated
young men of fashion, who would stand there in groups, making insolent
remarks upon the women who came in and out. One evening as Lisette was
coming down the steps with her mother, the Duke of Orléans, afterwards
the infamous Philippe-Égalité, stood there with the Marquis de Genlis,
both making outrageous remarks to annoy whoever passed them. To the
relief of Lisette, however, the Duke, as he pointed her out to his
friend, only remarked in a loud voice:

“Ah! there is nothing to be said against that one.”

A fashionable promenade was the _boulevard du Temple_, where every
day, especially Thursdays, hundreds of carriages were to be seen
driving up and down or standing under the shade of trees now replaced
by houses, shops, and _cafés_. Young men rode in and out amongst
them, notorious members of the _demi-monde_ tried to surpass every
one in the splendour of their dress and carriages. A certain Mlle.
Renard had her carriage drawn by four horses, their harness studded
with imitation jewels. It was not an age of imitation. In those
days as a rule lace was real lace, jewels were real jewels, and if
tawdry imitations and finery were worn it was by women of this class.
Respectable people would never have dreamed of bedizening themselves
with the sort of cheap rubbish with which the modern women of the
lower classes delight to disfigure their houses and their dress.

On one side of the _boulevard_ were rows of chairs on which sat many
old ladies of fashion, highly rouged, according to the privilege of
their class. For only women of a certain rank were allowed to wear it.
There was also a garden with seats raised one above the other, from
which people could see the fireworks in the evenings.

The odious step-father, whose name by the by, was Jacques François Le
Sèvre, was annoyed at the universal admiration excited by the beauty
of his wife and step-daughter. At one time he tried to put a stop to
their walks, and told them he had hired a country place where they
would go from Saturday till Monday during the summer.

Lisette rejoiced at this announcement, for she fancied she would like
to live in the country, at any rate for a part of the year.

But when they saw the place, which was at Chaillot, it was a miserable
little house in a still more miserable little garden, without a tree
or any shelter from the sun except a deplorable looking arbour against
which nothing would grow properly, while in the next plots of ground
were shop boys shooting at birds according to the odious fashion one
still sees in the south.

Lisette was in despair when she saw it, but fortunately some friends
of her mother’s came one Sunday to dine there with them, and were so
shocked that they used often to fetch her away and take her out with
them on long excursions to all the parks, _châteaux_, and delightful
places in the neighbourhood.

The one she liked best was Marly-le-Roi, a royal palace entirely
destroyed in the Revolution. It was then an abode of enchantment,
and she always spoke with rapture of the _château_ with its six
pavilions, its trellised walks covered with jasmin and honeysuckle,
its fountains, cascades, canal, and pools upon which floated tame
swans, its lawns shaded by enormous trees, its terraces and statues,
everything recalling Louis XIV. Here for the first time she saw Marie
Antoinette, then Dauphine, walking in the gardens with several of her
ladies, all dressed in white.

Lisette and her mother were turning back, but the Dauphine stopped
them, and speaking in the kindest manner to them begged them to
continue their walk wherever they liked.

In 1802 Mme. Le Brun revisited this enchanting place, or rather the
ground where it used to be. It was entirely swept away; only a stone
marked the spot where had been the centre of the _salon_.

When the summer came to an end they gave up their visits to the
horrible little villa, to the infinite joy of Lisette and her mother.


[9] “Thou wilt be a painter, my child, or never will there be one.”

[10] “Souvenirs de Mme. Vigée Le Brun,” t. 1, p. 8.

[11] Gabriel François Doyen, b. 1726, d. 1806. Painted “La Mort de
Virginie,” “Sainte-Geneviève des Ardente,” “La Mort de Saint-Louis,”


     Brilliant success of Lisette—Love of her art—The Vernet—Life in
     Paris before the Revolution—Mme. Geoffrin—Marriage of Lisette to
     M. Le Brun—A terrible prediction.

In after life Mme. Le Brun used to say that her girlhood had not been
like that of other young girls. And indeed it was not. By the time she
was fifteen she was already not only a celebrated portrait painter,
but very much sought after in society. A portrait of her mother, which
she painted when she was not yet fifteen, excited so much admiration
that the Duchesse de Chartres, who had often looked at her with
interest from the gardens of the Palais Royal, opposite which she
lived, sent for her to paint her portrait, and was so delighted with
the pretty, gentle girl whose talents were so extraordinary that she
spoke of her to all her friends.

The beautiful Comtesse de Brionne and her daughter, the Princesse de
Lorraine, who was also very pretty, then came to call on her, and
their visit was followed by those of all the court and _faubourg Saint
Germain_. She also knew all the great artists and literary people,
and had more invitations than she could accept.

In her brilliant career, although the odious step-father was still
a great disadvantage and annoyance, it was impossible that he could
inflict much of his company upon her, full and absorbed as her life
now was with her professional work and social engagements. The most
celebrated foreign visitors to Paris generally came to see her,
amongst the first of whom were Count Orloff, one of the assassins of
Peter III., whose colossal height and the enormous diamond in his ring
seem to have made a great impression upon her; and Count Schouvaloff,
Grand Chamberlain, who had been one of the lovers of the Empress
Elizabeth II., but was now a man of sixty, extremely courteous,
pleasant, and a great favourite in French society.

Her first great dinner-party was at the house of the sculptor Le
Moine, where she met chiefly artists and literary people. It was the
custom to sing at dessert, a terrible ordeal for young girls, whose
alarm often spoilt their song, but who were obliged to sing all the

Joseph Vernet had a little son of whose talent for drawing he was
very proud; and one day at a party where his friends joked him on his
infatuation, he sent for the child, gave him a pencil and paper, and
told him to draw.

He began at once to draw a horse so well and so boldly that murmurs

“Well! Very well! But he has begun too low down, he will have no room
for the legs.”

The boy, however, drew on with unconcern, finished the body of the
horse, drew the upper portion of the legs, and then with a few strokes
of the pencil indicated water at the bottom of the sheet, and gave the
impression of a horse bathing his legs and feet.[12]

But as dinner-parties then took place in the day-time, often as early
as two o’clock, Lisette soon found it impossible to spare the time to
go to them. What finally decided her to give them up was an absurd
_contretemps_ that happened one day when she was going to dine with
the Princesse de Rohan-Rochefort. Just as she was dressed in a white
satin dress she was wearing for the first time, and ready to get into
the carriage, she, like her father in former days, remembered that she
wished to look again at a picture she was painting, and going into
her studio sat down upon a chair which stood before her easel without
noticing that her palette was upon it. The consequences were of
course far more disastrous than what had befallen her father; it was
impossible to go to the party, and after this she declined as a rule
all except evening invitations, of which she had even more than enough.

These evening parties were usually delightful; those of the Princesse
de Rohan-Rochefort were especially so. The intimate friends of the
Princess, the Comtesse de Brionne, Princesse de Lorraine, Duc de
Choiseul, Duc de Lauzun, Cardinal de Rohan, and M. de Rulhières, a
distinguished literary man, were always present, and other pleasant
and interesting people were to be met there.

The evenings were spent in brilliant conversation and music, supper
was at half-past ten, ten or twelve guests being the usual number at
the table.

It speaks well for Lisette that her head was not the least turned and
her reputation blameless, considering that at an age when girls in our
own day are at their lessons in the schoolroom, she, young, pretty,
attractive, and celebrated, was constantly thrown into a society the
most corrupt and the most fascinating that has perhaps ever existed.

But although fully enjoying the amusement and admiration that fell
to her lot, she passed unscathed through the temptations and dangers
around her. The strength and devotion of her religious principles, the
deep love of her art, which was the ruling passion of her life, her
affection for her mother, who was always with her, and to whom she
confided all her affairs, were her only safeguards.

She was constantly surrounded by perils and temptations which to
many would have been irresistible. Admiring eyes followed her at
the theatre, people crowded round her in the gardens and places of
entertainment, men of rank who wanted an opportunity of making love
to her had their portraits painted by her for that purpose; but she
treated them all with indifference, and when she noticed that their
looks and glances were too expressive she would coolly remark: “I am
painting your eyes now,” or would insist on the portrait being done
with the eyes looking in another direction.

The Marquis de Choiseul had just married a very pretty American of
sixteen years old, which did not prevent his entertaining a violent
passion for Lisette, and trying to make love to her on all possible
occasions, but greatly increased her indignation at his doing so.

In fact she had given her whole heart to her work. She thought and
dreamed of nothing but painting, her career as an artist was her
life, and her affection for her mother, her brother, and her friends
sufficed for her domestic happiness; she wanted neither love intrigues
nor even marriage to disturb the state of things she found so entirely

So little did the idea of love enter into her life that until after
her marriage she had never read a single novel. Then she read
“Clarissa Harlowe,” by way of a beginning, and found it intensely
interesting. Before, she only read Lives of the Saints, and various
religious or instructive books.

It is difficult for those who are accustomed to think of Paris only
as it is now, to picture to themselves at all what it was like in the
eighteenth century; for until years after the Revolution it was, to
all intents and purposes, a mediæval city.

Paris without the wide streets of enormous houses, the broad, shady
boulevards, the magnificent shops and crowded pavements, the glare and
wealth and luxury of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; Paris of
old France, of the Monarchy, with its ancient towers and buildings,
its great _hôtels_ and convents with vast gardens above whose high
walls rose stately trees; its narrow, crooked, ill-paved streets,
mostly unsafe to walk in after dusk, through which troops of cavalry
clattered in gay uniforms, scattering the foot-passengers right and
left, and magnificent coaches drawn by four, six, or eight horses
lumbered heavily along.

The _fêtes_ and pageants of the Church and court were most gorgeous
and impressive. Even to see the King, royal family and court set off
for Versailles, Fontainebleau, or any other of the country palaces
was a splendid spectacle, the immense number of state coaches which
conveyed the King,[13] the Dauphin,[14] Mesdames de France,[15] their
numerous households and those of the other Princes of the blood,
made a procession which seemed interminable. It was the custom that
on these occasions the court should be in full dress, and Mme. Le
Brun, in her “Souvenirs,” mentions that a few years later, after her
marriage, she went to see the last of these departures in state for
Fontainebleau, and observes that the Queen, the unfortunate Marie
Antoinette, covered with diamonds which flashed in the sunshine,
and with her regal air and majestic beauty, looked like a goddess
surrounded by her nymphs.[16]

The Parisians delighted in any shows or festivities, and the royal
family were received with acclamations whenever they appeared from the
mob, which twenty years later was yelling and howling with savage fury
for their destruction.

Arnault, in his memoirs, relates that he was brought up at Versailles,
where he was at school from 1772 to 1776, and often saw Louis XV.
pass in his carriage. The King had a calm, noble face and very thick
eyebrows. He took not the slightest notice of the shouts of _Vive le
roi_ from the boys drawn up in a line, or from the people; neither did
Louis XVI. when he succeeded him.

A post in one of the royal households was an object of general
ambition. Duruflé, though a poet and well-known literary man who
had received a prize from the Academy, applied for and obtained the
appointment of _valet de chambre_ to the young Comte de Provence,
second grandson of the King, afterwards Louis XVIII., and was in
consequence obliged to put on his stockings, in doing which he
accidentally hurt him.

“How stupid you are!” cried the young prince, angrily.

“I did not know, Monsieur,” replied he, “that one was stupid because
one did not put on a stocking well.”

“People are stupid,” answered the prince, “who have not the sense to
do properly what they undertake to do.”

Duruflé, who did not like this sort of thing, hastened to sell the
post he had been so anxious to get.[17]

Most people at that time, like those before the flood, had no idea of
the possibility of the coming destruction.

Only the encyclopædists and such persons of advanced opinions had any
presentiments of the overwhelming changes at hand, and they were far
from anticipating the horrible calamities and crimes they were helping
to bring about.

Their great stronghold was the _salon_ of Mme. Geoffrin, where all the
radical, atheist, and philosophic parties congregated. D’Alembert,
Condorcet, Turgot, Diderot, Morellet, Marmontel, and many other
celebrated names were amongst the intimate friends of the singular
woman, who although possessing neither rank, beauty, talent, nor
any particular gift, had yet succeeded in establishing a _salon_
celebrated not only in France but all over Europe. Owing to her want
of rank she could not be presented at court, and yet amongst her
guests were many of the greatest names in France, members of the royal
family, strangers of rank and distinction. She knew nothing of art or
literature, but her Monday dinners and evenings were the resort of all
the first artists of the day, and her Wednesdays of the literary and
political world.

Her _salon_ had been famous from 1750, before Lisette was born, and
now, as an old woman, she came to visit the young girl of whose
artistic genius she had heard enough to excite her curiosity. She
arrived in the morning and expressed great admiration for the beauty
and talent of her young hostess.

To Lisette she seemed to be about a hundred years of age, though she
was not really very old, but her costume, a dark grey dress and a cap
over which she wore a large hood tied under her chin, and her bent
figure, increased the appearance of age.

Mme. Geoffrin[18] was born 1699: her father a _valet de chambre_ of
the Dauphin. He and her mother died young and left her and her brother
to the guardianship of their grandmother, a certain Mme. Chemineau, a
woman of strong, upright character, and a devout Catholic, but narrow
and without much education. She brought up her grandchildren with
care and affection, and married the girl when about fourteen to M.
Geoffrin, a rich and worthy commercial man of forty-eight. With him
Thérèse lived in tranquil obscurity until she was about thirty, when
she became acquainted with the celebrated Mlle. Tencin, sister of the
Cardinal, over whose house and _salon_ she presided, and who, like
Mme. Geoffrin, lived in the _rue St. Honoré_.

M. Geoffrin did not altogether approve of his wife’s perpetual
presence at the _hôtel Tencin_, which had by no means a good
reputation; and when she also began to receive in her own house a few
of the literary men whom she met there, philosophers, freethinkers,
and various persons upon whom he looked with suspicion, he at first
strongly objected. But it was useless. His wife had found the sixteen
years of her married life remarkably dull; she had at length, by good
fortune, discovered the means of transforming her monotonous existence
into one full of interest, and the obscurity which had hitherto been
her lot into an increasing celebrity. She turned a deaf ear to his
remonstrances, and after a good deal of dissension and quarrelling
the husband gave way and contented himself with looking after the
household and being a silent guest at the famous dinners given by his
wife, until at length, on some one asking her what had become of the
old gentleman who was always there and never spoke, she replied—

“It was my husband; he is dead.”

Although stupid, M. Geoffrin was harmless, good, and charitable. Their
only child, the Marquise de la Ferté Imbault, adored her father, whom
she preferred to her mother. She was a pretty, high-spirited girl,
an ardent Catholic, hated her mother’s atheist friends, and always
declared that she had forced her into her marriage, which, although a
great one, was not a happy one.

When Lisette was about twenty, her step-father retired from business
and took an apartment in the _rue de Cléry_ in a large house called
_hôtel Lubert_, which had recently been bought by the well-known
picture dealer, M. Le Brun.

Lisette was enchanted at this, as she knew that M. Le Brun had rooms
full of the most splendid pictures of all the different schools, to
which she would thus have constant access. And her anticipations were
more than realised, for M. Le Brun was completely fascinated by her,
and only too delighted not only to show her the pictures, but to lend
her any she liked to copy.

For six months she worked with enthusiasm, perfectly happy and
engrossed with her painting, never noticing that her landlord, who was
a good-looking, pleasant, but exceedingly dissipated man, was paying
her great attention, having fallen violently in love with her.

It was therefore a surprise, and not altogether an agreeable one, when
at the end of the six months he asked for her mother’s consent to
marry her.

Lisette at first wished to refuse this offer. She did not at all
dislike M. Le Brun, but she was by no means in love with him, and as
she could make plenty of money by her profession, she had no anxiety
about the future and no occasion to make a _mariage de convenance_.
But her mother, who seems to have had the talent for doing always the
wrong thing, and who fancied that M. Le Brun was very rich, did not
cease to persecute her by constant representations and entreaties not
to refuse such an excellent _parti_, and she was still more influenced
by the desire to escape from her step-father, who, now that he had no
occupation, was more at home and more intolerable than ever.

So after much hesitation she consented, but so reluctantly, that even
on her way to the church where the marriage was to be celebrated,[19]
she still doubted and said to herself, “Shall I say Yes or No?”
The wedding, however, took place, and she even agreed to its being
a private one, and being kept secret for some time, because M. Le
Brun was engaged to the daughter of a Dutchman with whom he had
considerable dealings in pictures, and whom he continued to deceive in
this matter until their business affairs were finished.

The dishonourable nature of this transaction does not seem to have
occurred either to her mother or to Lisette herself. She was rather
glad to keep her own name a little longer, but not at all pleased
when, it being rumoured that she was engaged to M. Le Brun, everybody
began to warn her on no account to marry him.

M. Auber, jeweller to the Crown, said: “You had better fasten a stone
to your neck and throw yourself into the river than marry Le Brun.”

The Duchesse d’Aremberg, Mme. de Canillac, and Mme. de Souza, then
Ambassadress to Portugal, all young and pretty, all friends of
Lisette’s, came to warn her not to marry the man whose wife she had
already been for a fortnight.

“In Heaven’s name don’t marry him,” cried the Duchess. “You will be

And they proceeded to tell her a number of stories, many of which she
did not believe, until she found out to her cost that they were true;
but which, nevertheless, filled her mind with uneasy suspicions; while
her mother sat by with tears in her eyes, repenting of the new folly
by which she had again ruined the happiness of her child.

However, there was no help for it. The marriage was shortly
acknowledged, and Lisette, whose mind was full of her painting, did
not allow her spirits to be depressed; more especially as M. Le Brun,
although he gambled and ran after other women, was not disagreeable
or ill-tempered like her step-father, from whose odious presence she
was now set free. Her husband spent all the money she made, and even
persuaded her to take pupils, but she did not much mind. She never
cared about money, and she made great friends with her pupils, many
of whom were older than herself. They put up a swing, fastened to the
beams in the roof of the studio, with which they amused themselves at
intervals during the lesson.

During the March that followed the marriage a kind of mission or
religious revival went on at Paris; a sort of wave of religious
devotion seemed to have arisen in opposition to the atheism and
irreligion of the day. Notre Dame and most of the other churches were
thronged during the frequent services, religious processions passed
through the streets amidst excited crowds, friars preached and people
knelt around them regardless of the bitterly cold weather. Strange
to say, one of those who fell victims to their imprudence was Mme.
Geoffrin, who, in spite of her infidel friends and surroundings, had
never really abandoned her belief in God, or the practice of her
religious duties, but had always gone secretly to mass, retained a
seat in the Church of the Capucines, and an apartment in a convent to
which she occasionally retired to spend a retreat. A chill she got
at this mission brought on an attack of apoplexy, and she remained
partly paralysed during the remaining year of her life. Her daughter,
the Marquise de la Ferté Imbault, took devoted care of her, refusing
to allow any of her infidel friends to visit her, and only admitting
those whose opinions were not irreligious.

There was at this same time a perfect rage for fortune-telling, second
sight, and every sort of occult knowledge and experiences.

The Comtesses de Flahault and de Marigny, two sisters, both young,
thoughtless, and eager for adventures, were anxious to see and consult
a certain wizard, then very much the fashion, about whom their
curiosity was greatly aroused by the stories told of him.

It was not altogether easy in those days for two women of their age
and class to go out unattended and unseen, and if they had been
discovered it would have caused gossip and scandal. So one dark night
they disguised themselves as grisettes, put on large cloaks with
hoods and let themselves out through a side door in the garden of
the _hôtel_. After a long walk they arrived, very tired and rather
frightened, at a dirty house in a bad quarter, on the fifth floor
of which the wizard lived. They rang a dirty-looking bell, a dingy
servant appeared with a smoky lamp, and led them into a dimly-lighted
room adorned with deaths’ heads and other weird-looking symbols. As
they looked round them with misgiving a concealed door suddenly opened
and the wizard stood before them dressed in a long flame-coloured
robe, with a black mask, and began to make passes in the air with an
ivory wand, using strange words they could not understand, while blue
sulphur flames played around him.

The two sisters clung to each other in terror, but the man, who saw
quite well that they were no grisettes, came forward respectfully,
saying to Mme. de Marigny, “Alas! Mme. la Comtesse, why consult
destiny? It is pitiless. Nothing will succeed with you; you will die

With a cry of alarm she tried to draw her sister away, but the wizard,
taking her hand, seemed to study it carefully, and suddenly dropped it
with a strange exclamation.

“Speak,” said the Comtesse de Flahault. “Speak! Whatever my future is
to be, let me know it. Tell me. I have strength and courage to hear.
Besides, who can assure me that what you say is true?”

“Have you then such a love of falsehood, Madame, that you must have it
at any price? Poor woman! she has not the courage to say she believes
and fears.”

“Well, yes! I believe and am afraid. Will you speak now?”

The sorcerer hesitated, and only after much persuasion said slowly and

“Monsieur le Comte, your husband, will lose his head on the scaffold;
you will leave France to live without resources in a foreign land;
you will work for your living, but after long years of exile you will
return to France. You will marry an ambassador, but you will have
other vicissitudes.”

Such prophecies in the height of their prosperity seemed so absurd
that they laughed, gave the wizard a large fee, and returned home,
thinking the whole adventure very amusing.

However, the predictions were fulfilled. Mme. de Marigny, after many
misfortunes, died young. The Comte de Flahault was guillotined during
the Terror, and the Comtesse escaped with her son to England, where
she lived in great poverty in a village near London, until a friend
of hers, the Marquis ——, also an _emigré_, suggested to her that she
should write a novel. That same night she began “Adèle de Senanges,”
which she sold for £100 to a publisher in London, and after which she
continued by her writing to support herself and educate her boy at a
good English school. When she returned to France she lived at a small
_hôtel_ in an out-of-the-way part of Paris until she married M. de
Souza, the Portuguese Ambassador.


[12] “Carle” or Charles Vernet, son of the landscape and marine
painter Joseph, was a figure painter and father of Horace Vernet the
battle painter.

[13] The Queen, Marie Leczinska, died 1768.

[14] Grandson of Louis XV., afterwards Louis XVI. His father the
Dauphin, died 1765.

[15] Daughters of Louis XV.

[16] “Souvenirs de Mme. Vigée Le Brun,” t. 1, p. 48.

[17] “Souvenirs d’un Sexagenaire” (Arnault).

[18] Marie Thérèse Rodet.

[19] January 11, 1776.


     Marie Antoinette—Birth of Mme. Le Brun’s daughter—The Royal
     Family—Brussels—Antwerp—The charms of French society—The Opera
     ball—An incident in the Terror—A Greek supper—_Le jeu de la Reine_.

In 1779 Mme. Le Brun painted for the first time the portrait of the
Queen, then in the splendour of her youth and beauty.


  _Madame Vigée Le Brun_


Marie Antoinette was tall, well-formed, with perfectly shaped arms,
hands and feet, a brilliant complexion, bluish-grey eyes, delicate
though not regular features, a charming expression and a most imposing
air, which very much intimidated Mme. Le Brun during the first
sitting. But the kindness and gentleness with which the Queen talked
to the young artist soon set her at ease, and when the portrait, which
was to be presented to the Emperor Joseph II., was finished, she
was desired to make two copies of it; one to be sent to the Empress
Catherine of Russia, the other to be placed in the royal apartments,
either at Versailles or Fontainebleau. After these she painted
several portraits of the Queen, one of which, in a straw hat, was,
when exhibited in the Salon, 1786, declared by one of those malicious
slanders then becoming frequent, to be the Queen _en chemise_.

There was by this time a perfect rage to be painted by Mme. Le Brun.
At a performance at the Vaudeville, called “La Réunion des Arts,”
Painting was represented by an actress made up into an exact copy of
Mme. Le Brun, painting the portrait of the Queen.

Mme. Le Brun was present, having been expressly invited to the box
of some friends who wanted to surprise her, and was deeply gratified
and touched when all the audience rose and turned towards her with
enthusiastic applause.

Her first child, the only one that lived, was born in February, 1780.

Her extraordinary carelessness about everything but her painting,
caused her to make no sort of preparations for this event; and even
the day her child was born, although feeling ill and suffering at
intervals, she persisted in going on working at a picture of Venus
binding the wings of Love.

Mme. de Verdun, an intimate friend of hers, came to see her in the
morning, and regarding her with disapprobation, asked whether she had
got everything ready that she would require; to which Lisette, still
occupied with her picture, replied with a look of astonishment that
she did not know what she would require.

“There you are exactly!” cried her friend; “you are just like a boy.
Well, I warn you that you will be confined this evening.”

“No! No!” exclaimed Lisette, “I have a sitting to-morrow. I shan’t be
confined to-day.”

Mme. de Verdun said no more, but went away and sent the doctor.
Lisette dismissed him, but he remained concealed in the house until
night. The child was born about ten o’clock, and Lisette was at
once passionately fond of it, and as unfortunately foolish in her
management of it as she was in the way she conducted all her affairs
except her painting. She indulged and spoilt it in so deplorable a
manner that she ruined her daughter’s disposition and her own comfort
and happiness.

She had another daughter a year or two later that only lived a short

Mme. Le Brun took the greatest pleasure in her intercourse with the
Queen. Having heard that she had a good voice and was passionately
fond of music, Marie Antoinette asked her to sing some of the duets of
Grétry with her; and scarcely ever afterwards did a sitting take place
without their playing and singing together.

Besides all these portraits of the Queen, Mme. Le Brun painted the
King, all the rest of the royal family except the Comte d’Artois; the
Duke and Duchess of Orléans, the Princesse de Lamballe, the Duchesse
de Polignac, and, in fact, almost everybody.

Louis XVI., who liked talking to her about her pictures, said one day—

“I know nothing about painting, but you make me like it.”

The last time Marie Antoinette ever sat to her was at Trianon,
when she painted her head for the great picture in which the Queen
is represented with her children, the first Dauphin,[20] Madame
Royale,[21] and the Duc de Normandie,[22] which was hung in the Salon
of 1788, and excited universal admiration. It was afterwards taken to
Versailles and hung in one of the _salons_ through which the Queen
always passed on her way to mass.

After the death of her eldest boy, the sight of this picture so
affected the Queen that she had it removed, taking care to explain to
Mme. Le Brun that this was done only because she could not bear to see
it, as it so vividly recalled the child whose loss was at that time
such a terrible grief to her.

The days were rapidly approaching when she would be thankful that an
early death had saved him from the fate of his brother.

In 1782 business took M. Le Brun to Flanders, and his wife, who had
never travelled, was delighted to accompany him.

They began by attending the sale of a magnificent collection of
pictures at Brussels, and were received with great kindness and
attention by the Princesse d’Aremberg, Prince de Ligne, and many of
the most distinguished persons in society.

The Prince de Ligne invited them to see his splendid gallery of
pictures, chiefly Rubens and Vandyke; they also visited him at his
beautiful country place, and after enjoying themselves in Brussels,
which was extremely gay, they made a tour in Holland. Mme. Le Brun
entered with enthusiasm into all she saw. The quiet, ancient towns of
North Holland, with their quaint streets of red-roofed houses built
along canals, with only such narrow pavements on each side that no
carts or carriages could come there, traffic being carried on by the
great barges and boats gliding down the canals, or on foot and on
horseback as the pavements permitted; and Amsterdam with its splendid
pictures; after seeing which they returned to Flanders to look again
at the masterpieces of Rubens in public and private collections.

The most important part of the tour to Mme. Le Brun was her visit to
Antwerp, then a mediæval city of extraordinary beauty and interest,
which have only, in fact, of comparatively recent years been destroyed
by the vandalism of its inhabitants. So striking was its appearance,
with its walls, gates, and forest of towers rising from the broad
Scheldt, that Napoleon, enchanted with its beauty, said it looked like
an Arab city, and he gazed upon it with admiration.


  _E. H. Bearne_


The walls and fortifications were demolished within the last fifty
years, and before and since then many a beautiful historic tower and
gateway, many a lovely old house and interesting bit of architecture
has vanished before the destroying mania of a stupid town council
devoid of either education to comprehend or taste to appreciate and
preserve the characteristic beauty which, if they had carefully
restored and maintained all that was possible of the old, and carried
out the new buildings in harmony with them, would have made their city
the pearl of Belgium, as Nuremberg is of Germany.

But what to Mme. Le Brun was of great importance during her stay at
Antwerp was a portrait by Rubens, the famous _Chapeau de Paille_,
then in a private collection, where she saw and was fascinated by
it. The effect of light and shade caused by the arrangement of the
two different lights, the ordinary light and the sunlight, was what
chiefly struck her, and having studied the picture with deep attention
she proceeded, on returning to Brussels, to paint her own portrait
with the same kind of effect: wearing a straw hat with a wreath of
wild flowers, and holding a palette in her hand.

It had great success at the Salon, was engraved by Müller, and was
one of those amongst her works which decided Joseph Vernet, shortly
after her return, to propose her as a member of the Royal Academy
of Painting. She was duly elected, in spite of the opposition of M.
Pierre, who was painter to the King, and a very bad painter too.

The following lines were circulated by Mme. Le Brun’s friends upon the

    “Au salon ton art vainqueur
     Devrait être en lumière
     Pour te ravir cet honneur,
     Lise, il faut avoir le cœur
     De Pierre, de Pierre, de Pierre.”

Mme. Le Brun now worked so hard that she made herself ill, often
having three sittings a day, and she soon became so thin and out of
health that her friends interfered, and by order of the doctor she
henceforth, after working all the morning and dining in the middle of
the day, took a _siesta_, which she found invaluable all her life. The
evenings were always devoted to society.

She still lived in the _rue de Cléry_, where M. Le Brun had a large,
richly furnished apartment, but as he used nearly the whole of it as
a picture gallery, his wife had only two simply furnished rooms for
herself, which, however, on her at-home nights were thronged with
everybody of any distinction, either at court or in the town, in fact,
so great was the crowd that people were to be seen sitting on the
floor, from which, on one occasion, the Maréchal de Noailles, being
very old and fat, could hardly be got up again.

Such brilliant assemblies are not to be seen in these days. Not only
the great political and social personages, but all the celebrated
literary and scientific men, poets, painters, composers, musicians,
and actors, were to be found there, and the music was the best to be
heard in Paris.

Often the composers Grétry, Sacchini and Martini had portions of
their operas performed there before their first representation at the
theatre, the singers were Garat, Asvédo, Richer, Mme. Todi, and many
well-known amateurs. Cramer and Hulmandel played the piano, Salentin
the hautbois, Viotti, Jarnovick, Maestrino, and Prince Henry of
Prussia the violin.

In those days, as Mme. Le Brun remarks in one of her letters, “people
had both time and inclination to amuse themselves,” and the love of
music was just then so strong and so general that the disputes between
the rival schools of Glück and Piccini sometimes even amounted to
quarrels. She herself was a Glückist, but the Queen and many others
preferred the Italian music to the German.

The four women who were her most intimate friends, and were always
to be found at her parties, were the Marquise de Grollier, Mme. de
Verdun, the Marquise de Sabran, and Mme. le Couteux du Molay. Of the
rest of her numerous acquaintances she would ask a few at a time to
the suppers she constantly gave. People arrived about nine o’clock,
they amused themselves with conversation, music, or acting charades,
supper was at ten and was extremely simple. As it was not considered
necessary to give costly entertainments on every occasion, people
of moderate and small fortune were able to receive and amuse their
friends as often as they liked, without half-ruining themselves. A
dish of fish, a chicken, a salad, and a dish of vegetables was the
supper Mme. Le Brun usually provided for the twelve or fifteen people
who were her guests, but those who went to these parties really amused

“No one can judge of what society in France was,” wrote Mme. Le Brun
in her old age, “who has not seen the times when after the affairs of
the day were finished, twelve or fifteen agreeable people would meet
at the house of a friend to finish the evening there.”

The ease and gentle gaiety which pervaded these light evening repasts
gave them a charm which was never found in a dinner-party; there was
a kind of intimacy and confidence amongst the guests, who, being
perfectly well-bred people, knew how to dispense with all formality
and restraint.

Society was much smaller, people knew each other, or at any rate
knew much more about each other, than could be the case after the
revolution. The Comte d’Espinchal was the most extraordinary instance
of this essentially social life. He passed his days and nights in
going from one party or visit to another; he knew all about everything
going on, important or trivial. He appeared to know every one not
only at the parties to which he went, but in all the boxes at the
Opera, and nearly everybody he met in the streets, so that it was
quite inconvenient for him to walk in them, as he was stopped every
minute. Not only people at court and in society, but grisettes,
employés of the theatres, persons of every class; but though a perfect
mine of gossip, he never made mischief.

One evening he was at the Opera ball, then frequented by people
in good society. Masked or not, they were equally known to M.
d’Espinchal, who as he walked through the rooms saw a man whom he
actually did not know, wandering about with distracted looks. He went
up to him, asking if he could be of any use, and was told by the
perplexed stranger that he had just arrived from Orléans with his
wife, who had insisted on coming to the Opera ball, that he had lost
her in the crowd, and that she did not know the name of the _hôtel_ or
street where they were. “Calm yourself,” said M. d’Espinchal, “Madame,
your wife is sitting by the second window in the _foyer_. I will take
you to her,” which he did. The husband overwhelmed him with thanks and
asked how he could possibly have known her.

“It is perfectly simple,” replied the Count. “Madame being the only
woman at the ball whom I did not know, I concluded she had just
arrived from the provinces.”

Balls were not then the crushes they afterwards became. The company
was not nearly so numerous; there was plenty of room for those who
were not dancing to see and hear what was going on. Mme. Le Brun,
however, never cared for dancing, but preferred the houses where
music, acting, or conversation were the amusements. One of her
favourite _salons_ was that of the _chargé d’affaires_ of Saxony, M.
de Rivière, whose daughter had married her brother Louis Vigée. He
and her sister-in-law were constantly at her house. Mme. Vigée acted
very well, was a good musician, and extremely pretty. Louis Vigée was
also a good amateur actor; no bad or indifferent acting would have
been tolerated in the charades and private theatricals in which Talma,
Larive, and Le Kain also took part.

And so the time passed, each day full of interest and pleasure, in
the gayest and most delightful capital in the world; while the witty,
charming, light-hearted society who sang and danced and acted and
talked so brilliantly, felt, for the most part, no misgivings about
the future, no doubt that this agreeable, satisfactory state of things
would go on indefinitely, although they were now only a very few
years from the fearful catastrophe towards which they were so rapidly
advancing, and in which most of them would be overwhelmed. Death,
ruin, exile, horrible prisons, hardships, and dangers of all sorts
were in store for them, and those who escaped by good fortune, by the
devotion or kindness of others, and occasionally by their own courage,
foresight, or presence of mind, met each other again years afterwards
as if they had indeed passed through the valley of the shadow of death.

Amongst the latter was the singer Désaugiers, a friend of Grétry, well
known for his quick and ready answers. Being still in Paris during
the Terror, although never of Republican opinions he was obliged, of
course, to wear the tricolour cockade. One day he forgot to put it on
and presented himself without it at the gate of the Tuileries in order
to go into the gardens, but was brusquely stopped by the official, who
asked why he was not wearing it; while a crowd of sinister faces at
once began to gather round him. Désaugiers saw his danger, but with
his usual presence of mind showed neither fear nor confusion. Taking
off his hat he looked at it slowly with an air of surprise, saying as
if to himself—

“It is true! I have not my _cocarde_! No doubt I must have forgotten
it and left it on my night-cap.”

Most of the rabid mob believed him to be so fanatical a republican
that he wore the tricolour by night as well as by day; a few, who
guessed the truth, admired his presence of mind and let him escape.

Poppo, the celebrated violinist, was also seized and dragged before
the bloodthirsty _comité de salut public_.

“Votre nom?”[23]


“Votre profession?”

“Je joue du violon.”

“Que faisiez-vous au temps du tyran?”

“Je jouais du violon.”

“Que faites vous maintenant?”

“Je joue du violon.”

“Et que ferez-vous pour la nation?”

“Je jouerai du violon.”

Wonderful to say, he was acquitted.

It was only to be expected that her brilliant success, both
professional and social, would expose Lisette to a considerable amount
of gossip, scandal, and jealousy, the usual penalty of distinction
of any kind; and she was constantly being annoyed by some false
accusation or preposterous story being circulated about her.

Amongst other absurd inventions it was reported that she had given a
supper in the Greek style which had cost twenty thousand francs. This
story had been repeated first at Versailles, then at Rome, Vienna, and
St. Petersburg, by which time the sum mentioned had risen to eighty
thousand francs.

The truth was that this famous supper, which did take place, cost
about fifteen francs, and consisted of a chicken and a dish of
eels, both dressed after Greek recipes, taken from the “Voyages
d’Anacharsis,” which Louis Vigée had been reading to his sister; two
dishes of vegetables, a cake made of honey and little currants, and
some old Cyprus wine, which was a present to her.

The idea was suddenly suggested to the brother and sister by the book
they were reading, and as she expected several people to supper, she
arranged the rooms with draperies after the ancient Greek fashion,
borrowed from the Comte de Parois, who lived in the house and had a
collection of Greek things, all the vases, pitchers, pots, and cups
she wanted, arranged the table in the same style, and as her friends
arrived, proceeded to dress them one after another in Greek costumes,
which she took from the mass of costumes and draperies in her studio.

The poet Le Brun-Pindare, dressed in a long purple cloak, represented
Anacreon. The other guests were M. and Mme. Vigée, her brother, M.
de Rivière, Mme. Chalgrin, daughter of Joseph and sister of Charles
Vernet, Mme. de Bonneuil and her pretty child, afterwards Mme.
Regnault de Saint-Jean d’Angely, the Marquis de Cubières, the Comte de
Vaudreuil, M. Boutin, M. Ginguéné, and the famous sculptor Chaudet.

Mme. Le Brun was asked by several persons of importance to repeat this
supper, but always declined.

That the Marquis de Cubières was present proved to be fortunate, as
the King, vexed by the reports he heard of the enormous expense of
this supper, spoke to him about it and was promptly undeceived.

However, in the earlier days of Marie Antoinette, especially while
she was still Dauphine, the play that went on at court, and in which
she took a conspicuous part, was high enough to give rise to grave

The Queen was in the habit of playing _pharaon_ every evening, and
on one occasion she noticed that M. de Chalabre, who kept the bank,
whilst he was picking up the money of those who had lost, took
advantage of a moment when he thought nobody was looking, to put a
_rouleau_ of fifty louis into his pocket.

When every one was leaving she signed to him to remain, and when they
were alone said to him—

“Monsieur de Chalabre, I wish to know why you took from the game
to-night a _rouleau_ of fifty louis?”

“A _rouleau_, Madame!”

“Yes, Monsieur; you put it into the right-hand pocket of your coat.”

“Since your Majesty saw me, I must inform the Queen that I removed
that _rouleau_ of gold because it is false.”

“False! Your proof, Monsieur?”

Taking the _rouleau_ out of his pocket, he tore the envelope and
showed that it was lead skilfully worked.

The Queen turned pale.

“Did you notice who put it on the table?” she asked.

M. de Chalabre at first denied, but on the Queen’s insisting confessed
that it was the young Comte de ——, whose father was an ambassador, and
was then abroad. The Queen desired him to keep the affair secret, and
the next evening when the young Count approached the tables she said,

“Monsieur le Comte, I promised Madame, your mother, to take you under
my guardianship during her absence. Our play is too high for a young
man; you will play no more _pharaon_ at Court.”

The lad understood, blushed crimson, and retired, profoundly grateful
for being let off so easily. Neither was the lesson lost upon him;
after this he played no more.[24]


[20] Died 1789.

[21] Afterwards Duchesse d’Angoulême.

[22] Afterwards Dauphin and then the unfortunate Louis XVII.


“Your name?”


“Your profession?”

“I play the violin.”

 “What did you do in the time of the tyrant?”

 “I played the violin.”

 “What do you do now?”

 “I play the violin.”

 “And what shall you do for the nation?”

 “I shall play the violin.”

—“Salons d’Autrefois” (de Bassanville).

[24] “Salons d’Autrefois” (Bassanville).


     The theatre—Raincy—Chantilly—Calonne—Attempt to ruin the
     reputation of Mme. Le Brun—Two deplorable marriages—Fate of Mme.
     Chalgrin—Under the shadow of death—Mme. Du Barry.

The theatre was a passion with Mme. Le Brun, and all the more
interesting to her from her friendships with some of the chief
actors and actresses, and her acquaintance with most of them, from
the great geniuses such as Talma, Mlle. Mars, and Mlle. Clairon to
the _débutantes_ like Mlle. Rancourt, whose career she watched with
sympathetic interest. For Mme. Dugazon, sister of Mme. Vestris and
aunt of the famous dancer Vestris, she had an unmixed admiration; she
was a gifted artist and a Royalist heart and soul. One evening when
Mme. Dugazon was playing a _soubrette_, in which part came a duet with
a valet, who sang:

  “_J’aime mon maître tendrement_,”

to which she had to answer:

  “_Ah, comme j’aime ma maîtresse_;”

as she sang these words she laid her hand upon her heart and, turning
to the Queen’s box, bowed profoundly. As this was in the beginning
of the Revolution, there were many who wished to revenge themselves
in consequence, and tried to force her to sing one of the horrible
revolutionary songs which were then to be heard constantly upon the
stage. She refused indignantly, and left the theatre. Her husband,
Dugazon, the comic actor, on the contrary, played an atrocious part
during the Revolution. Although he had been loaded with benefits by
the royal family, especially the Comte d’Artois, he was one of those
who pursued them to Varennes. Mme. Le Brun was told by an eye-witness
that he had seen this wretch at the door of the King’s carriage with a
gun upon his shoulder.

It was impossible to spare much time to be absent from Paris, but Mme.
Le Brun often spent two or three days at the magnificent _châteaux_ to
which she was invited, either to paint a portrait or simply as a guest.

For the former reason she spent some time at Raincy,[25] then the
residence of the Duke of Orléans, father of Philippe-Égalité, where
she painted his portrait, and that of his morganatic wife, Mme. de
Montesson. While she was there the old Princesse de Conti came one day
to see Mme. de Montesson, and much to her surprise always addressed
Mme. Le Brun as “Mademoiselle.” As it was shortly before the birth of
her first child, this rather startled her, and she then recollected
that it had been the custom in former days for grandees of the court
so to address their inferiors. It was a survival that she never met
with but upon this occasion, as it had quite come to an end with
Louis XV. Mme. Le Brun never cared to stay at Raincy, which she found
uncongenial; but she delighted in several of the other _châteaux_
where she stayed, above all in Chantilly, where the Prince de Condé
gave the most magnificent _fêtes_, and where the grandeur of the
_château_ and the beauty of the gardens, lakes, and woods fascinated

Another place at which she liked staying was Gennevilliers, which
belonged to the Comte de Vaudreuil, a great friend of hers, and one of
the subjects of malicious gossip about her. Gennevilliers was not so
picturesque as the other places, but there was an excellent private
theatre. The Comte d’Artois and all his society always came to the
representations there.

The last at which Mme. Le Brun was present was the _Mariage de
Figaro_, played by the actors of the Comédie Française; but, as she
observes in one of her letters, Beaumarchais[26] must have intolerably
tormented M. de Vaudreuil to induce him to allow the production of
a piece so improper in every respect. Dialogue, couplets, all were
directed against the court, many belonging to which were present,
besides the Comte d’Artois himself. Everybody was uncomfortable and
embarrassed except Beaumarchais[27] himself, who had no manners and
was beside himself with vanity and conceit, running and fussing to and
fro, giving himself absurd airs, and when some one complained of the
heat, breaking the windows with his stick instead of opening them.

Shortly after this he called upon the Comte de Vaudreuil at Versailles
one morning just after he was up, and confided to him a financial
scheme by which he expected enormous profit, ending by offering M.
de Vaudreuil a large sum of money if he would undertake to make it

The Count listened quietly to all he said, and then replied—

“Monsieur de Beaumarchais, you could not have come at a more
favourable moment; for I have had a very good night, I have a good
digestion, and I never felt better than I do to-day. If you had made
me such a proposal yesterday I should have had you thrown out of the

Another of the people declared to be in love with Mme. Le Brun, and
about whom there was so much gossip as to cause her serious annoyance,
was M. de Calonne, the brilliant, extravagant, fascinating Finance
Minister of Louis XVI.[28]

What made this all the more provoking was that M. de Calonne was not
even, like M. de Vaudreuil, a great friend of hers. She did not know
him at all intimately, and in fact only once went to a party given by
him at the _Ministère des finances_, and that was because the _soirée_
was in honour of Prince Henry of Prussia, who was constantly at her
house. The splendid portrait she painted of Calonne was exhibited in
the Salon of 1786. Mlle. Arnould remarked on seeing it, “Mme. Le Brun
has cut his legs off to keep him in the same place,” alluding to the
picture being painted to the knees.

All sorts of preposterous stories were circulated about it and about
them. Some said M. de Calonne had given Mme. Le Brun a number of
bonbons, called _papillottes_, wrapped up in bank-notes; others that
she had received in a pasty a sum of money large enough to ruin the
treasury: the truth being that he had sent her, as the price of his
portrait, four thousand francs in notes in a box worth about twenty
louis, and this was considered by no means a high price for the
picture. M. de Beaujon had given her eight thousand francs for a
portrait of the same size a short time before, without anybody finding
the least fault. The character of Calonne was such that no woman who
cared about her reputation would wish her name to be connected with

The first step in his rapid rise he is said to have owed to having
left about some compromising papers of his friend Chalotais on a
bureau, where they were found, and the disclosure of their contents
caused the ruin and imprisonment of Chalotais and others, about
the year 1763. After this he continued to prosper financially,
politically, and socially, until another intrigue raised him to the
height of power.


  _Madame Vigée Le Brun_


He was deeply in love with Mme. d’Harvelay, whose husband was the
banker and intimate friend of M. de Vergennes, then Foreign Minister.
Mme. d’Harvelay, who returned his passion and carried on a secret
_liaison_ with him, used her influence with her husband to induce
M. de Vergennes to push him on. The husband, who was fascinated by
Calonne and did not know or suspect what was going on, was persuaded
by his wife one day to write a confidential letter to Vergennes on
the subject of the general alarm then beginning to be felt about
the disastrous state of the finances and the peril threatening the
Monarchy itself, in which he declared Calonne to be the only man who
could save the situation. The Court was then at Fontainebleau, and
it was contrived that this letter should be shown to the King in the
evening, after he had retired to supper with his family.

Next day the destinies of France were in the hands of Calonne.

Dissipated, unscrupulous, with no money and owing 200,000 _écus_, the
new _Contrôleur-général des Finances_ found an empty treasury, an
enormous mass of debt, alarm and perplexity in the Government, and
gathering fury and suspicion amongst the populace.

As to the plans he proposed to meet this grave state of affairs, Louis
Blanc declares that his frivolity was only upon the surface,[29] and
that his designs were wise, bold, and strongly conceived. Other
historians assert that he had no plan at all except to borrow money,
spend it, and then borrow more.

However that might be, he spent enormous sums, lavished money upon the
Princes and the Queen, for whom Saint Cloud was bought, and to whom he
said upon one occasion—

“Madame, si c’est possible c’est fait; si c’est impossible, cela ce

He and Vergennes were said to have wasted the revenues of France, but
at any rate he spent money like a gentleman, and when, in 1787, he was
dismissed from office, he did not possess an _écu_.

He was one of the earliest to emigrate, and at Coblentz he met his
old love, Mme. de Harvelay, now a rich widow and willing to marry
him. He spent her fortune, and later on tried to get employment under
Napoleon, who would have nothing to do with him, and he died in
comparative obscurity.

The royalist sympathies and associations of Mme. Le Brun made her
particularly obnoxious to the Radical party, to whom lies and
calumnies were all welcome as weapons to be used against political
opponents. She was therefore assailed by shoals of libels, accusing
her of a _liaison_ with M. de Calonne, by people who were absolutely
unknown to her.

One Gorsas, a violent Radical whom she had never seen or heard of,
was especially violent in the atrocities he poured forth against her
for no reason whatever. He was a political writer and afterwards a
Jacobin, but met with his due reward, for he was arrested by the
Revolutionists he admired so greatly, and guillotined.

M. Le Brun was just then building a house in the _rue Gros-Chenet_,
and one of the reports spread was that M. de Calonne paid for it,
although both M. and Mme. Le Brun were making money enough to afford
themselves much greater expenditure than that.

Lisette complained bitterly to her husband, who only told her to let
them talk, and treated the matter with indignant contempt.

But Lisette fretted and made herself unhappy, especially when a
deliberate attempt was made to destroy her reputation by a certain
Mme. S——, who lived in the _rue Gros-Chenet_, to which she herself had
not yet removed.

Mme. S—— was carrying on a _liaison_ with Calonne, who was very much
in love with her and very often at her house; she was also sitting for
her portrait to Mme. Le Brun, who looked upon her as a pretty, gentle,
attractive woman, but thought the expression of her face rather false.

One day, while she was sitting to Mme. Le Brun, Mme. S—— asked her
to lend her carriage to her that evening to go to the theatre. Mme.
Le Brun consented, but when she ordered the carriage next morning
at eleven o’clock she was told that neither carriage, horses, nor
coachman had come back. She sent at once to Mme. S——, who had passed
the night at the _hôtel des Finances_ and had not yet returned.
It was not for some days that Mme. Le Brun made this discovery by
means of her coachman, who had been bribed to keep silent, but had
nevertheless told the story to several persons in the house.

It was, of course, obvious that this was done in order that the
carriage and servants of Mme. Le Brun being seen at night at the
_hôtel des Finances_, the scandal might be diverted from Mme. S—— to
the innocent owner of the carriage.

Whether this dastardly trick was done out of mere spite and envy,
or only in order to save the reputation of the guilty woman at the
expense of the innocent one, Mme. Le Brun never knew, and of course
had no more communication with the person in question.

Mme. Vigée, or rather Mme. le Sèvre, had certainly, by her obstinate
folly, succeeded in ruining first her own life, then her daughter’s;
for the two deplorable marriages she had arranged, both of them
entirely for mercenary reasons, had turned out as badly as possible.
Her own was the worst, as the husband she had chosen was the more
odious of the two men, and she had no means of escaping from him; but
Lisette’s was disastrous enough.

M. le Brun, though neither disagreeable nor ill-tempered, was
impossible on account of the dissipated life he led. Always running
after other women, always gambling and in debt, spending not only his
own money but all his wife’s earnings, another woman would have left
him or led a miserable life. Not so Lisette. She lived in his house on
friendly terms with him, though their marriage had long been one only
in name.

She cared so little for money, and her dress, her entertainments and
requirements were so simple, that she let him spend all she earned;
whilst her occupations, professional and social, were so engrossing,
and her life so full of interest, excitement, and enjoyment, that she
was content to make the best of things and let her husband go his way,
while she followed her own career among the friends and pursuits she

Besides the immense number of her friends and acquaintance of later
years, she kept up faithfully those of her early days. Her old fellow
student, Mlle. Boquet, had given up the profession in which she was
getting on so well, and married a M. Filleul, whom the Queen had made
her _concièrge de la Muette_.[31]

With the Vernet family, too, she was on intimate terms. The landscape
painter, Joseph Vernet, was always a kind friend to her. His son
Charles, or Carle, as he was called, was also an artist, and his
daughter Émilie, the wife of M. Chalgrin, was constantly at her house.

The Vernet[32] were staunch Royalists, and watched with horror and
dread only too well justified the breaking out of the Revolution.

Carle was a captain in the _garde nationale_, and lodged with his
family in the Louvre when, on the 10th of August, 1792, the mob
attacked the Tuileries. As the windows began to break and the shots to
rattle round them it was evident that they were all in great danger.
Carle caught up in his arms his youngest child, Horace,[33] then
three years old, and mounted his horse, his wife accompanying him
carrying their little daughter.

As he rode across the Carrousel Carle was a conspicuous mark for the
mob, who took him for one of the Swiss guards, as he had unfortunately
taken off his uniform, and not having time to put it on, was wearing
a white vest with a red collar. He was several times fired at, and
wounded in the hand, but succeeded in reaching a place of safety with
his wife and children.

His sister Émilie was not so fortunate. Arrested upon some frivolous
pretext, she was thrown into prison. In desperate anxiety Carle flew
to David, who, though a terrorist himself, was a comrade and friend of
his, and would surely use his influence to help them. David, however,
either could or would do nothing; Mme. Chalgrin was dragged before
the revolutionary tribunal, convicted of having corresponded with the
princes, condemned, and executed.

One of David’s most rising pupils before the Revolution was young
Isabey, son of a peasant of Franche Comté, who had made money and was

Old Isabey had a passion for art, and having two boys resolved to make
one a painter, the other a musician; and as Louis, the elder one, was
always scribbling upon walls and everywhere figures of all sorts, his
father, regardless of the fact that the drawings were not at all good,
assured his son that he would be a great artist, perhaps painter to
the King; and as the younger boy, Jean-Baptiste,[34] was constantly
making a deafening noise with trumpets, drums, castagnettes, &c., he
decided that he should be a musician.

As the lads grew older, however, their talents developed in exactly
opposite directions, so that their father found himself obliged to
consent to a change of plans with regard to their education. Louis,
in fact, became ultimately first violinist to the Emperor Alexander
of Russia, while Jean-Baptiste, casting aside his noisy musical
instruments, studied painting with enthusiasm, went to Paris in
1786, and with much difficulty succeeded in getting into the studio
of David, from which he was shortly afterwards on the point of
being expelled, because he made a picture of David as a wild boar,
surrounded by his pupils in the form of little pigs; all excellent

Having no money young Isabey supported himself at Paris by making
designs for snuff-boxes and buttons. The Comte d’Artois saw the
buttons, which had become very much the fashion, admired them, and
desired that Isabey should be presented to him. He was also presented
to the Comtesse d’Artois, rapidly got commissions, painted portraits
of different members of the royal family and court, and was becoming
more and more prosperous when the Revolution broke out, and he was
apparently ruined.

One day he and other pupils of David had the fancy to spend an idle
hour in listening to the debates in the _Assemblée_, where every one
went in and out at their pleasure.

But they were very little edified by what they heard and saw. The
Abbé Maury was speaking, and the outrageous behaviour, the rows and
quarrels, the discreditable manner in which the discussions were
carried on, so shocked them that they allowed their disgust to be more
apparent than was prudent.

Presently they observed a strange, ugly-looking man, who was watching
them with a mocking smile.

“What gives you the right to laugh at us, Monsieur?” asked one of
them, with irritation.

“Your youth, _mes amis_; and above all your _naïveté_. Laws are like
sauces: you should never see them made.”

He bowed and turned away; it was Mirabeau.

The acquaintance thus begun was a fortunate one for Isabey. In despair
at the disappearance of the court and apparently of his own chance
of getting on with his profession, he was thinking of giving it up.
Mirabeau advised him to stick to it and gave him the commission to
paint his own portrait.

He persevered accordingly, passed safely through the Revolution, and
was a favourite court painter during the Empire and Restoration.

One dark, gloomy day, during the height of the Terror, he was sitting
in his studio early in the morning, busily making up the fire in his
stove, for it was bitterly cold. There was a knock at the door, and a
woman wrapped in a large cloak stood on the threshold, saying—

“You are the painter, Isabey?”

“Yes. What do you want of me?”

“I want you to do my portrait at once.”

“_Diable!_ At once? You are in great haste,” said he, smiling.

“It is not I who am in haste; it is the guillotine,” replied the
stranger. “To-day I am on the suspected list, to-morrow I shall
no doubt be condemned. I have children. I wish to leave them a
remembrance of me, that is why I come to ask you to paint my portrait.
Will you?”

“I am ready, Madame,” he said, beginning at once to prepare his
palette and brushes. “In what costume do you wish to be painted?”

“In this,” she answered; and throwing off her hood and cloak, he saw
a woman still young and pretty, her hair powdered and covered with a
simple little cap, a grey silk dress, green apron, high-heeled shoes,
and a _carton_ in her hand.

“I am Mme. Venotte,” she went on. “I had the honour to be _marchande
de dentelles_ to _la sainte reine_ whom they have sent to God. I wish
my children always to see me in the costume I used to wear when Marie
Antoinette deigned to admit me to her presence.”

Though he painted this portrait in haste, with tears in his eyes, it
was one of the best ever done by Isabey.[35]

In 1786 Mme. Le Brun received an invitation to paint the portrait of
Mme. Du Barry, the once lovely and all powerful favourite of Louis XV.
With great curiosity she went down to the _château_ of Louveciennes,
given to his mistress by the late King, where she still lived in
luxury but almost in solitude, for of the courtiers and acquaintances
who had crowded round her in the days of her prosperity scarcely any
remembered her now.

Louveciennes[36] was near Marly and Versailles. The _château_ built by
Louis XV. was in a delightful park, but there was a melancholy feeling
about the whole place.

The career of Jeanne Vaubernier, Comtesse Du Barry, was a most
extraordinary one. Her father was a workman, and she, after being a
milliner’s apprentice for some years, lived under the name of Mlle.
Lange, in a house of bad fame, where she became the mistress of Count
Jean Du Barry, who in 1769 presented her to Louis XV., who was deeply
fascinated by her wonderful beauty, and over whom, after having gone
through the form of marriage with the brother of Jean Du Barry, she
reigned supreme during the remainder of his life. But her day of power
and splendour was only a short one, for the King died five years
afterwards (1774), when she was, of course, immediately obliged to
leave the court and live in retirement; probably much sooner than she
expected, for Louis XV. was only sixty-three when he fell a victim to
small-pox. The twelve years had been spent in her _château_, where the
Duc de Brissac took the place of his royal predecessor.

Mme. Du Barry received Mme. Le Brun with the greatest politeness and
attention; she was now about forty-two, and still extremely handsome.
The brilliant beauty of her complexion had begun to fade, but her
face was still charming, her features beautiful, her figure tall and
well-made, and her hair fair and curled like that of a child.

Her way of living was very simple; she walked about the park summer
and winter, visited the poor, to whom she was most kind and generous,
wore muslin or cambric dresses, and had very few visitors. The only
two women who came much to see her were Mme. de Souza, the Portuguese
Ambassadress, and the Marquise de Brunoy. M. de Monville, a pleasant,
well-bred man, was frequently there, and one day the Ambassador of
Tippoo Sahib arrived to visit her, bringing a present of a number
of pieces of muslin richly embroidered with gold, one of which she
gave to Mme. Le Brun. The Duc de Brissac was of course there also,
but, though evidently established at the _château_, there was nothing
either in his manner or that of Mme. Du Barry to indicate anything
more than friendship between them. Yet Mme. Le Brun saw plainly enough
the strong attachment which cost them both their lives.

Under her own room, which looked out towards Marly, Mme. Le Brun
discovered a gallery in which were huddled together all sorts of
magnificent marbles, busts, vases, columns, and other costly works of
art, the relics of former grandeur.

Every day after dinner, they had their coffee in the splendid pavilion
of Louis XV. It was decorated and furnished with the greatest luxury
and magnificence, the chimney-piece, doors, and locks were precious
works of art.

The first time they entered it Mme. Du Barry said, “It was in this
room that Louis XV. used to do me the honour to dine. There was a
tribune above for the musicians who played and sang during dinner.”

Mme. Le Brun generally spent the evening alone with Mme. Du Barry by
the fireside. The latter would sometimes talk of Louis XV. and his
court, always with respect and caution. But she avoided many details
and did not seem to wish to talk about that phase of her life. Mme. Le
Brun painted three portraits of her in 1786, 1787, and in September,
1789. The first was three-quarters length, in a _peignoir_ with a
straw hat; in the second, painted for the Duc de Brissac, she was
represented in a white satin dress, leaning one arm on a pedestal and
holding a crown in the other hand. This picture was afterwards bought
by an old general, and when Mme. Le Brun saw it many years later, the
head had been so injured and re-painted that she did not recognise it,
though the rest of the picture was intact.


  _Painted by herself_


The third portrait Mme. Le Brun retained in her own possession—for she
had begun it in September, 1789, when the terrors of the Revolution
were beginning. As she painted at Louveciennes they could hear the
thunder of the cannonades, and the unfortunate Mme. Du Barry said to

“If Louis XV. were alive all this would certainly not have happened.”

When she had painted the head and sketched out the arms and figure,
Mme. Le Brun was obliged to go to Paris. She intended to come back to
finish her work, but she found the murder of Foulon and Berthier had
just taken place, and the state of affairs was so alarming that her
one object was to get out of France. The portrait fell into the hands
of Count Louis de Narbonne, who restored it to her on her return—when
she finished it.

The fate of Mme. Du Barry is well known. She escaped to England where
she was kindly received, and where the great value of her diamonds
enabled her to live quite well herself, and also to help many of the
_emigrés_, to whom she was most generous. But the Duc de Brissac had
remained concealed at Louveciennes, and she insisted on going back to
him. The friends she made in England pointed out the danger of doing
so, and did all they could to dissuade her—they even unharnessed the
horses of her travelling carriage. It was all useless, she would go.
Soon after her return to Louveciennes the Duc de Brissac was seized
and carried away from her to be taken to Orléans. On the way he and
his companions were attacked and murdered by the mob and his head
brought to Mme. Du Barry. Then she herself was betrayed and denounced
by a little negro named Zamore, who was in her service, and had been
loaded with benefits and kindness by Louis XV. and by herself. In
consequence of the denunciation of this wretch she was thrown into
prison, tried, and executed at the end of 1793.

In all those terrible days she was the only woman whose courage failed
at the last. She cried and entreated for help from the crowd around
the scaffold, and that crowd began to be so moved by her terror and
despair that the execution was hurried on lest they should interfere
to prevent it.

Mme. Le Brun, alluding to this circumstance, remarks that in all
probability the very heroism and calmness of the victims helped to
prolong this horrible state of things.

“I have always been persuaded,” she says in one of her letters, “that
if the victims of that time of execrable memory had not had the noble
pride to die with courage, the Terror would have ceased much sooner.
Those whose intelligence is not developed have too little imagination
to be touched by silent suffering, and it is much easier to arouse the
compassion than the imagination of the populace.”


[25] Raincy was afterwards bought by Junot, Duc d’Abrantès, who sold
it again to Napoleon.

[26] The author of the play.

[27] Beaumarchais was the son of a watchmaker born at Paris 1732. His
talent for music led to his giving lessons to _Mesdames de_ _France_.
He made a fortune by his financial talents, and was famous as an
author. He wrote “The Marriage of Figaro,” “The Barber of Seville,”
&c., was a freethinker, revolutionist, and at first member of the
Commune of Paris; but he fell out of favour, was ruined, imprisoned in
the Abbaye during the Terror, narrowly escaped with his life, and died
some years afterwards.

[28] Son of the President of the Parliament of Flanders. He rose, it
is said, by questionable means to a high position in finance.

[29] “Histoire de la Révolution Française” (Louis Blanc).

[30] Alluded to in letter from the Queen to Mercy d’Argenteau, in the
Archives of Vienna.

[31] One of the royal _châteaux_.

[32] “Les Trois Vernet.”

[33] Afterwards the celebrated painter.

[34] Jean-Baptiste Isabey, b. at Nancy, 1767.

[35] “Salons d’Autrefois” (Ctsse. de Bassanville).

[36] Or Luciennes.


     End of the _ancien régime_—Foretaste of the
     Revolution—Threatened—Resolves to emigrate—Another
     alarm—Preparations—“You are wrong to go”—A terrible journey—Safe
     across the frontier.

The year 1788 was the last of the old _régime_. Mme. Le Brun was now
thirty-two and at the height of her fame and prosperity. She had more
commissions than she could execute, more engagements than she could
keep, more invitations than she could accept, but her mind was full of
gloomy presentiments. She passed the summer as usual between Paris and
the country houses where she stayed.

As she drove with a friend down to Romainville to stay with the Comte
de Ségur, she noticed that the peasants they met in the roads did
not take off their hats to them, but looked at them insolently, and
sometimes shook their sticks threateningly at them.

While she was at Romainville there was a most awful storm, the sky
which had become deep yellow with black clouds of alarming appearance,
seemed to open and pour forth flash after flash of lightning,
accompanied by deafening thunder and enormous hailstones, which
ravaged the country for forty leagues round Paris. Pale and trembling,
Mme. de Ségur and Mme. Le Brun sat looking at each other in terror,
fancying that they saw in the awful tempest raging around them, the
beginning of the fearful times whose approach they now foresaw.

When the storm had subsided the peasants were crying and lamenting
over the destruction of their crops, and all the large proprietors in
the neighbourhood came most generously to their assistance. One rich
man distributed forty thousand francs among them. The next year he was
one of the first to be massacred.

As time went on and affairs became more and more menacing, Mme. Le
Brun began to consider the advisability of leaving the country, and
placing herself and her child out of the reach of the dangers and
calamities evidently not far distant.

Early in 1789 she was dining at La Malmaison, which then belonged to
the Comte de Moley, a rabid Radical; he and the Abbé de Sieyès and
several others were present, and so fierce and violent was their talk
that even the Abbé de Sieyès said after dinner—

“Indeed, I think we shall go too far;” while the Comtesse du Moley and
Mme. Le Brun were horror-stricken at the terrible prospects unfolded
to them.

After this, Mme. Le Brun went for a few days to Marly to stay with
Mme. Auguier, sister of Mme. Campan, and attached like her to the
Queen’s household.

One day as they were looking out of a window into the courtyard which
opened on to the road, they saw a man stagger in and fall down.

Mme. Auguier sent her husband’s _valet de chambre_ to help him up,
and take him into the kitchen. Presently the _valet_ returned, saying,
“Madame is indeed too kind; that man is a wretch. Here are some papers
which have fallen out of his pocket.” He gave them several sheets of
papers, one of which began, “Down with the Royal Family! down with
the nobles! down with the priests!” and all of which were filled with
a tissue of blasphemies, litanies of the Revolution, threats and
predictions horrible enough to make their hair stand on end.

Mme. Auguier sent for the _maréchaussé_, four of whom appeared, and
took the fellow in charge; but the _valet de chambre_ who followed
them unperceived, saw them, as soon as they thought themselves out of
sight, singing and dancing, arm in arm with their prisoner.

Terror-stricken, they agreed that these papers must be shown to the
Queen, and when, a day or two afterwards, Mme. Auguier was in waiting,
she took them to Marie Antoinette, who read and returned them saying—

“These things are impossible. I shall never believe they meditate such

Mme. Auguier’s affection for the Queen cost her her life. In the fury
of the Revolution, knowing her to be without money, she lent Marie
Antoinette twenty-five _louis_. This became known, and a mob rushed to
her house to take her to prison and execution. In a frenzy of terror
Mme. Auguier threw herself out of the window, and was killed on the

The last time Mme. Le Brun saw the Queen was at the last ball given
at Versailles, which took place in the theatre, and at which she
looked on from one of the boxes. She observed with indignation the
rudeness of some of the young Radical nobles; they refused to dance
when requested to do so by the Queen, whose agitation and uneasiness
were only too apparent. The demeanour of the populace was becoming
every day more ferocious and alarming; the drives and streets were
scarcely safe for any but the lower classes. At a concert given by
Mme. Le Brun, most of the guests came in with looks of consternation.
They had been driving earlier in the day to Longchamps, and as they
passed the _barrière de l’Étoile_, a furious mob had surrounded and
insulted everybody who passed in carriages. Villainous looking faces
pressed close to them, horrible figures climbed on to the steps of the
carriages, crying out, with infamous threats and brutal language, that
next year they should be in the carriages and the owners behind them.

The continual terror in which she now lived began to affect the health
of Lisette. She knew perfectly well that she herself was looked upon
with sinister eyes by the ruffians, whose bloodthirsty hands would
soon hold supreme power in France. Her house in the _rue Gros-Chenet_,
in which she had only lived for three months, was already marked;
sulphur was thrown down the grating into the cellars; if she looked
out of the windows she saw menacing figures of _sans-culottes_,
shaking their fists at the house.

