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inflexible national antipathies. It is highly creditable to the author that no feelings of indignation, which might be so naturally excited by these insults on his country, have in the slightest degree induced him to deviate from the line of an impartial and unprejudiced judge. Candour, moderation, and an unflinching love of truth, appear to have held uninterrupted dominion over his mind, from the first to the last page; and his work will furnish an example to our travellers, which will, at least, teach them how much they may gain in character by being only just and considerate to strangers.
Art. X.-Memoirs of the Duchess of Abrantes ( Madame Junot.).
Vol. fifth. London: Bentley. 1833.
The commencement of this volume brings us down to the era of the death of Pitt, an event which we find the heart of the Gallican Duchess to be highly delighted with, because she knew that it was agreeable to her idol, Napoleon. She says, that the Emperor could not fail to rejoice in the demise of his arch enemy, not only because he was at the head of the government which was sworn in its hatred and hostility to the French ruler, but also because between Napoleon and Pitt there was actually existing a great personal animosity. Of this fact we own we were not previously apprised; but the story on which the representation is founded, has certainly all the aspect of its being genuine. The Duchess tells us, that during Bonaparte's career in Italy and Egypt, he frequently complained, in the most angry terms, of the publication, by the English government, of the entire correspondence of individuals. Then the affair of St. Jean d'Acre, and the treaty of El-Arish occurred; and all the fault of these matters was laid on Mr. Pitt. When Napoleon became consul, he sought to make overtures to the British minister, who seems to have refused them in a manner that excited, in the mind of the haughty general, a sense of humiliation. Bonaparte's exquisite sensibility to trifles, led him to resent this treatment with a degree of severity disproportioned to the nature of the offence; and from that moment Pitt became one of the objects of his most marked antipathies. The more intimate agents of the press of Bonaparte ransacked the history of Pitt's early life, and nothing that could redound to his disadvantage was omitted in speaking of him in the French journals. These diatribes were of course reiterated with a cordial echo by the opposition journals of England. Madame Junot seems, from a paragraph in this part of her memoirs, to imply, that some of the scandalous biographies which have appeared in this country of Napoleon, were got up in retaliation by Pitt. How far this was the case, we are not now in a condition to determine; we only know, that some of them were read by Napoleon himself, and that they threw him into a rage, a
circumstance that must be regarded as strong evidence at least, that he considered them to be the emanations of some formidable enemy. No hostility, however, shown by Napoleon to Pitt, could exceed in its malice the deadly enmity conceived by Pitt towards him. Of the character of Pitt's hatred, a sufficient estimate will be obtained from the fact, that when the treaty of Amiens was decided on, Mr. Pitt resigned office, refusing even thus far to acknowledge a man whom he regarded as the enemy of human nature. The Duchess adds, that the spirit which Mr. Pitt always exhibited in his policy, both practical and theoretical, towards Spain, so impressed the people of that country with dislike for his person, that the news of his decease was received with marks of national rejoicing. The Duchess, in fact, was residing in Vittoria at the time, and the house in which she occupied apartments, and which belonged to one of the most considerable of the inhabitants, was illuminated completely in celebration, said the host, of an event so fortunate to Spain.
