Went out to walk - but I stayed to write to my dearest father, to Mrs. Locke, and my expecting mate.
"GOD SAVE THE KING!" ON FRENCH SOIL.
We were all three too much awake by the new scene to try for any repose, and the hotel windows sufficed for our amusement till dinner; and imagine, my dearest sir, how my repast was seasoned, when I tell you that, as soon as it began, a band "of music came to the window and struck up "God save the king." I can never tell you what a pleased emotion was excited in my breast by this sound on a shore so lately hostile, and on which I have so many, so heartfelt motives for wishing peace and amity perpetual!
A RAMBLE THROUGH THE TOWN.
This over, we ventured out of the hotel to look at the street. The day was fine, the street was clean, two or three people who passed us, made way for the children as they skipped out of' my hands, and I saw such an unexpected appearance of quiet, order and civility, that, almost without knowing it, we strolled from the gate, and presently found ourselves in the market-place, which was completely full of sellers, and buyers, ,and booths, looking like a large English fair.
The queer, gaudy jackets, always of a different colour from the petticoats of the women, and their immense wing-caps, which seemed made to double over their noses, but which all flew back so as to discover their ears, in which 1 regularly saw -large and generally drop gold ear-rings, were quite as diverting ...to myself as to Alex and Adrienne. Many of them, also, had gold necklaces chains, and crosses; but ear-rings all: even maids who were scrubbing or sweeping, ragged wretches bearing burdens on their heads or shoulders, old women selling fruit or other eatables, gipsy-looking creatures with children tied to their backs—all wore these long, broad, large, shining ear-rings.
Beggars we saw not—no, not one, all the time we stayed or sauntered; and for civility and gentleness, the poorest and most ordinary persons we met or passed might be compared with the best dressed and best looking walkers in the streets of our metropolis, and still to the disadvantage of the latter. I cannot say how much this surprised me, as I had conceived a horrific idea of the populace of this country, imagining em all transformed into bloody monsters. Page 214
Another astonishment I experienced equally pleasing, though not equally important to my ease; I saw innumerable pretty women and lovely children, almost all of them extremely fair. I had been taught to expect nothing but mahogany complexions and hideous features instantly on crossing the strait of Dover. When this, however, was mentioned in our party afterwards, the Highlander exclaimed, "But Calais was in the hands of the English so many years, that the English -race there is not yet extinct."
The perfect security in which I now saw we might wander about, induced us to walk over the whole town, and even extend our excursions to the ramparts surrounding it. It is now a very clean and pretty town, and so orderly that there was no more tumult or even noise in the market-place, where the people were so close together as to form a continual crowd, than in the by-streets leading to the country, where scarcely a passenger was to be seen. This is certainly a remark which, I believe, could never be made in England.
When we returned to the hotel, I found all my fellow travellers had been to the custom house! I had quite forgotten, or rather neglected to inquire the hour for this formality, and was beginning to alarm myself lest I was out of rule, when a young man, a commissary, I heard, of the hotel, came to me and asked if I had anything contraband to the laws of the Republic. I answered as I had done before, and he readily undertook to go through the ceremony for me without my appearing. I was so much frightened, and so happy not to be called upon personally, that I thought myself very cheaply off in his after-demand of a guinea and a half. I had two and a half to pay afterwards for additional luggage..
We found reigning through Calais a general joy and satisfaction at the restoration of Dimanche and abolition of dcade.(173) I had a good deal of conversation with the maid of the inn, a tall, fair, extremely pretty woman, and she talked much upon this subject, and the delight it occasioned, and the obligation all France was under to the premier Consul for restoring religion and worship. Page 215
SUNDAY ON THE ROAD TO PARIS.
Sunday, April 18. —We set off for Paris at five o'clock in the morning. The country broad, flat, or' barrenly steep —Without trees, without buildings, and scarcely inhabited— exhibited a change from the fertile fields, and beautiful woods ,band gardens, and civilisation of Kent, so sudden and unpleasant that I only lamented the fatigue of my position, which regularly impeded my making use of this chasm of 'pleasure and observation for repose. This part of France must certainly be the least frequented, for we rarely met a single carriage, and the villages, few and distant, seemed to have no intercourse with each other. Dimanche, indeed, might occasion this stiffness, for we saw, at almost all the villages, neat and clean peasants going to or coming from mass, and seeming indescribably elated and happy by the public permission of divine worship on its originally appointed day.
I was struck with the change in Madame Raymond, who joined us in the morning from another hotel. Her hoop was no more visible; her petticoats were as lank, or more so, than her neighbours'; and her distancing the children was not only at an end, but she prevented me from renewing any of my cautions to them, of not incommoding her - and when we were together a few moments, before we were joined by the rest, she told me, with a significant smile, not to tutor the children about her any more, as she only avoided them from having something of consequence to take care of, which was removed. I then saw she meant some English lace or muslin, which she had carried in a petticoat, and, since the customhouse examination was over, had now packed in her trunk.
Poor lady! I fear this little merchandise was all her hope of succour on her arrival! She is amongst the emigrants who have twice or thrice returned, but not yet been able to rest in their own country.
What most in the course of this journey struck me, was the satisfaction of all the country people, with whom I could converse at the restoration of the Dimanche; and the boasts they now ventured to make of having never kept the dcade, except during the dreadful reign of Robespierre, when not to oppose any of his severest decrees was insufficient for safety, ,"it was essential even to existence to observe them with every parade of the warmest approval. Page 216
The horrible stories from every one of that period of wanton as well as political cruelty, I must have judged exaggerated, either through the mist of fear or the heats of resentment but that, though the details had innumerable modifications' there was but one voice for the excess of barbarity.
At a little hamlet near Clermont, where we rested some time, two good old women told us that this was the happiest day (twas Sunday) of their lives; that they had lost le bon Dieu for these last ten years, but that Bonaparte had now found him! In another cottage we were told the villagers had kept their own cur all this time concealed, and though privately and with fright, they had thereby saved their souls through the whole of the bad times! And in another, some poor creatures said they were now content with their destiny, be it what it might, since they should be happy, at least, in the world to come - but that while denied going to mass, they had all their sufferings aggravated by knowing that they must lose their souls hereafter, besides all that they had to endure here!
O my dearest father! that there can have existed wretches of such diabolical wickedness as to have snatched, torn, from the toiling indigent every ray even of future hope! Various of these little conversations extremely touched me nor was I unmoved, though not with such painful emotion, on the sight of the Sunday night dance, in a little village through which we passed, where there seemed two or three hundred peasants engaged in that pastime all clean and very gaily dressed, yet all so decent and well behaved, that, but for the poor old fiddlers, we might have driven on, and not have perceived the rustic ball.
Here ends the account of my journey, and if it has amused my dearest father, it will be a true delight to me to have scribbled it. My next letter brings me to the capital, and to the only person who can console me for my always lamented absence from himself.
ENGAGEMENTS, OCCUPATIONS, AND FATIGUE
(Madame d'Arblay to Miss Planta.) Paris, April 27, 1802. A week have I been here, my dear Miss Planta, so astonishingly engaged, so indispensably occupied, or so suffering from fatigue, that I have not been able till now to take up Page 217
pen, except to satisfy my dear father of our safe arrival.
To give you some idea of these engagements, occupations, and fatigues, I must begin with the last. We were a whole long, languid day, a whole restless, painful night, upon the sea; my little Alex sick as death, suffering if possible yet more than myself, though I had not a moment of ease and comfort. My little Adrienne de Chavagnac was perfectly well all the time, singing and skipping about the cabin, and amusing every one by her innocent enjoyment of the novelty of the scene. . . .
As to my occupations;-my little apartment to arrange, my trunks and baggage to unpack and place, my poor Adrienne to consign to her friends, my Alex to nurse from a threatening malady; letters to deliver, necessaries to buy; a femme de chambre to engage; and, most important of all! my own sumptuous wardrobe to refit, and my own poor exterior to reorganise! I see you smile, methinks, at this hint; but what smiles would brighten the countenance of a certain young lady called Miss Rose, who amused herself by anticipation, when I had last the honour of seeing her, with the changes I might have to undergo, could she have heard the exclamations which followed the examination of my attire: "This won't do! That YOU can never wear! This you can never be seen in! That would make you stared at as a curiosity!— Three petticoats! no one wears more than one!— Stays? everybody has left off even corsets!—Shift sleeves? not a soul now wears even a chemise!" etc. In short, I found all I possessed seemed so hideously old fashioned, or so comically rustic, that as soon as it was decreed I must make appearance in the grand monde, hopeless of success in exhibiting myself in the' costume Franais, I gave over the attempt, and ventured to come forth as a gothic Anglaise, who never heard of, or never heeded the reigning metamorphosis.
As to my engagements;—when should I finish, should I tell all that have been made or proposed, even in the short space of a single week? The civilities I have met with, contrary to all my expectations, have not more amazed me for myself, than gratified me for M. d'Arblay, who is keenly alive to the kind, I might say distinguished, reception I have been favoured with by those to whom my arrival is known.
Your favourite hero is excessively popular at this moment from three successive grand events, all occurring within the Page 218
short time of my arrival,—the ratification of the treaty of peace—the restoration of Sunday, and Catholic worship—and the amnesty of the emigrants. At the Opera buffa, the loge in which I sat was exactly opposite to that of the first Consul but he and his family are all at Malmaison.
DIARY RESUMED: (Addressed to Dr. Burney.)
Paris, April 1, 1802.(174)-Almost immediately after my arrival in Paris, I was much surprised by a visit from the ci-devant Prince de Beauvau, madame his wife, and Mademoiselle de Mortemar her sister, all brought by Madame d'Henin. if gratified in the first instance by a politeness of attention so little my due and so completely beyond my expectations, how was my pleasure enhanced when I found they all three spoke English with the utmost ease and fluency, and how pleased also at the pleasure I was able to give them in reward of their civility, by a letter I had brought from Mrs. Harcourt, which was received with the warmest delight by Mademoiselle de Mortemar and a message from a young lady named Elizabeth, with the profoundest gratitude.
