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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Heroines of French Society » CHAPTER IX
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Return to France—The inheritance of the Duchesse d’Ayen—Loss of the Noailles property—Inherits the Castle of Fontenay—Death of Mme. de la Fayette—Prosperous life at Fontenay—Conclusion.
Capital letter T

THE time had now come when the friendly farm at Wittmold, which had sheltered them in adversity, must be given up. The emigrés were returning; Mme. de la Fayette and Mme. de Grammont urged their sister to do the same, and Mme. de Tessé was longing to see Paris again.

Mme. de Montagu started first with her husband, leaving her boy with her aunt and her girl with a friend. As they were still on the proscribed list they travelled under the names of M. et Mme. Mongros. They took up their quarters in Paris at a small house kept by an old servant of M. de Thésan, where they found their cousin, the Duchesse de Duras and the Doudeauville, living under their own names, in little rooms very clean, but so scantily furnished that if any visitors arrived they had to borrow chairs from each other.

To walk about Paris was at first most painful to Mme. de Montagu. The sound of carts in the streets made her shudder, the churches were [259] mostly in ruins or closed. The few that were open were served by prêtres assermentés.

Her nephews, Alexis and Alfred de Noailles came to see her, and she went down to Lagrange where the La Fayettes were restoring the chateau, planting and repairing. She soon got her name taken off the proscribed list, then those of her husband, her aunt, her father, her father-in-law, and various other friends, who soon arrived in Paris.

Mme. de Tessé took a house near which Pauline and her husband found an apartment, and their first endeavour was to regain possession of the h?tel de Noailles, which had not been sold but was occupied by the Consul Le Brun, who had just left the Tuileries, now inhabited by Napoleon. They did not succeed, however, in getting it back until the Restoration. One day, having to go to the Temple to see one of the young le Rebours, who had come back without permission, was imprisoned there, and whose release she soon procured, Pauline passed through the now deserted corridors and rooms which had been the prison of the royal family. Looking about for any trace of them she found in a cupboard an old blue salad-bowl which had belonged to them, and which she carried away as a precious relic.

The Duc de Noailles, her father, finding he could not recover his h?tel, returned philosophically to Switzerland, and bought a house on the Lake of Geneva. He had married the Countess Golowskin, which at first was a grief to his daughters, but after a time they were reconciled to the idea, and got on very well together.


Pauline had another daughter in May, 1801, and after her recovery and a few weeks with Mme. de Grammont and at the baths at Louèche, she went to the district of Vélay with her husband to see if any of the property of his father could be recovered. Their fortunes were, of course, to some extent restored by Pauline’s inheritance from her mother, and the fine old chateau of Fontenay [81] made them a charming home for the rest of their lives.

They stopped at Puy, where they found awaiting them at the inn a certain old Dr. Sauzey, who had been born on an estate of M. de Beaune, and cherished a deep attachment for the Montagu family. He still practised in the neighbourhood where he attended the poor for nothing, knew every man, woman, and child for miles round, was beloved by them all, and very influential among them. He knew all the peasants and country people who had bought land belonging to the Montagu family, and had so lectured and persuaded them that numbers now came forward and offered to sell it back at a very moderate price. The good old doctor even advanced the money to pay them at once, and having settled their affairs in Vélay they passed on to Auvergne.

The castles and estates of their family had all passed into the hands of strangers, the Chateau de Bouzolz was in ruins, so was Plauzat, where all the town came out to meet and welcome them with the greatest affection, and where they succeeded in buying back a good deal of land, but the chateau [261] in which they had spent such happy days was uninhabitable.

They went on to Clermont, the capital of the province, where M. de Beaune had a house in the town and a chateau and estate named Le Croc just outside it. They had passed into the hands of strangers, but all the furniture and contents of the chateau had been saved by the faithful concierges, the Monet, who, with the help of their relations and friends, had during the night carried it all away, taking beds to pieces, pulling down curtains and hangings, removing all the wine from the cellars, and hiding safely away the whole of it, which they now restored to its owners.