When the Duchess returned to France, she found Napoleon on the throne, and Josephine, to whom she had been godmother, sharing with the prosperous soldier his diadem. She found the Emperor peculiarly severe in demanding the most rigorous observance of the etiquette of the court. The authoress acknowledges that this severity was founded on a due appreciation of human nature; for she says, that restraint of some kind is indispensable to Frenchmen when they are admitted to the presence of power, and it was this necessity which justified the adoption of terror as the etiquette of the tribunal, and the conversion of the master of the ceremonies into an executioner during the revolution. The Duchess, very speedily after the fatigues of her journey were over, entered into the household of Madame Mere, the mother of Bonaparte, as a lady in waiting. Of all the false histories which even French biographies have supplied, there is not one, according to Madame Junot, more ridiculously inconsistent with the truth than that of Madame Mere. When the former became a member of the household, Madame Mere might have been about the age of fifty-three. She had been beautiful in her youth, but as years advanced, her shoulders increased in breadth, a circumstance which apparently diminished her height, and thus interrupted the beauty of her proportions. She was exceedingly careful and neat in her person and dress, indeed infinitely more so than some princes and princesses whom the Duchess could name, and who often, in consequence of their slovenly costume, were sadly, she says, at a loss for their royal titles, in order to distinguish them from the commonalty. The position of Madame Mere was altogether aloof from the court and the court party; for though Napoleon loved her, yet he did not allow her that extended state which perhaps the mother of the Emperor ought to have enjoyed : and she, too proud to impart what she felt on the subject, was only more decided in
her forbearance from public life. Madame Junot sketches, with admirable ease and grace, the characters of the principal females who, with herself, composed the household of Madame Mere. There was one lady, who, though not nominally belonging to the household, yet was so constantly an attendant in the private circle of Madame Mere, as to be fairly entitled to be considered one of its most efficient members. The name of this female was Madame de Brissac. She laboured under a defect of hearing, which gave rise to some ludicrous consequences, very pleasantly described by the Duchess. Madame de Brissac was about to be presented to the Emperor; and in order to guard against the inconvenience which would result from her infirmity, she zealously made herself acquainted with the nature of the questions which Bonaparte was in the habit of putting to those in her circumstances, when they were presented. She was informed that the Emperor, in the first place, never failed to inquire from what department the party came : his second question, most commonly, was the age of the party, and the third, how many children he or she had. The day came, and Madame de Brissac was the best prepared in her lesson of any one in the palace. Having made her three curtsies to the Emperor, she saw, by the monarch, that he was addressing her. The question which he actually asked her was this—" Is your husband brother to the Duke de Brissac, who was killed on the 2d September, and did he not inherit his estates?” The poor lady, little dreaming that any other interrogatory than that which was previously set down for her would be put, answered as if she had been asked from what department she had come—“ The Seine and Oise, Sire!" The Emperor, quite suprised, said to her then," I believe you have no children ?” “ Fifty-two, Sire,” replied the deaf lady, thinking that Bonaparte asked her her age. The Emperor saw how it was, and without further observation, continued his tour of the circle.
Amongst the measures adopted by Napoleon for rendering his court the supreme example of brilliancy to the rest of the crowned heads of Europe, was the revival of the dance called quadrille; and this, by a specific regulation, was to be danced only by those who appeared in proper costume. The fundamental principle of these laws was, that the quadrille dancers should be distinguished each by one of four colours, white, green, red, and blue. The white ladies must wear diamonds, the red ones rubies; the green ones must be decorated with emeralds, whilst sapphires and turquoises weic required in the blues. The costume was the Spanish, and consisted of a robe of white crape, slashed with satin, which must have the colour of the quadrille, and the slashings of which were to be trimmed with lama. A toque of black velvet, with two white plumes, formed the head-dress.
All this seemed to the Duchess absurd enough, but the dress of the men for the quadrilleout-heroded everything. This was a body-coat of white velvet ! surmounted by a scarf of the colour of the quadrille.
It was tied in a bow at the side. The head-dress was exactly the same as that of the ladies. The quadrilles were usually rehearsed in the day-time, and large companies used to assemble for the purpose. Some curious instances of purloining costly articles from each other at these meetings are given by the Duchess. One is a case in which a young lady, a member of some exalted family, was caught in the very manor, after having picked up a shawl, precious in the eyes of its true owner, on account of the exquisitely beautiful parrots which expanded their variegated feathers on the borders. But what, in all these instances, we chiefly admire in the narrative is, the admirable coolness with which the lady thief meets the charge, though the evidence against her be as clear as the sun. A Madame Hamelin, for example, stood up at a ball to dance a country dance. She laid down a beautiful black shawl; and after the dance, on going to look for her shawl, it was gone. Presently she saw the identical shawl on the shoulders of a well-known lady, to whom she went up and spoke.
