MEMOIRS OF TEE DITCHESSE D'ABRANTES.
LET no one confound these Memoirs with those finished forgeries which now so commonly issue from the French press,—such as the Memoirs of Madame Du BARRI and of Louis the Eighteenth. They are as genuine, and as gossipy, and as amusing, even by their very faults, as the most authentic memoirs in French literw- ture; a literature remarkable above all others for the gayety, copiousness, and curiosity of its private and personal disclosures. These Memoirs furnish an admirable view (admirable because to the life) of the interior of NAPOLEON'S early court—of the spirit that reigned there—of the characters that exhibited in it—of the genius of the First Consulate and the First Consul. Nowhere do we get a nearer or more intelligible view of NAPOLEON as a man. BOURRIENNE and others give us a more general and just survey of the whole phasis of that stupendous genius : but a woman after all is the true detecter of secret traits; she is the real spy of man, and can alone perhaps let us altogether be- hind the scenes when a hero is concerned. Madame Jurrov—the young, the beautiful, the perfect Frenchwoman—was.not likely to be more dull than the rest of the sex in threading the mazes of humanity. The lady has many of the perfections of the French female in her character, and of course a proportionate share of its foibles. Passionately fond of splendour, show, and grandeur—enthusiastic on the subject of personal appearance—de- voted to dress, fashion, and ornament—of no small vanity, ex- cused only by beauty—and an affectionate heart, full of gayety, and at the same time never remiss in all the essentials of domestic fidelity and attachment—in her we have a complete model of the modem Frenchwoman. This character is far from a bad one; it is truly feminine ; and it is in France where women are most formly feminine, and where their vocation seems most widely se- parate and distinct from that of men. It may accordingly be con- cluded, that, along with much that is valuable, these Memoirs abound in thorough trifling; which, however gay it may be in the original, sadly -wants point in a translation. The trifling is however, of that kind that is most easily pardoned : it relates to persons of note, abound:s in names of eminence, and often an anecdote of great inanity still betrays the manners of those. pe- culiar times—times ever memorable in the history of governments and nations.
The Memoirs in the volume before us chiefly relate to three very distinguished personages,—NapoLsom, JIINOT, and the au- thoress herself. Jurior is the writer's hero; the Duchess is the heroine ; NAPOLEON is the sun that shines upon them; and alto- gether the piece is very entertaining. Madame JIINOT deals in facts, or quasi facts—that is, anecdotes or stories somewhat embellished. This is not the tedious style, every body knows; and nobody can be less prosy than she is even, when telling us all about her pregnancy, her longings, her hue band's anxiety, NAPOLEON'S attentions, the cradle, and the- daughter, so beautiful, so charming, so admired, and now, alael nun.
This being the nature of the work, it may be readily conceived we are at no loss for extracts: Of the two we have selected, two relate to times before the Revolution, — for Mademoiselia CLA.IRON, the SIDDONS of her day, was certainly not of the age- of the Empire, though the anecdote itself fell under the writer'S own knowledge.
THE LAST DAYS OF MADEMOISELLE CLAIRON.
Westopped.before what had been a handsome house, but the dilapidated-am/ neglected appearance of which greatly surprised me. Lcould not conceive how an aged woman could take up her lodging in .a house which looked so desolate. The servant rang a long time without receiving any answer, except from seven or eight. dogs, who performed counter-tenor, bass, and bass-tenor in Otero:14 under the leading of a great mastiff in the court-yard, who acquitted himself admirably in his office of guard, barking according to order. An old woman at length appeared to let: us in. The extraordinary style of her dress arrested-my whole attention; it was so strange a mixture of old-fashioned. French with the Greek and Roman costume, that all the laws of politeness-could scarcely restrain me from laughing at the old femme-de-Man:bre. Her apron trimmed with festooned muslin, and ornamented with ribbon at the pockets,. announced her quality of waiting-maid. On recognizing M. de Biunetiere,. she uttered an exclamation of joy—" You an come at last! Oh! how pleased- Mademoiselle will be ! And Mademoiselle Alexandrine too; Isuppose? i/ow.winch she is like you! Dear young lady, you have a.worthy papa. And to think that we have no fruit to offer the dear child ! "
During the monologue of /aC76antis, M. Ertmetiere assisted me to alightfrom the cabriolet; and we crossed ,a small court, amid the clamorous yelpings odtha dogs, whom the old woman. beat with a switch, and M. de Brunenere BEDE heartily to all the devils. At length we reached the apartments of the mistress ; who proved to be &very aldlady, notwithstanding the title of Mademoiselle given her by her servant: She had been a fine figure in,lier youth, and age had-not yet robbed her of* particle of height; her hair, white, but uaguirderedr waa drama-up beitiad 'in