April 24-This morning Madame d'Henin was so kind as to accompany us, in making our visit to Madame de Beauvau her niece, and Mademoiselle de Mortemar. We found them at home with M. de Beauvau, and they indulged me with the sight of their children, who are the most flourishing and healthy possible, and dressed and brought up with English plainness and simplicity. The visit was very pleasant, and Madame d'Henin made a party for us all to meet again the next day, and go to the Opera buffa.
ANXIETY TO SEE THE FIRST CONSUL.
I have heard much of the visit of Mrs. Damer and the Miss Berrys to Paris, and their difficulty to get introduced to the first Consul.(175) A lady here told us she had been called upon
by Miss Berry, who had complained with much energy upon this subject, saying, "We have been everywhere—seen everything—heard every body—beheld such sights! listened to such discourse! joined such society! and all to obtain his notice! Don't you think it very extraordinary that he should not himself desire to see Mrs. Damer?
"Madame," replied the lady, "perhaps if you had done but half this, the first Consul might have desired to see you both."
"But you don't imagine," answered she, laughing, "we came over from England to see you ci-devants ? We can see such as you at home!"
She was gone before our arrival ; and, as I understand, succeeded at last in obtaining an introduction. They were both, Mrs. Damer and Miss Berry, as I am told, very gay and agreeable, as well as enterprising, and extremely well rpandues.
AT THE OPERA-BOUFFE.
April 25.-I was not much better in the evening, but the party for the Opera buffa being formed by Madame d'Henin on my account, my going was indispensable. She had borrowed the loge of M. de Choiseul, which, being entailed upon the family perptuit, has in a most extraordinary manner continued unalienated through the whole course of massacres and proscriptions to the present day, when the right owner possesses it. It is the largest and best box, except that which is opposite to it, in the theatre. . . .
The opera was "Le Nozze di Dorina," by Sarti, and extremely pretty; though I wished it had been as new to M. C— de P— as to myself, for then he would not have divided my attention by obligingly singing every note with every performer. In truth, I was still so far from recovered from the fatigue of my journey, that I was lulled to a drowsiness the most distressing before the end of the second act, '
which being but too obvious, Madame d'Henin and M. d'Arblay took me away before I risked a downright nap by waiting for the third.
DIFFICULTIES RESPECTING MADAME DE STAEL.
April 26-The assembly at Madame d'Henin's was one of the most select and agreeable at which I was ever present. Assembly, however, I ought not to call a meeting within the number of twenty. But I was uneasy for my poor Alex, and therefore stole away as soon as possible; not, however, till Madame de Tess made a party for us for the following Thursday at her house, nor till I had held a private discourse with Mademoiselle de — upon my embarrassment as to Madame de Stael, from the character she held in England; which embarrassment was not much lightened by her telling me it was not held more fair in France ! Yet, that everywhere the real evil is highly exaggerated by report, envy, and party-spirit, all allow. She gives, however, great assemblies at which all Paris assist, and though not solicited or esteemed by her early friends and acquaintance, she is admired, and pitied, and received by them. I would she were gone to Copet!(176)
What most perplexed me at this period was the following note from Madame de Stael.
"je voudrois vous tmoigner mon empressement, madame, et je crains d'tre indiscrette. j'espre que vous aurez la bont de me faire dire quand vous serez assez remise des fatigues de votre voyage pour que je puisse avoir l'honneur de vous voir sans vous importuner. "Ce 4 florial. (177) "Necker Stael de H."(178)
How is it possible, when even the common civility of a card for her card is yet unreturned, that she can have brought herself thus to descend from her proud heights to solicit the
renewal of an acquaintance broken so abruptly in England, and so palpably shunned in France ? Is it that the regard she appeared to conceive for me in England was not only sincere but constant? If so, I must very much indeed regret a waste of kindness her character and conduct make it impossible for me to repay, even though, on this spot, I am assured all her misfortunes are aggravated, nay caricatured, by report, and that she exerts her utmost influence, and calls forth her best talents, upon every occasion which presents itself for serving those who have been her friends ; and that, notwithstanding circumstances and disunion, either in politics or morals, may have made them become her enemies. Her generosity is cited as truly singular upon this head, and I have heard histories of her returning, personally, good for evil that would do honour to any character living.
After much deliberation and discussion, my French master composed the following answer:—
"Madame d'Arblay ne peut qu'tre infiniment flatte de l'extrme bont de Madame la Comtesse de Stael. Elle aura trs certainement l'honneur de se prsenter chez Madame de Stael aussitt que possible."(179)
Cooler than this it was not easy to write, and the ne peut qu'tre is a tournure that is far enough from flattering. I hope, however, it will prepare her for the frozen kind of intercourse which alone can have place between us.
MADAME DE LAFAYETTE.
As I wished much to see the parade, or review, which was to take place on the 5th, and is only once a month, we were forced to devote the preceding day to visits, as it was decreed in our council of etiquette that I could not appear in a place where I might be seen by those who had shown me the civility of beginning an acquaintance, till I had acknowledged my debt to them. . . . I was so thoroughly tired when I returned from all these visits, that I was forced to rest upon a bed for the remainder of the day, to my no small discomposure before the evening was closed; for, in a close cap, my feet in their native, undraperied state, hidden by a large, long, wrapping morning Page 222 gown, your daughter, my dearest sir, lay reclined on a bed when, rather late in the evening, I was told Madame d'Henin was in the salon. I was going to send in my excuses, while I rose to get ready for waiting upon her - but Alex flung open the door, and seeing where I was, and how fatigued, she insisted on my keeping still, and came to my bedside, and sat in friendly converse, listening to the history of my morning excursion, till a ring at the bell of our ante-room made me desire to have nobody admitted. Alex again, however, frisking about, prevented Pauline, my little femme de chambre, from hearing me, and she announced Madame de Lafayette!
You may easily believe this name, and my present situation, put me into no small commotion. I was beseeching Madame d'Henin to go to the saloon with my apologies, when Alex, whose illness, though it has diminished his strength and his flesh, has left his spirits as wild as ever, called out to proclaim where I was, and while Madame Lafayette was gently moving on, flung the bedroom door wide open, saying, "Mamma is here! " Madame Lafayette, concluding, I suppose, that I received du monde in the French manner, immediately presented herself at the door, where I had no resource but to entreat Madame d'Henin, who is her intimate friend, to receive her, for I was wholly powerless, with my unsandaled feet, from rising. Madame d'Henin now brought her to my bedside, where nothing could have been more awkward than my situation : but that the real reverence I had conceived for her character and her virtues made the sight of so singular a person, her condescension in the visit, and her goodness, though lame, in mounting three pair of stairs, give me a sensation of pleasure, that by animating my spirits, endowed me with a courage that overcame all difficulties both of language and position, and enabled me to express my gratitude for her kindness and my respect for her person, with something far nearer to fluency and clearness than anything in speech I have yet attempted. My mind instantly presented her to me, torn from her beloved family, and thrown into the death-impending prison of Robespierre ; and then saved by his timely destruction from the scaffold, and then using her hardly-recovered liberty only by voluntarily sacrificing it to be immured with her husband in the dungeon of Olmtz.(180) Various as may be the opinions of Page 223
the politics of M. de Lafayette, all Europe, I believe,'concur in admiration of the character and conduct of his virtuous and heroic wife. Indeed, nothing since my arrival has so sensibly gratified me, from without, as this visit.
Madame Lafayette is the daughter of the ci-devant Duc d'Ayen, and consequently niece of Madame de Tess, the duke's sister. She was married to M. de Lafayette when she was only seventeen years of age. By some cold or mismanagement, and total want of exercise in the prison of Olmtz, some humour has fallen into one of her ankles, that, though it does not make her absolutely lame, causes walking to be so painful and difficult to her that she moves as little as possible, and is always obliged to have a stool for her foot. She now resides with M. de Lafayette and their three children entirely in the country, at a chateau which has descended to her since the revolutionary horrors and therefore has not been confiscated, called "La Grange." They never come to Paris but upon business of positive necessity. She had arrived only this morning on a visit to her aunt, Madame de Tess, to make some preparations for the approaching marriage of her only son.
Her youngest daughter, Mademoiselle de Lafayette, accompanied her. She is a blooming young creature of English fairness-as we English choose to say-with a bright native colour, and beautiful light hair ; otherwise with but indifferent features, and not handsome : yet her air, though modest even to the extreme that borders upon bashfulness, is distinguished, and speaks her to be both sensible and well brought up.
Madame de Lafayette, also, is by no means handsome; but has eyes so expressive, so large, and so speaking, that it is not easy to criticise her other features, for it is almost impossible to look at them. Her manner is calm and mild, yet noble. She is respected even by surrounding infidels for her genuine piety, which, in the true character of true religion, is severe only for herself, lenient and cheerful for all others. I do not say this from what I could see in the hour she was so good as to pass with me, but from all I have heard.
She warmly invited me to La Grange, and requested me to name an early day for passing some time there. I proposed
that it might be after the marriage had taken place,"as till then all foreign people or subjects might be obtrusive. She paused a moment, and then said, "Aprs?—c'est vrai we could then more completely enjoy Madame d'Arblay' society; for we must now have continual interruptions, surrounded as we are by workmen, goods, chattels, and preparations; so that there would be a nail to hammer between almost every word; and yet, as we are going to Auvergne, after the ceremony, it will be so long before a meeting may be arranged, that I believe the less time lost the better."
I know M. d'Arblay desired this acquaintance for me too earnestly to offer any opposition; and I was too much charmed with its opening to make any myself: it was therefore determined we should go the following week to La Grange.
SIGHT-SEEING AT THE TuILERIES.
May 5-Again a full day. M. d'Arblay had procured us three tickets for entering the apartments at the Tuileries to see the parade of General Hulin, now high in actual rank and service, but who had been a sous-officier under M. d'Arblay's command; our third ticket was for Madame d'Henin, who had never been to this sight— nor, indeed, more than twice to any spectacle since her return to France—till my arrival; but she is so obliging and good as to accept, nay to seek, every thing that can amuse, of which I can profit. We breakfasted with her early, and were appointed to join the party of M. le Prince de Beauvau, who had a general in his carriage, through whose aid and instructions we hoped to escape all difficulties.