If she had not got away in time there can be no doubt as to what
would have been her fate; fortunately her fears made her act with
prudence. M. Brongniart, the architect, and his wife, friends of hers,
seeing her so pale and altered, persuaded her to go and stay with them
for a few days at the Invalides, where they had rooms; she gladly
accepted and was taken there by a doctor attached to the Palais Royal,
whose servants wore the Orléans livery, the only one that was now
respected, and in whose carriage she consequently arrived safely. Her
kind friends nursed and tried to comfort her; made her take Bordeaux
and soup as she could eat nothing, and tried to reassure her, being
amongst those who did not believe in the perils to come. It was no
use. When they went out they heard the threats and violent talk of
the mob, and the discussions they held with each other; by no means
calculated to give comfort to those who were listening.

Mme. Le Brun returned home, but dared not stay there, so she accepted
the invitation of her brother’s father-in-law, M. de Rivière, in whose
house she thought she would be safe, as he was a foreign minister. She
stayed there a fortnight, treated as if she were a daughter of the
house, but she had resolved to get out of France before it was too

It would in fact have been folly to stay any longer; already
the mob had set fire to the _barrière_ at the end of the _rue
Chaussée-d’Antin_, where M. de Rivière lived, and had begun to tear
up the pavement and make barricades in the streets. Many people
disapproved of emigrating, some from patriotic reasons, others as
a matter of interest. To many it was of course a choice between the
certainty of losing their property and the chance of losing their
lives; and rather than become beggars they took the risk and stayed,
very often to the destruction of themselves and those dearest to them.
To Lisette there was no such alternative. Wherever she went she could
always provide herself with money without the least difficulty; she
had always longed to see Rome, now was the time.

She had numbers of orders, and of portraits half finished, but she was
too nervous and agitated to paint, and she had a hundred _louis_ which
some one had just paid for a picture—to herself fortunately, not to M.
Le Brun, who generally took everything, sometimes never even telling
her it had been paid, at other times saying he must have the whole sum
for an investment, or to pay a bill owing.

This hundred _louis_ would take her to Rome with her child and nurse,
and she began in haste to pack up and prepare for the journey.

It was the evening before the day fixed for their departure, the
passport was ready, her travelling carriage loaded with luggage, and
she was resting herself in her drawing-room, when a dreadful noise
was heard in the house, as of a crowd bursting in; trampling of feet
on the stairs, rough voices; and as she remained petrified with fear
the door of the room was flung open and a throng of ruffianly-looking
_gardes nationaux_ with guns in their hands, many of them drunk,
forced their way in, and several of them approaching her, declared in
coarse, insolent terms, that she should not go.

In reply to her observation that she had a perfect right to go where
she chose, they kept repeating—

“_Vous ne partisez pas, citoyenne, vous ne partisez pas._”

At last they went away, but in a few moments two of them whose
appearance was different from the rest returned and said—

“Madame, we are your neighbours; we have come back to advise you to
go, and to start as soon as possible. You cannot live here, you are so
changed that we are sorry. But do not travel in your carriage; go by
the diligence, it is safer.”

Lisette thanked the friendly _gardes_ with all her heart, and followed
their advice. She sent to take three places in the diligence, but
there were none to be had for a fortnight, as so many people who were
emigrating travelled by it for greater safety.

Those of her friends who were Radicals blamed Lisette for going, and
tried to dissuade her. Mme. Filleul, formerly Mlle. Boquet, said to

“You are quite wrong to go. I shall stay, for I believe in the
happiness the Revolution will bring us.”

She remained at La Muette until the Terror began. Mme. Chalgrin, of
whom she was an intimate friend, came there to celebrate very quietly
the marriage of her daughter. The day after it, both Mme. Chalgrin and
Mme. Filleul were arrested by the revolutionists and guillotined a few
days later, because they were said to have “burnt the candles of the

Lisette paid no attention to the dissuasions of her friends; in spite
of all they said she knew quite well that she was in danger. No one
could be safe, however innocent, if any suspicion or grudge against
them was in the minds of the ruffians who were thirsting for blood.

“Although, thank Heaven, I have never done harm to anybody,” she said.
“I agree with the man who said: ‘They accuse me of having stolen the
towers of Notre Dame; they are still in their place, but I am going,
for it is clear that they have a grudge against me.’”

“What is the use of taking care of one’s health?” she would say when
her friends were anxious about her. “What is the good of living?”

It was not until the 5th of October that the places in the diligence
could be had, and on the evening of the 4th Lisette went to say
goodbye to her mother, whom she had not seen for three weeks, and who
at first did not recognise her, so much had she changed in that short
time and so ill did she look.

They were to start at midnight, and it was quite time they did so.

That very day the King, Queen, and royal family were brought from
Versailles to Paris by the frantic, howling mob. Louis Vigée, after
witnessing their arrival at the _Hôtel de Ville_, came at ten o’clock
to see his sister off, and give her the account of what had happened.

“Never,” he said, “was the Queen more truly a Queen than to-day, when
she made her entry with so calm and noble an air in the midst of those

It was then she made her well-known answer to Bailly, “_J’ai tout vu,
tout su, et tout oublié_.”

Half beside herself with anxiety and fear for the fate of the royal
family and of all respectable people, Lisette, her child, and the
nurse or nursery governess went to the diligence at midnight,
escorted by M. Le Brun, Louis Vigée, and M. Robert, the landscape
painter, an intimate friend of theirs, who never left the diligence,
but kept close to its doors as it lumbered along through the narrow
dark streets to the _barrière du Trône_. For the terrible _faubourg
Saint Antoine_ had to be passed through, and Lisette was dreadfully
afraid of it.

However, it happened on that night to be unusually quiet, for the
inhabitants had been to Versailles after the King and Queen, and were
so tired that they were asleep.

At the barrier came the parting with those she was leaving in the
midst of perils. When they would meet again, if they ever did at all,
it was impossible to guess.

The journey was insupportable. In the diligence with them was a dirty,
evil-looking man, who openly confessed that he was a robber, boasting
of the watches, &c., that he had stolen, and speaking of many persons
he wished to murder _à la lanterne_, amongst whom were a number of the
acquaintances of Mme. Le Brun. The little girl, now five or six years
old, was frightened out of her wits, and her mother took courage to
ask the man not to talk about murders before the child.

He stopped, and afterwards began to play with her; but another
Jacobin from Grenoble, also a passenger, gave vent to all kinds of
infamous and murderous threats and opinions, haranguing the people
who collected round the diligence whenever they stopped for dinner
or supper; whilst every now and then men rode up to the diligence,
announcing that the King and Queen had been assassinated, and that
Paris was in flames. Lisette, terrified herself for the fate of those
dear to her, tried to comfort her still more frightened child, who was
crying and trembling, believing that her father was killed and their
house burnt. At last they arrived safely at Lyon, and found their way
to the house of a M. Artaut, whom Lisette did not know well. But she
had entertained him and his wife in Paris on one or two occasions,
she knew that their opinions were like her own, and thought they were
worthy people, as indeed they proved to be.

They did not know her at first, for besides her altered looks she
was dressed as an _ouvrière_, having just exhibited in the Salon her
portrait which she had painted with her child in her arms, and fearing
she might be recognised.

They spent three days in the Artaut family, thankful for the rest,
the quietness and the kindness they received. M. Artaut engaged a man
he knew to take them on their journey, telling him that they were
relations of his, and recommending them to his care. They set off
accordingly, and, this journey was indeed a contrast to the last.
Their driver took the greatest care of them, and they arrived in
safety at the bridge of Beauvoisin, the frontier of France.

Never, would Mme. Le Brun say in after years, could she forget or
describe the feelings with which she drove across that bridge to find
herself at the other side—safe, free, and out of France.

Henceforth the journey was a pleasure, and with feelings of
admiration and awe she gazed upon the magnificent scenery as she
ascended the mighty Mont Cenis; stupendous mountains rising above her,
their snowy peaks buried in clouds, their steep sides hung with pine
forests, the roar of falling torrents perpetually in her ears.

“Madame should take a mule,” said a postillion coming up to her, as
she walked slowly up the precipitous mountain path. “It is much too
tiring for a lady like Madame to go up on foot.”

“I am an _ouvrière_,” she replied, “and am accustomed to walk.”

The man laughed.

“Ah!” he said, “Madame is no _ouvrière_; it is very well known who she

“Well, who am I, then?”

“You are Mme. Le Brun, who paints with such perfection, and we are all
very glad to know that you are far away from those wicked people.”

“I could never guess,” said Lisette, “how the man knew me. But this
proved the number of spies the Jacobins had everywhere. However, I was
not afraid of them now; I was out of their execrable power. If I had
no longer my own country, I was going to live where art flourished and
urbanity reigned—I was going to Rome, Naples, Berlin, Vienna, and St.


[37] Her daughters were brought up by her sisters Mesdames Campan and
Rousseau at the celebrated school of the former; one married Marshal


     Turin—Parma—The Infanta—Florence—Rome: Delightful life
     there—Artistic success—Social life—The French refugees—The
     Polignac—Angelica Kaufmann—An Italian summer—Life at Gensan—The
     Duchesse de Fleury.

Passing through Chambéry, the little party arrived at Turin in pouring
rain, and were deposited late at night in a bad inn, where they
could get nothing to eat; but the next day the celebrated engraver,
Porporati, insisted on their removing to his house, where they spent
five or six days. At the Opera they saw the Duc de Bourbon and his
son, the unfortunate Duc d’Enghien, whose murder was the blackest
stain upon the fame of Napoleon. The Duc de Bourbon looked more like
the brother than the father of his son; he was only sixteen when the
Duc d’Enghien was born.

Taking leave of the excellent Signor Porporati and his daughter,
they proceeded to Parma, where the Comte de Flavigny, Minister of
Louis XVI., at once called upon Mme. Le Brun, and in his society and
that of the Countess she saw everything at Parma. It was her first
experience of an ancient, thoroughly Italian city, for Turin cannot
be considered either characteristic or interesting.

But the pictures and churches filled Lisette with delight, especially
the masterpieces of Correggio, the glory of Parma.

In the huge mediæval palace the Infanta, sister of Marie Antoinette,
held her court, and to her Mme. Le Brun was presented by M. de

Much older than the unfortunate Queen of France, and possessing
neither her beauty nor charm, Mme. Le Brun did not take a fancy to
her, although she received her very well. She was a strange person,
with masculine manners and habits; her great pleasure apparently was
riding. Very pale and thin, wearing deep mourning for her brother, the
Emperor Joseph II., even her rooms being hung with black, she gave the
impression almost of a spectre or a shadow.

After a few days at Parma, Lisette went on to Modena, Bologna, and
Florence, under the escort of the Vicomte de Lespignière, a friend
of M. de Flavigny, whose carriage kept close behind her own. As M.
de Lespignière was going all the way to Rome—a journey not very safe
for a woman with only a governess and child—this was an excellent
arrangement; and they journeyed on pleasantly enough through Italy;
the calm, sunny days, the enchanting scenes through which they
passed, the treasures of art continually lavished around them, the
light-hearted courtesy of the lower classes, the careless enjoyment
and security of their present surroundings, contrasting strangely with
the insolence and discomfort, the discontent and bitterness, the
gloom and terror from which they had so recently escaped.

They lingered for a while at Florence, unable to tear themselves away
from that enchanting city, with its marvellous wealth of art and that
beauty of its own, of walls and towers and palaces and ancient streets
then undestroyed.

The long galleries of pictures and statues, the lovely churches filled
with gems of art, the stately palaces and gardens, the cypress-crowned
heights of San Miniato, and the whole life there, were enchanting to
Lisette. She had been made a member of the Academy at Bologna; she
was received with great honour at Florence, where she was asked to
present her portrait to the city. She painted it in Rome, and it now
hangs in the _Sala_ of the great artists in the Uffizi. In the evening
she drove along the banks of the Arno—the fashionable promenade, with
the Marchesa Venturi, a Frenchwoman married to an Italian, whose
acquaintance she had made. Had it not been for her anxiety about what
was going on in France she would have been perfectly happy, for Italy
had been the dream of her life, which was now being realised.


  _E. H. Bearne_


With reluctance she left Florence, but after all her supreme desire
was Rome, and when at length in the distance across the plain over
which they were travelling, the dome of St. Peter’s rose before them,
she could hardly believe she was not dreaming, and that Rome lay
there. Through the _Porta del Popolo_, across the piazza, down the
_Corso_, and up to the entrance of the French Academy they drove, and
the long journey was finished.

M. Ménageot, the Director, came out to the carriage, offered her a
little apartment for herself, her child, and governess, and lent her
ten louis, for she had not enough left to pay her travelling expenses.
Then having installed her in her rooms, he went with her to St.

The next day, just as she was starting for the Vatican Museum, the
students of the Academy came to visit her, bringing her the palette of
Drouais, a talented young painter whom she had known in Paris, and who
had lately died. He had dined with her the evening before he started
for Rome, and she was much touched at the recollection of him and at
the request of the lads that she would give them some old brushes she
had used.

It was necessary in the next place to look for a permanent abode, and
this seemed to be difficult. The apartment in the French Academy was
too small, though every one who knows Rome will understand what a
temptation its magnificent situation must have been to stay there.

So she took rooms in the _Piazza di Spagna_, which is, of course, one
of the most convenient and animated situations in Rome; but the noise,
which never seems to inconvenience Italians, was insupportable to her.
Carriages and carts, groups of people singing choruses, lovely in
themselves, but distracting when they went on all night, made sleep
impossible, and drove her to another dwelling, a small house in a
quiet street which took her fancy. The whole house was so charming
that, with her usual carelessness about money, she hastened to pay
the ten or twelve _louis_ for the month’s rent, and took possession.
She went to bed rejoicing in the silence, only broken by the splash
of a fountain in the little courtyard; but in the middle of the night
a horrible noise began which woke them all up and prevented any more
sleep till the morning, when the landlady explained that there was a
pump fastened to the wall outside, which was constantly being used
by the washerwomen, who, as it was too hot to work in the day, began
the washing at two o’clock in the morning. Accordingly Mme. Le Brun
removed into a small palace, which she found damp and cold, as it
had been uninhabited for nine years; it was also infested by armies
of rats. She stayed there six weeks and then moved, this time on
condition of sleeping one night in the house before paying the rent;
but the beams of the ceilings were full of little worms, which gnawed
all night long and made such a noise that she declared she could not
sleep, and left the next day.

At last, in spite of her being unlucky or fanciful, or both, she
succeeded in finding a dwelling-place, and as directly she arrived,
visits and commissions began to pour upon her, she soon had plenty of
money and plenty of society.

One of her first portraits was that of the Polish Countess Potocka who
came with the Count, and directly he had gone away said to Mme. Le
Brun: “That is my third husband, but I think I am going to take the
first back again; he suits me better, though he is a drunkard.”

Lisette now settled down into that Roman life which in those days was
the most enchanting that could be imagined. M. Le Brun being no longer
able to take possession of her money, she had enough for everything she
wanted, and in fact during the years of her Italian career she sent
him 1,000 _écus_ in reply to a piteous letter, pleading poverty; and
the same sum to her mother.

She had only to choose amongst the great personages who wanted their
portraits painted; and she spent the time when she was not working in
wandering amid the scenes to visit which had been the dream of her
life. Ruins of temples, baths, acqueducts, tombs, and monuments of the
vanished Empire, gorgeous churches and palaces of the Renaissance,
huge never-ending galleries of statues and pictures, the glories
of Greek and of mediæval art; Phidias and Praxiteles, Raffaelle,
Michael Angelo, and Leonardo the picturesque beauty of Rome, as it was
then, the delicious gardens, since swept away by the greedy vandalism
of their owners; the mighty Colosseum; the solemn desolate Campagna;
all filled her mind and imagination and distracted her thoughts from
France and the horrors going on there. At Rome in those days there
certainly seemed to be everything that could be wished for to make
life a paradise upon earth. Besides the natural beauty, the historical
and archæological interest, and the treasures of art, the magnificence
of the ecclesiastical functions, church services, stately processions,
and entrancing music were a perpetual delight to her. “There is no
city in the world,” she wrote to a friend, “in which one could pass
one’s time so deliciously as in Rome, even if one were deprived of all
the resources of good society.”

Among the new friends she found most interesting was Angelica
Kaufmann, who lived in Rome, and whose acquaintance she had long
desired to make. That distinguished artist was then about fifty
years old; her health had suffered from the troubles caused by her
unfortunate marriage with an adventurer who had ruined her earlier
years. She was now the wife of an architect, whom Lisette pronounced
to be like her _homme d’affaires_. Sympathetic, gentle, and highly
cultivated, Lisette found her conversation extremely interesting,
although the calmness and absence of enthusiasm in her character
contrasted strongly with her own ardent, imaginative nature. She
showed her several both of her finished pictures and sketches, of
which Lisette preferred the latter, the colour being richer and more

Mme. Le Brun painted the portraits and went to the parties of the
chief Roman families, but did not form many intimate friendships
amongst them, for most of her spare time was spent with the
unfortunate refugees from France, of whom there were numbers in Rome
during the years she lived there. Many of them were her friends who
had, like herself, managed to escape. Amongst these were the Duke
and Duchess de Fitz-James and their son, also the Polignac family,
with whom Mme. Le Brun refrained out of prudence from being too much
seen, lest reports should reach France that she was plotting with them
against the Revolution. For although she was out of the clutches of
the Radicals and Revolutionists her relations were still within their
reach, and might be made to suffer for her.

However they were none of them in the same danger that she would have
been had she remained at Paris. None of them were at all conspicuous,
and as far as any one could be said to be tolerably safe in France
under the new reign of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, they might
be supposed to be so.

Amongst others who arrived were the Duchesse de Fleury and Princesse
Joseph de Monaco. The latter was a gentle, charming woman, whose
devotion to her children was the cause of her death. After having
escaped from France and arrived safely in Rome, she was actually
foolish enough to go back to Paris with the idea of saving the remains
of her fortune for her children. The Terror was in full force; she was
arrested and condemned. Those who wished to save her entreated her
to declare herself _enceinte_, by which many women had been spared.
She would anyhow have gained a reprieve, and as it happened her life
would have been saved, as the ninth Thermidor was rapidly approaching.
But her husband was far away, and she indignantly refused, preferring
death to such an alternative.

Quite another sort of woman was the Duchesse de Fleury, with whom
Lisette formed an intimate friendship. The Duchess, _née_ Aimée de
Coigny, was a true type of the women of a certain set at the old
French court, and her history was one only possible just at the time
in which it took place.

Beautiful, both in face and form, imaginative, brilliant, and
fascinating; with charming manners and lax morality, her passionate
love of art and natural beauty attracted her to Lisette, who found in
her the companion she had long wished for.

They spent their evenings at the Maltese embassy, where the _soirées_
of the Ambassador, Prince Camilla de Rohan, Grand Commander of the
Order of St. John of Jerusalem, were frequented by all the most
intellectual and distinguished people in Rome. They made excursions
to all the enchanting places within reach—Tivoli, Tusculum, Monte
Mario, the Villa Adriano, and many another ancient palace or imposing
ruin; and when the hot weather made Rome insupportable, they took a
house together at Gensano, and spent the rest of the summer in those
delicious woods. They hired three donkeys to make excursions, and took
possession with delight of the ancient villa which had belonged to
Carlo Maratta, some of whose sketches might still be seen on the walls
of one of its great halls.

All that country, Frascati, L’Ariccia, Castel Gandolfo, Albano,
Gensano, is a dream of beauty and romance. Lakes, mountains, and
forests, picturesque towns and villages perched high upon the steep
sides of precipices, rocks crowned with ruined towers or convents,
ancient villas like huge palaces, with colonnades, fountains, and
loggie, buried among deep woods of ilex and chestnut, in whose cool
shade they could spend the bright, hot, glowing days.

In the evenings they rode or walked, watching the gorgeous sunset
and afterglow; and in those radiant Italian nights, when the whole
country lay white and brilliant under the light of the southern moon,
they would wander through the woods glittering with glow-worms and
fireflies, or perhaps by the shores of Lake Nemi, buried deep amongst
wooded cliffs, a temple of Diana rising out of its waters.

The Duchesse de Fleury, who had attached herself with such
enthusiastic affection to Mme. Le Brun, was scarcely sixteen, although
in mind, character, and experience she was far older than her years.

Her mother having died in her early life, she was brought up by her
father, the Comte de Coigny, at his _château_ at Mareuil, an enormous
place built by the celebrated Duchesse d’Angoulême (whose husband
was the last of the Valois, though with the bend sinister), who died
in 1713, and yet was the daughter-in-law of Charles IX., who died

Married when a mere child to the Duc de Fleury, great-nephew of the
Cardinal, there was no sort of affection between her husband and
herself, each went their own way, and they were scarcely ever in
each other’s society. He had also emigrated, but he was not in Rome,
and Mme. Le Brun, who was very fond of her, foresaw with anxiety
and misgiving the dangers and difficulties which were certain to
beset one so young, so lovely, so attractive, and so unprotected,
with no one to guide or influence her. Full of romance and passion,
surrounded with admiration and temptation, she was already carrying
on a correspondence, which could not be anything but dangerous, with
the Duc de Lauzun, a handsome, fascinating _roué_, who had not quitted
France, and was afterwards guillotined.

It is difficult to understand how anybody who had escaped from France
at that time should have chosen to go back there, except to save or
help somebody dear to them.

As Mme. Le Brun remarked in her own case: “It is no longer a question
of fortune or success, it is only a question of saving one’s life,”
but many people were rash enough to think and act otherwise, and
frequently paid dearly for their folly. Mme. de Fleury returned to
Paris while, or just before, the Terror was raging, and availed
herself of the revolutionary law, by which a husband or wife who had
emigrated might be divorced. But soon after she had dissolved her
marriage and resumed the name of Coigny she was arrested and sent to
St. Lazare, one of the most terrible of the prisons of the Revolution,
then crowded with people of all ages, ranks, and opinions.

Aimée de Coigny was no saint or heroine, like the Noailles, La
Rochejaquelein, and countless others, whose ardent faith and steadfast
devotion raised them above the horrors of their surroundings, and
carried them triumphantly through danger, suffering, and death to the
life beyond, upon which their hearts were fixed; nor yet a republican
enthusiast roughly awakened from dreams of “humanity,” “universal
brotherhood,” and “liberty” under the rule of “The People,” whose way
of carrying out these principles was so surprising.

Neither had she the anxiety and care for others which made heroes and
heroines of so many in those awful times. She had no children, and
the only person belonging to her—her father—had emigrated. She was
simply a girl of eighteen suddenly snatched from a life of luxury and
enjoyment, and shrinking with terror from the horrors around and the
fate before her. Amongst her fellow-prisoners was André Chénier, the
republican poet, who was soon to suffer death at the hands of those
in whom his fantastic dreams had seen the regenerators of mankind. He
expressed his love and admiration for her in a poem called “_La jeune
Captive_,” of which the following are the first lines:—

    “Est-ce à moi de mourir? Tranquille je m’endors,
    Et tranquille je veille, et ma veille aux remords,
    Ni mon sommeil ne sont en proie.
    Ma bienvenue au jour me rit dans tous les yeux;
    Sur des fronts abattus, mon aspect dans ces lieux
    Ramène presque de la joie.”

    Mon beau voyage encore est si loin de sa fin;
    Je pars, et des ormeaux qui bordent le chemin,
    J’ai passé les premiers à peine.
    Au banquet de la vie à peine commencé
    Un instant seulement mes lèvres ont pressé
    La coupe en mes mains encore pleine.

    Je ne suis qu’au printemps, je veux voir la moisson;
    Et comme le soleil, de saison en saison,
    Je veux achever mon année.
    Brilliante sur ma tige, et honneur du jardin,
    Je n’ai vu luire encor que les feux du matin;
    Je veux achever ma journée.”

           *       *       *       *       *

Another of her fellow-prisoners, equally fascinated by her and able
to render her more practical service, was M. de Montrond, a witty,
light-hearted sceptic, a friend of Talleyrand.

It having come to his knowledge that a plot was preparing for another
massacre in the prisons on pretence of conspiracy among the prisoners,
whose names and lives were at the mercy of the spies within and the
police and gaolers without, he contrived by paying a hundred louis to
get his own and Mme. de Coigny’s liberation, and after the Terror was
over they married and went to England for their honeymoon. At the end
of two months they were tired of each other, came back to Paris and
were divorced, and the Baronne de Montrond again resumed the name of

When the Restoration took place and her father returned she devoted
herself to him during the rest of his life; and as her first husband
returned too and had an appointment in the household of Louis XVIII.,
she was always liable to meet him as well as her second husband in

In spite of all her social success hers was not a disposition to
be happy. She was too excitable, emotional, and unreasonable. A
_liaison_ with a brother of Garat brought her much unhappiness, and
her unfortunate marriages and love affairs caused the Emperor Napoleon
to say to her one day at some court entertainment—

“Aimez vous toujours les hommes?”

To which she replied—

“Oui, Sire, quand ils sont polis.”

Her last and only constant love affair was with the poet Lemercier,
whose devotion never changed until her death in 1820, when she was
forty-two years of age.


[38] Charles de Valois, Duc d’Angoulême, Comte d’Auvergne et Ponthieu,
son of Charles IX. and Marie Touchet, b. 1572, m. 1644 second wife,
Françoise de Mareuil.—“Early Valois Queens,” p. 6 (Bearne). “Créquy


     Naples—Lady Hamilton—Marie Caroline, Queen of Naples—Mesdames
     de France—Their escape—_Les chemises de Marat_—Rome—Terrible
     news from France—Venice—Turin—The Comtesse de Provence—The 10th
     August—The Refugees—Milan—Vienna—Delightful society—Prince von
     Kaunitz—Life at Vienna.

In the autumn of 1790 Lisette went to Naples, with which she was
enchanted. She took a house on the Chiaja, looking across the bay
to Capri and close to the Russian Embassy. The Ambassador, Count
Scawronski, called immediately and begged her to breakfast and dine
always at his house, where, although not accepting this invitation,
she spent nearly all her evenings. She painted his wife, and, after
her, Emma Harte, then the mistress of Sir William Hamilton, as a
_bacchante_, lying on the sea-shore with her splendid chestnut hair
falling loosely about her in masses sufficient to cover her. Sir
William Hamilton, who was exceedingly avaricious, paid her a hundred
louis for the picture, and afterwards sold it in London for three
hundred guineas. Later on, Mme. Le Brun, having painted her as a Sybil
for the Duc de Brissac after she became Lady Hamilton, copied the head
and gave it to Sir William, who sold that also!

Another time she made a charcoal sketch of two heads on the door of a
summer-house by the sea, lent to her by Sir William Hamilton. Years
afterwards to her astonishment she saw them in England. He had cut
them out of the door and sold them to Lord Warwick!

Mme. Le Brun found Lady Hamilton, as she became shortly
afterwards—though extraordinarily beautiful—ignorant, ill-dressed,
without _esprit_ or conversation, ill-natured, and spiteful in her
way of talking about other people, the only topic she seemed capable
of discussing. She herself enjoyed Naples, as she did every other
pleasant episode in her delightful life. From the _loggia_ opening
out of her bedroom she looked down into an orange garden; from her
windows she could see constantly some picturesque or beautiful scene.
The costumes of the washerwomen who gathered round the fountain,
peasant girls dancing the _tarantella_, the fiery torches of the
fishermen scattered over the bay at night, all the life and colour and
incident of southern life spread like a panorama before her; and often
she would go out in a boat by moonlight or starlight upon the calm
sea, looking back upon the town rising like an amphitheatre from the
water’s edge.

She found as usual plenty of friends, the Princesse Joseph de Monaco
and Duchesse de Fleury amongst others, and the Baron de Talleyrand,
then French Ambassador. They made excursions to Vesuvius, Pompei,
Capri, Ischia, and all the lovely places in the neighbourhood.

One day the Baron de Talleyrand announced that the Queen wished her
to paint the portraits of her two eldest daughters, whose marriages
she was just going to Vienna to arrange.[39]

Lisette liked the Queen of Naples much better than her elder sister,
the Infanta of Parma. Though less beautiful than her younger sister,
Marie Antoinette, yet she bore a strong resemblance to her, and had
the remains of great beauty.

Mme. Le Brun describes her as affectionate, simple, and royally
generous. Hearing that the French Ambassador to Venice, M. de
Bombelle, was the only one who refused to sign the Constitution,
thereby reducing himself and his family to poverty; she wrote to him
that all sovereigns owed a debt of gratitude to faithful subjects, and
gave him a pension of twelve thousand francs. Two of his sons became
Austrian ministers at Turin and Berne, another was Grand-Master of the
household of Marie Louise.

The most infamous calumnies were circulated about Marie Caroline when
Napoleon wanted her kingdom for Caroline Murat; but she had a brave,
strong character and plenty of brains. The government was carried on
by her, for the King could or would do nothing but loiter about at

Lisette painted the two Princesses and the Prince Royal before
returning to Rome, where she had no sooner arrived than she had to go
back to Naples to paint the Queen.

She had had great success in the number of important pictures she
painted at Naples; and her career at Rome was equally prosperous.
She had plenty of money now, and nobody to meddle with it, and if it
had not been for the constant anxiety about France she would have been
perfectly happy. But French news was difficult to get and bad when it
was obtained.


  _E. H. Bearne_


Mesdames de France, the two last remaining daughters of Louis XV.,
arrived in Rome and at once sent for Mme. Le Brun, who was delighted
to see them again. They had with great difficulty succeeded in getting
away, and had been most anxious to take their niece, Madame Elizabeth,
with them. In vain they entreated her to come, she persisted in
staying with the King and Queen, and sacrificed her life in so doing.

Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire set off early in 1791. Their whole
journey was a perpetual danger. After getting their passports signed
with difficulty by the Commune, they were denounced at Sèvres by a
maid-servant, stopped by the Jacobins and accused of being concerned
in plots and of taking money out of the country, and detained for a
fortnight, when they managed to get permission to go on, and left
at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night, arriving on Sunday morning at
Fontainebleau, where they were again stopped and threatened by the
mob, who were just going to be joined by the _gardes nationaux_ when a
hundred _Chasseurs de Lorraine_, luckily quartered there, charged the
mob, opened the gates, and passed the carriages on. At Arnay-le-Duc
they were detained for eleven days, and only allowed to proceed when
the Comte de Narbonne appeared with a permission extorted by Mirabeau
from the revolutionary government at Paris.

They hurried away just in time, crossed the Mont Cenis, which was
covered with snow, and at the foot of which they were met by their
nephew, the Comte d’Artois. The King of Sardinia, husband of their
niece,[40] the eldest sister of Louis XVI. had sent four hundred
soldiers to clear away the snow, and escorted by the Comte d’Artois
they arrived safely at Turin where all the _noblesse_ were assembled
to receive them at the entrance of the royal palace. They arrived at
Rome in April.

The disgraceful proceedings and cowardly, preposterous fear of two
old ladies, which had made the radical government contemptible and
ridiculous, caused the following absurd story to be published in a
French newspaper:—

“Les chemises de Marat, ou l’arrestation de Mesdames, tantes du Roi à

“Marat avait dit dans un journal que les chemises de Mesdames lui
appartenaient. Les patriotes de province crurent de bonne foi que
Mesdames avaient emporté les chemises de Marat, et les habitants
d’Arnay-ci-devant-le-duc sachant qu’elles devaient passer par là,
decidèrent qu’il fallait les arrêter pour leur, faire rendre les
chemises qu’elles avaient voleés.... On les fait descendre de voiture
et les officiers municipales avec leurs habits noirs, leur gravité,
leurs écharpes, leur civism et leurs perruques, disent à Mesdames:

    “(_Air_: ‘Rendez-moi mon écuelle de bois.’)

        “Donnez-nous les chemises
              À Marat,
        Donnez-nous les chemises;
        Nous savons à n’en douter pas
        Que vous les avez prises.

“Mme. Adélaïde, étonnée d’un tel propos répond sur le même air:

        “Je n’ai point les chemises
                De Marat,
        Je n’ai point les chemises;
        Cherchez, Messieurs les magistrats
        Cherchez dans nos valises.

“Mme. Victoire dit à son tour:

        “Avait-il des chemises,
        Avait il des chemises?
        Moi, je crois qu’il n’en avait pas,
        Où les aurait-il prises?

“MM. les magistrats, connaissant de réputation les chemises de
l’écrivain, répondent avec une gravité toute municipale:

        “Il en avait trois grises
        Il en avait trois grises,
        Avec l’argent de son fatras
        Sur le Pont Neuf acquises.

“La municipalité se met alors en devoir de fouiller dans les malles de
Mesdames, en disant:

        “Cherchons bien les chemises
                À Marat
        Cherchons bien les chemises
        C’est pour vous un fort vilain cas
        Si vous les avez prises.

“Enfin, ne pouvant pas distinguer, parmi tant de chemises lesquelles
appartenaient à Marat, et les tantes du roi persistant à nier
qu’elles eussent, derobé celles du grand homme, la municipalité
d’Arnay-ci-devant-le-duc, accorda à Mesdames la permission de
continuer leur voyage après les avoir retenues prisonnières l’espace
de dix jours.”

Mme. Le Brun painted the portrait first of Madame Adélaïde, then of
Madame Victoire.

The latter, during her last sitting, said to her—

“I have received some news which fills me with joy; I hear the
King has escaped from France, and I have just written to him, only
addressing—To His Majesty the King of France. They will know very well
where to find him,” she added smiling.

Mme. Le Brun returned home and told the good news to her daughter’s
governess. But while they were rejoicing over it they, in the evening,
heard one of their servants singing below, a sullen, gloomy fellow who
never used to sing, and whom they knew to be a revolutionist. Looking
at each other in terror they exclaimed—

“Some misfortune has happened to the King.”

Next morning they heard of the arrest of the royal family at Varennes.

Most of the servants were bribed by the Jacobins to spy upon their
masters, and knew much better than they what was going on in France.
Many of them used to go and meet the _courrier_ who told them much
more than was contained in the letters he brought. After having lived
two years and a half in Italy, chiefly in Rome, Mme. Le Brun began to
think of returning to France.

How she could have entertained so mad an idea seems inexplicable; but
in fact, bad as the French news was, she was far from understanding
the frightful state of the country. In those days news travelled
slowly, important events only became partially known long after they
had taken place; and as to private letters, people dared not put in
them anything which might endanger either themselves or their friends.

Her mother, brother, and sister-in-law, to all of whom she was
strongly attached, were in France, and she was anxious to see them;
so, with deep regret and many tears, she left Rome and turned her
steps northward, of course with her child and governess.

They left Rome late in April, 1792, and travelled slowly along by
Perugia, Florence, Siena, Parma, and Mantova to Venice, where they
arrived the eve of the Ascension, and saw the splendid ceremony of the
marriage of the Doge and the Adriatic. There was a magnificent _fête_
in the evening, the battle of the gondoliers and illumination of the
_Piazza di San Marco_; where a fair as well as the illumination went
on for a fortnight.

Venice was crowded with foreigners, amongst whom was one of the
English princes; and Lisette’s friend, the Princesse Joseph de Monaco,
whom she saw for the last time, she also being on her way to France,
where she met her death.

She also met an acquaintance, M. Denon, who introduced her to the
Comtesse Marini, of whom he was then the _cavalière servente_; and who
at once invited her to go that evening to a _café_.

Lisette, to whom such an invitation was unfamiliar, accepted however;
and the Countess then said—

“Have you no friend to accompany you?”

“I have no one with me,” replied she, “but my daughter and her

“Oh, well!” said the Countess, “you must anyhow appear to have
somebody; I will lend you M. Denon all the time you are here; he will
give you his arm, I will take somebody else’s arm, and people will
think I have quarrelled with him, for you can’t go about here without
_un ami_.”


  _E. H. Bearne_


The arrangement proved entirely satisfactory. Lisette went about
all day with M. Denon, in gondolas, and to see everything—churches,
pictures, palaces; every one who knows Venice even now, knows it as a
place of enchantment, unlike anything else on earth; and in those days
the Doge still reigned, modern desecrations and eyesores were not, and
the beauty of the life and surroundings of the Queen of the Adriatic
was supreme.

Lisette frequented chiefly the society of the Spanish Ambassadress,
with whom she went to the Opera at the far-famed Fenice, and finally
left Venice and went by Padova, Vicenza, and Verona to Turin, where
she had letters of introduction from Mesdames to the Queen, whose
portrait they wished her to paint for them.

In former years, before the marriage of the Queen, Mme. Le Brun had
seen her, as a very young girl, at the court of her grandfather, Louis
XV., when she was so fat that she was called _le gros Madame_. She
was now pale and thin, whether from the austerities of devotion she
now practised, or from her grief at the misfortunes of her family and
anxiety for her sister, Madame Elizabeth, and her eldest brother, the
King of France.

She would not have her portrait done, saying that she was very sorry
to refuse her aunts, but as she had renounced the world she could not
have her picture taken. She had cut her hair short and her dress was
very simple. The King looked nearly as pale and thin.

They received Mme. Le Brun very kindly, and she next went to see the
Comtesse de Provence, for the second and third brothers, the Counts of
Provence and Artois, had taken refuge at their sister’s court.

The Comtesse de Provence was delighted to see Mme. Le Brun again,
and arranged various excursions, which they made together into the
mountains, in spite of the intense heat, for the summer was at its
height. After spending some time in Turin, Signor Porporati offered
to lend Mme. Le Brun a farm in the country, where he had a few rooms
furnished for himself, and where he used often to go in hot weather.
This exactly suited her, for the heat was overpowering, her little
girl was made quite ill by it; and with joyful haste, she, with the
governess, child, and servants, established themselves amongst the
meadows, woods, and streams which surrounded the farm house.

There she rested, spending the days out of doors in the cool green
country, and looking forward to her approaching return to France; when
one evening a letter was brought her from M. de Rivière, the brother
of her sister-in-law, which told her of the horrible events of the
10th of August, the attack on the Tuileries, the imprisonment of the
Royal Family, the massacres and horrors of all kinds still going on.

Overcome with grief at this terrible news, and filled with
self-reproach for the peaceful happiness of her own life, the solitude
of the place became insupportable, and she at once returned to Turin.

Had not this been sufficient to put a stop to all idea of going to
France, the sights which met them as the little party entered Turin
would have done so.

The streets and squares were thronged with French refugees, who had
fled, and were still flying, from France. They arrived by thousands,
men, women, and children of all ranks and ages, most of them without
luggage, money, or even food; having had no time to take anything with
them or think of anything but saving their lives. The old Duchesse
de Villeroi had been supported on the journey by her maid, who had
enough money to get food for ten sous a day. Women, who had never
been in carts before, were prematurely confined on the road, owing
to the jolting; children were crying for food, it was a heartrending
spectacle. The King gave orders that food and lodging should be found
for them, but there was not room to put them all in; the Comtesse de
Provence was having food carried about the streets, and Lisette, like
the rest, gave all the help in her power, going round with the equerry
of Madame to look for rooms and get provisions.

Seeing a handsome, noble-looking old officer, wearing the Cross of
St. Louis, leaning against the corner of a street, with despair in
his face, asking for nothing, but evidently faint with hunger, they
went up and gave him what little money they had left, which he took,
thanking them with a voice broken by sobs. The next morning he and
several others were lodged in the King’s palace, no other rooms being

The weeks following were terrible for Lisette, the anxiety and
agitation she was in being increased by the non-appearance of M. de
Rivière, who had told her to expect him at Turin. At last, a fortnight
later than the day fixed, he arrived, so dreadfully changed that
she hardly recognised him. As he crossed the bridge of Beauvoisin
he had seen the priests being massacred, and that and all the other
atrocities he had witnessed had thrown him into a fever, which had
detained him for some time at Chambéry.

With fear and trembling Lisette inquired for her relations, but was
assured that her mother was well, and never left Neuilly, that M. Le
Brun was all right at Paris, and that her brother and his wife and
child were safe in hiding.

Having decided to stop at Turin and wait for further news, she took a
little house in a vineyard near the town. M. de Rivière lodged with
her, and gradually recovered amongst the peaceful surroundings. Even
the sight of the honest, quiet, peaceable peasants did them good.
They walked among the vineyards, or in a neighbouring wood, where
steep paths led to little churches and chapels, in which they attended
mass on Sundays; and Lisette resumed her work, painting amongst other
things a picture, “_Une baigneuse_,” which she sold at once to a
Russian prince, and a portrait of his daughter as a present to Signor

After a time she went to Milan, where she was received with great
honour. The first evening she was serenaded by all the young men of
the chief Milanese families, but, not knowing that all this music was
on her account, she sat listening and enjoying it with composure,
until her landlady came and explained. She made an excursion to the
lakes, and on her return to Milan decided to go to Vienna, seeing that
France would be out of the question for an indefinite time.

At a concert in Milan she made the acquaintance of the Countess
Bistri, a beautiful Pole, who was also going to Vienna with her
husband. They arranged to travel together, and this was the beginning
of a long and intimate friendship.

The Count and Countess were kind, excellent people, who had just
brought with them a poor old emigrant priest, and another younger one,
whom they had picked up on the road after he had escaped from the
massacre of the bridge of Beauvoisin. They had only a carriage with
two places, but they had put the old man between them and the young
one behind the carriage, and had taken the greatest care of them.

They travelled from Milan to Vienna through the magnificent scenery of
Tyrol and Styria, and arrived safely at the Austrian capital, where
Mme. Le Brun spent two years and a half happily and prosperously.
Every one was eager to invite her to their houses, and the numerous
portraits she painted made her sojourn in Austria as profitable as it
was pleasant.

She brought, of course, many letters of introduction, of which the
first she availed herself was to the Countess von Thoum, at whose
_soirées_ she met all the most important personages in Vienna, and
also many French _emigrés_ amongst whom, to her great joy, was her old
friend the Comte de Vaudreuil.

Never, she afterwards remarked, had she seen so many pretty women
together as in the _salon_ of Mme. de Thoum; but what surprised her
was that most of them did needlework sitting round a large table all
the evening. They would also knit in their boxes at the opera; but it
was explained that this was for charity. In other respects she found
society at Vienna very much the same as at Paris before the advent of
the Revolution.

Another of her introductions was to Prince von Kaunitz, the great
Minister of Maria Theresa, whose power and influence had been
such that he was called _le cocher de l’Europe_;[41] and whose
disinterested single-minded patriotism was shown in his answer, when,
having proposed a certain field-marshal as president of the council of
war, the Empress remarked—

“But that man is your declared enemy.”

“Madame,” he replied, “that man is the friend of the State, which is
the only thing that ought to be considered.”

Kaunitz was now eighty-three years old, tall, thin, and upright. His
great intellect, taste, and judgment seemed unimpaired, and he prided
himself on his perfect seat on horseback. In costume and appearance he
resembled the splendid cavaliers of the court of Louis XIV.

His life at Vienna was that of a _grand seigneur_ of the most
illustrious order, and on New Year’s day and on his _fête_, the crowd
that flocked to his house to congratulate him was so enormous that he
might have been supposed to be the Emperor himself.

He was extremely kind to Mme. Le Brun, whom he always called “_ma
bonne amie_”; she was often at his house, though she did not care for
the great dinners of never less than thirty people, which were always
at seven o’clock—in those days considered a late hour.

Lisette, in fact, liked to paint all the morning, dine by herself at
half-past two, then take a _siesta_, and devote the latter part of the
day and evening to social engagements.

Prince von Kaunitz desired that her picture of the Sibyl should be
exhibited for a fortnight in his _salon_, where all the court and
town came to see it. Mme. Le Brun made also the acquaintance of the
celebrated painter of battles, Casanova.

One evening at a dinner-party of Prince von Kaunitz, when the
conversation turned upon painting, some one was speaking of Rubens
being appointed ambassador.

An old German baroness exclaimed—

“What? A painter ambassador? Doubtless it must have been an ambassador
who amused himself by painting.”

“No, Madame,” replied Casanova, “he was a painter who amused himself
by being ambassador.”

One of her new friends was the Countess Kinska, who, as she observed,
was “neither maid, wife, nor widow,” for she and her husband had been
married according to their parents’ arrangement, without ever having
seen each other, and after the ceremony Count Kinska, turning to her,

“Madame, we have obeyed our parents. I leave you with regret, but I
cannot conceal from you that for a long time I have been devoted to
another woman. I cannot live without her, and I am going back to her.”

So saying, he got into the carriage that was waiting at the church
door, and she saw no more of him.

The Countess was extremely pretty, attractive, and amiable. One day
while she was sitting for her portrait, Mme. Le Brun had occasion to
send for Mme. Charot, her nursery-governess, who came in looking so
pleased that she asked what had happened.

“I have just had a letter from my husband,” she said; “he tells me
that they have put me on the list of _emigrés_. I shall lose my eight
hundred francs _de rente_, but I console myself for that, as there I
am on the list of respectable people.”

A few minutes later the Countess said that Mme. Le Brun’s painting
blouse was so convenient she wished she had one like it; and in reply
to her offer to lend her one said she would much rather Mme. Charot
made it, for which she would send the linen. When it was finished she
gave Mme. Charot ten louis.

M. de Rivière was also at Vienna, and took part in all the private
theatricals and diversions going on.

Mme. Le Brun painted a remarkable portrait of Mlle. Fries, the great
banker’s daughter, as Sappho, she being an excellent musician. Also of
the Baron and Baroness Strogonoff with whom she became very intimate.

At a State ball she first saw again the Empress, Marie Thérèse,
daughter of the Queen of Naples, whom she found much changed in
appearance. She had painted her portrait in 1792.

She also was overjoyed to meet the Comtesse de Brionne, Princesse de
Lorraine, one of the earliest friends who had shown her unvarying
kindness at the beginning of her career—and she resumed her old habit
of going often to supper with her. The Polignac, too, had a place
near Vienna, in fact, wherever she went Lisette met numbers of her
unfortunate countrymen and acquaintance driven into exile, watching in
despair the course of events in France.

She scarcely dared read the newspapers, since one day on opening
one she had seen in the death list the names of nine persons of her
acquaintance; and all her Austrian friends tried to prevent her from
hearing or knowing what was going on. A letter from her brother,
however, brought her the fatal news of the murder of the King and

She was as happy at Vienna as she could be anywhere under the
circumstances. During the winter she had the most brilliant society in
Europe, and for the summer she had taken a little house at Schönbrunn,
near the Polignac, in a lovely situation, to which she always retired
when Vienna became too hot, and where she took long solitary walks by
the Danube, or sat and sketched under the trees.

Here she finished the portrait of the young Princess von Lichtenstein,
as Iris. As she was represented with bare feet, her husband told Mme.
Le Brun that when it was hung in his gallery, and the heads of the
family came to see it, they were all extremely scandalised, so he had
placed a pair of little shoes on the ground under it, and told the
grand-parents they had dropped off.


[39] The eldest married the Emperor Francis II., the second the Grand
Duke of Tuscany.

[40] Madame Clotilde, eldest daughter of the Dauphin, son of Louis
XV., married the King of Sardinia.

[41] The coachman of Europe.


     Dresden—St. Petersburg—The Empress Catherine
     II.—Orloff—Potemkin—Russian hospitality—Magnificence of society
     at St. Petersburg—Mme. Le Brun is robbed—Slanders against her—The
     Russian Imperial family—Popularity and success of Mme. Le
     Brun—Death of the Empress Catherine.

Two years and a half had passed and Mme. Le Brun had no desire
to leave Vienna, when the Russian Ambassador and several of his
compatriots urged her strongly to go to St. Petersburg, where they
said the Empress Catherine II. would be extremely pleased to have her.

She had a great wish to see this Empress, whose strange and commanding
personality impressed her, besides which she was convinced that in
Russia she would soon gain enough to complete the fortune she had
resolved to make before returning to France.

On Sunday, April 19, 1795, therefore, she left Vienna and went by
Prague to Dresden, where she was of course enraptured with the
world-famed gallery, and above all with the _chef d’œuvre_ of
Raffaelle, the Madonna di San Sisto—that vision of beauty before
which every other seems dim and pale. She spent five days at Berlin,
stayed a few days more at the castle of her old friend Prince Henry
of Prussia, and arrived at St. Petersburg late in July, very tired and
exhausted with the journey in an uncomfortable carriage over roads
so bad that she was jolted and flung about from one great stone to
another from Riga to St. Petersburg, until her only longing was to be
quiet and rest.

But she had not been more than twenty-four hours in the Russian
capital when the French Ambassador was announced; his visit was
succeeded by others, and that evening the Empress sent to say that she
would receive Mme. Le Brun at Czarskoiesolo[42] the next day at one

The French Ambassador, Count d’Esterhazy, said that he would come at
ten and take her to _déjeuner_ with his wife, who was just then living
at Czarskoiesolo. For the first time during her wandering life from
court to court, Lisette felt intimidated, and trembled. This was so
different from any of her former experiences. At every other court
she had been _en pays de connaissance_. Austrian society was very
like Parisian, Rome was the centre of Christendom, the sovereigns of
the lesser Italian states were the near relations of her own King and
Queen, their religion was the same.

But here, in this half-barbarous country, at an immense distance
from everywhere she had ever been before, with a different church,
a language incomprehensible to her and a sovereign mysterious,
powerful, autocratic, whose reputation was sinister, and to whose
private character were attached the darkest suspicions, an additional
uneasiness was added to her reflections owing entirely to her habitual
careless absence of mind in not having provided herself with a proper
_toilette_ for the occasion.

Accustomed all her life to be surrounded by friends, to be made much
of and allowed to do as she liked wherever she went, she had followed
her own fashion of wearing a certain style of dress, artistic,
characteristic, but inexpensive. Nobody had objected to the simple
_toilettes_ of soft muslin, gracefully arranged, nor to the scarves
and handkerchiefs she twisted in her hair. But she became suddenly
conscious that they were by no means suitable to appear before the
formidable personage, whom she pictured to herself as tall, dark,
gloomy, and terrible, moreover the Countess Esterhazy looked at her in
astonishment, and with much hesitation said—

“Madame, have you not brought any other dress?”

With much confusion she replied that she had not had time to have
a proper dress made, but she was aware of the impossibility of
explaining why, coming straight from Vienna, she had not brought one
with her; and the dissatisfied looks of the Ambassadress increased her
alarm when it was time to go to the Empress.

The Ambassador gave her his arm, told her to be sure to kiss the
hand of the Empress, and they walked across the park to the palace,
where, through a window on the ground floor, they saw a girl of about
seventeen watering a pot of pinks. Slight and delicate, with an oval
face, regular features, pale complexion, and fair hair curling
round her forehead and neck, she wore a loose white tunic tied with a
sash round her waist, and against the background of marble columns and
hangings of pink and silver, looked like a fairy.

It was the Grand-Duchess Elizabeth, wife of Alexander, eldest grandson
of Catherine II., and as Mme. Le Brun muttered, “It is Psyche!” she
came to meet her, and with the most charming courtesy said that
she had so longed to see her that she had even dreamed of her, and
detained her talking for some time. A few moments afterwards Lisette
found herself alone with the Empress Catherine.


The Semiramis of the North, as she was called, received her so
graciously, that all her fears and embarrassments disappeared.

She took no notice of her _toilette_, expressed her deep satisfaction
at her arrival in Russia, hoped she would be happy and stay there a
long time, and ordered an apartment in the palace to be prepared for
her during the rest of the summer.

This, however, was not done, owing to some palace intrigue, and
greatly to the relief of Mme. Le Brun, who much preferred to live by
herself in her own way.

The Empress was not in the least like what she had imagined. Short
and stout, though exceedingly dignified, her white hair was raised
high above her forehead, her face, still handsome, expressed the power
and genius which characterised her commanding personality, her eyes
and her voice were gentle, and her hands extremely beautiful. She had
taken off one of her gloves, expecting the usual salute, but Lisette
had forgotten all about it till afterwards when the Ambassador asked,
to her dismay, if she had remembered to kiss the hand of the Empress.

Whatever might be her private character, Catherine II. was a great
sovereign, a wise ruler, and beloved by the Russian people. In her
reign Tartary, Lithuania, the Caucasus, Courland, and part of Poland
were added to the vast Muscovite Empire; the Russian share of Poland
alone added six millions to her subjects. Every branch of the service,
every corner of the empire, canals, mines, agriculture, commerce,
received her consideration and supervision; art and literature were
encouraged and advanced; the progress made by Russia under her rule
was enormous.

Catherine was the daughter of Prince Christian of Anhalt-Zerbst,
and was sixteen years old when she was brought from the old castle
among the lakes and forests of Germany to be married to Peter, son of
Charles Frederic, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and Anne, eldest daughter
of Peter the Great;[43] who had been adopted as heir by the Empress
Elizabeth, his aunt, youngest daughter of Peter the Great, with whose
grandson, Peter II.,[44] the male line had ended.

Peter of Holstein-Gottorp was seventeen; and was no attractive
husband for a young girl with an impetuous nature, strong passions,
and an enthusiastic love of pleasure and magnificence. He was sullen,
tyrannical, violent-tempered, brutal, often intoxicated, and besides
terribly disfigured by the small-pox.

He carried on an open _liaison_ with the Countess Woronsoff, while
Catherine, who regarded him with dislike and repugnance, consoled
herself with Prince Soltikoff, the hero of Russia from his victory
over Frederic the Great, King of Prussia, and then with Prince
Stanislas Poniatowski.

The Empress Elizabeth, whose own life was a constant succession of
love intrigues, disapproved nevertheless of this open and public
scandal, particularly when her nephew was reported to be about to
divorce his wife in order to marry his mistress.

She sent the Countess Woronsoff to her father’s estates in the
country, dismissed Poniatowski from St. Petersburg, and tried
to reconcile the ill-matched couple; but in vain. She died soon
afterwards, and Peter III., a German at heart, proceeded on his
accession to make himself hated in Russia by his infatuation for
everything Prussian; Prussia being the nation of all others disliked
by his subjects. He discarded the French and Austrian alliance,
attached himself to Frederic, King of Prussia, and besides all the
unpopular changes he made in his own army, accepted the rank of an
officer in that of Prussia, wore the Prussian uniform, and declared
that he preferred the title of a Prussian Major-General to any other
he possessed!

He quarrelled with the clergy and the nobles, and tried to re-model
everything after the German fashion. Even such changes as were
beneficial he carried out in a manner so intolerable that very soon a
powerful party was formed against him, of which Catherine was the head.

For she was as much loved as he was detested. German though she was
she identified herself with the nation whose crown she wore, she
carried on the traditions of Peter the Great and Elizabeth; made
friends of the church, the army, and the nobles, and yet had prudence
enough to avoid by any open defiance hastening the vengeance of Peter,
who, in spite of the warnings of the King of Prussia, despised his
enemies, disbelieved in his unpopularity, and occupied himself with
projects for adopting as his heir the unfortunate Ivan VI., whom
Elizabeth had dethroned and imprisoned, disowning his son, divorcing
his wife, and marrying the Countess Woronsoff. Whilst he loitered
away his time with the latter at Oranienbaum, the conspiracy broke
forth; headed by the brothers Orloff, five men of gigantic stature,
powerful and capable in mind and body. They were all in the Guards,
and succeeded in bringing over that and six other regiments. Catherine
and one of her ladies left the palace in a cart disguised as peasants,
then, changing into officers’ uniforms, arrived at the barracks, where
Catherine was hailed with enthusiasm by soldiers, clergy, and people
as Catherine II., Empress of all the Russias.[45]

The troops marched to Oranienbaum, the Emperor fled and proposed to
abdicate and retire to Holstein with the Countess Woronsoff, but
he was persuaded to go to Peterhoff in order to make arrangements,
was seized by the conspirators, thrown into prison, where six days
afterwards he was murdered by the Orloff, who held the supreme power
in their hands.[46] Whether or not Catherine was consenting to this is
not certain, though very probable. She hated Peter, by whom she had
been oppressed, threatened, and ill-treated, and who had purposed to
divorce her and disinherit her son.

Gregory Orloff became her all-powerful favourite, and although she
would never agree to his preposterous ambition and allow him to be
married to her and crowned Emperor, she loaded the Orloff family with
riches and honours, which they retained after other favourites had
succeeded the gigantic guardsman in her affections.

Of all of them the greatest was Potemkin, a Polish officer, to whom
it was rumoured that she was secretly married, and whom she made
Generalissimo of the Armies of Russia, Grand Admiral of the Fleet, and
supreme Hetman of the Cossacks.

Potemkin cannot be judged as a commonplace favourite, exalted or
destroyed by a caprice; he represented the ambition of Russia in the
eighteenth century; after his death Catherine could never replace that
splendid and supple intelligence.[47]

He had been dead about four years when Mme. Le Brun arrived in Russia,
but was still talked of as a sort of magician. His niece, the Countess
Scawronska, said to her—

“If my uncle had known you, he would have overwhelmed you with honours
and riches.”

Amongst Lisette’s new Russian friends was the beautiful Princesse
Dolgorouki, with whom Count Cobentzel was hopelessly in love; but as
Lisette observed, her indifference was not to be wondered at, for
Cobentzel was fifty and very ugly; and Potemkin had been in love
with her. Besides all his other gifts he was extremely handsome and
charming, and his generosity and magnificence were unparalleled.

When on the _fête_ Sainte Catherine he gave a great banquet supposed
to be in honour of the Empress, crystal cups full of diamonds were
brought in at dessert, the diamonds being served in spoonsful to the

The Princess remarking on this extravagance, he said in a low voice—

“_Puisque c’est vous que je fête, comment vous étonnez-vous de quelque

For her name also was Catherine.

Another time, hearing that the Princess wanted some shoes for a ball,
he sent an express which travelled night and day to Paris to get them.

And it was well-known that he had ordered the assault upon the
fortress of Otshakoff to be prematurely made because she wished to see

The lavish, almost barbaric hospitality of the great Russian nobles
both at St. Petersburg and Moscow astonished Mme. Le Brun. Many
of them possessed colossal fortunes and kept open house. Prince
Narischkin, Grand Equerry, had always a table to sit five-and-twenty
or thirty guests.

Mme. Le Brun found society at the Russian capital extremely amusing,
and was, if possible, received with even more enthusiasm than in
the other countries in which she had sojourned. She went to balls,
dinners, suppers, or theatricals every night, and when she could
manage to spare the time from the numerous portraits she painted, she
went to stay in the country houses and palaces near, where in addition
to other festivities they had _fêtes_ on the Neva by night, in
gorgeously fitted up boats with crimson and gold curtains, accompanied
by musicians.

Financially, in spite of the large sums she gained, Lisette was at
first unfortunate. She placed 45,000 francs in a bank which broke
immediately afterwards.

Returning at one o’clock one morning from some theatricals at the
Princess Menzikoff, she was met by Mme. Charot in consternation
announcing that she had been robbed by her German servant of 35,000
francs, that the lad had tried to throw suspicion upon a Russian,
but the money having been found upon him he had been arrested by the
police, who had taken all the money as a proof, having first counted
the gold pieces.

Mme. Le Brun blamed her for having let the gold go, and just as she
said, she never got its value again, for although the same number of
pieces were returned, instead of the Austrian gold coins they only
gave her ducats, worth so much less that she lost 15,000 francs by
them. Then she heard that the boy was sentenced to be hanged, and as
he was the son of a _concièrge_ and his wife belonging to the Prince
de Ligne, excellent people who had served her in Vienna with attention
and civility, she was in despair, hurried to the governor to obtain
his pardon, and with much difficulty succeeded in getting him sent
away by sea; for the Empress had heard of it, and was very angry.

To her joy she met her old friend Doyen, the painter. He had emigrated
two years after her, and arrived at St. Petersburg with no money.
The Empress came to his assistance and offered him the directorship
of the Academy of Arts. He settled in the Russian capital, where he
got plenty of employment, painting both pictures and ceilings for the
Empress, who liked him, and for the Russian nobles. The Empress gave
him a place near her own box at the theatre, and used often to talk to

While she was still in Vienna, Lisette had been told by the Baronne de
Strogonoff of the Greek supper at Paris, which she said she knew cost
80,000 francs.

“You astonish me!” said the Baronne, when the affair was explained
to her; “for at St. Petersburg we were told about it by one of your
countrymen, M. L——, who said he knew you very well, and was present at
the supper.”

To which Lisette replied that she did not know M. L—— at all except by
name; and the matter ended.

A few days after her arrival at St. Petersburg, where M. L—— did
not suppose she would ever come, Mme. Le Brun went to see Mme. de
Strogonoff, and as she was not well, went into her bedroom and sat
down by the bed.

Presently M. L—— was announced, and Mme. Le Brun having hidden herself
behind the curtains, Mme. de Strogonoff ordered him to be shown in,
and said to him—

“Well, you must be very glad, for Mme. Le Brun has just arrived.”

M. L—— began to hesitate and stammer, while his hostess continued to
question him; and Mme. Le Brun, coming out from behind the curtain,

“Then you know Mme. Le Brun very well, Monsieur?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Well, that is very strange,” she observed; “because I am Mme. Le
Brun, whom you have calumniated, and I now see you for the first time
in my life.”

At this he rose, his legs seeming to tremble under him, and taking his
hat he left the room and was seen no more, for in consequence of this
he was excluded from all the best houses.

When the Empress returned from Czarskoiesolo she desired Mme. Le Brun
to paint the portraits of the Grand Duchesses Alexandrine and Helena,
daughters of the Tsarevitch, then fourteen and thirteen years old, and
afterwards that of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, wife of Alexander,
eldest grandson of the Empress, the young girl she had seen on her
first visit to Czarskoiesolo, by whom she was completely fascinated.

The Imperial family, with whom she soon became well acquainted,
consisted of the Tsarevitch, afterwards Paul I., his wife, Marie of
Wurtemburg, a tall, fair, noble-looking woman, whom every one liked
and respected, their sons, the wives of the two elder ones, and their

They were all entirely under the domination of the Empress, against
whose will nobody dared to rebel, though Paul as a child used to ask
his tutor why his father had been killed and why his mother wore the
crown which ought to have been his.

He was the only one of the Imperial family Lisette was at all afraid
of, for the Empress was unceasingly good to her, and the princes and
princesses were all very young.

Alexander, afterwards Alexander I., resembled his mother in beauty
and charm of character; but Constantine was like his father, whose
eccentric, gloomy disposition seemed to foreshadow the fate which lay
before him. His strange, unbalanced nature alternated between good
and evil; capricious and violent, he was yet capable of kindness and

Constantine, although very young, was married to the Princess Anne of
Coburg, of whom Mme. Le Brun remarked that without being so lovely as
the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, she was still very pretty, very lively,
and only sixteen years old. She was not happy with Constantine, from
whom she separated after a time and went back to her own family.

Neither of the young wives were altogether fortunate, for some years
later two beautiful Polish girls, whose father had been killed in
the Polish war, were brought by their mother to the Russian court.
The eldest and prettiest was only sixteen, and was married to Prince
Narischkin, but the overpowering passion which she inspired in the
Emperor Alexander is well known; whilst her sister captivated the
terrible Constantine.

Mme. Le Brun saw Mme. de Narischkin and her sister before she left
Russia, for though she only intended to be there for a short time,
she remained for six years, making an immense number of friends, and
apparently no enemy but Zuboff, the last favourite of the Empress
Catherine, an arrogant, conceited young man of two-and-twenty,
whom she supposed she had offended by not paying court to him; and
therefore he tried all he could to injure her with the Empress.

She lived opposite the palace, and could see the Empress open a window
and throw food to flocks of crows that always came for it; and in the
evenings when the _salons_ were lighted up she could watch her playing
hide-and-seek and other games with her grandchildren and some of the

For she adored her grandchildren, whom she kept entirely under her own
control, allowing their parents to have no voice in their education,
which she certainly directed with great care and wisdom.

Every one crowded to the studio of Mme. Le Brun on Sundays to see
the portraits of the Grand Duchesses. Zuboff, seeing the crowd of
carriages which, after leaving the palace, stopped before her house,
remarked to the Empress—

“See Madame, people go also to pay their court to Mme. Le Brun. They
must certainly be _rendezvous_ which they have at her house.”

But his insinuations made no impression upon the Empress. She liked
Mme. Le Brun and paid no attention to him.

The climate of Russia Lisette became gradually accustomed to. The
absence of spring and autumn, the short, hot summer, not beginning
until June and ending in August, were at first very strange to her.
The first May she spent there the half-melted snow was on the ground
and the windows still closed up, while enormous blocks of ice came
crashing down the Neva with a noise like thunder.

The splendid ceremony of the benediction of the Neva by the
Archimandrite, in the presence of the Empress, the Imperial family,
and all the great dignitaries, deeply impressed her.

One day at the end of May when she and her daughter were walking in
the summer gardens, they noticed that all the shrubs were covered only
with buds. Taking a long walk round the gardens and returning to the
same place, they found all the buds had burst into leaf.

The cold of the long winters she found, as every one says, much more
supportable than in other countries whilst indoors, the heating of the
houses being so perfect. And sledging parties were added to the other
amusements of her life.

The hot weather she used to spend at some house she took or had lent
to her in the country near St. Petersburg.

One Sunday in October, 1796, Lisette went, after mass, to the palace
to present the portrait she had just finished of the Grand Duchess

After expressing her satisfaction, the Empress said—

“They are absolutely resolved that you shall do my portrait. I am very
old, but still, as they all wish it, I will give you the first sitting
this day week.”

The following Thursday morning the Empress did not ring as usual at
nine o’clock. They waited till after ten, and then the first _femme de
chambre_ went in and found her lying on the floor struck by apoplexy.

Lisette was at home with her daughter, who was just recovering from an
illness, when the news was brought to her.

Filled with alarm and sorrow, she hurried to the Princess Dolgorouki,
where Count Cobentzel brought them constant news from the palace,
where desperate but fruitless efforts were being made to revive the

Everywhere was nothing but consternation, grief, and alarm; for all
ranks and classes not only adored Catherine, but were terrified at the
advent of Paul.

In the evening Catherine II. died and Paul arrived. Lisette hardly
dared leave the Princess Dolgorouki’s, to go home, as every one was
saying there would be a revolution against Paul. The streets were
filled with people, but there was no disorder. The crowds reassembled
next day before the palace of Catherine, calling her their mother,
with cries and tears.

For six weeks she lay in state in a great room in the palace, which
was illuminated day and night. The Emperor had his father, Peter III.,
brought from the convent where he was buried to be taken at the same
time as Catherine to the fortress where all the Russian monarchs are
interred. He obliged the assassins of his father to carry the corners
of the funeral pall, and himself, bareheaded, with the Empress and all
the ladies of the court, with long trains and veils, walked through
the snow and fearful cold in the procession from the palace to the


[42] So spelt in the “Mémoires de Mme. Le Brun.”

[43] It has been, however, confidently asserted that Peter was not and
could not have been the son of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, but of a
Swedish Colonel named Bruhmer, with whom by the advice of her mother
(Catherine I.), the Duchess carried on an intrigue.—“Catherine II.”

[44] Son of Alexis the Tsarevitch, who was put to death by his father,
Peter the Great.

[45] Catherine II. was adored by the army and knew how to appreciate
the prowess of her soldiers. After a great victory of General
Souvaroff she sent him a _courrier_ with simply an empty envelope on
which was written “_Au Maréchal Souvaroff_.”

[46] “Catherine II.” (J. Castera).

[47] “La Grande Catherine” (Capefigue).

[48] Since it is in your honour, why should anything surprise you?


     Paul I.—Terror he inspired—Death of the mother of Mme.
     Le Brun—Marriage of her daughter—Moscow—The Tsarevitch
     Alexander—Assassination of Paul I.—“I salute my
     Emperor”—Mme. Le Brun returns to Paris—Changes—London—Life
     in England—Paris—Separated from M. Le Brun—Society
     during the Empire—Caroline Murat—Switzerland—Fall of the
     Empire—Restoration—Death of M. Le Brun—Of her daughter—Travels in
     France—Her nieces—Conclusion.