M. de Beaune, who came later on to take a farewell look at the ruined home of his ancestors, chose part of it to furnish the house he had bought to make his home at Lyons. He also found an old carriage in which he departed to that city. The property of the Maréchal de Noailles, who died in 1793, had all been confiscated and sold, except some remains which were swallowed up by creditors. All that remained was the ruined castle of Noailles, which Pauline would never sell, though after her father had placed it in her hands she was offered two thousand écus for it. Mme. de Tessé bought a charming house, which was always filled with her nephews, nieces, and friends, and though again she had plenty of cows, she no longer had occasion to sell the milk. As she grew older her ideas became more devout and her faith stronger, to the great consolation of her nieces, especially of her favourite Pauline.


The first great sorrow was the death of Mme. de la Fayette on Christmas Eve, 1808, at the age of forty-eight. Her health had been completely undermined by the terrible experiences of her imprisonments; and an illness caused by blood-poisoning during her captivity with her husband in Austria, where she was not allowed proper medical attendance, was the climax from which she never really recovered. She died as she had lived, like a saint, at La Grange, surrounded by her broken-hearted husband and family, and by her own request was buried at Picpus, where, chiefly by the exertions of the three sisters, a church had been built close to the now consecrated ground where lay buried their mother, sister, grandmother, with many other victims of the Terror.

The wanderings and perils of Pauline were now at an end. From henceforth her home was with her husband and four children in the old chateau of Fontenay, which they repaired and put in order. It was a fortress built in the reign of Charles VI., and afterwards inhabited and decorated by the Duc d’Epernon. The great tower of the castle still bore his name, and the blue and gold ceiling of his bedroom still remained. It had an immense park and lakes, and a great avenue of chestnut-trees led up to the chateau. The Abbé Cartier, curé of Fontenay, was a man after her own heart. He had known her mother, for he came very young to the parish, which he loved with all his heart, and which he had only once left, on the approach of a revolutionary mob. Leaving the presbytère with all his own things at their mercy, he hid the cross and all the [263] properties of the church, and as to the statues of the saints which he could not remove, he painted them all over, turning them into National Guards with swords by their sides. He was only persuaded by his people to escape when already the drums of the approaching ruffians were heard in the village, in which they quickly appeared, and rushed into the church. But they found it empty, except for the statues, with which, in their republican garb, they dared not meddle, so they turned their fury upon the presbytère, and when the good Abbé returned he found the church uninjured, but all the contents of his house stolen or destroyed. As far as possible, M. and Mme. de Montagu led the simple patriarchal life they preferred at Fontenay, where they were adored by the people, to whom they devoted their time, money, and attention. Under the trees before the castle stone benches were placed for the peasants who came on Sunday evenings to sit about and dance, and the young people with whom the old chateau was always filled joined eagerly in their festivities.

The harmony and affection that had characterised the daughters of the Duchess d’Ayen were equally conspicuous among her grandchildren, and the numerous relations—sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, and cousins—formed one united family. If there existed differences of opinion, they did not interfere with the affection between those who held them.

The daughter of the Vicomtesse de Noailles was married to the Marquis de Vérac. Of the sons, Alexis, between whom and Pauline there was an [264] especially deep affection, and whose principles entirely agreed, refused to accept any employment under the government of Buonaparte. In consequence of the part he took in favour of the Pope he was imprisoned, and only released by the influence of his brother Alfred, an ardent soldier in the Imperial army, who, after distinguishing himself and winning the favour of the Emperor, was killed in the Russian campaign.

Though her winters were generally spent in Paris, Pauline only went out quietly amongst her own friends, not entering at all into the society of the imperial court, which was altogether objectionable to her.

The Restoration was received with rapture by her and most of her family, not even La Fayette himself holding aloof from the welcome to the King.

Alexis de Noailles, who had left France during the reign of Napoleon, entered Paris with the Comte d’Artois; the King and the Duchesse d’Angoulême received with distinguished favour those who had suffered so much in their cause; the Duc de Noailles came from Switzerland and took possession of the h?tel de Noailles, just vacated by the Arch-treasurer of the Empire.

But as the size and grandeur of such a residence was no longer suitable to the altered fortunes of its master, he sold it, and only occupied the part called the petit h?tel de Noailles, where Mme. de Montagu also had an apartment.

The rest of her life was spent in peace amongst her family, by whom she was adored, in the practices [265] of charity and devotion, which had always made her happiness.

Mme. de Tessé died in 1813, only a week after the death of her husband, without whom she said that she did not think she could live.