Accordingly the coach in which they went was desired to stop at Madame d'Henin's door, so as to let us get into our fiacre, and follow it straight. This was done, and our precursor stopped at the gate leading to the garden of the Tuileries. The De Beauvaus, Mademoiselle de Mortemar, and their attending general, alighted, and we followed their example and joined them, which was no sooner done than their general, at the sight of M. d'Arblay, suddenly drew back from conducting Madame de Beauvau, and flew up to him. They had been ancient camarades, but had not met since M. d'A.'s emigration.
The crowd was great, but civil and well -dressed ; and we met with no impediment till we came to the great entrance. Alas, I had sad recollections of sad readings in mounting the
steps! We had great difficulty, notwithstanding our tickets, in making our way—I mean Madame d'Henin and ourselves, for Madame de Beauvau and Mademoiselle de Mortemar having an officer in the existing military to aid them, were admitted and helped by all the attendants; and so forwarded that we wholly lost sight of them, till we arrived, long after, in the apartment destined for the exhibition. This, however, was so crowded that every place at the windows for seeing the parade was taken, and the row formed opposite to see the first Consul as he passes through the room to take horse, was so thick and threefold filled, that not a possibility existed of even a passing peep. Madame d'Henin would have retired, but as the whole scene was new and curious to me, I prevailed with her to stay, that I might view a little of the costume of the company; though I was sorry I detained her, when I saw her perturbed spirits from the recollections which, I am sure, pressed upon her on re-entering this palace : and that her sorrows were only subdued by her personal indignation, which was unconscious, but yet very prominent, to find herself included in the mass of the crowd in being refused all place and distinction, where, heretofore, she was amongst the first for every sort of courtesy. Nothing of this, however, was said and you may believe my pity for her was equally unuttered.
We seated ourselves now, hopeless of any other amusement than seeing the uniforms of the passing officers, and the light drapery of the stationary ladies, which, by the way, is not by any means so notorious nor so common as has been represented ; on the contrary, there are far more who are decent enough to attract no attention, than who are fashionable enough to call for it.
During this interval M. d'Arblay found means, by a ticket lent him by M. de Narbonne, to enter the next apartment, and there to state our distress, not in vain, to General Hulin; and presently he returned, accompanied by this officer, who is, I fancy, at least seven feet high, and was dressed in one of the most showy uniforms I ever saw. M. d'Arblay introduced me to him. He expressed his pleasure in seeing the wife of his old comrade, and taking my hand, caused all the crowd to make way, and conducted me into the apartment adjoining to that where the first Consul receives the ambassadors, with a flourish of manners so fully displaying power as well as courtesy, that I felt as if in the hands of one of the seven champions who meant to mow down all before him, should Page 226
any impious elf dare dispute his right to give me liberty, or to show me honour.
A GOOD PLACE IS SECURED,
He put me into the first place in the apartment which was sacred to general officers, and as many ladies as could be accommodated in two rows only at the windows. M. d'Arblay, under the sanction of his big friend, followed with Madame d'Henin , and we had the pleasure of rejoining Madame de Beauvau and Mademoiselle de Mortemar, who were at the same windows, through the exertions of General Songis.
The scene now, with regard to all that was present, was splendidly gay and highly animating. The room was full, but not crowded, with officers of rank in sumptuous rather than rich uniforms, and exhibiting a martial air that became their attire, which, however, generally speaking, was too gorgeous to be noble. Our window was that next to the consular apartment, in which Bonaparte was holding a levee, and it was close to the steps ascending to it; by which means we saw all the forms of the various exits and entrances, and had opportunity to examine every dress and every countenance that passed and repassed. This was highly amusing, I might say historic, where the past history and the present office were known.
Sundry footmen of the first Consul, in very fine liveries, were attending to bring or arrange chairs for whoever required them ; various peace-officers, superbly begilt, paraded occasionally up and down the chamber, to keep the ladies to their windows and the gentlemen to their ranks, so as to preserve the passage or lane through which the first Consul was to walk upon his entrance, clear and open; and several gentlemanlike looking persons, whom in former times I should have supposed pages of the back stairs, dressed in black, with gold chains hanging round their necks, and medallions pending from them, seemed to have the charge of the door itself, leading immediately to the audience chamber of the first Consul.
M. D'ARPLAY'S MILITARY COMRADES.
But what was most prominent in commanding notice, was the array of the aides-de-camp of Bonaparte, which was so Page 227
almost furiously striking, that all other vestments, even the most gaudy, appeared suddenly under a gloomy cloud when contrasted with its brightness. We were long viewing them before we could discover what they were to represent, my three lady companions being as new to this scene as myself; but afterwards M. d'Arblay starting forward to speak to one of them, brought him across the lane to me, and said "General Lauriston,"
His kind and faithful friendship to M. d'Arblay, so amiably manifested upon his late splendid embassy to England, made me see him with great pleasure. It was of course but for a moment, as he was amongst those who had most business upon their hands. General d'Hennezel also came to me for a few minutes, and three or four others, whom M. d'Arblay named, but whom I have forgotten. Indeed, I was amazed at the number of old friends by whom he was recognised, and touched far more than I can express, to see him in his old coat and complete undress, accosted by his fine (former) brethren, in all their new and beautiful costume, with an eagerness of regard that, resulting from first impulse, proved their judgment, or rather knowledge of his merits, more forcibly than any professions, however warm, could have done. He was indeed, after the aides-de-camp, the most striking figure in the apartment, from contrasting as much with the general herd by being the plainest and worst dressed, as they did by being the gayest and most showy.
General Lauriston is a very handsome man, and of a very pleasing and amiable countenance; and his manly air carried off the frippery of his trappings, so as to make them appear almost to advantage.
ARRIVAL OF THE TROOPS.
While this variety of attire, of carriage, and of physiognomy amused us in facing the passage prepared for the first Consul, we were occupied, whenever we turned round, by seeing from the window the garden of the Tuileries filling 'with troops.
In the first row of females at the window where we stood, were three ladies who, by my speaking English with Mademoiselle de Mortemar and Madame de Beauvau, discovered .my country, and, as I have since heard, gathered my name; and here I blush to own how unlike was the result to what "One of this nation might have experienced from a similar Page 228
discovery in England; for the moment it was buzzed "C'est Une trangre, c'est une Anglaise," (181) every one tried to Place, to oblige, and to assist me, and yet no one looked curious, or stared at me. Ah, my dear padre, do you not a little fear, in a contrasted situation, no one would have tried to place oblige, or assist, yet every one would have looked curious, and stared? Well, there are virtues as well as defects of all classes, and John Bull can fight so good a battle for his share of the former, that he need not be utterly cast down in acknowledging now and then a few of the latter.
AN IMPORTANT NEW ACQUAINTANCE.
The best view from the window to see the marching forwards of the troops was now bestowed upon me, and I vainly offered it to the ladies of my own party, to whom the whole of the sight was as new as to myself. The three unknown ladies began conversing with me, and, after a little general-talk, one of them with sudden importance of manner, in a tone slow but energetic, said,
"Avez-vous vu, madame, le premier Consul?"
"Pas encore, madame."
"C'est sans doute ce que vous souhaitez le plus, madame?"
"Voulez-vous le voir parfaitement bien, et tout fait votre aise?"
"je le dsire beaucoup, madame."(182)
She then told me to keep my eyes constantly upon her, and not an instant lose sight of her movements; and to suffer no head, in the press that would ensue when the first Consul appeared, to intervene between us. "Faites comme cela, madame," continued she; "et vous le verrez bien, bien; car," added she, solemnly, and putting her hand on her breast,—"moi—je vais lui parler!"(183)
I thanked her very much, but it was difficult to express as Page 229
much satisfaction as she displayed herself. You may suppose, however, how curious I felt for such a conversation, and how scrupulously I followed her injunctions of watching her motions. A little squat good-humoured lady, with yellow flowers over a mob cap upon her hair - who had little sunken eyes, concise nose, and a mouth so extended by perpetual smiling, that, hardly leaving an inch for the cheek, it ran nearly into the ear, on my other side now demanded my attention also, and told me she came regularly every month to the great review, that she might always bring some friend who wanted to see it. I found by this she was a person of some power, some influence, at least, and not entirely averse to having it known. She was extremely civil to me - but as my other friend had promised me so singular a regale, I had not much voluntary time to spare for her , this, however, appeared to be no impediment to that she was so obliging as to determine to bestow upon me, and she talked satisfied with my acquiescence to her civility, till a sort of bustle just before us making me look a little sharp, she cried—
"Vous le voyez, madame!"
"Qui?" exclaimed I, "le premier Consul?"
"Mais non!—pas encore—mais—ce—ce monsieur l!"(184)
MADAME, C'EST MON MArI.
I looked at her to see whom I was to remark, and her eyes led me to a tall, large figure, with a broad gold-laced hat, who was clearing the lane which some of the company had infringed, with a stentorian voice, and an air and manner of such authority as a chief constable might exert in an English riot.
"Oui, madame," I answered, not conceiving why I was to look at him; "je le vois, ce monsieur; il est bien grand."(185)
"Oui, madame," replied she, with a yet widened smile, and a look of lively satisfaction; "il est bien grand! Vous le voyez bien?"
"O, fort bien!" cried I, quite at a loss what she meant me to understand, till at last, fixing first him, and then me, she expressively said—
"Madame, c'est mon mari!"(186)
The grin now was distended to the very utmost limits of the stretched lips, and the complacency of her countenance forcibly said,. "What do you think of me now?" My countenance, however, was far more clever than my head, if it made her any answer. But, in the plenitude of her own admiration of a gentleman who seemed privileged to speak roughly, and push violently whoever, by a single inch, passed a given barrier, she imagined, I believe, that to belong to him entitled her to be considered as sharing his prowess ; she seemed even to be participating in the merits of his height and breadth, though be could easily have put her into his pocket.