From Catherine II. to Paul I. was indeed a fearful change. The sudden
accession to supreme power after a life of repression increased the
malady which was gaining ground upon him. It was evident that his
brain was affected, and the capricious violence and cruelty which he
was now free to exercise as he pleased left nobody in peace or safety.


Nobody could feel sure when they got up in the morning that they would
go safely to bed at night; the slightest offence given to the Emperor
meant imprisonment or Siberia, and his orders were so preposterous
that it was difficult not to offend him.

He commanded every one to salute his palace, even when he was not
there. He forbade round hats, and sent police about with long sticks
to knock off any they met.

There were spies everywhere; people never dared mention him, and
began to be afraid to receive their friends at all, or if they did,
carefully closed the shutters; if a ball took place, the carriages
were sent away for fear of attracting attention.

The order was given for every one to wear powder, but as Mme. Le
Brun did not like it in portraits, and was painting that of Prince
Bariatinski, she begged him to come without it. One day he arrived in
her studio pale and trembling.

“What is the matter?” she exclaimed.

“Ah!” cried he. “I have just met the Emperor as I came to you. I
had only time to rush under a portico and am dreadfully afraid he
recognized me.”

One night, at a masked ball, a young man accidentally in a crowd
pushed against a woman, who cried out.

Paul turned to one of his _aides-de-camp_, saying—

“Take that gentleman to the fortress and come back and tell me when he
is safely shut up there.”

The _aide-de-camp_ returned, saying that he had executed the order,
but adding—

“Your Majesty must know that that young man is extremely shortsighted;
here is the proof.” And he held out his spectacles, which he had

The Emperor tried them on and exclaimed hastily—

“Run quick and fetch him and take him to his parents. I shall not go
to bed till you tell me he is safe at home.”

Lisette was dreadfully afraid of him, for although he liked her, and
was always extremely polite and pleasant to her, she never felt that
she could trust him.

He gave orders that every one, women as well as men, should get out
of their sledges or carriages when he passed. It was dreadfully cold,
with deep snow, and he was always driving about, often almost without
escort, so that he was not at once recognised; but it was dangerous to

One day Lisette was driving, and seeing him coming when her coachman
did not, she called out—

“Stop! Stop! It is the Emperor!” But as she was getting out, he
descended from his sledge and hastened to prevent her, saying with a
most gracious air that his orders did not apply to foreigners, above
all, not to Mme. Le Brun.

He continued the kindness of Catherine II. to Doyen, who was now very
old, and lived prosperous and happy, and, as Mme. Le Brun said, if her
father’s old friend was satisfied with his lot at St. Petersburg, she
was not less so.

She now painted the whole day except when on Sundays she received in
her studio the numbers of people, from the Imperial family downwards,
who came to see her portraits; to which she had added a new and great
attraction, for she had caused to be sent from Paris her great picture
of Marie Antoinette in a blue velvet dress, which excited the deepest
interest. The Prince de Condé, when he came to see it, could not
speak, but looked at it and burst into tears.

Society was so full of French refugees that Lisette remarked she
could almost fancy herself in Paris.

The Emperor desired her to paint the portrait of the Empress, whom she
represented standing in full court dress, with a crown of diamonds.
Lisette used to declare that she was like a woman out of the Gospel,
and that she was the only woman she knew whom no calumny ever
attacked. One day she brought her two youngest sons to the sitting,
the Grand Dukes Nicolas and Michael, then children. Of the Grand Duke
Nicolas, afterwards Emperor, Mme. Le Brun declared that she had never
seen a more beautiful child, and that she could paint from memory his
face, which had all the characteristic beauty of Greece.

But amidst all this professional and social prosperity Mme. Le Brun
was now to experience two severe domestic sorrows, one of which was
the loss of her mother, of whose death her brother sent her the news
from France. The other, related to her daughter, was entirely owing to
her own infatuated folly, and was not at all surprising.

For Mme. Le Brun had so brought up the girl that it would have been a
miracle if she had not turned out, as she did, utterly selfish, vain,
and heartless.

Jeanne Le Brun was, according to her mother, pretty, clever, extremely
well-educated, charming in manner, and universally admired. Allowing
for her infatuation, it was probable that her daughter was attractive.
She was now seventeen, and went into society with her mother, whose
foolish admiration and flattery encouraged all her faults.

Mme. Le Brun allowed her to have her own way in all things; made
herself a slave to her caprices, as she had always done; and when
her friends remonstrated with her upon her folly, paid no attention
to them, or replied that everybody loved or admired her child. Being
engaged all day and unable to go out much with Jeanne, she allowed her
to go on sledging parties with the Countess Czernicheff, and often to
spend the evenings at her house, where she met and fell in love with
the Count’s secretary, M. Nigris, a good-looking man of thirty with
neither fortune, talent, character, connections, or any recommendation

In vain Mme. Le Brun tried to dissuade her from this deplorable
marriage, the spoilt young girl, accustomed to have everything she
chose, would not give way; the Czernicheff and other objectionable
friends she had made supported her against her mother, the worst of
all being her governess, Mme. Charot, who had betrayed the confidence
of Mme. Le Brun by giving her daughter books to read of which she
disapproved, filling her head with folly, and assisting her secretly
in this fatal love-affair.

After being tormented and persecuted for some time, Mme. Le Brun
yielded, gave her consent, obtained that of M. Le Brun, and provided
a handsome _dot_, trousseau, and jewels for the intolerable girl, who
did not show the slightest gratitude or affection to her mother, but
behaved throughout in the most insolent, heartless manner.

A fortnight after the marriage she no longer cared about her husband,
and soon afterwards she caught the small-pox.

Mme. Le Brun nursed her through it with a devotion she did not
deserve, and then ill, exhausted, and out of spirits, set off for
Moscow, where she arrived after a long journey full of hardships,
bad roads, and thick fogs. The sight of Moscow, the ancient splendid
capital, before it was devastated by the fire and sword of the
invader, with its huge palaces and thousands of domes surmounted with
gold crosses, filled her with admiration and delight.

She was received with the hospitality and distinction she always
experienced, met many old acquaintances, and passed several months
very pleasantly.

Society was much larger here than at St. Petersburg, where it seemed
almost to form one family, every one being related to each other.

It was with difficulty that she tore herself away when, in March,
1801, she wished to return to St. Petersburg, and it was upon her
journey thither that she heard of the assassination of Paul I.

She had stopped to change horses and found that she could get none, as
they were being sent all over the country to convey the news. She was
consequently obliged to remain all night in her carriage, which was
drawn up by the roadside close to a river, from which blew a bitterly
cold wind.

When at length she arrived in St. Petersburg she found the city in a
frenzy of delight. They danced in the streets, embracing each other,
and exclaiming—

“What a deliverance!”

Indeed, many houses had been illuminated, such was the terror he had
inspired and the cruelty of his actions.

For some time the character of Paul had become more and more gloomy
and menacing; his mind was filled with the darkest suspicions, even
to the extent of believing that the Empress and his children were
conspiring against his life; which was all the more terrible for the
Empress Marie, as they had for many years, as long as the Empress
Catherine lived, been very happy together, and in spite of everything
she still remained deeply attached to him.

This was all the more inexplicable as he not only suspected and
accused her of conspiracy, but made no pretence of being faithful to
her, and had taken away Mme. Chevalier, the mistress of his devoted
_valet de chambre_, Koutaivoff. The doors between his own apartments
and those of the Empress he had caused to be double-locked, thereby
preventing his own escape when the conspirators forced their way into
his room, headed by Zuboff, whom he had first exiled, then loaded with

They had systematically augmented his suspicions till they induced
him to sign an order for the arrest of the Empress, the Tsarevitch,
and the Grand Duke Constantine, and this document they showed the
Tsarevitch, saying: “You see that your father is mad, and you will all
be lost unless we prevent it by shutting him up instead.”

Alexander, seeing the fearful danger hanging over his mother, his
brother, and himself, was silent; and Pahlen, who was the director of
the plot, took care that it should go much further than restraint.

When Alexander heard of the assassination of his father his grief and
horror left no doubt of his ignorance of what had been intended and
carried out; and when, on presenting himself to his mother she cried
out, “Go away! Go away! I see you stained with your father’s blood!”
he replied with tears—

“I call God to witness, mother, that I did not order this dreadful

When the affair was fully explained to her she threw herself at his
feet, exclaiming—

“Then I salute my Emperor.”

The strong affection between Alexander I. and his mother lasted as
long as she lived.

The young Emperor and Empress showed the same kindness and friendship
to Mme. Le Brun as their parents and grandmother, but the time had
come when she was resolved to return to France, and in spite of the
entreaties of the Emperor and Empress, of her friends, and of her
own regret at leaving a country to which she had become attached,
she started in September, 1801, for Paris, leaving her ungrateful
daughter, her unsatisfactory son-in-law, and her treacherous governess

She was received with delight at her house in the _rue du
Gros-Chenet_, by M. Le Brun, her brother, her sister-in-law, and their
only child, the niece who was to fill her daughter’s place. The house
was beautifully furnished and filled with flowers, and that same
evening a grand concert in her honour was given in the large _salon_
of a house in a garden adjoining, which also belonged to M. Le Brun,
who told her that he had during the Revolution, when the churches
were closed, lent this _salon_ to celebrate mass.

The applause with which she was welcomed on entering the _salon_ so
overcame her that she burst into tears. Next day those of her friends
who had survived the Revolution began to flock to see her. Her old
friend, Mme. Bonneuil, was among the first, and invited her to a ball
the following night given by her daughter, now the celebrated beauty,
Mme. Regnault de Saint-Jean-d’Angely, to which she went in a dress
made of the gold-embroidered India muslin given her by the unfortunate
Mme. Du Barry.

There she met many old friends, and saw many new beauties, amongst
others Signora Visconti, the mistress of Berthier, and another by whom
she was so attracted that she involuntarily exclaimed—

“Ah, Madame! Comme vous étes belle!”

It was Mme. Jouberthon, afterwards the wife of Lucien Buonaparte.

Macdonald, Marmont, and other generals were pointed out during the
evening; it was a new world to her.

Madame Buonaparte came to see her, recalled the balls at which they
had met before the Revolution, and asked her to come some day to
breakfast with the First Consul. But Mme. Le Brun did not like the
family or surroundings of the Buonaparte, differing so entirely as
they did from the society in which she had always lived, and did not
receive with much enthusiasm this invitation which was never repeated.

The Louvre, then filled with works of art—the plunder of the rest
of Europe—was naturally a great attraction, in fact so absorbed was
Lisette in the wonders it contained that she was shut in when it
closed, and only escaped passing the night there by knocking violently
at a little door she discovered. The aspect of Paris depressed her;
still in the streets were the inscriptions, “Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity,” which in France bore so horrible a meaning. Many of the
friends for whom she inquired had perished on the scaffold; nearly all
who survived had lost either parents, husband, wife, or some other
near relation. The change in dress gave her a gloomy impression; the
absence of powder, which she was accustomed to see in other countries,
the numerous black coats which had displaced the gorgeous velvets,
satin, and gold lace of former days—in her opinion made a theatre or
an evening party look like a funeral; the manners and customs of the
new society were astonishing and repulsive to her.

Still, there was at first much to attract her. The friends who had
survived were delighted to have her again amongst them. Many of her
foreign friends arrived in Paris; she began again to give suppers
which were as popular as ever. She even gave a ball at which the
celebrated dancers, M. de Trénis, Mme. Hamelin, and Mme. Demidoff,
excited general admiration. She also gave private theatricals in her
large gallery.

The peace of Amiens had just been signed, society was beginning to be
reorganised. The Princess Dolgorouki who, to Lisette’s great joy,
was in Paris, gave a magnificent ball, at which, Lisette remarked,
young people of twenty saw for the first time in their lives liveries
in the _salons_ and ante-rooms of the ambassadors, and foreigners
of distinction richly dressed, wearing orders and decorations. With
several of the new beauties she was enchanted, especially Mme.
Récamier and Mme. Tallien. She renewed her acquaintance with Mme.
Campan, and went down to dine at her famous school at Saint Germain,
where the daughters of all the most distinguished families were now
being educated. Madame Murat, sister of Napoleon, was present at
dinner, and the First Consul himself came to the evening theatricals,
when “Esther” was acted by the pupils, Mlle. Auguier, niece of Mme.
Campan, afterwards wife of Marshal Ney, taking the chief part.

The brothers of Napoleon came to see the pictures of Mme. Le Brun,
which Lucien especially greatly admired.

The Princess Dolgorouki came to see her after being presented to
Napoleon, and on her asking how she liked his court, replied, “It is
not a court at all; it is a power.”

The scarcity of women at that time and the enormous number of soldiers
of all ranks gave that impression to one used to the brilliant Russian

But the changed aspect of Paris, the loss of so many she loved, and
perhaps most of all the ungrateful conduct of her daughter, depressed
Mme. Le Brun so that she lost her spirits, had a perpetual craving to
be alone, and for this purpose took a little house in the wood of
Meudon, where, except for the visits of the Duchesse de Fleury and one
or two other friends who lived near, she could to a certain extent
indulge in her new fancy for solitude.

After a few months, however, finding that she did not become
accustomed or reconciled to her surroundings, she resolved to go
abroad again, and as she had never seen England she chose that country
for her next wanderings, and set off in April, 1802, accompanied by
a companion she had taken to live with her, named Adélaïde, who soon
became a dear and indispensable friend. She intended to spend only a
few months in England, but as usual, when she arrived there, she soon
made so much money and so many friends that she remained for three
years, dividing her time between London and the country houses, where
she was always welcome.

Society in London she found _triste_ after the splendour of St.
Petersburg and the brilliant gaiety of Paris and Vienna, declaring
that what struck her most was the want of conversation, and that a
favourite form of social entertainment was what was called a “rout,”
at which no sort of amusement or real social intercourse was offered
or expected, the function merely consisting of an enormous crowd of
people walking up and down the rooms, the men generally separate from
the women.

However, she had plenty of interests, and made many English friends
besides the numerous French _emigrés_ she found there. She painted
the portraits of the Prince of Wales, Lord Byron, the Comtesse de
Polastron, adored by the Comte d’Artois, who was inconsolable when
she died soon afterwards, and many others—English, French, Russian,
and German—and made the acquaintance of the first musicians, actors,
and singers of the day; also of the painters, many of whom were
extremely jealous of her.

The Duc de Berri, second son of the Comte d’Artois, was often at her
house, and she met also the sons of Philippe-Égalité, the eldest of
whom was afterwards Louis-Philippe, King of France. She was in London
when the news came of the murder of the Duc d’Enghien, and witnessed
the outburst of horror and indignation it called forth. His father,
the Duc de Bourbon, came to see her a month later, so changed by grief
that she was shocked. He sat down without speaking, and then covering
his face with his hands to conceal his tears, he said, “No! I shall
never get over it.”

Mme. Le Brun went to all the chief watering-places—Bath, Brighton,
Tunbridge Wells, Matlock, &c.—she found English life monotonous, as
it certainly was in those days, and hated the climate of London; but
she had gathered round her a congenial society, with whom she amused
herself very well, and whom she left with regret when she decided to
return to France, partly because her ungrateful daughter had arrived
there, and was being introduced by her father to many undesirable

She embarked with Adélaïde for Rotterdam, and on arriving at Paris
found her daughter, who had neither lost her good looks nor her social
attractions, but was otherwise as unsatisfactory as ever. For her
husband she had long ceased to care at all. They had come to Paris to
engage some artists for Prince Narischkin, and when M. Nigris returned
to Russia, his wife refused to accompany him.

However, Mme. Le Brun was overjoyed to see Jeanne, and to keep her
in Paris, although she refused to live with her, because the people
with whom she persisted in associating were so objectionable that her
mother would not meet them.

Mme. Le Brun was now virtually separated from her husband, with whom
it would have been impossible for her to live unless she were prepared
to allow him to spend her fortune, and reduce her to beggary. She
soon collected round her a large society of friends, and resumed the
_soirées_ at which they amused themselves as far as possible after
their old fashion, acting _tableaux vivants_, &c.


  _Madame Vigée Le Brun_


Catalani, then young and beautiful, was one of her new friends, and
used to sing at her parties. She painted her portrait, and kept it as
a _pendant_ to the one she had done of Grassini in London.

Grassini had sung at her London parties, and comparing these two great
singers and actresses—both young, beautiful, and celebrated—Mme. Le
Brun found that although the voice of Catalani was in its beauty and
compass one of the most extraordinary ever known, Grassini had more

Amongst other old friends whom she now frequented was the Comtesse de
Ségur, who equally disliked the alterations in social matters.

“You wouldn’t believe,” she said to Lisette, who came to see her at
eight o’clock one evening, and found her alone, “that I have had
twenty people to dinner to-day? They all went away directly after
the coffee.”

She observed also that it was now usual for all the men to stand at
one side of the room, leaving the women at the other, as if they were

The Comte de Ségur was made Master of the Ceremonies by Napoleon when
he became Emperor, after which his brother used to put on his cards,
“_Ségur sans cérémonies_.”

Most of the great painters were to be found at the house in the _rue
du Gros-Chenet_, where the suppers were as gay and pleasant as of old.

Vien, who had been first painter to the King; Gérard, Gros, and
Girodet, the great portrait painters (all pupils of David), and her
old friend Robert, were constant guests. With David she was not on
friendly terms; his crimes and cruelties during the Revolution caused
her to regard him with horror. He had caused Robert to be arrested,
and had done all he could to increase the horrors of his imprisonment.
He had also tried to circulate the malicious reports about Calonne and
Mme. Le Brun, of whom he was jealous, though his real love for his art
made him acknowledge the excellence of her work.

One day Lisette met him at the house of Isabey, who, having been his
pupil, kept friends with him out of gratitude, although his principles
and actions were abhorrent to him. It happened that she was his
partner at cards, and being rather _distraite_, made various mistakes,
which irritated David, who was always rude and ill-tempered, and
exclaimed angrily, “But you made me lose by these stupid mistakes.
Why didn’t you play me your king of diamonds? Tell me that, I say!”

“Why?” answered she contemptuously; “because I know to what fate you
condemn kings!”

David turned pale, made his escape, and for a long time would not go
to the house for fear of meeting her.[49] She was afterwards told
by Gros that David would like to go and see her, but her silence
expressed her refusal. Soon after the return of Mme. Le Brun, Napoleon
sent M. Denon to order from her the portrait of his sister, Caroline
Murat. She did not like to refuse, although the price given (1,800
francs) was less than half what she usually got, and Caroline Murat
was so insufferable that it made the process a penance. She appeared
with two maids, whom she wanted to do her hair while she was being
painted. On being told that this was impossible, she consented to
dismiss them, but she kept Mme. Le Brun at Paris all the summer by
her intolerable behaviour. She was always changing her dress or
_coiffure_, which had to be painted out and done over again. She was
never punctual, and often did not come at all, when she had made the
appointment; she was continually wanting alterations and giving so
much trouble, that one day Mme. Le Brun remarked to M. Denon, loudly
enough for her to hear—

“I have painted _real_ princesses and they have never tormented or
kept me waiting.”

In 1808 and 1809 Mme. Le Brun travelled in Switzerland, with which
she was enraptured; after which she bought a country house at
Louveciennes, where in future she passed the greater part of the
year, only spending the winter in Paris.

The pavilion of Mme. Du Barry had been sacked by the Revolutionists,
only the walls were standing, while the palaces of Marly, Sceaux, and
Bellevue had entirely disappeared.

But the woods, the meadows, the Seine, and the general beauty of the
landscape delighted Mme. Le Brun, who, after all her wanderings, began
to have a longing for rest, became more and more attached to her home
as the years passed, and spent more and more of her time there.

The decline and fall of the Empire were no calamity to her, and she
witnessed with heartfelt joy the return of the King, although she was
seriously inconvenienced by the arrival of the Allies at Louveciennes
in 1814. Although it was only March, she had already established
herself there, and on the 31st at about eleven o’clock she had just
gone to bed when the village was filled with Prussian soldiers, who
pillaged the houses, and three of whom forced their way into her
bedroom, accompanied by her Swiss servant Joseph, entreating and
remonstrating in vain. They stole her gold snuff-box and many other
things, and it was four hours before they could be got out of the

Next morning she escaped to St. Germain, and then to Paris, leaving
Joseph to take what care he could of her property, but the wine was
all drunk out of the cellar, the garden and courtyard ravaged, and the
house ransacked. To all remonstrances the Prussians replied that the
French had done much worse things in Germany; which was true enough.

With tears of joy Lisette witnessed the entry into Paris of the Comte
d’Artois on April 12th and of Louis XVIII. shortly afterwards. By his
side sat the Duchesse d’Angoulême, whose smiles mingled with sadness
amidst the shouts of “_Vive le Roi_”; recalled the remembrance that
she was traversing the route by which her mother had passed to the

By the King and royal family Mme. Le Brun was received with especial
favour and kindness, most of the returned _emigrés_ were her friends,
and Paris was now again all that she wished.

From the horrors of the Revolution she had fled in time; with the
Empire and its worshippers she had never had any sympathy; the episode
of the Hundred Days was a new calamity, but when it was past and the
King again restored her joy was complete.

The great picture of Marie Antoinette and her three children, which
under Napoleon had been hidden away in a corner at Versailles, was
taken out and exhibited at the Salon, where every one crowded to
look at it. Again she painted the portraits of the royal family,
contrasting the simple, gracious politeness of the Duchesse de Berri,
of whom she did two portraits, with the vulgar, pretentious airs of
Caroline Murat.

Her favourite picture, the Sibyl, was bought by the Duc de Berri, to
whom she parted with it rather reluctantly. In 1813 M. Le Brun died.
His death was rather a melancholy regret than a real sorrow to her,
as they had long been separated by mutual consent.

But that of her daughter, who still lived in Paris, and who in 1819
was seized with a sudden illness which terminated fatally, was a
terrible grief to her at the time; though in fact that selfish,
heartless woman had for many years caused her nothing but vexation and
sorrow, and it seems probable that after the first grief had subsided
her life was happier without her, for the place she ought to have
occupied had long been filled by the two nieces who were looked upon
by her and by themselves as her daughters—her brother’s only child,
Mme. de Rivière, and Eugénie Le Brun, afterwards Mme. Tripier Le Franc.

By their affectionate and devoted love the rest of her life was made
happy, even after the far greater loss in 1820 of the brother to whom
she had always been deeply attached.

Louis Vigée was a charming and excellent man, well known in literary
circles. He had been imprisoned for a time in Port Libre, but
afterwards released.

After his death, in order to distract her mind from the sorrow
of it, she made a tour to Orléans, Blois, Tours, Bordeaux, &c.,
accompanied by her faithful Adélaïde; after which she returned home
and resumed her usual life, a happy and prosperous one, continually
occupied by her beloved painting, surrounded by numbers of friends
and adored by the two nieces, her adopted children. Eugénie Le Brun
was like herself, a portrait painter, and although not, of course, of
world-wide fame like her aunt, she was nevertheless a good artist,
and made a successful career, which gave an additional interest to the
life of Mme. Le Brun.

Her winters were spent at Paris, where her house was still the
resort of all the most distinguished, the most intellectual, and the
pleasantest people, French and foreign; the summers at her beloved
country home at Louveciennes.

Thus happily and peacefully the rest of her life flowed on; her
interest in all political and social matters—art, science, and
literature—remaining undiminished, her affection for old friends
unaltered, while new ones were constantly added to the number, until
on May 29, 1842, she died at the age of eighty-seven.

She had painted 662 portraits, 15 pictures, 200 landscapes, many of
them in Switzerland, and many pastels.


[49] “Salons d’Autrefois” (Comtesse de Bassanville).




     The House of Noailles—The court of Louis XV.—The Dauphin—The
     Dauphine—An evil omen—The Queen—The Convent of Fontevrault—Death
     of Mme. Thérèse—The Infanta—Madame Henriette and the Duc
     d’Orléans—Mesdames Victoire, Sophie, and Louise.

Anne Paule Dominique de Noailles was by birth, character, education,
and surroundings a complete contrast to our last heroine. She belonged
to the great house of Noailles, being the fourth of the five daughters
of the Duc d’Ayen, eldest son of the Maréchal Duc de Noailles, a
brilliant courtier high in the favour of Louis XV.

The Duchesse d’Ayen was the only daughter of M. d’Aguesseau de Fresne,
_Conseiller d’état_, and grand-daughter of the great Chancellor
d’Aguesseau. From her mother, daughter of M. Dupré, _conseiller du
parlement_, she inherited a fortune of 200,000 _livres de rente_, in
consequence of which her family were able to arrange her marriage with
the young heir of the Noailles, then Comte d’Ayen.

The d’Aguesseau, _qualifiés barons_ in 1683, were amongst the most
respected of the _noblesse de robe_, but their position was not,
of course, to be compared to that of the de Noailles, and Mlle.
d’Aguesseau was all the more pleased with the brilliant prospect
before her, since her future husband was violently in love with her,
and although a lad of sixteen, two years younger than herself, was
so handsome, charming, and attractive, that she, in her calmer way,
returned his affection.

And a lad of sixteen at the court of Louis XV. was very different from
the average lad of that age in these days and this country, a shy,
awkward schoolboy who knows nothing of the world or society, can only
talk to other boys, and cares for nothing except sports and games. In
the France, or at any rate the Paris, of those days, he was already
a man and a courtier, probably a soldier, sometimes a husband and

Likewise girls at fourteen or fifteen and even younger, who, with us,
wear their hair down their backs, their petticoats half way up to
their knees, and spend their time in lessons and play, were wives,
mothers, court beauties, and distinguished members of society at the
French Court of those days.

The marriage took place in February, 1755, when the cold was so
intense that the navigation of the Seine was stopped by the ice,
which at that time, when traffic was carried on chiefly by means of
the rivers, was a serious inconvenience.[51] After the wedding the
Comte and Comtesse d’Ayen went to live with his parents at the stately
_hôtel de Noailles_, now degraded into the _hôtel St. James_, while
the vast, shady gardens that surrounded it[52] have long disappeared;
shops and houses covering the ground where terraces, fountains,
beds of flowers, and masses of tall trees then formed a scene of

The family of Noailles was a large and powerful one, and, as Louis
XVIII. remarks in his Mémoires, “_Les Noailles ... etaient unis comme
chair et ongle_,”[53] and having been loaded with favours by Louis
XIV. and Louis XV., seemed to think they had a natural right to all
the best posts and highest honours.[54]

In the family of Noailles there had been six Marshals of France, and
at the time of the marriage, the old Maréchal de Noailles, grandfather
of the Count, was still living.[55] At his death, his son, also
Maréchal, became of course Duc de Noailles, and his son, the husband
of Mlle. d’Aguesseau, Duc d’Ayen, by which name it will be most
convenient to call him to avoid confusion, from the beginning of this

The Duc d’Ayen, though always retaining a deep affection for his wife,
spent a great part of his time away from her. He was one of the most
conspicuous and brilliant figures at the court, and besides entering
eagerly into all its pleasures, dissipation, and extravagance, was
a member of the Academy of Science; and although by no means an
atheist or an enemy of religion, associated constantly with the
“philosophers,” whose ideas and opinions he, like many of the French
nobles in the years preceding the Revolution, had partly adopted,
little imagining the terrible consequences that would result from them.

Not so the Duchess, his wife. Brought up first in a convent and then
under the care of her father, whose household, like those of many of
the _noblesse de robe_, was regulated by a strictness and gravity
seldom to be seen amongst the rest of the French nobles, Mme. d’Ayen
cared very little for society, and preferred to stay at home absorbed
in religious duties, charities, and domestic affairs, while her
husband amused himself as he chose.

The power, security, and prosperity of the throne and royal family
of France seemed to be at that time absolute and unassailable;
and although of the ten or eleven children of Louis XV. and Marie
Leczinska, the Dauphin was the only son who had lived to grow up, the
succession to the crown appeared to be in no danger, as he had already
two boys, the Ducs de Bourgogne and Berri; the Comte de Provence was
born in November, 1755, and his birth was followed by that of the
Comte d’Artois, besides the Princesses Clotilde and Elizabeth, who
by the Salic law were excluded. The Queen, who was seven years older
than the King, was already fifty-two. A woman of blameless character,
she had never been pretty, attractive, or even sensible. D’Argenson,
writing in 1750, says of her that she was very stupid, made silly
remarks, reproved her children for trifles, and passed over serious
faults. They were all so fond of eating that Mesdames kept port wine,
ham, and other things in a cupboard, and ate and drank at all hours.

Louis XV., at this time about forty-five, extremely handsome, immersed
in a life of pleasure, magnificence, and vice, was then under the
domination of the Duchesse de Châteauroux, _maîtresse en titre_,
the youngest of the five daughters of the Marquis de Nesle, four of
whom had been for a longer or shorter period the mistresses of Louis
XV. That such a father as the King should have had such a son as
the Dauphin is astonishing indeed. The author of some fascinating
memoirs of the day writes of him, “If I have not yet spoken of M. le
Dauphin, do not suppose that it is from negligence or distraction,
it is because the thought of his death always envelopes my mind like
a funeral pall. His premature end is ever present with me, and is
a subject of regret and affliction which I cannot approach without
terrible emotion. He was so grievously mourned for, he has been so
universally and justly praised, that there would not be much left
me to tell you if I were not to speak of his perfect beauty, which
was the least of his perfections, and which perhaps for that very
reason, the writers of his time never mention.... His face and figure
were perfectly formed; and he had, especially in the movement of
his lips and the gentle, melancholy pride of his great black eyes,
an expression which I have never seen unless perhaps in some old
picture of the Spanish school ... he might have been an archangel
of Murillo.... He carried with him the happiness of France and the
peace of the world, but one felt that it would have been perfect
happiness, and that one would never experience it. The subjects,
perhaps the family of the King his father had provoked such terrible
chastisements, that we may sorrowfully say that France and the French
of the eighteenth century were not worthy to be ruled by the Dauphin

Of the Dauphine, Marie-Josèphe de Saxe, as well as of his father,
their son the Comte de Provence, afterwards Louis XVIII., writes in
his Memoirs as follows: “His pure soul could not rest on this earth,
his crown was not of this world, and he died young. France had to
mourn the premature death of a prince, who, if he had lived might
perhaps have saved the kingdom from the catastrophe of a blood-stained
revolution, and his family from exile and the scaffold.

“My mother, worthy to be the wife of the Dauphin ... was, like him,
good, pious, indulgent, attached to her duties, caring only for
the happiness of others, loving the French as her own family. Her
character, naturally grave and melancholy, was not without a gentle
gaiety, which lent her an additional charm.... With all the philosophy
of which some narrow minds have accused me as of a crime ... I have
sometimes found myself, in the midst of great calamities, invoking the
holy spirit of my mother and that of my august father.”[57]

The Dauphin’s eldest son, the Duc de Bourgogne, died in early
childhood, leaving a fearful inheritance to his next brother, the Duc
de Berri, afterwards Louis XVI. From his very birth ill-luck seemed
to overshadow him. The Dauphine was at Choisy-le-roy when he was
born, and none of the royal family arrived in time to be present. The
courier sent to Paris to announce the news fell from his horse at the
_barrière_ and was killed. The Abbe de Saujon, sent for to baptise
him privately, was stricken with paralysis on the great staircase at
Versailles. Of the three wet-nurses chosen for him two died within the
week, and the third was seized with small-pox in six weeks.

“All this is not of good omen,” said the King, his grandfather, “and I
don’t know how it can have happened that I have made him Duc de Berri;
it is an unlucky name.”[58]

“Mesdames de France,” the King’s daughters, of whom there had been
seven or eight, were now reduced to five, four of whom were unmarried.
Nothing is more characteristic of the period than the way these
princesses were brought up and educated; and the light thrown upon
manners and customs early in the eighteenth century gives interest to
all the details concerning them.

The Queen had bad health and saw very little of them, although she
loved them in her apathetic way, but she was too much occupied with
her devotions, her nerves, and her health to trouble herself much
about them. If there was going to be a thunder-storm, or she was
nervous and could not go to sleep, she would make one of her ladies
sit by her bed all night, holding her hand and telling her stories.
On one occasion, after the death of the King’s mistress, the Duchesse
de Châteauroux, she was dreadfully afraid lest she should see her
ghost, and so tormented the lady-in-waiting who sat by her, that she
at last exclaimed—

“But your Majesty must remember that even if the Duchess were to
return to re-visit us, it would not be your Majesty she would come

The King was very fond of his daughters, but had no idea of bringing
them up properly. The four younger ones were sent to the convent of
Fontevrault, in Anjou, to be educated, and as they never came home
and were never visited by their parents, they were strangers to each
other when, after twelve years, the two youngest came back. As to the
others, Madame Victoire returned when she was fourteen, and Madame
Thérèse, who was called Madame Sixième, because she was the sixth
daughter of the King, died when she was eight years old at Fontevrault.

A _fête_ was given to celebrate the recovery of the King from an
illness; at which the little princess, although very unwell, insisted
on being present. The nuns gave way, though the child was very
feverish and persisted in sitting up very late. The next day she was
violently ill with small-pox, and died.

The three eldest princesses, who had always remained at court, were,
Louise-Elizabeth, called Madame;[59] handsome, clever, and ambitious;
who was married to the Duke of Parma, Infant of Spain, a younger son
of Philip V., consequently her cousin.[60]

Next came her twin sister, Henriette, from whom she had parted almost
heart-broken, when she reluctantly left France for Parma. Henriette
was the King’s favourite daughter, the best and most charming of all
the princesses. Lovely, gentle, and saintly, the Duc de Chartres[61]
was deeply in love with her and she with him. The King was disposed
to allow the marriage, but was dissuaded by Cardinal Fleury. If the
Infanta had been in question she would have got her own way, but
Henriette was too yielding and submissive. She died at twenty-five
years of age, of the small-pox, so fatal to her race (1752) to the
great grief of the court and royal family, and especially of the King,
by whom she was adored.

At the time of the marriage of the young M. and Mme. d’Ayen, the
Princesse Adélaïde had to some extent, though never entirely,
succeeded the Princesse Henriette in the King’s affection, and was now
supposed to be his favourite daughter. She had, however, none of her
elder sister’s charm, gentleness, or beauty; being rather plain, with
a voice like that of a man. She had a strong, decided character, and
more brains than her younger sisters, Victoire, Sophie, and Louise;
she was fond of study, especially of music, Italian, and mathematics.

Two or three years before the marriage of the young M. and
Mme. d’Ayen, his father the Duke, who was captain in the
_gardes-du-corps_,[62] was consulted by one of the guards of his
regiment, who in much perplexity showed him a costly snuff-box which
had been mysteriously sent him, and in which was a note as follows:
“_Ceci vous sera précieux; on vous avertira bientôt de quelle main il

The Duke, whose suspicions were aroused, told the King, who desired
to see the snuff-box, and recognised it as one he had given to Madame
Adélaïde. It appeared that that young princess, then twenty years old,
had taken a fancy to the _garde-du-corps_, who was very good-looking.
The King gave him a pension of 4,000 _louis_ to go away for a long
time to the other end of the kingdom, and the affair was at an end.[64]




Each of the princesses had her own household, and when mere children
they gave balls and received the ambassadors. It was the custom
that in the absence of the King, Queen, and Dauphin, the watchword
should be given to the sentinel by the eldest princess present. On
one occasion when this was Madame Adélaïde, her governess, then the
Duchesse de Tallard, complained to Cardinal Fleury that it was not
proper for the princess, being a young girl, to whisper in a man’s
ear. The Cardinal spoke to the King, who decided that although Madame
Adélaïde must still give the _consigne_, she should first ask her
governess the name of which saint she was to say.

Madame Victoire was very pretty, all the rest except the two eldest,
were plain; and her parents were delighted with her when she returned
from the convent. The King and Dauphin went to meet her at Sceaux
and took her to Versailles to the Queen, who embraced her tenderly.
Neither she nor her younger sisters were half educated, but the
Dauphin, who was very fond of them and had great influence over them
persuaded them to study.

When first Madame Victoire appeared at court her sisters, Henriette
and Adélaïde, and her brother the Dauphin, who were inseparable, were
inclined to find her in the way and treat her as a child, but they
soon became very fond of her, and she at once had her own household
and took part in all the court gaieties as her sisters had done from
the earliest age.

The Queen, too indolent to write to them separately, on one occasion
when she was at Compiègne and they at Versailles, wrote as follows:—

“_J’embrasse la gracieuse souveraine,[65] la sainte Henriette, la
ridicule Adélaïde la belle Victoire._”

Henriette and Adélaïde were devoted to their old governess, the
Duchesse de Ventadour. They got her an _appartement_ next to theirs
at Versailles, and in her _salon_, amongst her friends, they always
spent an hour or two every evening after supper. Madame Henriette used
to say it was the happiest part of her day. The Duchesse de Ventadour
was an excellent woman, though she had been rather _galante_[65] in
her youth. She and her mother had brought up twenty-three “Children
of France.” The mother was said to have saved the life of Louis XV. by
giving him a counter-poison.


[50] “Journal de Barbier, Chronique de la Régence, 1755.”

[51] The Duc de Bourbon was only sixteen when his son, the unfortunate
Duc d’Enghien, was born.

[52] They reached to the Tuileries.

[53] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. ii., p. 19.

[54] _Ibid._, p. 53.

[55] He died in 1766.

[56] “Souvenirs de Créquy.”

[57] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. i, p. 7.

[58] “Voilà qui n’est pas d’un heureux augure, et je ne sais comment
il a pu se faire que je l’aie titré Duc de Berry: c’est un nom qui
porte malheur.”

[59] The Duchess of Parma died 1759.

[60] Philippe V., grandson of Louis XIV., second son of Louis, le
Grand Dauphin. His right to the crown of Spain was disputed in the War
of Succession.

[61] Afterwards Duc d’Orléans, grandson of the Regent.

[62] The _gardes-du-corps_ were all gentlemen.

[63] This will be precious to you; you will soon be told from whom it

[64] “Journal d’Argenson.”

[65] “Mesdames de France” (Barthélemy).


     The Greatest Names in France—The Maréchale de Noailles—Strange
     proceedings—Death of the Dauphin—Of the Dauphine—Of the Queen—The
     Children of France—Louis XIV. and Louis XV.

“The first family in France after the royal family, is evidently that
of Lorraine; the second without dispute that of Rohan, and the third
La Tour d’Auvergne, or Bouillon-Turenne, after that La Trémoille,”[66]
and then come a whole string of illustrious names, Mailly-de-Nesle,
Créquy, Harcourt, Clermont-Tonnerre, Saint Jean, Thoury; Sabran,
La Rochefoucauld, Montmorency, Narbonne-Pelet, Béthune, Beauvoir,
Beauffremont, Villeneuve (premier Marquis de France), and many others.

The writer of these fascinating memoirs of the time proceeds, after
speaking of various noble names and regretting many that were extinct,
such as Lusignan, Coucy, Xaintrailles, Châtillon, Montgommery, &c.,
to say, “One thing that has always given me the best opinion of the
Noailles, is the protection they have never ceased to grant to all
gentlemen who can prove that they have the honour to belong to them,
no matter what their position nor how distant the relationship.”
He (or she)[67] goes on to relate that a family of much less
consideration, the Montmorin, being envious of the Noailles, asserted
that they were not of the ancient noblesse, and pretended that they
possessed a piece of tapestry on which a Noailles was depicted serving
a Montmorin as a _maître d’hôtel_, with the date 1593.

But as the Noailles were known to have possessed the estate and
castle bearing their name in the twelfth century, and that in 1593
the Seigneur de Noailles was also Comte d’Ayen, and of much more
consequence than the Montmorin, this spiteful fabrication fell to the

Nobody ever saw the tapestry in question because it did not exist, and
Louis XV., speaking of the story, said scornfully, “Have there ever
been such things as tapestries _chez les_ Montmorin?”

For no one knew better than he did the histories and genealogies of
his _noblesse_, and that he did not hesitate to explain them even when
to his own disadvantage, the following anecdote shows:—

A discussion was going on about the great difficulty of proving a
descent sufficiently pure to gain admittance into the order of the
Knights of Malta.

“You think me _de très bonne maison_, don’t you?” said the King;
“well, I myself should find difficulty in entering that order, because
in the female line I descend in the eighth degree from a _procureur_.”

There was a general exclamation of dissent, but the King replied—

“I am not joking, Messieurs, and I am going to give you the proof of
what I say. Griffet, the _procureur_, who was one of my ancestors,
made a large fortune and gave his daughter in legitimate marriage to a
Sieur Babou de la Bourdoisie, a ruined gentleman, who wanted to regild
his shield. From this union was born a daughter who was beautiful and
rich, and married the Marquis de Cœuvres. Everyone knows that of _la
belle Gabrielle_, daughter of this Marquis, and Henri IV., was born
a son, César de Vendôme; he had a daughter who married the Duc de
Nemours. The Duchesse de Nemours had a daughter who married the Duke
of Savoy, and of this marriage was born Adélaïde of Savoy, my mother,
who was the eighth in descent of that genealogy. So after that you may
believe whether great families are without alloy.”[68]

The Noailles, unlike most of the great French families, although they
lived in Paris during the winter, spent a portion of their time on
their estates, looked after their people, and occupied themselves with
charities and devotion. The Maréchal de Mouchy de Noailles, brother of
the Duc d’Ayen, even worked with his own hands amongst his peasants,
while his wife and daughter, Mme. de Duras, shared his views and the
life he led, as did his sons, the Prince de Poix and the Vicomte de
Noailles, of whom more will be said later.

With these and all the different relations of her husband, Mme. d’Ayen
lived in the greatest harmony, especially with his sister, the
Duchesse de Lesparre, a calm, holy, angelic woman after her own heart.

With his other sister, the Comtesse de Tessé, she was not at first
so intimate. For Mme. de Tessé, a brisk, clever, amusing, original
person, was not only a friend of Voltaire, and a diligent frequenter
of the _salons_ of the philosophers, wits, and encyclopædists, but,
although not going to their extreme lengths, was rather imbued with
their opinions.

But the most extraordinary and absurd person in the family was the
Maréchale de Noailles, mother of the Duc d’Ayen, whose eccentricity
was such that she might well have been supposed to be mad. It
was, however, only upon certain points that her delusions were so
singular—otherwise she seems to have been only an eccentric person,
whose ideas of rank and position amounted to a mania.

She had a large picture painted by Boucher, in which all her
grandnephews were represented as Cupids, with nothing on but the
Order of the Grand Cross of Malta, to show their right to belong to
it. None of the family could look at or speak of it with gravity. But
what was a more serious matter was her passion for stealing relics and
objects of religious value. She even mixed one into a medicine for her
son, the Duc d’Ayen, when he had the measles. This had been lent her
by some nuns, who of course could never get it back again. The nuns
were very angry, so were the Archbishop of Paris and the Bishop of
Chartres; she had also stolen a beautiful chalice and they refused to
give her the Holy Communion. Her family were much disturbed and had
considerable trouble in getting her out of the difficulties and trying
to hush up the affair.

She also used to write letters to the holy Virgin, which she hid in a
dovecote, in which she always found answers, supposed to be written by
her priest. On one occasion she complained that the way of addressing
her, “_Ma chère Maréchale_,” was not quite respectful in _une petite
bourgeoise de Nazereth_, but observed that as she was the mother of
our Saviour she must not be exacting; besides, St. Joseph belonged to
the royal house of David, and she added, “I have always thought St.
Joseph must have belonged to a younger branch, sunk by injustice or

The Abbess of the Abbaye-aux-Bois, hearing that a pilgrim was in the
habit of coming into the Abbey Church during dinner time when nobody
was there, had her watched, and discovered that it was the Duchesse de
Noailles, who would stand for an interminable time before a statue of
the Virgin, talking and even seeming to dispute with it.

One day she arrived, and after many bows and speeches began to address
her prayers to the holy Virgin, and it appeared that what she asked
for was in the first place a sum of eighteen hundred thousand livres
for her husband, the Maréchal, then the Order of the Garter, which
he wanted because it was the only great order not possessed by his
family, and finally the _diplôme_ of a Prince of the Holy Roman
Empire, because it was the only title he did not already bear.

Suddenly a shrill voice was heard from the altar, saying, “Mme. la
Maréchale, you will not have the eighteen hundred thousand francs
that you ask for your husband, he has already one hundred thousand
_écus de rente_, and that is enough; he is already Duke, Peer, Grandee
of Spain, and Marshal of France; he has already the orders of the
Saint-Esprit and the Golden Fleece; your family is loaded with the
favours of the court; if you are not content it is because it is
impossible to satisfy you; and I advise you to renounce becoming a
princess of the Empire. Your husband will not have the garter of St.
George either.”

The Maréchale thought it was the Holy Child Himself speaking, and
called out to Him to be quiet and let His Mother speak; when a burst
of laughter was heard from behind the altar. It was the Vicomte
de Chabrillan, one of the Queen’s pages, the little nephew of the
coadjutrice of the Abbey, who had hidden there to play a trick.

But fantastic and ridiculous as she was, the old Maréchale went
bravely to the scaffold years afterwards and died without fear.

Her daughter-in-law seems to have got on very well with her, and
with all her husband’s family. Besides the Maréchal de Mouchy, there
was another brother, the Marquis de Noailles, and numbers of other
relations, nearly all united by the strongest affection and friendship.

The year 1765 witnessed the death of the Dauphin, and soon after that
of the Dauphine, who was broken-hearted at his loss. The Dauphin
died of a wasting illness, to the great grief of the King, who stood
leaning against the doorway of his son’s room, holding by the hand
the Duc de Berri, until all was over. Then, turning away, he led the
boy to the apartment of the Dauphine to acquaint her with what had
happened, by giving the order to announce “the King and Monseigneur le

The Queen died three years later. Her death did not make much
difference to the court, but devotion to religion in the royal family
now seemed to be concentrated in the households of Mesdames.

From the care of the Dauphin and Dauphine, who had exercised the most
affectionate supervision over them, their children passed to that of
their grandfather, who, though he was fond of his daughters, cared
very little about his grandchildren, never inquiring about their
studies, conduct or habits. He only saw them at the hours required by
etiquette, when he embraced them with ceremony; but he took care that
they were treated with all the homage due to the “Children of France,”
and gave orders that their wishes were always to be gratified.

The late Dauphin was said to have regarded with especial affection the
unlucky Duc de Berri, who was awkward, plain, brusque, and dull; but
the favourite of Louis XV. was his youngest grandson, the handsome,
mischievous Comte d’Artois, in whom he recognised something of his own
disposition, and upon whom he was often seen to look with a smile of


Between Mesdames and their nephews and nieces there was always
the most tender affection. They had adored their brother, were
inconsolable for his loss, and devoted to his children, whom they
spoilt to their hearts’ content, giving them everything they liked,
and allowing any amount of noise, disturbance, and mischief to go on
in their presence. Madame Adélaïde, who was extremely fond of the
eldest boy, would say to him, “Talk at your ease, Berri, shout like
your brother Artois. Make a noise, break my porcelaines, but make
yourself talked about.”

Madame Victoire’s favourite was the Comte de Provence. She found that
he had the most sense and brains, and prophesied that he would repair
the faults his brothers would commit.

The King, after the death of Mme. de Pompadour, of whom he had become
tired, lived for some years without a reigning favourite, in spite of
the attempts of various ladies of the court to attain to that post.
His life was passed in hunting, in the festivities of the court, and
in a constant succession of intrigues and _liaisons_ for which the
notorious _Parc aux cerfs_ was a sort of preserve. His next and last
recognised and powerful mistress was Mme. Du Barry.

Amongst other contrasts to be remarked between Louis XIV. and Louis
XV., was the opposite way in which they treated their numerous
illegitimate children.

Those of the _Grand Monarque_ were brought up in almost royal state,
magnificently dowered, raised to a rank next to the princes of the
blood, amongst whom they were generally married, and with whom they
kept up constant quarrels and rivalry.

The King regarded them with nearly, if not quite, as great affection
as his legitimate children, and even tried, though in vain, to alter
the laws of succession in their favour, and allow them to inherit the
crown failing his lawful issue.

This, however, neither the Princes of the blood, the nobles, nor the
French nation would stand, and the project had to be relinquished;
but the rapacity and outrageous arrogance and pretensions of “_les
bâtards_,” as they were called, had aroused such irritation and hatred
that Louis XV. took care to go into the opposite extreme. Unlike his
predecessor, he cared nothing for the children of his innumerable
_liaisons_, which were of a lower and more degraded type than those of
his great-grandfather. He seldom recognised or noticed these children,
made only a very moderate provision for them, and allowed them to be
of no importance whatever.


[66] “Créquy Souvenirs.”

[67] The fascinating volumes, called “Souvenirs de la Marquise de
Créquy,” are said not to be by any means entirely written by that
celebrated woman. But they contain much curious information and many
amusing anecdotes of that day, and present a vivid picture of the
eighteenth century in France.

[68] “Salons d’Autrefois” (Bassanville).

[69] There are one or two different accounts of this.


     The Duchesse d’Ayen—Birth and death of her sons—Her five
     daughters—Their education at home—Saintly life of the
     Duchess—Marriage of her eldest daughter to the Vicomte de
     Noailles—Of the second to the Marquis de la Fayette—Of the
     Dauphin to the Archduchess Marie Antoinette—The Comtesse de
     Noailles—Marriages of the Comtes de Provence and d’Artois to
     the Princesses of Sardinia—Death of Louis XV.—Unhappy marriage
     of the third daughter of the Duc d’Ayen to the Vicomte du
     Roure—Afterwards to Vicomte de Thésan—Paulette and Rosalie de
     Noailles—Adrienne de la Fayette—Radical ideas of the Vicomte de
     Noailles and Marquis de la Fayette—Displeasure of the family
     and the King—La Fayette and de Noailles join the American
     insurgents—Grief and heroism of Adrienne—Marriage of Pauline to
     the Marquis de Montagu.

Two years after her marriage the Duchesse d’Ayen had a son who, to her
great grief, lived only a few months, and whose death was followed by
the birth of Louise, called Mlle. de Noailles, Adrienne Mlle. d’Ayen,
Thérèse Mlle. d’Epernon, Pauline Mlle. de Maintenon, and Rosalie Mlle.
de Montclar.

In 1768, a year after the birth of her youngest girl, she had another
boy, and at the same time was dangerously ill of small-pox. The Duke,
in terror for her life, would not allow her to be told what was the
matter, and even insisted on the children all being admitted to her
room, for fear of arousing her suspicions and alarming her. However,
she recovered and none of them took it. The baby lived and for some
time appeared quite well; though after a few months it began to fade,
and soon died of consumption.

This was a severe disappointment to the Duke, who had already begun
to occupy himself with his son’s future, but the Duchess, whose
saintly mind had been tormented with misgivings about the future life
of the boy whose prospects then seemed so brilliant and so full of
temptations, and who did not probably consider the Duke, her husband,
a very promising or trustworthy guide and example, resigned herself to
the loss of the heir, whom she had even in her prayers entreated God
to take out of this world rather than allow him to be tainted by the
vice and corruption with which she foresaw he would be surrounded in

She considered that the death of the child was the answer to her
prayer; never, from the moment he began to ail, having the least hope
of his recovery, subduing her grief with all the strength of her
character and religious fervour, and devoting herself entirely to the
care and education of her daughters.

They were not, according to the general custom, sent to a convent,
but brought up at home under her constant supervision. The frequent
absence of the Duke, who was usually either at Versailles or with the
army,[70] left them to her undivided care. They had an excellent
governess, but the Duchess herself superintended their studies, they
went to mass with her every morning at the Jacobins or St. Roch, dined
with her at three o’clock, and spent always some time afterwards in
her room, which was very large, was hung with crimson and gold damask,
and contained an immense bed.

The Duchess sat by the fire in her armchair, surrounded by her books,
her work, and her gold snuff-box; the children sat round her, also
reading, working, or talking of anything that interested them.

Every now and then they made excursions to Meudon, where they rode
upon donkeys, or they visited their grandfathers, M. d’Aguesseau, at
Fresne, and the Duc de Noailles at Saint Germain-en-Laye, when they
delighted in playing and wandering in the forest.

Often in after years did they look back to the happy, sheltered
childhood that passed too quickly away, and contrast its peace,
security, and magnificence with the sorrows, dangers, and hardships of
their later lives.

They were all, during their early youth, rather afraid of their
father, of whom they saw so little that he was a stranger to them in
comparison with the mother they all adored, who, exalted as were her
religious principles, austere and saintly her rule of life, yet knew
how to gain her children’s confidence and affection, and understood
thoroughly their different characters and tendencies. People wondered
at the goodness of Mme. d’Ayen’s children, and it was remarked that
the Duchess “had brought up a company of angels.”

Louise, whose fate was so closely linked with her mother’s, was one
of those gentle, saintly characters, who scarcely seem to belong to
this earth; whose thoughts, interests, and aspirations are in another
world. But perhaps the most striking amongst them was Adrienne,
the second girl, who besides being very handsome, was the most
intellectual and talented of the sisters, and of whom the Duchess was
as proud as the severity of her ideas permitted her to be.

While Louise and Adrienne were still children projects of marriage for
them were, of course, discussed, and they were only about thirteen and
fourteen when two sons-in-law were approved of and accepted by their
parents, with the condition that the proposed arrangements should not
be communicated to the young girls for a year, during which they would
be allowed often to meet and become well acquainted with their future

The one proposed for Louise was the second son of her uncle, the
Maréchal Mouchy de Noailles, a lad of sixteen, who bore the title
of Vicomte de Noailles, and was in rank, fortune, and character an
extremely suitable marriage for her.

For Adrienne, the Marquis de la Fayette, a boy who when first the
marriage was thought of by the respective families was not fifteen
years old, whose father was dead, who had been brought up by his aunt
in the country, and who was very rich. He was plain, shy, awkward,
and had red hair, but he and Adrienne fell violently in love with
each other during the time of probation. Louise and her cousin had,
of course, always known each other, and now that they were thrown
constantly together they were delighted with the arrangements made for

The marriages accordingly took place when Louise was sixteen and
Adrienne fifteen years old.

Their aunt, the Maréchale de Mouchy, called then the Comtesse de
Noailles, was about this time appointed first lady of honour to the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria, whose approaching marriage
with the Dauphin was the great event of the day; and was sent with
the other distinguished persons selected to meet her at the frontier.
This alliance was very unpopular with the royal family and court, who
disliked Austria and declared that country to be the enemy of France,
to whom her interests were always opposed. Madame Adélaïde especially,
made no secret of her displeasure, and when M. Campan came to take her
orders before setting off for the frontier with the household of the
Dauphin, she said that she disapproved of the marriage of her nephew
with the Archduchess, and if she had any order to give it would not be
to fetch an Austrian.

The Comtesse de Noailles was a most unfortunate choice to have
made for the post in question; for although a woman of the highest
character, religious, charitable, and honourable, she was so stiff,
precise, and absolutely the slave of every detail of court etiquette
that she only tormented and estranged the young girl, who was ready
to be conciliated, and whom she might have influenced and helped.
The Dauphine, however, an impetuous, thoughtless girl of fifteen,
accustomed to the freedom of her own family life at the court of
Vienna, hated and ridiculed the absurd restrictions of the French
Court, called the Countess “_Madame l’Etiquette_,” and took her own

The ill-luck which seemed to follow the Dauphin had not forsaken
him; a terrible catastrophe marked the _fêtes_ given in honour of
his wedding. Some scaffolding in the _place Louis XV._ caught fire.
The flames spread with fearful rapidity, a scene of panic and horror
ensued, hundreds were burned or trampled to death by the frantic
horses or maddened crowd; and with this terrible calamity began the
married life of the boy and girl, the gloom and darkness of whose
destiny it seemed to foreshadow.[71]

The Comtes de Provence and d’Artois were married to the two daughters
of the King of Sardinia, to whose eldest son the Princess Clotilde was

The King associated all his grandchildren with Mme. Du Barry just as
he had his daughters with the Duchesse de Châteauroux and her sisters
de Nesle, and affairs went on at court much in the usual way until,
in 1774, he caught the small-pox in one of his intrigues and died,
leaving a troubled and dangerous inheritance to the weak, helpless,
vacillating lad, who had neither brains to direct, energy to act, or
strength to rule.

In 1779 Mlle. d’Epernon, third daughter of the Duc d’Ayen, married the
Vicomte du Roure. She was a gentle, affectionate girl of less decided
character than the others, and less is known of her, for her life was
a short one passed in domestic retirement. This marriage was unhappy,
as the Vicomte cared very little for his wife. However, he died in
two years, and in 1784 she married the Vicomte de Thésan, an ardent
Royalist who was devoted to her.[72]

Married or single, the five sisters were all strongly attached to one
another. The married ones were a great deal with their family, either
at Paris or Versailles, while Pauline and Rosalie, between whom there
was only a year’s difference, were inseparable.

The real names of Mlle. de Maintenon were Anne Paule Dominique, which,
sonorous as they sound, were those of a poor old man and woman of
the labouring class whom the Duchess had chosen to be her daughter’s
godfather and godmother.

Pauline was very pretty, a _brunette_ with dark eyes and masses of
dark hair, of an impetuous, affectionate, hasty disposition, which she
was always trying to correct according to the severe, almost ascetic,
counsels of her mother and younger sister, whom one cannot but fancy,
though equally admirable, was perhaps less charming.

Rosalie was rather plain, with irregular but expressive features,
small eyes and a chin inclined to be square and decided; she was
precocious for her age, but good-tempered, calm, and possessing great
strength of character.

She married, in 1788, the Marquis de Grammont.

The anxieties and sorrows of life were already gathering round the
girls thrust so early into the burden and heat of the day.

Adrienne, who with more intellectual gifts had also more human passion
in her nature than her saintly elder sister, adored her husband, under
whose shy, awkward manner she had discovered all sorts of excellent
qualities, an enthusiastic love of liberty, talents and aspirations
with which she ardently sympathised.

His devotion to herself was only interfered with by his political
ideas; but it soon appeared that this interference was a very serious
matter, for in 1777 he announced his intention of going to America to
fight for the colonies then in rebellion against England.

Of course this spread consternation in the family of Noailles, usually
so united that nothing of importance was ever done by them without
a family council. And it was certainly irritating enough, that for
no reason whatever except his own fancy he should desert his wife
who adored him, who had one child and was about to have another, the
management of his estates and all his duties in his own country, and
exile himself for years to fight against a friendly nation and meddle
in a quarrel with which neither he nor France had anything whatever to
do. Besides, his example and influence had induced his brother-in-law,
the Vicomte de Noailles, and his cousin, the Comte de Ségur, to adopt
the same plans. All three young men declared they would go to America
to fight for liberty.

The King heard of it, and formally forbade them to go, which, as far
as de Noailles and de Ségur were concerned, put a stop to the plan
for the present. But La Fayette was his own master and had plenty of
money, so he made the excuse of going to England with his cousin, the
Prince de Poix, and on his way back escaped in a Spanish ship and
landed in Spain _en route_ for America.

The Duc d’Ayen got a _lettre de cachet_ from the King to stop him, but
it was too late. Letters were sent by the family to say that Adrienne
was very ill, and by this he was so far influenced that he set out on
his journey homewards, but finding from other letters he received that
she was in no danger at all, he turned back again.

Adrienne had never opposed his going. Divided between her grief
at their separation, her sympathy with his dreams and ideas, and
her dislike to oppose his wishes, she, though nearly heartbroken,
pretended to be cheerful, stifled her tears, and forced herself to
smile and laugh, though her love for him was such that she said she
felt as if she would faint when he left her even for a short time, a
few hours.

The years of separation while he was in America were most trying, and
her sister, Louise de Noailles, shared her anxiety, as the Vicomte de
Noailles and Comte de Ségur joined the Americans in 1779.

The high rank, great connections, and splendid fortunes of the
daughters of the Duc d’Ayen caused them to be much sought after, and
many brilliant marriages were suggested for Pauline, amongst which
they chose a young officer of the regiment of Artois, proposed to them
by a relation of his, the Princesse de Chimay, daughter of the Duc de
Fitzjames. The young Marquis Joachim de Montagu was then nineteen, had
served in the army of Spain, and belonged to one of the most ancient
families of Auvergne.

All the preliminaries were arranged by the families without anything
being said upon the subject to the proposed bride, nor probably to the
bridegroom either, and when everything was settled it was decided that
now nothing was left to do but “to consult the personal inclinations
of the young people,” in preparation for which Pauline was informed
in one of the usual family councils of her approaching introduction to
her _fiancé_.

One wonders what would have happened if the young people had not
happened to like each other after all these arrangements; but it
appears to have been taken for granted that they would not be so
inconsiderate as to disappoint the expectations of their relations,
who had taken so much trouble. They would have felt like an Italian
lady of our own time, who, in reply to the question of an English
friend as to what would happen should a young girl of her family not
like the husband selected for her, exclaimed in a tone of horror—

“Not like the husband her grandmamma has chosen!”

Her elder sisters, who knew all about it, were much amused at the
embarrassment of Pauline when this announcement was made to her.
Completely taken by surprise, she did not like even to ask questions
about the Marquis de Montagu, but her mother reassured her, told her
everything she wished to know, and said that the young man and his
father were coming to dine next day.

Accordingly at seven o’clock the Duc and Duchesse d’Ayen were seated
in their _salon_ with Pauline and Rosalie, dressed alike in blue and
white satin; Pauline, who had not slept all night, very pale and
dreadfully frightened, especially when the sound of a carriage was
heard in the courtyard, and a few minutes afterwards M. le Vicomte de
Beaune and M. le Marquis de Montagu were announced.

Neither of the young people dared speak to or look at the other, but
at last M. de Beaune[73] got up to be shown a portrait of Washington
by de Noailles and La Fayette, who were present, and she took the
opportunity of looking at him. He was not handsome, but had an
attractive face, and at the end of the evening she told her mother
that she was quite willing to marry him.[74]

The wedding took place in the spring of 1783, before her seventeenth
birthday. The presents and _corbeille_ were magnificent, and every
day, between the signing of the contract and the marriage, Pauline,
in a splendid and always a different dress, received the visits of
ceremony usual on these occasions. As her family and her husband’s
were related to or connected with every one of the highest rank
in France, all the society of Paris passed through the _hôtel de
Noailles_ on those interminable evenings, which began at six o’clock
and ended with a great supper, while Pauline sat by her mother, and
was presented to every one who came.

The young Marquis and Marquise de Montagu remained for two days at
the _hôtel de Noailles_ after the marriage had been celebrated at St.
Roch, and then Pauline, with many tears, got into the splendid blue
and gold _berline_ which was waiting for her, and drove to the _hôtel
Montagu_, where her father-in-law met her at the foot of the great
staircase, and conducted her to the charming rooms prepared for her.


[70] The Duc d’Ayen was in 1755 Colonel of the regiment of
Noailles—cavalry raised by his grandfather at his own expense during
the War of the Spanish Succession; he had made four campaigns in
the Seven Years’ War, and was now Lieut.-General and Captain of the

[71] The Empress Maria Thérèsa once asked a person who had the
reputation of having second sight to tell her the destiny of this, her
youngest child. He looked at her, suddenly hesitated, turned pale,
and on the Empress repeating her question, he replied, with much
agitation, “Madame, there is a cross for every one to bear.”

[72] In the souvenirs of the Marquise de Créquy the following
paragraph occurs:—“My Aunt de la Trémoille was the last of the
ancient house of La Fayette, which must not be confounded with that
of the philosophic, republican Marquis, who has just been fighting in
America. Marie Madeline, heiress and Marquise de la Fayette, Duchesse
de la Trémoille and Thouars, died in 1717 at the age of twenty-eight;
and it was at this time that a gentleman of Auvergne named Motier
took it into his head to adjust the name of La Fayette, which had
just become extinct, to the fine name of Motier, which was that of
his family. He gave as his reason that several persons of the true
house of La Fayette had borne the name of Moztier or Moustier in the
seventeenth century.... The Maréchal de Noailles told me that Louis
XV. had said to him _apropos_ of the genealogy of this pretended
Marquis: ‘Have you read the romance of the Motier family? It will
never equal that of Mme. de la Fayette’ (author of ‘La Princesse de
Clèves’). We could never understand how the MM. de Noailles could give
one of their daughters to that little Motier; but they assured us that
he was gentleman enough not to be hanged, very rich, and a very good

[73] By a family arrangement the father was called Vicomte de Beaune.

[74] Anne-Paule-Dominique de Noailles, Marquise de Montagu.


     The Marquis de Montagu rejoins his regiment—Life of Pauline at
     the _hôtel de Montagu_—Affection of her father-in-law—Brilliant
     society—Story of M. de Continges—Death of Pauline’s child—Marriage
     of Rosalie to Marquis de Grammont—Birth of Pauline’s daughters—The
     court of Louis XVI.—The Royal Family—Dissensions at court—Madame
     Sophie and the Storm—Extravagance of the Queen and Comte
     d’Artois—The Comte d’Artois and Mlle. Duthé—Scene with the
     King—_Le petit Trianon_—The Palace of Marly—A sinister guest.

At the end of seven weeks her husband went back to rejoin his
regiment, and Pauline was left with her father-in-law and her new
aunt, Mme. de Bouzolz, a very young, lively woman, whose husband had
also just returned to the army. Both were very kind and fond of her,
but their ideas were not so strict as those of the Duchesse d’Ayen.

Mme. de Bouzolz delighted in novels, balls, and all the amusements
natural to her age; was affectionate, good-hearted, rather
thoughtless, but with no harm in her. She soon became devoted to
Pauline, and fell a great deal under her influence.

M. de Beaune was an excellent man, rather hasty-tempered, but
generous, honourable, delighted with his daughter-in-law, and most
kind and indulgent to her. He took the deepest interest in her health,
her dress, and her success in society, into which he constantly went,
always insisting upon her accompanying him.

And society was very fascinating just then: all the stately charm and
grace of the old _régime_ mingled with the interest and excitement of
the new.

Pauline never cared much for society, and her tastes were not
sufficiently intellectual to enable her to take much part in the
brilliant conversation or to enter with enthusiasm into the political
ideas and principles discussed at the various houses to which she went
with Mme. de Bouzolz, who did not trouble herself about philosophy or
“ideas”; and M. de Beaune, who was a strong Conservative, and held
revolutionary notions in abhorrence.

They frequented the society of the Queen, went to balls, theatricals,
and to suppers given by the _esprits forts_, such as the Maréchale de
Luxembourg, the old Duchesse de la Vallière, a great friend of M. de
Beaune, who was a Noailles, and a contemporary of Louis XIV.[75]; also
of the Maréchale de Mirepoix, a leading member of society.

An amusing anecdote is related by Mme. de Bassanville[76] concerning
the marriage of a certain Mlle. de Mirepoix, who belonged to that
family, but apparently to a younger and poorer branch of it.

The Marquis de Continges, a dissipated _roué_ of the court of Louis
XV., an encyclopædist and friend of Voltaire, finding in the reign
of Louis XVI. that he was getting old, thought he would marry. He
was noble, rich, and a good _parti_; but after making many inquiries
he could not hear of any one he especially fancied. One evening he
appeared at a great party given by the Princesse de Lamballe, at which
every one of importance was present, dressed in black velvet, with
lace ruffles, a sword by his side, and in his hand an embroidered hat
full of mysterious tickets.

“What is that, M. le Marquis?” asked his hostess.

“I have come to consult Destiny in your temple, Madame, if your
Highness permits,” said he with a bow.

“Have you found means to conciliate her?” asked the Princess amidst
the laughter aroused by this speech.

“I hope so, Madame. In my hat are _100,000 livres de rente_, a
Marquisate, and a dowry, besides my heart and my hand. Thus I put
myself into a lottery: here is a heap of tickets of which only one is
black, the winning one. So let all the young ladies who wish to marry
come and choose one.”

All the young girls, laughing and treating it as a capital joke,
crowded round to draw. One of the last drew the black; it was Mlle. de
Mirepoix, a dark, handsome girl of five-and-twenty, who was poor and
had not yet found a husband.