The Grecian style, and formed in front a toupet, which showed a still noble fore- head, and a brow corresponding to all the expressions of an eye calm but ani- mated. The costume of this lady, whose air imposed respect at first sight, was as extraordinary as that of her fernme-de-chambre. She wore a sort of muslin mantle, which did not depend, as mantles usually do, from the shoulders, but was folded round her in the form of antique drapery. A robe below it was _shorter than the mantle ; both were white and bordered with garlands of laurels. 'This lady, at once singular and attractive, was seated in a large arm-chair, well ;:lined with pillows, with a bear-skin under her feet, and a table covered with • books before her. A bust of Voltaire of great beauty stood upon it, as did a .-portrait of Lekain • many other busts and portraits were hung round the room, • or attached by brackets to the walls, which were barely covered by paper, drop- . ping to pieces from the effects of damp. The desolation of the house seemed even more striking in this room, surrounding with its misery an aged female, ,who had evidently been accustomed to the indulgences of affluence. On seeing M. Brtmetiere, far from expressing the joy her maid had promised, she bent her brow, compressed her lips in a manner I have never seen in any other person, and exclaimed, " Ah ! ah! Monsieur, here you are then, at last ! and where is your ambassador, that he is not come also ? . He should judge for himself of the condition of the asylum which is left to Electra, to Semiramis." Se saying, she raised her arm in a theatrical manner, pointing towards a part of the ceiling, through which the water was falling into the parlour, though it was on the ground floor. " So ! " she continued with an accent impossible to de- 'scribe, "M. the Baron de Stael still fails in his word, his plighted oath ! And why, Sir, why do not you, who know what his engagements to me are, oblige tim to fulfil them" i ; for n fact, Sir, it even rains into my room ?"
. I looked at and listened attentively to thiswoman, as singular in her speech as in her costume; yet experienced no inclination to laugh, nor the smallest idea of ridiculing her. I even felt numb pain in hearing her complaints of ill-usage. M. Brunetiere, who was no way to blame in the affair, approached her, kissed 'her hand with an air of respect which seemed to soften her, and presenting me M her by name, said—" Her mother is a Comnena."
• The old lady endeavoured to Stand up, but could not. "Mademoiselle," said she, "I knew your father and your uncle well ; they both did me the honour of visiting me. I am rejoiced to see you. Permit • ' And, taking my hand, she kissed my forehead, with a solemnity which made M. Brunetiere smile. I was dying with impatience to know the name of this remarkable person, who, surrounded by evidences of poverty, and herself giving the idea of the ruin of a superior nature, inspired me with an indefinable species of respect. My guardian at length took pity upon me. "You see that Mademoiselle Clairon is surrounded by objects worthy of her- self and her glorious recollections," said he, pointing to the busts of Voltaire and Lekain.
But my eye did not follow the direction of his hand ; it fixed immediately upon the person whose name I had just learnt. Mademoiselle Clairon ! so famous, so admirable in the parts of Electra, Amenaide, Idame, Semiramis! the woman sung by Voltaire, praised by all Europe ; there I saw, her, almost i eighty years of age, n a state bordering on destitution, ant aPparemly accusing, as the author of her misfortunes, a man whose name should have' been a. gua- rantee that talent in distress would have found protection from him. I looked at her, and my eye probably expressed a part of my thoughts ; for taking soy hand with that of hers which she was able to use (the other was paralytic), she said to me, "Yes, my dear young lady, it is Clairon that you see. I am the woman whom Voltaire thanked for the success of his pieces ; I am the woman whom all Europe has come to hear pronounce the fine verses of that immortal genius '•" and she bowed to the bust of Voltaire. "My country," she added, with a bitter smile, "has been grateful and liberal in praises, and has given me many crowns." Again she directed her hand towards the bust of Voltaire; and I observed, for the first time, that it was surrounded by emblematic crowns, numerous papers, and a thousand other trifles, all of which Mademoiselle Clairon had probably received during her long theatrical career. "I have offered to him,' said the actress, "all the fruits of my success ; it is to the master that the Rupil owes all her credit." And elevating herself in her seat with theatrical digmty, she rehearsed an ode, addressed by Voltaire to herself, in which, far from recognizing Mademoiselle Clairon's observations, he thanked her for the success of his works. "But he did not believe a word of all that," she said, with a smile of intelligence, "and he was right." She possessed, nevertheless, a degree of vanity of which it is difficult to form an idea.