Not perceiving, as I imagine, all the delight of felicitation in my countenance that she had expected, her own fell, in a disappointed pause, into as much of length as its circular form would admit of; it recovered, however, in another minute its full merry rotundity, by conjecturing, as I have reason to think, that the niggardliness of my admiration was occasioned by my doubt of her assertions; for, looking at me with an expression that demanded my attention, she poked her head under the arm of a tall grenadier, stationed to guard our window, and trying to catch the eye of the object of her devotion, called out in an accent of tenderness, "M'ami! M'ami!"
The surprise she required was now gratified in full, though what she concluded to be excited by her happiness, was simply the effect of so caressing a public address from so diminutive a little creature to so gigantic a big one. Three or four times the soft sound was repeated ere it reached the destined ear, through the hubbub created by his own loud and rough manner of calling to order; but, when at last he caught the gentle appellation, and looked down upon her, it was with an eyebrow so scowling, a mouth so pouting, and an air that so rudely said, "What the d— do you want?" that I was almost afraid he would have taken her between his thumb and finger, and given her a shake. However, be only grumbled out, "Qu'est-ce que c'est, donc?"(187) A little at a loss what to say, she gently stammered, "M'ami,—le—le premier Consul, ne vient-il pas?"(188) "Oui! oui!" was blustered in reply, with a look that completed the phrase by "you fool you!" though the voice left it unfinished. Page 231
Not disconcerted even yet, though rather abashed,, she turned to me with a pleased grin that showed her proud of his noble ferociousness, and said, "C'est mon mari, madame!" as if still fearful I was not fully convinced of the grandeur of her connexion. "M'ami" having now cleared the passage by ranging all the company in two direct lines, the officers of highest rank were assembled, and went in a sort of procession into the inner apartment to the audience of the first Consul. During the time this lasted, some relaxation of discipline ensued, and the gentlemen from the opposite row ventured to approach and peep at the windows with the ladies; but as soon as the generals descended from the steps they had mounted, their short conference being over, "M'ami" again appeared,. to the inexpressible gratification of his loving little mate, again furiously hustled every one to his post; and the flags, next, as I think, were carried in procession to the inner apartment, but soon after brought back.
ADVENT OF THE FIRST CONSUL.
The Prince of Orange then passed us to enter the audience chamber, with a look so serious, an air so depressed, that I have not been at all surprised to hear he was that very night taken very ill.
The last object for whom the way was cleared was the second Consul, Cambacrs, who advanced with a stately and solemn pace, slow, regular, and consequential; dressed richly in scarlet and gold, and never looking to the right or left, but wearing a mien of fixed gravity and importance. He had several persons in his suite, who, I think, but am not sure, were ministers of state.
At length the two human hedges were finally formed, the door of the audience chamber was thrown wide open with a commanding crash, and a vivacious officer-sentinel-or I know not what, nimbly descended the three steps into our apartment, and placing himself at the side of the door, with one hand spread as high as possible above his head, and the other extended horizontally, called out in a loud and authoritative voice, "Le premier Consul!"
You will easily believe nothing more was necessary to obtain attention; not a soul either spoke or stirred as he and his suite passed along, which was so quickly that, had I not been placed so near the door, and had not all about
me facilitated my standing foremost, and being least crowd obstructed, I could hardly have seen him. As it was, I had a view so near, though so brief, of his face, as to be very much struck by it. It is of a deeply impressive cast, pale even to sallowness, while not only in the eye but in every feature—care, thought, melancholy, and meditation are strongly marked, with so much of character, nay, genius, and so penetrating a seriousness, or rather sadness, as powerfully to sink into an observer's mind.
Yet, though the busts and medallions I have seen are, in general, such good resemblances that I think I should have known him untold, he has by no means the look to be expected from Bonaparte, but rather that of a profoundly studious and contemplative man, who "o'er books consumes" not only the "midnight oil" but his own daily strength, "and wastes the puny body to decay" by abstruse speculation and theoretic plans or rather visions, ingenious but not practicable. But the look of the commander who heads his own army, who fights his own battles, who conquers every difficulty by personal exertion, who executes all he plans, who performs even all he suggests; whose ambition is of the most enterprising, and whose bravery is of the most daring cast:—this, which is the look to be expected from his situation, and the exploits which have led to it, the spectator watches for in vain. The plainness, also, of his dress, so conspicuously contrasted by the finery of all around him, conspires forcibly with his countenance, so "sicklied o'er with the pale hue of thought," to give him far more the air of a student than a warrior.
The intense attention with which I fixed him in this short but complete view made me entirely forget the lady who had promised me to hold him in conference. When he had passed, however, she told me it was upon his return she should address him, as he was too much hurried to be talked with at the moment of going to the parade. I was glad to find my chance not over, and infinitely curious to know what was to follow.
THE PARADE OF TROOPS.
The review I shall attempt no description of. I have no knowledge of the subject, and no fondness for its object. It was far more superb than anything I had ever beheld: but while all the pomp and circumstance of war animated others, Page 233
it only saddened me ; and all of past reflection, all of future dread, made the whole grandeur of the martial scene, and all the delusive seduction of martial music, fill my eyes frequently with tears, but not regale my poor muscles with one single smile.
Bonaparte, mounting a beautiful and spirited white horse, closely encircled by his glittering aides-de-camp, and accompanied by his generals, rode round the ranks, holding his bridle indifferently in- either hand, and seeming utterly careless of the prancing, rearing, or other freaks of his horse, insomuch as to strike some who were near me with a notion of his being a bad horseman. I am the last to be a judge upon this subject, but as a remarker, he only appeared to me a man who knew so well he could manage the animal when he pleased, that he did not deem it worth his while to keep constantly in order what he knew, if urged or provoked, he could subdue in a moment.
Precisely opposite to the window at which I was placed, the chief Consul stationed himself after making his round and thence he presented some swords of honour, spreading out one arm with an air and mien which changed his look from that of scholastic severity to one that was highly military and commanding. . . .
The review over, the chief Consul returned to the palace. The lines were again formed, and he re-entered our apartment with his suite. As soon as he approached our window, I observed my first acquaintance start a little forward. I was now all attention to her performance of her promise; and just as he reached us she stretched out her hand to present him a petition!
The enigma of the conference was now solved, and I laughed at my own wasted expectation. Lui parler, however, the lady certainly did; so far she kept her word; for when he had taken the scroll, and was passing on, she rushed out of the line, and planting herself immediately before him so as to prevent his walking on, screamed, rather than spoke, for her voice was shrill with impetuosity to be heard and terror of failure, "C'est pour mon fils! vous me l'avez promis!"(189) The first Consul stopped and spoke; but not loud enough for me to hear his voice: while his aides-de-camp and the attending generals surrounding him more closely, all in a Page 234
breath rapidly said to the lady, "Votre nom, madame, votre nom!"(190) trying to disengage the Consul from her importunity, in which they succeeded, but not with much ease, as she seemed purposing to cling to him till she got his personal answer. He faintly smiled as he passed on, but looked harassed and worn; while she, turning to me, with an exulting face and voice, exclaimed, "Je l'aurai! je l'aurai!" meaning what she had petitioned for—"car . . . tous ces gnraux m'ont demands mon nom!" (191) Could any inference be clearer?
The moment the chief Consul had ascended the steps leading to the inner apartment, the gentlemen in black with ,gold chains gave a general hint that all the company must depart, as the ambassadors and the ministers were now summoned to their monthly public audience with the chief Consul. The crowd, however, was so great, and Madame d'Henin was so much incommoded, and half ill, I fear, by internal suffering, that M. d'Arblay procured a pass for us by a private door down to a terrace leading to a quiet exit from the palace into the Tuileries garden.
WITH M. D'ARBLAY'S RELATIVES AT JOIGNY.
(Madame d'Arblay to Mrs. Burney.)(192) Paris, 1802. .....With the nearest relatives now existing of M. d'Arblay I am myself more pleased than I can tell you. We have spent a fortnight at joigny,(193) and found them all awaiting us with the most enthusiastic determination to receive with open arms and open heart the choice and the offspring of their returned exile. Their kindness has truly penetrated me; and the heads of the family, the uncle and the aunt, are so charming as well as so worthy, that I could have remained with them for months had not the way of life which their residence in a country town has forced them to adopt, been utterly at war with all that, to me, makes peace, and happiness, and cheerfulness, namely, the real domestic life of living with my own small but all-sufficient family. I have never loved a dissipated Page 235
life, which it is no virtue in me, therefore, to relinquish; but I now far less than ever can relish it, and know not how to enjoy anything away from home, except by distant intervals; and then with that real moderation, I am so far from being a misanthrope or sick of the world, that I have real pleasure in mixed society. It is difficult, however, in the extreme, to be able to keep to such terms. M. d'Arblay has so many friends, and an acquaintance so extensive, that the mere common decencies of established etiquettes demand, as yet, nearly all my time; and this has been a true fatigue both to my body and my spirits.
M. d'Arblay is related, though very distantly, to a quarter of the town, and the other three-quarters are his friends or acquaintance; and all of them came, first, to see me; next, to know how I did after the journey; next, were all to be waited upon in return ; next, came to thank me for my visit; next, to know how the air of Joigny agreed with me - next, to make a little further acquaintance ; and, finally, to make a visit of cong. And yet all were so civil, so pleasant, and so pleased with my monsieur's return, that could I have lived three lives, so as to have had some respite, I could not have found fault for it was scarcely ever with the individual intruder, but with the continuance or repetition of interruption.
SOME JOIGNY ACQUAINTANCES.
(Madame d'Arblay to Miss Planta, for the queen and princesses.) Passy, December 19, 1802. .....Rarely, indeed, my dear Miss Planta, I have received more pleasure than from your last most truly welcome letter, with assurances so unspeakably seasonable. I had it here at Passy the 5th day after its date. I thank you again and again, but oh! how I thank God!