“Mademoiselle,” said the Marquis, “what you have won there is myself,
your very humble servant, who, if you will allow him, will become your
husband. I put myself into my hat, with all my fortune; accept both,
for they are yours.”

Mlle. de Mirepoix thought at first that he was joking, but finding
the transaction was serious, fainted with joy. They were married
and belonged to the Queen’s intimate circle, but the union did not
turn out any more happily than might have been expected. Soon the
Revolution swept all away; they emigrated, but not together; he went
to Germany, she to England. When afterwards he came to London, his
wife went to Italy.

Pauline went out a great deal, more as a duty than a pleasure. What
she really cared for most were the interviews with her mother twice a
week, and the time she snatched to be with her sisters when she could.

When Mme. de Bouzolz had a baby, she nursed her devotedly, and took
the deepest interest in the child. But the height of bliss seemed to
be attained when soon after she had a daughter herself, with which
she was so enraptured and about which she made such a fuss, that one
can well imagine how tiresome it must have been for the rest of the
family. She thought of nothing else, would go nowhere, except to the
wedding of her sister, Mme. du Roure, with M. de Thésan; and when in
the following spring the poor little thing died after a short illness,
she fell into a state of grief and despair which alarmed the whole
family, who found it impossible to comfort her. She would sit by the
empty cradle, crying, and making drawings in pastel of the child from
memory after its portrait had been put away out of her sight. But her
unceasing depression and lamentation so worried M. de Beaune that,
seeing this, she left off talking about it, and he, hoping she was
becoming more resigned to the loss, proposed that she should begin
again to go into society after more than a year of retirement. She
consented, to please him, for as he would not leave her his life was,
of course, very dull. But the effort and strain of it made her so ill
that the next year she was obliged to go to Bagnères de Luchon. M.
de Beaune, who was certainly a devoted father-in-law, went with her.
Her mother and eldest sister came to visit her there; her husband
travelled three hundred leagues, although he was ill at the time, to
see how she was getting on, and in the autumn she was much better, and
able to go to the wedding of her favourite sister, Rosalie, with the
Marquis de Grammont.

In 1786-8 she had two daughters, Noémi and Clotilde, soon after whose
birth the family had to mourn the loss of Mme. de Thésan, who died
before she was five-and-twenty, and who was certainly, as events soon
proved, taken away from the evil to come.

The same may be said of Pauline’s young aunt, Mme. de Bouzolz, who
died the same year.

M. de Montagu, remembering his wife’s proceedings with the former
baby, insisted upon the others being brought up in the country, and
Pauline again went out with her father-in-law, receiving a great deal
of admiration which delighted him, but about which she cared very
little. She was very pretty, considered very like what the Duchess,
her mother, had been at her age, and perfectly at her ease in society,
even when very young, and timid with her new relations; not being the
least nervous during her presentation at Versailles, which was rather
a trying and imposing ceremony.

People were presented first to the King, then to the Queen, in
different _salons_; of course magnificently dressed. The King, now
that he was Louis XVI., very often did not speak but always made a
friendly, gracious gesture, and kissed the lady presented, on one
cheek only if she was a simple _femme de qualité_; on both if she
was a duchess or _grande d’Espagne_, or bore the name of one of the
families who possessed the hereditary right to the honours of the
Louvre and the title of cousin of the King.

Soon after his accession the young Marquise de Pracontal, who was very
pretty, very _dévote_, and very timid, was presented to Louis XVI.,
who kissed her with such fervour on one cheek that she was dreadfully
embarrassed and frightened; and was just going to kiss her other
cheek, when the Duc d’Aumont threw himself between them, exclaiming in
consternation that she was not a duchess.

When presented to the Queen it was customary to bow low enough to
appear to kneel in order to take up the edge of her dress, but her
Majesty never allowed that to be carried to the lips of the lady
presented, but let it fall with a slight movement of her fan, which
Marie Antoinette always executed with singular grace. A duchess or
_grande d’Espagne_ then seated herself before the Queen, but only for
a moment, a privilege known as the _tabouret_. After retiring, of
course backwards, with a mantle the train of which had to be eight
ells on the ground, people went to be presented to all the other
princes and princesses of the royal family.

It consisted, at the death of Louis XV., of the King, aged nineteen;
the Queen, eighteen; the Comte de Provence, eighteen; the Comtesse
de Provence, twenty; the Comte d’Artois, seventeen; and the Comtesse
d’Artois, eighteen. Of Mesdames Adélaïde, Victoire, Sophie, and
Louise, the last of whom was a Carmelite nun, and whose ages were from
thirty-eight to forty-three.

Mesdames de France were in many respects excellent women: religious,
charitable to the poor, strict in their duties. The three elder ones
had stayed by their father in his fatal illness, by which Adélaïde
and Sophie had caught the small-pox. Louise was a saintly person; and
all of them were devoted to their family and friends. But they were
narrow-minded, obstinate, and prejudiced to an extraordinary degree,
and they allowed their hatred of the house of Austria to include their
niece, the young Queen; their unjust animosity against whom was the
cause of incalculable mischief.

From her first arrival they set themselves against the Dauphine,
they exaggerated the faults and follies which were only those of a
thoughtless, wilful child of fifteen, and by their unjustifiable
spite gave colour to the infamous and false reports circulated by her
enemies. They tried to sow dissension between her and the Comtesse de
Provence, hoping by means of his wife to engage their second nephew in
a party against her. The fault was chiefly that of Madame Adélaïde,
for Madame Victoire was far more gentle and easygoing, and Madame
Sophie so dreadfully shy and nervous that she was incapable of taking
a leading part in anything.




She was so terribly frightened at a thunderstorm that once when
visiting the Comte and Comtesse de Provence, as she stayed rather long
and they wanted to go out, the Count had some heavy thing rolled on
the floor of the room above, which she took for distant thunder and
hurried away to reach home before the storm.

The young princes and princesses, however, in spite of the disputes,
jealousies, and quarrels that occurred amongst them, agreed in
amusing themselves very well together. They gave balls, theatricals
and _fêtes_ of all kinds; the Queen was very fond of cards, and
gambling went on to an extent which, with the money spent on _fêtes_
and in other still more reprehensible ways, especially by the Comte
d’Artois, though it could have passed as a matter of course under
former reigns, now increased the irritation and discontent which every
year grew stronger and more dangerous. For the distress amongst the
lower orders was terrible; for years marriages and the birthrate had
been decreasing in an alarming manner; the peasants declaring that
it was no use bringing into the world children to be as miserable as

The young princes and princesses could not understand that the
resources of the State were not inexhaustible, or that they might not
draw whatever they liked from the Treasury when they had spent all
their own allowances.

The Comte d’Artois had an affair with Mlle. Duthé, who had ruined
numbers of people, and thought her _liaison_ with a _fils de France_
would open the Treasury to her rapacity. She contracted enormous
debts at all the great shops in Paris, and very soon bills for plate,
pictures, jewels, furniture, dresses, &c., &c., poured in upon the
Prince, who, finding himself utterly unable to pay them, sent for
Turgot, then _Contrôleur-Général_, and asked him to get him out of the

Turgot replied coldly that as the money in the treasury did not belong
to him, he could not dispose of it without the King’s permission.

The Comte d’Artois flew into a passion with Turgot, who went to the
King and laid the matter before him.

Louis XVI., the only one of the family who saw the necessity of order
and economy, was furious, and declared that the treasury of the State
should not be squandered to satisfy the fancies of a prostitute, that
the Comte d’Artois must manage as he could, that he forbade Turgot to
give him the money, and that the Comte d’Artois was to be sent to him
at once.

The whole affair was an exact specimen of the mingled extravagance,
folly, vice, and weakness which were leading to the terrible
retribution so swiftly approaching.

There was a violent scene between the two brothers, the Comte
d’Artois threatened to borrow the money he could not extort, and the
King, after reproaching him for his conduct, ordered him to his own
apartment, intending to punish him by means of a _lettre de cachet_.
But then, as always, the irresolution and weakness of Louis XVI.
more than counterbalanced his good intentions.

The Comte d’Artois appealed to the Queen and the Comte de Provence,
who went to intercede for him with the King. Louis, irritated by the
vehemence with which Marie Antoinette took the part of the Comte
d’Artois, asked her whether she knew what he wanted the money for, and
on her replying that she did not, proceeded to tell her. The Queen
looked thunderstruck, gave way to a torrent of indignation against the
conduct of the Comte d’Artois, and left the room. But Louis, instead
of abiding by the decision he had so vehemently announced, allowed
himself to be persuaded by the Comte de Provence and his aunts to
revoke everything he had said, and do everything he had inveighed
against. The Comte d’Artois was not punished and the disgraceful debts
were paid.

The King had given _le petit Trianon_ to the Queen, who delighted in
the absence of restraint and formality with which she could amuse
herself there, and if she had been satisfied with the suppers and
picnics with her family and friends in the little palace and its shady
gardens, it would have been better for her and for every one. But she
gave _fêtes_ so costly that the King on one occasion, hearing that he
was to be invited to one that was to cost 100,000 francs, refused to
go, and on the Queen, much hurt at his decision, assuring him that
it would only cost a mere trifle, he told her to get the estimates
and look at them. However, as usual, he was persuaded to yield and be
present at the _fête_.


  _E. H. Bearne_


Then the Comte d’Artois insisted on having a place of the same kind,
and on its being made and finished in a week; which at enormous
expense he succeeded in accomplishing, besides winning from the Queen
a bet of 100,000 francs made upon the subject.

The Comte d’Artois did not hesitate to give 1,700 louis for a race
horse, or to lose four or five hundred thousand francs in an evening
at cards; and the Emperor Joseph II., when under the name of Count von
Falkenstein he paid the celebrated visit to France and his sister,
wherein he made himself so disagreeable and gave so much offence, was
well justified in the contemptuous sarcasm with which he spoke of the
squandering of the revenues in racing and gambling.

It was, perhaps, worst of all at Marly, beautiful Marly, so soon to
be utterly swept away; for there such was the relaxation of etiquette
that any decently-dressed person might enter the _salon_ and join in
the play, with the permission of the ladies of high rank to whom they
gave part of their winnings. People came there in crowds, and on one
occasion the Comte de Tavannes, coming up with a look of consternation
to the Comte de Provence, whispered—

“Ah! Monseigneur! What an indignity! Do you see that man near that
_console_? a man in a pink coat with a waistcoat of blue and silver,
wearing spectacles?”

“Yes; and there is nothing in his appearance to justify your horror.”

“You don’t know who the person is, Monseigneur, or your hair would
stand on end.”

“Can it be the ——”

“The executioner? You have guessed it, Monseigneur, and that fearful
name explains the state of mind in which you see me.”

“Do not say a word to any one,” said the Prince. “I will undertake to
turn out the insolent fellow without making a scandal, unless you will
do it yourself.”

Tavannes drew back, and just then, seeing Prince Maurice de
Montbarrey, Colonel of the _Cent-Suisses_ of his guard, the Comte de
Provence sent him to tell the man to go. Saint-Maurice obeyed, without
knowing who the man was, and the Comte de Provence saw him turn pale
and cast a terrible look at Saint-Maurice. He retired in silence, and
not many years afterwards Saint-Maurice fell under his hand.


[75] She died May 11, 1784, at the age of ninety-nine years, seven
months, and six days.

[76] “Salons d’Autrefois.”


     Weak character of Louis XVI.—Quarrels at Court—Mme. de
     Tessé—Forebodings of Mme. d’Ayen—La Fayette—Saintly lives
     of Pauline and her sisters—Approach of the Revolution—The
     States-General—Folly of Louis XVI.—Scenes at Versailles—Family
     political quarrels—Royalist and Radical—Death of Pauline’s
     youngest child.

There was a striking contrast between the position of Louis XVI. and
that of his predecessors on the throne of France.

Everybody was afraid of Louis XIV., and even of Louis XV. At any rate,
they ruled. They commanded, and their subjects obeyed.

But nobody was afraid of Louis XVI., and when he did command he was by
no means sure of obedience. He had ascended the throne with the most
excellent intentions, abolished all sorts of abuses, and wanted to be
the father of his people. But a father who cannot be respected is very
likely not to be loved, and a ruler who cannot inspire fear cannot
inspire respect either, and is not so fit to be a leader as one who
possesses fewer virtues and more strength and courage.

When Louis XV. remarked that it was a pity the Comte de Provence was
not the eldest of his grandsons, that he knew what he was saying is
evident from the fact that though all three of them inherited the
crown, the Comte de Provence was the only one who succeeded in keeping

Louis XVI. was the most unsuitable person to rule over the French, a
nation more than any other alive to, and abhorrent of, any suspicion
of ridicule or contempt. And to them the virtues and faults of Louis
were alike ridiculous. When he interfered in the love affairs of the
Prince de Condé, and ordered the Princesse de Monaco to retire into
a convent, the Prince de Condé became his enemy, and people laughed.
When he spent hours and hours shut up alone making keys and locks they
shrugged their shoulders, and asked if that was a diversion for the
descendant of Henri IV. and Louis le Grand.

Besides the conflict between the new and old ideas, the extravagant
hopes of some and the natural misgivings of others, the court was
disturbed by the quarrels and jealousies of many of the great nobles
who, not contented with occupying the posts they held, aimed at making
them hereditary in their families.

The Marquis de Noailles was one of the gentlemen of the household of
the Comte de Provence, who did not much like the Noailles, and said
that the Marquis was a true member of that family, eager after his
own interests and those of his relations. Even the saintly Duchesse
de Lesparre, when she resigned her place of _dame d’atours_ to the
Comtesse de Provence, was much aggrieved that the latter would not
appoint another Noailles, but chose to give the post to the Comtesse
de Balbi, a personal friend of her own.

The Maréchale de Mouchy was furious because the Queen had created
or revived an office which she said lessened the importance and
dignity of the one she held, and after much fuss and disturbance she
resigned her appointment. All the Noailles took her part and went
over to the opposition. Although the riches, power, and prestige
of that family were undiminished, they were not nearly so much the
favourites of the present royal family as they had been of Louis XIV.
and Louis XV., which was natural, as they were so much mixed up with
the ultra-Liberals, whose ranks had been joined by so many of their
nearest relations.

Mme. de Tessé, younger sister of the Duc d’Ayen, was well known for
her opinions. La Fayette, de Noailles, and de Ségur had returned
from America, and their ideas were shared by Rosalie’s husband, de
Grammont, and to a certain extent, though with much more moderation,
by M. de Montagu. All the remaining daughters of the Duc d’Ayen except
Pauline shared the opinions of their husbands; M. de Thésan and M. de
Beaune were opposed to them, as was also the Duchesse d’Ayen, whose
affection for her sons-in-law did not make her share their blind
enthusiasm and unfortunate credulity.

Inheriting the cool head, calm judgment, and commonsense of her father
and grandfather, she did not believe in these extravagant dreams of
universal happiness and prosperity. On the contrary, her mind was
filled with gloomy forebodings, and during a severe illness that she
had, she called her daughters round her bed and spoke to them of
her fears for the future with a sadness and earnestness only too
prophetic, and with which Pauline was more strongly impressed than her

Adrienne especially believed implicitly in her husband, who was now
the supreme fashion amongst the Liberals, _fêted_, flattered by high
and low, and just at this time the idol of the people; a popularity
which soon gave place to hatred, and which did no good while it lasted.

For La Fayette was neither a genius, nor a great man, nor a born
leader; the gift of influencing other people was not his; he had no
lasting power over the minds of others, and as to the mob, he led them
as long as he went where they wanted to go. When he did not agree with
all their excesses they followed him no longer.

A man full of good qualities, brave, disinterested, honourable, a
good husband, father, and friend, full of enthusiastic plans and
aspirations for the regeneration of society and the improvement of
everybody, La Fayette was a failure. He did more harm than good, for,
like many other would-be popular leaders, he had gifts and capacity
enough to excite and arouse the passions of the populace, but not to
guide or control them.

He was, in fact, a visionary, credulous enthusiast, with an
overweening vanity and belief in his own importance; obstinate and
self-confident to a degree that prevented his ever seeing the fallacy
of his views. His own conceit, and the flattery and adulation of his
family and friends, made him think that he, and no other, was the man
to save and direct France. His very virtues and attractions were
mischievous in converting others to his unpractical and dangerous

His Utopian government and state of society would have been all
very well if they had been attainable, but he had no knowledge or
comprehension of the instruments and materials of which they were to
be composed, no insight into character, no correctness of judgment, no
decision or promptitude in emergencies, and what he did or helped to
do was that most dangerous of proceedings, to set in motion a force he
could not control.

In spite of all their engagements, Pauline and her sisters found time
for an immense amount of charitable work of all sorts. They all took
an active part in one way or another, and Pauline even managed to make
use of the evenings she spent in society, for she collected money at
the houses to which she went to help the poor during the hard winters.
During that of 1788 she got a thousand _écus_ in this way. M. de
Beaune used to give her a _louis_ every time he won at cards, which
was, or he good-naturedly pretended to be, very often.

She and Mme. de la Fayette used also to visit the prisons, which in
those days required no little courage, owing to the squalor, cruelty,
and misery with which they were thus brought into contact.

Pauline also had something like what would now be called by us a
district at Montmartre, not far from the _rue Chantereine_, where she
lived; but she had poor pensioners all over Paris to whom she gave
food, firing, clothes, doctors, everything they wanted, and whom she
visited constantly. Old and young, good and bad, beggars, prisoners,
every sort of distress found a helper in her.

But neither her children nor her charitable and religious duties,
absorbing as they were to her, could exclude her from intense
excitement and interest in the political events going on around her.
The questions discussed were so vital, and the changes so sweeping,
that every phase of life was affected by them.

The provincial assemblies were sitting all over France in 1787-8 in
preparation for the States-General which were soon to be summoned
with such fatal results. The Duc d’Ayen was president of the assembly
of Limousin, M. de Beaune of that of Auvergne; nearly all the men of
her family sat in one or the other, and were eager for the reforms
which, if they could have been properly carried out and had satisfied
the nation, would have indeed been the beginning of a new era of
prosperity and happiness.

The abolition of _lettres de cachet_, liberty of the press, the strict
administration of justice, the equalisation of taxation, the abolition
of the oppressive privileges of the nobles; all these and others of
the kind were hailed with acclamations by the generous, enthusiastic
young nobles who imagined that they could regenerate and elevate to
their lofty ideals the fierce, ignorant, unruly populace who were
thirsting, not for reform and good government, but for plunder and

Never in the world’s history was a stranger mingling of generosity
and folly, unpractical learning and brutal ignorance, misguided
talents and well-meaning stupidity, saintly goodness and diabolical
wickedness, heroic deeds and horrible crimes, than in the years
ushered in with such triumph and joy by the credulous persons so
truly described in later years by Napoleon: “Political economists
are nothing but visionaries who dream of plans of finance when they
are not fit to be schoolmasters in the smallest village.... Your
speculators trace their Utopian schemes upon paper, fools read
and believe them, every one babbles about universal happiness,
and presently the people have not bread to eat. Then comes a
revolution.... Necker was the cause of the saturnalia that devastated
France. It was he who overturned the monarchy, and brought Louis XVI.
to the scaffold.... Robespierre himself, Danton, and Marat have done
less mischief to France than M. Necker. It was he who brought about
the Revolution.”

The party who, like the more sensible and moderate reformers, wished
only for the abolition of abuses, and for such considerable reforms
in the government and laws as should give freedom and gradual
prosperity to the whole nation, without destroying or plundering one
class for the benefit of another, vainly imagined that they would
establish a constitution like that which in England had been the
growth of centuries, in a few days or weeks, amongst a people totally
different in every characteristic, quite unaccustomed to freedom,
self-government, or calm deliberation, and exasperated by generations
of tyranny.

What they wanted was a free and just government under a constitutional
king, but they failed to realise that their party was far too small
and too weak to have any chance of carrying out their plans, and that
behind them was the savage, ignorant, bloodthirsty multitude with
nothing but contempt and derision for their well-intentioned projects
of reform and law and just government, pressing onwards to the reign
of anarchy and devastation which they themselves were doing everything
to help them to attain.

The States-General were to open on May 5th, and the day before M. de
Beaune and M. de Montagu went to Versailles to be present, Pauline
remaining in Paris to nurse a sick servant.

Those who had dreaded the summoning of the States-General at a time
when the public were in so inflamed and critical a state, were soon
confirmed in their opinions by the disputes between the three orders,
and the general ferment. Disloyal demonstrations were made, the King
sent for more troops and dismissed Necker, who, like La Fayette, was
unable to quell the storm he had raised; everything was becoming more
and more alarming. Just before the fall of the Bastille, Pauline, who
was not well at the time, was sent to Bagnères again, where, after
stopping at Toulouse to see her little orphan niece Jenny de Thésan,
she arrived so dangerously ill that she thought she was going to die,
and wrote a touching letter to her sister Rosalie, desiring that her
children might be brought up by Mme. de Noailles, but commending them
to the care of all her sisters.

Her illness was of course aggravated by the accounts from Paris, and
she heard with dismay that La Fayette had been made commander of the
_garde-nationale_, which she dreaded to see him leading against the
King. He had then reached the height of his power.[77]

The Revolution had begun indeed, and was advancing at a fearful rate.
The King and Queen, seeing the danger they were all in, at this time
thought of escaping from Versailles. The Queen told Mme. de Tourzel to
make preparations quietly to start. Had they done so it might probably
have saved them all, but the King changed his mind and they stayed.[78]

The _Chasseurs de Lorraine_ and _regiment de Flandre_ having been
sent to Versailles on account of the crimes and murders daily
committed there, the _gardes-du-corps_ gave them a splendid banquet
in the _Salle de Comédie_, to which all the troops, including the
_gardes-nationales_, were invited.

The King, Queen, and Dauphin appeared, and there was an outburst of
loyalty in which the _gardes-nationales_ joined. The band struck up
_Richard o mon roi_; the ladies of the Court who had come into the
boxes tore up their handkerchiefs into white cockades, the young
officers climbed up into the boxes to get them; the evening finished
with a ball, and in a frenzy of loyalty.

Again the King let slip a golden opportunity, for he could have left
that night in perfect safety with a strong escort, and placed himself
and the royal family in safety, if only he had taken advantage of the
favourable disposition of the troops, but the chance was lost, the
demonstration infuriated and alarmed the Revolutionists, who succeeded
in corrupting part of the _regiment de Flandre_, made La Fayette head
of the National Guards, and carried the King and royal family to Paris.

Even then they had a third chance of escape, for when the announcement
of what was intended arrived, the King was out hunting, the horses
were just being put into the carriage of the Dauphin who was going out
for a drive, and if the Queen, her children, and Madame Elisabeth had
got into the carriage and joined him, they could have fled together.
But the idea did not occur to them; they waited till the King
returned, and were taken prisoners to Paris next day, escorted by La
Fayette, who, though able to protect them from personal violence, was
powerless to prevent the horrors and crimes committed by his atrocious

The King would not even try to defend himself or those belonging to
him. Narbonne Fritzlard begged him to let him have troops and guns
with which he would soon scatter the brigands, who could only pass
by Meudon and the bridges of Sèvres and St. Cloud. “Then, from the
heights I will cannonade them and pursue them with cavalry, not one
shall reach Paris again,” said the gallant soldier, who even then
would have saved the miserable King in spite of himself.[79]

But Louis refused, and when the ruffians surrounded the _château_,
forbade them to be fired on, which order, when they heard, they began
to massacre the _gardes-du-corps_, who were not allowed to defend

In reading the history of these events one cannot help feeling that
all one’s sympathy is for Marie Antoinette and her children, but that
a King whose conduct was so despicable, who shrank from shedding the
blood of infamous traitors and murderers, while he allowed them to
massacre his faithful soldiers and friends, was not worth dying for.

When it was too late he ordered a carriage and tried to leave, but
was stopped by the _gardes-nationales_ and servants. La Fayette on
his white horse rode with the cavalcade, full of uneasiness, for he
saw that he could not control the followers with whom he had imagined
himself to be all-powerful, their crimes and cruelties were abhorrent
to him, and the fearful position of the King and royal family alarmed
and distressed him.

The royalists were just now all the more bitter against La Fayette,
as he was supposed to have been partly the cause of the death of M.
de Favras, who was engaged in a plot for the liberation of the King,
which was unfortunately discovered. The King and Queen tried in vain
to save him; he was condemned and put to death.

Mme. de Tourzel asserts that La Fayette helped to irritate the mob
against him, and that he was afraid of de Favras’ intrigues against
himself, as he was accused of plotting to murder Necker, Bailly, and
La Fayette.

Pauline recovered from her illness and returned to Paris during the
terrible days of October. Everything was changed, the streets were
unsafe to walk in, murders were frequent, bands of ruffians went about
threatening and insulting every one whom they suspected or disliked.
She fetched her two children back to the _rue Chantereine_, and
resumed her charitable expeditions, though it was dangerous to walk

Society was split into opposing parties, infuriated against each
other, quarrels and reproaches took the place of the friendly
conversations and diversions of former days. It was not to be wondered
at, and her own family once so united was now divided and estranged.

M. de Beaune not only refused to receive or speak to the Vicomte de
Noailles and La Fayette, but would scarcely allow Pauline to see her
sisters, at any rate in his _hôtel_. When they were announced anywhere
he took up his hat and left the house, and the banging of doors in
the distance proclaimed his displeasure. It was worse when she was
alone with her husband and his father in the evenings. Ever since the
fall of the Bastille M. de Beaune had been anxious to emigrate with
his family, and Pauline, who shared his opinions, had the same wish.
But her husband disapproved of it, and the endless discussions and
altercations, in which M. de Beaune was irritated and violent, and his
son quiet and respectful though resolute, made her very unhappy.

Not that M. de Montagu shared the opinions of his brothers-in-law,
he saw to what they had led. But he thought as many others did and
still do, that emigration was a mistake, at any rate for the present,
that precipitation in the matter would irritate moderate men and
many who were still undecided, and drive them into the ranks of the
Revolutionists, especially if they saw the _emigrés_ preparing to
return with a foreign army to fight against their countrymen. What he
hoped for was a _rapprochement_ between the royalists and the moderate
constitutional party, who, if united, might still save both the
monarchy and the reforms. M. de Beaune laughed at the idea, and events
prove him to be right; finally, as he could not convince his son, he
set off alone.

Pauline remained at Paris with her husband, and in February they lost
their younger child, Clotilde. The morning after she died, Pauline,
who had been up with her all night, was told that Rosalie, who was
living at the _hôtel de Noailles_, had just given birth to her first

She dressed, and doing all she could to remove the traces of tears,
she prepared, in spite of her husband’s remonstrances, to go to her
sister, sat with her, talked with apparent cheerfulness, but exhausted
by the effort, fell fainting to the ground, when she left her room.


[77] “Mémoires de Marquise de Montagu.”

[78] “Mémoires de Mme. de Tourzel.”

[79] “Mémoires de Mme. de Tourzel.”


     The Château de Plauzat—Varennes—Increasing danger—Decided to
     emigrate—Triumphal progress of La Fayette—The farewell of the
     Duchesse d’Ayen—Paris—Rosalie—A last mass—Escape to England.

Pauline was so ill after this that her husband took her and their
remaining child to Aix-les-Bains, and then to their _château_ of
Plauzat in Auvergne, a curious, picturesque building, part of which
dated from the twelfth or thirteenth century, which dominated the
little town of the same name, and was surrounded by the most beautiful

Hearing that the peasants, still attached to them, and untouched by
revolutionary ideas, were about to receive them in the old way, with
cross and banner and the ringing of the bells, they thought it better
to arrive in the middle of the night, but the first thing in the
morning the _château_ was surrounded by the people, who were eager to
see them.

In this remote and delightful home they decided to stay for the
present, and Pauline as usual spent much of her time looking after and
helping the peasants, who followed her with their blessings as she
went about.

They also made expeditions to several other castles in the
neighbourhood, which belonged to the family, amongst others that of
Beaune and the ancient castle of Montagu.

Plauzat was a stately and comfortable, besides being a picturesque
abode, with its immense hall hung with crimson damask and family
portraits, out of which opened Pauline’s great bedroom, the walls
of which were covered with blue and white tapestry worked by M. de
Montagu’s grandmother, Laure de Fitzjames, grand-daughter of James II.
of England.

The months they spent there were the last of the old life. The vintage
went on merrily, the peasants danced before the _château_, little
Noémi played with the children, M. de Montagu rode about his farms,
meeting and consulting with other owners of neighbouring _châteaux_,
and the news from Paris grew worse and worse. The Duc d’Ayen was safe,
he had been denounced but had escaped to Switzerland, and was living
at Lausanne, where Pauline had been to see him from Aix.

The Comtes de Provence and d’Artois and their wives had got safely
over the frontier to Brussels, but the news of the flight and
capture of the King, Queen and royal family, came upon them like a
thunderbolt. Again it was probable that the fiasco was caused by Louis
XVI. Not only had he deferred the flight till it was nearly impossible
to accomplish it, but he persisted in their all going together,
instead of allowing the party to be divided; if he had consented to
which, some of them at least might have been saved. It does not seem
really at all impossible that the Dauphin might have been smuggled
out of the kingdom, but their being so many diminished fearfully their
chance of escape. Then he kept the carriage waiting for an hour or
more when every moment was precious. The whole thing was mismanaged.
The time necessary for the journey had been miscalculated. Goguelat
went round a longer way with his hussars; they ought to have been at
a certain place to meet the royal family, who, when they arrived at
the place appointed, found no one. After the arrest at Varennes a
message might have been sent to M. Bouillé, who was waiting further
on, and would have arrived in time to deliver them. Such, at any rate,
was the opinion of persons who had every opportunity of judging of
this calamitous failure.[80] Madame Elizabeth, who might have been in
security with her sister at the court of Turin, where their aunts had
safely arrived, had stayed to share the captivity and death of the
King and Queen.

Nothing could be worse or more threatening. Revolutionary orators came
down to Plauzat and soon the whole aspect of the place was changed.
Peasants who before wanted to harness themselves to draw their
carriage, now passed with their hats on singing _Ça ira_. _Châteaux_
began to be burnt in the neighbourhood, revolutionary clubs were
formed, municipalities and _gardes-nationales_ were organised, and
although the greater number of their people would not join in them;
cries of “_À la lanterne_” were heard among the hedges and vine-yards
as they walked out, from those concealed, but as yet fearing to show

This perilous state of affairs added to a letter Pauline received from
her cousin, the Comtesse d’Escars, who had arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle,
had seen M. de Beaune there, and heard him speak with bitterness and
grief of his son’s obstinacy, which he declared was breaking his
heart, at length induced him to yield to his father’s commands and
his wife’s entreaties. He consented to emigrate, but stipulated that
they should go to England, not to Coblentz, and went to Paris to see
what arrangements he could make for that purpose. While he was away La
Fayette and his wife passed through the country, receiving an ovation
at every village through which they passed. The King had accepted the
constitution, and La Fayette had resigned the command of the National
Guard and was retiring with his family to his estates at Chavaniac,
declaring and thinking that the Revolution was at an end.

How it was possible, amidst the horrors and excesses going on
throughout the land, to have such a delusion was incredible to
Pauline; but the credulous infatuation of her husband was shared by
Adrienne, who was delighted to get away from public life into the
country, and proposed that they should stop with her sister on the way.

But Pauline knew well enough that the Vicomte de Beaune would never
tolerate the presence of La Fayette in his house, nor forgive her if
she received them there. Having explained this to her sister, she met
her secretly at a little roadside inn where she knew they would stop
to change horses.

She found La Fayette as usual very affectionate to her, very much
opposed to their emigrating, quite confident in the virtues of the
mob, who were burning, robbing, and murdering all over the country,
and whose idol he still was.

The interview was short and sad; the sisters promised to write
frequently, and parted with many tears. Adrienne proceeding on her
triumphal progress to establish herself with her husband and children
at Chavaniac, Pauline to wait in loneliness and terror at Plauzat for
the return of her husband, making preparations to escape with him and
their child at the earliest opportunity. But one unspeakable happiness
and comfort was given to Pauline before she went forth into exile. The
Duchesse d’Ayen came to stay with her for a fortnight on her way to
see Adrienne at Chavaniac.

It was a time never to be forgotten by Pauline; through all the
troubled, stormy years of her after life, the peaceful, holy
recollections of that solemn intercourse remained deeply impressed
upon her.

On those wild autumn days she would sit in the great tapestried room
working while her mother read and discoursed to her of the great
truths of religion, the power and mercy of God, and the faith and
courage which alone could support them amidst the trials and perils
gathering around them; of the sufferings and victories of the saints
and martyrs; of the swiftly passing trials and shadows of this world,
the glory and immortality of the life beyond. And Pauline hung upon
her mother’s words, for she knew that they might be the last she
would ever hear from that beloved voice, and her courage failed when
she tried to tell her of her approaching exile. Mme. d’Ayen would
every now and then address her counsels and instructions to the
little grand-daughter who adored her; and the mother and daughter
would unite their prayers amidst the rushing of the tempests or the
clamours of the Jacobin club set up close to the _château_. All around
was changed and terrible; they thought anxiously of those absent, and
looked sadly at the church where they no longer went, as the _curé_
was _assermenté_; and as the time drew near for her mother’s departure
Pauline continually resolved to tell her of her own, but she could
never bring herself to do so.

At last the day arrived; the Duchess was to start at ten o’clock.
Pauline persuaded her to stay till twelve and breakfast with her. She
forced herself to be calm, but all the morning her eyes followed her
mother about as she came and went and helped her pack, listening to
every sound of her voice, gazing as if to impress her face upon her
memory, for she had been seized with a presentiment that she should
see her no more. She pretended to eat, but could touch nothing, and
then, thankful that her mother did not know of the long separation
before them, went down to the carriage with her arm in hers. She held
up her child for a last kiss, and then stood watching the carriage as
it bore her mother out of her sight for ever in this world.

Then she fled to her own room and gave way to her grief, and to
the forebodings which filled her mind, and still hung over her like
a cloud, during the preparations and journey to Paris, where M. de
Montagu soon wrote for his wife and child to join him without delay.

On arriving at Paris she found to her great sorrow that her eldest
sister was away. Rosalie de Grammont was there but was ill and
suffering, expecting her confinement. Pauline wanted to stay with her
till it was over, but Rosalie said that emigration was becoming more
difficult and dangerous every day, that those who were going had no
time to lose, and that she would not hear of Pauline’s running any
additional risk by delaying her journey for a single day.

It was fixed, therefore, for the 8th of December; Rosalie helped her
sister with all the necessary purchases and packing, so that the
servants might not discover where she was going, and, on the morning
of the day before their parting, the two sisters went at the break
of day through the falling snow to receive the Communion at a secret
Oratory, going a long way round for fear their footprints in the snow
should betray them. The day was spent in finishing their preparations,
and after her child was in bed Pauline wrote her farewell to her
mother and eldest sister. The night was far advanced when the letters
were finished, and her eyes still bore traces of tears when, before
morning dawned, she rose and prepared to start.

Rosalie arrived, her _pelisse_ all covered with snow; the wind raged
and it was bitterly cold. Pauline gave her sister the letters for the
Duchesse d’Ayen and Vicomtesse de Noailles, neither of whom she was
ever to see again, awoke her child who was astonished to be taken up
and dressed by candle-light, and gave her to M. de Montagu, who took
her to the carriage, and then came back and, saying “Everything is
ready,” pressed the hand of his sister-in-law without any further
leave taking than if they were going into the country, as the servants
were standing about.

Mme. de Grammont wished him “_bon voyage_,” and then drew her sister
back to the fire for a few last words.

“Are you sure you have forgotten nothing? Have you got your diamonds?”

“No; what is the good? I shall not wear them. We are not going to a

“My poor dear, that’s all the more reason,” said Rosalie. “Of course
you must take them.”

Pauline understood, fetched her jewel-case, hid it under her cloak,
and sending away her two maids, threw herself into her sister’s arms.
Rosalie clung to her in a passion of tears and sobs, they exchanged a
lock of their hair, and Pauline, tearing herself away, hurried to the
carriage in which her husband and child were waiting.

They reached Calais on the evening of the day following, and the same
night embarked for England.


[80] It appears that the catastrophe was chiefly caused by Goguelat
first miscalculating the time required for the journey, then not
keeping the appointment with his escort; and some said at Varennes he
ought to have charged through the small number of people and pushed on
to join Bouillé.


     M. de Montagu returns to Paris—M. de Beaune—Richmond—Death of
     Noémi—Aix-la-Chapelle—Escape of the Duc d’Ayen and Vicomte de
     Noailles—La Fayette arrested in Austria—The Hague—Crossing the
     Meuse—Margate—Richmond—Hardships of poverty—Brussels—Letter from
     Mme. de Tessé—Joins her in Switzerland—Murder of M. and Mme. de
     Mouchy—Goes to meet the Duc d’Ayen—He tells her of the murder
     of her grandmother, Mme. de Noailles, her mother, the Duchesse
     d’Ayen, and her eldest sister, the Vicomtesse de Noailles—Mme. de
     la Fayette still in prison.

Directly M. and Mme. de Montagu got to London they heard of the death
of Pauline’s aunt, the Duchesse de Lesparre, another grief for her;
but really at that time for any one to die peacefully among their own
people was a subject of thankfulness to them all.

Pauline, who was very delicate, never took proper care of herself,
and was always having dreadful trials, began by being very ill.
When she was better they established themselves in a pretty cottage
by the Thames at Richmond. But in a short time her husband, who
hated emigrating, heard that the property of emigrants was being
sequestrated, and in spite of his wife’s remonstrances, insisted on
returning to France, hoping to save his fortune; and begging his wife
to be prepared to rejoin him there if he should send for her when she
had regained her strength.

No sooner had he gone than his father arrived unexpectedly from the
Rhine, where he had commanded the Auvergne contingent in the army of
Condé, composed almost entirely of gentlemen of that province.

His first question was for his son, and Pauline really dared not
tell him where he was, but when he asked whether he would be long
absent, replied “No.” She felt very guilty and unhappy because she
was deceiving him; but fortunately he only stayed in London a short
time during which he was out day and night; and suddenly he went away
on business to another part of England. Meanwhile Pauline thought she
would start for France, leaving a letter to M. de Beaune to confess
the whole matter.

But just as she was getting ready for the journey her little daughter
was taken ill. She recognised with despair the fatal symptoms of her
other children. She could not speak English or the doctor French,
but Mme. de la Luzerne and her daughter, _emigrées_ and friends of
the Duchesse d’Ayen, hastened from London, took up their abode at
Richmond, stayed with her until after the death of the child, and then
took her to London and looked after her with the greatest kindness
and affection until M. de Montagu arrived, too late to see his child,
distracted with grief and anxiety for his wife, and sickened and
horrified with the Revolution and all the cruelties and horrors he had

He now proposed to enter his father’s regiment, and Pauline said she
would go with them. As they were in great want of money she sold her
diamonds, worth more than 40,000 francs, for 22,000, and they went
first to Aix-la-Chapelle, where she remained while her husband and his
father proceeded to the camp at Coblentz.

Aix-la-Chapelle was crowded with _emigrés_, among whom she found many
friends and relations. They met chiefly in the _salon_ of her cousin,
the Comtesse d’Escars; every one had relations with the army of Condé,
in prison, in deadly peril, or even already murdered. The society was
chiefly composed of old men, priests and women, whose lives were a
perpetual struggle with poverty hitherto unknown to them.

In the ill-furnished, dilapidated _hôtel salon_ of Mme. d’Escars
Pauline came in the evenings, after a day spent in the poor lodging
upon the scanty food she could get, passing her time in reading, in
devotion, and in doing what she could to help others.

There she heard continually of the terrible scenes going on in Paris,
and incidentally got news of one or other of her family, and now and
then she received a letter from one of them with details which filled
her with grief and terror.

Her great uncle, the old Maréchal de Mouchy, had never left the King
on the terrible day of the 20th of June, but had stood by him making
a rampart of his own body to protect him from the hordes of ruffians
who were invading the palace; her father, on hearing of these events,
had left his refuge in Switzerland and hurried back to the King; so
did her cousin, the Prince de Poix. Both of them had sympathised with
the earlier Liberal ideas at first; but now, horrified at the fearful
development of their principles, they bitterly regretted their folly
and came to place their lives at the service of their King.

The Duc d’Ayen spent the terrible night of August 9th in the
Tuileries, and both of them followed the King to the Assembly. Even
M. de Grammont, who had been strongly infected with the ideas of the
time, and even belonged to the National Guard, ran great risk of his
life by his support of the King on that day.

As to La Fayette, he had rushed to Paris, violently reproached the
Assembly for the attack on the Tuileries, demanded the punishment of
the Jacobins, and offered to the King the services which were of no
value, and which, as long as they had been of any use, had been at the
disposal of his enemies.

Again one remembers the words of Napoleon to the grandson of Necker,
who said that his grandfather defended the King—

“Defended the King! A fine defence, truly! You might as well say that
if I give a man poison, and then, when he is in the agonies of death,
present him with an antidote, I wish to save him. For that is the way
your grandfather defended Louis XVI.”

The same remarks apply equally to La Fayette, whom, by the bye,
Napoleon could not bear, and would have nothing to do with.

Pauline received a letter from Rosalie, written on the night of August
10th. They had left the _hôtel de Noailles_, which was too dangerous,
and were living in concealment. “My father,” wrote Rosalie, “only
left the King at the threshold of the Assembly, and has returned to
us safe and sound ... but I had no news of M. de Grammont till nine
o’clock in the evening.... I got a note from my husband telling me he
was safe (he had hidden in a chimney). Half an hour later he arrived
himself.... I hasten to write to you at the close of this terrible

The Duc d’Ayen succeeded in getting away to Switzerland, and the
Prince de Poix, who was arrested and being conducted to the Abbaye,
contrived to escape on the way, remained hidden in Paris for six
months, and then passed over undiscovered to England, where Pauline
met him afterwards.

Pauline, who firmly believed in the ultimate success of the royalist
army, and whose heart and soul were with the gallant soldiers of Condé
and the heroic peasants of La Vendée, waited at Aix-la-Chapelle,
studying English and German and corresponding with her mother and
sisters under cover of an old servant.

It was a thousand pities that they did not emigrate like the rest, but
as they were not actually proscribed, they did not like to leave the
old Duke and Duchess de Noailles, who were feeble and dependent on
their care.

La Fayette, accused and proscribed by his late admirers, had found
himself so unwilling to trust to their tender mercies that he fled
to Liége. But having made himself equally obnoxious to both sides,
he had no sooner escaped from the hands of his friends than he fell
into those of his enemies, and was arrested by an Austrian patrol and
detained, arbitrarily say his friends—but why arbitrarily?—was taken
to Wesel, and had now to undergo a mild form of the suffering he had
caused to so many others.

The Vicomte de Noailles was also proscribed, and fled to England,
whence he kept writing to his wife to join him; but she would not
leave her mother and grandmother.

Amongst the _emigrés_ themselves there were disputes. Those who had
emigrated at first looked down upon the later ones, considering
that they had done so, not out of principle, but to save their own
lives. They, on the other hand, maintained that if there had been no
emigration at all things would never have got to such a pitch. M. de
Montagu openly wished he had stayed and been with the royal family
during the attack on the Tuileries.

M. de Montagu was now with the troops of the Duc de Bourbon, and
hearing he was to pass through Liége, Pauline went there to see him,
and waited at an inn to which she knew he would go. Though he was
overjoyed at this unexpected meeting, he had to leave the same day,
as an engagement was imminent, and he remarked that those who were
accused of being the last to join the army must not be last on the

Sadly she returned to Aix-la-Chapelle, where the news which she had
heard at Liége of the September massacres had already arrived, and
where, besides their own horror and grief, the _emigrés_ had to listen
to the disgust and contempt everywhere expressed by those of other
nations for a country in which such atrocities could be perpetuated
without the slightest resistance.

At the end of September she heard that Adrienne had been thrown into
prison. She trembled for her fate and for that of her mother, Louise,
and Rosalie. The campaign ended disastrously for the Royalists, and
for days she did not know the fate of her husband and father-in-law.
However, M. de Beaune arrived, and a few days later M. de Montagu.

They decided to stay at Aix for the present, and had just taken and
furnished a small apartment when they heard the French army, under
Dumouriez, was advancing upon Aix.

There was no time to lose; the furniture, &c., was sold at a loss,
they packed up in haste, found a carriage with great difficulty, and
on a cold, bright day in December they set off, they knew not whither.

The French army had overrun Belgium, everyone was flying towards
Holland; the road was encumbered with vehicles of all kinds. Old
post-chaises, great family coaches, open carts, were filled with
fugitives; many went down the Rhine in boats.

At Cologne Pauline met her cousin, the Comtesse de Brissac, still
in mourning for their relation the Duc de Brissac, late Governor of
Paris, and Colonel of the _Cent-Suisses_, murdered in the streets of

They went down the left bank of the Rhine, passing the fortress of
Wesel, where La Fayette was imprisoned. With tearful eyes Pauline
gazed from the window of the carriage, but dared not ask to stop. M.
de Beaune made no remark and pretended not to notice her agitation;
but he made no objection to the window being wide open in the bitter
cold, as he would usually have done.

They were kept a fortnight at the Hague by the storms and shipwrecks
going on, but early in January they decided to embark for England. The
cold was fearful, and, wrapped in fur cloaks, fur boots and caps, they
set off to drive seven or eight leagues perched on the top of open
baggage waggons, seated upon the boxes, so unsafe that the Baron de
Breteuil, who was with them, fell off and put his wrist out.

The Meuse was frozen and must be crossed on foot. Pauline, who was
again _enceinte_, managed, leaning upon her husband’s arm, slipping
and stumbling, to get as far as the island in the middle. M. de
Montagu insisted on her being carried the rest of the way by a sailor.
M. de Beaune was helped by his only servant, Garden, a tiresome German
boy of fifteen. They got to Helvoetsluys after dark, crossed next
day, and after about a week found a cottage at Margate with a garden
going down to the sea, which they took, and with which they were
delighted. It stood between the sea and the country, and near them
lived the family of M. Le Rebours, President of the Parliament of
Paris, faithful Royalists who were happy enough _all_ to have escaped,
father, mother, grand-parents, six children, and three old servants.
He himself had just then gone to Paris to try to save some of his
fortune. They had turned a room into a private chapel where mass was
said by an old Abbé; all attended daily, and, needless to say, the
prayer for the King was made with special fervour.

The day the fatal news of his death arrived, the Abbé stopped short
and, instead of the usual prayer, began the _De Profundis_ with a
trembling voice. All joined with tears, but when, at the end of
it, the old priest was going on to the other prayers, one of the
congregation said aloud—

“We have not come to that, Monsieur l’Abbé. The prayer for the King!”

And the loyal subjects joined in supplication for the captive,
desolate child who was now Louis XVII.

They were not long left in peace. War was declared with France, and
all refugees were ordered to retire inland for greater security.

The two families therefore moved to Richmond, where they found
themselves surrounded by old friends.

M. de Beaune was cheerful enough when the day was fine, as he spent
his time in visiting them; but when it rained he stayed at home
fretting, grumbling, and adding unintentionally to the troubles of
those he loved. He took to reading romances aloud to Pauline, who
could not bear them, partly, perhaps, from over-strictness, but
probably more because in those days, before Sir Walter Scott had
elevated and changed the tone of fiction, novels were really as a rule
coarse, immoral, and, with few exceptions, tabooed by persons of very
correct notions. However, she knew M. de Beaune must be amused, so she
made no objection.

But her household difficulties were serious. Any persons who have
passed their youth in ease and comfort, and then find themselves
obliged to arrange their lives upon a totally different scale, will
understand this. The petty economies which their soul abhors, the
absurd mistakes they continually make, often with disastrous results,
the perplexity caused by few and incompetent servants, and the doubt
as to whether, after all, their expenses will not exceed their
resources, hang like millstones round their inexperienced necks in any

But the condition of Pauline, brought up in all the luxury and
magnificence of the _hôtel de Noailles_, and suddenly cast adrift
in a country the language and habits of which were unknown to her,
with very little money and no means of getting more when that was
gone, was terrifying indeed. She did not know where anything should
be bought, nor what it should cost; money seemed to her to melt in
her hands. She consulted her husband, but he could not help her. If
she tried to make her own dresses, she only spoilt the material, as
one can well imagine. Their three servants, the German boy, a Dutch
woman, and after a little while an English nurse, could not understand
each other, but managed to quarrel perpetually and keep up the most
dreadful chatter. Her child, this time a son, was born on March 30th,
Easter Day. She had looked forward to celebrating that festival at
the new church then to be opened, at which many of the young people
were to receive their first Communion. Pauline, like all the rest of
the French community, had been intensely interested and occupied in
the preparations. Flowers were begged from sympathising friends to
decorate the altar, white veils and dresses were made for the young
girls by their friends, all, even those whose faith had been tainted
and whose lives had been irreligious, joining in this touching and
solemn festival, which recalled to them their own land, the memories
of their childhood, and the recollection of those they had lost.

The first register in the little chapel was of the baptism of
Alexandre de Montagu, whose godparents were the Duke de la
Rochefoucauld-Dondeauville and Mme. Alexandrine de la Luzerne.

At the beginning of August, Pauline, after making up the accounts,
told her father-in-law that she had enough money left only to carry on
the household for three months longer, but that if they returned to
Brussels it would last twice as long, for they could live there much
better at half the cost.

So it is in the present day and so it was a hundred years ago; and
the little party set off again on their wanderings. They landed in
Belgium just as the Prince of Orange had been beaten near Ypres, the
Dutch army was retreating in disorder, the shops were shut, every
one was flying, it was impossible to get a carriage, and it was not
for many hours that they could get away from Bruges upon a sort of
_char-à-banc_ with a company of actors, with whom they at last entered

Pauline took refuge with Mme. Le Rebours who was just establishing
herself there with her family. She found letters from her mother and
sister, a month old, telling her of the death of her great aunt, the
Comtesse de la Mark, and her grandfather, the Duc de Noailles. Here
she also heard of the murder of the Queen, and all these hardships and
shocks made her very ill.


  _Paul Delaroche_


When she was better she and M. de Montagu took a small furnished
apartment and dined at Mme. Le Rebours’, paying pension of 100 francs
a month for themselves, the child and nurse. M. de Beaune went to
live at a pension set up by the Comtesse de Villeroy, where for a
very moderate price he had good food, a good room, and the society of
a _salon_ in Paris. He grumbled no more, and they were all much more
comfortable than in England.

Brussels was crowded with refugees, many of them almost destitute,
who sold everything they had, gave lessons in languages, history,
mathematics, writing, even riding, but there was so much competition
that they got very little.

Still they waited and hoped, as week after week went by. Early in
the spring affairs had looked more promising. The coalition against
France had formed again under the influence of England. La Vendée and
Bretagne had risen, supported by insurrections all over the South of
France. Lyon, Toulon, Bordeaux, even Marseilles, and many districts
in the southern provinces were furnishing men and arms to join in the
struggle. But gradually the armies of the Republic gained upon them,
the south was a scene of blood and massacre, and the last hopes of
the Royalists were quenched with the defeat of the heroic Vendéens at
Savenay (December 23, 1793).

Pauline was almost in despair. Her child died, as all the others had
done; letters from home had stopped, she did not know what had become
of her mother, sisters, and grandmother; they were in the middle of
winter and had only enough money for another month; more and more
_emigrés_ were crowding into Brussels, flying from the Terror, which
had begun.

But one day she received a letter from her aunt, Mme. de Tessé,
inviting her to come and live with her at Lowernberg in the canton of

Mme. de Tessé had managed to preserve part of her fortune and was
comparatively well off. She had more than once suggested that her
niece should come to her, but Pauline would not leave her husband
and father-in-law as long as she was necessary to them. Now, she saw
that it would, as they were in such difficulty, be better to do so.
Mme. de Tessé, suspecting that her niece was much worse off than she
would tell her, sent her a gold snuff-box that had belonged to Mme. de
Maintenon, which she sold for a hundred pounds. M. de Montagu decided
to ask for hospitality with his maternal grandfather, the Marquis de
la Salle who was living at Constance, and M. de Beaune said he would
find himself an abode also on the shores of that lake.

The Marquis de la Salle was more than eighty years old, and had
been Lieutenant-General and Governor of Alsace; he was now looked
upon with the utmost deference by all the _emigrés_ around. His
whole family were with him, except one son, who was with the army of
Condé; wife, children, single and married, and grandchildren. They
received M. de Montagu with great kindness and affection and wanted
also to keep Pauline; but as, though not beggared, they were poor and
obliged to economise and work to gain sufficient money for so large
a household, she would only stay there a fortnight; then, taking a
sorrowful leave of her husband, she went on to her aunt, Mme. de Tessé.

Now Mme. de Tessé was an extremely clever, sensible person, who knew
very well how to manage her affairs; and, unlike many of her relations
and friends, she did not leave her arrangements and preparations until
her life was in imminent danger, and then at a moment’s notice fly
from the country, abandoning all her property, with no provision for
the future, taking nothing but her clothes and jewels.

Having decided that she would have to leave France, she took care to
provide herself with securities sufficient to ensure her a fortune
large enough to live upon herself, and to help others wherever she

She had bought a farm near Morat, which she managed herself, which
paid very well, gave her the occupation she required, and supported
several helpless people. Her husband, M. de Tessé, _grand d’Espagne
de première classe_, _chevalier des orders_, _lieutenant-général
des armées du Roi_, _premier écuyer de la Reine_, &c., a quiet man,
remarkably silent in society; M. de Mun, an old friend, whose wit and
conversation she found necessary for her amusement, and his son, had
composed the family before the arrival of her niece; there were also
three old exiled priests whom she supported by the produce of her
kitchen garden.

Pauline and her aunt were extremely fond of each other, though their
ideas did not agree at all. Mme. de Tessé adored La Fayette, and the
deplorable result of his theories from which they were all suffering
so severely did not prevent her admiring them.

Pauline went to confession to one of the old priests, and tried in
every way to help her aunt, with more good will than knowledge, for
when diligently watering the vegetables and flowers she watered the
nettles besides, to the great amusement of Mme. de Tessé.

Three weeks after her arrival a letter from London brought the news
that the Maréchal de Mouchy and his wife, uncle and aunt of Mme. de
Tessé, great-uncle and great-aunt of Pauline, had been guillotined
on the 27th of June. For the crime of giving help to some poor
priests they were arrested and sent to La Force, whence they were
transferred to the Luxembourg where they were the object of universal
reverence and sympathy. When, after a time, they were summoned to
the Conciergerie, which was the _vestibule_ of the tribunal, and was
looked upon as the gate of death, the Maréchal begged that no noise
might be made as he did not wish Mme. la Maréchal to know of his
going, for she had been ill.

“She must come too,” was the answer, “she is on the list; I will go
and tell her to come down.”

“No,” said the Maréchal, “if she must go I will tell her myself.”

He went to her room and said as he entered—

“Madame, you must come, it is the will of God, let us bow to His
commands. You are a Christian, I am going with you, I shall not leave

The news spread through the prison and caused general grief. Some of
the prisoners got out of the way because they could not bear to see
them pass, but most stood in a double row through which they walked.
Amidst the murmurs of respect and sorrow a voice cried out—

“_Courage, Monsieur le Maréchal!_”

“_A quinze ans_,” said the old soldier, firmly, “_j’ai monté à
l’assaut pour mon roi; à prés de quatre-vingts ans je monterai à
l’échafaud pour mon Dieu_.”

The news fell like a thunderbolt upon the little household. To Pauline
it seemed as if this blow were a forecast of another still more
terrible. It was long since she had heard anything of her mother,
grandmother, and sisters, and she lived in a state of feverish
suspense almost impossible to bear.

It was on the 27th of July, 1794, that she started on a journey
to see her father, who was living in the Canton de Vaud, near the
French frontier. For two nights she had not slept from the terrible
presentiments which overwhelmed her. Young de Mun went with her, and
having slept at Moudon, they set off again at daybreak for Lausanne.
As they approached the end of their journey they were suddenly aware
of a _char-à-banc_ coming towards them in a cloud of dust, driven
by a man with a green umbrella, who stopped, got down and came up to
them. It was the Duc d’Ayen, now Duc de Noailles, but so changed that
his daughter scarcely recognised him. At once he asked if she had
heard the news, and on seeing her agitation, said hastily with forced
calmness that he knew nothing, and told M. de Mun to turn back towards

In an agony of terror Pauline sprang out of the carriage and implored
him to tell her the worst, for she could bear it.

The Duke put her back in the carriage and sat holding her in his arms;
of what passed during their drive she never had a clear recollection,
except that in a voice almost inaudible she ventured to ask if Rosalie
was still alive, to which her father replied upon his word of honour
that he had heard nothing of her. More, she dared not say, frightful
visions rose before her eyes, she fancied herself seated upon the
tumbril bound with other victims, and the thought was almost a relief
to her.

At last they arrived at Moudon, her father led her into a room in the
inn, closed the door and began by telling her as gently as possible
that he had just lost his mother, the Maréchale de Noailles. He
stopped, seeing the deadly paleness of his daughter, who knew by his
face that he had not told all.

“And I, father?” she cried, clasping her hands together. He told her
that he was not without fear for the fate of the Duchess and even for
that of the Vicomtesse de Noailles.

Then she knew that the worst had happened, and with a terrible cry she
threw herself into her father’s arms, and with tears and sobs wished
she had been in the place of her sister.

The Duke took her back to Lowernberg, where M. de Mun, who had
preceded them, had already taken the fatal news to Mme. de Tessé. She
received her brother and niece with transports of grief and affection,
and did everything she could to comfort them. The list of victims in
the paper from Paris contained the names of the Maréchal de Noailles,
the Duchesse d’Ayen and the Vicomtesse de Noailles, but it was some
time before they could get any details.

After the death of the old Maréchal de Noailles in August, 1793,
the Duchesse d’Ayen and her eldest daughter moved to Paris with the
Maréchale, who was old and feeble and whose reason, always very
eccentric, as will be remembered, was becoming still more impaired.
Had it not been for her and their devoted kindness to her, the lives
of both the Duchess and her daughter might have been saved. Everything
was prepared for the flight of the Vicomtesse to England, where her
husband was waiting for her, intending to embark for America. The
Duchess would probably have succeeded in making her escape also, but
she would not leave her old mother-in-law, and Louise would not leave

Rashly they went to Paris in September, 1793, and were soon detained
as “suspected” in their own house, where Father Carrichon, a priest,
who in disguise carried on the work of his sacred calling, succeeded
in visiting them frequently; and from the news he brought them they
were before long convinced that their lives would be sacrificed,
and prepared with courage and resignation to meet their death.

As they were talking one day on the subject to Father Carrichon, the
Duchess asked him if he would promise to be with them at the foot of
the scaffold. He did so, adding that he would wear a dark blue coat
and a red carmagnole.

In April, 1794, they were sent to the Luxembourg where they found the
de Mouchy, who had been there five months, and who were lodged in a
room over the one in which the Maréchale de Mouchy was born. They had
also been married at that palace. The three de Noailles were put in
the room above them.


  _E. H. Bearne_


There was a great difference amongst the prisons of Paris, and
the Luxembourg was perhaps the best, most comfortable, and most
aristocratic of all, though the _Convent des Oiseaux_, _the
Anglaises_, and _Port Libre_, were also very superior to others.

Amongst many other acquaintances they found the excellent Duchesse
d’Orléans, already widow of the infamous Égalité, who was very ill and
had a wretched bed. Mme. d’Ayen gave her her own which was better and
nursed her, while Louise took care of her grandmother night and day,
made the beds, and washed the plates and cups.

Twice a week at a certain hour she went on pretence of taking the air
to a place from whence she could see her three children, whom their
tutor, devoted to her and her family, brought into the garden below.
Now and then she received and sent notes to and from him, by one of
which they learnt that Adrienne was in the prison called Plessis, one
of the worst.

“God gives me strength,” she wrote to him, “and He will support me;
I have perfect confidence in Him. Adieu; the feeling for all I owe
you will follow me to heaven; do not doubt it. Without you what would
become of my children? Adieu, Alexis, Alfred, Euphémie. Let God be in
your hearts all the days of your lives. Cling to Him without wavering;
pray for your father: do all for his true happiness. Remember your
mother, and that her only wish has been to keep you for eternity. I
hope to find you again with God, and I give you all my last blessing.”

With calmness they received the order to go to the Conciergerie, which
was, they knew, their death sentence. When they were sent for, the
Duchess, who was reading the “Imitation of Christ,” hastily wrote on
a scrap of paper, “My children, courage and prayer,” put it in the
place where she left off, and gave the book to the Duchesse d’Orléans
to give to her daughters if her life were spared. As she said their
names, for once her calmness gave way. The book was wet with her
tears, which left their mark upon it always.

The Conciergerie was crowded, but one of the prisoners, Mme. Laret,
gave up her bed to the old Maréchale; Mme. d’Ayen laid herself upon a
pallet on the floor, and the Vicomtesse, saying, “What is the use of
resting on the eve of eternity?” sat all night reading, by the light
of a candle, a New Testament she had borrowed, and saying prayers.

Perfectly calm and undisturbed, she helped her mother dress, remarking—

“Courage, mamma; we have only an hour more.”

Father Carrichon, warned by M. Grelet the tutor, was ready. As he
walked by the car of the victims they recognised him with joy, and a
fearful storm that was going on helped to disguise his gestures and
proceedings, and when an opportunity offered he turned to them, raised
his hand, and pronounced the words of absolution amidst thunder and
lightning which scattered the crowd, but did not prevent their hearing
him distinctly nor drown their thanks to him and message of farewell
to those they loved. “God in His mercy calls us. We shall not forget
them; may we meet in heaven!”


     Illness—Leaves Switzerland with Mme. de Tessé—They settle near
     Altona—Hears of Rosalie’s safety—Life on the farm—Release of
     Adrienne—Her visit—Farm of Ploen—Peaceful life there—Rosalie
     and Adrienne—Birth of Pauline’s son—He and her other children
     live—Release of La Fayette—Their visit to Ploen—Meeting of
     Adrienne, Pauline, and Rosalie at the Hague.

This fearful shock brought on so violent an attack of illness that
Pauline’s friends feared for her reason. Her aunt nursed her with the
deepest affection, her husband arrived to comfort her with his love
and sympathy, and the anxiety about Rosalie gave her a new object
of interest. The Duke went to see the Princesse de Broglie, who had
just come to the neighbourhood from France; she knew nothing; but
a smuggler was found who knew all the paths of the Jura, and who
was willing to go to Franche Comté, promising not to return without
knowing the fate of Mme. de Grammont.

The government of Fribourg had begun to annoy Mme. de Tessé about
her niece, objecting to her receiving her, and Pauline thought it
best to go for a time to Constance. While she was there the smuggler
returned, having discovered Mme. de Grammont, who was safe in Franche
Comté, and had with her the children of the Vicomtesse de Noailles
and their faithful tutor. She had written to her father and sister on
handkerchiefs sewn inside the smuggler’s waistcoat, and was thankful
to find they were alive; but she could not, as they begged her to
do, get out of France just then, as her husband was not sufficiently
recovered from an illness to undertake a journey.

Mme. de Tessé, alarmed by the conduct of the government of Fribourg,
sold her property there, and resolved to go far north, as the French
armies seemed to be spreading all over central and southern Europe.

The little party left Lowemberg at five o’clock one morning before
there was much light, except the reflections from the snow upon the
mountains; spent a few days at Berne, and went on to Schaffhausen,
where M. de Montagu met them, and took his wife to Constance to say
goodbye to the La Salle. She stayed four days, and then rejoined her
aunt, and went on to Ulm and Nuremberg, where her husband had to leave
her, and return to Constance. The rest proceeded to Erfurt, spent a
month there among many old friends who had taken refuge in that quiet,
ancient town. Finally they crossed the Elbe and arrived at Altona,
where in Danish territory they hoped to be able to live in peace and

They found a farm, settled themselves in it, and after a time M. de
Montagu was added to the household, for he came to see his wife, and
their joy at meeting so touched Mme. de Tessé, that she said he had
better stay altogether.

For with care and good management she contrived to live simply, but
quite comfortably. Not that farming or life in the depth of the
country were at all her fancy; no, what she liked was a town and
a _salon_ frequented by clever, amusing people of the world whose
conversation she could enjoy. But she knew well enough that if she
settled in a town and had a _salon_, before very long she would
be nearly ruined, whereas at her farm she found no difficulty in
supporting herself and those dependent upon her, and helping many
others besides.

As to Pauline, she spent her whole time in working for and visiting
those unfortunate _emigrés_ within reach who were in poverty and

Not far from them she found Mme. Le Rebours, whose husband had
persisted in going to France, and had been guillotined. She and her
family, amongst whom was the brave, devout spirit, were overjoyed to
meet her again.

She was happier now than she had been for a long time; she heard every
now and then from her father and Rosalie, her husband was with her,
and her love for the aunt, who was their good angel, ever increased.
But still the terrible death of her mother, sister, and grandmother
cast its shadow over her life, added to which was her uncertainty
about Adrienne.

Whatever may be said for or against emigration, one thing is
apparent—those who emigrated early saved not only their lives, but,
if they were commonly prudent, part of their property also. Those
who emigrated late saved their lives, but lost all their property;
while those who remained, or returned, were most likely to lose their
liberty, if not their lives.

If the King had taken the opportunity on the night of the banquet at
Versailles, gained the coast, and escaped to England, he would have
saved himself and his family from misery and destruction, as his
brothers did.

In Pauline’s family those who, like herself and those about her, got
out of the country, were safe from everything but the poverty caused
partly by their own improvidence. But of those who remained there
was scarcely one who escaped death or the horrors of a revolutionary
prison. Only M. and Mme. de Grammont had managed to keep quiet in a
distant part of the country, and, of course, at the peril of their

At last a letter came to say that Adrienne was free. She had been the
last to be released from Plessis after the death of Robespierre had,
to a great extent, stopped the slaughter and opened the prisons. Her
captivity had lasted from October, 1793, till February, 1795; and
now, very soon after her letter, Adrienne arrived with her two young
daughters at Altona.

The two sisters had not met since the interview at the inn during the
triumphal progress of the La Fayette. It was a mercy that Pauline had
not believed in their Utopia nor taken their advice. Even now Adrienne
was only exchanging one prison for another, for she was shortly going
to Austria to obtain leave to share that of La Fayette.

Long and touching were the conversations and confidences of the
sisters when they were alone together.

Overcome with emotion at first they looked at each other in silence;
then, in a voice broken with sobs, Pauline asked, “Did you see them?”

“I had not that happiness,” replied Adrienne.

But she knew all the details of their fate; she had seen M. Grelet
and Father Carrichon, who had gone to the scaffold first with their
great uncle and aunt, de Mouchy, then with her grandmother, mother,
and sister. In the prison of Plessis she had found her cousin, the
Duchesse de Duras, daughter of the de Mouchy, and they had consoled
each other under the awful calamity that each had undergone. Only a
few days more and the Noailles would have been, like their uncle, the
Marquis de Noailles, youngest brother of the Duc d’Ayen, saved by the
death of Robespierre. The Duchesse de Duras was at once liberated with
the rest; but the spite and hatred of Legendre, governor of Plessis,
against the very name of La Fayette, caused Adrienne to be detained
until the exertions of Mme. de Duras procured her freedom.

She sent her boy to America under the name of Motier, to be brought
up under the care of Washington, and then went to Auvergne to see
her old aunt, fetch her daughters, and settle her affairs; she had
borrowed some money from the Minister of the United States and some
diamonds from Rosalie, and had bought back her husband’s _château_ of
Chavaniac with the help of the aunt who had brought him up, and who
remained there.