' My guardian seeing how much Mademoiselle Clairon interested me, begged her to recite some passages from one of her favourite parts. She considered for a moment, and then commenced the fine monologue of Electra which she went through with admirable talent. I know not whether at this day we should consider her performance so perfect, but I was delighted, and promised myself Many visits to Issy with my guardian. • She was fond of conversation, and sup- ported it with grace ; her language was chaste, and she professed a profound contempt for, all innovations upon the ancient manners. She told us that there was a good little man named ,Talma, who had the audacity to give himself out for her pupil. "I know not how he performs," said she, "but that is of no Consequence to me. I have sent a message to that miserable successor of Freron, who leaves neither the living nor the dead in peace, desiring him to put into his papers, that I never gave lessons to M. Talmo."
"But he has great talent," said I, timidly,—for I was overpowered by her royal air. "Oh! I do not contest that," said she, politely, but in that tone of voice which expresses—I pay no attention to your opinion.
Tkriow that she afterwards heard Talmo, and was enraptured with his per- 'formance ; also that she gave him some advice which he profited by.: In taking leave of Mademoiselle Clairon, I begged permission to visit her again ; which she granted with -the utmost graciousness; adding, "Make my most profound respects to your mother. I had the honour of seeing her when she first came to Paris in her Greek dress : she was a star of beauty !" M. Brunetiere, at parting, approached Mademoiselle Clairon, and put into her hands a ronleau ; at the same time saying something to her very low, to which she answered aloud—" This comes in good time, for the baker would no longer furnish bread to the Queen of Babylon. But you are a worthy man. Made- moiselle,"—and she addressed herself to me, showing me the rouleau M. Brune- dere had just given her "do you see this money? your guardian gives it out of his own purse, that poor Clairon may not die of hunger. He gives it for that man-without principle—That ambassador—that husband of a celebrated woman —for M. the Baron de Steel, who suffers the water of the sky to find its way into'my poor habitation."
M. de Steel had purchased an estate of Mademoiselle Clairon; the deeds atipulated that the house in which she resided at Issy should be kept in repair at his expense. Not one.of the clauses was ever executed. M. Brunetiere, though an excellent man of business, could not draw blood from a stone. Ma- dame de Steel, his wife, who had but little regard for him, could not pay his debts, however just ; and in the midst of these pretensions and refusals ldade- moiselle Clairon was dying with hunger. On our way home, my guardian, who was M. de Steel's counsellor and friend, related to me this transaction between him and Ihe great actress, but added—"! beg yon, my child, not to repeat what you have heard to-day : Mademoiselle Clairon is unhappy, and as poverty sours the disposition, she is unjust towards M. de Steel." "But be does not pay her," said I, "since you are the guardian angel who its _saves her from perishing with bungee. How is it that your friend Gohier does not rescue her from this state of distress? "
" The Government is too poor.' But do you speak to Lucien upon the subject. young lips may, with much grace, beg bread for such a woman as Mademoisel/e
• Clairon. - M. de Steel cannot pay her, and I have heavy charges upon me." spoke to my brother-in-law upon the subject. Mademoiselle Clamp: received material assistance from Lucien, but it was not till the ministry of Chaptal that she was effectually relieved from want. In a collection of autographs of cele- brated persons, two curious pieces on this subject are preserved': the one, in some very energetic words of Mademoiselle Clairon's, requests bread from the Minister of the Interior ; the other has the two equally expressive lines which follow-
" Good for two thousand francs payable at sight to Mademoiselle Clairon.
THE DETENTION OF THE ENGLISH AT THE BREAKING OF THE PEACE OF AMIBNS. • •
One morning, at five o'clock, the day having scarcely dawned, an order ar- rived for Junot to attend the First Consul. He had been at work till four o'clock, and was just retired to bed, but was obliged to rise and proceed immediatelY to Malmaison. I waited breakfast for him, but he did not return ; and at ten o'clock, a horse chasseur of the Consular Guard arrived with a note for the Aide-de- Camp on duty, demanding to have the daily report instantly transmitted. My husband did not return till five in the evening. It will be seen that the sitting had been long ; it had been more stormy still. When Junot reached Malmaison he found the First Consul with a ruffled countenance, contracted features, and every indication of one of those terrible agitations which could not be witnessed without trembling. - . " Junot ! " said he to his Aide-de-Camp, as soon as he saw him, " may I reckon upon you as my friend ? Yes, or no "? no evasion." "Yes, my General."