Permit me now to go back to Joigny, for the purpose of giving some account of two very interesting acquaintances we made there. The first was Colonel Louis Bonaparte,(194) youngest brother but one, (Jerome) of the first Consul. His
regiment was quartered at joigny, where he happened to be upon our last arrival at that town, and where the first visit he made was to M. MBazille, the worthy maternal uncle of M. d'Arblay. He is a young man of the most serious demeanour, a grave yet pleasing countenance, and the most reserved yet gentlest manners. His conduct in the small town (for France) of joigny was not merely respectable, but exemplary; he would accept no distinction in consequence of his powerful connexions, but presented himself everywhere with the unassuming modesty of a young man who had no claims beyond what he might make by his own efforts and merits. He discouraged all gaming, to which the inhabitants are extremely prone, by always playing low himself; and he discountenanced parade, by never suffering his own servant to wait behind his chair where he dined. He broke up early both from table and from play - was rigid in his attentions to his military duties, strict in the discipline of is officers as well as men, -and the first to lead the way in every decency and regularity. When to this I add that his conversation is sensible, and well bred, yet uncommonly diffident, and that but twenty-three summers have yet rolled over his head, so much good sense, forbearance, and propriety, in a situation so open to flattery, ambition, or vanity, obtained, as they merited, high consideration and perfect good will.
I had a good deal of conversation with him, for he came to sit by me both before and after his card-party wherever I had the pleasure to meet him ; and his quiet and amiable manners, and rational style of discourse, made him a great loss to our society, when he was summoned to Paris, upon the near approach of the event which gave him a son and heir. He was very kind to my little Alex, whom he never saw without embracing, and he treated M. d'Arblay with a marked distinction extremely gratifying to me.
The second acquaintance to which I have alluded is a lady, Madame de Souza.(195) She soon found the road to my good will and regard, for she told me that she, with another lady, had been fixed upon by M. del Campo, my old sea-visitor, for the high honour of aiding him in his reception of the first lady of our land and her lovely daughters, upon the grand fte which he gave upon the dearest and most memorable of occasions(196) and she spoke with such pleasure and gratitude of Page 237
the sweet condescension she then experienced, that she charmed and delighted me, and we struck up an intimacy without further delay. Our theme was always ready, and I only regretted that I could see her but seldom, as she lived two or three miles out of Joigny, at Cesy, in the small chteau of la ci-devant Princesse de Beaufremont, a lady with whom I had had the honour of making acquaintance in Paris, and who is one of those who suffered most during the horrors of the Revolution. At the dreadful period when all the rage was to burn the property and title-deeds of the rich and high-born, her noble chteau, one of the most considerable in France, was. utterly consumed, and all her papers; that no record of her genealogy might remain, were committed, with barbarous triumph, to the flames : yet was this, such is her unhappy fate, the least of her misfortunes ; her eldest daughter, a beautiful young creature, upon whom she doted, was in the chteau at this horrible period, and forced to make her escape with such alarm and precipitance, that she never recovered from the excess of her terror, which robbed her of her life before she was quite seventeen years of age !
Around the small and modest chteau de Cesy, in which Madame de Beaufremont and her youngest and now only daughter, Madame de Listenois, at present reside, the grounds have been cultivated in the English style; and the walks, now shady, now open, now rising, now descending, with water, bridges, cascades, and groves, and occasional fine picturesque views from the banks of the Yonne, are all laid out with taste and pretty effects. We strolled over them with a large party, till we came to a little recess. Madame de Beaufremont then took me by the arm, and we separated from the company to enter it together, and she showed me an urn surrounded with cypress trees and weeping willows, watered by a clear, small, running rivulet, and dedicated to the memory of her first-born and early-lost lamented daughter. Poor lady! she seems entirely resigned to all the rest of her deprivations, but here the wound is incurable ! yet, this subject apart, she is cheerful, loves society, or rather social discourse, with a chosen few, and not only accepts with Pleasure whatever may enliven her, but exerts herself to contribute all that is in her power to the entertainment of others. She has still preserved enough from the wreck of her Possessions to live elegantly, though not splendidly; and her table is remarkably well served. She has a son-in-law, M. Page 238
de Listenois, whom I did not see; but her remaining daughter Madame de Listenois, is a very fine young woman. Madame de Souza has spent the whole summer with these ladies. She told me she liked England so very much, and was so happy during the six weeks she passed there, that she wept bitterly on quitting it. She was received, she says, at Court in the most bewitching manner, and she delights in retracing her honours, and her sense of them. She is still so very handsome, though sickly and suffering, that I imagine she must then have been exquisitely beautiful. I am told, by a French officer who has served in Spain, M. de Meulan, that when she left that country she was reckoned the most celebrated beauty of Madrid.
I had another new acquaintance at Joigny, also, in a lady who came from Auxerre, as she was pleased to say, to see me, Madame La Villheurnois, widow of M. La Villheurnois, who was amongst the unhappy objects dports, by the order of the Directory, la Guiane.(197) As soon as the first civilities were over, she said, "Permettez, madame! connaisseZ-vous Sidney?"(198) I could not doubt who she meant, though there is no avoiding a smile at this drolly concise way of naming a man by his nom de baptme.(199) She was extremely surprised when I answered no; telling me she had concluded "que tout le monde en Angleterre"(200) must know Sidney! Yes, I said, by character certainly ; but personally I had never the gratification of meeting with him. She told me she was intimately acquainted with him herself, from seeing him continually when he was confined in the Temple, as she attended there her "malheureux poux,"(201) and she saw also, she said, "son valet et son jockey,"(202) whom she never suspected to be disguised emigrants, watching to aid his escape. "Surtout," she added, "comme le jockey avait des trous aux bas terribles,")203) which
induced her daughter to buy him a new pair of stockings for charity. A gentleman who accompanied her to Joigny, her secretary, told me he had played at ball with Sidney every day for six months, while he also attended upon poor M. La Vilheurnois......
THE INFLUENZA IN PARIS.
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) Passy, March 23, 1803. I have been anxious to write since I received your last kind inquiries, my dearest padre; but so tedious has been my seizure, that I have not yet got from its wraps or confinements. I feel, however, as if this were their last day, and that to-morrow would have the honour to see me abroad. I have had no fever, and no physician, and no important malady; but cold has fastened upon cold, so as utterly to imprison me. La gripe,(204) however, I escaped, so has Alex, and our maid and helpers—and M. d'Arblay, who caught it latterly in his excursions to Paris, had it so slightly that but for the fright attached to the seizure (which I thought would almost have demolished me at first, from the terror hanging on its very name at that fatal period) I should have deemed it a mere common cold. It is now universally over, but the mischief it has done is grievously irreparable. . . . It was a disastrous and frightful time. The streets of Paris were said to be as full of funerals as of cabriolets. For my own part, I have not once been able to enter that capital since I left it at the end of October. But I cannot help attributing much of the mortality which prevailed in consequence of this slight disease, to the unwholesome air occasioned by the dreadful want of cleanliness in that city, which, but for the healthiness of the beautiful and delicious walks around it, i.e., the Boulevards, must surely have proved pestilential. The air of our house at Passy is perfectly pure and sweet.
M. d'Arblay is now making a last effort with respect to his retraite,(205) which has languished in adjournment above a year. He has put it into the hands of a faithful and most amiable friend, now in high esteem with the premier Consul, General Lauriston, who so kindly renewed an ancient friendship with his former camarade when he was on his splendid short embassy in England. If through him it should fail, I shall never think of it more. Page 240
RUMOURS OF WAR.
(Madame dArblay to Mrs. Locke) NO- 54, Rue Basse, Passy, near Paris, April 30, 1803. How to write I know not, at a period so tremendous-nor yet how to be silent. My dearest, dearest friends ! if the war indeed prove inevitable, what a heart-breaking position is ours!-to explain it fully would demand folios, and yet be never so well done as you, with a little consideration, can do it for us. Who better than Mr. Locke and his Fredy-who so well can comprehend, that, where one must be sacrificed, the other will be yet more to be pitied ?-I will not go on-I will talk only of you, till our fate must be determined. And M. d'Arblay, who only in the wide world loves his paternal uncle as well (we always except ourselves at Westminster! how tenderly does he join in my every feeling! and how faithfully keep unimpaired all our best and happiest sympathies!
May 2.—Better appearances in the political horizon now somewhat recruit my spirits, which have been quite indescribably tortured, rather than sunk, by the impossibility of any private arrangement for our mutual happiness in the dread event of war. God Almighty yet avert it! And should it fall to the lot of Lauriston to confirm the peace, what a guardian angel upon earth I shall deem him! How I wish he could meet with you! he is so elegant in his manners he would immediately give you pleasure; and his countenance is so true in announcing him amiable, that you might look at him with trust as well as satisfaction. . . .
May 13—Ah, my dearest friends—what a melancholy end to my hopes and my letter. I have just heard that Lord Whitworth(206) set off for Chantilly last night; war therefore seems inevitable; and my grief, I, who feel myself now of two countries, is far greater than I can wish to express. While posts are yet open, write to me, my beloved friend, and by Hamburg. I trust we may still and regularly correspond, long as the letters may be in travelling. As our letters never
treat but of our private concerns, health and welfare neither country can object to our intercourse.
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney). Passy, May 6, 1803. if my dearest father has the smallest idea of the suspense and terror in which I have spent this last fortnight, from the daily menace of war, he will be glad, I am sure, of the respite allowed me-if no more—from a visit I have just received from Mrs. Huber, who assures me the Ambassador has postponed his setting off, and consented to send another courier.(207) To say how I pray for his success would indeed be needless. I have hardly closed my eyes many nights past. My dearest father will easily conceive the varying conflicts of our minds, and how mutual are our sufferings. . . .
We were buoyed up here for some days with the hope that General Lauriston was gone to England as plenipo, to end the dread contest without new effusion of blood: but Paris, like London, teems with hourly false reports, and this intelligence, unhappily, was of the number. The continued kindness and friendship of that gentleman for M. d'Arblay make me take a warm interest in whatever belongs to him. About ten days ago, when M. d'Arblay called upon him, relative to the affair so long impending of his retraite, he took his hand, and said "Fais-moi ton compliment!"(208) You are sure how heartily M. d'Arblay would be ready to comply-"but "what," he demanded, "can be new to you of honours?" "I have succeeded," he answered, "for you!—the first Consul has signed your mmoire." When such delicacy is joined to warm attachment, my dearest father will not wonder I should be touched by it. . . .
M. d'Arblay has now something in his native country, where all other claims are vain, and all other expectations completely destroyed. He had been flattered with recovering some portion, at least, of his landed property near Joigny; but those who have purchased it during his exile add such enormous and unaccountable charges to what they paid for it at that period, that it is become, to us, wholly unattainable.