She met her daughters in a mountain village near Clermont, and the
deep, fervent joy of their restoration to each other out of the shadow
of death was increased by finding that the priest had just ventured
to reopen the village church, where on the next day, Sunday, they
again attended mass in that secluded place, and where Virginie, the
younger girl, made her first Communion. And she had seen Rosalie, for
Mme. de Grammont heard of her sister’s release, and resolved to join
her. Having very little money, and travelling by public conveyances
being still unsafe, taking her diamonds she rode a mule with her three
children in paniers, and her husband walking by her side. Thus they
journeyed by steep mountain paths, or country lanes, but always by the
most secluded ways possible. When they reached Paris, Adrienne was
gone, but they resumed their primitive travelling, followed her to
Auvergne, and came up with her at the little town of Brionde.

Adrienne had brought Pauline a copy of their mother’s will, and, not
being an _emigrée_, had taken possession of the castle and estate of
Lagrange, left to herself. She only spent a short time at Altona, and
started for Austria.

Her farm near the Baltic did not altogether satisfy Mme. de Tessé,
and before long they again moved, to be in the neighbourhood of a
residence she had heard of, and hoped to get after a time.

It was by the lake of Ploen, and they were obliged to pass the winter
at the little town of that name, for it was October when the cavalcade
arrived—M. and Mme. de Tessé, the Montagu, the de Mun, and the
priests, to whom another had been added.

There Pauline had a son, and to her great joy he and the children
she afterwards had lived to grow up. The farm Mme. de Tessé wished
for was called Wittmold, and lay at the other side of the lake upon
a plain covered with pasture and ponds, as far as the eye could
reach. The house stood on a promontory jutting out into the lake,
and was surrounded by fields, apple trees, and pine woods. They
crossed the lake in boats, and established themselves there. They
could live almost entirely upon the produce of the place, for there
was plenty of game, plenty of fish in the lake: the dairy farm paid
extremely well, the pasture produced rich, delicious milk; they had
a hundred and twenty cows, and made enormous quantities of butter,
which they sold at Hamburg. It was pleasant enough in the summer,
but in winter the lake was frozen, the roads covered with snow, and
the cold wind from the Baltic raved round the house. However, they
were thankful for the shelter of a home that most of their friends
would have envied, and they lived peacefully there for four years,
during which Pauline organised and carried on a great work of charity
which, with the assistance of one or two influential friends, soon
spread all over Europe. It was a kind of society with branches in
different countries, to collect subscriptions for the relief of the
French exiles, and it involved an enormous amount of letter-writing,
for, if the subscriptions poured into Wittmold, so did letters of
entreaty, appealing for help. But Pauline was indefatigable not only
in allotting the different sums of money, but in finding employment,
placing young girls as governesses, selling drawings and needlework,

M. de Beaune paid them one or two visits, and in October, 1797, La
Fayette, his wife, and daughters, were released from captivity, and
arrived at Wittmold with his two faithful _aides-de-camp_. The brother
of one, the Comte de Latour-Maubourg, soon after married Anastasie,
his eldest daughter.

Pauline heard the trumpet of the postilion in the little town, and
hurried across the lake to meet them. They all crossed in a procession
of little boats to the other shore, where Mme. de Tessé was waiting
for them.

La Fayette was still an exile. Too _Jacobin_ for Austria, too royalist
for France, he took a place near Wittmold. The wedding of his eldest
daughter took place the following May, and a few days afterwards a
daughter was born to Pauline and christened Stéphanie.

Mme. de Tessé, who knew nothing about a sick room, was very anxious
and busy, and insisted on helping to nurse Pauline. In spite of her
free-thinking professions, she would be observed to make the sign of
the cross behind the curtain of the bed. She made various mistakes,
and in her haste poured a bottle of eau de Cologne instead of water
over the head of the new-born infant.

Georges de la Fayette, now nineteen, came over from America, and
arrived at Wittmold, to the delight of the little colony, after his
long separation from his family, and his return was the great event of
the winter and the delight of his mother.

But the sufferings of the last seven years had terribly injured
Adrienne’s health, and it was not till she had a little recovered that
La Fayette moved, with all his family, to Viane, a small Dutch town
near Utrecht, where they settled for a time to watch the course of

It was necessary to settle the succession to the estates of the
Duchesse d’Ayen, and it was impossible to arrange this without the
meeting of the family. The Vicomte de Noailles was in America, the
Marquis de Thésan in Germany, Mme. de Montagu was on the list of
_emigrées_, and could not enter France. Her part of the inheritance
had been confiscated, but M. Bertémy, the old family lawyer, had
bought and transferred it to the rest of the family, to be given her
in better times.

It was decided that the three sisters should meet at Viane, where
Pauline and her husband went, with post-horses provided by Mme. de
Tessé. It was eight years since Pauline and Rosalie had met, and
Pauline said it was a foretaste of Heaven.

They all boarded at the La Fayette, but as they were very poor there
was very little to eat. They would dine upon _œufs à la neige_, and
spend the evening without a fire, wrapped in fur cloaks to keep out
the cold of the early spring. M. de Montagu always had declared he had
only had one good dinner in Holland, and that was one night when he
dined with General Van Ryssel.

Mme. d’Ayen had left property in the department of Seine-et-Marne to
the children of the Vicomtesse de Noailles, the estate and castle of
Lagrange to Mme. La Fayette, an estate between Lagrange and Fontenay
to the daughter of Mme. de Thésan, the old castle and lands of
Fontenay to Mme. de Montagu, and an estate called Tingri to Mme. de

But as long as Pauline remained on the list of _emigrées_ the affairs
could not be wound up.

Before parting, after a month spent together, the three sisters
composed a beautiful litany to be said by them in remembrance of their
mother, sister, and grandmother. It opened with that sublime passage
of scripture beginning with the words, “The souls of the righteous are
in the hands of God; there shall no torment touch them.”

Reluctantly they separated in May, Pauline returning to Wittmold
with more luggage than she brought from there, namely, a large box
of clothes from America, a present from George de la Fayette to the
_emigrés_ at Wittmold, and a trunk full of clothes belonging to M. de
Beaune, which Mme. de la Fayette had found and brought from Auvergne,
and which, though they were somewhat old-fashioned, he was delighted
to get.


     Return to France—The inheritance of the Duchesse d’Ayen—Loss of
     the Noailles property—Inherits the Castle of Fontenay—Death of
     Mme. de la Fayette—Prosperous life at Fontenay—Conclusion.

The time had now come when the friendly farm at Wittmold, which had
sheltered them in adversity, must be given up. The _emigrés_ were
returning; Mme. de la Fayette and Mme. de Grammont urged their sister
to do the same, and Mme. de Tessé was longing to see Paris again.

Mme. de Montagu started first with her husband, leaving her boy
with her aunt and her girl with a friend. As they were still on the
proscribed list they travelled under the names of M. et Mme. Mongros.
They took up their quarters in Paris at a small house kept by an old
servant of M. de Thésan, where they found their cousin, the Duchesse
de Duras and the Doudeauville, living under their own names, in little
rooms very clean, but so scantily furnished that if any visitors
arrived they had to borrow chairs from each other.

To walk about Paris was at first most painful to Mme. de Montagu. The
sound of carts in the streets made her shudder, the churches were
mostly in ruins or closed. The few that were open were served by
_prêtres assermentés_.

Her nephews, Alexis and Alfred de Noailles came to see her, and
she went down to Lagrange where the La Fayettes were restoring the
_château_, planting and repairing. She soon got her name taken off the
proscribed list, then those of her husband, her aunt, her father, her
father-in-law, and various other friends, who soon arrived in Paris.

Mme. de Tessé took a house near which Pauline and her husband found
an apartment, and their first endeavour was to regain possession of
the _hôtel de Noailles_, which had not been sold but was occupied by
the Consul Le Brun, who had just left the Tuileries, now inhabited by
Napoleon. They did not succeed, however, in getting it back until the
Restoration. One day, having to go to the Temple to see one of the
young le Rebours, who had come back without permission, was imprisoned
there, and whose release she soon procured, Pauline passed through
the now deserted corridors and rooms which had been the prison of
the royal family. Looking about for any trace of them she found in a
cupboard an old blue salad-bowl which had belonged to them, and which
she carried away as a precious relic.

The Duc de Noailles, her father, finding he could not recover his
_hôtel_, returned philosophically to Switzerland, and bought a house
on the Lake of Geneva. He had married the Countess Golowskin, which
at first was a grief to his daughters, but after a time they were
reconciled to the idea, and got on very well together.

Pauline had another daughter in May, 1801, and after her recovery
and a few weeks with Mme. de Grammont and at the baths at Louèche,
she went to the district of Vélay with her husband to see if any of
the property of his father could be recovered. Their fortunes were,
of course, to some extent restored by Pauline’s inheritance from
her mother, and the fine old _château_ of Fontenay[81] made them a
charming home for the rest of their lives.

They stopped at Puy, where they found awaiting them at the inn a
certain old Dr. Sauzey, who had been born on an estate of M. de
Beaune, and cherished a deep attachment for the Montagu family. He
still practised in the neighbourhood where he attended the poor for
nothing, knew every man, woman, and child for miles round, was beloved
by them all, and very influential among them. He knew all the peasants
and country people who had bought land belonging to the Montagu
family, and had so lectured and persuaded them that numbers now came
forward and offered to sell it back at a very moderate price. The good
old doctor even advanced the money to pay them at once, and having
settled their affairs in Vélay they passed on to Auvergne.

The castles and estates of their family had all passed into the hands
of strangers, the Château de Bouzolz was in ruins, so was Plauzat,
where all the town came out to meet and welcome them with the greatest
affection, and where they succeeded in buying back a good deal of
land, but the _château_ in which they had spent such happy days was

They went on to Clermont, the capital of the province, where M. de
Beaune had a house in the town and a _château_ and estate named Le
Croc just outside it. They had passed into the hands of strangers,
but all the furniture and contents of the _château_ had been saved
by the faithful _concièrges_, the Monet, who, with the help of their
relations and friends, had during the night carried it all away,
taking beds to pieces, pulling down curtains and hangings, removing
all the wine from the cellars, and hiding safely away the whole of it,
which they now restored to its owners.

M. de Beaune, who came later on to take a farewell look at the ruined
home of his ancestors, chose part of it to furnish the house he had
bought to make his home at Lyons. He also found an old carriage in
which he departed to that city. The property of the Maréchal de
Noailles, who died in 1793, had all been confiscated and sold, except
some remains which were swallowed up by creditors. All that remained
was the ruined castle of Noailles, which Pauline would never sell,
though after her father had placed it in her hands she was offered two
thousand _écus_ for it. Mme. de Tessé bought a charming house, which
was always filled with her nephews, nieces, and friends, and though
again she had plenty of cows, she no longer had occasion to sell the
milk. As she grew older her ideas became more devout and her faith
stronger, to the great consolation of her nieces, especially of her
favourite Pauline.

The first great sorrow was the death of Mme. de la Fayette on
Christmas Eve, 1808, at the age of forty-eight. Her health had
been completely undermined by the terrible experiences of her
imprisonments; and an illness caused by blood-poisoning during her
captivity with her husband in Austria, where she was not allowed
proper medical attendance, was the climax from which she never really
recovered. She died as she had lived, like a saint, at La Grange,
surrounded by her broken-hearted husband and family, and by her own
request was buried at Picpus, where, chiefly by the exertions of the
three sisters, a church had been built close to the now consecrated
ground where lay buried their mother, sister, grandmother, with many
other victims of the Terror.

The wanderings and perils of Pauline were now at an end. From
henceforth her home was with her husband and four children in the old
_château_ of Fontenay, which they repaired and put in order. It was a
fortress built in the reign of Charles VI., and afterwards inhabited
and decorated by the Duc d’Epernon. The great tower of the castle
still bore his name, and the blue and gold ceiling of his bedroom
still remained. It had an immense park and lakes, and a great avenue
of chestnut-trees led up to the _château_. The Abbé Cartier, _curé_ of
Fontenay, was a man after her own heart. He had known her mother, for
he came very young to the parish, which he loved with all his heart,
and which he had only once left, on the approach of a revolutionary
mob. Leaving the _presbytère_ with all his own things at their mercy,
he hid the cross and all the properties of the church, and as to the
statues of the saints which he could not remove, he painted them all
over, turning them into National Guards with swords by their sides.
He was only persuaded by his people to escape when already the drums
of the approaching ruffians were heard in the village, in which they
quickly appeared, and rushed into the church. But they found it empty,
except for the statues, with which, in their republican garb, they
dared not meddle, so they turned their fury upon the _presbytère_, and
when the good Abbé returned he found the church uninjured, but all
the contents of his house stolen or destroyed. As far as possible, M.
and Mme. de Montagu led the simple patriarchal life they preferred at
Fontenay, where they were adored by the people, to whom they devoted
their time, money, and attention. Under the trees before the castle
stone benches were placed for the peasants who came on Sunday evenings
to sit about and dance, and the young people with whom the old
_château_ was always filled joined eagerly in their festivities.

The harmony and affection that had characterised the daughters of
the Duchess d’Ayen were equally conspicuous among her grandchildren,
and the numerous relations—sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, and
cousins—formed one united family. If there existed differences of
opinion, they did not interfere with the affection between those who
held them.

The daughter of the Vicomtesse de Noailles was married to the Marquis
de Vérac. Of the sons, Alexis, between whom and Pauline there was
an especially deep affection, and whose principles entirely agreed,
refused to accept any employment under the government of Buonaparte.
In consequence of the part he took in favour of the Pope he was
imprisoned, and only released by the influence of his brother Alfred,
an ardent soldier in the Imperial army, who, after distinguishing
himself and winning the favour of the Emperor, was killed in the
Russian campaign.

Though her winters were generally spent in Paris, Pauline only went
out quietly amongst her own friends, not entering at all into the
society of the imperial court, which was altogether objectionable to

The Restoration was received with rapture by her and most of her
family, not even La Fayette himself holding aloof from the welcome to
the King.

Alexis de Noailles, who had left France during the reign of Napoleon,
entered Paris with the Comte d’Artois; the King and the Duchesse
d’Angoulême received with distinguished favour those who had suffered
so much in their cause; the Duc de Noailles came from Switzerland
and took possession of the _hôtel de Noailles_, just vacated by the
Arch-treasurer of the Empire.

But as the size and grandeur of such a residence was no longer
suitable to the altered fortunes of its master, he sold it, and only
occupied the part called the _petit hôtel de Noailles_, where Mme. de
Montagu also had an apartment.

The rest of her life was spent in peace amongst her family, by whom
she was adored, in the practices of charity and devotion, which had
always made her happiness.

Mme. de Tessé died in 1813, only a week after the death of her
husband, without whom she said that she did not think she could live.

Severe as was her loss to Pauline a more terrible calamity happened to
her in 1824, in the death of her only son Attale, who was killed by an
accident when out shooting, leaving a young wife and children to her

Her daughters[82] all married, and in them her sons-in-law, and
grandchildren she found constant interest and happiness: the Duc
d’Ayen also, after the death of his second wife, gave up his Swiss
house and came to end his days with his favourite daughter at Fontenay.

The death of her husband in 1834 was her last great sorrow, she
survived him five years, and died in January, 1839, at the age of
seventy-three, surrounded by those she loved best, who were still left

She neither feared death nor desired it, her life was spent for others
not for herself, she regretted to leave them, but the thought of the
other world, and of those who had gone before her, drew her heart
towards that radiant, immortal future, the thought of which had ever
been her guide and consolation.

Rosalie de Grammont survived her for thirteen years, and died at the
age of eighty-five—the last of the five sisters.


[81] Fontenay-Trésigny, province de Brie.

[82] Mme. de la Romagère, the Comtesse d’Auberville and the Comtesse
du Parc.




     Térèzia Cabarrus—Comes to Paris—Married to the Marquis de
     Fontenay—Revolutionary sympathies—Unpopularity of Royal Family—The
     wig of M. de Montyon—The Comte d’Artois and his tutor—The Comte de
     Provence and Louis XV.

An abyss of separation lies between the two women whose life-histories
have just been related, and the one of whose stormy career a sketch is
now to be given.

In education, principles, conduct, and nationality, they were
absolutely different, but each of them was typical of the time, the
class, and the party to which she belonged.

Térèzia Cabarrus was a Spaniard, though she had also French blood
in her veins. Her father, director of an important bank in Madrid,
distinguished himself in the financial world, and was created Count by
Charles IV.

Térèzia was born at Madrid about the year 1772, and was the only
daughter of Count Cabarrus, whose fortunes had rapidly risen, and who
being a man of sense and cultivation was resolved to give his children
the best possible education.

Térèzia studied Latin with her brothers, spoke Spanish, Italian,
and French, with almost equal fluency, conversed with ease and
vivacity, sang and danced enchantingly. Besides all this she was so
extraordinarily beautiful, that she attracted general attention.

She was still very young when her father sent her to Paris with
her brothers to complete their education, in the charge of an old
abbé, their tutor, but to be also under the care of the Marquis de
Boisgeloup and his wife, old friends of their father, in whose family
they were to live. When they arrived they found that the _Marquis de
Boisgeloup_, _Seigneur de la Manceliève_ and _conseiller du Roi et du
parlement_, had just died.

Mme. de Boisgeloup, however, received the children with the greatest
kindness, her two boys were companions for the young Cabarrus, and as
for Térèzia, she loved and treated her like a daughter. They lived
in the _rue d’Anjou_, and when the following year her father arrived
at Paris and bought a _hôtel_ in the _place des Victoires_ she still
spent less of her time with him than with her.

It was in the days when the Queen was giving _fêtes_ at Trianon,
when the court quarrelled about the music of Gluck and Piccini, and
listened to the marvels related by the Comte de Saint-Germain, when
every one talked about nature, and philosophy, and virtue, and the
rights of man, while swiftly and surely the Revolution was drawing

That the head of an excitable, thoughtless girl not sixteen, should
be turned by the whirl of pleasure and admiration into which she was
launched, cannot be surprising.

Among the numbers of men who made love to her more or less seriously,
two were especially conspicuous, the Prince de Listenay and the
Marquis de Fontenay.

About the former, who was deeply in love with her, and most anxious to
make her his wife, she did not care at all. She found him tiresome,
and even the prospect of being a princess could not induce her to
marry him. Besides, she had taken a fancy to the Marquis de Fontenay,
whom she had first met at the house of Mme. de Boisgeloup, who was
much older than herself, and as deplorable a husband as a foolish
young girl could choose.

He also had been _Conseiller du parlement_, first at Bordeaux, then at
Paris; though by no means a young man, he was exceedingly handsome,
fascinating, and a well-known _viveur_, added to which he was an
inveterate gambler. It was said that when he was not running after
some woman he was always at the card-table; in fact his reputation
was atrocious. But his charming manners and various attractions won
Térèzia’s heart. Mme. de Boisgeloup wrote to Count Cabarrus, who was
then in Madrid, saying that the Marquis de Fontenay wished to marry
his daughter, and did not care whether she had any fortune or not;
the wedding took place, and the young Marquise was installed at his
_château_ of Fontenay near Paris.[83]

At first all went on prosperously. The Marquis de Fontenay did not
belong to the _haute noblesse_, but his position amongst the _noblesse
de robe_ was good, and his fortune was at any rate sufficient to
enable Térèzia to entertain lavishly, and to give _fêtes_ which
caused a sensation even at Paris, while her beauty became every day
more renowned.

Whatever religious teaching she may have received she had thrown off
its influence and principles, and ardently adopted the doctrines of
the Revolution. Freedom, not only from tyranny, but from religion,
law, morality, restraint of any kind, was the new theory adopted by
her and by the party to which she belonged.

She was surrounded by those who talked of virtue, but practised vice;
her husband was amongst the most corrupt of that vicious society; they
soon ceased to care for each other; and she was young, beautiful,
worshipped, with the hot Spanish blood in her veins and all the
passion of the south in her nature, what but one result could be

The King, the royal family, but especially the Queen, were becoming
every day more unpopular, the reforms introduced seemed to do no good,
only to incite the populace to more and more extortionate demands. The
King, having neither courage nor decision, inspired neither confidence
nor respect.

The Comte de Provence, his brother, remarks in his souvenirs: “The
court did not like Louis XVI., he was too uncongenial to its ways, and
he did not know how to separate himself from it, and to draw nearer
to the people, for there are times when a sovereign ought to know how
to choose between one and the other. What calamities my unfortunate
brother would have spared himself and his family, if he had known
how to hold with a firm hand the sceptre Providence had entrusted to

Nothing but reforms were talked of when Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette came to the throne; but of course everything proposed
excited the opposition and ridicule of one party or the other.

The following song, one of the many circulating at the time, is a
specimen of the least objectionable of its kind:

    “Or, écoutez, petits et grands,
    L’histoire d’un roi de vingt ans,
    Qui va nous ramener en France
    Les bonnes mœurs et l’abondance.
    D’après ce plan que deviendront
    Et les catins et les fripons?

    S’il veut de l’honneur et des mœurs,
    Que deviendront nos grands seigneurs?
    S’il aime les honnêtes femmes,
    Que deviendront nos belles dames?
    S’il bannit les gens déréglés
    Que feront nos riches abbés?

    S’il dédaigne un frivole encens,
    Que deviendront les courtisans?
    Que feront les amis du prince
    Autrement nommés en province?
    Si ses sujets sont ses enfants,
    Que deviendront les partisans?

    S’il veut qu’un prélat soit chrétien,
    Un magistrat homme de bien,
    Combien de juges mercénaires,
    D’évêques et de grands vicaires,
    Vont changer de conduite, _amen_.
    _Dominus salvum fac regem._”[85]

The Queen had no idea of economy, and the Comte d’Artois was still
more extravagant and heedless. Many were the absurd stories told of
him, harmless and otherwise. Of the first description is the affair
of the wig of M. de Montyon. Arriving early one morning to speak to
him, and seeing no servants about, he mistook the door and walked
unannounced into a room where he saw a young man in his shirt sleeves,
with his hair all rough and his toilette very incomplete, who,
astonished at the sudden entrance of a magistrate in an enormous wig,
asked him brusquely what he was doing there.

M. de Montyon, taking him for a _valet de pied_, called him an
insolent rascal for daring to speak to him in such a manner; but no
sooner were the words spoken than the young man snatched off his wig,
rubbed it over his face and ran away with shouts of laughter.

M. de Montyon was furious, he flew into a rage, called till he
succeeded in attracting attention, and then, discovering that the
young man he had called an insolent rascal was his royal Highness,
_Monseigneur le Comte d’Artois_, hurried away in dismay.

The King hearing of the affair was much amused, but desired his
brother to make it right with M. de Montyon, which he did to such
good effect, that shortly after he gave him an appointment in his
household. The Prince and the excellent magistrate afterwards met
again in exile.

Another and more reprehensible episode took place when the Comte
d’Artois, then a lad of sixteen, was just going to be married to the
younger sister of the Comtesse de Provence, daughter of the King of

It was before the death of Louis XV., the court was at Compiègne,
and the young Prince, since his marriage was decided, had been less
strictly looked after by the Comte de Montbel, his _sous gouverneur_,
who would not usually allow him to go alone into the thicker parts of
the forest, not because of wild beasts but of other not less dangerous
encounters which were possible.

For some little time the _Comte d’Artois_ had been regarding the
sister of one of his _valets de pied_ with an admiration which she was
evidently quite ready to return. Finding some difficulty in getting
an interview with her, he applied to her brother who, delighted at
the fancy of the Prince for his sister, and the probable advantages
it might bring, promised his assistance, and arranged that the young
girl, who was extremely pretty, should meet him dressed as a peasant
in the cottage of a forester of Compiègne.

D’Artois accordingly told M. de Montbel that he wished to make an
excursion into the forest, but when the carriage came round which had
been ordered for him, he said he would rather walk, and took care to
go so far out of the way that his tutor was very tired.

The Prince, who was not tired at all, and who had arrived in sight of
the cottage, said he would like some milk and would go and see the
cows milked.

“You stay here and rest, Montbel,” he continued. “I will come back in
a few minutes.”

M. de Montbel had waited for nearly an hour, when suddenly a suspicion
seized him. Springing up suddenly he ran to the cottage, opened the
door of one room, then another, then a third, and stood still with a
cry of consternation.

“Monsieur,” said the Prince, coolly, “was there no one to announce

Launching into angry threats against the _valet de pied_ and his
sister, and indignant reproaches to his pupil, M. de Montbel conducted
him back to the palace and went straight to the King. But Louis XV.,
with a fellow-feeling for the grandson whom he considered the most
like himself, could not restrain his laughter, ordered fifty _louis_
to be given to the young girl, and dismissed the affair.

The alliances with the House of Savoy were much more popular with the
court than that with the House of Austria and Lorraine,[86] and caused
continual jealousies and disputes. Foreseeing that such would be the
case, Louis XV., before the marriage of the Comte de Provence, thought
it necessary to caution him on the subject. Louis XVIII. gives in his
memoirs[87] the following account of the interview:—

“When my alliance with the Princess of Piedmont was decided, the Duc
de Vauguyon told me that the King desired to speak to me. I trembled a
little at an order which differed entirely from the usual regulations,
for I never saw Louis XV. without d’Artois, and at certain hours. A
private audience of his Majesty without my having asked for it gave me
cause for anxiety....

“Louis XV. stood leaning against a great inlaid bureau near the
window. My grandfather was just then playing with a beautiful sporting
dog of which he was very fond. I approached the King with timidity and
embarrassment, but I soon perceived that he was in a good humour....

“‘Bonjour, Provençal,’[88] he said. ‘You are looking very well, and
that is so much the better, _ma foi_! for it has never been of more
importance to you. You are going to be married.’

“‘Your Majesty’s orders have been communicated to me.’

“‘They may have left out something,’ replied he, laughing. ‘I have no
time to lose, and I tell you that I wish to be a great-grandfather as
soon as possible.’

“‘Sire, I know that it is my duty to obey your Majesty in all things.’

“‘I have no doubt of it; and if circumstances favour you, I hope you
will leave M. le Dauphin far behind.’

“I bowed with a half-smile that seemed to amuse the King. But resuming
his usually grave and majestic air, he added—

“‘I particularly wished to see you, to warn you that you must take
great care that your future wife never forgets what will be due from
her to the Dauphine. Their two houses are divided, but all rivalry
must be forgotten here, which would disturb the tranquillity of
Versailles, and would supremely displease me. I know that you have
sense beyond your age, therefore I flatter myself that you will not
do, nor allow to be done, anything with regard to the Dauphine which
might displease her. Besides, your brother would not suffer it; he
loves his wife, and is determined that she shall be respected as she
deserves. Keep watch, therefore, upon yours; in fact, see that things
go on in such a manner that I am not obliged to interfere.’

“I replied to the King that this would be all the easier to me as
I had no greater wish than to be on good terms with my brother and
sister-in-law; adding: ‘I know the respect which I owe your Majesty,
and that which the heir to the throne has a right to expect from me;
in which I hope never to be accused of having failed.’

“‘Very well,’ replied the King; ‘but what I fear is, that
notwithstanding your good intentions, you will be surrounded
by persons whose influence will mislead you, and owing to evil
counsellors, your own abilities may perhaps even lead you to commit

“‘I am certain, sire,’ I answered hastily; ‘that nobody about me will
be able to make me deviate from the line my own reason has already
marked out. But as your Majesty has introduced the subject, may I be
permitted to suggest that my sister-in-law has already near her some
one who is scarcely calculated to maintain a good understanding in the
family; I fear the partiality of the Abbé de Vermont for the House of

“‘Yes, my dear son,’ said the King, making use for the first time of
that paternal expression; ‘I know as well as you do that this abbé is
not well-disposed towards us; but can I take him away from a young
woman whom he has educated,[89] and who requires somebody to confide
in? Besides, she might choose worse; he is a man without personal
ambition, religious and upright, in spite of his leaning to the House
of Austria. It will be the Dauphin’s business to keep him within
proper limits; and now I have warned you about what made me most
uneasy I feel more satisfied, for I desire above all things that the
peace of my family should never be troubled.’”

The interview closed to the mutual satisfaction of the King and his
grandson, neither of them with the slightest idea of any more serious
calamity than the quarrels at court between the Houses of Lorraine
and Savoy being likely to interfere with the secure and magnificent
tranquillity of their lives. But it wanted only eighteen years and a
few months to the fall of the Bastille, and though the small-pox cut
short the life of Louis XV. before the evil days, they were seen by
many of his courtiers as old or older than himself.

But nothing would ever have induced him as long as he lived to allow
the States-General to be summoned. He regarded them with an unchanging
abhorrence which seems prophetic.

One evening, during his _coucher_, the conversation turning upon
difficulties in the financial situation owing to the refusal of the
parliaments of the different provinces to enregister certain taxes, a
man highly placed in the King’s household remarked—

“You will see, sire, that all this will necessitate the assembly of
the States-General”: whereupon Louis XV., abandoning the calm repose
of his usual manner, seized him by the arm, exclaiming vehemently—

“Never repeat those words! I am not bloodthirsty, but if I had a
brother and he were capable of offering such advice I would sacrifice
him in twenty-four hours to the duration of the monarchy and the
tranquillity of the kingdom.”[90]

It was remarked later that under Louis XIV. no one dared think or
speak; under Louis XV. they thought but dared not speak; but under
Louis XVI. every one thought and spoke whatever they chose without
fear or respect.


[83] Not to be confounded with Fontenay-Trésigny. There are a number
of places named Fontenay.

[84] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. i, p. 17.

[85] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. i, p.290.

[86] The Emperor, husband of Maria-Theresa, and father of Marie
Antoinette, was François de Lorraine.

[87] T. i, pp. 59-62.

[88] His nick-name for his second grandson.

[89] The Abbé de Vermont was the confessor of Marie Antoinette.

[90] Campan, “Mémoires des Marie Antoinette, &c., &c.,” t. i, p. 392.


     The makers of the Revolution—_Fête à la Nature_—Tallien—Dangerous
     times—An inharmonious marriage—Colonel la Mothe—A Terrorist—The
     beginning of the emigration—A sinister prophecy.

As M. Arsène Houssaye truly remarks, the French Revolution was not
made by the people. They imagine that they made it, but the real
authors were Voltaire, Condorcet, Chamfort, the two Mirabeau, La
Fayette and his friends, Necker, Talleyrand, Barras, Saint-Just, &c.,
nearly all gentlemen, mostly nobles; by Philippe-Égalité, Duke of
Orléans and prince of the blood; by Louis XVI. himself.


The new ideas were the fashion, people, especially young people,
believed with enthusiastic fervour in the absurd and impracticable
state of things they imagined they were about to establish, but
meanwhile, though they talked of the rights of man and the sufferings
of the people, they went on just the same, lavishing enormous sums
upon dress, luxury, and costly entertainments.

The stately order, the devotion and charity which filled the lives
of the sisters de Noailles; the absorbing passion for her art which
made the happiness, the safety, and the renown of Louise Vigée,
were not for Térèzia. Her very talents were an additional danger and
temptation, for they increased the attraction of her extraordinary
beauty; and in the set of which her friends were composed there could
be no principles of right and wrong, because there was no authority
to determine them. For if God did not exist at all, or only as a
colourless abstraction, then the words “right” and “wrong” meant
nothing, and what, in that case, was to regulate people’s lives? Why
not injure their neighbours if it were convenient to themselves to do
so? Why should they tell the truth if they preferred to tell lies? To
some it would seem noble to forgive their enemies; to others it would
seem silly. To some, family affection and respect for parents would
appear an indispensable virtue; to others an exploded superstition. It
was all a matter of opinion; who was to decide when one man’s opinion
was as good as another? But, however such theories might serve to
regulate the lives of a few dreamy, cold-blooded philosophers occupied
entirely with their studies and speculations, it seems difficult
to understand that any one could really believe in the possibility
of their controlling the average mass of human beings; who, if not
restrained by the fear of a supernatural power which they believe able
to protect, reward, or punish them, are not likely to be influenced
by the exhortations of those who can offer them no such inducements.
Nevertheless, these ideas were very prevalent until Napoleon, who
regarded them with contempt, declared that without religion no
government was possible, and, whether he believed in it or not,
re-established Christianity.

Meanwhile, those who could not believe in God, set up as their guide
the abstraction they called Nature, which, if they had followed to
the logical consequences, would have led them back to the state of
savages. There were, in fact, some who proposed to live out of doors
with very scanty clothing, and who had begun to cut down a tree and
light a fire when their plans of life were suddenly frustrated by the
appearance of the police.

But these were not the directions in which the guidance of Nature led
most of her followers. It was not to a life of primitive simplicity
and discomfort that Térèzia and her friends felt themselves directed;
no, the _hôtel de Fontenay_, in the _rue de Paradis_, and the
_château_ of the same name in the country were the scene of ceaseless
gaiety and amusement. La Rochefoucauld, Rivarol, Chamfort, La Fayette,
the three brothers de Lameth, all of whom were in love with their
fascinating hostess; Mirabeau, Barnave, Vergniaud, Robespierre,
Camille Desmoulins—all the leaders of the radical party were to be
met at her parties, and most of them were present at a splendid
entertainment given by the Marquis and Marquise de Fontenay to the
_Constituants_ at their _château_, and called, after the fashion of
Rousseau, a _fête à la Nature_.

The guests were met at the park gates by young girls dressed in white,
who gave them bouquets of flowers; they dined out of doors under
the shade of chestnut-trees, while a band played airs from “Richard
Cœur-de-Lion,” “Castor et Pollux,” etc.; the only _contretemps_ being
a sudden gust of wind which took off the wigs of some of the guests:
Robespierre amongst the number. Many beautiful women were present,
but none could rival their lovely hostess. Toasts were drunk to her
beauty, verses improvised to her Spanish eyes, her French _esprit_;
she was declared the goddess of the _fête_, _queen_ being no longer a
popular word.

In all her life she never lost the recollection of the enchantment of
that day, and many years later, in her altered surroundings, would say
to her children, “Ah! that day was the _fête de ma jeunesse_!”


The first meeting of Térèzia with the man who was to play the most
important part in her life took place in the studio of Mme. Le
Brun, to be painted by whom was then the height of fashion. Mme.
Le Brun, enraptured with her beauty and dissatisfied with her own
representation of it, was a long time altering and retouching, and
every day saw some new improvement to make.

Mme. de Fontenay became impatient, for the sittings appeared to be
interminable, and at last M. de Fontenay begged several of his friends
to go and look at the portrait of his wife and give their opinion
while it was still in the studio. It was in consequence more crowded
than usual one day when M. de Fontenay, being also present, was
joining in a conversation going on about David and his pictures.

“You will see,” said Rivarol, “that these haughty Romans whom M.
Louis David has brought into fashion with his cold, hard painting,
will bring us through a period of Cato and Brutus. It is the law
of contrast. After the solemn airs of Louis XIV., the orgies of
Louis XV.; after the suppers of Sardanapalus-Pompadour, the milk and
water breakfasts of Titus—Louis XVI. The French nation had too much
_esprit_, they are now going to saturate themselves with stupidity.”

“And do you imagine,” cried Mme. Le Brun, “that it is David who has
given the taste for the antique? It is not: it is I! It was my Greek
supper, which they turned into a Roman orgy, which set the fashion.
Fashion is a woman. It is always a woman who imposes the fashion, as
the Comtesse Du Barry said.”

“_Apropos_,” exclaimed Mme. de Fontenay; “have not you begun her

“The poor Countess! I am representing her reading a romance with the
arms of the King. She is the only person who holds to the King now.”

The conversation was presently interrupted by a young man whom nobody
seemed to know.

As Mme. Le Brun had not many servants, he had found nobody to announce
him, but entered without the least shyness, and walking up to M. de
Rivarol, said that he wanted to speak to him about a pamphlet of his,
now being printed at the establishment in which he was employed. There
was a passage in it which they could not read or did not understand,
and M. de Rivarol’s servant having told him where his master was to be
found, he had come after him.

There had been a sudden silence when he entered; no one saluted him
but Mme. Le Brun, who greeted him with a smile, but all regarded him
with curiosity. His dress was not like those of the gentlemen present,
nor of their class at all; it had a sort of Bohemian picturesqueness
which rather suited his handsome, striking, sarcastic face; he was
very young, not more than about twenty, but he spoke and moved with
perfect unconcern amongst the uncongenial society into which he had
fallen. Mme. Le Brun, tired of the stupid, contradictory remarks of
the amateurs who then, as now, were eager to criticise what they knew
nothing about, and nearly always said the wrong thing, exclaimed

“You are all bad judges—

    “Détestables flatteurs, présent le plus funeste,
    Que puisse faire aux arts la colère céleste!

“I do not believe one word of your opinions. I am like Molière, I
would rather appeal to my servant, but as she is not here I will,
if you do not object, ask that young man, who does not look like a
flatterer: he will tell us the truth.” And turning to him, she said—

“Monsieur, I have just been hearing so much nonsense about this
portrait, that really I don’t know whether I have been working like an
artist or a sign-painter.”

“I will tell you, Madame,” replied the young man, with an assurance
that surprised every one present. They looked at him with
astonishment, and he looked at the portrait, and still more earnestly
at the Marquise de Fontenay, upon whom his long, ardent gaze made a
strange impression. After a few moments’ silence, Mme. Le Brun said—

“Well, Monsieur, I am waiting for your criticism.”

“My criticism, Madame, is this. It seemed to me just now that they
accused you of having made the eyes too small and the mouth too large.
Well, if you will believe me, you will slightly lower the upper
eyelids and open imperceptibly the corner of the lips. Thus you will
have almost the charm of that sculpturesque and expressive face. The
eyes will be still brighter when their brilliance shines from between
the eyelids like the sun through the branches.”

With a few more words of mingled criticism and compliment, he bowed
slightly and turned again to M. Rivarol.

It was Tallien.

The next time they met he was secretary to Alexandre de Lameth.
Térèzia was standing on the steps of their _hôtel_ with Mme. Charles
de Lameth when he came with his hands full of letters.

Telling him that Alexandre was not in, Mme. de Lameth asked him to
gather a bunch of roses for Mme. de Fontenay, which he did, and
picking up one that fell, he kept it, bowed silently, and went in.

Térèzia questioned her friend about him, and was told that he was a
good secretary, clever but idle, and of so bad a reputation that M. de
Lameth was waiting for an opportunity to get rid of him.

Tallien was the acknowledged son of the _maitre-d’hôtel_ of the
Marquis de Bercy, but strongly suspected of being the son of the
Marquis himself, who was his godfather and paid his expenses at a
college from which he ran away when he was fifteen. Already an
atheist and a revolutionist, besides being a lazy scoundrel who would
not work, he was, after a violent scene with the Marquis, abandoned
by him, after which he quarrelled with his reputed father, a worthy
man with several other children, who declined to support him in
idleness, and threatened him with his curse. “_Taisez-vous, mon père,
cela ne se fait plus dans le monde_,” was the answer of the future
_septembriseur_. His mother, however, interposed, and it was arranged
that he should continue to live at home and should study in the office
of a _procureur_. Step by step he rose into notoriety, until he was
elected a member of the commune of Paris, where he was soon recognised
as one of the most violent of the revolutionists.

In spite of his friendships with the leaders of the Revolution,
his adoption at first of many of their ideas, and the _fête
Constitutionelle_ he gave in their honour, M. de Fontenay, like
many others, began to see that things were going much further than
he expected or wished. He was neither a young, foolish, generous
enthusiast like La Fayette, de Ségur, de Noailles, and their set, nor
a low ruffian thirsting for plunder and bloodshed, nor a penniless
adventurer with everything to gain and nothing to lose; but an elderly
man of rank, fortune, and knowledge of the world, who, however he
might have tampered with the philosophers and revolutionists, as
it was the fashion to do, had no sort of illusions about them,
no sympathy whatever with their plans, and the greatest possible
objection to being deprived of his title of Marquis, his property,
or his life. In fact, he began to consider whether it would not be
more prudent to leave the country and join M. Cabarrus in Spain,
for he was not separated from his wife, nor was there any open
disagreement between them. They simply seem to have taken their own
ways, which were not likely to have been the same. Térèzia was then
much more inclined to the Revolution than her husband, believing
with all the credulity of youth in the happiness and prosperity it
was to establish. Of her life during 1791 and the first part of 1792
little or nothing is known with any certainty, though Mme. d’Abrantès
relates an anecdote told by a Colonel La Mothe which points to her
being in Bordeaux, living or staying with her brother, M. Cabarrus,
and an uncle, M. Jalabert, a banker, each of whom watched her with all
the jealousy of a Spanish duenna, the brother being at the same time
so disagreeable that it was almost impossible to be in his company
without quarrelling with him.

Why, in that case, Térèzia should have allowed them to interfere
with her appears perplexing, as they would, of course, have had
no authority to do so. M. La Mothe proceeded to say that he and
a certain M. Edouard de C——, both of whom were in love with her,
accompanied them to Bagnères de Bigorre. There he and Edouard de C——
quarrelled and fought a duel, in which he, M. La Mothe, was wounded;
whereupon Térèzia, touched by his danger and returning his love for
her, remained to nurse him, while his rival departed; and informing
her uncle and brother that she declined any further interference on
their part, dismissed them. That the uncle returned to his bank in
Bayonne, and the brother, with Edouard de C——, to the army; that
Cabarrus was killed the following year; and that, after some time, M.
La Mothe and Térèzia were separated by circumstances, he having to
rejoin his regiment, while she remained at Bordeaux.[91] But however
the principles she had adopted may have relaxed her ideas of morality,
they never, as will be seen during the history of her life, interfered
with the courage, generosity, and kindness of heart which formed so
conspicuous a part of her character, and which so often met with such
odious ingratitude.

In the latter part of the summer of 1792 she was in Paris, which,
in spite of her revolutionary professions, was no safe abode even
for her, certainly not for her husband. The slightest sympathy shown
to an _emigré_, a priest, a royalist, or any one marked as a prey
by the bloodthirsty monsters who were rapidly showing themselves in
their true colours, might be the death-warrant of whoever dared to
show it. So would any word or gesture of disapproval of the crimes
these miscreants were ordering and perpetrating. Their spies were
everywhere, and the least accusation, very often only caused by a
private grudge, was enough to bring a person, and perhaps their whole
family, to prison and the scaffold. In the early days of the Terror,
the well-known actor Talma, hearing an acquaintance named Alexandre,
a member of his own profession, giving vent in a benign voice to the
most atrocious language of the Terrorists, indignantly reproached him.

“_Que tu es bon!_” exclaimed Alexandre, drawing him aside. “Do you
think I mean all that?”

“Then why say it?”

“Because that Terrorist is listening.”

“Who do you mean.”

“Who? Why that little Bouchiez,” indicating one of the officials of
the theatre. “Whenever he is near me I say the same sort of things. I
should say more if I could.”

“And why?”

“Because, if I spoke differently, he would denounce me to the Jacobins
and have me guillotined.”

“He! Why, I thought you were friends.”

“We! friends! _Allons donc!_”

“_Vous vous tutoyez._”[92]

“What does that prove? Do not all these brutes say _tu_ nowadays?”

“Well, but you call yourself friends.”

“That’s true; but I don’t like him any the better for that, the
wretch! Ah, I hate him! _how_ I hate him! _how_ I hate him! But there
he is coming back, so I shall begin again!” And so he did.[93]

To escape from France was now both difficult and dangerous. The
first to emigrate had been the Comte and Comtesse d’Artois and their
children, the Prince de Condé, Duc de Bourbon, Duc d’Enghien, Mlle.
de Condé, Prince de Lambesc, Maréchaux de Broglie et de Castries, Duc
de la Vauguyon, Comte de Vaudreuil, and a long string of other great
names—Mailly, Bourbon-Busset, d’Aligre, de Mirepoix, all the Polignac
and Polastron, the Abbé de Vermont, &c. They left at night under
borrowed names. The Queen fainted when she parted from the Duchesse de
Polignac, who was carried unconscious to the carriage by the Comte de

The grief of the Duchesse de Polignac was aggravated by the
recollection of a sinister prophecy which, although at the time it
seemed incredible, was apparently being fulfilled in an alarming
manner. The circumstances were as follows:—

The Comtesse d’Adhémar, who held a post in the Queen’s household,
received one day a note from the Duchesse de Polignac, “Governess
of the Children of France,” asking her to go with her to consult a
fortune-teller of whom every one was talking. For many persons who
declined to believe in God were ready and eager to put confidence in
witchcraft, fortune-telling, spiritualism, or any other form of occult

Carefully disguising themselves, they set off together—of course,
at night—taking only the Duchess’s maid, Mlle. Robert, who, though
devoted to her mistress, had been silly enough to persuade her to this
folly, and by an old porter belonging to the palace, who knew the way.

Through many little, narrow streets they at last got out into the
country, and arrived at the filthy, ruinous cottage where lived the
fortune-teller. They gave her each an _écu_, not wishing by too lavish
a payment to betray themselves, and the Comtesse d’Adhémar was the
first to place her hand in the dirty, wrinkled one of the old gipsy,
who, after telling her that she had had two husbands, and would have
no more, added, “You are now in the service of a good mistress, who
loves you; but before long she will send you away against her will,
but she will no longer be free to do as she chooses.”

Then, taking the hand of Mme. de Polignac she turned it over several
times, examining it carefully, and said: “You are, like the other, in
the service of the same lady, who loves you so much that she confides
to you her most precious jewels. You love her just as much, but still,
in a short time you will leave that lady in haste, and what is more,
you will not feel tranquil until you have put three great rivers
between you and her. She will cry bitterly when you leave her and yet
be very glad of the separation.”

Mme. de Polignac shuddered; exclaiming that she would never of her
own accord leave her mistress, or if an absence was necessary to her
health it should be a short one.

“Oh! for that matter,” said the gipsy, “it will have no limit.”

“What! Shall I never see my mistress again?”



“Because she will die.”

A cry of horror escaped the two friends and Mlle. Robert began to
threaten the gipsy.

“Hold your tongue, _tête-qui-roule_,” she cried angrily. “Your body
will be food for dogs.”

Horror-stricken and frightened they hurried from the cottage, but the
prophecies were all fulfilled. Marie Antoinette rejoiced at their
parting as they were going to safety. The three rivers were apparently
the Seine, Rhine, and Danube which Mme. de Polignac crossed on her
way to Vienna. As to Mlle. Robert, she paid with her life for her
faithful affection for her mistress. Insisting on remaining in Paris
to look after her interests she was arrested on the 10th of August and
perished in the September massacres.

The Queen and the Comte d’Artois were the most hated and threatened of
the royal family. Now, as always, they urged the miserable Louis to
defend himself as his forefathers would have done; the Prince de Condé
was of their opinion. Let the King defend himself when his palace
was attacked, and, if necessary, sally out at the head of his loyal
followers and either save his crown and his life, or, if that could
not be, fall gloriously with his sword in his hand like a son of Henri
IV., instead of being taken by his own subjects like a rat in a hole.

Such were the exhortations which at one time or another were poured
into the King’s ears and to which he would never listen.[95] There
was no more to be said. The Comte d’Artois declared he would never
leave his brother unless expressly ordered to do so. Louis gave that
command, desiring the Prince to escape with his wife and children to
their sister Clotilde at Turin; and then with tears and sobs the Comte
and Comtesse d’Artois embraced the King and Queen and tore themselves

The Comte de Provence did not emigrate so soon. He had been more
inclined to liberal ideas and was less unpopular than the Comte
d’Artois. It was not until the time of the unfortunate attempt on the
royal family that he also resolved to escape, and his plans, being
well-arranged and properly carried out, succeeded perfectly.

He was then living in the Luxembourg, and having made all
preparations, he went to bed as usual and drew the curtains; the
_valet-de-chambre_, who always slept in a bed rolled into his room,
went away to undress. When he was gone, the Comte de Provence got up,
passed into his dressing-room, where his devoted friend and confidant,
M. d’Avaray, awaited him and helped him to dress. Passing out by a
small door that was not guarded, they got into a carriage waiting for
them in the courtyard of the Luxembourg and drove away.

He met the Comtesse de Provence as they had arranged, having taken the
precaution of escaping separately. They arrived at Brussels in safety,
and afterwards joined their brother and sister at the court of the
Countess’s father at Turin, where they were joyfully received by the
Princess Clotilde, and afterwards rejoined by their aunts.[96]


[91] “Salons de Paris” (Duchesse d’Abrantès).

[92] _Tutoyer_ is an expression impossible to translate. It means the
use of the second person singular, “thou,” instead of “you,” and is a
mark of the greatest intimacy.

[93] “Souvenirs d’un Sexagenaire” (Arnault).

[94] “Souvenirs de la Comtesse d’Adhémar.”

[95] At one of the most terrible crises in 1792, the Queen went into
the King’s room and found him mending a lock and key. “Since you are
so well used to handling steel!” she exclaimed, “why do you not take
a sword?” “A sword!” he said, mechanically. “You have played Titus,”
she went on, “now show yourself the descendant of Henry IV., the time
has come, if you love your life you must, as chief of your race, try
to conquer your kingdom!” “You look on the dark side of things,” said
he, “things are going badly, but with time passions will calm down
and then——” “Another family will be on your throne, Sire,” said she,
throwing herself on her knees. “In the name of God, of your children,
of your subjects, of your poor sister who has sacrificed herself to
stay with us, cease to persist in this fatal apathy.”... With a voice
broken by sobs and tears she went on with her entreaties. The King
laid down his tools, looked at her with sorrowful embarrassment, and
said it was not his fault, she must have patience!!

When, after being forced to hear in the Assembly the deposition of the
King, Marie Antoinette exclaimed, “Ah! Sire, it would have been better
to have died all together in the Tuileries” (“Souvenirs de Comtesse

[96] “Souvenirs d’un Sexagenaire” (Arnault). “Souvenirs de Louis


     The 10th of August—The September massacres—Tallien—The emigrant
     ship—Arrest at Bordeaux—In prison—Saved by Tallien.

On the 10th of August, 1792, as every one knows, the fury of the
Revolution broke out in the attack upon the Tuileries. For the third
time Térèzia saw Tallien soon after that carnival of horror and
bloodshed of which he was one of the leading spirits; when a few
days after it she sat in one of the tribunes of the Assembly and
applauded the fiery speech in which he defied the enemies of France,
for the armies of the allies and the _emigrés_ were gathering on
the frontier, eager to avenge the atrocities which had been and
were being committed, and rescue the royal family. Unluckily it was
another failure. The incompetence of the leaders, the delays, the
mismanagement, the mistakes, the disasters, cannot of course be
entered into in a sketch like this, but the effect it had upon the
fate of those still in prison and in danger who remained in the hands
of the tigers thirsting for their blood, was terrible indeed.

No sooner had the news of their first ephemeral successes at Longwy
and Verdun arrived at Paris, and at the same time the rising in La
Vendée become known, than there was a rush to arms, to the frontier,
to drive back the invaders from the soil of France. The revolutionists
seized their opportunity to declare that the royalists left in France
would help the invaders by conspiring at home. It was enough. The
thirst for blood and slaughter, never equalled or approached by any
other civilised nation, which characterised the French Revolution,
burst forth with unheard of atrocity. The September massacres were the
result, and of the order for this horrible crime Tallien and Danton
were chiefly accused.

Danton did not attempt to deny the part he had taken, but declared
that it was necessary to strike terror amongst their opponents and
that he accepted the responsibility.

Tallien had stepped into the place of Guy de Kersaint, deputy of
Versailles, who, though a revolutionist, objected to massacres.[97]
He tried to explain and excuse them by the fury and excitement of
the time when he perceived the horror with which they were regarded,
not only by the civilised world at large, but by many of the
revolutionists, even by some of his own colleagues. However, the
brand of infamy remained attached to his name, notwithstanding his
endeavours to clear himself from the suspicion and accusation which
have nevertheless always clung to him.

“There are many,” he said in one of his speeches, “who accuse me
of being a murderer of the 2nd of September, to stifle my voice
because they know I saw it all. They know that I used the authority
I possessed to save a great number of persons from the hand of
the assassin, they know that I alone in the midst of the Commune,
dared throw myself before the sanguinary multitude to prevent their
violating the _depôts_ entrusted to the Commune. I defy any one
to accuse me of crime or even of weakness. I did my duty on that
occasion....” But the name of “_septembriseur_” clung to him for ever
in spite of his protestations.

Through all this time it is not clear exactly where Térèzia was,
probably at Paris and at Fontenay, but the relations between herself
and her husband did not improve, and without any violent enmity
between them, she had several times thought of getting a divorce from

She had not done so, however, and had even consented to his plan
of their both leaving France and taking refuge with her father in
Spain. She wished no harm to M. de Fontenay, and although in spite
of all that had happened she still believed in the Revolution, its
principles, and future results, she was horrified at the cruelty and
atrocities going on around her at present.

She was conscious also that her own position was not safe. She had
many friends amongst the Girondins, and now terrified at their fall
she felt that she was compromised by her association with them; her
husband was an additional peril to her, for the new abomination called
_loi contre des suspects_ was aimed at those against whom no tangible
thing could be brought forward, but who might be accused of “having
done nothing for the Republic” and would certainly apply to him. M.
de Fontenay had hidden himself for a time and then re-appeared, and
seeing they were both in great danger she agreed to his proposal and
they went first to Bordeaux, intending shortly to put the Pyrenees
between themselves and the Revolution. But swiftly and suddenly the
danger that had struck down so many of their acquaintances fell like a
thunderbolt upon them.

They were staying with an uncle of hers at Bordeaux when she heard
one day that an English ship with three hundred passengers, chiefly
royalists of Bordeaux, but all of them persons flying from France, was
on the point of sailing, but was detained because the captain, whose
conduct in this matter one cannot help saying few Englishmen indeed
would not have despised, refused to sail until he had received three
thousand francs wanting to the sum owing by the emigrants.

Indignant at the avarice which risked the lives of the unfortunate
passengers, Térèzia, disregarding the remonstrances and warnings of
her husband and uncle, ordered a carriage, drove to find the captain,
paid him the three thousand francs, and returned in triumph with a
list of the passengers which she had made the captain give her instead
of the receipt he wished to write.

But while Térèzia congratulated herself that she had happened to
be at Bordeaux, the story got about, and the fierce populace were
infuriated at the escape of their intended prey. Their first revenge
was directed towards the captain, through whose unguarded talk about
“a beautiful woman who looked like a _grande dame_, and had suddenly
appeared and paid him the money,” was the cause of the mischief. They
made a furious attack upon him, several of them rushing at him to drag
him to the guillotine. But if he was avaricious the English captain
was brave and strong, so, drawing his sword with shouts and threats he
wounded three or four, drove back the rest, regained his ship, and set
sail for England.

As Térèzia was walking in the town with her two uncles they were
suddenly surrounded by a furious crowd, who, with shouts of “_La
voilà! La voilà! celle qui a sauvé les aristocrates_,” surrounded her,
and in a moment she was separated from her uncles, her mantilla torn
off, while angry voices, with fierce threats, demanded the list of

“What do you want with me?” she asked coolly, “I am not an enemy of
the people; you can see by my cockade that I am a patriot.”

“Let her give us the list!” was the cry.

Seeing at once what was the question, she answered: “You are mistaken,
_citoyens_, those who embarked were not _contre-revolutionnaires_.”

“Well, then, give us the list for you have it in your bosom!” And one
brutal fellow tried to tear her _corsage_ to get it.

Thrusting him away she pulled out the list, held it up to the
_sans-culottes_, and exclaimed with defiance—

“I will never give it you! If you want to get it, kill me!” And she
swallowed it.

At that moment Tallien, who had been sent to Bordeaux by the
Revolutinary authorities, appeared upon the scene.

“Stop!” he cried; “I know that woman.”

He did not, in fact, recognise her at all, but he wished to save her.
Turning to the crowd, he said—

“If she is guilty she belongs to justice. But you are too magnanimous
to strike an unarmed enemy, above all, a woman.”

Just then Lacomb, president of the tribunal, who had been told that
the aristocrats who went with the English captain were saved by her,
came up and ordered her arrest.

At the same time Tallien recognised the Marquise de Fontenay.

Térèzia, therefore, found herself in one of the horrible prisons of
that Revolution whose progress she had done everything in her power
to assist. In the darkness and gloom of its dungeon she afterwards
declared that the rats had bitten her feet.

In a very short time, however, she was summoned out of the prison and
conducted by the gaolers into the presence of Tallien.

In the fearful tragedy of the French Revolution, as in many earlier
dramas in the history of that nation, one can hardly fail to be struck
by the extreme youth of many, perhaps most, of the leading characters,
good or bad. And the hero and heroine of this act in the revolutionary
drama were young, and both remarkable for their beauty.

Tallien, the member of the Assembly, the blood-stained popular
leader, the pro-consul before whom every one trembled in Bordeaux,
was five-and-twenty. The Marquise de Fontenay, who stood before him,
knowing that her life was in his hands, was not yet twenty.

The position was changed indeed since their first meeting, when,
unknown and unconsidered, he was invited, in a manner that could
scarcely be called complimentary, to criticise the portrait of the
beautiful, fashionable woman who now stood before him as lovely as
ever, her face pale, and her soft dark eyes raised anxiously to his,
but without any symptom of terror.

From the first moment of this interview Tallien was seized with an
overpowering passion for her, which he was compelled to conceal by the
presence of the gaoler, who waited to re-conduct the prisoner to her
cell, and before whom if he showed either pity or sympathy, in spite
of all his power as a leader of the Revolution, he would endanger his
own safety and increase her danger. Therefore he only bowed, signed to
her to sit down, and took a chair opposite her.

“You recognised me?” she asked.

“Yes, _citoyenne_; why are you at Bordeaux?”

“Because every one is in prison at Paris; even the revolutionists. And
I am a revolutionist.”

“We are not blind,” said Tallien. “We only strike the enemies of the

“The prisons are blind, then,” retorted Térèzia; “for both at Paris
and here true republicans are groaning in fetters.”

She spoke in the inflated style of the time, which belonged especially
to the ranting, extravagant, theatrical phraseology of that strange
collection of individuals who now held supreme power in the country so
recently the most civilised and polished in the world.

“If the prison is blind, the tribunal is not. Of what are you accused,

“Of everything, I suppose, since there is nothing they can bring
against me.”

“I heard you were intending to emigrate with the _ci-devant_ Marquis
de Fontenay.”

“Emigrate? I never thought of such a thing. We were going to Spain to
see my father, who is there.”

“Well, _citoyenne_, I shall give orders for your trial to come on at
once before the tribunal. If the _citoyen_ Fontenay is not guilty you
are not either. In consequence you will be able to go on and see your
father at Madrid.”

“Good God!” cried Térèzia; “appear before your tribunal! But I am
condemned beforehand! A poor creature who is the daughter of a count,
the wife of a marquis, with a hand like this, which has never done any
work but prepare lint for the wounded of the 10th of August.”

“You are wrong, _citoyenne_, to doubt the justice of the tribunal,
we have not created it to assassinate in the name of the law, but to
avenge the republic and proclaim innocence.”

He spoke in the pompous jargon of the Revolution, the language of his
paper, _L’Ami des Citoyens_. Then turning to the gaoler he sent him
away upon a message. When the door had closed behind the spy of his
party, in whose presence even he himself dared not speak freely, he
took the hand of Térèzia and said in a gentle voice—

“We are not tyrants.”

To which astounding assertion she replied in those terms of flattery
in which alone it was safe to address the individuals who “were not
tyrants,” and whose motto was “Liberty, equality, and fraternity.”

“I suppose he who writes so eloquently in _L’Ami des Citoyens_ is also
the friend of the _citoyennes_? If you are my friend, for the sake of
the _citoyenne_, Lameth,[98] do not make me appear before that odious
tribunal, on which _you_ do not sit.”

“I cannot help it,” answered he; “the eyes of France are upon me. If
I betrayed my commission for the sake of a beautiful woman like you,
Robespierre would not have thunderbolts enough to strike me with.”

“Just so,” she said; “you all strike because you are afraid of being
struck yourselves.”

“Well; what do you want?”

“You know. I want liberty.”

“I understand.”

“And the liberty of M. de Fontenay.”

“Of that I wash my hands,” he exclaimed hastily. Then softening his
voice: “I was told you were divorced?”

“Perhaps so; but at this moment I am more than ever the wife of my

“But if he is guilty and you are not?”

“Then I will be guilty too.”

There was a moment’s silence, then Tallien spoke.

“Well! it is worthy of the days of antiquity. But in these times it is
not to a husband but to the nation that a _citoyenne_ should sacrifice
herself. If you have done any wrong to the Republic, it is in your
power publicly to expiate it. In public affairs women must preach and
set the example. If I ask for your liberty it must be on condition
that you promise to be the Egeria of the Montagne, as the Roland was
of the Gironde.”

“I know neither the Montagne nor the Gironde. I know the people, and
I love and serve them. Give me a serge dress and I will go to the
hospitals and nurse the sick patriots.”

“Sister of Charity, is that it? No, no; you must take a more active
part; you must stand in the tribune, and kindle the sacred fire in
those who are not already burning with the religion of the Revolution.
Already I can feel the fire of your words.” And he drew nearer to her.

“It is settled, then, _citoyen_, is it not? You will give the order
for my release? We will start this evening for Spain, and you shall
never hear of me again.”

Tallien’s face fell.

“Well! you take everything for granted,” he said. “I am glad to see
that if ever you become powerful favours will fall from your hands as
if by miracle.”

“I only care for power for the sake of mercy,” she replied. “But now I
am not appealing to your clemency, but to your justice.”

“Justice belongs to the people,” replied Tallien, coldly.

The Marquise felt that she had gone too far.

“It is a mistake,” she exclaimed. “If I appealed to justice it would
be too slow; but the beauty of clemency is that it is quick.”

And she threw herself upon her knees before him.

“Rise, Madame!” exclaimed the young pro-consul. “I risk my head in
this, but what does it matter? You are free.”

And he clasped her in his arms.

At this moment the gaoler returned, accompanied by the _aide-de-camp_
for whom Tallien had sent.

“_Adieu, citoyenne_,” said Tallien, resuming his official manner. “My
_aide-de-camp_ will go at once to the revolutionary tribunal, while I
myself explain to the _Comité_ the error of which you are the victim.”

He signed to the gaoler, who conducted Mme. de Fontenay back to her
cell; and then sat down to write to Robespierre.

“Every one betrays the Republic. The _citoyen_ Tallien is granting
pardon to aristocrats.”[99]


[97] Guy de Kersaint, after the September massacres, sent in his
resignation, saying “If the love of my country has made me endure the
misfortune of being the colleague of the panegyrists and promoters of
the assassinations of the 2nd of September I will at least protect my
memory from being their accomplice.”—“Notre Dame de Thermidor” (Arsène

[98] Wife of Charles de Lameth.

[99] The whole account of the arrest of Mme. de Fontenay and the
interview with Tallien is taken from “Notre Dame de Thermidor,” by M.
Arsène Houssaye, who derived his information from her children, her
letters, and other writings.


     Divorced—M. de Fontenay escapes to Spain—The
     mistress of Tallien—Her influence and his saves many
     lives—Robespierre—Singular circumstances at the birth of
     Louis XVII.—The vengeance of the Marquis de —— —Enmity of
     Robespierre—Arrest of Térèzia—La Force.

The next day was the divorce. M. de Fontenay hurried away towards the
Pyrenees and disappeared from France and from the life and concerns of
the woman who had been his wife.

And Térèzia, released from a marriage she had long disliked and to
which no principle of duty or religion bound her, although she could
scarcely be called free, fulfilled the conditions and accepted the
part offered her willingly enough. She loved Tallien, who worshipped
her with a passionate adoration which, far from concealing, they
gloried in proclaiming.

Térèzia became a power in Bordeaux. She appeared everywhere in
public wearing those scanty Greek draperies so well calculated to
display the perfection of her beauty; affecting the attitude of the
Goddess of Liberty, with a pike in one hand and the other resting
upon the shoulder of Tallien. The populace cheered as she drove
about Bordeaux in a magnificent carriage which, had it belonged to a
royalist, would have excited their rage. She harangued the Convention
with bombastic speeches about women and virtue and modesty, which,
to persons not besotted with frantic republicanism, must appear
singularly out of place; mingling her exhortations with flattery so
fulsome and preposterous that she did not fail to command sympathetic
acclamations, especially when she said that she was not twenty years
old and that she was a mother but no longer a wife.

Over the whole proceedings of Tallien and Térèzia there was, in fact,
an atmosphere and tone that can be best described as “flash”; for no
other word seems to be so thoroughly characteristic of themselves,
their friends, their sentiments, their speech, and their lives at this

That Térèzia was infinitely superior to her lover was not only shown
by the progress of years and events, but was obvious in the early days
of her _liaison_ with Tallien. For her speeches in public and private
were not merely empty bombastic talk. She really did everything in her
power to rescue from danger and help in trouble the unfortunate people
with whom she was surrounded. For she hated cruelty and bloodshed, and
saw no reason or excuse for it; in spite of the sophisms and theories
of her republican friends. It made no difference to her to what party
or class they belonged; she would help any one who was in trouble and
appealed to her. And her power was immense, for Tallien, who held life
and death in his hands, was her slave, and even the savage Lacomb and
Ysabeau, his colleagues, bowed before the charm of her influence.

The _Comité de salut public_ was composed of Barère, Carnot, Couthon,
Billaud-Varennes, Collot-d’Herbois, Robert Lindet, Prieur, Jean-Bon
Saint-André, Saint-Just, and Maximilian Robespierre; as bloodthirsty a
gang of miscreants as ever held an unfortunate country in their grip.

Of these ruffians the most powerful and influential was Robespierre,
who, though cruel, treacherous, and remorseless, was severely moral
and abstemious, and whose anger was deeply aroused by the reports he
received from Bordeaux.

The life of luxurious splendour and open scandal Tallien led with his
mistress irritated him nearly as much as the escape of the victims
so frequently spared by his mercy, or rather by the all-powerful
influence of the woman to whom all Bordeaux now looked for help and
protection; besides which the popularity they both enjoyed at Bordeaux
excited his jealous uneasiness.

But he did not at that time recall him to Paris, preferring that
he should be a satrap at Bordeaux rather than a conspirator in the
Convention; and remarking contemptuously—

“Those sort of men are of no use except to revive vices. They
inoculate the people with the licentiousness of the aristocracy. But
patience; we will deliver the people from their corrupters, as we have
delivered them from their tyrants.”[100]

By caresses, by tyranny, by stratagems, Térèzia opened prison doors,
obtained pardons, delivered victims from the guillotine. Immense
numbers of people were saved by her exertions. Several times her
influence dissolved the Revolutionary Committee; under her reign
people began to breathe freely at Bordeaux, and the Terror for a time
seemed nearly at an end.

Horrified at the _hôtel_ of Tallien being in the _place de
l’Échafaud_, she exclaimed—

“I will not come here again!”

“Well, I will come and live at your _hôtel_.”

“No, I shall come back here. It is not you who will go away, it is the

To divert his thoughts and attention from the rigours and cruelties,
for the perpetration of which he had been sent to Bordeaux, she
persuaded him to have his portrait done, and induced him and the
artist to prolong the sittings on pretence of making the picture a
_chef d’œuvre_, but in reality to occupy his time and attention;
in fact, he was found by some one who called to see him reclining
comfortably in a boudoir, dividing his attention between the artist
who was painting the portrait and Térèzia, who was also present.

The Marquis de Paroy, a royalist, whose father, a Girondist, had just
been arrested, wrote to ask for an interview, sending an illustrated
petition, in the taste of the day, to the “goddess of Bordeaux,” with
a Cupid he called a _sans-culotte_, &c. Having received an invitation,
he went to her house, where, in the ante-rooms, crowds were waiting
with petitions in their hands. Presently folding doors were thrown
open and Térèzia appeared, exquisitely dressed, asked for the
_citoyen_ Paroy, and invited him to come into her boudoir, which was
filled with the traces of her pursuits. Music was upon the open piano,
a guitar lay upon a sofa, a harp stood in a corner of the room, an
easel, a half-sketched-out miniature, a table covered with drawings,
colours, and brushes, an embroidery frame, a writing table piled with
petitions, notes, and papers. After the first greeting she said—

“I think I remember meeting you at the house of the Comte de l’Estaing
with my father, and I hope you will come and see me as often as you
can. But let us speak of your father. Where is he in prison? I hope to
obtain his release from the _citoyen Tallien_. I will give him your
petition myself, and present you to him.”