Severe as was her loss to Pauline a more terrible calamity happened to her in 1824, in the death of her only son Attale, who was killed by an accident when out shooting, leaving a young wife and children to her care.

Her daughters [82] all married, and in them her sons-in-law, and grandchildren she found constant interest and happiness: the Duc d’Ayen also, after the death of his second wife, gave up his Swiss house and came to end his days with his favourite daughter at Fontenay.

The death of her husband in 1834 was her last great sorrow, she survived him five years, and died in January, 1839, at the age of seventy-three, surrounded by those she loved best, who were still left her.

She neither feared death nor desired it, her life was spent for others not for herself, she regretted to leave them, but the thought of the other world, and of those who had gone before her, drew her heart towards that radiant, immortal future, the thought of which had ever been her guide and consolation.

Rosalie de Grammont survived her for thirteen years, and died at the age of eighty-five—the last of the five sisters.

Térèzia Cabarrus—Comes to Paris—Married to the Marquis de Fontenay—Revolutionary sympathies—Unpopularity of Royal Family—The wig of M. de Montyon—The Comte d’Artois and his tutor—The Comte de Provence and Louis XV.
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AN abyss of separation lies between the two women whose life-histories have just been related, and the one of whose stormy career a sketch is now to be given.

In education, principles, conduct, and nationality, they were absolutely different, but each of them was typical of the time, the class, and the party to which she belonged.

Térèzia Cabarrus was a Spaniard, though she had also French blood in her veins. Her father, director of an important bank in Madrid, distinguished himself in the financial world, and was created Count by Charles IV.

Térèzia was born at Madrid about the year 1772, and was the only daughter of Count Cabarrus, whose fortunes had rapidly risen, and who being a man of sense and cultivation was resolved to give his children the best possible education.

Térèzia studied Latin with her brothers, spoke Spanish, Italian, and French, with almost equal fluency, conversed with ease and vivacity, sang and [270] danced enchantingly. Besides all this she was so extraordinarily beautiful, that she attracted general attention.

She was still very young when her father sent her to Paris with her brothers to complete their education, in the charge of an old abbé, their tutor, but to be also under the care of the Marquis de Boisgeloup and his wife, old friends of their father, in whose family they were to live. When they arrived they found that the Marquis de Boisgeloup, Seigneur de la Manceliève and conseiller du Roi et du parlement, had just died.

Mme. de Boisgeloup, however, received the children with the greatest kindness, her two boys were companions for the young Cabarrus, and as for Térèzia, she loved and treated her like a daughter. They lived in the rue d’Anjou, and when the following year her father arrived at Paris and bought a h?tel in the place des Victoires she still spent less of her time with him than with her.

It was in the days when the Queen was giving fêtes at Trianon, when the court quarrelled about the music of Gluck and Piccini, and listened to the marvels related by the Comte de Saint-Germain, when every one talked about nature, and philosophy, and virtue, and the rights of man, while swiftly and surely the Revolution was drawing near.

That the head of an excitable, thoughtless girl not sixteen, should be turned by the whirl of pleasure and admiration into which she was launched, cannot be surprising.

Among the numbers of men who made love to her more or less seriously, two were especially conspicuous, [271] the Prince de Listenay and the Marquis de Fontenay.

About the former, who was deeply in love with her, and most anxious to make her his wife, she did not care at all. She found him tiresome, and even the prospect of being a princess could not induce her to marry him. Besides, she had taken a fancy to the Marquis de Fontenay, whom she had first met at the house of Mme. de Boisgeloup, who was much older than herself, and as deplorable a husband as a foolish young girl could choose.

He also had been Conseiller du parlement, first at Bordeaux, then at Paris; though by no means a young man, he was exceedingly handsome, fascinating, and a well-known viveur, added to which he was an inveterate gambler. It was said that when he was not running after some woman he was always at the card-table; in fact his reputation was atrocious. But his charming manners and various attractions won Térèzia’s heart. Mme. de Boisgeloup wrote to Count Cabarrus, who was then in Madrid, saying that the Marquis de Fontenay wished to marry his daughter, and did not care whether she had any fortune or not; the wedding took place, and the young Marquise was installed at his chateau of Fontenay near Paris. [83]

At first all went on prosperously. The Marquis de Fontenay did not belong to the haute noblesse, but his position amongst the noblesse de robe was good, and his fortune was at any rate sufficient to enable Térèzia to entertain lavishly, and to give [272] fêtes which caused a sensation even at Paris, while her beauty became every day more renowned.