" OUR LITTLE CELL AT PASSY."
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) Passy, April 11, 1804. We live in the most quiet, and, I think, enviable retired merit. Our house is larger than we require, but not a quarter furnished. Our view is extremely pretty from it, and always cheerful; we rarely go out, yet always are pleased to return. We have our books, our prate, and our boy—how, with all this, can we, or ought we to suffer ourselves to complain of our narrowed and narrowing income? If we are still able to continue at Passy, endeared to me now beyond any other residence away from you all, by a friendship I have formed here with one of the sweetest women I have ever known, Madame de Maisonneuve, and to M. d'Arblay by similar sentiments for all her family, our philosophy will not be put to severer trials than it can sustain. And this engages us to bear a thousand small privations which we might, perhaps, escape, by shutting ourselves up in some spot more remote from the capital. But as my deprivation of the society of my friends is what I most lament, so something that approaches nearest to what I have lost affords me the best reparation.
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) Passy, May 29, 1808. Before I expected it, my promised opportunity for again writing to my most dear father is arrived. I entirely forget whether, before the breaking out of the war stopt our correspondence, M. d'Arblay had already obtained his retraite: and, consequently, whether that is an event I have mentioned or not. Be that as it may, he now has it—it is 1500 livres, or 62 pounds, 10 shillings. per annum. But all our resources from England ceasing with the peace, we had so little left from what we had brought over, and M. d'Arblay has found so nearly nothing remaining of his natural and hereditary claims in his own province, that he determined upon applying for some employment that might enable him to live with independence, how ever parsimoniously. This he has, with infinite difficulty, etc., at length obtained, and he is now a rdacteur in the civil department of les Btimens, etc.(209) This is no sinecure. He
attends at his bureau from half-past nine to half-past four o'clock every day; and as we live so far off as Passy he is obliged to set off for his office between eight and nine, and does not return to his hermitage till past five. However, what necessity has urged us to desire, and made him solicit, we must not, now acquired, name or think of with murmuring or regret. He has the happiness to be placed amongst extremely worthy people; and those who are his chefs in office treat him with every possible mark of consideration and feeling. We continue steady to our little cell at Passy, which is retired, quiet, and quite to ourselves, with a magnificent view of Paris from one side, and a beautiful one of the country on the other. It is unfurnished-indeed, unpapered, and every way unfinished; for our workmen, in the indispensable repairs which preceded our entering it, ran us up bills that compelled us to turn them adrift, and leave every thing at a stand, when three rooms only were made just habitable.
THE PRINCE OF WALES EULOGIZED.
(Dr. Burney to Madame d'Arblay.) July 12, 1805. . . . Your brother, Dr. Charles, and I have had the honour last Tuesday of dining with the Prince of Wales at Lord Melbourne's at the particular desire of H.R.H. He is so good-humoured and gracious to those against whom he has no party prejudice, that it is impossible not to be flattered by this politeness and condescension. I was astonished to find him, amidst such constant dissipation, possessed of so much learning, wit, knowledge of books in general, discrimination of Character, as well as original humour. He quoted Homer to my son as readily as if the beauties of Dryden or Pope were under consideration. And as to music, he is an excellent critic; has an enlarged taste— admiring whatever is excellent in its kind, of whatever age or country the composers or performers may be; without, however, being insensible to the superior genius and learning necessary to some kinds of music more than others.
The conversation was general and lively, in which several of the company, consisting of eighteen or twenty, took a share, till towards the heel of the evening, or rather the toe of the morning; for we did not rise from table till one Page 244
o'clock, when Lady Melbourne being returned from the opera with her daughters, coffee was ordered; during which H.R.H. took me outside and talked exclusively about music near half an hour, and as long with your brother concerning Greek literature. He is a most excellent mimic of well-known characters: had we been in the dark any one would have sworn that Dr. Parr and Kemble were in the room. Besides being possessed of a great fund of original humour, and good humour, he may with truth be said to have as much wit as Charles II., with much more learning—for his merry majesty could spell no better than the bourgeois gentilhomme.
DR. BURNEY AT BATH.
(Dr. Burney to Madame dArblay.) June 12, 1808. . . . Last autumn I had an alarming seizure In my left hand and, mine being pronounced a Bath case, on Christmas Eve I set out for that city, extremely weak and dispirited-put myself under the care of Dr. Parry, and after remaining there three months, I found my hand much more alive, and my general health considerably amended.
During my invalidity at Bath I had an unexpected visit from your Streatham friend,(210) of whom I had lost sight for more than ten years. I saw very few people, but none of an evening nor of a morning, on the days my hand was pumped on. When her name was sent in I was much surprised, but desired she might be admitted; and I received her as an old friend with whom I had spent much time very happily, and never wished to quarrel. She still looks well, but is grave, and candour itself; though still she says good things, and writes admirable notes and letters, I am told, to my granddaughters C. and M., of whom she is very fond. We shook hands very cordially, and avoided any allusion to our long separation and its cause; the Caro Sposo still lives, but is such an object from the gout that the account of his sufferings made me pity him sincerely; he wished, she told me, "to see his old and worthy friend," and, un beau matin, I could not refuse compliance with his wish. She nurses him with great affection and tenderness, never goes out or has company when he is in pain. Page 245
AFFECTIONATE GREETINGS To DR. BURNEY.
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) September, 1808. After being so long robbed of all means of writing to my beloved father, I seize, with nearly as much surprise as gratitude, a second opportunity of addressing him almost before the first can have brought my hand to his sight. When will some occasion offer to bring me back-not my revenge, but my first and most coveted satisfaction ? With how much more spirit, also, should I write, if I knew what were received of what already I have scrawled ! Volumes, however, must have been told you, of what in other times I should have written, by Maria. For myself, when once a reunion takes place, I can scarcely conceive which will be hardest worked, my talking faculties or my listening ones. O what millions of things I want to inquire and to know! The rising generation, me thinks, at least, might keep me some letters and packets ready for occasional conveyances. I should be grateful beyond measure. M. d'Arblay writes—"how desired is, how happy shall be, the day, in which we shall receive your dearest blessing and embrace! Pray be so kind not to forget the mate always remembering your kindness for him and his. A thousand thousand loves to all."
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) No. 13, Rue d'Anjou, Paris, May 2, 1810. A happy May-day to my dearest father! Sweet-scented be the cowslips which approach his nostrils! lovely and rosy the milkmaids that greet his eyes, and animating as they are noisy the marrow-bones and cleavers that salute his ears! Dear, and even touching, are these anniversary recollections where distance and absence give them existence only in the memory! and, at this moment, to hear and see them I Would exchange all the Raphaels in our Museum, and the new and beautiful composition of Paesiello in the chapel.
Could you but send me a little food for the hope now in private circulation that the new alliance of the Emperor(211) may perhaps extend to a general alliance of all Europe, Oh, Page 246
heaven! how would that brighten my faculties of enjoyment! I should run about to see all I have hitherto omitted to seek, with the ardent curiosity of a traveller newly arrived ; and I should hasten to review and consider all I have already beheld, with an alertness of vivacity that would draw information from every object I have as yet looked at with undiscerning tameness. Oh, such a gleam of light would new-model or re-model me, and I should make you present to all my sights, and partake of all the wonders that surround me !
Were not this cruel obscurity so darkening to my views, and so depressing to my spirits, I could tell my dearest father many things that might amuse him, and detail to him, in particular, my great and rare happiness in a point the most essential, after domestic comforts, to peace of mind and cheerfulness, namely, my good fortune in my adopted friends in this my adopted country. The society in which I mix, when I can prevail with myself to quit my yet dearer fireside, is all that can be wished, whether for wit, wisdom, intelligence, gaiety, or politeness. The individuals with whom I chiefly mix, from being admired at first for their talents or amiability, are now sincerely loved for their kindness and goodness. Could I write more frequently, or with more security that I write not to the winds and the waves, I would characterize the whole set to you, and try to make us yet shake hands in the same Party. . . .
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) No. 13, Rue d'Anjou, Paris, ce 16 Sept. 1810. Can I tell you, my dearest father!-oh, no! I can never tell you-the pleasure, the rapture with which I received your letter by Madame Solvyns. It had been so cruelly long since I had heard from you, so anxious and suffering a space since I had seen your handwriting, that, when at last it came, I might have seemed, to one who did not know me, rather penetrated by sudden affliction than by joy. But how different was all within to what appeared without! My partner-in-all received it at his bureau, and felt an impatience so unconquerable to communicate so extreme a pleasure that he quitted everything to hasten home; for he was incapable of going on with his business. How satisfactory, also, is all the intelligence ! how gaily, with what spirit written ! . . .
I do nothing of late but dream of seeing you, my most dear
father. I think I dream it wide awake, too; the desire is so strong that it pursues me night and day, and almost persuades me it has something in it of reality : and I do not choose to discourage even ideal happiness.
DR. BURNEY's DIPLOMA.
(Madame d'Arblay to Dr. Burney.) No. 13, Rue d'Anjou, 14th April, 1811. .....Have you received the letter in which I related that your diploma has been brought to me by the perpetual secretary of the class of the Fine Arts of the Institute of France?(212) I shall not have it conveyed but by some very certain hand, and that, now, is most difficult to find. M. Le Breton has given me, also, a book of the list of your camarades, in which he has written your name. He says it will be printed in next year's register. He has delivered to me, moreover, a medal, which is a mark of distinction reserved for peculiar honour to peculiar select personages. Do you suppose I do not often—often—often think who would like, and be fittest to be the bearer to you of these honours? . . .
How kind was the collection of letters you made more precious by endorsing! I beseech you to thank all my dear correspondents, and to bespeak their patience for answers, which shall arrive by every wind that I can make blow their way; but yet more, beseech their generous attention to my impatience for more, should the wind blow fair for me before it will let me hail them in return. Difficultly can they figure to themselves my joy—my emotion at receiving letters from such dates as they can give me!