She did so on the following day, and Tallien advised him to wait.

“Your father must be a little forgotten in order to save him. It all
depends on the president of the tribunal, Lacomb.”

Térèzia asked him to supper to meet the mistress of Ysabeau, whom she
thought might influence Ysabeau in his favour. During the supper one
of the revolutionary guests, observing a ring with a Love painted on
it, and the inscription—

    “Qui que tu sois, voilà ton maître
    Il l’est, le fut, ou bien doit l’être,”

kissed the ring, and handed it round to be kissed by all the rest, who
little supposed that it was a portrait of the unfortunate Louis XVII.

The breathing time given to unhappy Bordeaux came to an end. Tallien
was recalled, and his place filled by the ferocious Jullien.

But his position at Paris was too powerful and his friends too
numerous to allow him to be at once attacked with impunity. It
was Térèzia who was to be the first victim. Robespierre dreaded
her influence, her talents, her popularity, her opinions, and the
assistance and support she was to Tallien.

The crimes and horrors of the Revolution had now reached their climax.
Paris was a scene of blood and terror. No one’s life was safe for
an hour, houses were closed, the streets, once so full of life and
gaiety, were now paraded by gangs of drunken ruffians, men and women,
bent on murder and plunder, or re-echoed to the roll of the tumbrils
carrying victims to the scaffold. The prisons were crammed, and yet
arrests went on every day. The King, the Queen, and the gentle,
saintly Madame Elizabeth, had been murdered; the unfortunate Dauphin,
now Louis XVII., and his sister were kept in cruel captivity.

It had been remarked that at the moment of the birth of this most
unfortunate of princes, the crown which was an ornament on the Queen’s
bed fell to the ground, which superstitious persons looked upon as a
bad omen.

Still more strange was the incident related by his uncle, the Comte
de Provence, heir presumptive to the crown, which he afterwards wore.
It happened immediately after the birth of the first Dauphin, elder
brother of Louis XVII., whose early death saved him from the fate of
his family.

“The same evening I found on my table a letter carefully enclosed in
a double envelope, addressed—

                              “‘POUR MONSIEUR SEUL.’

“I inquired in what manner the letter had arrived there, but all those
in my service declared they knew nothing about it.

“When I was alone I opened the mysterious letter, and by the light of
my lamp I read as follows:—

     “‘Console yourself. I have just cast the horoscope of the child
     now born. He will not deprive you of the crown. He will not live
     when his father ceases to reign. Another than you, however, will
     succeed Louis XVI.; but, nevertheless, you will one day be King of
     France. Woe to him who will be in your place. Rejoice that you are
     without posterity; the existence of your sons would be threatened
     with too great calamities, for your family will drink to the dregs
     the most bitter contents of the cup of Destiny. Adieu! Tremble for
     your life if you try to discover me.—I am


“I got up and made a copy of this letter ... but on fixing my eyes
on the letters in white ink on black paper ... I saw them disappear.
I recognised in this phenomenon a chemical preparation by which
the mysterious characters would become absorbed after a certain

No trace was ever found of the person who wrote or conveyed the letter.

It is easy to see that the present state of affairs in France offered
the most dangerous and the strongest temptation to private vengeance.
Any one who had an enemy or who had been offended by any one else, or
even who wished to remove some person whose existence was inconvenient
to them, had only to “denounce” them for some trifle which they might
or might not have said or done; they were sure to be arrested, and
most likely to be put to death.

The following story is an example of the kind.

The Marquis de ——, a proud, stern man of a reserved and apparently
cold temperament, had a young wife whom he adored. Their married life
went on prosperously for some years, at the end of which the young
Marquise was seized with a fatal illness. When on her death-bed she
confessed to her husband, who was nearly frantic with grief, that she
had once, several years since, been unfaithful to him, that remorse
in consequence had poisoned her happiness, and that she could not die
in peace without his forgiveness. The Marquis consented to pardon her
fault on condition that she would tell him the name of her seducer,
which she did, after having extorted from her husband a solemn promise
that he would not challenge him to a duel, as she feared the blood of
one or the other might rest upon her soul.

After her death the Marquis, who had no intention of either breaking
his oath or foregoing his vengeance, shut up his _château_ and went
to Paris, though it was in the height of the Terror; for he had heard
that his enemy was there, and was resolved to find him. He was a
cousin of the young Marquise, the Chevalier de ——, who had in the
early days of their marriage stayed a good deal at the _château_
of the Marquis de ——, and had requited the unsuspicious trust and
hospitality of his host by making love to his wife. Then, influenced
by the remorse and entreaties of the Marquise, he had gone to Paris,
and not been heard of for some time, but was believed to be living
there in concealment.

The death of his wife and the revelation she had made to him, plunged
the Marquis de —— into such a fearful state that at first his reason
was almost overcome; and as he gradually recovered his self-possession
the idea occurred to him to take advantage for his own purposes of the
rumour circulated, that grief for the loss of his wife had affected
his reason.

Accordingly he pretended to be mad, and wandered all day about the
streets of Paris, wearing an old Court dress and an enormous wig,
talking extravagantly, making foolish jokes, but all the time looking
for the Chevalier ——.

His plan succeeded perfectly. He was soon well known to the police as
an ex-noble driven mad by the death of his wife, and being considered
harmless, was allowed to go where he pleased unmolested.

It was the only safeguard he could have found, as his rank and
well-known opinions would have otherwise marked him for destruction.

At last, one day in the _rue St. Honoré_, he came suddenly face to
face with his enemy, disguised as a workman.

Rushing to him, he threw his arms round his neck, exclaiming—

“Eh! how are you, _mon ami_? I am delighted to see you, my dear
Chevalier de——”

The Chevalier tried in vain to escape. The apparent madman seized him
by the arm.

“Let me go!” he cried. “You are mistaken. I don’t know you.”

“You don’t remember me? Your friend, your relation, the Marquis ——?”

“Yes, I remember you now; but let me go.”

A crowd began to gather, and he went on in a loud voice—

“I recognised you directly in spite of your dress, your beard, your
dyed hair, and false scar.”

“Do you wish me to be lost?”

“Lost? Certainly not. I have only just found you, and shall not let
you go. I am going to take you to dine with me, my dear Chevalier de

“Speak lower,” implored the Chevalier. “Are you mad?”

“Ah! you, too, call me mad. It is an insult!”

The Chevalier tore away his arm, the Marquis struck him a furious
blow, the police interfered, and took them both to the _Commissaire de
la section_. The Marquis was released and the Chevalier —— sent to the

His friends, hearing of his arrest, organised a plot for his release,
established communications with him, and so skilfully arranged that
one morning the Chevalier de —— left the Luxembourg disguised as a
soldier, passed into the streets, and thought he was saved.

But his enemy stood before him with a smile of triumph.

“Again that wretched madman!” muttered the Chevalier. “Is it God’s
justice that puts him always in my way to destroy me?”

“I am enchanted to see you again, my dear Chevalier de ——, and I hope
you are in a better humour to-day. Instead of the dinner you refused,
accept the _déjeuner_ I offer you this morning.”

“For God’s sake, hold your tongue and let me pass,” said the Chevalier
in a low voice. “My life depends upon it. Do you hear? do you
understand? I have just escaped from prison; I am condemned to death.
If you hold your tongue and let me pass I am saved, but if you keep me
and call out my name you will kill me.”

“What the devil of a story are you telling me, Chevalier de ——?” cried
his tormentor. “Where did you have supper last night? I believe you
have drunk too much.”

“Come, Marquis, try to have a spark of reason. It is my life I ask of
you—my life.”

“_Parbleu_, let us live merrily! that is my motto; and let us begin by
breakfasting. At any rate, I shall not leave you. Where you go I shall
follow, if you run I shall run after you, calling out, ‘Let us go to
breakfast, Chevalier de ——’”

Seeing that attention was being attracted to them, the Chevalier in
despair put his arm into that of the Marquis, saying—

“Very well, let us go to breakfast then, but keep quiet, I beseech
you. Not that way,” as his companion turned towards the Luxembourg.

“Yes, yes! I know the way to the restaurant!” and as he dragged him
along in an iron grasp some guards, who had discovered the escape of
the prisoner, recognised and seized him.

The Chevalier was taken back to his cell, and, knowing that he had
now only a few hours to live, he made his will and wrote the history
of this terrible adventure, saying that he could not but forgive the
Marquis as he was mad. These papers he confided to a fellow prisoner,
and a few hours later was summoned to execution with a number of

As the fatal car passed through the streets, for the third time his
relentless enemy stood before him, and as a slight delay stopped the
car close to him, he called out—

“Ah! Chevalier de ——, where are you going in that carriage? Perhaps to
see your mistress, the Marquise de ——?” and the look of triumph and
hatred revealed the truth to the victim of his vengeance.

It was dearly bought, however. For some time, for prudence sake,
the Marquis kept up his pretence of madness, but after the fall of
Robespierre and the Terror he resumed the apparent use of his reason.
But the next heir had taken possession of the estates of the family in
consequence of the declared madness of its head. The Marquis appealed
to the law, but his own notoriety and the last will and letter of
the Chevalier —— decided the case against him. He was shut up in the
asylum of Charenton, where he lived for many years, resigning himself
after a time to his fate, and dying in extreme old age.

Not many days after the Convention had applauded with enthusiasm an
extravagant speech about charity, full of absurdities and bombastic
sentimentalities, made by Térèzia, Robespierre demanded her arrest of
the _Comité de salut public_.

It has been said that the arrest was made at the end of a _fête_ she
had been giving at which Robespierre himself was present, and which he
had only just left, with professions of the sincerest friendship.

The incident accords so well with the habitual treachery of
Robespierre, that if not true it may be called _ben trovato_; but in
fact it is not really certain that it took place.

But it is confidently affirmed that Robespierre pursued Térèzia, with
even more than his usual vindictiveness. He begged the Marquis de la
Valette, a _ci-devant_ noble and yet a friend of his, to prevent the
escape of this young woman whom they both knew, “for the safety of the
Republic.” But M. de la Valette, although he was not ashamed so far
to degrade himself as to be the friend of Robespierre, shrank from
being the instrument of this infamy; and not only warned Térèzia but
offered her the shelter of his roof, which, for some reason or other,
she declined. She was arrested and sent to La Force, one of the worst
prisons of the Revolution, with the additional horror of being _au
secret_. She had too many and too powerful friends to be sacrificed
without difficulty and risk, and it was, in fact, his attack upon
her that gave the finishing blow to the tottering tyranny of


Robespierre sent Coffinhal, one of his tools, to question her, and
she was offered her liberty if she would denounce Tallien, which she
indignantly refused to do. Far more than in her former experience at
Bordeaux, did she feel that she was already condemned. For then she
had only to dread the general cruelty of the Revolutionists, whose
rage was certainly excited by the escape of their prey, but who had,
beyond doubt, no personal spite against her.

But now she had an enemy, powerful, vindictive, remorseless, and
bent upon her destruction. His object was that her trial should take
place the next day; but her friends were watching her interests. M.
de la Valette and M. Verdun managed to prevent this, and next day a
friend of Tallien, meeting him wandering in desperation about the
_Champs-Elysées_, said to him—

“You have nothing to fear for the _citoyenne_ Cabarrus; she will not
be brought before the tribunal to-day either.”

To gain time in those days was often to gain everything.

In the horrible dungeon in which Térèzia was shut up, she could
receive no communications from without; but after a day or two she was
told by the gaoler that she had leave to go down into the courtyard
in the evening, after the lights were out. To whom she owed this
consolation she was not told, but the first evening as she stood
enjoying the fresh air, a stone fell at her feet, and on picking it
up she found a paper with writing fastened to it. As she could not
see to read it by the light of the moon, she had to wait till after
sunrise next morning, and then, although the writing was disguised,
she recognised the hand of Tallien as she read these words—

“I am watching over you; every evening at nine you will go down to the
courtyard. I shall be near you.”

She tried to question the gaoler when he brought her breakfast of
black bread and boiled beans, but he only put his finger on his lips.
Every evening she went down to the courtyard and a stone with a note
from Tallien was thrown to her. He had hired an attic close by, and
his mother had, under another name, gained the gaoler and his wife.
But at the end of a week the gaoler was denounced by the spies of
Robespierre, and Térèzia transferred to the Carmes.


[100] “Histoire des Girondins,” t. 7, p. 266 (Lamartine).

[101] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. ii., pp. 275-7.


     The Bastille—Prisons of the Revolution—Les Carmes—Cazotte—The
     Terrorists turn upon each other—Joséphine de Beauharnais—A
     musician in the Conciergerie—A dog in prison—Under the
     guardianship of a dog—Tallien tries to save Térèzia—A dagger—La
     Force—The last hope—The Tocsin—The 9th Thermidor.

Volumes of denunciation, torrents of execration have been and are
still poured forth against the Bastille, the tyranny and cruelty
it represented, the vast number and terrible fate of the prisoners
confined there and the arbitrary, irresponsible power of which it was
the instrument.

Many of the stories told and assertions made upon the subject are
absolutely false, others greatly exaggerated; although nobody who has
ever studied the history of any country would imagine that any prison
ever existed anywhere, until within the last few years, without a
record of crime, oppression, and cruelty.

When the Bastille was destroyed, and the officers who were accused of
nothing but defending the post entrusted to them were murdered, that
prison contained seven prisoners, of whom one was detained by the
request of his family, four were forgers, one was an idiot, the other

Three years later, under the rule of the apostles of liberty,
fraternity, and equality, there were thousands of prisons of the State
crammed with prisoners, besides the supplementary prisons hastily
arranged in the ancient convents, palaces, and colleges of Paris.

The hardships and horrors of these prisons, though always terrible,
were much worse in some than in others. Far the best were the
Luxembourg, Portroyal, then called Port _Libre_, the convents of
the _Bénédictins anglais_, the convents _des Oiseaux_ and _des
Anglaises_, and one or two others, which, in the slang of the day,
were called _prisons muscadines_.[103] There were congregated most of
the prisoners of rank and refinement, although in most of the prisons
there was a mixture of classes and opinions. There the food and
accommodation was much better and the officials more civil, or rather,
less brutal, and for a long time the prisoners were allowed to go into
the gardens, orchards, avenues, and courts belonging to them, also to
amuse themselves together until a certain hour of the night.

At this time, however, everything even in these prisons had become
much worse,[104] the restrictions were severe, the number executed far
greater, the gaolers more brutal, and the perils and horrors of those
awful dwellings more unheard of.

The Carmes was one of the bad ones, as regards accommodation, but
in it were many prisoners belonging to good society, delicate,
refined, bearing bravely the privations and dangers of their lot.
It was supposed to be one of the aristocratic prisons, though less
comfortable than the rest.

If Térèzia had been in immediate danger she would have been sent to
the Conciergerie, which was looked upon as the gate of the guillotine;
and she knew that the important thing was to gain time. Many had thus
been saved; amongst others Mlle. de Montansier, formerly directress of
a theatre. She was imprisoned in the Abbaye, and was condemned with a
number of others to be guillotined on the following day.

But she was so ill that she could not stand, and as she lay delirious
upon her pallet in a high fever, one of her fellow prisoners called to
M. Cazotte, who was also imprisoned there, and was famous for having
predicted many things which had always come true, especially for his
prophecy at the notorious supper of the Prince de Beauvau, at which
he had foretold the horrors of the Revolution and the fate of the
different guests, now being, or having been, terribly fulfilled.[105]

“Well, Cazotte,” said the other, “here, if ever, is a case for you to
call your spirit up and ask him if that poor dying creature will have
strength to mount the horrible machine to-morrow.”

He spoke half jokingly, but Cazotte saw no joke at all, but went into
a corner without speaking, turned his face to the wall, and remained
there in silence for a quarter of an hour, after which he came back
with a joyful look.

“_La brave fille_ will not be guillotined at all,” he said, “for I
have just seen her die in her bed at an advanced age.”

All laughed at the vision, but the next day she was so ill that her
execution was put off, she continued to be so ill that she could not
be moved and was forgotten till the 9th Thermidor came and she was
saved. She died, as Cazotte had predicted, in her own bed at a great

Cazotte himself, after being saved by his daughter from the massacre,
was re-arrested as he always foretold. His friends asked in vain why
he did not hide, escape, save himself; he only replied—

“What is the use, if my hour has come?”

He was executed as he foretold.

Térèzia was much better off at the Carmes, for she was no longer _au
secret_, but mixed in the day with the rest of the prisoners and
shared a cell at night with the Duchesse d’Aiguillon and Joséphine
Vicomtesse de Beauharnais, whose husband, a revolutionary general and
a thoroughly contemptible character, had lately been guillotined by
his republican friends.

For the only consolation was that now the monsters were turning on
each other; there were, in fact, more republicans than royalists
in the prisons. Every now and then some blood-stained miscreant
was brought in amongst those whose homes he had wrecked, whose dear
ones he had murdered, and whose fate he was now to share; while all
shrunk in horror from him, or mocked and triumphed as he passed.
When Chaumette, the high priest of the Revolution, one of the most
blasphemous and blood-stained wretches of all, was brought to the
Luxembourg, the prisoners would look through the little _guichet_
where he was shut up, asking each other, “Have you seen the wolf?”

When Manuel, one of the authors of the September massacres, was
taken to the Conciergerie and stood before the tribunal, a group of
prisoners standing by, regardless of the _gendarmes_, pushed him
against a pillar, still stained with the blood shed on that fearful
day, with cries of “See the blood you shed,”[106] and through applause
and “bravos” he passed to his doom.

In the cell of Térèzia and her companions had been massacred a
number of priests on that occasion, and still upon its wall were the
_silhouettes_ marked in blood, where two of the murderers had rested
their swords.

And yet amidst all the horrors and miseries even of the six last and
most awful weeks of the Terror, in daily peril of death and amongst
the most frightful hardships, laughter and jokes were heard in the
prisons, friendships and love affairs were formed; every one was the
friend of every one.

Those who were going to their death, dined cheerfully for the last
time with their companions, and bade them a brave and cheerful

A young musician, waiting at the Conciergerie for the _gendarmes_ to
take him to the tribunal which was his death sentence, remembering
that a friend wanted a certain air, went back to his room, copied it,
and took it to his friend, saying—

“_Mon cher_, here is what you wanted; the music is all right, I have
just tried it on my flute. I am sorry not to be able to get you some
more; I shall not be alive to-morrow.”[107]

There were a thousand prisoners in the Luxembourg alone, and strange
romances, thrilling escapes, fearful tragedies, and touching stories
could indeed be told of what passed within the walls of those gloomy

Mme. de la Chabaussière was imprisoned at Port Libre, and her dog
stayed with her all the time, her only comfort. He was well-known and
a favourite in the prison, he knew all the gaolers and officials, and
which of them were kind to his mistress. Of these he was very fond;
but those who were not good to her he flew at, biting their legs and
fighting with their dogs. However, all the officials liked him and let
him stay during the whole time she was imprisoned. When the gaoler
came to open the door of her cell he jumped up and licked his hands;
when she walked, as at Port Libre they could, in the cloisters and
gardens, he went with her; when she came back he rushed in and hid
himself in her cell.

Port Libre was a large building—several buildings, in fact—with great
corridors warmed by stoves; many of the rooms had fireplaces and there
was a great _salon_ where the richer prisoners dined. In the evening
there were concerts, games, lectures, &c., or people read, wrote, and
worked. Collections were made to pay for wood, lights, stores, extra
furniture, water—the richer paid for the poorer. Every one brought
their own lights and sat round a great table; a few _sans-culottes_
were there, but the society for the most part was extremely good.
Little suppers were given by different prisoners to their friend,
better food could be got by paying, also books, letters, parcels,
and newspapers. At 9 p.m. was the _appel_, but they might afterward
return to the _salon_, meet in each other’s rooms, or even get leave
from the _concièrge_ to visit their friends in the other buildings.
Outside were three walks: the garden, the cloisters, and the _cour de
l’accacia_, with palisades and a seat of grass under a great accacia.
Often they sat out till eleven at night, and those whose rooms were
close by sometimes spent the whole night out of doors.

This was one of the best prisons, but during the six weeks before
Thermidor even this was much changed for the worse, brutal ruffians
taking the place of milder gaolers, and food unfit to eat being

Many heroic people, women especially, managed to get stolen interviews
with those belonging to them shut up in the different prisons. Mme.
de Beuguot used to visit her husband disguised as a washer-woman, and
through her devotion, courage, and good management he was ultimately
saved. Some bribed or persuaded the more humane gaolers, and one
man was visited through all his imprisonment by his two little
children who came with no other guardian than their large dog. The
faithful creature brought them safe there and back every day, watching
carefully that they were not run over.

The prison of the Carmes was a very different abode to Port Libre,
and it was just at its worst time, but still Térèzia used afterwards
to declare that she, after a time, got accustomed to the horrors of
the prison. The constant presence of death made them more and more
callous, and they would play games together like children, even
enacting the scenes of execution which they had every prospect of
going through in reality. Their room, or cell, looked out into the
garden, through a grating, into which, however, they could not go; a
single mattress in a corner served for their bed.

The Duchesse d’Aiguillon had obtained leave to have a thimble,
needles, and scissors, with which she worked. Joséphine read and
worked; Térèzia told stories and sang.

[Illustration: GEORGES DANTON]

The hand of Charlotte Corday had sent Marat to his own place; Danton
and Camille Desmoulins, beginning to have some slight glimmerings of
mercy and humanity, had been denounced and executed; Robespierre was
still triumphant, with his friends and satellites, Couthon, St.-Just
and David. With them and Foulquièr-Tinville, Paris was like hell upon
earth. Long lists of victims, numbers of whom were women, went every
day to the guillotine; the populace were getting weary of blood and
slaughter. Again Tallien made an attempt to get the release of
Térèzia, even suggesting that it was time to stop the murder of women.
Even David agreed; but Robespierre was inexorable.

On the morning of the 4th Thermidor a dagger had been mysteriously
sent to Tallien, without a word of explanation. No one knew who had
brought it; there it was upon his table. But he knew the dagger, and
what it meant. It was a Spanish poignard which belonged to Térèzia.
It was then that he went and made his last and useless appeal to
Robespierre. Térèzia had again been removed to La Force, and on the
7th Thermidor he received a letter from her.

“_La citoyenne_ Fontenay to the _citoyen_ Tallien, _rue de la Perle_,

“The _administrateur de police_ has just left; he has been to tell me
that to-morrow I go to the tribunal, which means to the scaffold. It
is indeed unlike the dream I had last night, that Robespierre was dead
and the prisons open; but thanks to your incredible cowardice, there
will soon be nobody left in France capable of realising it.”

He answered immediately—

“Have as much prudence as I will have courage, but calm your head.”

Then he went to find Barras and Fréron.

But Térèzia had nearly lost all hope. She had waited and waited,
always expecting help—for Tallien was powerful among the leaders of
the government. But when she was taken from the Carmes back to La
Force, she knew that her time had come, and now the gaoler had told
her that it was not worth while to make her bed, as it was to be
given to another.

With anguish she saw one cartload of prisoners leave, and she trembled
every moment lest she should hear the sound of the wheels of a second
in the courtyard of the prison.

But the next day passed and she was not called for. All day she
waited in a feverish, terrible suspense that can well be imagined;
night came and she was still spared. Morning dawned, the morning of
the 9th Thermidor. The weather was frightfully oppressive, and in
all the prisons in Paris they were stifling from the heat, for the
late cruel restrictions had put an end, even in the more indulgent
prisons, to the possibility of walks in garden or cloister and the
chance of fresh air. But as the long, weary day wore on, there seemed
to be some change approaching; there was an uneasy feeling about, for
there had lately been rumours of another massacre in the prisons,
and the prisoners, this time resolving to sell their lives dearly,
had been agreeing upon and arranging what little defence they could
make. Some planned a barricade made of their beds, others examined
the furniture with a view to breaking it up into clubs, a few brought
carefully out knives they had managed to conceal in holes and corners
from the prison officials, some filled their pockets with cinders and
ashes to fling in the faces of their assailants, and so escape in
the confusion, while others, republicans and atheists, felt for the
_cabanis_, a poison they carried about them, and assured themselves
that it was all safe and ready for use.

They waited and listened. There was certainly more noise in the
streets, something was evidently going on; but there was no attack
upon any of the prisons; on the contrary, it was the gaolers who were
undoubtedly alarmed. Their whole tone and manner changed from brutal
insolence to civility and indulgence. When evening approached they
were running about from one room to another with looks of dismay,
while the terror of the prison spies was uncontrolled.

In the Luxembourg, between six and seven in the evening, a prisoner
whose room was at the top of the palace came down and said that he
heard the tocsin. In breathless silence all listened, and recognised
that fearful sound. Drums were beating, the noise and tumult grew
louder and nearer, but whether it meant life or death to them they
could not tell; only the discouraged and anxious demeanour of the
officials gave them hope. In spite of the opposition of the gaolers
several of them rushed up the stairs and got out on the roof to see
what was going on. In the _rue Tournon_ they saw an immense crowd with
a carriage in the midst, which by the clamour around it they knew must
contain some important person. It stopped before the Luxembourg, the
name of Robespierre was spoken; it was sent on with him to the Maison

The clamour died away; all night reassuring proclamations were heard
about the streets.

The next morning all was changed. The cringing, officious, timid
civility of their tyrants left but little doubt in their minds. They
clasped each other’s hands, even then not daring to speak openly or
show their joy, until the news, first a whisper, then a certainty,
assured them that Robespierre was dead.

Then Térèzia knew that she was safe, and that Tallien, for her sake,
had overthrown the monster and broken the neck of the Terror. Soon
he appeared in triumph to throw open the gates of La Force, and the
following day Térèzia, accompanied by Fréron and Melun de Thionville,
went herself to the club of the Jacobins and closed it without any one
venturing to take the keys from her.

When Pitt heard of it he remarked, “That woman is capable of closing
the gates of hell.”


[102] De Cassagnac, “Histoire du Directoire.”

[103] A slang word of the time for aristocrat, dandy, _élégant_.

[104] It was six weeks before the 9th Thermidor, the day of
deliverance, that these restrictions and hardships were increased.

[105] The story of this supper is given in “A Leader of Society at
Napoleon’s Court” (Bearne), and in the Memoirs of La Harpe, the
Comtesse d’Adhémar, and others who were present at it.

[106] “Prisons de Paris” (Dauban).

[107] “Mémoires sur les Prisons.”


     “Robespierre is dead!”— Notre Dame de Thermidor—End
     of the Terror—The prisons open—Decline of Tallien’s
     power—Barras—Napoleon—“Notre Dame de Septembre!”—M.
     Ouvrard—Separates from Tallien—He goes to Egypt—Consul in
     Spain—Dies in Paris—Térèzia stays in Paris—Ingratitude of some she
     had saved—Marries the Prince de Chimay—Conclusion.

Robespierre was dead, and Tallien, for the time, reigned in his stead;
and with him and over him, Térèzia, or, as she may be called, Mme.
Tallien, for although Tallien before spoke of her as his wife, it was
only after the 9th Thermidor that some sort of marriage ceremony was
performed. But the name she now received, amongst the acclamation
of the populace, was “Notre Dame de Thermidor.” For it was she who
had brought about the deliverance of that day; for her and by her
the Terror had been broken up; and although the _Thermidoriens_, led
by Tallien, Barras and Fréron, had re-established or continued the
_Comité de Salut Public_, the greater number of the blood-stained
tyrants who ruled the Revolution still remained, and many horrors
and tyrannies for some time longer went on; still there was at once
an enormous difference. The revolutionary gang had, of course, not
altered its nature, those of whom it was composed were the same,
cruel, remorseless, and steeped in crimes; but however much they
wished it they could not continue to carry on the terrorism against
which the anger of the populace was now aroused.

The people had had enough; they were tired of blood and murder. Even
before Thermidor they had begun to murmur as the cars of victims
passed through the streets; a reaction had begun.

The prisons were thrown open, the _Directoire_ was far milder than the
_Convention_, pardons were obtained in numbers, especially by Térèzia,
who, when she could not succeed in saving persons in danger in any
other way, had often risked her own safety to help and conceal them.

Paris seemed to be awaking into life again; the streets were more
animated, the people to be seen in them were more numerous and did not
all look either brutal or terror-stricken. Art, literature, and social
gaiety began to revive.

One of the odious, inevitable republican _fêtes_ was, of course, given
to celebrate the events of Thermidor. Mme. Tallien opened a _salon_,
where, as in the others then existing, the strange, uncouth figures of
the _sans-culottes_ mingled with others whose appearance and manners
showed that they were renegades and traitors to their own order and

Conspicuous amongst these was Barras, who, though his hands were
deeply dyed in the blood of the Terror, belonged to one of the noblest
families in Provence.

“_Noble comme un Barras_,” was, in fact, a common saying of the

His was the leading _salon_ of Paris at that time, and Mme. Tallien
was the presiding genius there. Music, dancing, and gambling were
again the rage, the women called themselves by mythological names and
wore costumes so scanty and transparent that they were scarcely any
use either for warmth or decency; marriages, celebrated by a civic
functionary, were not considered binding, and were frequently and
quickly followed by divorce. Society, if such it could be called, was
a wild revel of disorder, licence, debauchery, and corruption; while
over all hung, like a cloud, the gloomy figures of Billaud-Varennes,
Collot d’Herbois, Barère, and their Jacobin followers, ready at any
moment to bring back the Terror.

So it was on a volcano that they feasted and sang and danced and made
love, and Térèzia was the life and soul of the pandemonium which had
taken the place of the graceful, polished, cultivated society of the
_ancien régime_.

Her first care had been to release from the Carmes her
fellow-prisoners, Joséphine de Beauharnais and Mme. d’Aiguillon, who
now formed an intimate part of her society and that of Barras. To them
also came Mme. de Stael, wife of the Swedish Ambassador, the beautiful
Mme. Regnault-de-Saint-Jean-d’Angely, Mme. Cambys, and many others
thankful to escape from the shadows of prison and death to the light
of liberty and pleasure. The restraints of religion and morality were,
of course, non-existent; _liaisons_ and licence were the order of
the day, and Térèzia was not likely to be an exception to the general
custom. She had, besides her daughter by Tallien, other children,
who, as no other name belonged to them, were called Cabarrus. And her
being or calling herself Tallien’s wife was no reason why she should
renounce her natural right to love any one else where, when, and as
often as she pleased.

And Barras pleased her. His distinguished appearance and manners
contrasted with those of her present surroundings, and recalled the
days when she lived amongst people who were polite and well-bred,
knew how to talk and eat and enter a drawing-room, and behave when
they were in it; and who wore proper clothes and did not call each
other “_citoyen_,” or any other ridiculous names, and conversation
was delightful, and scenes and memories of blood and horror unknown.
It may well have been at this time that she began to yearn after that
former existence she had been so rashly eager to throw away.

Her love for Tallien was beginning to wane. It had never been more
than a mad passion, aroused by excitement, romance, and the strange
circumstances which threw them into each other’s way; and kept alive
by vanity, interest, gratitude, and perhaps above all by success.
She wanted Tallien to be a great power, a great man; and she was
beginning to see that he was nothing of the sort. If, when Robespierre
fell, instead of helping to set up a government composed of other
men, he had seized the reins himself, she would have supported him
heart and soul, shared his power, ambition, and danger, and probably
her admiration and pride might have preserved her love for him. But
Tallien had not the power to play such a part; he had neither brains
nor character to sway the minds of men and hold their wills in bondage
to his own. And now he was in a position which in any line of life
surely bars the way to success: he was neither one thing or the other.

Between him and the royalists were the September massacres, rivers of
blood, crimes and blasphemies without end.

Between him and the Jacobins, the death of Robespierre and the
destruction of the Montagne.

And he saw that his influence was declining and with it the love of
the woman to whom he was still devoted.

Of course there were disputes and jealousies as time went on. It is of
Tallien that is told the story of his complaint to his wife—

“_Tu ne me tutoies plus!_” and of her answer—

“_Eh bien! va-t-en._”

Their first house in Paris was a sort of imitation cottage, after
the execrable taste of the day, in the _Champs-Elysées_, from which
they moved into a _hôtel_ in the _rue de la Victoire_, which was for
some time the resort of all the chiefs of their political party, and
the scene of constant contention between the Thermidoriens and the
remnants of the Montagne. The discussions were generally political,
and often violent; they would have been abhorrent to the well-bred
society of former days.

Barras was the leading spirit in this society, and for some time he
was at Térèzia’s feet. But if Tallien was not a great man, neither
was Barras; amongst all the unscrupulous ruffians of the revolutionary
party there did not appear to be one superior enough to his fellows to
command or lead them.

And yet there was one: “a young, pale, sickly-looking Italian,” who
lived in a third-rate inn, wore a shabby uniform, and frequented the
parties of Barras and the rest. He was not a conspicuous figure nor a
particularly honoured guest; his military career had been apparently
ruined by the spite of his enemies; he seemed to have no money, no
connections, and no prospects. But in a few years all of them—all
France and nearly all Europe—were at his feet, for it was Napoleon

[Illustration: NAPOLEON]

His career, however, was even now beginning; and not long after
Térèzia, in the height of her beauty and power with Paris at her feet,
rejected his love-making but accepted his friendship, he was sent to
Italy and began the series of triumphs which were to raise him to the
throne of France.

As time went on Térèzia found that her influence as well as that of
Tallien was rapidly declining. Her _salon_ was not at all likely to
last long. Those of the court and of society before the Revolution
had been of an entirely different order; held by women who, besides
their beauty or other attractions, were in an assured position,
surrounded by well-known connections and friends, forming an intimate
society sure to be met at their houses, and always ready to carry
on conversation, avoid all topics likely to give offence, and make
themselves generally agreeable. Nobody was admitted there who was
not accustomed to the usages of the world or who would interfere with
the harmony and general tone of the house. People went there, not to
engage in political discussions or to make love to their hostess, but
to spend a pleasant evening and meet the friends they knew and liked.
These _salons_ continued to be frequented by their usual guests year
after year without any more change than the lapse of time inevitably

Laure Permon, Duchesse d’Abrantès, than whom no one was a better judge
of these matters, observes—

“To ‘receive’ is to have an open house, where one can go every evening
with the certainty of finding it lighted up and inhabited, the host
ready to receive one with pleasure and courtesy. For that, it is not
an absolute necessity to have a superior intellect, to descend from
Charlemagne, or to possess two hundred thousand _livres de rentes_;
but it is absolutely necessary to have knowledge of the world and
cultivation, qualities which everybody does not possess.”

The sort of people who frequented the _salon_ of Mme. Tallien had
no such ideas. They were a miscellaneous horde collected from the
most opposite sources, many of whom were strangers to each other or
disliked and feared each other, and who went there for different
reasons. When Tallien became less powerful her _salon_ became less and
less full; when men ceased to be in love with her they left off going

The infatuation of Barras for her began also to cool. He left off
going to her as at one time to consult her about everything. If
he wished to see her, or she to see him, she must go to him at the

And step by step she was drawing away from the Revolution. She had
had enough of it, and she began to feel that disgust and horror were
taking the place of the frantic admiration she had entertained for it
in former years. And the finishing stroke was put by hearing herself
called, as she walked with Tallien in _Cours la Reine_ one evening,
“_Notre Dame de Septembre_.”

Tallien heard it too, and it was like a blow to him. Do and say
what he might, he could never shake off the stain of the September
massacres, and time only increased the horror with which they were

The name, applied to Térèzia, was a cruel injustice, and, with the
ingratitude so often to be met with, now that she was less powerful
and people were not in need of her protection, they forgot or
neglected or slandered her, and that accursed name was frequently to
be heard.

In her altered state of mind Tallien was associated with all the
horrors she longed to forget, and she began to wish to free herself
from a marriage which in her eyes was only a contract entered into for
mutual convenience, to be ended when no longer desirable.

Tallien had saved her life twice, and she had given him her youth
and beauty and fortune; she probably thought they were quits. Her
connection with him had lasted five years, and now her passion both
for him and for the Revolution had burnt itself out, she was in all
the splendour of her beauty and not more than five-and-twenty years
old. Most of her life lay before her.

If she no longer cared for Barras nor he for her, there were plenty of
others ready to worship her. M. Ouvrard, a millionaire who was under
an obligation to her, heard her complain that she had no garden worth
calling one. Some days later he called for her in his carriage, and
took her to the door of a luxurious _hôtel_ in the _rue de Babylone_.
Giving her a gold key, he bade her open the door, and when she had
given vent to her raptures over the sumptuous rooms and shady garden,
he told her that her servants had already arrived; she was at home—all
was hers.

Tallien had no wish to separate from Térèzia. He cared more for her
than she for him, but he saw that her love was gone; he had failed
with her as with everything else. He submitted, and begged to be
allowed to accompany Napoleon to Egypt, why, no one could understand,
unless he feared he might share the fate of Billaud-Varennes, Collot
d’Herbois, Barère, and other of his regicide friends, meditating at
Cayenne upon the result of the Revolution.[108]

Térèzia remained at Paris, which was soon transformed by the wonderful
genius who rose to supreme power upon the ruins of the chimeras with
which she and her friends had deluded themselves. The men of the
Revolution, regicides and murderers, fled from the country. Napoleon
was an enemy of a different kind from Louis XVI., and he was now the
idol of the people. His strong hand held the reins of government, his
mighty genius dominated the nation and led their armies to victory;
the fierce, unruly populace quailed before him. He scorned the mob and
hated the Revolution.

“Saturday—of _Messidor_!” he exclaimed, when ordering the Moniteur
to be dated on a certain day. “We shall be laughed at! But I will
do away with the Messidor! I will efface all the inventions of the

Barras fled to Brussels; Tallien, his part played out and his power
and position gone, returned to France, the last link broken between
him and Térèzia. He did not wish for a divorce, but he was obliged
to consent to one. And he had himself been one of its most fervent

Napoleon gave him a consulship at Alicante, where he spent some
years. Before he went, Ouvrard offered him the cottage in the
_Champs-Elysées_ and a pension of twelve thousand francs, which he
refused with indignation. He was again a journalist, and would live by
his pen.

He returned to Paris when he left Spain, and lived there, poor,
sickly, and forgotten by all but Térèzia, then Princess de Chimay. She
was nearly his only friend. She visited him often, and though he would
never take money from her, she persuaded him to accept a refuge in
the house in the _Champs-Elysées_ called the _Chaumière_, their first
dwelling in Paris.

For some years Térèzia continued to live at Paris, where she had
witnessed so many transformations and passed through the extremes of
prosperity and adversity.

Many friends were about her; her beauty and fascination were as
remarkable as ever. From numbers of people she met with the affection
and gratitude which, however they might deplore and disapprove of the
laxity of her morals, no one who was not altogether contemptible would
fail to render to a woman who had saved their life or the lives of
those they loved.

Others there were who showed the basest ingratitude. The Marquise de
—— had been saved by Mme. Tallien, and hidden for three weeks in her
boudoir. Not even her maid knew of her presence there. Térèzia herself
not only brought her food and waited upon her, but obtained her
pardon and got part of her fortune restored to her. For some time she
appeared very grateful, and as long as Tallien was powerful she came
constantly to see Térèzia, often asking for fresh favours.

When Tallien had fallen and Napoleon was supreme she ceased to go near

A man of her acquaintance, disgusted by her conduct, remarked one day—

“Mme. Tallien is indignant at your ingratitude; she saved your life,
and I advise you to go and see her.”

To which she replied, “_Comment donc!_ I have a horror of ingratitude.
Of course I intend to go and see her. I owe her a great deal, and I
will prove it by doing so. But you understand that I am obliged to
consider appearances for the sake of my family, and her reputation
forces me to show a reserve which I regret. If you will ask her when I
shall find her alone I shall go and see her at once.”

“Tell her,” said Mme. Tallien, “that I am _désolée_ not to be able to
receive her, but I am never alone, because I am always surrounded by
those to whom I have had the happiness to be of use.”

Mme. de Boufflers, Mme. de Sabran, and their families, on the other
hand, were always assiduous in their attentions to her, and would
refuse other invitations to go to her.

Joséphine, now the wife of Napoleon, and head of society in Paris, had
not forgotten her, and was anxious to receive her at court, but this
Napoleon would not allow, greatly to the disappointment and sorrow of
them both.

Joséphine cried and entreated in vain, pointing out the ingratitude he
was forcing her to display; but though he always retained his private
friendship for Térèzia, he told Joséphine that only respectable women
could be received by the wife of the First Consul.

In 1805 she again married, and this time her husband was in every
respect the incarnation of all that she had hitherto opposed and
objected to.

A royalist, an _emigré_, a Prince; but the only man she never ceased
to love, and of whom she said, “_He_ was her true husband.”

Joseph, Comte de Caraman, who soon after their marriage became
Prince de Chimay, was the third son of the Duc de Caraman, Governor
of Provence. He emigrated with the Princes, and, being an excellent
musician, gained his living by his violin. He established himself at
Hamburg, and there gave lessons.

After the Revolution he returned with the other _emigrés_, and soon
after received the inheritance of his uncle, the fourteenth Prince de
Chimay, and of the Holy Roman Empire and Grandee of Spain.

They went to live at the ancient castle of Chimay,[110] where they led
an intellectual and splendid life, surrounded by the great artists,
musicians, and literary men of the day, and by many devoted friends.
They spent their winters in Brussels, but a bitter drop in Térèzia’s
cup of happiness was the absolute refusal of the King and Queen to
receive her at court. The Prince, who was the King’s Chamberlain, had
to go without her.

He always adored her, saying she was the good genius of his house.
They passed their lives happily together until her death, which took
place at Chimay in January, 1835, surrounded by her children, whom she
adored. They had several besides her former ones, whom she neither
concealed nor separated from.

Tallien’s daughter, one of whose names was “Thermidor,” married a
Narbonne-Pelet. Another daughter, the Marquise de Hallay, inherited
her beauty, and was an extraordinary likeness of herself. One of her
sons, Dr. Edouard Cabarrus, was with her amongst the rest when she
died, and the last words she spoke to her children were in the soft
caressing Spanish of her early youth.


[108] “Notre Dame de Thermidor,” p. 456 (Arsène Houssaye).

[109] “Mémoires de Napoléon” (Bourrienne).

[110] Chimay is in Belgium.




     Birth of Félicité Ducrest—Château de Saint-Aubin—Made
     _chanoinesse_—Story of her uncle and her mother—Her
     childhood—Comes to Paris—Goes into society—Evil reputation of the
     _hôtel Tencin_.

The last of the four French heroines whose histories are here to be
related, differed in her early surroundings and circumstances from the
three preceding ones. She was neither the daughter of a powerful noble
like the Marquise de Montagu, nor did she belong to the _finance_ or
the _bourgeoisie_ like Mme. Le Brun and Mme. Tallien. Her father was
noble but poor, her childhood was spent, not in a great capital but in
the country, and as she was born nearly ten years before the first and
six-and-twenty years before the last of the other three, she saw much
more than they did of the old France before it was swept away by the

Félicité Stéphanie Ducrest de Saint-Aubin was born January 25, 1746,
at Champcéry, a small estate in Burgundy which belonged to her father,
but which two years afterwards he sold, and bought the estate and
_marquisat_[111] of Saint-Aubin on the Loire.

The _château_, built close to the river, was large, picturesque, and
dilapidated, with immense court-yards and crumbling towers; on the
opposite bank was the _Abbaye de Sept-Fonts_, where Félicité and her
brother were often taken for a treat, crossing the Loire in a boat and
dining in the guest-room of the abbey.

These children, of whom she was the elder by a year, were the only
ones who survived of the four born to their parents, and were
devotedly fond of each other; the remembrance of their happy childhood
together in the rambling old _château_ and the great garden with its
terrace over the Loire always remained vividly impressed upon the mind
of Félicité.

They were in the habit of spending part of every summer at Étioles,
with M. le Normand, _fermier général des postes_, husband of Mme. de
Pompadour, then the mistress of Louis XV. After one of these visits,
when Félicité was about six years old, it having been decided to
obtain for her and for one of her little cousins admission into the
order of _chanoinesses_ of the Noble Chapter of Alix; the two children
with their mothers travelled in an immense travelling-carriage called
a _berline_, to Lyon, where they were detained for a fortnight, during
which the _Comtes de Lyon_ examined the genealogical proofs of their
noble descent. Finding them correct and sufficient for their admission
into the order, they proceeded to Alix, at some distance from Lyon;
where, with the huge abbey and church in the centre were, grouped, in
the form of a semi-circle, the tiny houses, each with its little
garden, which were the dwellings of the _chanoinesses_.




On the day of the ceremony the children, dressed in white, were
brought into the church, where the grand prior, after making them
say the creed and answer certain questions, cut off a lock of their
hair, tied a piece of black and white material on their heads, put
a black silk girdle round their waists, and hung round their necks
the red _cordon_ and enamelled cross of the order. After a short
exhortation, followed by high mass, the children were embraced by the
_chanoinesses_, and the day ended with suitable festivities.

The _chanoinesses_ all bore the title of Countess; that chosen
for Félicité was Comtesse de Lancy, her father being Seigneur of

The _chanoinesses_ were free to take vows or not, either at the
prescribed age or later. If they did not, they had only the honour of
the title of Countess and the decorations of the order. If they did,
they got one of the dwellings and a good pension, but they could not
marry, and must spend two out of every three years there; with the
other year they could do as they liked. They might also adopt as a
niece a young _chanoinesse_ on condition she always stayed with them
and took the vows when she was the proper age. Her adopted aunt might
leave her all her jewels, furniture, &c., as well as her little house
and pension. One of them wished to adopt Félicité, but her mother
would not consent. They stayed there six weeks and then went home,
Félicité in despair at leaving the nuns, who petted and loaded her
with bonbons, but much consoled by being called “Madame.”

They then returned to Lyon, where they parted company; Félicité’s aunt
and cousin returning to Paris, while she and her mother went back to

After a time a governess was engaged for her, a certain Mlle. de
Mars, a young girl of sixteen, whose chief instruction was in
music, in which she excelled, but beyond the catechism and a few
elementary subjects, knew little or nothing. She was a gentle, devout,
sweet-tempered girl, and Félicité soon became passionately attached
to her, and as her mother, occupied with her own pursuits and paying
and receiving visits, troubled herself very little about the studies
of her daughter, the child was left almost entirely to Mlle. Mars
and the maids, who, however, were trustworthy women and did her no
harm, beyond filling her head with stories of ghosts with which the
old _château_ might well have been supposed to be haunted. M. de
Saint-Aubin kept a pack of hounds, hunted or fished all day, and
played the violin in the evening. He had been in the army, but had
resigned his commission early in consequence of some foolish scrape.

Félicité’s mother was the daughter of a most odious woman.

She had first married M. de Mézières, a man of talent and learning,
who possessed an estate in Burgundy, and was early left a widow.

After a very few months she married the Marquis de la Haie, who had
been the page and then the lover of the infamous Duchesse de Berri,
eldest daughter of the Regent d’Orléans.

The Marquis was celebrated for his good looks, and was very rich;
but her marriage with him was disastrous for the son and daughter of
her first husband, to whom she took a violent and unnatural dislike.
She sent her son to America to get rid of him when he was thirteen,
and when he arrived there he escaped to Canada, took refuge with
the Indians, and made them understand that he had been abandoned by
his mother and wanted to live with them, to which they consented on
condition of his being tattooed all over.

The courage, strength, and vigour of the boy delighted the Indians,
whose language he soon learned and in whose sports and warlike feats
he excelled. But, unlike most Europeans who have identified themselves
with savages, he did not forget his own language or the education he
had received. Every day he traced upon pieces of bark verses or prose
in French and Latin, or geometrical problems; and so great was the
consideration he obtained among the Indians that when he was twenty
he was made chief of the tribe, then at war with the Spaniards.
Much astonished at the way in which the savages were commanded by
their young leader, the Spaniards were still more surprised when, on
discussing terms of peace, he conversed with them entirely in Latin.
Struck with admiration after hearing his history, they invited him to
enter the Spanish service, which, when he had arranged a satisfactory
treaty for his Indian friends, he did; made a rich marriage, and being
one of those men who are born to lead, rose as rapidly to power
among the Spaniards as among the Indians, and at the end of ten or
twelve years was governor of Louisiana. There he lived in prosperity
and happiness on his estates in a splendid house in which he formed a
magnificent library; and did not visit France until the death of his
cruel mother, after which he spent some time in Paris to the great
satisfaction of his sister and niece. The latter, who was then at the
Palais Royal, describes him as a grave, rather reserved man, of vast
information and capacity. His conversation was intensely interesting
owing to the extent of his reading in French, Spanish, and Latin, and
the extraordinary experiences of his life. He used to dine with her
nearly every day, and through his silk stockings she could see the
tattooed serpents of his Indian tribe. He was an excellent man, for
whom she had the greatest respect and affection.

Mme. de la Haie treated her daughter as badly as her son. She placed
her at six years old in a convent, seldom went to see her, when she
did showed her no sign of affection, and at fourteen insisted upon her
taking the veil. But the irrevocable vows were not to be pronounced
for another year, by which time the young girl declared that they
might carry her to the church but that before the altar she would say
no instead of yes. The Abbess declared that so great a scandal could
not be permitted, the enraged mother had to give way, and the young
girl joyfully resumed the secular clothes now much too small for her.

But she was left to live in the convent without ever leaving it, and
her lot would have been deplorable indeed but for the affection and
sympathy she met with from every one, above all, from the good abbess,
Mme. de Rossgnol, who had taken care of her education, and with whom
she dined and spent the whole day.

Thus time passed on till she was six-and-twenty, when she formed an
intimate friendship with the Marquise de Fontenille, a widow who
had come to live in the convent. M. Ducrest, then _de Champcéry_, a
good-looking man of thirty-seven, who had lately left the army, was
a relation of Mme. de Fontenille, and often came to the _parloir_ to
see her. He also saw Mlle. de Mézières, with whom he fell in love,
and whom he proposed to marry. He had a few hundreds a year, the
small castle of Champcéry, and a little property besides; while Mlle.
de Mézières had less than two thousand pounds, her mother having
seized all the rest of the fortune of her father. But such was her
unnatural spite against her daughter that she refused her consent for
three months, and although she was at last obliged to give it, she
would give neither dot, _trousseau_, nor presents, all of which were
provided by the good Abbess.

She came to the wedding with the son and daughter of her second
marriage; the latter was afterwards the celebrated Mme. de Montesson.
But she managed permanently to cheat her elder daughter out of nearly
the whole of the property of her father, and always behaved to her and
to her children with the most heartless cruelty.

The mania for education which characterised Félicité through life
began at an early age. While still a child she had a fancy to give
instruction to the little boys who came to cut reeds growing by the
pond or moat at the foot of the terrace of the _château_.

As the window of her room looked upon the terrace, and was only five
feet from the ground, she let herself down by a cord, taking care to
choose the days when there was a post, Mlle. de Mars was busy writing
to her friends, and her mother out of the way. Leaning upon the low
wall of the terrace she instructed the little boys who stood below
in what she happened to know herself, _i.e._, the catechism, the
beginning of the principles of music, and certain tragedies which she
and they declaimed, and as these instructions were mingled with cakes,
fruit, and toys which she threw over the wall to them, they were very
well attended, until Mlle. de Mars one day surprised them, and laughed
so heartily at the verses recited in _patois_ by the little boys that
the class came to an end.

From her earliest childhood Félicité had shown a remarkable talent
for music and acting, of which her mother was so proud that she did
her best to spoil the child by bringing her forward on every occasion
to display her talents. She learned to sing, to play the harp, to
recite verses; she was dressed up as an _Amour_ or a Hebe, she acted
Iphigenia and Hector and _Zaire_, and the constant flattery and
notice she received evidently and naturally turned her head and laid
the foundation of that vanity and self-satisfaction which appears so
conspicuously in the records of her life.

When she was about twelve years old she left Burgundy with her mother
and Mlle. de Mars. They travelled partly by boat on the Loire, partly
with their own carriage and horses, to Paris, where they established
themselves, and where Félicité pursued her musical studies with
increased ardour. She must have been a precocious young person, for
when she was eleven years old the son of the neighbouring doctor fell
in love with her, managed to give her a note, which she showed to
Mlle. Mars, and meeting with indignant discouragement, he ran away for
three years, after which he came home and married somebody else.

M. de Saint-Aubin, meanwhile, whose affairs, which grew worse and
worse, were probably not improved by his mismanagement nor by the
residence of his wife and daughter in Paris, stayed in Burgundy,
coming every now and then to see them. Mlle. de Mars had left them,
to the great grief of Félicité, who was now fourteen, and whom the
Baron de Zurlauben, Colonel of the Swiss Guards, was most anxious to
marry; but, as he was eighty years old, she declined his offer, and
also another of a young widower who was only six-and-twenty, extremely
handsome and agreeable, and had a large fortune.

By this time, however, she had made up her mind to marry an _homme
de qualité_, who belonged to the court. What she then wished was to
marry a certain M. de la Popelinière, whom she thought combined the
advantages she desired, though he was nothing more illustrious than a
_fermier général_, besides being an old man. However, her admiration
was not sufficiently returned for him to be of the same opinion.

Since the departure of Mlle. de Mars the vanity and thirst for
admiration fostered by her mother’s foolish education had greatly
increased, but between Mme. de Saint-Aubin and her daughter, though
there was affection, there was neither ease nor confidence; the young
girl was afraid of her mother, but adored her father. The society into
which she was thrown formed her character at an early age, and the
artificial, partly affected, partly priggish tone which is apparent
in all her voluminous writings detracted from the charm of her
undoubtedly brilliant talents.

She already played the harp so remarkably as to excite general
admiration, and amongst those who were anxious to be introduced to and
to hear her was the philosopher d’Alembert.

Félicité was very much flattered when she heard this, and very much
disgusted when she saw him, for he was ugly, common-looking, had a
shrill voice, and told stories that displeased her.

D’Alembert was one of the most constant and intimate _habitués_ of
the _salon_ of Mme. Geoffrin, then the stronghold of the philosophers
and encyclopædists, as that of the Duchesse de Luxembourg was of the
aristocratic _beau monde_.

There was also the _salon_ of Mme. du Deffand, who, while more
decidedly irreligious and atheistical than Mme. Geoffrin, was her
superior in talent, birth, and education, and always spoke of her with
the utmost disdain, as a _bourgeoise_ without manners or instruction,
who did not know how to write, pronounce, or spell correctly, and saw
no reason why people should not talk of _des z’haricots_.

D’Alembert, one of the leading encyclopædists, like most of them,
intensely vain, and about whose origin nothing was known, claimed
to be the illegitimate son of the Marquise de Tencin, of scandalous
reputation. Mme. de Créquy, in her “Souvenirs,” scorns the idea,
saying also that much of the evil spoken of Mme. de Tencin was untrue;
but it is certain that many dark and mysterious rumours clung to the
_hôtel Tencin_, the garden of which extended over what is now the _rue
de la Paix_. Originally intended for the cloister, Mlle. de Tencin
refused to take the vows at Grenoble, and was a conspicuous figure in
the wild orgies of the Regency. An intimate friend of the notorious
John Law, then controller-general of finance, she succeeded, partly by
his influence, in getting her brother made Cardinal and Archbishop of
Embrun, and during his lifetime did the honours of his _hôtel_, where,
during the days of his power, John Law was a leading spirit. Fortunes
were lost and won there in a night, but darker secrets than those of
the gambling table were whispered concerning the _hôtel Tencin_, its
inhabitants and guests. More than ordinary scandals, even in the days
of the Regent Orléans and his shameless daughters, were circulated,
and even the murder of one of her lovers was so far believed that Mme.
de Tencin was arrested, though shortly afterwards acquitted.

After her brother’s death she lost much of her prestige, and held her
_salon_ in the _rue St. Honoré_, most of her _habitués_, after her
death, transferring themselves to the house of Mme. Geoffrin.


[111] An estate which carried a title with all the _seigneuriaux_


     M. de la Haie—Death of the Dauphin—M. de Saint-Aubin goes to St.
     Domingo—Taken prisoner by the English—Returns to France—Imprisoned
     for debt—His death—Difficulties and poverty—Félicité marries the
     Comte de Genlis—His family—The Abbesse de Montivilliers and the
     robbers—Life in the convent—Birth of a daughter.

The Marquis de la Haie, uncle of Félicité by the second marriage
of her grandmother, strongly disapproved of the way in which his
mother treated his half-sister and her children. He vainly tried to
influence her to behave better to them, and showed them much kindness
and affection himself. Unfortunately he was killed at the battle of
Minden. A strange fatality was connected with him, the consequences of
which can scarcely be appreciated or comprehended. He was one of the
_gentilhommes de la manche_[112] to the Duc de Bourgogne, eldest son
of the Dauphin, and _elder brother of Louis XVI._, who was extremely
fond of him. One day he was playing with the boy, and in trying
to lift him on to a wooden horse he let him fall. Terrified at the
accident, and seeing that the Prince had not struck his head, had no
wound nor fracture nor any apparent injury, he begged him not to tell
any one what had happened. The Duc de Bourgogne promised and kept his
word, but from that day his health began to fail. None of the doctors
could find out what was the matter with him, but, in fact, he was
suffering from internal abscesses, which ultimately caused his death.
Not till after La Haie had fallen at Minden did he confess, “It is he
who was the cause of my illness, but I promised him not to tell.”

This young Prince possessed talent and spirit. Had not his life been
sacrificed, the weak, unfortunate Louis XVI. would never have been
King, and who can tell how vast might have been the difference in the
course of events?

Mme. de Saint-Aubin had found an old friend from her convent, Mme.
de Cirrac, who introduced her to her sister, the Duchesse d’Uzès,
and others, to whose houses they were constantly invited to supper,
but the young girl, with more perception than her mother, began to
perceive, in spite of all the admiration lavished upon her, that it
was her singing and playing the harp that procured her all these
invitations, and that she could not afford to dress like those with
whom she now associated, and this spoilt her pleasure in going out.
While her mother was in this way striving to lead a life they could
not afford, her father, whose affairs grew more and more unprosperous,
went to St. Domingo on business.

He did no good, and on his way home was taken prisoner by the English
and carried to England. There, amongst other French prisoners,
he met the young Comte de Genlis, an officer in the navy who had
distinguished himself at Pondicherry, been desperately wounded, and
gained the cross of St. Louis. They became great friends, and M. de
Genlis expressing great admiration for a miniature of Félicité which
her father constantly wore, M. de Saint-Aubin poured into his ears the
manifold perfections of his daughter, and read to him the letters he
frequently received from her. When M. de Genlis soon afterwards was
set free, he used all the means in his power to obtain the release of
his friend, and, in the meanwhile, called upon Mme. de Saint-Aubin
at Paris, bringing letters from M. de Saint-Aubin, who three weeks
afterwards was set at liberty, and returned to France; but his affairs
were in such a state that he was induced to give a bill which, when
it fell due, he could not meet. Six hundred francs was all that was
required to execute the payment, and Mme. de Saint-Aubin wrote to
her half-sister, who had married a rich old man, M. de Montesson,
asking her to give or lend her money. She refused to do so, and M. de
Saint-Aubin was arrested and imprisoned. His wife and daughter spent
every day with him for a fortnight, at the end of which, the money
being paid, he was released. But his health seemed to decline, and
soon afterwards he was seized with a fever which ended fatally, to the
inexpressible grief of Félicité, who always laid his death at the door
of Mme. de Montesson, whether with justice or not it is impossible to
say, though, at any rate, her refusal to help the sister who had been
so shamefully treated, and who was in distress, sounds exceedingly

Félicité and her mother took refuge in an apartment lent them by
a friend in a Carmelite convent in the _rue Cassette_, where they
received the visits of different friends in the _parloir_. Amongst
the most assiduous was the Baron d’Andlau, a friend of the late M.
de Saint-Aubin, a man of sixty, very rich and of a distinguished
family. He wished to marry Félicité, who refused him, but so great
were the advantages of such an alliance that her mother desired her to
reconsider the matter. As she still declined, he turned his attentions
to her mother, and married her at the end of a year and a half.

Meanwhile they stayed on at the convent, where Mme. de Saint-Aubin
embroidered and wrote romances, one of which she sent to Voltaire,
who wrote her several flattering letters; Félicité played the harp
to amuse the nuns and to assist in the services of the chapel, made
friendships in the convent, and adored the good sisters, who passed
their time in devotion and charity, and amongst whom reigned the most
angelic harmony and peace.

When they were obliged to give up their rooms in this convent, they
moved to that of St. Joseph, in which Mme. de Saint-Aubin hired an

Mme. du Deffand then occupied one in another part of the building,
but at that time they had no acquaintance with her. The philosophers
and the atheistic set had never at any time in her life the least
attraction for Félicité, who held their irreligious opinions in

Very near this convent lived the sister of her father, the Marquise de
Sercey, and her family, with whom she spent much of her time.

The young Marquis, her cousin, was starting for St. Domingo, and the
day before his departure a _fête de famille_ took place, exceedingly
characteristic of the France of the eighteenth century.

Félicité composed some verses all about flowers and friendship, which
were pronounced to be “very touching,” and which she sang dressed
up as a shepherdess, having first presented him with a bouquet. She
next appeared in a Spanish costume singing a romance composed by her
mother, and finally she played the harp, which seems to come in like a
chorus throughout all her eventful life.

Meanwhile, she and M. de Genlis had fallen in love with each other,
and resolved to marry. As he had neither father nor mother, there
was nobody whose consent he was absolutely bound to ask; but a
powerful relation, M. de Puisieux, who was the head of his family,
had already, with his consent, begun to negotiate his marriage with
a rich young girl. Instead of telling M. de Puisieux the state of
the case while there was still time to retire without difficulty,
M. de Genlis said nothing, but proposed that they should at once
marry secretly, to which neither Félicité nor her relations seem to
have made any objection. She had no money, and had refused all the
marriages proposed to her; here was a man she did like, and who was in
all respects unexceptionable, only that he was not well off. But his
connections were so brilliant and influential that they could soon put
that right, and it was agreed that the marriage should take place from
the house of the Marquise de Sercey.

It was celebrated in the parish church at midnight, and the day was
publicly announced, and the young Countess and her harp consigned to
the care of her husband.

The announcement caused a tremendous uproar in his family, and the
only relations who would have anything to do with them were the Count
and Countess de Balincourt, who called at once and took a fancy to the
young wife, who was only seventeen, clever, accomplished, attractive,
and pretty. Mme. de Montesson also, pleased with the marriage of her
niece, paid them an early visit, liked M. de Genlis, and invited them
to her house.

But the other relations of M. de Genlis would neither return his
calls, answer his letters, nor receive him, with the exception of his
elder brother, the Marquis de Genlis, who invited them to go down to
Genlis, which they did a few days after their wedding.

The young Comte de Genlis had left the navy, by the advice of M.
de Puisieux, who had got him made a Colonel of the _Grenadiers de
France_.[113] He had only a small estate worth about four hundred a
year and the prospect of a share in the succession to the property of
his grandmother, the Marquise de Droménil, who was eighty-seven and
lived at Reims.

M. de Puisieux was furious at being not only deceived and treated
without consideration, but actually made a fool of, and that he was by
no means a person to be trifled with the elder brother of the Comte de
Genlis had found to his cost.

No lad ever started in life with more brilliant prospects than the
Marquis. At fifteen he already possessed the large estate of Genlis,
free from debt or mortgage, that of Sillery was settled upon him, and
he was already a colonel, owing to the influence of M. de Puisieux,
his guardian, and a great favourite of Louis XV.

“Conduct yourself properly,” said he; “you will make a great marriage.
Being colonel at your age, you have a splendid military career before
you, and as I look upon you as my son I will get the King to make
Sillery into a duchy on the occasion of your marriage.”

All this was a certainty supposing he had possessed the most moderate
talents, and behaved with common decency. But at seventeen he was
already notorious, even at the court of Louis XV., for his vicious
life; an incorrigible gambler, and over head and ears in debt. His
guardian reproached him, and his debts were paid, but the same thing
kept happening until, when he was twenty years old, he lost in one
night five hundred thousand francs, his debts besides amounting to
another hundred thousand.

Having lost patience, and seeing nothing but ruin before him, M. de
Puisieux appealed to the King, got a _lettre de cachet_, and shut
up his hopeful ward at the Château de Saumur, where he remained for
five years, while half of what he owed was being paid off. At the
end of this time he was ordered to Genlis, where an allowance of
fifteen thousand francs was made to him while the remainder of his
debts were gradually paid, after which he was allowed to spend three
months of the year at Paris, but M. de Puisieux refused to remove
the “interdict” until he had made a good marriage. That the _lettres
de cachet_ had their abuses is incontestable, but they had their
advantages too.

Félicité found the Marquis very pleasant, frivolous, amusing,
light-hearted, and of unalterable good temper.

Some weeks after their marriage the Comte de Genlis had to rejoin his
regiment, which was at Nancy, and as it was then not the custom for
officers’ wives to accompany them, and he thought Félicité too young
to be left by herself at a court such as that of Louis XV., he decided
to take an apartment for her at Origny, in a convent where he had
relations, as people often did in such cases.

Félicité cried bitterly when her husband left her, but she soon dried
her tears, and made herself happy in her new home. She had charming
rooms in the interior of the conventual buildings, which were immense;
she had her maid with her, and her manservant was lodged with those
of the Abbess in the exterior part of the abbey. She dined with the
Abbess, and her _déjeuner_ was brought to her own apartment, which
consisted, of course, of several rooms.

The abbey was very beautiful, and there were more than a hundred nuns
besides the lay sisters and the _pensionnaires_ (children and young
girls being educated there).

The Abbess was always of a noble family, the one at that time being
Mme. de Sabran, and although no proofs were exacted, the nuns nearly
all belonged to families of good blood.

Each nun had a comfortable cell, and a pretty little garden of her own
in the enclosure of the vast garden of the abbey. One nun, who was
considered especially fortunate, had in her garden a rock from which
came a spring of delicious water.

The Abbess might receive in her apartment and at dinner whatever
guests she chose, men or women, but no men might go to the cloisters
or any other part of the abbey. She had a carriage, horses, and
servants of her own, and might go out when and where she pleased,
taking with her any nuns she chose. She often drove to see different
farms, &c., belonging to the abbey, and to visit sick people.

The state and power of some of these abbesses, and the comfortable,
cheerful security of their lives at that time made the position
much sought after. It was a splendid provision for the daughters of
great houses, and a happy life enough if they did not wish to marry.
The following anecdote is given by Mme. de Créquy, and, although it
happened rather earlier in the eighteenth century, perhaps forty or
fifty years before the time now in question, it is so characteristic
of the state of things that still prevailed that it may not be out of
place to give it.

The Abbesse de Montivilliers was one of the greatest abbesses in
France, and was at the time this happened Mme. du Froulay, whose
niece, Mme. de Créquy, then a _pensionnaire_ in the abbey, relates the

“The _huissiers_ and _valets de porte_, who lived outside the
enclosure, had permitted a poor beggar to take shelter every night
under a lofty arch leading into the first court of the abbey. He was
an unfortunate man, who had neither arms nor legs, and a poor woman,
young and, they said, almost pretty, used to come and fetch him each
morning with a sort of wheelbarrow, and establish him on the high road
to beg. They had bread, soup, and cider given them at the abbey, but
very often did not finish them.