“ Madame, I beg pardon, but you have got my shawl.”. “ I assure you, Madame, you are mistaken.”
“ By no means, I can prove it to be mine, for it has thirteen palms, a very uncommon number; perhaps you will do me the favor to count them.”
“ It is unnecessary, because my shawl has thirteen palms.” .
“ But, Madame," said Madame Hamelin, “ in coming here this evening I had the misfortune to tear it, and should know it by the rent.”
“ That is very singular,” replied the other, “ for mine has also its rent, which is precisely the reason of its being mine, as it enabled me to purchase it much cheaper than I otherwise could have done.”
The possessor of the shawl knew her strength, and she left poor Madame Hamelin no other compensation for the loss of the shawl than what the latter might derive from having a capital story at her command.
In pursuing the history of the events of 1806, the Duchess has collected a considerable mass of facts, which tend to show the vast interest taken by Napoleon in enforcing the principle of the Berlin decree, so famous in modern story. It was promulgated after the triumphs of the French over the Prussians, and bore the date of the 21st of November, 1806. It declared “ that the British Isles are in a state of blockade by France; all commerce and communication with them are prohibited. All subjects of Great Britain found in any country whatsoever under the authority of France, shall be made prisoners of war; all trade in articles of English merchandize is forbidden, and all English merchandize, of whatever species, is declared good prize."
The principles assumed in this decree were not mere affectation, as is sometimes suggested on the part of Napoleon, but seem to have been adopted from a conviction that he had found out the vulnerable spot where England might be most fatally struck. This honest impression appears at once breathing with all the energy of life in a private letter to Junot, then governor of Paris. The date is two days subsequent to that of the Berlin decree, and it contains earnest exhortations to the governor to assist with all his might in establishing the continental system, particularly in Paris. « Let your wives,” enjoined Napoleon, drink Swiss tea, it is as good as that from the East, and chicoree coffee is as wholesome as the coffee of Arabia. Let them set this example in their drawing rooms, instead of amusing themselves, like Madame de Stael, with political disquisitions. Let them beware that I do not find them wearing dresses of English manufacture; tell this to Madame Junot; if the wives of my principal officers fail in setting an example, where am I to look for it? This is a question of life or death to France and England; and I expect assistance in carrying it through from those who are nearest to me. I rely, Junot, upon your zeal and attachment. The arch-chancellor will communicate my orders to you.”
Amongst the matters which excited, at the time we are now alluding to, a strong sensation, was the affair of the Princess of Hatzfeld, in which it must be allowed that Napoleon behaved with the most creditable generosity. It appears, that, after the Emperor had effected his triumphs in Portugal, and after the King and Queen of Prussia withdrew from Berlin, the Prince of Hatzfeld remained in that city, and acted, in some respects, as a spy on the French army. He had the folly to put a letter into the Berlin post for the King of Prussia, giving his majesty a full account of all that was passing in the city, the movements of the French, their number, their sentiments, with other particulars. The letter was intercepted; it was placed in the hands of Napoleon, who, on perusing it, flew into one of his “ glorious fits” of passion, as Madame Junot calls them, and directed a military commission forthwith to sit and investigate the conduct of the prince. The princess, hearing the news, and remembering that Duroc, who had great influence with Buonaparte, sought him every where; when, at last, she found him, he offered his best advice, and he recommended her to see the emperor on the same day, as otherwise her interference might be too late. “ You shall see the Emperor,” said Duroc, “ rely upon me.” We continue the narrative from the volume itself.
The emperor had been to a grand review of his guards ; they were out of humour because they had had no share in the victory of Jena, and the Emperor, unwilling to give them the least pain, had been to visit them; this caused his absence from Berlin. On his return he was surprised to find Duroc waiting for him with an air of great impatience. Duroc had been much interested by the despair of the Princess of Hatzfeld; since his interview with her, he had seen two of her husband's judges, and had learnt that there was no hope for him. He requested an immediate audience of the Emperor, and followed him into his closet.
VOL. II. (1833) No. II.