[During this year Madame d'Arblay's correspondence with her English connexions was interrupted not only by the difficulty of conveying letters, but also by a dangerous illness and the menace of a cancer, from which she could only be relieved by submitting to a painful and hazardous operation. The fortitude with which she bore this suffering, and her generous solicitude for Monsieur d'Arblay and those around her, excited the warmest sympathy in all who heard of her trial, and her French friends universally gave her the name of l'ange,(213) so touched were they by her tenderness and Magnanimity.]
(157) " Dr. Orkborne" is the name of one of the characters in "Camilla," a pedantic scholar, who lives only in his books.-ED.
(158) Widow of Sir Robert Strange, the celebrated engraver, and a very old friend of the Burney family. She was a Scotchwoman (her maiden name, Isabel Lumisden), and in her younger days an enthusiastic Jacobite. She obliged her lover, Strange, to join the young Pretender in 1745, and afterwards married him against her father's wish.-ED.
(159) "The other Bell" was the daughter of Sir Robert and Lady Strange.-ED.
(160) Wife of Sir Lucas Pepys, the physician.-ED.
(161) Anna Letitia Barbauld, the well-known author, and editor of Richardson's Correspondence, etc.-ED.
(162) John Aiken, M.D., brother to Mrs. Barbauld, and, like his sister, an author and editor. His "Evenings at Home" is still a well-known book: many of our readers will probably have pleasant reminiscences of it, connected with their childhood.-ED.
(163) Barry had published a furious attack upon his fellow-Academicians in a "Letter to the Dilettanti Society." He was already, owing chiefly to his own violent temper, on ill terms with nearly all of them, and the "Letter" prove(I to be the last straw. Various charges were drawn up against the Professor of Painting, and he was expelled forthwith from the Academy, without being permitted to speak in his own defence.
(164) "By the help of a shilling."
(165) "With tears in his eyes."
(166) i.e., Mr. Locke.-ED.
(167) The French minister in England.-ED.
(168) A letter in which M. d'Arblay had acquainted his wife with the withdrawal of his commission in the French army, in consequence of his refusal, under any circumstances, to bear arms against England.-ED. (169) Miss Cambridge.-ED.
(170) Lafayette was then living in retirement, with his wife and family, at is chateau of La Grange. -ED.
(171) "Quick, quick, madam, take your seat in the diligence, for here is an English gentleman who is sure to take the best place!"—There is evidently some mistake here, in making the book-keeper in Piccadilly speak French and talk about the diligence. That the paragraph relates to Fanny's departure from London is evident from several passages in the text: the mention, later, of changing horses at Canterbury, the references to her fellow-travellers at Calais. The date to the above paragraph is also clearly wrong, as it will be seen that on the 18th of April they were still on the road to Paris.-ED.
(172) "Quick! quick! look for it, or you will be arrested!"
(173) in the new calendar adopted by the Republic in 1793, a division of the month into decades, or periods of ten days, was substituted for the old division into weeks. Every tenth day (dcadi) was a day of rest, instead of every seventh day, (Sunday, Dimanche). The months were of thirty days each, with five odd festival days (Sansculottades) in the year, and a sixth (Festival of the Revolution) in Leap Year. Napoleon restored the Sunday in place of dcadi. The new calendar was discontinued altogether, January 1, 1806.-ED.
(174) The date is again wrong—probably a misprint for April 21.-ED.
(175) Mrs. Damer, the sculptor, as an ardent Whig and supporter of Charles Fox, professed herself at this time an enthusiastic admirer of the first Consul. She had known josphine de Beauharnais before her marriage with Napoleon, and, after the peace of Amiens, visited Paris on Josphine's invitation. She was there introduced to Napoleon, to whom she afterwards presented a bust of Charles Fox, executed by herself. Mrs. Damer's companions on this excursion were Mary Berry, the author (born 1763-died 1852), and her younger sister, Agnes Berry. These two ladies were prodigious favourites with Horace Walpole, who called them his "twin wives," and was, it is said, even desirous, in his old age, Of marrying the elder Miss Berry. One of his valued possessions was a marble bust of Mary Berry, the work of his kinswoman, Mrs. Damer. At his death in 1797 he bequeathed to the Miss Berrys a house for their joint lives, besides a legacy Of 4000 pounds to each sister. Mary Berry published an edition of her old admirer's works the year after his death.-ED.
(176) The Swiss home of her father, 'M. Necker, on the shore of the lake, and some ten miles north of the town of Geneva. Necker retired thither after his fall in 1790, and spent there, in retirement, the remaining years of his life. He died at Geneva, in April, 1804.-ED.
(177) Madame de Stael's orthography is here preserved.
" I should like to prove to you my zeal, madam, and I am afraid of being indiscreet. I hope you will have the goodness to let me know when you are sufficiently recovered from the fatigue of your journey, that I might have the honour of seeing you without being tiresome to you."
(178) The 4th Floria (April 23).
(179) "Madame d'Arblay can only be infinitely flattered by the extreme goodness of Madame the Countess de Stael. She will very certainly have the honour of calling upon Madame de Stael as soon as possible." (180) Madame de Lafayette was thrown into prison after the flight of her husband; released in February, 1795, more than six months after the death of Robespierre. She then journeyed to Austria, and obtained leave to share, with her two daughters, her husband's captivity at Olmtz. Lafayette was released in September, 1797; returned to France in 1800, Napoleon not forbidding, though not quite approving. Madame de Lafayette's constitution was permanently impaired by the confinement which she suffered at Olmtz. She died December 24, 1807.-ED.
(181) "It's a foreigner, it's an Englishwoman."
(182) "Have you seen the first Consul, madam?"
"Not yet, madam."
"It is doubtless what you most wish for, madam?"
"Do you wish to have an excellent view of him, and to see him quite at your ease?"
"I am particularly desirous of it, madam."
(183) "Do thus, madam, and you will see him well, well; for I-am going to speak to him ! "
(184) "You see him, madam!"
"Whom?" exclaimed I, "the first Consul?"
"Oh no!—not yet;—but—that—that gentleman!"
(185) "yes, madam, I see that gentleman; he is very tall!"
(186) "Madam, it is my husband!"
(187) "What is the matter?"
(188) "M'ami, the—the first Consul, is he not coming?"
(189) "'Tis for my son ! you promised it me!"
(190) "Your name, madam, your name!"
(191) "I shall have it! I shall have it! for all those generals asked my name!"
(192) Fanny's eldest sister, Esther, who married (1770) her cousin, Charles Rousseau Burney.-ED.
(193) joigny was the birth-place of M. d'Arblay.-ED.
(194) Louis Bonaparte was born in 1778, and, young as he was, had already served with distinction in the campaign in Italy. He was subsequently king of Holland from 1806 to 1810, when that country was annexed by Napoleon to the French Empire. He married Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter, by her first marriage, of Napoleon's wife, Josephine, and was the father of the Emperor Napoleon III.-ED.
(195) Authoress of "Adle de Senange," etc.
(196) On the king's recovery, in the spring of 1789.-ED.
(197) Many of the leading members of the Councils of "Ancients" and of "Five Hundred " had been transported to Guiana after the coup d'tat of September 4, 1797. See note (146) ante, p. 136.-ED.
(198) "Excuse me, madam ! do you know Sidney? Sidney " is Sir Sidney Smith, whose gallant and successful defence of Acre against the French,, in the spring of 1799, obliged Napoleon to relinquish the invasion of Syria.-ED.
(199) Christian name.
(200) "Every one in England."
(201) "Unfortunate husband."
(202) "His valet and his jockey, (groom)."
(203) "Especially as the jockey had terrible holes in his stockings."
(204) The influenza.
(205) Retiring pension.
(206) The English ambassador in Paris. All hopes of a satisfactory termination to the dispute between the English and French governments being now at an end, Lord Whitworth was ordered to return to England, and left Paris May 12, 1803. His return was followed by the recall of the French minister in London, and the declaration of war between the two countries.-ED.
(207) The reader will have noticed that the date of this letter is earlier than that of the paragraph in the preceding letter, in which Fanny alludes to the departure of the Ambassador from Paris.-ED.
(208) "Make me your compliments."
(209) "Or, as we might say, a clerk in the department of works."- ED.
(210) Mrs. Piozzi.-ED.
(211) Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French, November 19, 1804. His "new alliance" was his marriage, in the spring Of 1810, with the archduchess Maria Louisa, daughter of the Emperor of Austria. With this alliance in view he had been divorced from Josphine at the close of the preceding year.-ED
(212) Dr. Burney had been elected a corresponding member of this section of the Institute.-ED.
(213) The angel.
Page 248 SECTION 23. (1812-14.)
MADAME D'ARBLAY AND HER SON IN ENGLAND,
[At the commencement of the year 1814 was published "The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties," the fourth and last novel by the author of "Evelina," "Cecilia," and "Camilla." The five volumes were sold for two guineas-double the price of "Camilla,"—and we gather from Madame d'Arblay's own statement that she received at least fifteen hundred pounds for the work. She informs us also that three thousand six hundred copies were sold during the first six months. This pecuniary profit, however, was the only advantage which she derived from the book. It was severely treated by the critics ; its popularity,— if it ever had any, for its large sale was probably due to the author's high reputation,—speedily declined; and the almost total oblivion into which it passed has remained unbroken to the present day. Yet "The Wanderer" was deserving of a better fate. In many respects it is not inferior to any of Madame d'Arblay's earlier works. Its principal defect is one of literary style, and its style, though faulty and unequal, is by no means devoid of charm and impressiveness. The artless simplicity and freshness of "Evelina" render that work, her first novel, the most successful of all in point of style. In "Cecilia" the style shows more of conscious art, and is more laboured. In "Camilla" and "The Wanderer" it is at once more careless and more affected than in the earlier novels ; her English is at times slipshod, at times disfigured by attempts at fine writing. But, admitting all this, we must admit also that Fanny, even in "The Wanderer," proves herself mistress of what we may surely regard as the most essential part of style-its power of affecting the reader agreeably with the intentions of the author. She plays upon her reader's emotions with a sure touch; she excites or soothes him at her will; she arouses by turns his compassion, his mirth, his resentment, according as she strikes the keys of pathos, of humour, or of irony. A style which is capable of producing such effects is not rashly to be condemned on the score of occasional affectations and irregularities. Page 249
The question of style apart, we do not feel that "The Wanderer" shows the slightest decline in its author's powers. The plot is as ingeniously complicated as ever, the suspense as skilfully maintained; the characters seem to us as real as those in "Evelina," or "Cecilia," or in the "Diary" itself; the alternate pathos and satire of the book keep our attention ever on the alert. That it failed to win the suffrages of the public was certainly due to no demerit in the work. Many causes may have conspired against it. The public taste had long been debauched by novels of that nightmare school in which Mrs Radcliffe and "Monk" Lewis were the leaders. Moreover, in the very year in which "The Wanderer" was published, appeared the first of a series of works of fiction which, by their power and novelty, were to monopolise, for a time, the public attention and applause, and which were thereafter to secure for their author a high rank among the immortals of English literature. At the end of the fifth volume of "The Wanderer" were inserted a few leaves, containing a list of books recently published or "in the press;" and last on the list of the latter stands "Waverley, or 'Tis Sixty Years since."