“Two murders had been committed upon that same high road; the tribunal
of the Abbess had discovered nothing, and terror spread through the
country-side.... The peasants declared they were committed by evil

“One autumn night, after ten o’clock, the beggar had not come in.
They supposed the woman who took care of him had neglected to fetch
him, and charitably waited till half-past. The sister cellarer sent
for the keys, to take them, as usual, to the prioress, who would put
them under her pillow. She was a demoiselle de Toustain, who, _par
parenthèse_, had had the golden ball of her prioress’s staff engraved
with the motto of her family, ‘_Tous-teints-de-sang_’ (‘All stained
with blood’), which my aunt had thought out of place on an emblem of
religious and pastoral office. She had remarked to the Prioress,
‘My dear daughter, a war-cry is always improper for a bride of Jesus

“Instead of the keys of the abbey strange news was brought to Mme. de
Toustain. A rich and vigorous farmer had just been attacked on the
high road. He had stunned with his club one of his assailants whom the
soldiers of the maréchaussée had brought with his accomplice to the
archway. They asked for the prison to be opened to put them in, and
for the farmer to be allowed to pass the night in the precincts, that
he might not fall into the hands of the other robbers. The Prioress
having replied that it was too late, they woke the Abbess, who ordered
all the doors to be opened that the brigadier required, but the old
Prioress was so obstinate about the rules that the Abbess had to get
up herself and demand the keys, which otherwise she would not give up.

“As an Abbess of Montivilliers is not rigorously cloistered, my aunt,
who was perfectly charitable and courageous, thought herself obliged
to go out to the first court, and did so, at any rate with a _cortège_
suitable to her dignity.

“She was preceded by a cross-bearer between two acolytes bearing
tall candles, and followed by a dozen assistants, with veils down
and crossed hands; all the lay sisters of the abbey were ranged
round their ladies in large grey capes, carrying lighted torches in
those beautiful gothic lanterns, with the arms of the royal abbeys
emblazoned in stained glass, which are used in processions at night
round the cloisters. Never in modern romances have I seen anything so
romantic and picturesque as that nocturnal scene.

“Mme. de Montivilliers ordered the gates of the prison to be thrown
open, which no one but herself would have dared to do against the
orders of the Prioress. She gave shelter and a cordial to the brave
farmer, and ordered her surgeon to examine the wounded robber, who was
a young man dressed in woman’s clothes, and it was then learned from
the farmer that the other criminal was that infernal beggar who had
been sheltered beneath the porch of the abbey, before which he now lay
on a litter waiting to be put in the dungeon. He had the torso of a
giant, but no legs or arms, only a kind of stump of one arm. His head
was enormous....

“When everything was disposed for the general safety Mme. de
Montivilliers raised her veil, and every one knelt to receive her

The robbers, who were both executed, were father and son. Their plan
was for the cripple to beg for money to be dropped into his hat, then
with his stump he pulled down a heavy weight hung in the tree above
him which stunned the victim, who was then finished by the other. The
farmer had been too quick for them. In the hollow or small cellar
under the arch where he slept were found gold, ornaments, hair cut
off the nuns, which was always sold for the profit of the Order of
the Saint-Rosaire, daggers, and knives. How he got them all was never

The young Comtesse de Genlis was very happy at Origny, and amused
herself like a child amongst the nuns. She ran about the corridors at
night dressed like the devil, with horns; she put rouge and patches
on the nuns while they were asleep, and they got up and went down to
the services in the church in the night without seeing themselves thus
decorated; she gave suppers and dances amongst the nuns and pupils to
which no men were, of course, admitted; she played many tricks, and
wrote constantly to her husband and mother, the latter of whom came
to spend six weeks with her. When her husband came back they went to
Genlis, where her brother, who had just gone into the Engineers, paid
them a long visit, to her great joy.

Then they went to Paris, where her first child, a daughter, was born.


[112] An office in the household of the eldest son of the heir to the
throne, only given to young men of distinction. It was abolished after
the death of the Duc de Bourgogne. It was the same as _les menins du
Dauphin_ under Louis XIV.

[113] The Grenadiers de France had twenty-four colonels.


     Presentation at Versailles—La Rosière—Father and son—Mme. de
     Montesson—A terrible scene—The Comtesse de Custine—Mme. de Genlis
     enters the Palais Royal.

After her confinement the Maréchale d’Etrée came to see Félicité,
brought her a present of beautiful Indian stuffs, and said that her
parents, M. and Mme. de Puisieux, would have the pleasure of receiving
her when she was recovered. Also that Mme. de Puisieux would present
her at Versailles.

To this she looked forward with some trepidation, being dreadfully
afraid of Mme. de Puisieux, who at first did not like her, and was
extremely stiff. She drove down to Versailles in her carriage alone
with her, Mme. de Puisieux saying very little, but criticising the way
she did her hair. They slept at Versailles, in the splendid apartment
of the Maréchal d’Etrée, who was very kind and pleasant to Félicité,
and with whom she felt more at home. The next day she was obliged to
spend such an enormous time at her toilette that by the time they
started she was nearly tired out. Her hair was dressed three times
over; everything was the object of some tiresome fuss, to which
policy obliged her to submit in silence.

At last, however, it was finished, and she stood in the presence of
Louis XV. He was no longer young, but she thought him handsome and
imposing. He had intensely blue eyes, a short but not brusque manner
of speaking, and something royal and majestic about his whole bearing
which distinguished him from other men. He talked a great deal to Mme.
de Puisieux, and made complimentary remarks about Félicité, after
which they were presented to the Queen, who was lying in a reclining
chair, already suffering from the languor of the fatal illness
caused by the recent death of her son, the Dauphin. Then came the
presentation to Mesdames, and to the “Children of France,” and in the
evening they went to the “_jeu de Mesdames_.”

After this Félicité and her husband returned to Genlis, where they
spent the summer with the Marquis and the wife he had recently married.

They passed their time in all the amusements of the _vie de château_
in those days.

The brothers went out shooting; there were visits, dances, village
_fêtes_; they dressed up, wrote verses, acted plays, and went to see
the “Rosière,” an institution which, in this century, would be an
impossibility, and which even then many people were beginning to find
silly and useless, as may be shown by the remarks of a M. de Matigny,
a magistrate and _bailli_, who was staying in the house for some
theatricals, and whom they tried to persuade to stop another day.

“I can’t,” he said. “I am obliged to go to another village.”

“What for?”

“Oh! for that nonsense they do every year.”

“What nonsense?”

“I have to go there as a judge to hear all the rubbish and gossip you
can imagine for forty-eight hours.”

“What about?”

“A most stupid thing, as I will tell you. It is not to adjudge a
house, or a field, or an inheritance, but a rose!”

“How? A rose? You are to give a rose?”

“Eh! _Mon Dieu!_ Yes, it is I who have to decide this important
affair. It is an old custom established there in barbarous times. It
is astonishing that, in a century so enlightened as ours, they should
not have done away with a folly that gives me a journey of ten or
twelve leagues every summer, through abominable cross-lanes, for I
have to make two journeys for that absurdity.”

“A rose does not seem to me particularly barbarous. But who do you
give it to?”

“To the peasant girl declared to be the most virtuous and obedient to
her parents.”

“And they assemble to give her a rose in public?”

“Yes. A fine reward for a poor creature who perhaps has not bread
to eat, isn’t it? I shall have to go to-morrow to hear the evidence
... and again in a month for what they call the coronation. It might
amuse you to see it once.... But the strangest thing is the importance
these good people attach to the ceremony, and the exultation of
the relations of the ‘_rosière_.’ One would think they had gained a
valuable prize. It may amuse one for the moment, but when one has to
see it every year, it is a ridiculous thing for a reasonable man.”

Félicité soon managed to make friends with all her husband’s
relations. M. and Mme. de Puisieux not only got over their prejudice
against her, but were devoted to her. She spent months together with
them at Sillery, and was a great deal with them at Paris, where her
great delight was to know every one who could remember the court of
Louis XIV., for which she had the most ardent admiration.

There were, of course, still those to be met with whose appearance,
manners, and ways recalled that stately, magnificent court, which long
afterwards was the _beau ideal_ Napoleon vainly tried to realise.
Amongst others was the Duc de Richelieu, one of the most brilliant,
the most polished, the most dissipated, and the most heartless figures
of the courts of Louis XIV. and Louis XV. His son, the Duc de Fronsac,
was, though not equally attractive, quite as vicious as his father,
and they entertained for each other a hatred they generally veiled, at
any rate in public, under the most polished sarcasm.

On one occasion the Duc de Richelieu so far departed from his usual
habit as to recommend to the Duc de Fronsac a lad who bore a strong
resemblance to himself, begging him to give him a post in his
household and look after him. Fronsac, struck with jealousy of this
_protégé_ of his father’s, did all he could to corrupt and ruin him,
taught him to be a gambler and reprobate, and finally led him into
collision with himself in some love intrigue, challenged him to a
duel, and killed him.

Shortly afterwards, passing his father in the great gallery at
Versailles, the Duc de Richelieu said to him—

“Monsieur, you have killed your brother.”

“I knew it,” replied Fronsac, and passed on.

Within the first few years of her marriage, Félicité had three
children—two girls and a boy.

The Comte de Genlis passed part of his time with her and the rest with
his regiment, during which Félicité lived at Paris or stayed with his
relations, chiefly the de Puisieux, leading a life of gaiety mingled
with study and music, and going constantly into society, which has,
perhaps, never been equalled in fascination and charm.

Her aunt, Mme. de Montesson, had, since her marriage, been on very
friendly and intimate terms with her, although the two had never any
real affection for each other, and now, M. de Montesson having died,
his widow was aiming at nothing less than becoming the Duchess of
Orléans, and found her niece a most useful and sympathetic confidant.
For it had suited Mme. de Montesson to have a niece so well placed
in society and so much sought after as the young Comtesse de Genlis.
Félicité, on her part, was by no means blind to the advantage of
having her aunt married to the first prince of the blood, and did
everything in her power to forward her plans. The Duke had long
been an admirer of Mme. de Montesson, who encouraged his devotion,
was continually in his society, but had no intention whatever that
their love-making should end in any way but one. It was an ambition
that seemed barred with almost insuperable difficulties, and yet it
succeeded, though not to the full extent she desired.

The excellent M. de Puisieux died, and Félicité found her life still
more taken up by his widow, with whom she now passed much of her time.
Just then took place the marriage of the Duc de Berri, now Dauphin,
with the Archduchess Marie Antoinette. Mme. de Puisieux would not go
herself, but sent Félicité to see the fireworks in the _place Louis

As M. de Genlis was with his regiment, she went with a friend, the
Marquise de Brugnon, who was also young and pretty, MM. de Bouzolle
and de Nedonchel. A room had been lent them on the ground floor of
a new house from which to see the _fête_, and, fearing there would
be a great crowd, they arrived directly after dinner. There was some
delay before the fireworks began, and Félicité, who was, with all
her talents, very often extremely silly and affected, declared that
she had waited so long she did not care to see the fireworks, and
persisted in keeping her eyes shut until they were over.

The two gentlemen then went to look for the carriage, which had not
come. They were away a long time. A fearful noise seemed to be going
on in the _place Louis XV._, and when, after midnight, they did
return, they assured the anxious, rather frightened young women that
they could not find either carriage or servants, that the crowd was
fearful, and there would be no chance of getting away for at least
two hours, so they had brought them some cakes and a chicken for
supper. They did not tell them of the fire, the horrible confusion,
and the people being crushed to death in the _place_. But presently
groans and cries were heard just under their window, and, looking out,
they saw two old ladies in full evening dress, with _paniers_—the
Marquise d’Albert and the Comtesse de Renti, who, while trying to get
to their carriage, had got separated from their servants and carried
along by the crowd. As it was impossible to get them to the door, they
leaned out of the window and drew them up with great difficulty. Mme.
d’Albert was covered with blood, as some one in the crowd had snatched
out one of her diamond ear-rings.

Their carriage never came, so Mme. de Genlis had to take them home in
hers, which appeared about two o’clock, and it was half-past three
when she arrived at the _hôtel de Puisieux_, where everybody was up
and in a fever of anxiety, thinking she was killed, for they knew what
she did not, that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of persons had perished.

Mme. de Puisieux was in tears on the staircase, and saw her come
in with transports of joy. She had, for the first time since her
widowhood, gone to supper with Mme. d’Egmont, daughter of the Duc
de Richelieu, close to whose _hôtel_ there was a _corps de garde_,
to which numbers of bodies had been brought. The next day was one
of desolation, especially among the artisans and the people of the
lower classes, most of whom had lost some relative or friend. Mme. de
Genlis’s maid had to go to the Morgue to identify the body of her
sister; the _maître d’hôtel_ lost a cousin. The _place Louis XV._,
fated to be the scene of the murder of Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette,
and so many innocent victims, had been a scene of death and horror at
the celebration of their wedding _fêtes_. No wonder people said it was
an unlucky beginning, especially those who were only too glad to find
evils attending the Austrian marriage.[114]

The enthusiasm of Félicité for the court of Louis XIV. found worthier
objects of admiration than the Duc de Richelieu, in the excellent
Maréchal de Balincourt, and his friends, the Maréchal de Biron and
the Marquis de Carrillac. This last was ninety-one years old, Biron
was eighty-six or seven, and Balincourt not more than seventy. He
used to speak with envy of Biron, saying: “He was thirty years old at
the death of the late king.” When hearing them talk together she felt
herself transported into the days of that magnificent reign.

They had all of them the stately courtesy, the chivalrous gallantry,
and the delicate sense of honour which made them so bright a contrast
to the vice and depravity around them.

Just after the last recorded incidents Félicité experienced a
great sorrow in the loss of her friend, the Comtesse de Custine,
an angelic woman, who, in spite of her beauty and youth (she was
only twenty-four), lived as far as she could apart from the world,
fearing the corruption and vice around her, and devoting herself
to her religious and domestic duties. Her husband, who adored her,
was necessarily absent with his regiment for long periods. Her
brother-in-law, the Vicomte de Custine, of a character as bad as
that of his brother was admirable, professed openly the most violent
passion for Mme. de Genlis, who did not care at all for him, gave
him no encouragement, but was rather flattered by the excess of his
devotion and despair.

When the Comtesse de Custine died, after a short illness, her husband
was away with his regiment, and did not arrive in time to see her
alive. During the first days of his despair, while looking over her
papers, he came upon a packet of letters which proved beyond all doubt
the infamous treachery of the Vicomte, who had made his pretended love
for Mme. de Genlis a shield to hide his real passion for his brother’s
wife, which had been the horror and torment of her life, and which she
had dreaded to reveal to her husband, whose temper was violent when

For some time Félicité had been wishing to obtain a place at court,
and it had been suggested that she should be placed in the household
of the comtesse de Provence, whose marriage with the second _fils de
France_ was about to take place.

But her aunt, Mme. de Montesson, was most anxious that she should
enter the service of the Duc de Chartres, who was the eldest son
of the Duc d’Orléans, and very much opposed to Mme. de Montesson’s
designs upon him.

It appeared after a time that the post in the household of
the Comtesse de Provence was not attainable, and in the first
disappointment of this refusal, Mme. de Montesson told her niece that
she had only to ask and she would receive an appointment at the Palais

Mme. de Custine, whom she consulted, was absolutely opposed to it,
and after urging the strongest reasons against it, added that it was
evidently her duty to stay and take care of Mme. de Puisieux as long
as she lived.

However, she allowed herself to be persuaded: she went with her
aunt constantly to Raincy, the country place just bought by the Duc
d’Orléans; she was attracted by the gentle, charming Duchesse de
Chartres, she listened to the representations of the advantages she
might secure for her children, and at length she laid the case before
Mme. de Puisieux, who, unselfishly putting away the consideration of
her own grief at their separation, and thinking only of the advantages
to Félicité and her family, advised her to accept the position offered

Félicité seems, however, to have always considered that she made
a mistake, or, indeed, as she says, committed a fault, one of the
greatest in her life, by doing so; if so, it does not appear to be
a surprising one, as the plan certainly would have offered strong
attractions and inducements even to a woman less vain and ambitious
than she was, but it is certain that it caused many calamities and
exercised an evil influence for which no advantages could compensate.
She left the _hôtel de Puisieux_ before Madame was up in the morning,
as she dreaded the parting, and as her apartment in the Palais Royal
was not ready she was lodged in one that had belonged to the Regent,
with a door into the _rue de Richelieu_. She nearly had an accident
before she got out of the carriage, and felt low-spirited and unhappy,
wishing herself back in her own room at the _hôtel de Puisieux_ as she
looked round the luxurious boudoir lined with mirrors, which she did
not like at all, and which seemed associated with the orgies of the
Regency, of which it had been the scene.

She felt that she had exchanged security, the protection of a
beautiful and well-ordered home, and the society of those she loved
and respected, for dependence and danger.


[114] In an old German town is a large and ancient house belonging to
one of the principal families of the place. It contains a beautiful
ball-room in the Venetian style, white and gold, with numbers of
mirrors. But it is never used, being supposed to be unlucky, as the
only occasions on which people have danced there were two: first, when
Marie Antoinette passed through the town to be married to the Dauphin,
when the room, which had been decorated on purpose for her, was only
just finished in time, the Italian workmen leaving the ball-room as
she entered it. The second time it was used was by Marie Louise, her
niece, as she was on her way to marry the Emperor Napoleon. I have
myself seen the room and been told the story.—Note by Author.


     Society of the Palais Royal—Philippe-Égalité—An Apparition—Mlle.
     Mars—M. Ducrest—Marriage of Mme. de Montesson—Marly—The Prime
     Minister of France.

The society of the Palais Royal was at that time the most brilliant
and witty in Paris, and she soon became quite at home there. The
Comtesse de Blot, lady of honour to the Duchesse de Chartres, was
pleasant enough when she was not trying to pose as a learned woman, at
which times her long dissertations were tiresome and absurd; she was
also ambitious, and what was worse, avaricious.

Mme. de Clermont had been married at fifteen to the Comte de Choisi,
who was much older than herself, and of whom she was dreadfully
afraid; but he was killed at the battle of Minden, and she had just
married the Comte de Clermont, who was deeply in love with her. She
was young, pretty, very capricious, and a friend of Mme. de Montesson,
and with all her faults never dull or tiresome, but full of merry
talk and amusing stories; the Comtesse de Polignac and the Marquise
de Barbantour were also among the ladies of the household with whom
Félicité was now associated; two much older ones were the Comtesses de
Rochambault and de Montauban.

The Duchesse de Chartres, _née_ Mlle. de Penthièvre, was an angel
of goodness and kindness. She had conceived so violent a passion
for the Duc de Chartres, when she had met him for the first time,
that she declared she would either marry him or take the veil. It
was a most unfortunate choice to have been made, especially by so
saintly a personage, for the court and society of Louis XV. did not
include a more corrupt and contemptible character than the notorious

The attraction he felt for Mme. de Genlis, which had such a powerful
influence upon her life and so disastrous an effect upon her
reputation, had not begun when she first took up her abode at the
Palais Royal.

It was said by his illegitimate brothers, MM. de Saint-Far and
Saint-Albin, to have begun on a certain evening when a quadrille
arranged by Mme. de Genlis, in which each couple represented proverbs,
went to the Opera ball, as the custom of those days permitted, and was
suddenly disarranged by an enormous cat, which, mewing and clawing,
rolled itself suddenly into the midst of the dancers. The cat proved
to be a little Savoyard boy, dressed up in fur, dreadfully frightened
at the abuse and kicks he received.

This elegant trick was traced to the Duc de Chartres and his friends;
and the good temper and general demeanour of Mme. de Genlis on this
provoking occasion struck the Duke with admiration and compunction.
Philippe-Égalité, contemptible as his disposition undoubtedly was, had
also been very badly brought up, and when he was fifteen his father
had given him a mistress who was afterwards notorious as Mlle. Duthé;
he was always surrounded with a group of the fastest young men at
court, the Chevalier de Coigny, MM. de Fitz-James, de Conflans, &c.

“The social existence of Mme. de Genlis,” writes Mme. d’Abrantès,[115]
“is always a problem difficult to resolve; it is composed of a
mass of contradictions, one more extraordinary than the other. Of
a noble family, whose name and alliances gave her the right to be
_chanoinesse_ of the Chapter of Alix, she was called until her
marriage Comtesse de Lancy. She married M. de Genlis, a man of high
rank, nearly related to most of the great families in the kingdom,
and yet Mme. de Genlis had never in society the attitude of a _grande
dame_.... The important part this woman played in the destinies of
France is of such a nature that one must notice it, more especially as
she denies a mass of facts, the most notorious of the time in which
her name is mixed up, ... pretending never to have spoken to men of
whom she must not only have been an acquaintance but a friend. Long
before the first outbursts of the Revolution, Mme. de Genlis helped to
prepare the influence which afterwards burst like an accursed bomb,
covering with its splinters even the woman who had prepared the wick
and perhaps lighted the match.

“It was an eccentric existence that she led in her youth, it must be
confessed. That wandering, restless life had a character all the more
strange because at that time it was so unusual; going perpetually
from one _château_ to another, roaming about the country disguised as
a peasant, playing tricks on everybody, eating raw fish, playing the
harp like Apollo, dancing, acting, fencing....”

And now she was _dame pour accompagner_ to the Duchesse de Chartres,
and her influence was soon felt in the society of the Palais Royal.

On the nights when there was an opera, the Palais Royal was open to
any one who had been presented there. The first invitation to supper
meant a standing one for those days, therefore the Palais Royal was
then crowded with guests; and on other evenings the _petits soupers_,
generally consisting of eighteen or twenty guests, were composed of
those of the intimate society of the Duke and Duchess, who also had a
general invitation.

The Duchesse de Chartres continued for a long time very fond of
Mme. de Genlis, who was exceedingly attractive, not only because of
her beauty, talents, and accomplishments, but because she was so
interesting and amusing that it was impossible to be dull in her
company. And though she had many faults she had also many excellent
qualities. She was very affectionate and kind to those for whom she
really cared, she was charitable, good tempered, and courageous; her
reputation so far was good, and her respect for religion made her
shun the atheistical philosophic set whose opinions on those points
she detested. One friend she had among them, the Comte de Schomberg,
was an exception to this rule. He was a friend of Voltaire, and a
pronounced atheist, but it was an understood thing that no religious
subject should be discussed between them, and no word of impiety
spoken in her presence. The events of the Revolution converted M. de
Schomberg, and he died some years after it an ardent Christian.

Many of these disbelievers in Christianity were terribly afraid of
ghosts. “_Je n’y crois pas, mais je les redoute_,” as somebody once

She made one or two journeys to Holland and Belgium when she wished
for a change, but in 1775 a terrible grief overtook her, in the death
of her son, now five years old. The children were living near, and
her mother was then with them when she herself caught measles, and as
often happens when they are taken later in life than is usual, she was
extremely ill, and it was impossible to tell her that her children had
the same complaint.


  _E. H. Bearne_


M. de Genlis, who had also a post at the Palais Royal, was nursing
her, and her mother came every day to see her.

The child died at five o’clock one morning. “At the same hour,” she
writes, “of the same day, I was alone with my nurse, and, raising my
eyes to the canopy of my bed, I distinctly saw my son in the form of
an angel ... holding out his arms to me. This vision, without exciting
any suspicions, caused me great surprise. I rubbed my eyes several
times, but always saw the same figure. My mother and M. de Genlis
came at about eleven; they were overcome with grief, but I was not
surprised, for I knew I was ill enough to make them very anxious. I
could not help looking always at the canopy of my bed with a sort of
shudder, and my mother, knowing that I was afraid of spiders, asked
if I saw one ... at last I said I would not tell them what I saw lest
they should think my brain was deranged, but they pressed me until I
told them.”

They concealed the calamity for five weeks, and then brought her a
miniature of the child as an angel.

Félicité recovered, and went to Spa, and to travel in Belgium. After
her return, as she was walking one day in the Palais Royal gardens,
she met a young girl with a woman of seven or eight and thirty, who
stopped and gazed at her with an earnest look. Suddenly she exclaimed—

“It is Mlle. Mars!” Embracing each other with joy, they arranged to
meet the following day, and Mlle. Mars presented herself accordingly
at the Palais Royal, where they spent the morning talking of old times
and of present circumstances. Mlle. Mars was not very happy where she
now lived, and Félicité succeeded in placing her as governess to the
children of the Princess Louise de Condé, meanwhile seeing her every
day. She married soon afterwards.

About this time she arranged for her brother an excellent marriage
which turned out very happily. She had the young people to live with
her at first, and M. de Genlis was extremely kind to them; but at the
end of some months Mme. de Montesson, in whom she had contrived to
arouse an interest in them, took them to live permanently with her.

As Saint-Aubin had long been sold, her brother now called himself M.

In her “Memoirs,” Mme. de Genlis says that the years she spent at the
Palais Royal were the most brilliant and the most unhappy of her life.

The brilliant social success, and the life, a perpetual scene of
pleasure, excitement and intense interest, were chequered with all
sorts of annoyances. The envy she excited by her social triumphs, the
favour of the Duchess, and later, of the Duc de Chartres, displayed
itself as usual in slanders, misrepresentations, and different
spiteful actions; while the hostility she aroused caused her more
astonishment than would have been expected in a woman possessing so
much knowledge of the world, and more unhappiness than one might
suspect in one so entirely self-satisfied.

And although she was undoubtedly maligned, like many persons who gave
less opportunity for gossip; still it was the consequence of her own
act in placing herself in such a position, and identifying herself
with such a crew. Her futile attempts to whitewash Philippe-Égalité
can deceive nobody: he was too well-known. When she lays all his
faults to his being badly brought up and surrounded with bad
companions, one recollects the numbers of men and of women too, who,
brought up and living under the same conditions, suffered and died
with a heroism and loyalty that redeemed the faults and follies of
their past.

And as to Mme. de Genlis, it appears more than probable that if she
had followed the advice of Mme. de Custine, as she promised to do, and
remained at the _hôtel de Puisieux_ she would still have been a great
literary and social success and also a better and happier woman.

Mme. de Montesson had so far succeeded in her plan that she had, in
1773, been privately married to the Duke of Orléans. The marriage was
celebrated at midnight in the presence of a small number of persons
of high position. But the marriage, though known and recognised in
society, was only a morganatic one. Louis XV. would never hear of her
taking the rank and title of Duchess of Orléans, or any precedence
that would have been the consequence. This was of course a continual
grievance to her, but she was obliged to resign herself and make
the best of the position, at any rate far more exalted than any to
which she had the least pretension to aspire. She had an unbounded
influence over the Duc d’Orléans, in whose household and amongst whose
friends she was always treated as a princess, and with whom she led
a life of unbounded luxury and magnificence. Like Mme. de Maintenon
after her morganatic marriage with Louis XIV. she renounced the title
of Marquise and was known as Mme. de Montesson, possibly thinking
like the hero of the well-known incident: “Princesse je ne puis pas,
Marquise je ne veux pas, Madame je suis.”[116]

The year after the marriage Louis XV. died, but Louis XVI. would not
depart from the attitude his grandfather had assumed, with regard to
the morganatic marriage of the Duc d’Orléans.

The journeys of the court to the different country palaces,
Versailles, Compiègne, Fontainebleau, Marly, &c., were affairs of
enormous expense, and ceremony so preposterous, that, for instance,
there was one sort of court dress for Versailles, and another, equally
magnificent and uncomfortable, for Marly. On the 1st of January
Louis XV. always arranged with care and consideration the journeys
for the year to the different palaces, of which there were a great
number. Mme. Campan[117] in her “Mémoires,” says that Marly, even
more than Versailles, transported one vividly to the reign of Louis
XIV.; its palaces and gardens were like a magnificent scene in an
opera; fountains, pavilions, statues, marble basins, ponds and canals,
thickets of shrubs, groups of tall trees, trellised walks and arbours,
amongst which the ladies and gentlemen of the royal households and
court walked about in full dress; plumes, paniers, jewels, and
trains making any enjoyment of the country out of the question, but
impressing with awe and admiration the crowds who were admitted to the
gardens, and to the suppers and gambling at night. Every trace of this
palace and gardens disappeared in the Revolution.

During the latter part of the reign of Louis XV. the rule of perpetual
court dress at Marly was given up, and when Louis XVI. came to the
throne he tried, but without success, to discourage the gambling,
which he hated; but what Marie Antoinette disliked was the stiffness,
fatigue, and restraint of these journeys, and she insisted that at
Trianon, which the King had given her, she should be free from the
intolerable _gêne_ of the etiquette which the last two reigns had so
increased as to be an intolerable burden, in former centuries unknown
at the court of France.

The party in opposition to the Queen, absolutely unscrupulous and
vindictive, hesitated at no calumny or exaggeration that might do her
injury; and everything seemed to create fresh enemies for her.

When she received the ladies of the Court on her accession, Mme. de
Clermont-Tonnerre, a thoughtless girl of sixteen, sat on the carpet
all the time, hidden by the ladies of the household who stood before
her, making grimaces behind her fan, whispering nonsense, pulling the
dresses of her companions and making them all, even the Queen herself,
unable to restrain their laughter; so that great offence was given
and the blame of course laid on the Queen. The King was very angry,
sent for Mme. de Clermont-Tonnerre and reprimanded her; whereupon she
turned all her spite against the Queen, and all the Clermonts went
into opposition.

When first he succeeded to the throne and the question arose who
was to be prime minister, Madame Victoire wrote to Louis XVI.,
recommending M. de Machault, then exiled from Paris.

The King accordingly wrote a letter summoning him; but meanwhile
Madame Adélaïde, supported by her two youngest sisters, Mesdames
Sophie and Louise, and having persuaded the Queen to join them,
appealed to him in favour of M. de Maurepas, a man as stupid,
prejudiced, and incapable as could be found.

However, the King soon began to yield.

“But my letter has gone,” he said; “what shall I do?”

“I hope not,” said the Queen, “we shall see.” And she rang the bell.
“Campan, the King has an order to give you.”

“Go,” said Louis XVI. in a tone of vexation, “and tell the page of the
_grande écurie_ to bring me back the letter I gave him.” “But Madame,”
turning to the Queen, “I warn you that if he is gone it is all the
better for M. de Machault. I cannot recall my confidence when he holds
the proof in his hand.”[118]

Campan ran; the page was already in the saddle, but was altering a
stirrup, which changed the destiny of France. The letter was brought

When Maurepas received this summons he jumped and capered with joy;
danced round the room with his wife and told his cat it should have
the _entrée_ at Versailles. Thus he prepared to govern the kingdom of


[115] “Salons de Paris,” t. 1, p. 435 (Duchesse d’Abrantès, ed.

[116] It was one of the family of Rohan who said: “Roi ne puis, prince
ne daigne, Rohan je suis.”

[117] “Souvenirs” (Campan), p. 209.

[118] “Souvenirs de Marie Antoinette,” t. 2, p. 11 (Adhémar).


     La Muette—Sunrise—Italy—Nocturnal adventure—Governess to
     the children of Orléans—Scandalous reports—Marriages of her
     daughters—Death of the elder one—The Comte de Valence

One of the Royal palaces was La Muette, and it was on one of the
journeys there that the Queen took it into her head to see the sun
rise. It appeared a harmless fancy enough, and she suggested it to the

“Indeed,” he said, “you have a strange fancy. Night is made to sleep
in; however, if it amuses you I have no objection so long as you do
not expect me to be of the party.”

Mme. de Noailles, to whom it was also necessary to speak of the
proposed plan, was much perturbed.

“Really,” she said, “this question seems to me very difficult to
solve. A Queen go to see the sun rise! I do not know whether in the
days of Louis XIV. it would not have been thought——”

“Eh! Madame,” cried the Queen impatiently, “spare us ceremonial in the
face of nature.”

“However, it is impossible to dispense with an escort of equerries,
pages, _valets de pieds_ to carry torches, _piqueurs_, _gardes du
corps_, and a detachment of the _maison rouge_.”

“Comtesse de Noailles, you forget the _grand-aumônier_, to bless the
rising sun after having exorcised the spirits of darkness.”

The Comtesse de Noailles frowned.

“Ah! Madame l’Etiquette,” cried Marie Antoinette, laughing, “God made
patience the virtue of kings.”

Directly the Duc de Chartres heard of the project he came to ask to
be of the party, and as he was not as yet the open enemy of the royal
family, his request was granted.

On the night fixed upon the party, consisting of the Queen, the Comtes
and Comtesses de Provence and d’Artois and some ladies and gentlemen
of their households, started at three in the morning for Meudon, where
a banquet was prepared, after which they went out on the terraces
to see the sun rise. It was a lovely night, lamps were scattered
about the gardens, guards were posted everywhere, the Queen’s ladies
followed her closely. There was a splendid sun rise and all passed
off well; but a few days afterwards came out an infamous libel called
“_l’Aurore_,” containing accusations and statements so atrocious that
the King, taking it to the Queen, said—

“Madame, do you know what it costs to wish for once in one’s life to
see the sun rise? Read that and tell me what you think of the poetry
of our friends.”

The Queen read it, burst into tears, and demanded justice and
vengeance, which the King, throwing down and trampling on the infamous
paper, promised; but said it was difficult to find the persons
guilty of writing and selling it—it seemed to have been printed in
Holland and the authorship was guessed to be one of the Radical set:
Voltaire, Brissot, or perhaps the Duc de Chartres.

Marie Antoinette spoke to the latter about it, and of course he
indignantly denied all complicity, but confessed that the libel had
been sent him in an envelope, adding that he had thrown it into the
fire, and if any of his people had been more imprudent he would
dismiss them at once.

For the first circulation had been traced to some of his household. He
sent away two men in his service, but it was well known that he paid
them their wages all the time and soon took them back again.

It was asserted by one person that she had seen the MS. of the
“_Aurore_” on the table of Mme. de Genlis, but it is not likely that
she would have been guilty of mixing herself in such an infamy; it
was one of the slanders, probably, of which she complained, but was
the result of associating intimately with such a man as the Duc de


  _E. H. Bearne_


The Count and Countess de Genlis accompanied the Duke and Duchess
de Chartres to Bordeaux, where he embarked, after a naval review;
and the Duchess proceeded on a tour in Italy. To Félicité this was a
time of enchantment. The journeys at that time were adventurous, and
the _Cornice_ road was then an affair of difficulty if not danger.
They went by sea to Nice, spent a week in that delicious climate,
and determined to make what she called “the perilous journey” from
Nice to Genoa. They went on mules over the pass by Turbia, and found
the _Cornice_ as she says truly a _corniche_—so narrow that in some
places they could hardly pass singly, and often they had to get down
and walk. They slept at Ospedaletto, the Duchess, Félicité, and the
Countess de Rully in one room; the Duchess on a bed made of the rugs
of the mules, the others, on cloaks spread upon a great heap of corn.
After six days of perils and fatigues, and what they called horrible
precipices, they got to Genoa.

They went to Rome, Venice, Naples, and all the little Italian Courts,
at which they were received with great honour.

Félicité flirted and amused herself as usual, and at the court of
Modena, the Comte de Lascaris took a violent fancy to her. He was
_surintendant_ of the palace, and arranged the distribution of the
different apartments, and Félicité found her room was at a great
distance from that of the Comte de Genlis, and lined with mirrors.

After supper one evening she had retired to her room and was sitting
up late, writing; when one of the mirrors moved, and from a door
behind it entered M. de Lascaris, and threw himself at her feet. She
sprang up with a cry, the table fell upon him, the lamp went out, her
maid rushed in—alarmed by her mistress calling loudly for her—in her
nightdress candle in hand, while M. de Lascaris disappeared through
the door he had came in by, with a cut on his cheek from the table,
which excited the curiosity and laughter of the court. To Félicité
Italy was one long enchantment, and with reluctance she came back to

For some years Mme. de Genlis had been _dame pour accompagner la
Duchesse de Chartres_, though it was suggested that it was more the
Duke than the Duchess whom she accompanied; but she now exchanged this
designation for that of “governess to the Princesses of Orléans.” The
Duchess, who had always longed for a daughter, was delighted with
these two and Mme. de Genlis, who wished to have charge of them from
the first.

As, during the first years of their lives, even Félicité herself could
not begin to instruct them, she paid a daily visit of an hour to them,
and occupied herself in writing a book on education for their use and
that of her own children. She also wrote “Adèle et Théodore,” and
numbers of other books, novels, essays, plays, treatises on education,
&c., which had great success.

When the twin daughters of the Duc de Chartres were five years
old, one of them caught the measles, got a chill and died, to the
great grief of the Duchess and the remaining twin, Madame Adélaïde
d’Orléans. One day the Duc de Chartres came to consult Félicité,
as he was in the habit of doing on all occasions; and on this one
he confided to her that he could not find a tutor he liked for his
boys, that they were learning to speak like shop boys, and that he
wished she would undertake their education as well as that of their
sister; to which she agreed. It was arranged that the Duke should buy
a country house at Belle Chasse, where they should spend eight months
of the year; the Duchesse agreed to the plan, all was settled, and
Mme. de Genlis embarked on the career of education, which had always
been a passion with her, and which she could now pursue with every

The three young Orléans princes were, the Duc de Valois, afterwards
Louis Philippe, the Duc de Montpensier, and the Comte de Beaujolais.
The eldest was eight years old.

Besides, she educated her own two daughters, her nephew, César
Ducrest, whose mother died and whose father (her brother) was given
a post at the Palais Royal, a young cousin, Henriette de Sercey,
and later on one or two other children she adopted. But what caused
considerable speculation and scandal was the sudden appearance of a
little girl, who was sent, she said, from England, to speak English
with the other children amongst whom she was educated. On perfectly
equal terms with the Princes and Princesses of Orléans, petted and
made much of by every one, she was, and still is supposed by many,
perhaps by most people, to have been really the daughter of Mme. de
Genlis and the Duc de Chartres. At any rate, no English relations
were ever forthcoming, and it was never clearly established where she
came from, except that she was announced to have been sent over from
England at the request of the Duc de Chartres. She was remarkably
beautiful and talented, and Mme. de Genlis brought her forward, and
did everything to make her as affected and vain as she had been made

The life at Belle Chasse was, as she says, delicious. She had supreme
authority, she was dispensed from the trouble of paying visits to any
one but Mme. de Puisieux; she had her mother and children to live
with her; her husband and brother had posts in the household of the
Duc de Chartres.

She could receive her friends as she pleased; her literary reputation
stood very high; the Duchesse de Chartres was still infatuated about
her; while the Duke——

Mme. de Genlis made a great display of disinterestedness, she refused
the 20,000 francs a year offered her by the Duke as governess to his
children, declaring that she would educate them for nothing; she
refused also the diamonds sent by the Duke and Duchess as a wedding
present to her daughter, neither of which refusals there was the
slightest occasion to make, but theatrical, unnecessary things were
always what she preferred to do. And at the same time she and her
family were becoming very rich. Of course her books, bought by all her
friends at court, in society, and everywhere, brought her a good deal,
but she always had money for everything she wanted. She was promised
for her eldest daughter on her marriage, her own former place at the
Palais Royal, and a regiment for her son-in-law, her relations were
placed and provided for, and she, of course, lived in state and luxury
with the Orléans children, amongst whom her own were educated.

Her eldest girl, Caroline, was of a charming disposition, and
remarkably beautiful. She inherited her own musical talents and was
extremely clever and accomplished. When she was fourteen she was
married to a Belgian, the Marquis de Lawoestine; and the wedding was
celebrated with great state at the Palais Royal, the Maréchal Prince
de Soubise acting as father to the bridegroom. She gave the young girl
a magnificent trousseau, diamonds, plate, porcelaines, &c., and after
the ceremony her daughter was left under her care for two years more.

In many ways it is probable that no one was more capable of giving
a first-rate education than Mme. de Genlis, who had herself so much
knowledge and experience, such superior talents and genuine love of
art, books and study. She was also careful and strict in the religious
education of her pupils, and perfectly free from any of the atheistic
opinions of the day.

But her practice cannot be said to have been altogether in accordance
with all the professions and talk about virtue and duty, which she
made such a parade.

She was so talked about with the Duc de Chartres that the Queen would
not receive her at her balls,[119] for Marie Antoinette was trying to
bring some reform into the licence prevalent at court, where there was
no end to the scandalous incidents that kept happening.

One or two of the gentlemen-in-waiting were found stealing the
valuable _porcelaines de Sèvres_ in the ante-rooms, to the great anger
of the King.

A gentleman of the court came home late one night, and could not get
into his wife’s room, because the maid, who slept in an ante-room,
could or would not be awakened. As he was going very early in the
morning to hunt, he changed his clothes in a hurry without going
to bed, and on arriving at the place of meeting was greeted by his
friends with a shout of laughter, and inquiries if he wished to
exchange his hunting dress for the costume of the Queen’s pages; as he
had put on in haste and half-darkness the _haut-de-chausse_ of one of
them, which certainly had no business to be in his room.

Like many other persons, Mme. de Genlis, though she chose to act in a
way that she must have known to be suspicious, even if there had been
no real harm in it, made a great outcry when the remarks were made,
and conclusions drawn that might have naturally been expected.

She posed as a victim, talked of jealousy, slander, ingratitude, &c.,
and went on with her intimacy with the Duc de Chartres, who was at
that time engaged in the most abominable intrigues and secret attacks
upon the Royal Family, especially the Queen; and whether rightly or
wrongly, Mme. de Genlis was supposed to be mixed up with them.

There had been no disunion or quarrel between her and the Comte de
Genlis; they had always been attached to one another, and no break
occurred between them; she continued to be devotedly loved by Mme. de
Puisieux, whose death she now had to lament.

But all kinds of stories were in circulation about her, which, of
course, she indignantly denied. One of them concerned the marriage she
now made for her second daughter with M. de Valence, a man of high
rank, large fortune, and remarkably bad character, who, moreover, had
been for years, and continued to be, the lover of her aunt, Mme. de
Montesson. It was positively declared that the Duke of Orléans, going
unexpectedly into the room, found Valence on his knees before Mme. de
Montesson, who with instant presence of mind, exclaimed—

“See this absurd Valence, on his knees to me, asking for the hand of
my niece.”

“And why not grant it?”

“Can I grant it without consulting you?”

“Well! we will promise it him; yes, we will promise him.”

And the marriage was decided.

Mme. de Genlis in her “Memoirs” denies this story, but goes on to say
with that half candour, which is perhaps the most deceptive, that she
cannot but confess that her ambition overruled her in this matter;
that she thought what was said about Mme. de Montesson and M. de
Valence might not be true, or if it were, this marriage would put an
end to the _liaison_; and what seems contradictory, that she believed
the reason her aunt was so eager for the marriage was, that she
thought it would be a means of attaching to her for ever the man she
loved. But that her daughter had great confidence in her, and would be
guided by her in the way she should behave.

Now Mme. de Genlis had without the least doubt many good and
distinguished qualities, and as we all know, human nature is fallible
and inconsistent; but it would surely have been better that a woman,
who could coolly and deliberately arrange such a marriage for her
young daughter, simply and solely from reasons of worldly ambition,
should not talk so much about disinterested virtue, contempt of
riches, and purity of motives.

It is probable that she deceived herself more than she did other
people, and her life in fact, between the Duke and Duchess and their
children, could not have been anything but a constant course of

Mme. de Genlis, however she might blind herself, must have known quite
well the real character of Philippe-Égalité, and if she had all the
desire she professed for the virtue and welfare of her pupils, she can
hardly have thought that the example of one of the most dissipated
scoundrels in France, whose health, as she owns, was early impaired by
his vices, would be desirable for them to follow.

But yet she took every opportunity of impressing his virtues upon
them, telling them what an excellent father they had, and insidiously
winning their affection away from their mother, under the form and
pretence of the deepest respect and submission.

The marriages of her daughters which had so delighted her ambition,
had not brought her all the happiness she expected.

Mme. de Lawoestine, the elder one, whom she describes as an angelic
creature in whom no fault could be seen, died at one and twenty in her
confinement. It was a terrible shock to her, and, it appears, also to
the husband, although the contents of certain tablets of his wife’s,
which he found and gave to Mme. de Genlis some days after her death,
would seem to imply that he would not be inconsolable.

One cannot help seeing in the sentiments expressed and the manner
of expressing them, the artificial, affected tone which with Mme.
de Genlis had become her second nature, and which she had evidently
inculcated into her daughter.

The tablets had two columns, over one of which was written,
“Calculations of the infidelities of my husband during the five years
of our marriage.” They were written down year by year, and when all
added up, came to twenty-one.

Over the other column was written, “Let us see mine,” and these were
represented by a column of noughts. At the bottom was written, “Total:

“And she really loved her husband!” exclaimed Mme. de Genlis in a
fervour of admiration.

Countless were the inconsistencies of the faddists of the party to
which she belonged, and in the crotchets of which she had educated her
daughter, but what duty or reason or “satisfaction” could there be in
such a calculation as this?

And what could be more contradictory to the jargon about Nature,
whose guidance, impulses, feelings, &c., were to be so implicitly
obeyed, than the spectacle of a woman in the height of her youth
and beauty, loving her husband, and yet amusing herself by writing
in her pocket-book in this cold-blooded manner, a long list of his
infidelities and ending by expressing her satisfaction?

As to the other daughter, Mme. de Valence, her marriage had turned
out just as might have been foretold by any one of common sense. M.
de Valence did not change his conduct in the least, he was still one
of the most dissipated men in Paris though he never stooped to the
dishonour of Philippe-Égalité. He remained always the favourite of
Mme. de Montesson, who at her death left her whole fortune to him.

Mme. de Valence seems to have accepted the situation, but by no means
with the Griselda-like “satisfaction” of her sister. Very soon her
reputation much resembled that of her husband, and many were the
anecdotes told to illustrate the manners and customs of their _ménage_.

Calling one day upon Mme. de Montesson, Mme. de Valence was told by a
new servant who did not know her, that Mme. de Montesson could not be
seen; she never received any one when M. de Valence was there.

“I am sorry for that,” she observed, as she gave her cards to the man,
“especially as M. de Valence is my husband.”

De Valence was very handsome and a brave soldier; he emigrated but
refused to fight against France; returned, obtained the favour of
Napoleon, and retained that of Mme. de Montesson, who more than once
paid his debts. He was supposed to be the son of a mistress whom his
father adored, and to have been substituted for a dead child born
to his father’s wife, who always suspected the truth, never would
acknowledge him as her son, nor leave him more money than she could
help doing as she had no other children.

Speaking of Pulchérie in her journal, Mme. de Genlis, it may be
remarked, does not venture to lavish upon her the unstinted praises
which she pours upon her sister; but remarks that when she left her
care and entered society on her marriage, she had the most excellent
ideas and sentiments, the purest mind, and the highest principles

It does not seem to occur to her that it was she herself who caused
the destruction of all this purity and principle by giving her child
to a man of notoriously bad character; but without taking any blame
to herself she goes on to say that Pulchérie was, and always would be
in her eyes, gentle, sweet-tempered, kind-hearted, and easy to live
with—which she probably was.


[119] “Souvenirs de Marie Antoinette,” t. ii. p. 164 (Ctsse.


     Death of the Duc d’Orléans—M. de Genlis—Sillery—Coming
     of the Revolution—The Bastille—Anger of the Duchesse

The Duke of Orléans died 1785, and Mme. de Montesson, having been
forbidden by Louis XVI. to put her household into mourning or assume
the position of a Duchess Dowager of Orléans, retired for a few weeks
into a convent and then returned to her usual life, having inherited a
great fortune from the late Duke.

Philippe-Égalité was now Duc d’Orléans, and his eldest son Duc de
Chartres. That young prince was about seventeen, and like all the
Orléans family, except the Duchess and the Comte de Beaujolais, was
thoroughly indoctrinated with the detestable spirit that prevailed at
the Palais Royal.

The Maréchale d’Etrée, daughter of M. de Puisieux, died, and left
all her large fortune, not to the spendthrift Marquis de Genlis, but
to the Count, who, finding himself now very rich, wished to retire
from the Palais Royal and live on his estates, and tried to induce
his wife to accompany him. He said with truth that her proper and
natural place was with him, and he tried by all means in his power to
persuade her to do what one would suppose a person constantly talking
of duty, virtue, self-sacrifice, and the happiness of retirement,
would not have hesitated about.

That she persistently refused proves how much all these professions
were worth, and this time she does in her memoirs blame herself for
her conduct; in fact, she declares that she felt ever afterwards
a remorse that never left her, and that would be eternal; as she
considered herself the cause of the death of her husband. If she had
gone with him as he entreated her to do and as she acknowledged that
she ought to have done, she could have induced him to leave France
with her, he had sufficient money to enable them to live comfortably
abroad, and his life would have been saved.

However, she refused to leave Belle Chasse, influenced by affection
for her pupils, jealous of any one who might succeed her with them,
fear of losing the prestige of having educated them, as she says; and,
of course, of being separated from the Duc d’Orléans, which she does
not say. At any rate she took her own way, and after a journey to
England where she was extremely well received, she resumed her usual
occupations. The Revolution was drawing nearer and nearer, though
people did not realise its approach. A few more far-seeing persons
foretold troubles and dangers in the future, but nobody except the
well-known Cazotte, had any notion of the fearful tempest about to
break over the unhappy kingdom of France.

Meanwhile, many who would have shrunk from the crimes and horrors for
which in their folly they were preparing the way as fast as possible,
went on playing with fire, by encouraging the disloyalty that was
in the air, sympathising with the outrageous demands put forward by
the Radical leaders, circulating libels and inventing lying stories
against the Queen and royal family, joining noisily in the abuse of
everything that had hitherto been held sacred or respectable, and
doing everything in their power to inflame the evil passions and
excite the cupidity and violence of the mob.

One cannot help feeling intense satisfaction in reflecting that most
of those who did all this mischief, at any rate, suffered for it, when
the danger, ruin, and death they had prepared for others came upon
themselves. One of the most abominable of the revolutionists, who had
fallen under the displeasure of his friends and been condemned by them
to be guillotined with his young son, begged to be allowed to embrace
him on the scaffold; but the boy sullenly refused, saying, “No; it is
you who have brought me to this.”

Among the Palais Royal set, it was the fashion to find fault with
everything done by the royalists, to go as seldom as possible to
Versailles and to pretend to find it a great bore when it was
necessary to do so.

If a play was popular at Versailles it was sure to be hissed at Paris;
a disgraced minister was the idol of the mob; the only liveries not
insulted were those of Orléans.

For the Duc d’Orléans was aiming at the crown, and it is impossible to
believe Mme. de Genlis was not aware of it. He suggested to the Queen
that Madame Royale should be married to his eldest son, which proposal
Marie Antoinette decidedly refused, remarking afterwards that to marry
her daughter to the Duc de Chartres would be to sign the death warrant
of her son.[120]

Mme. de Genlis states that one evening while the States-General were
sitting, the Duc d’Orléans, who was in her _salon_, declared that they
would be of no use and do nothing; not even suppress the _lettres de
cachet_. Mme. de Genlis and the Duc de Lauzun were of a different
opinion, and they bet each other fifty _louis_ on the subject. The bet
was put into writing and Mme. de Genlis showed it to more than fifty
people of her acquaintance, all of whom declared a Revolution to be
impossible. The Abbé Cesutti, one of the free-thinking school, was
editor of a paper called _La feuille villageoise_, intended for the
people. He asked Mme. de Genlis to write for it, and she sent some
papers called “The Letters of Marie-Anne,” in which she introduced
doctrines and principles of religion. Soon after the Abbé came and
asked her in future only to speak of morality and never to mention
religion. Knowing what that meant she declined to write any more for
that paper.

However, she was so far identified with the Revolutionary party as not
only to rejoice at the infamous attack of the mob upon the Bastille,
but to consent to her pupils’ request to take them to Paris to see
the mob finishing the destruction of that beautiful and historic

In the “Souvenirs,” written in after years, when her ideas and
principles had been totally changed by her experience of the
Revolution, the beginning of which had so delighted her, she was
evidently ashamed of the line she had taken, and anxious to explain it
away as far as possible.

“I was of no party,” she writes, “but that of religion. I desired
the reform of certain abuses, and I saw with joy the demolition of
the Bastille, the abolition of _lettres de cachet_, and _droits de
chasse_. That was all I wanted, my politics did not go farther than
that. At the same time no one saw with more grief and horror than I,
the excesses committed from the first moments of the taking of the
Bastille.... The desire to let my pupils see everything led me on this
occasion into imprudence, and caused me to spend some hours in Paris
to see from the Jardin de Beaumarchais the people of Paris demolishing
the Bastille. I also had a curiosity to see the Cordeliers Club....
I went there and I saw the orators, cobblers, and porters with their
wives and mistresses, mounting the tribune and shouting against
nobles, priests, and rich people.... I remarked a fishwoman....” This
pretty spectacle to which she was said to have taken her pupils,
was, of course, approved of by the Duke of Orléans, who made the Duc
de Chartres a member of the Jacobin Club, “by the wish of the Duc
d’Orléans, assuredly not by mine; but, however, it must be remembered
that that society was not then what it afterward became, although its
sentiments were already very exaggerated. However, it was a pretext
employed to estrange the Duchess of Orléans from me.”

And small wonder! Was the Duchess of Orléans—a woman of saintly
character and the great grand-daughter[121] of Louis XIV.—to tolerate
the governess of her children being seen in a den of blasphemy and
low, unspeakable vice and degradation like the Cordeliers Club, or
their being themselves shown with rejoicing a scene of horror and
murder, and join in the triumph of ruffians who were attacking their
religion, and the King and Queen, who were also their own cousins?
Was it possible that anybody in their senses would tolerate such a
governess? Added to which the Duchess was now aware of the terms on
which Mme. de Genlis and the Duke stood to each other. It could no
longer be said of her—

“The Duchess sees nothing, or will not see anything, but even shows a
strange predilection for Mme. de Genlis, which made Mme. de Barbantane
say that it is a love[122] which would make one believe in witchcraft.”

The Duc de Penthièvre, who knew his son-in-law and distrusted Mme. de
Genlis, foresaw what would happen and opposed her entrance into the
Palais Royal; but the influence of Mme. de Montesson had prevailed,
and she was soon not only all-powerful herself, but had placed the
different members of her family in lucrative posts there. And, though
they did not follow their party to the extreme excesses to which they
were already tending, they were, so far, all tarred with the same

In the “Memoirs of Louis XVIII,” he remarks, after the dismissal of
Necker: “A report was spread that the Queen and the Comte d’Artois had
given orders for a general massacre, to include the Duke of Orléans,
M. Necker, and most of the members of the National Assembly. Sillery,
Latouche, Laclos, Voidel, Ducrest,[123] Camille Desmoulin, and all
those who came from the Duc d’Orléans, were the first to spread these

After her proceedings at the Bastille and the Cordeliers, and
considering her connection with the revolutionary party, Mme. de
Genlis (or Sillery, as she was also called) need not have expressed
the surprise and indignation she did at the arrival of a body of
police to search her house for arms, reported to be stored there. They
were sent by La Fayette, who had done even more mischief than she
had; but for some reason they did not like each other. The touchy,
conceited Republican poet, Marie Joseph Chénier, who ranted against
religion, royalty, and everything and everybody superior to himself,
began to make love to Mme. de Genlis, and when she objected to his
impertinent familiarity, said furiously: “You are right; I am neither
a _grand seigneur_ nor a duke!”—which specimen of the manners of her
party disgusted her extremely. In her “Mémoires” she relates of this
worthy that he was accused of having participated in the condemnation
of his brother André, also a poet, executed under the Terror. This
was, however, almost certainly untrue, but it was said that he could
have saved him if he had made use of the influence he possessed with
the Terrorists, but that he either feared or did not care to do so.
The celebrated actress, Mlle. Dumesnil, then old and infirm, received
one day a visit from him, during which he tormented her to recite
something for him. She was ill in bed, but nevertheless he went on
begging that she would recite only one line that he might say he had
heard her, when, turning towards him with a violent effort she said—

“_Approchez-vous, Néron, et prenez votre place!_”

The first personal encounter of Mme. de Genlis with the Revolution was
one afternoon in 1790. She had driven with Mademoiselle d’Orléans, the
Comte de Beaujolais, Henriette de Sercey, and Pamela, to a village
about twelve miles from Paris, where, unluckily, a fair was going on
and a great many people collected together. They took it into their
heads that the party were the Queen, Madame Royale, and the Dauphin
trying to escape, and, surrounding them with anger, forced them to get
out of the carriage and refused to believe their explanations.

A young lieutenant of the _Garde-Nationale_ hurried up, harangued
them, and with difficulty persuaded the savage crowd to allow him to
take them into his own house, around which a drunken, furious crowd
kept guard while cries of “_A la lanterne!_” were every now and then
heard. They would not believe anything they said; they threatened to
hang any one who should go to Paris to make inquiries; they forced
their way into the house and garden, but suddenly a friendly voice
said in the ear of Mme. de Genlis: “I was a gamekeeper at Sillery;
don’t be afraid. I will go to Paris.” At last the crowd of ruffians
dispersed, leaving a dozen to guard their prisoners; the mayor of the
village gravely demanded that all her papers should be delivered to
him, upon which Mme. de Genlis gave him four or five letters, and when
she begged him to read them he replied that he could not read, but
took them away.

At five o’clock in the morning the gamekeeper came back from Paris
with an order of release from the municipality, and at half-past six
they arrived at Belle Chasse.

This foretaste of the Revolution Mme. de Genlis did not like at all,
and she began to think she would rather not be in France now that the
plans and friends so lately her admiration were succeeding so well.

Just then her mother died after a short illness, which was a great
shock to her; she had lived with or near her for many years since the
death of her second husband, and had been the object of her devoted

But now at last an end had come to the Palais Royal life of prosperity
and power.

The patience of the Duchess of Orléans, which had for many years been
so extraordinary, and her blindness, which had been the wonder of
everybody, had for more than a year been worn out, and now had come to
a decided conclusion.

There is such a thing as being too angelic, and gentle, and
unsuspicious. If those who have to live in the world go about acting
as if other people were angels instead of men and women, believing all
they are told, trusting every one, and knowing as little as they can
of what is going on around them, no good ever comes of it.

How the Duchess could ever consent to and approve of her children
being entirely given up to the care of a woman whose principles were
absolutely opposed to her own, is astonishing indeed; and perhaps it
is still more so that for many years she did notice the infatuation of
her husband, and the vast influence Mme. de Genlis had over him. But
her eyes had at last been opened, Mme. de Genlis declares, by a Mme.
de Chastellux, who was her enemy, and was jealous of her. However that
might be with regard to the connection between Mme. de Genlis and the
Duc d’Orléans, no enlightenment was necessary about the Bastille, the
Cordeliers Club, and other revolutionary proceedings. That was surely
quite enough; besides which the Duchess had long been awakened to the
fact that the governess about whom she had been so infatuated had
not only carried on an intrigue with and established an all-powerful
influence over her husband, but had extended that influence also over
her children to such an extent that her daughter at any rate, if not
her two elder sons, probably preferred her to their mother.

As to the Comte de Beaujolais, he was fond of her, as all her pupils
were, for she was extremely kind to them, but he hated and abhorred
the principles which his father and she had succeeded in instilling
into his brothers and sister, longed to fight for the King and Queen,
and took the first opportunity when he met the Comte de Provence in
exile to tell him so and make his submission; he had sent him messages
of explanation and loyalty directly he could. For more than a year,
then, there had been coldness and estrangement between the Duchess
and Mme. de Genlis, who, of course, as usual, posed as an injured
saint. What had she done? Why this cruel change in the affection and
confidence of years? Had she not sacrificed herself to her pupils?
Was she not the last person to alienate their affection from their
illustrious and admirable mother? Did not all the virtues of her whole
life forbid her being suspected or distrusted in any way?

She wrote pages and pages to the Duchess, who would not answer the
letters except by a few short lines, and refused to enter into the
matter at all, but declined to receive Mme. de Genlis at the Palais
Royal to dine as usual. Here is an example of what the Duchesse
d’Abrantès and others have said about Mme. de Genlis having nothing
of the dignity that she might have been expected to possess. Her
behaviour contrasts strongly with that of the Duchesse d’Orléans, who,
however foolish and credulous she may have been, showed at any rate
that she was a Princess of France. It was not for her to discuss or
dispute with Mme. de Genlis about her influence with her husband and
children; it was for her to give orders and for the governess of her
children to obey them. But these late proceedings were different and
tangible, and Mme. de Genlis herself owns in her “Mémoires,” written
long after, that the objections of the Duchess, which she then thought
so exaggerated and unjust, were right and well-founded. She declares
that she had no idea how far the Revolution would go, that she was
strongly attached to the Monarchy and to religion, which latter was
certainly true, and there is no reason to suppose she contemplated a
Republic, while the horrors that took place were odious to her.

But that she should have been and still be accused, especially with
regard to the Duke of Orléans, she had no right to complain. After
all, those who wish to play the world’s game must play by the world’s
rules. Certain ways of acting always cause certain conclusions to be
drawn, and what else was likely between a man like Philippe-Égalité
and a fascinating woman he admired, and with whom he was thrown into
constant and intimate association, but the _liaison_ every one might
expect, and which it is impossible not to believe in.

She declared that she would have resigned before had it not been
for the _calumnies_, _injustice_, and _persecution_ (_!_) carried
on against the Duc d’Orléans; she hoped his return would dispel the
clouds; she pictured the grief her pupils would feel, &c., &c.

The Duke was at his wits’ end, there were scenes and interviews and
negotiations without end, but he and Mme. de Genlis were forced to
give way.

The Duchess threatened a separation, the position was impossible;
Mme. de Genlis withdrew, at any rate for a time, intending to go
to England. But Mademoiselle d’Orléans, who was then thirteen, and
devoted to her governess, when she found she was gone, cried and
fretted till she became so ill that every one was alarmed; she was
sent for to come back again, and did so on condition that they should
go to England together as soon as it could be arranged.

She was herself most anxious to get out of France, but in spite of
her representations the journey kept being put off on various excuses
until the autumn, when one day M. de Valence, who had also a post in
the Palais Royal, told her that the Duke was going to England that
night, which he did, leaving her a note saying he would be back in a

However, he stayed a year, much to the surprise of Mme. de Genlis,
in the first place that he should have kept her in ignorance of his
plans, and in the second that he should break his promise to her. His
flight had also the result of preventing their journey, for it had
irritated the mob, who were now, under their brutal and ferocious
leaders, the rulers of France, and they watched with suspicion all
the rest of the Orléans family; it would not have been safe for them
to attempt to travel. Such was the freedom already achieved by the
efforts of their father and his friends.

It was naturally impossible that Mme. de Genlis should be a
conspicuous member of the Orléans household and yet not mix herself up
with intimacies and friendships amongst the Revolutionists, especially
as some of them at that time had not shown themselves in their true
colours. She corresponded with Barèze, who wrote to her about her
books, and whose letters were full of the simple life of the peasants
and the beauties of nature in the Pyrenees, but who soon developed
into one of the monsters of the Terror. She could not be blamed for
that, as she did not know his real character; but the same cannot be
said with regard to her friendship with Pétion, whom she received
in her _salon_ and for whom she declared that up to the time of the
King’s murder she had “a true esteem.” Now Pétion was a vulgar, brutal
ruffian, as any one knows who has read the account of his behaviour
during the miserable affair of the return of the royal family from
Varennes; and yet after that she accepted his escort to England, and
said that she “remained persuaded that he had a most honest, upright
soul, and the most virtuous principles.” There are some people who
make the very names of virtue and duty obnoxious to one, and of this
number was certainly Mme. de Genlis. In spite of her outcries about
the injustice and falsehood of the suspicions and odium attached to
her concerning her conduct at this time, and causing her afterwards
considerable annoyance and difficulties, her friendships with and
praises of such characters as Philippe-Égalité, Pétion, and others,
added to the way in which she displayed her rejoicing in the earlier
excesses of the Revolutionary party, and her constant association with
the authors of the disgraceful libels and attacks upon the Queen and
royal family, amply justified whatever might be said against her.

There can be no doubt that, as always happens in these cases, a great
deal was said that was neither true nor possible. It was inevitable
that it should be so; but her way of going on, both politically and in
other ways, was decidedly suspicious.

At length the Duke of Orléans came back, and in consequence of the
persuasions of Mme. de Genlis he arranged that his daughter should
be ordered by the doctors to take the waters at Bath, and they set
off; Mademoiselle d’Orléans, Mme. de Genlis, Pamela, and Henriette de
Sercey, with their attendants, furnished with a passport permitting
them to stay in England as long as the health of Mademoiselle
d’Orléans required. They started October 11, 1791, slept at Calais,
and remained a few days in London in the house the Duc d’Orléans had
bought there; they went to Bath, where they stayed for two months.

They next made a tour about England, including Portsmouth, the Isle
of Wight, Derbyshire, Cambridge, several visits to different country
houses, and to the Ladies of Llangollen.


[120] It does not, however, appear why this should have been the
consequence of the marriage, for Madame Royale would not have
succeeded to the throne in any case.

[121] Her father, the Duc de Penthièvre, was the son of the Comte de
Toulouse, illegitimate son of Louis XIV. by Mme. de Montespan.

[122] Talleyrand, “Mémoires,” t. 1, p. 164.

[123] M. Ducrest, however, resigned all his appointments at the Palais
Royal when he realised the excesses into which Philippe-Égalité was
proceeding, gave up his appointment of Chancellor to the House of
Orléans, left France before the worst time had come, and went to

[124] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII,” t. 4, p. 231.


     In England—Sheridan—Strange adventure—Raincy—Farewell to
     Philippe-Égalité—Proscribed—Tournay—Pamela—Death of the King.

While Mme. de Genlis was safe and enjoying herself in England terrible
events were happening in France. The Duke of Orléans, already infamous
in the eyes of all decent people, was beginning to lose his popularity
with the revolutionists. “He[125] could not doubt the discredit
into which he had fallen, the flight of his son[126] exposed him
to dangerous suspicions; it was decided to get rid of him. He had
demanded that his explanations should be admitted, but he was advised
to ‘ask rather, in the interest of your own safety, for a decree of
banishment for yourself and your family.’

“I have said before, I think, that the Comte de Beaujolais did not
share the opinions of his family, and I have pleasure in quoting a
paragraph on this subject written by Marie Antoinette in a letter to
her sister the Archduchess Christine, governess of the Low Countries.

“‘The young Comte de Beaujolais, in the innocence of his soul,
has always remained a Bourbon, and this amiable boy feels a tender
sympathy for my misfortunes. The other day he sent me in secret a
person named Alexandre, a _valet de chambre_ of good education. This
worthy man, whose open expression impressed me in his favour, knelt
down when he came near me, wiped away some tears and gave me a letter
from the young prince, in which I found the most touching words and
the purest sentiments. The good Alexandre begged me to keep this a
profound secret, and told me that the Comte de Beaujolais often talked
of escaping from his father and dying in arms for the defence of his

“‘How I regret that the death of this young prince deprived me of the
happiness of opening the gates of France to him and rewarding his
noble sentiments.’”[127]

The Duc de Chartres now also looked with disapproval upon his father’s
conduct. In his “Mémoire’s” Louis XVIII. quotes a letter of M. de
Boissy, who says that the only republican amongst the sons of Égalité
was the Duc de Montpensier.[128]

The latter part of the sojourn of Mme. de Genlis in England was
overshadowed by anxieties, annoyances, and fears.

Like all other nations, the English were horror-stricken at the crimes
and cruelties going on in France, and exasperated against their
perpetrators, more especially against the Duke of Orléans, who was
regarded with universal hatred and contempt.

The general indignation was extended to all who had, or were believed
to have, any complicity in the horrors committed, or any connection
with the miscreants who were guilty of them; and now Mme. de Genlis
began to feel the consequences of the line of conduct she had chosen
to adopt.

Anonymous letters filled with abuse and threats poured in upon her;
she was told the house would be set on fire in the night, she heard
her name cried in the streets, and on sending out for the newspaper
being sold, she saw a long story about herself and M. de Calonne,
giving the history of an interview they had at Paris the preceding
evening! She sent it to Sheridan, who was a friend of hers, begging
him to write to the paper saying that she did not know Calonne, and
had not been at Paris for many months, which he did.

Of course she thought all these denunciations most unjust and
astonishing. Why, she asked, should they call her a “savage fury,” and
abuse her in this way?