Whatever religious teaching she may have received she had thrown off its influence and principles, and ardently adopted the doctrines of the Revolution. Freedom, not only from tyranny, but from religion, law, morality, restraint of any kind, was the new theory adopted by her and by the party to which she belonged.

She was surrounded by those who talked of virtue, but practised vice; her husband was amongst the most corrupt of that vicious society; they soon ceased to care for each other; and she was young, beautiful, worshipped, with the hot Spanish blood in her veins and all the passion of the south in her nature, what but one result could be expected?

The King, the royal family, but especially the Queen, were becoming every day more unpopular, the reforms introduced seemed to do no good, only to incite the populace to more and more extortionate demands. The King, having neither courage nor decision, inspired neither confidence nor respect.

The Comte de Provence, his brother, remarks in his souvenirs: “The court did not like Louis XVI., he was too uncongenial to its ways, and he did not know how to separate himself from it, and to draw nearer to the people, for there are times when a sovereign ought to know how to choose between one and the other. What calamities my unfortunate brother would have spared himself and his family, if he had known how to hold with a firm hand the sceptre Providence had entrusted to him.” [84]


Nothing but reforms were talked of when Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette came to the throne; but of course everything proposed excited the opposition and ridicule of one party or the other.

The following song, one of the many circulating at the time, is a specimen of the least objectionable of its kind:
“Or, écoutez, petits et grands,
L’histoire d’un roi de vingt ans,
Qui va nous ramener en France
Les bonnes m?urs et l’abondance.
D’après ce plan que deviendront
Et les catins et les fripons?
S’il veut de l’honneur et des m?urs,
Que deviendront nos grands seigneurs?
S’il aime les honnêtes femmes,
Que deviendront nos belles dames?
S’il bannit les gens déréglés
Que feront nos riches abbés?
S’il dédaigne un frivole encens,
Que deviendront les courtisans?
Que feront les amis du prince
Autrement nommés en province?
Si ses sujets sont ses enfants,
Que deviendront les partisans?
S’il veut qu’un prélat soit chrétien,
Un magistrat homme de bien,
Combien de juges mercénaires,
D’évêques et de grands vicaires,
Vont changer de conduite, amen.
Dominus salvum fac regem.” [85]

The Queen had no idea of economy, and the Comte d’Artois was still more extravagant and heedless. [274] Many were the absurd stories told of him, harmless and otherwise. Of the first description is the affair of the wig of M. de Montyon. Arriving early one morning to speak to him, and seeing no servants about, he mistook the door and walked unannounced into a room where he saw a young man in his shirt sleeves, with his hair all rough and his toilette very incomplete, who, astonished at the sudden entrance of a magistrate in an enormous wig, asked him brusquely what he was doing there.

M. de Montyon, taking him for a valet de pied, called him an insolent rascal for daring to speak to him in such a manner; but no sooner were the words spoken than the young man snatched off his wig, rubbed it over his face and ran away with shouts of laughter.

M. de Montyon was furious, he flew into a rage, called till he succeeded in attracting attention, and then, discovering that the young man he had called an insolent rascal was his royal Highness, Monseigneur le Comte d’Artois, hurried away in dismay.

The King hearing of the affair was much amused, but desired his brother to make it right with M. de Montyon, which he did to such good effect, that shortly after he gave him an appointment in his household. The Prince and the excellent magistrate afterwards met again in exile.

Another and more reprehensible episode took place when the Comte d’Artois, then a lad of sixteen, was just going to be married to the younger sister of the Comtesse de Provence, daughter of the King of Sardinia.


It was before the death of Louis XV., the court was at Compiègne, and the young Prince, since his marriage was decided, had been less strictly looked after by the Comte de Montbel, his sous gouverneur, who would not usually allow him to go alone into the thicker parts of the forest, not because of wild beasts but of other not less dangerous encounters which were possible.

For some little time the Comte d’Artois had been regarding the sister of one of his valets de pied with an admiration which she was evidently quite ready to return. Finding some difficulty in getting an interview with her, he applied to her brother who, delighted at the fancy of the Prince for his sister, and the probable advantages it might bring, promised his assistance, and arranged that the young girl, who was extremely pretty, should meet him dressed as a peasant in the cottage of a forester of Compiègne.