" Well, then, you must instantly take measures for arresting ALL THE ENGLISH, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, in an hour's time. The Temple, Montaigu, Laforce, the Abbaye, there will be room in the prisons, and they must all be confined. Their Government must betaught that if it breaks the faith of treaties, confiding in its island intrenchnients for impunity, it may at least be punished in that which it commits to the guardianship of an enemy who owes it no fealty. That perfidious Cabinet refuses to surrender 'Malta! and gives for reason"— Passion here checked his utterance, and he was compelled to stop to take breath. " They give for reason, that Lucien has, by my order, influ- enced the Court of Spain to dissolve the Spanish Priories, and thatly the terms of the treaty, the island is to be given up only on the entire reconstruction of the order. And moreover, Junot, would you believe that this power, always wily, always hostile, now pretends to except against the treaty of Amiens, averring that its stipulations were founded upon the respective circumstances of
the contracting parties, at the time of its signature?" • Then drawing Junot to his desk, he put into his hands two letters, importing in effect all that he had been just saying.
Junot was thunderstruck; not because the rupture with England was an- nounced—it was foreseen—it had-even been known some days. But these let- ters contained what might be construed into an excuse of the terrible measure which Napoleon had commanded. He, to whose orders he never made an ob- jection—he, who Might have said to him, "Junot, give me your life," and it would have been given—now required of him, commanded him to perform an action from which his sense of honour, as much as the liberal principles in which
he had been educated, revolted. He stood motionless and silent. -
The First Consul waited some time for an answer ; but seeing interval atti- tude, he proceeded as if he had not even required one, and as if an Interval of ten minutes had not elapsed.
"This measure must be executed by seven o'clock this evening. I do not choose that the most insignificant theatre or the lowest restaurateur of Paris should this evening see an Englishman in its boxes or at his tables." "My General," said Junot, recovering himself, "you arc aware of my devoted attachment to your person and to your interests. It is this very devotedness which 'makes me hesitate to obey, without supplicating you. my General, to take some hours for reflection upon the measure which you wish me to execute." Junot, while representing to the First Consul that he considered this measure likely to prove injurious to his interest and his glory, did so with all the defer- ence which his conviction of Napoleon's superiority in all things could not fail o inspire. The First Consul bent his brow as he listened, and when Junot ceased speaking, exclaimed, " Again ! what is the scene of the other day to be renewed? Lannes and you take strange liberties. Even Duroc, with his very tranquil air, thinks himself licensed to preach to ore. But, by heavens ! gentlemen, I will let you see that I can put my cap on the wrong way. Lames has found it out already, nailI suspect is not much delighted with eating oranges at Lisbon. For yourself Junot, do not trust so much to my friendship. The day when I shall doubt your's will destroy mine."
"My' General," replied Junot, deeply hurt by being misunderstood, "it is not at the moment when I am giving you the greatest possible proof of my at- tachment, that there is justice in talking thus to me. Ask for any blood—ask for my life—you are master of all that is mine ; but to command a thing which must—" "Well, proceed : what should happen to me, because I return to a faithless government the insults it heaps upon me?"
"It does not become me, my General, to decide how far your conduct may be correct ; but I am sure that if it should be otherwise, it is because your eyes are fascinated by men who give you none but mischievous advice, leading you to acts of severity." "Who are you speaking of?" Junot at first made no answer; he knew who the persons were who merited this character ; but to accuse was' repugnant to his noble heart. Good and ex- cellent man ! Loyal and faithful creature ! Such minds are not often to be met with. The First Consul, however, pressed ; and Junot at length mentioned the names which were most publicly and violently animadverted upon, as evil ad- visers. The First Consul walked as he listened, and appeared absorbed in thought. " Fouche," said Junot. "is my personal enemy. It is not, however, from hatred towards him that I now speak, for I hate no one. Moreover, I am just; I am willing to allow to Fouche all his merits. He has talent ; but he serves you, my General, in a fashion which your friends would not like to adopt. - He assumes, for instance, towards the emigrants, the inhabitants of the Fauxbourg St. Germain, the appearance of indulgence, and that, as he declares, in spite of the danger which he runs of losing your favour in so doing. I, who know there is no truth in this insinuation,—what can I think of it? But this is not all : I may also say that you are often excited to a severity foreign to your character; by reports in which there is little or no truth. With respect to two other per- sonages,—one of whom, my General, is near to your ear, and the other to your
hand-, to receive whatever falls from it, —I shall say but one word. Duroc watches like them over your safety; well, my. General! receive his reports. They are those of an honest man—an honourable soldier ; they contain facts, but, at least, no falsehoods."