“I never carried on a single intrigue. I loved the Monarchy, and I
spared no efforts to soften and moderate M. le Duc d’Orléans,” not
realising that the way to escape suspicion was not to try to soften,
but to have nothing to do with him; and that if she loved the Monarchy
she had shown her affection in a very strange manner. But she was
a strange mixture of great talents and many good qualities with
frivolity, inconsistency, and shallowness. For example, when she was
told that the Monarchy (which she says she loved) had fallen, and the
Republic been declared, her first exclamation was—

“Eh! What! Then _Athalie_ will never be played any more; that
masterpiece will be lost to the French stage!”

Seeing in the French papers that a party, with sinister intentions,
were agitating for the trial of the King and Queen, Mme. de Genlis
wrote a letter of six pages to Pétion remonstrating, advising, and
quoting the ancient Romans who did not murder the Tarquins but only
banished them. The letter was published, but of course did no good,
but drew upon her the hatred of the Terrorists.

The King and Queen were doomed. Even so late as between the 20th of
June and the 10th of August, there was a last chance of escape, a plot
for their flight, each one separately. They might, or _some_ of them
might, have escaped. One cannot help fancying that the children at any
rate might have been saved; they could not have been so well known and
might so well have been disguised. This was spoilt by the Queen, who
refused to be separated from the Dauphin. After that there was no hope.

Just after the September massacres Mme. de Genlis received a letter
from the Duc d’Orléans desiring her to bring his daughter back to
France at once, to which she replied that she should do nothing of the
sort, and that it would be absurd to choose such a time for entering

She heard there was a plot to carry off Mademoiselle d’Orléans, which
made her uneasy, and several other things happened which rather
alarmed her.

Early in November the Duc d’Orléans sent M. Maret with a summons to
Mme. de Genlis either to bring Mademoiselle back to France or to give
her into his care as her escort. Mme. de Genlis, not liking to desert
the young girl, though most unwilling to return to France, agreed
to accompany her, and before they left, Sheridan, who had fallen
violently in love with Pamela, proposed to her and was accepted. It
was settled that they should be married in a fortnight, when Mme. de
Genlis expected to be back in England.

It was not a marriage that promised much happiness. Sheridan was
forty-six and a confirmed spendthrift. He was a widower, and the
extraordinary likeness of Pamela to his first wife had struck him. Not
that his first marriage had been altogether successful, for his wife
had, after a time, had a _liaison_ with Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

They started at ten in the morning in two carriages, the first with
six horses, the second, which contained the servants, with four.
They had only two men, one French servant of their own, the other
hired for the occasion, as they had sent four back to Paris. Their
servant, Darnal, observed after a time that they were not going along
the Dover road, by which he had been before, and pointed this out to
Mme. de Genlis, who spoke to the postillions. They made some excuse,
assuring her that they would get back on to the road, but they did
nothing of the kind but went on at a rapid pace, saying they would
soon be at a village called Dartford, which for a time reassured Mme.
de Genlis. However, they did not arrive at Dartford, and presently two
well-dressed men passed on foot and called out in distinct French—

“_Mesdames_, you are being deceived, they are not taking you to Dover.”

It was difficult to make the postillions stop, but after a time
Darnal forced them to do so, assisted by the cries of the terrified
travellers who were then passing through a village. The strange
servant did nothing. They got out, and on asking how far they were
from Dartford they were told twenty-two miles.

Mme. de Genlis hired a man from the village to go with them, and with
his help and that of Darnal forced the postillions, who were very
insolent, to return to London.

Sheridan took the matter up, the postillions were examined, but
all they said was that a strange gentleman had taken them to a
public-house and bribed them to take the road they had followed. The
hired servant had disappeared. Not wishing to spend the time or money
necessary to bring this mysterious affair into a law court, they did
nothing more about it, and never understood why it had happened, or
what was intended, or anything concerning it.

They stayed a month with Sheridan at Isleworth, and then he saw
them off at Dover, and they landed safely in France. Immense crowds
assembled to greet Mademoiselle d’Orléans, but at Chantilly they were
met by a messenger of the Duke, who gave Mme. de Genlis a note saying—

“If you have not crossed yet, stay in England till fresh orders; if my
_courrier_ meets you on the road in France wait wherever you are and
do not come to Paris. A second _courrier_ will instruct you what to

Paying no attention to this order, Mme. de Genlis continued her
journey to Belle Chasse, where she found her husband, the Duke, and
five or six others.

An air of gloom was over them all. Mademoiselle d’Orléans was crying
bitterly. Mme. de Genlis, as she restored her to her father’s care,
in the presence of the rest, told him that she resigned her post of
governess, and should start for England the next morning.

The Duke with an air of consternation asked her to come into another
room alone with him, and there with much embarrassment told her that
his daughter, who was now fifteen, was by a new law placed in the list
of _emigrées_ for not having returned at the time appointed; that it
was her fault for not bringing her back when he first sent for her;
that he was sure to be able to make it all right by getting her placed
in a list of exceptions to be made, but that meantime she must go and
wait in some neutral country; that he implored Mme. de Genlis to take
her to Tournay; that the decree of exception would certainly be out in
a week, and then he would come himself and fetch his daughter, and she
(Mme. de Genlis) should be free.

She replied that she would go to Tournay on condition that if the
decree was not out in a fortnight, the Duke would send some one else
to take her place with his daughter, which he promised to do.

M. de Sillery (Comte de Genlis) proposed that they should go to his
box at the theatre to cheer their spirits. Among the audience was Lord
Edward Fitzgerald, who, on seeing Pamela, was struck, as Sheridan had
been, with her extraordinary likeness to Mrs. Sheridan, and like him,
fell in love with her, and got a friend to present him in their box.

The next morning they went to Raincy, where the Duke and M. de Sillery
spent the whole of the day with them. The infatuation between the Duke
and Mme. de Genlis seems to have been at an end, if we may trust her
account of that last day.

“He seemed,” she says “_distrait_, gloomy, and preoccupied, with a
strange expression which had something sinister in his face; he walked
up and down from one room to another, as if he dreaded conversation or
questions. The day was fine. I sent Mademoiselle, my niece, and Pamela
into the garden; M. de Sillery followed: I found myself alone with
M. le Duc d’Orléans. Then I said something about his situation, he
hastily interrupted me and said brusquely that he had pledged himself
to the Jacobins. I replied that after all that had happened it was a
crime and a folly; that he would be their victim.... I advised him
to emigrate with his family to America. The Duke smiled disdainfully
and answered as he had often done before, that I was well worth being
consulted and listened to when it was a question of historical or
literary matters, but that I knew nothing about politics.... The
conversation became heated, then angry, and suddenly he left me. In
the evening I had a long interview with M. de Sillery. I entreated
him with tears to leave France; it would have been easy for him to
get away and to take with him at least a hundred thousand francs.
He listened with emotion; told me he abhorred all the excesses of
the Revolution, but that I took too gloomy a view of the outlook.
Robespierre and his party were too mediocre to keep their ascendancy
long; all the talent and capacity was among the moderates, who would
soon re-establish order and morality (they were all put to death soon
afterwards); and that he considered it criminal for an honest man to
leave France at this moment, as he thereby deprived his country of
one more voice for reason and humanity. I insisted, but in vain. He
spoke of the Duke of Orléans, saying that in his opinion he was lost,
because he was placing all his hopes in the Jacobins, who delighted in
degrading him in order to destroy him more easily....”

“We started the next morning; M. le Duc gave me his arm to the
carriage; I was much agitated, Mademoiselle burst into tears, her
father was pale and trembling. When I was in the carriage he stood in
silence by the door with his eyes fixed upon me; his gloomy, sorrowful
look seeming to implore pity.

“‘_Adieu, Madame!_’ he said; and the changed tone of his voice so
increased my agitation that I could not speak. I held out my hand
which he took and pressed tightly in his; then, turning hastily to the
postillions he signed to them, and we started.”

M. de Sillery, M. Ducrest, and the Duc de Chartres went with them to
the frontier of Belgium; and they arrived safely at Tournay, where
they were followed by Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who was eager to marry
Pamela. And now, as before, he was the successful rival of Sheridan,
whom she threw over for his sake. They were married at Tournay and
departed to England, where she was received with great kindness by his

Weeks passed away and still no one came from the Duc d’Orléans; Mme.
de Genlis wrote several times, and he always begged her to wait a few
days longer.

The Duc de Chartres came and joined them at Tournay, where
Mademoiselle d’Orléans was taken dangerously ill with a bilious fever.
She recovered slowly, but in January, 1793, letters from France
brought the news of the execution of Louis XVI., of the infamous
part played by Philippe-Égalité, and of the imminent danger of M. de

The Duc de Chartres was horror-stricken at the crime, at his father’s
share in it, and at the hypocritical letter in which he excused his
baseness, speaking of his lacerated heart, his sacrifice to liberty,
and the welfare of France, &c.

Very different was the letter of M. de Sillery. He, at any rate, if he
had been wrong and mistaken, was ready and willing to pay the penalty.

He sent a number of the printed copies of his “opinion on the King’s
trial,” desiring that some might be forwarded to England. It was as

“I do not vote for his death; first, because he does not deserve it;
secondly, because we have no right to judge him; thirdly, because
I look upon his condemnation as the greatest political fault that
could be committed.” He ended his letter by saying that he knew quite
well that he had signed his own death-warrant, and, beside himself
with horror and indignation, he actually went to the Abbaye and gave
himself up as a prisoner. It was the act of a madman, for he might
very likely have escaped, and his wife consoled herself with the idea
that as there was nothing against him he would only suffer a short

Though several members had voted against the murder of the King, he
was the only one who had had the courage of his opinions. Condorcet
gave as a reason that he disapproved of all capital punishment, the
rest made different excuses.

Mme. de Valence, daughter of Mme. de Genlis came to them at Tournay,
but very soon had to hurry back to France as the Austrian army was
coming up.

Like Mme. Le Brun, Mme. de Genlis had no reason to fear poverty in
exile, her writings would always be sufficient to provide for her;
but she was just then short of money; and, unfortunately, in her
haste, though she had brought with her a good many of her valuable
possessions from Belle Chasse, she had left a great deal that she
might have taken. Mme. de Valence went to Belle Chasse and saved her
piano, some pictures, and various other things which her mother gave
to her, the rest were mostly confiscated.

It was very difficult just then to get money from France, and she had
even to advance some for Mademoiselle d’Orléans. Remembering what
had happened to La Fayette, she was very much afraid of falling into
the hands of the Austrians; on the other hand she could not go into
France without a permission, which she was silly enough to ask for,
but luckily for herself, could not get.

The Duc de Chartres wrote to his father saying that he never wished
to return to France, and wanted to get leave from the Convention to
expatriate himself, but the Duke replied that there was no sense in
it, and forbade him to write.

The Duc de Montpensier came to Tournay to see his brother and sister
and then left for Nice.


[125] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. v. p. 326.

[126] The Duc de Chartres.

[127] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. v. p. 327-8.

[128] _Ibid._, t. v. p. 287.


     Flight and danger—Mons—Zurich—Zug—The Convent of Bremgarten—Death
     of M. de Sillery—Of Égalité—Mademoiselle d’Orléans and the
     Princesse de Conti.

Obliged to leave Tournay, they took refuge at a small town called
Saint Amand, but they soon found themselves forced to fly from that
also, and Mme. de Genlis, alarmed at the dangers and privations
evidently before them, began to think that Mademoiselle d’Orléans
would be safer without her, in the care of her brother.

The camp of Dumouriez lay close at hand, and he had been very good
to them; but there would probably be fighting very shortly, and it
was said that he and many of his officers had been proscribed by the
Convention. It would, she thought, be safer for Mademoiselle d’Orléans
to go and give herself up at Valenciennes, when she would most likely
only be exiled, if that; than to be taken with Mme. de Genlis, as they
would then be sent prisoners to Valenciennes and to the scaffold. And
it was a great chance if they could pass the French posts.

However, the tears of Mademoiselle d’Orléans and the entreaties of her
brother prevailed; and at the last moment she got into the carriage
leaving all her luggage behind except her watch and harp. Mme. de
Genlis, however, had got hers so could supply her, for they could not
wait to pack.

In the carriage were Mademoiselle d’Orléans, Mme. de Genlis, her
niece, and M. de Montjoye, a young officer who had escaped from
France, and was very sensibly going to live in Switzerland, where he
had relations. He spoke German very well, and it was agreed that he
should say the others were English ladies he was escorting to Ostende.

They went by lanes and cross-roads which were so bad that the carriage
broke down, and they had to wait for an hour and a half in a tavern
full of volunteers, who cast sinister glances at them, asked many
questions, but finally allowed them to go on. It was very cold, night
was approaching, the roads got worse and worse, and at last they had
to get out and walk.

After going about three miles they were suddenly arrested by a captain
of volunteers whose attention had been attracted by the lantern
carried by their guide.

Dissatisfied with their answers, he said he suspected them of being
_emigrés_ and should take them to Valenciennes. Mme. de Genlis thought
they were lost, but with admirable presence of mind, she put her arm
within his and walked briskly by his side, chaffing him in an almost
unintelligible jargon about his want of politeness, laughing, and
appearing quite fearless and indifferent.

Presently he stopped; said it was evident that she was an
Englishwoman, that he did not wish to cause them any further
inconvenience; they could continue their journey, but he advised them
to put out the lantern as it might be dangerous. He showed them a bye
way by which they could reach the Austrian outposts without meeting
any more French troops.

As she left Belgium, Mme. Genlis who, with her faults had also many
good qualities, began, she says, to reflect upon the horror of her

“I saw for myself personally a future darker than it proved to be;
I felt that party spirit and the misfortune of having been attached
to the house of Orléans would expose me to all kinds of calumnies
and persecutions; I resigned myself in submission to Providence, for
I knew that I deserved it, because if I had kept my promise to my
friend, Mme. de Custine, if I had done my duty and remained with my
second mother, Mme. de Puisieux, instead of entering the Palais Royal,
or if, at the death of the Maréchale d’Etrée, I had left Belle Chasse
as my husband wished, no _emigrée_ could have been more peaceful and
happy than I in foreign countries; with the general popularity of my
books, my literary reputation, and the social talents I possessed.”

The commandant, Baron Vounianski, received them with great kindness,
and suddenly as she raised her veil, exclaimed “Ah, Princess!” At
first she feared he recognised Mademoiselle d’Orléans, but soon
found out that an extraordinary likeness to a Moravian, Princess von
Lansberg, made him suppose her to be that person, and no denial on her
part altered his conviction. He gave them a supper _à la Hongroise_
enough for twenty people, and while it was going on talked of public
affairs with violent expressions of hatred and curses against the Duke
of Orléans. Mademoiselle d’Orléans grew paler and paler, and Mme.
de Genlis was in terror lest she should faint or in any way betray
herself, but she did not.

The next morning the Baron himself brought up the tray with their
breakfast, still declaring Mme. de Genlis was the Princess, and among
the escort he gave them to Mons were two young cadets from Moravia,
who had been pages to the Princess, by whom they had been specially
recommended to the Baron. They both kissed her hand, and recognized
her as Princess von Lansberg.

Mons was full of soldiers, they could only get bad rooms in the inn,
and in the night Mademoiselle d’Orléans, who slept in Mme. de Genlis’s
room, did nothing but cough and moan. Going into the adjoining room to
tell her niece, Mme. de Genlis found her in the same state; the girls
had both got measles.

Here was a terrible position. They had no maid, the manservant was a
new one, the servants of the inn could do nothing to help as the inn
was crowded; they could not get a doctor till the evening, or a nurse
for four days. Mme. de Genlis, however, understood perfectly well how
to treat them, and nursed them till they recovered.

One day, as she was going to fetch the medicine from the doctor,
who luckily lived close by, she met upon the stairs the Prince de
Lambese. Recognising her at once, he looked at her with an indignant,
contemptuous expression, passed on without speaking and went to the
Governor, Baron von Mack, to denounce her, guessing also that the
daughter of Philippe-Égalité was with her.

The Prince de Lambese had every reason to abhor Mme. de Genlis. He
belonged to the house of Lorraine, was related to Marie Antoinette,
and devoted to her. It was he, who, in July, 1789, at the head of the
Royal Allemand Regiment, cleared the mob out of the _place Louis XV._,
and galloped with his troops into the Tuileries Gardens. He emigrated
and entered the Austrian service.

In Mme. de Genlis he recognised the woman who was supposed to have
been concerned in the infamous libels against the Queen; and who, with
the wretched Égalité and his children, was seen watching from the
Palais Royal the procession, which, headed by the disloyal La Fayette,
and surrounded by the drunken, howling ruffians, his followers,
brought the royal family prisoners to Paris.

Baron von Mack came to see them, told Mme. de Genlis they were
recognised, but was very kind, said they might stay as long as they
liked, and when the two girls were well enough to move, gave them
passports to Switzerland.

This journey they made in safety; though for a few hours they skirted
along the French outposts, saw in the distance a village on fire
across the Rhine, and heard the continual roar of the guns.

They were thankful indeed to find themselves at Schaffhausen, where
they were joined by the Duc de Chartres. It was fortunate for his
sister that she did not remain with him; he had been obliged to fly
with Dumouriez two days after she left, through firing and dangers
of all kinds; and what would have become of a girl of sixteen, in a
violent illness, with no one to look after her?

They stayed at Schaffhausen till they were rested, after seven
days’ journey, and then proceeded to Zurich, where they thought of
establishing themselves. But directly the magistrates heard the now
accursed name of Orléans, all negotiations were at an end; besides
which the place was full of _emigrés_, and they could not go out
without being insulted and annoyed.

They, therefore, removed to the little town of Zug, on the lake
of that name, professing to be an Irish family and living in the
strictest retirement. To any one who has seen the little town of Zug,
it must, even now, appear remote and retired, but in those days it had
indeed the aspect of a refuge forgotten by the world. Sheltered by the
mighty Alps, the little town clusters at the foot of the steep slope
covered with grass and trees, along the shores of the blue lake. A
hundred years ago it must have been an ideal hiding place.

They took a little house in a meadow looking down on the lake, and not
even the authorities of the place knew who they were.

Mme. de Genlis, however, found an opportunity of writing to the
Duchess of Orléans in France; the Duke was by this time arrested.

Mme. de Genlis declares that at this time the Duchess was still free,
and insinuates that she displayed indifference to her daughter in not
replying to her letters.

But Louis XVIII. in his Memoirs says:

“A first decree, dated 4 April (1793), ordered the arrest of Madame
la Duchesse d’Orléans, that woman, so virtuous, so worthy of a better
fate; then of Mme. de Montesson, of Mme. de Valence, daughter of Mme.
de Genlis, and her children. A special clause added: The _citoyens_
Égalité and Sillery cannot leave Paris without permission.”[129]

And M. Turquan,[130] in his life of Mme. de Montesson, says:

“Mme. de Montesson was arrested ... in virtue of a decree of the
Convention of 4 April, 1793, ... and on the 17th ... was taken to
the prison of La Force, from there she was transferred to the Maison
d’arrêt Dudreneux, opposite her own _hôtel_. From the windows of her
new prison she had the consolation, if it was one, of contemplating
her own garden, into which she could no longer put her foot. She had
another, less bitter, her _première femme de chambre_ would not be
separated from her, but followed her to prison, and in spite of many
obstacles rendered her many services.... This admirable, devoted woman
(Mme. Naudet) had left her children to follow her mistress to prison.”

It is therefore evident that at the time of which Mme. de Genlis is
writing, the middle of May, the Duchess of Orléans was in prison. Also
that the Marquis de Sillery, her husband, had not been detained in
the Abbaye, as from his letter she had supposed, but was only under
supervision till the 7th of April.

But with regard to dates Mme. de Genlis is exceedingly inaccurate; in
fact her statements are sometimes impossible. For instance, she says
that they left Mons the 13th of April, arriving at Schaffhausen on the
26th of May, and that their journey took seven days! Also that they
arrived at Schaffhausen on the 26th of May, and then that they left
that place for Zurich on May 6th ... and went to Zug May 14. At any
rate they appear to have been there late in May. The Duchess[131] was
then in the prison of the Luxembourg, and the Duke and his two younger
sons were imprisoned at Marseilles.

It was no wonder they got neither money nor letters from the Orléans
family, but Mme. de Genlis began to be uneasy about money matters. She
could not get any remittances either; and although her writings would
certainly ultimately support her, she could take no steps about them
while she was afraid to disclose her name.

The story of her exile is indeed a contrast to that of Mme. Le Brun,
who, with none of her advantages of rank and fortune, nothing but
her own genius, stainless character, and charming personality, was
welcomed, _fêted_, and loved in nearly every court in Europe, whose
exile was one long triumphant progress, and who found friends and a
home wherever she went.

But Mme. de Genlis discovered, when too late, that by her attempts
both to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, she had succeeded
in making herself detested by both parties; and now she waited in
daily perplexity about money matters, and fear of the recognition
which was not long in coming.

They only went out to church and to take country walks, but after a
time some _emigrés_ arrived at Zug, who, though they did not know them
personally, had seen the Duc de Chartres at Versailles, recognised
him, and spread the news all over the place.

Mme. de Genlis had before pointed out to him this danger, but he
was very anxious to be with his sister, the only one of his nearest
relations left to him, and she did not like to press the matter. But
he soon saw that they must separate. The magistrates at Zug behaved
very well, saying that the little family gave no reason for complaint,
on the contrary were kind to the poor, harmless and popular.

But in a few days there were articles about them in the German papers;
letters from Berne to the authorities of Zug reproached them for
receiving the son and daughter of the infamous Égalité; the people of
Zug disliked the attention so generally drawn upon them, the chief
magistrate became uneasy, and as politely as he could asked them to go

It was time. The day before they left a stone was thrown in at the
window just where Mademoiselle d’Orléans had been sitting; if it had
struck her it might have killed her. It struck her hat which she had
hung on the top of a chair. A shower of stones followed, breaking the
windows and arousing the Duc de Chartres and their only manservant,
who had gone to bed, and who rushed out into the garden, but only in
time to hear the hurrying foot-steps of the escaping rascals.

The next day they left Zug. M. de Chartres went to Coire, in the
Engadine, where for fifteen months he gave lessons in mathematics in
a college under an assumed name, while Mme. de Genlis and her two
charges took refuge in a convent near the little town of Bremgarten,
where they were admitted through M. de Montesquieu, another of the
radical nobles obliged to flee from the tender mercies of his radical
friends, of whom they had heard through M. de Montjoye, now living
with his relations in Bâle, when he had paid them a visit.

In the convent they were safe and at peace, except for another illness
of Mademoiselle d’Orléans, which left her so weak that Mme. de Genlis
was afraid to tell her of the execution of her father in the November
of 1794. She persuaded her not to read the French papers, telling her
they were full of blasphemies and indecencies not fit for her to see.
She had already received news of the execution of her husband, M. de
Sillery, by which she was prostrated for a time.

Philippe-Égalité had wearied Robespierre with his petitions to be
released, and that worthy remarked to Fouquier-Tinville—

“It seems that Égalité is tired of the fish of Marseilles that Milon
appreciated so much. He wants to come to Paris.”

“Why prevent his coming back? his affair will be settled all the
sooner,” was the answer.[132]

It was said that a locksmith, who was executed on the same day, would
not get into the same cart with him, fearing that he “might be thought
the accomplice of such a man.”

Mme. de Genlis put Mademoiselle d’Orléans into mourning, telling her
that it was for the Queen, which she must of course wear, and it was
some time before she discovered the truth.

She had written to ask a refuge of her uncle, the Duke of Modena,
who sent her some money, but said political reasons prevented his
receiving her in his duchy. The poor child, naturally merry and
high-spirited, had grown quiet and sad, though she bore without
complaining the hardships of her lot.

At last they heard that the Princesse de Conti was living near
Fribourg, and it was arranged that she should take charge of her
niece. She wrote an affectionate letter, and sent the Comtesse de
Saint-Maurice-de-Pont to Bremgarten to fetch her.

Mme. de Genlis, dreading the parting, shut herself up in her room on
the morning of her departure, leaving a message that she had gone out
for the day to avoid that grief. She had not told her the night before
that the time had come for their separation.

It was a great sorrow to them both, but was inevitable. Mademoiselle
d’Orléans was rightly placed in the care of her own family, and the
wandering, adventurous life led from this time by Mme. de Genlis was
not desirable for the young princess.


  _E. H. Bearne_



[129] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. v. p. 326.

[130] “Madame de Montesson,” p. 277 (Joseph Turquan).

[131] After the fall of Robespierre and the Convention, the Duchess
was released by the Directory and exiled to Spain.

[132] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. v. p. 329.


     A wandering life—“The tyrant is no more”—Marriage of
     Henriette—Hamburg—Berlin—Antwerp—Brussels—Returns to
     France—Terrible changes—Shattered fortune—Literary success—The
     Empire—Napoleon—Mme. de Genlis and her friends—Death of Mme. de

It will not be possible in a biography so short as this, to give a
detailed account of the wandering, adventurous life led by Mme. de
Genlis after the severance of her connection with the Orléans family.

She had now only her niece, Henriette, with her, and they set
out again upon their travels. M. de Valence, after serving the
revolutionists, had been proscribed by them, and was living in exile
at Utrecht. There, accordingly, they joined him, and set up a joint
_ménage_, first there, afterwards at Altona and at Hamburg.

It was whilst Mme. de Genlis was in Altona that she heard of the
fall of Robespierre and the deliverance of her daughter. She was
then living in a boarding-house, or inn, kept by a certain Mme.
Plock, where she spent a good deal of time; and about one o’clock one
morning she was sitting up in her room, writing, when she suddenly
heard a violent knocking at her door, and the voice of M. de Kercy,
a peaceable friendly acquaintance of hers, whose room was close by,
called out—

“Open the door! Open the door! I must embrace you.”

Thinking he must have lost his senses she did nothing of the sort, and
again he cried out—

“It is you who will embrace me! Open the door! Open the door!”

At length she did so, and M. de Kercy, flinging himself upon her neck,

“The tyrant is no more! Robespierre is dead!”

Mme. de Genlis some time afterwards married her niece, Henriette de
Sercey, to a rich merchant in Hamburg, after which she went to Berlin,
but where she was denounced to the King, accused, without truth, of
receiving the Abbé de Sieyès, then in Berlin, and ordered to leave the
Prussian territory.

Then she went back to Hamburg, where she found her niece happy and
prosperous, and where Lady Edward Fitzgerald, who was always devoted
to her, came to pay her a visit, greatly to her delight.

Next she went to Holstein with M. de Valence who left her in an old
castle, with the owners of which she formed an intimate friendship,
and after staying there some weeks she took rooms in a farm in the
neighbourhood where she lived for a considerable time; she had with
her then as companion a young girl called Jenny, to whom she was much
attached, and who nursed her devotedly through an illness.

Thus she wandered from place to place during the rest of her nine
years of exile, generally under an assumed name; going now and then
to Berlin, after the King’s death, and to Hamburg, which was full of
_emigrés_, but where she met M. de Talleyrand and others of her own
friends. Shunned and denounced by many, welcomed by others, she made
many friends of different grades, from the brother and sister-in-law
of the King of Denmark to worthy Mme. Plock, where she lodged in
Altona, and the good farmer in Holstein, in whose farmhouse she lived.
The storms and troubles of her life did not subdue her spirits; she
was always ready for a new friendship, enjoying society, but able to
do without it; taking an interest in everything, walking about the
country in all weathers, playing the harp, reading, teaching a little
boy she had adopted and called Casimir, and writing books by which she
easily supported herself and increased her literary reputation.

It was in the year 1801 that she received permission to return to

Taking leave of her friends, who implored her not to leave them, she
started for Brussels, accompanied by her niece Henriette and Pamela,
who went part of the way with her. At Antwerp she met her son-in-law,
M. de Lawoestine, who had been to visit her when she was living in
Holstein. With her two sons-in-law she was always on the most friendly
and affectionate terms.

At Brussels she found her nephew, César Ducrest, and, after nine
years’ separation, was reunited to her daughter, who accompanied her
to Paris.

Mme. de Valence, whatever may have been the follies of her youth,
was a woman generally beloved for her kind, affectionate, generous
disposition, she was devoted to her mother and children, and Mme. de
Genlis in her joy at seeing her and France again, to say nothing of
the other relations and friends whose affection made so large a part
of her happiness, was consoled for the sorrows of her past life.

But her first impressions were very painful, notwithstanding her
emotion when first she heard the people around her speaking French,
saw the towers of Notre Dame, passed the _barrière_, and found herself
again driving through the streets of Paris.

It was all so terribly changed, she could hardly believe that this
was indeed the Paris of her youth, the ancient capital of a great
monarchy, the centre of magnificence, elegance, and refinement. The
churches were mostly closed, if not in ruins; the statues of the
saints were replaced by those of infidel philosophers; the names of
the streets were changed into others, often commemorating some odious
individual or theory or deed of the Revolution; as to the convents
the very names of “Jacobin,” “Cordeliers,” and others were associated
with horror and bloodshed. The words _palais_ and _hôtel_ having
been forbidden by the Terrorists, _maison ci-devant Conti_, _maison
ci-devant Bourbon_, &c., were written upon the once splendid dwellings
of those who were now murdered, wandering in exile or, like herself,
just returning to their ruined homes, with shattered fortunes and
sorrowful hearts. Everywhere, on walls and buildings were inscribed
the mocking words _liberté_, _égalité_, _fraternité_, sometimes with
the significant addition, _ou la mort_.

On the other hand things were much better than when, nine years
ago she had driven out of Paris to Raincy on the eve of her long
exile. The powerful arm of Napoleon had swept away the most horrible
government that has ever existed in civilised times or countries;
people now could walk about in safety, and live without fear.

If religious processions, and splendid carriages with six or eight
horses preceded by _piqueurs_, were no longer to be seen in the
streets, neither were mobs of drunken, howling, bloodthirsty ruffians,
who would have been made short work of by the great First Consul who
so firmly held the reins which had dropped from the feeble hands of
Louis XVI.

Unscrupulous, heartless, remorseless, yet he was a saint and angel
compared to the frantic, raving, blood-stained miscreants whom he had
displaced, and whose work he was now occupied in undoing as fast as he

It required time and caution, even with him, in the disturbed state
of the country; but already some of the churches were beginning to
open; Madame Buonaparte held something extremely like a court at the
Tuileries, at which any of the returning _emigrés_ who would go there
were welcomed. And they were now returning in crowds, as fast as they
could get themselves _rayés_.[133]

Mlle. Georgette Ducrest, a cousin of Mme. de Genlis, had emigrated
with her family, who were protected by Mme. de Montesson and
Joséphine, and now applied for _radiation_.

M. Ducrest accordingly went with the usual request to Fouché, then
minister of police, who replied—

“Will you give me your certificate of residence? all the emigrants
have them and prove to me every day that they have never left France.”

“I cannot do that, _citoyen ministre_, I have no papers to show you
except an old passport under another name, which I bought for twelve
francs at Hamburg. I have been away from France eleven years.”

“What! You have no means of proving to me that you have been unjustly
placed on the list?”

“_Mordieu!_ no.”

“Well in that case I will have you _rayé_ immediately for I am
persuaded you have never left your country. All those who emigrated
have given me so many proofs to the contrary that I am sure you are
imposing upon me in an opposite sense, and that you never left Paris.
You will receive your _radiation_ in two days.”

Even the proscribed arms and liveries were beginning here and there to
appear, and the leader in this revival was Mme. de Montesson.

Far from being forced, as formerly, to keep in the background her
marriage with the Duke of Orléans, it was for that very reason that
she was high in the favour of the First Consul and the more _en
évidence_ she made it, the better it was for her.

She did not bear the title, which indeed would not then have been
permissible; but the well-known arms and blue liveries of Orléans
re-appeared on her carriages and in her _hôtel_, the royal arms of
Orléans were embroidered on the fine Saxon linen of her household, the
gold plate and delicate Sèvres china denounced by the Terrorists was
to be seen at the princely entertainments at her _hôtel_ in the _rue
de Provence_, where everything was done with the stately magnificence
of former days, and whither every one of the old and new society was
eager to be presented.

The First Consul had restored her fortune to her, and treated her
with more deference than he showed to any other woman; she assumed
royal prerogatives, never returning visits or rising to receive them,
in fact she was considered and often called in society, the Duchess
Dowager of Orléans.

Mme. de Genlis went with M. de Valence to see her two days after her
return, and was coldly received, but their relations to each other
quickly returned to their usual terms.

Mme. de Genlis had taken rooms close to the Chaussé d’Antin, and began
to look after her affairs, which were in a most dilapidated state.
Nearly all the property she left at Belle Chasse had been confiscated,
she could not get her jointure paid by the persons who had got hold of
it, and though Sillery had been inherited by Mme. de Valence, to whom
she had given up all her own share in it, Mme. de Valence had let her
spendthrift husband waste the fortune and afterwards sell the estate
to a General who married one of his daughters, and who partly pulled
down the _château_ and spoiled the place.

She was therefore very badly off, though her writings were always
quite successful enough to provide for her, but she could not be happy
without perpetually adopting children: even now she had not only
Casimir, who was always like a son to her, but an adopted daughter
called Stéphanie Alyon, and another whom she sent back to Germany.

For more than a year she did not dare to pass the Palais Royal or to
cross the _place Louis XV._, too many phantoms seemed to haunt and
reproach her for the past.

But time and circumstances were obliterating crimes and injuries
by the side of which her faults were as nothing. Though it is
satisfactory to think that numbers of the Revolutionists received the
punishment due to their deeds, there were others who for some reason
or other managed not only to escape but to prosper; and with Fouché in
a place of power and authority, what, might one ask, had become of all
ideas of justice and retribution?

Mme. de Genlis, finding Paris too dear, moved to Versailles where
she lived for a time, during which she had the grief of losing her
nephew, César Ducrest, a promising young officer, who was killed by an

She grew tired of Versailles, and returned to Paris, where the First
Consul gave her an apartment at the Arsenal and a pension.

A new era of prosperity, though of quite a different kind from the
luxury, excitement, and splendour of her earlier life, now began for
Mme. de Genlis. She opened a _salon_ which was soon the resort of most
of the interesting and influential people of the day. In the society
of the Consulate and Empire her early opinions and proceedings were
not thought about, and her literary reputation was now great; and
besides countless new acquaintances many of her old friends were
delighted to welcome her again.

With Talleyrand she had always been on friendly terms.

Napoleon had insisted upon his marrying Mme. Grandt, his mistress,
who had always received his guests during the loose society lately
prevalent: people said that since he had done so, his _salon_ was
not nearly so amusing. She was a pretty but extremely stupid person,
always making some mistake. On one occasion the celebrated traveller,
M. Denon, was going to dine with them, and Talleyrand told her to be
sure to talk to him about his travels, adding—

“You will find his book on the third shelf in the library; look it

Mme. de Talleyrand went to look for the book, but had by this time
forgotten the title. Turning over several she came upon “Robinson
Crusoe,” thought that must be it, and read it eagerly; in consequence
of which, during dinner, she began to ask him about his shipwreck and
the desert island, and to inquire after the faithful Friday.

M. Denon, who could not imagine what she meant, looked at her in
astonishment, only saying—

“Madame?”—when Talleyrand heard and interposed.

Like all the other _emigrées_ Mme. de Genlis was horrified at the
strange manners and customs of the new society, largely composed
of vulgar, uneducated persons, often enormously rich, exceedingly
pretentious, and with no idea how to conduct themselves.

Many of them occupied the old _hôtels_ of the ruined families of
the _ancien régime_, in which their rough voices, strange language,
manners and appearance contrasted as much with those of the former
owners, as the new furniture, all gilding, costly stuffs and objects
mixed incongruously together, did with the harmonious tapestries,
ancient heirlooms, and family portraits which they replaced.

In the streets people recognised their own carriages turned into
hackney coaches; the shops were full of their things; books with their
arms, china, furniture, portraits of their relations, who had perhaps
perished on the scaffold. Walking along the boulevard one day soon
after her return to Paris she stopped at a shop, and on leaving her
address, the lad who was serving her exclaimed—

“Eh! you are at home then!”

It was the _hôtel de Genlis_, which for fifteen years had been the
residence of her brother-in-law. She did not recognise it, as all the
ground floor was divided and turned into shops!

Another day she received the visit of a woman who got out of a
carriage the door of which was opened and shut by a negro dwarf, and
who was announced as Mme. de Biras.

Her dress was a caricature of the latest fashion, her manner was
impertinently familiar. She first made a silly exclamation at being
addressed as “_madame_” instead of “_citoyenne_,” then she turned
over the books on the table and when at length Mme. de Genlis politely
explained that being very busy she could not have the honour of
detaining her, the strange visitor explained the object of her visit.

Her husband was a miller, who had, apparently by his manipulation of
contracts given him for the army and by various corrupt practices,
made an enormous fortune. He and his wife wished to enter society, but
not having any idea what to do or how to behave, they wanted Mme. de
Genlis to live with them as chaperon and teach them the usages of the
world, offering her 12,000 francs salary and assuring her that she
would be very happy with them as they had a splendid _hôtel_ in the
_rue St. Dominique_, and had just bought an estate and _château_ in
Burgundy. She added that M. de Biras knew Mme. de Genlis, as he had
lived on her father’s lands. He was their miller![134]

It was no wonder that Napoleon was anxious to get his court and
society civilised, and the person to whom he chiefly turned for help
and counsel in this matter was Mme. de Montesson, who knew all about
the usages of great society and court etiquette.

Neither Napoleon nor any of his family had at all the manners and
customs suitable to the position in which he had placed them, and
he was quite aware of the fact. His mother, as he said, could speak
neither French nor Italian properly, but only a kind of Corsican
_patois_, which he was ashamed to hear. He did everything he could
to win over the _emigrés_ and those of the old _noblesse_ who had
remained in France; his great wish was to mingle the new _noblesse_
he soon began to create with the _faubourg St. Germain_, and his
great disappointment and anger was excited by the non-success of his
attempts. From the time he rose to supreme power he contemplated a
court and a _noblesse_ for the country and a crown for himself. And
that a court formed out of the materials supplied by his generals and
their families would be ridiculous he knew, and meant to avoid.

“Above everything in France ridicule is to be avoided,” he had

Therefore he encouraged and promoted the marriages of his officers
with the penniless daughters of the old families; therefore he sent
the only sister who was young enough to the school of Mme. Campan,
formerly _femme de chambre_ to Marie Antoinette, and gave that clever,
astute woman his support and approbation.

For the same reason he had, at the beginning of his career, married
Joséphine, Vicomtesse de Beauharnais; it was true, as he afterwards
declared that he loved her better than he ever loved any woman; but
all the same he had decided that his wife must be of good blood, good
manners, and good society; and although Joséphine was by no means a
_grande dame_, she was in a much better position than himself; and
her children’s name, her social connections, her well-bred son and
daughter, the charming manners and _savoir faire_ of all three were
then and for long afterwards both useful and agreeable to him.

Always eager to marry his officers, he was often very peremptory about

At the time of the expedition to St. Domingo he desired to send
Leclerc, the husband of his second sister, Pauline. Leclerc hesitated,
then said he should be glad to go, but he had a tie which bound him to

“Paulette?” said Napoleon. “But she will follow you. I approve of her
doing so; the air of Paris does not agree with her, it is only fit for
coquettes, a character unbecoming her. She must accompany you, that is

It was not Paulette, explained Leclerc, he would be distressed to
leave her, but she would be safe and surrounded by her family. It was
his young sister, now at school at Mme. Campan’s, whom he could not
leave unprotected, perhaps for ever. “I ask you, General, how _can_ I?”

“Of course,” replied Napoleon, “but you should find a marriage for her
at once; to-morrow; and then go.”

“But I have no fortune, and——”

“What of that? Cannot you depend upon me? I desire you to make
immediate preparations for your sister’s marriage to-morrow. I cannot
say yet to whom, but she shall be married, and well married.”


“Have I not spoken plainly? Say no more about it.”

Leclerc withdrew, and a few minutes afterwards Davoust came in to
announce his intended marriage.

“With Mlle. Leclerc? I think it a very suitable match.”

“No, General, with Mme. ——”

“With Mlle. Leclerc! I not only find the marriage suitable, I insist
on its taking place immediately!”

“I have long loved Mme. ——, she is now free; nothing shall make me
give her up.”

“Nothing but my will!” said Napoleon sternly. “You will go at once to
Mme. Campan’s school at Saint-Germain; on your arrival you will ask
for your intended bride, to whom you will be presented by her brother,
General Leclerc, who is now with my wife, and will accompany you.

“Mlle. Aimée shall come to Paris to-night. Order the wedding presents,
which must be most costly, as I am to act as the young lady’s father
on the occasion. I shall provide the _dot_ and wedding-dress, and
the wedding will take place as soon as the legal formalities can be
arranged. You now know my wishes, and have only to obey them.”

He rang the bell, and sent for Leclerc.

“Well! Was I wrong? Here is your sister’s husband. Go together to
Saint-Germain, and don’t let me see either of you until everything is
arranged. I hate all talk of money affairs.”

Mute with astonishment they obeyed, and went to Saint-Germain, where
Davoust was presented to Mlle. Leclerc, whom he did not like at all.
The marriage took place a few days afterwards.

It was a change indeed from Louis XVI. Every one trembled before
Napoleon except his brother Lucien; and perhaps his mother, who,
however, never had the slightest influence over him. He required
absolute submission; but if not in opposition to his will, he liked
a high spirit and ready answer in a young man, or woman either, and
detested weakness, cowardice, and indecision.

When he offered posts in the army to two brothers, who belonged to
the old _noblesse_, and they refused, preferring to accept places at
court, he exclaimed angrily—

“I have been deceived! It is impossible that those gentlemen can be
descended from the brave C——”

Another time a certain M. de Comminges, who had been with him at the
_École militaire_, in reply to his question—

“What have you been doing during the Revolution? Have you served?”

“No, Sire.”

“Then you followed the Bourbons into exile?”

“Oh! no, Sire! I stayed at home and cultivated my little estate.”

“The more fool you, monsieur! In these times of trouble every one
ought to give his personal service one way or the other. What do you
want now?”

“Sire, a modest post in the _octroi_ of my little town would——”

“Very well, you shall have it; and stay there! Is it possible that I
have been the comrade of such a man?”

For the Revolution, the royalists themselves could scarcely have
entertained a deeper hatred and contempt. He would speak with disgust
of its early scenes, of the weakness of the authorities, which he
despised, and of the mob, which he abominated.

Young and unknown, he had been present with Bourrienne on the 20th
June, and seen the raving, frantic mob rushing upon the Tuileries. He
followed with Bourrienne in a transport of indignation, and saw with
contempt Louis XVI. at the window with a red cap on. He exclaimed—

“How could they let that _canaille_ pass in! They should sweep away
four or five hundred with cannon; the rest would run.”

He was then twenty-three.

Mme. de Genlis never went to the Imperial court, but led a quiet
literary life; quiet, that is to say, so far as the word can be
applied to one whose _salon_ was the resort of such numbers of people.

Most of the Imperial Family used to go to her, but her chief friend
among them was Julie, Queen of Spain, wife of Joseph Buonaparte,
Napoleon’s eldest brother. She was also very fond of Julie’s sister,
Désirée, wife of Marshal Bernadotte, afterwards Queen of Sweden. For
Bernadotte she had the greatest admiration, saying that his appearance
and manners were those of the old court.

The Princess de Chimay, once Mme. Tallien, was also received by her
with gratitude and friendship; she never forgot that she had saved the
life of Mme. de Valence, and in fact put an end to the Terror.[135]

Mme. Le Brun, speaking of Mme. de Genlis, says, “Her slightest
conversation had a charm of which it is difficult to give an idea....
When she had discoursed for half an hour everybody, friends and
enemies, were enchanted with her brilliant conversation.”

Mme. de Montesson died in February, 1806, leaving the whole of her
fortune to M. de Valence, except one or two trifling legacies and
20,000 francs to Mme. de Genlis, and, as her brother was then not well
off, Mme. de Genlis added her 20,000 francs to his.


[133] Struck off the proscribed list.

[134] “Salons de Paris,” t. iv. p. 85 (ed. Gamin), Duchesse d’Abrantès.

[135] She said the Princess was still beautiful, extremely
interesting, told thrilling stories of what she had seen in her
strange life, but never spoke against any one.


     Interesting society—Anecdotes of the past Terror—Casimir—The
     Restoration—Madame Royale—Louis XVIII.—The _coiffeur_
     of Marie Antoinette—The regicide—Return of the Orléans
     family—An astrologer—A faithful servant—Society of the

All the great artists, musicians, actors, and literary people who had
returned to Paris after the Terror came to the _salon_ of Mme. de
Genlis; and many were the strange and terrible stories they had to
tell of their escapes and adventures.

Talma had, in the kindness of his heart, concealed in his house for
a long time two proscribed men. One was a democrat and terrorist,
who had denounced him and his wife as Girondins. For after the fall
of Robespierre the revolutionary government, forced by the people to
leave off arresting women and children, let the royalists alone and
turned their fury against each other. Besides this democrat who was
hidden in the garret, he had a royalist concealed in the cellar. They
did not know of each other’s presence, and Talma had them to supper
on alternate nights after the house was shut up. At last, as the
terrorist seemed quite softened and touched and polite, Talma and his
wife thought they would venture to have them together. At first all
went well, then after a time they found out who each other were; and
on some discussion arising, their fury broke forth—

“Only a royalist would say that!”

“Only a terrorist could speak so!”

“You speak like a villain!”

“You think like a scoundrel!”

“If ever we get the upper hand!”

“If ever we get our revenge!”

They both sprang up, declaring it was better to die than to stay with
such a monster, and left the room.

After this Talma kept them separate; they were in the house several
weeks unknown to each other until it was safe for them to be let

Even among the revolutionists there was sometimes a strange mixture
of good and evil. The Auvergnat deputy Soubrany was proscribed by his
friends, and met Fréron in the street, who said—

“What are you doing here? We have just proscribed you!”

“Proscribed me?”

“Yes. Save yourself; come to my house, you can hide safely; they won’t
look for you there. Only make haste.”

“I can’t. I must go home.”

“Why? It will be putting your head in the wolf’s mouth.”

“I must go back to my house. An _emigré_ is hidden there. I alone
know the secret of his hiding-place; if I do not let him out he will
be starved to death.”

He returned in time to save the _emigré_, but not himself.[137]

Mme. de Genlis was very happy at the Arsenal with Casimir and a little
boy named Alfred, whom she had adopted.

Casimir was already seventeen, a great comfort, and very popular.
He had been on a visit to London, when, as he returned with Prince
Esterhazy, who had a boat of his own, he had a message at Dover from
Pamela begging him to go to her. Since the arrest and death of Lord
Edward Fitzgerald, she had married Mr. Pitcairn, American Consul at
Hamburg, but was overwhelmed with debts, and for some reason insisted
on coming to Paris. She was hiding from her creditors, and appealed to
Casimir, who gave her fifty louis and hid her on board the boat. She
had with her her daughter by Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and stayed some
time at Paris, in spite of the representations of Mme. de Genlis that
she ought to go back to her husband at Hamburg.

For nine years Mme. de Genlis lived at the Arsenal, and then moved
to another apartment, but was always surrounded with friends and
consideration. Except amongst her immediate relations and adopted
children, she was not so deeply loved as Mme. Le Brun, or even the
eccentric Mme. de Stael, but her acquaintance and friendship was
sought by numbers of persons, French and others, who were attracted
by her books, conversation, musical, and other talents.

With the fall of the Empire departed her pension and all assistance
from the Government.

She had long renounced and repented of her proceedings of former days,
and was now extremely royalist, but the daughter of Marie Antoinette
was not likely to receive one who had been, if not implicated, at any
rate hand-and-glove with the enemies of her mother.

With the deepest reluctance Louis XVIII. yielded to what he was
assured to be an absolute necessity and allowed, as Napoleon had found
it necessary to allow, more than one even of the regicides, who had
survived and were powerful, to hold office during his reign. Their
powerful support was declared to be indispensable to the safety of the
monarchy, and the union of parties which he hoped to achieve.

But, except in cases of absolute political necessity and at the
entreaty of him, who was now not only her uncle and adopted father,
but her king, the Duchesse d’Angoulême would receive no one who had
in any way injured her mother. She would have nothing to do with Mme.
de Stael, and would not even receive Mme. Campan, because she did
not believe she had been always thoroughly loyal to her; though in
that many people said she was mistaken. Mme. Campan, in her memoirs,
professes the greatest affection and respect for her royal mistress,
and during the Empire, she always kept in her room a bust of the

On the other hand, any one who had been faithful and loyal to her
parents, now met with their reward.

There was at Versailles a certain Laboullé, _coiffeur_ to Louis XV.,
and to Marie Antoinette when the Dauphine. He invented a perfume which
he called _eau Antoinette_, and which was so much in vogue that he
opened a perfume shop at Versailles, which was patronised by Louis
XVI. and Marie Antoinette when they came to the throne. He married,
and the Queen was very kind to his wife, whom she used to employ in
her various charities; and was devoted to her.

It is satisfactory to know that the brutal, dastardly conduct of the
Versailles populace was at any rate punished, in a way they probably
had not thought of. The departure of the King and court ruined the
place, before so prosperous. The population shrunk to a third of its
former numbers.

The Laboullé moved to Paris, and opened a shop at 83, _rue de la Roi_,
afterwards _rue Richelieu_, which soon became the centre of Royalist

During the captivity of the Queen, Mme. Laboullé was always trying to
get to her and very often succeeded; when she always took her some
of the perfume. These excellent people saved the lives of numbers
of royalists, and how they themselves escaped the guillotine, only
Providence can tell. When the surviving members of the royal family
returned, the Duchesse d’Angoulême sent for her, expressed her deep
gratitude, and always loved and protected her.

The saintly character of the Duchess, however, made her forgive and
even help those who repented and suffered, even though they had been
the bitterest enemies of her family.[138]

During her exile in England, she was in the habit of visiting and
helping the French who were poor or sick, and one day being in a
hospital, and seeing a French soldier evidently very ill, she spoke to
him with compassion and offered him money, which he refused, with a
strange exclamation, apparently of horror.

“Take it, _mon ami_,” she said, “I am your country-woman, you need not
be ashamed to receive a little help from me.”

“I know you are French, Madame,” he muttered with embarrassment.

“You know me, then?”

“Yes, Madame.”

“Well, then, that is all the more reason why you should not refuse
what I offer you.”

“On the contrary, Madame——” he stammered.

“_Comment!_ on the contrary? What do you mean? Tell me.”

“I cannot explain,” said the man uneasily.

“I entreat you to tell me; have you anything against me?”

The soldier burst into tears.

“You are suffering,” said the Duchess; “come confide in me, we are
both French in a foreign land, and ought to help and comfort each

“Alas! Madame, the sight of you recalls to me a recollection so
fearful, that I would give my life to blot it out of my memory. I was
one of those who beat the drums in the _place de la Révolution_ on the
27th January.”

The Princess turned pale, trembled, and held out the gold, saying—

“In the name of him who is gone, I bring you this help; he loved all

And she turned away, leaving the soldier in tears.

When Madame Royale was at last released from prison, she did not know
the fate of her brother and her aunt, Madame Elizabeth. On hearing
that they were dead, she declared that she did not wish to live
herself; but her heart soon turned to her French relations, and her
one wish was to get to them.


  _Madame Vigée Le Brun_


She was, however, first sent to her mother’s family in Austria, where
she was received, of course, with great affection, but kept as much
as possible from seeing even the French _emigrés_, of whom there were
so many in Austria. The Austrian plan was to marry her to one of the
archdukes, her cousins, and then claim for her the succession to
Burgundy, Franche Comté, and Bretagne; to all of which she would, in
fact, have had a strong claim if France could have been dismembered;
as these provinces all went in the female line, and had thus been
united to the kingdom of France.

Of course the plan was visionary, and the provinces had been so long
incorporated into France, that even if the allies had consented to the
dismemberment, the nation would never have submitted to it.

It would have perhaps been no wonder if, after all she had suffered in
France, she had identified herself with her mother’s family, and in
another home and country forgotten as far as she could the land which
must always have such fearful associations for her. But it was not so.
Her father had told her that she was to marry no one but her cousin,
the Duc d’Angoulême, who, failing her brother, would succeed to the
crown; and had written to the same effect to his brother the Comte de

The Princess had therefore, as soon as she could get away from
Austria, joined her uncles and aunts and married the Duc d’Angoulême,
concentrating all her affection upon those remaining members of her
family, who received her with the deepest joy and tenderness.

Louis XVIII. says of her—

“Madame Royale united all the virtues of her own sex with the energy
of ours. She alone would have been able to reconquer our sceptre if,
like her grandmother, Marie Thérèse, she had had the command of an

Of their entry into Paris, he says—

“I was in an open carriage with Madame Royale by my side,[140] MM.
de Condé were opposite; my brother and the Duc de Berri rode by us
... the Duc d’Angoulême was still in the south.... I saw nothing but
rejoicing and goodwill on all sides; they cried ‘_Vive le Roi!_’ as
if any other cry were impossible.... The more I entreated Madame
Royale to control her emotion, for we were approaching the Tuileries,
the more difficult it was for her to restrain it. It took all her
courage not to faint or burst into tears in the presence of all these
witnesses.... I myself was deeply agitated, the deplorable past rising
before me.... I remembered leaving this town twenty-three years ago,
about the same time of year at which I now returned, a King.... I felt
as if I should have fallen when I saw the Tuileries. I kept my eyes
away from Madame Royale for fear of calling forth an alarming scene.
I trembled lest her firmness should give way at this critical moment.
But arming herself with resignation against all that must overwhelm
her, she entered almost smiling the palace of bitter recollections.
When she could be alone the long repressed feelings overflowed, and it
was with sobs and a deluge of tears that she took possession of the
inheritance, which in the natural course of events must be her own.

“How thankful I was to find myself alone in the room occupied first
by my brother, then by Buonaparte, to which I came back after so long
an absence: absolute solitude was a necessity to my mind. I prayed
and groaned without interruption, which relieved me; then I resolved
irrevocably to act in such a manner as never to expose France or my
family to the Revolution which had just ended.... I lay down in the
bed of Buonaparte, it had also been that of the martyr king, and at
first I could not sleep ... like Richard III. I saw in a vision those
I had lost, and in the distance enveloped in a sanguinary cloud I
seemed to see menacing phantoms.”[141]

With the King returned those that were left of the Orléans family.
The best of the sons of Égalité, the Comte de Beaujolais had died
in exile, so also had the Duc de Montpensier. The Duchess Dowager,
saintly and good as ever, Mademoiselle d’Orléans and the Duc de
Chartres remained. Both the latter had made their submission and
expressed their repentance to the King, who in accepting the excuses
of the Duc de Chartres said—

“Monsieur, you have much to do to repair the crimes of your father. I
have doubtless forgotten them, but my family, but France, but Europe
will find it difficult not to remember them.... In accepting the name
of Égalité you left the family of Bourbon, nevertheless I consent to
recall you into it.... Duc d’Orléans, it is finished, from to-day
alone we will begin to know each other.”

The Duke wished to make his excuses to Madame Royale, but she said it
would be long before she could bear to see him.[142]

Mme. de Genlis was received with affection by her old pupils, and had
a pension from them during the rest of her life.

The Duc d’Orléans, leaving the room when she came to see them,
returned, bringing his young wife, who said graciously, “Madame,
I have always longed to know you, for there are two things I love
passionately, your pupils and your books.”

Mme. de Genlis, though she did not go much into society, being now
exceedingly royalist, was presented at court, and must have recalled
those far off days when she drove down to Versailles with Mme. de
Puisieux to be presented to the magnificent Louis XV.

A curious story is told, that at the time when Louis XIV. was building
the palace of Versailles, his then all-powerful mistress, Mme. de la
Vallière, said to him that he must, according to the custom, have the
horoscope cast of the palace. He laughed at her superstition, but told
her he would leave the matter to her. She accordingly consulted an
astrologer, who said, “After a hundred years the kings of France will
leave Versailles.”

“Will they ever return?” she asked, to which he replied—

“No; the people will not allow it.”

Louis XIV., to whom the idea of the people “allowing” the King to do
anything he chose must have appeared ludicrous, replied that their
love for their King would, indeed, be excessive if they would not bear
him out of their sight, and ended by saying—

“I envy my successors!”

The tone of society was entirely different during the Restoration
from that of the Empire. The lavish expenditure in entertainments,
dress, and daily life was no longer the fashion. An expensive toilette
at any but a very great festivity was no longer correct, and even
at court the extravagant splendour of the costumes of the Imperial
court was not encouraged. The principal people were no longer those
who possessed enormous fortunes which they were eager to spend; the
nobles and gentlemen whose names were the most distinguished at the
court of Louis XVIII. being most of them nearly if not quite ruined.

Their property had been confiscated, their estates seized, and their
_hôtels_ and _châteaux_ either burnt or sold.

In some cases it was possible to recover part, though often only a
fragment of their possessions; in other cases not: it depended to a
great extent what or who the forfeited estates belonged to. Sometimes,
as in the case of the Duchess d’Ayen, people who had not emigrated,
were allowed, even if they were murdered, to leave their estates to
their families; but the whole state of things seemed an inextricable
confusion impossible to explain; especially in a work of this kind.

Many cases there were of romantic devotion and loyalty, by which the
property of a family had been partly saved for the owners by their
faithful servants. Such was the story of the Marquis de ——, whose
castle was burnt, and who with his wife perished in the flames.
Their two boys managed to escape, but not together. One took refuge
in England; the other in Germany, neither of them knowing of the
existence of the other.

When the Revolution was over, they both came back to France and
strange to say, met and recognised each other at the ruins of their
own _château_. While they stood mournfully gazing at them, a regiment
of cavalry passed by. The eyes of the commander fell upon them, and
suddenly he ordered the regiment to halt, and calling the two young
men, said—

“Are you not the MM. ——?”

On hearing that they were, he remarked—

“I am afraid, Messieurs, that you are very badly off.”

They could not deny this; and to their astonishment the officer,
hurriedly saying that he was born on their estate, pressed a purse of
gold into the hand of one and marched off. The country was still in a
state of anarchy and they never could discover who their benefactor

They stood in astonishment looking after the soldiers, and then
turning, walked sorrowfully back to the ruins, where a decently
dressed working man who had been observing them, came up and again
asked them the same question.

“Are you not the MM. de ——?”

“Yes, we are,” replied the brothers.

“Well, I am ——. I was head-gardener at the _château_ in the old time,
and now, Messieurs, if you will honour me by coming to my house and
accepting some refreshment, I will show you something that will
surprise you.”

The young men gladly went in, and after giving them an excellent
_déjeuner_, their host lighted a candle, took a spade, and told them
to follow him. He led them into the garden, cleared away some earth
with his spade, and uncovered a stone. This he lifted up, disclosing
an underground passage through which he led the way. It ended in a
cavern in which lay the whole of their family plate and valuables
which this excellent man had saved and concealed during all these

“Here is the family plate which I was able to secure for you,” said
he. “I always kept it in hope of your return.”

Overcome with joy and gratitude the eldest brother, to whom according
to the custom of their family it all belonged, divided the property,
which was immensely valuable, into three portions, giving one to his
brother, one to the faithful gardener, and keeping one himself, with
the proceeds of which they each bought an estate. The sons of the
gardener, who were educated with their own, became, one a successful
merchant, the other an officer in the French Navy.[143]

There was, of course, a great mixture of new and old, many quarrels
and much ill-feeling: increased by the extreme animosity and
pretensions on both sides.

The _emigrés_ were not likely to forget the murder of those dear to
them, their long years of poverty and exile, and to see with patience
their homes and possessions in the hands of strangers.

The newly risen were uneasy and jealous of the _emigrés_, and not
unnaturally irritated at the provocation they often gave them and the
scorn with which they were not seldom treated.

Louis XVIII. had enough to do to hold the balance between those who
wanted everything put back exactly as it was before ‘89, and those
who were in continued fear of the revival of the old state of things.
However, he managed to do so, and kept his crown, which unfortunately
his successor could not.

It is a singular thing that all the three races, Capétien, Valois, and
Bourbon should have ended with three brothers.

The Marquis de Boissy, a devoted Royalist with a long pedigree, went
to one of the court balls in the dress of a Marquis of the court of
Louis XV. On one of the princes of the blood observing to him—

“That is a curious dress of yours, Monsieur,” he replied, looking
round the ball room:

“It is a dress that belonged to my grandfather, Monseigneur; and I
think that if every one here had got on the dress of his grandfather,
your Highness would not find mine the most curious in the room.”




Mme. de Genlis had friends amongst old and new, French and foreign.
The Vernets, Mme. Le Brun, Mme. Grollier, Gros, Gerard, Isabey,
Cherubini, Halévy, all the great singers and musicians were among
her friends. She lived to see the first years of the brilliant, too
short career of Malibran. Pasta, Grassini, Talma, Garat, and numbers
of other artistic celebrities mingled with her literary friends.
The household of Isabey was like an idyl. He had met his wife in the
Luxembourg gardens, a beautiful girl who went there to lead about her
blind father. They married and were always happy though for a long
time poor. But the fame of Isabey rose; he was professor of painting
at the great school of Mme. Campan, where every one under the Empire
sent their daughters. He painted Joséphine and all the people of rank
and fashion, and received them all at his parties in his own _hôtel_.
Mme. Isabey lived to be eighty-eight, always pretty and charming. Her
hair was white, she always dressed in white lace and muslin, and had
everything white in her _salon_, even to an ivory spinning wheel.

They went a great deal into society and to the court balls under
Napoleon; and Isabey used to design her dresses and make them up on
her in this way: when her hair was done and she was all ready except
her dress, he would come with a great heap of flowers, ribbons, gauze,
crêpe, &c., and with scissors and pins cut out and fasten on the
drapery according to his taste so skilfully that it never came off,
and looked lovely. On one occasion when they were not well off he cut
out flowers of gold and silver paper and stuck them with gum upon
tulle; it was pronounced the prettiest dress in the room.

Before the coronation of Napoleon, the latter said to him, “Make
two large water-colour sketches of the procession with correct
costumes, every one in their right place. I will send them to study
your designs, which will be exhibited in the great gallery of the
Tuileries, so that there may be no confusion.”

“Sire, when are these two pictures to be exhibited?”

“The day after to-morrow.”

Isabey bought boxes full of little dolls, masses of materials and
pins; dressed them all from the Empress to the last page, and after
working two days and nights went to the Tuileries.

“Ah! there you are, Isabey. You have brought me the designs I ordered?”

“_A peu près, Sire_,” and he pointed to a heap of enormous cases in
the courtyard, which in about an hour he had arranged in the gallery
in perfect order, much to the delight of the Emperor, who burst into a
fit of laughter when he saw them.

After the alarms of the Hundred Days and all the misfortunes involved,
it took some time to restore order and security. For a long time the
_Champs-Elysées_ were not safe to walk in after dark.

One morning the _concierge_ of an isolated house there was asked by a
tall, thin man in black, with a strange look whether there was not a
pavilion in the garden to let.

“Yes, sir.”

“Is it quite out of the way of every one?”

“Very far, sir.”

“So that one would be quite alone? No one could hear anything that
went on there?”

The _concierge_ did not half like this, but winter was coming on and a
pavilion in the middle of a large garden was difficult to let.

“I will take it for three months, here is the rent in advance and a
_louis_ besides. Keep the key. I will come in this evening. If any
friends arrive before, take them there and ask them to wait till I

“Monsieur has forgotten to tell me his name.”

“Name! Oh! my name is the devil,” and he hurried away.

After dark a man wrapped in a great cloak, under which he carried some
large thing, his hat pulled over his eyes, rang and said “The Devil.”

The pavilion was pointed out, and several others followed, all with
cloaks concealing more large objects.

“It cannot be Satan,” said the wife of the _concierge_, “but it may be

“It is a gang of assassins,” said he, “bringing bodies of victims to
bury in the garden.” Just then the man who had hired the pavilion came
in; the wife followed him and rushed back pale with terror.

“Go and fetch the police! go quick! They are murdering some one. I
heard cries, groans, and chains! Run, if you want to save him from
these wretches!”

Hurrying away, the _concierge_ soon re-appeared with the police and
two soldiers. They proceeded to the pavilion; the door was locked, and
just then a strange cry arrested their attention. They beat at the
door ordering it to be opened, which it immediately was by a man, who

“What are you doing here? What do you want?”

“What are you about yourself? I am a police officer, and I arrest you
in the King’s name as a criminal.”

“You arrest me as a criminal? and for what?” while a burst of laughter
was heard inside.

“Come, Monsieur,” said the police official, “I see there is some
mistake. What is your name?”

“Meyerbeer, but that does not tell you much.”

“But what is your country and profession?”

“I am German, a composer of music, I see no harm in all that.”

“Nor I either,” said the police officer, laughing; “but why then did
you say you were the devil, and what are you and your companions

They let him in, and he saw musicians with desks and instruments,
practising for the infernal scene in “Robert le Diable,” which
Meyerbeer was going to bring out, and which sufficiently accounted for
the chains, groans, and cries of that celebrated chorus.

Mme. de Genlis lived to see her great-grandchildren, and also to
see her pupil, the Duc de Orléans, upon the throne. She had never,
of course, again the life of riches and splendour which for many
years she had enjoyed; but she was philosophical enough not to
trouble herself much about that; she had the interest of her literary
pursuits, a large circle of acquaintances, the affection of her
family and of her adopted children. Alfred turned out extremely
well, and Casimir made an excellent marriage, settled at Mantes and
devoted himself to good works, so that his adopted mother said his
household was saintly. She was always welcome there.

The errors of her youth she abandoned and regretted, and her latter
years had by no means the dark and gloomy character that she had
pictured to herself, when she left the Palais Royal and fled from
France and the Revolution, in whose opening acts she had rejoiced with

[Illustration: MALIBRAN]


[136] “Souvenirs d’un Sexagenaire” (Arnault).

[137] “Souvenirs d’un Sexagenaire” (Arnault).

[138] “Salons d’Autrefois” (Ctsse. de Bassanville).

[139] _Ibid._

[140] The Comtesse de Provence had died in exile.

[141] “Mémoires de Louis XVIII.,” t. ix. pp. 57-61.

[142] “Souvenirs de Louis XVIII.,” t. vii. pp. 395-7. This interview
took place at Mittau at the intercession of the Duchess Dowager of
Orléans and the Emperor of Russia.

[143] This story, which has never before been published, was told me
by a member of the family of the Marquis in question. Although many
of the worst of the revolutionists were domestic servants, there were
numbers who displayed the most heroic loyalty and affection. I myself
saw many years ago, when dining in Paris at the house of a legitimist,
the Duc de ——, an old butler who was pointed out to me by one of the
family as having been employed when six years old in La Vendée to
carry food to a priest hidden among the hills. On one occasion he was
caught by a party of revolutionist soldiers who threatened him with
instant death unless he betrayed the priest’s hiding place. _Pour Dieu
et le Roi_ (For God and the King) was all the child would say, and one
of the men, touched by his tender age, spared him. (Note by author.)

The Gresham Press,



  │ Transcriber’s Note:                                               │
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  │ The original spelling, hyphenation, and punctuation have been     │
  │ retained, with the exception of apparent typographical errors     │
  │ which have been corrected without note.                           │
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  │ Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant  │
  │ form was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.     │
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  │ Italicized words are surrounded by underline characters, _like    │
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  │ Mid-paragraph illustrations have been moved between paragraphs    │
  │ and some illustrations have been moved closer to the text that    │
  │ references them.                                                  │
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  │ Footnotes were moved to the end of chapters and numbered in one   │
  │ continuous sequence.                                              │
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  │ Corrections:                                                      │
  │ p. 100: Lanzun changed to Lauzun “the Duc de Lauzun.”             │
  │                                                                   │
  │ p. 325: Beauvan changed to Beauvau “the Prince de Beauvau.”       │

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