Like " Evelina," "The Wanderer" is inscribed in a touching dedication (this time, however, in prose, and with his name prefixed) to Fanny's beloved father. The dedication is dated March 14, 1814 : on the 12th of the following month Dr. Burney died at Chelsea College, in his eighty-seventh year.-ED.]
NARRATIVE OF MADAME D'ARBLAY'S JOURNEY TO LONDON.
ANXIETY TO SEE FATHER AND FRIENDS.
Dunkirk, 1812. There are few events of my life that I more regret not having committed to paper while they were fresher in my memory, than my police adventure at Dunkirk, the most fearful that I have ever experienced, though not, alas, the most afflicting, for terror, and even horror, are short of deep affliction; while they last they are, nevertheless, absorbers; but once past, whether ill or well, they are over, and from them, as from bodily pain, the animal spirits can rise uninjured: not so from that grief which has its source in irreInediable calamity; from that there is no rising, no relief, save in hopes of eternity: for here on earth all buoyancy of mind that Might produce the return of peace, is sunk for ever. I will Page 250
now, however, put down all that recurs to me of my first return home.
In the year 1810, when I had been separated from my dear father, and country, and native friends, for eight years, my desire to again see them became so anxiously impatient that my tender companion proposed my passing over to England alone, to spend a month or two at Chelsea. Many females at that period, and amongst them the young Duchesse de Duras, had contrived to procure passports for a short similar excursion ; though no male was permitted, under any pretence, to quit France, save with the army.
Reluctantly—with all my wishes in favour of the scheme,—yet most reluctantly, I accepted the generous offer; for never did I know happiness away from that companion, no, not even out of his sight! but still, I was consuming with solicitude to see my revered father—to be again in his kind arms, and receive his kind benediction.
A MILD MINISTER OF POLICE.
For this all was settled, and I had obtained my passport, which was brought to me without my even going to the police office, by the especial favour of M. Le Breton, the Secretaire Perptuel l'Institut. The ever active services of M. de Narbonne aided this peculiar grant ; though, had not Bonaparte been abroad with his army at the time, neither the one nor the other would have ventured at so hardy a measure of assistance. But whenever Bonaparte left Paris, there was always an immediate abatement of severity in the police; and Fouch, though he had borne a character dreadful beyond description in the earlier and most horrible times of the Revolution, was,'at this period, when minister of police, a man of the mildest manners, the most conciliatory conduct, and of the easiest access in Paris. He had least the glare of the new imperial court of any one of its administration; he affected, indeed, all the simplicity of a plain Republican. I have often seen him strolling in the most shady and unfrequented parts of the "Elysian Fields," muffled up in a plain brown rocolo, and giving le bras to his wife, without suite or servant, merely taking the air, with the evident design of enjoying also an unmolested tte—tte. On these occasions, though he was universally known, nobody approached him; and he seemed, himself, not to observe that any other person Page 251
was in the walks. He was said to be remarkably agreeable in conversation, and his person was the best fashioned and most gentlemanly of any man I have happened to see, belonging to the government. Yet, such was the impression made upon me by the dreadful reports that were spread of his cruelty and ferocity at Lyons,(214) that I never saw him but I thrilled with horror. How great, therefore, was my obligation to M. de Narbonne and to M. Le Breton, for procuring me a passport, without my personal application to a man from whom I shrunk as from a monster.
I forget now for what spot the passport was nominated, perhaps for Canada, but certainly not for England and M. Le Breton, who brought it to me himself, assured me that no difficulty would be made for me either to go or to return, as I was known to have lived a life the most inoffensive to government, and perfectly free from all species of political intrigue, and as I should leave behind me such sacred hostages as my husband and my son. Thus armed, and thus authorized, I prepared, quietly and secretly, for my expedition, while my generous mate employed all his little leisure in discovering where and how I might embark - when, one morning, when I was bending over my trunk to press in its contents, I was abruptly broken in upon by M. de Boinville, who was in my secret, and who called upon me to stop! He had received certain, he said, though as yet unpublished information, that a universal embargo was laid upon every vessel, and that not a fishing-boat was permitted to quit the coast. Confounded, affrighted, disappointed, and yet relieved, I submitted to the blow, and obeyed the injunction. M. de Boinville then revealed to me the new political changes that occasioned this measure, which he had learned from some confiding friends in office; but which I do not touch upon, as they are now in every history of those times.
I pass on to my second attempt, in the year 1812.
Disastrous was that interval ! All correspondence with England was prohibited under pain of death ! One letter only reached me, most unhappily, written with unreflecting abruptness, announcing, without preface, the death of the Princess Amelia, the new and total derangement of the king, and the death of Mr. Locke. Three such calamities overwhelmed me, overwhelmed us both, for Mr. Locke, my revered Mr. Locke, was as dear to my beloved partner as to myself. Poor Mrs. C concluded these tidings must have already arrived, but her fatal letter gave the first intelligence, and no other letter, at that period, found its way to me. She sent hers, I think, by some trusty returned prisoner. She little knew my then terrible situation ; hovering over my head was the stiletto of a surgeon for a menace of cancer yet, till that moment, hope of escape had always been held out to me by the Baron de Larrey— hope which, from the reading of that fatal letter, became extinct.
A CHANGE OF PLAN.
When I was sufficiently recovered for travelling, after a dreadful operation, my plan was resumed, but with an alteration which added infinitely to its interest, as well as to its importance. Bonaparte was now engaging in a new war, of which the aim and intention was no less than-the conquest of the world. This menaced a severity of conscription to which Alexander, who had now spent ten years in France, and was seventeen years of age, would soon become liable. His noble father had relinquished all his own hopes and emoluments in the military career, from the epoch that his king was separated from his country; though that career had been his peculiar choice, and was suited peculiarly to the energy of his character, the vigour of his constitution, his activity, his address, his bravery, his spirit of resource, never overset by difficulty nor wearied by fatigue—-all which combination of military requisites—
"The eye could in a moment reach, And read depicted in his martial air,"
But his high honour, superior to his interest, superior to his inclination, and ruling his whole conduct with unremitting, unalienable constancy, impelled him to prefer the hard labour and obscure drudgery of working at a bureau of the minister Page 253
of the interior, to any and every advantage or promotion that could be offered him in his own immediate and favourite line of life, when no longer compatible with his allegiance and loyalty. To see, therefore, his son bear arms in the very cause that had been his ruin—bear arms against the country which had given himself as well as his mother, birth, would indeed have been heart-breaking. We agreed, therefore, that Alexander should accompany me to England, where, I flattered myself, I might safely deposit him, while I returned to await, by the side of my husband, the issue of the war, in the fervent hope that it would prove our restoration to liberty and reunion.
A NEW PASSPORT OBTAINED.
My second passport was procured with much less facility than the first. Fouch was no longer minister of police, and, strange to tell, Fouch, who, till he became that minister, had been held in horror by all France-all Europe, conducted himself with such conciliatory mildness to all ranks of people .while in that office, evinced such an appearance of humanity, and exhibited such an undaunted spirit of justice in its execution, that at his dismission all Paris was in affliction and dismay ! Was this from the real merit he had shown in his police capacity? Or was it from a yet greater fear of malignant cruelty awakened by the very name of his successor, Savary, Duke of Rovigo?(215)
Now, as before, the critical moment was seized by my friends to act for me when Bonaparte had left Paris to proceed towards the scene of his next destined enterprise;(216) and he was, I believe, already at Dresden when my application was ,made. My kind friend Madame de T— here took the agency which M. de Narbonne could no longer sustain, as he was now attending the emperor, to whom he had been made aide-de-camp, and through her means, after many difficulties and delays, I obtained a licence of departure for myself and Page 254
for Alexander. For what place, nominally, my passport was assigned, I do not recollect; I think, for Newfoundland, but certainly for some part of the coast of America. Yet everybody at the police office saw and knew that England was my object. They connived, nevertheless, at the accomplishment of my wishes, with significant though taciturn consciousness.
COMMISSIONS FOR LONDON.
>From all the friends whom I dared trust with my secret expedition, I had commissions for London; though merely verbal, as I was cautioned to take no letters. No one at that time could send any to England by the post. I was charged by sundry persons to write for them, and in their names, upon my arrival. Madame de Tracy begged me to discover the address of her sister-in-law, Madame de Civrac, who had emigrated into the wilds of Scotland, and of whom she anxiously wished for some intelligence. This occasioned my having a little correspondence with her, which I now remark because she is named as one of the principal dames de la socit by Madame de Genlis. Madame d'Astorre desired me to find out her father, M. le Comte de Cely, and to give him news of her and her children. This I did, and received from the old gentleman some visits, and many letters. Madame la Princesse de Chimay entrusted me with a petition—a verbal one, to the Prince of Wales, in favour of the Duc de Fitzjames, who, in losing his wife, had lost an English pension. This I was to transmit to his royal highness by means of the Duchess dowager of Buccleugh - who was also entreated to make known the duke's situation to M. d'Escars, who was in the immediate service of Louis XVIII.; for M. d'Escars I had a sort of cipher from Madame de Chimay, to authenticate my account.