"Nevertheless, these men are devoted to rue; one of them said the other day, 'If the first Consul should order me to kill my father, I would obey." The First Consul as he spoke cast a sidelong glance of observation upon tachraent is troved by surposing you capable of commanding aeon to kill his
Above two years afterwards, the First Consul, then the Emperor Napoleon, in speaking to me of this scene, after my return from Portugal, told me that he was at this moment on the point of embracing Junot, so fine was the position he had taken up, in thus resisting him, his general, Isis chief, a man all-powerful, in thus even risking his existence. " For, in fact," added the Emperor, smiling, 44 I am not very gentle when in a passion—you know that, Madame Junot." With respect to my husband, his conversation, or rather dispute with the First Consul, proceeded in warm terms. He even reminded Napoleon, that at the departure of the ambassador, Lord Whitworth, solemn assurances of security had been given to the English who remained at Paris.
"There are old men, women, and children amongst them, my General, and many who morning and night pray for your welfare. They are chiefly mer- chants, for the upper classes have nearly all left Paris. The injury which con- finement may do them is immense and irremediable. Oh, my General, it is not for you, whose great and noble soul is capable of all good, to confound a generous nation with a perfidious cabinet. Are they necessarily identified ? " "Perhaps they should be," replied the First Consul in a gloomy tone ; "but lam neither wicked nor headstrong. It is possible you May be right. How- ever," and going to his desk he took from it a paper which lie read, again and again several times; then giving it to Junot—." Read this report," said he, "and answer, on your head, as you affect to say, answer me, on your head, that persons bolding such opinions can without danger to myself he suffered to remain at large at Paris." '
Junot, while listening to the First Consul, read the paper which he had put Into his hand. He was first struck by its absurdity, but next and chiefly by its flagrant falsehood. It was then he requested the First Consul's permission to send for the report of the day, in which he hoped to find something to refute this calumnious document ; and he was not disappointed. Junot insisted that the First Consul should cause inquiries to be made into the matter. A fact was -asserted, and it was important ; for it described a man having dined at a certain house, and having when somewhat flushed with wine, used expressions insult- ing to the First Consul, and even committed himself so far as to speak of a new form of government, to which the death of a single person might lead : this happy state of things, which the half inebriated Englishman wished to favour us trith, we had already known, or rather forgotten, for it was the regency of the -Duke of Bedford. And this is what they had the hardihood to call a report ! -But the most singular, or the blackest part of the business was, that this _Englishman was a friend of Junot's—the good Colonel Green who, you are to observe, was an enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon. It was the same with Sir Sydney Smith; while the enemy of the First Consul, or rather of General Bonaparte, he admired him with his whole heart; and Junot, who understood this generous homage, loved him for it. Our excellent friend James Green's feelings were similar.
All this Junot represented to the First Consul ; who said in reply—" Your language is persuasive enough ; but out of all these sayings and gamsayings I gather, that you and Madame Junot have a mania for associating with persons who hate me. If this was not well known to be the case, such words would not be imputed to your friends."
"I am ignorant, my General," said Junot, "whether Colonel Green may or nay not have uttered the words assigned to him by this report ; though I will pledge my head that he would not so much as have imagined them ; but it is your pleasure that this point should be considered doubtful. I shall, therefore, confine myself to a refutation of the calumny by one material fact ; which is, that to have held this conversation the day before yesterday, otherwise the 1st of May, after having drunk fhie bottles of sillery wine which upon the face of it is impossible, it is at least necessary that he should' have been at the time at Paris ; which city Colonel James Green quitted on the 17th of April for Lon- don, whither he was called by important business."
The First Consul looked all astonishment. "His countenance would have amused me," said Junot, "had I been in less serious circumstances." Gazing san his Aide-de-Camp with a very peculiar expression, he repeated—" He is not in Paris !"
"He is not, my General ; and have the goodness to remark that this is not a mistake of a name, or accident attributable to carelessness; it is an error, and
an intentional one: the multiplicity of details by which the name is surrounded proves this; even if they had not added that he is my friend." Here with a furious oath he proceeded, "Nothing more is wanting but to have made me a party to this execrable feast, where they wished, as at that of Atreus, to drink blood."
Junot ; who immediately replied, "I know not, my General, what extent of at- possess such feelings, he is not likely to proclaim them."
father ; but t at is of litt e importance—for if a man is unfortunate enough to