D’Artois accordingly told M. de Montbel that he wished to make an excursion into the forest, but when the carriage came round which had been ordered for him, he said he would rather walk, and took care to go so far out of the way that his tutor was very tired.

The Prince, who was not tired at all, and who had arrived in sight of the cottage, said he would like some milk and would go and see the cows milked.

“You stay here and rest, Montbel,” he continued. “I will come back in a few minutes.”

M. de Montbel had waited for nearly an hour, when suddenly a suspicion seized him. Springing [276] up suddenly he ran to the cottage, opened the door of one room, then another, then a third, and stood still with a cry of consternation.

“Monsieur,” said the Prince, coolly, “was there no one to announce you?”

Launching into angry threats against the valet de pied and his sister, and indignant reproaches to his pupil, M. de Montbel conducted him back to the palace and went straight to the King. But Louis XV., with a fellow-feeling for the grandson whom he considered the most like himself, could not restrain his laughter, ordered fifty louis to be given to the young girl, and dismissed the affair.

The alliances with the House of Savoy were much more popular with the court than that with the House of Austria and Lorraine, [86] and caused continual jealousies and disputes. Foreseeing that such would be the case, Louis XV., before the marriage of the Comte de Provence, thought it necessary to caution him on the subject. Louis XVIII. gives in his memoirs [87] the following account of the interview:—

“When my alliance with the Princess of Piedmont was decided, the Duc de Vauguyon told me that the King desired to speak to me. I trembled a little at an order which differed entirely from the usual regulations, for I never saw Louis XV. without d’Artois, and at certain hours. A private audience of his Majesty without my having asked for it gave me cause for anxiety....


“Louis XV. stood leaning against a great inlaid bureau near the window. My grandfather was just then playing with a beautiful sporting dog of which he was very fond. I approached the King with timidity and embarrassment, but I soon perceived that he was in a good humour....

“‘Bonjour, Proven?al,’ [88] he said. ‘You are looking very well, and that is so much the better, ma foi! for it has never been of more importance to you. You are going to be married.’

“‘Your Majesty’s orders have been communicated to me.’

“‘They may have left out something,’ replied he, laughing. ‘I have no time to lose, and I tell you that I wish to be a great-grandfather as soon as possible.’

“‘Sire, I know that it is my duty to obey your Majesty in all things.’

“‘I have no doubt of it; and if circumstances favour you, I hope you will leave M. le Dauphin far behind.’

“I bowed with a half-smile that seemed to amuse the King. But resuming his usually grave and majestic air, he added—

“‘I particularly wished to see you, to warn you that you must take great care that your future wife never forgets what will be due from her to the Dauphine. Their two houses are divided, but all rivalry must be forgotten here, which would disturb the tranquillity of Versailles, and would supremely displease me. I know that you have sense beyond your age, therefore I flatter myself that you will not [278] do, nor allow to be done, anything with regard to the Dauphine which might displease her. Besides, your brother would not suffer it; he loves his wife, and is determined that she shall be respected as she deserves. Keep watch, therefore, upon yours; in fact, see that things go on in such a manner that I am not obliged to interfere.’

“I replied to the King that this would be all the easier to me as I had no greater wish than to be on good terms with my brother and sister-in-law; adding: ‘I know the respect which I owe your Majesty, and that which the heir to the throne has a right to expect from me; in which I hope never to be accused of having failed.’

“‘Very well,’ replied the King; ‘but what I fear is, that notwithstanding your good intentions, you will be surrounded by persons whose influence will mislead you, and owing to evil counsellors, your own abilities may perhaps even lead you to commit follies.’

“‘I am certain, sire,’ I answered hastily; ‘that nobody about me will be able to make me deviate from the line my own reason has already marked out. But as your Majesty has introduced the subject, may I be permitted to suggest that my sister-in-law has already near her some one who is scarcely calculated to maintain a good understanding in the family; I fear the partiality of the Abbé de Vermont for the House of Austria.’

“‘Yes, my dear son,’ said the King, making use for the first time of that paternal expression; ‘I know as well as you do that this abbé is not well-disposed towards us; but can I take him away from [279] a young woman whom he has educated, [89] and who requires somebody to confide in? Besides, she might choose worse; he is a man without personal ambition, religious and upright, in spite of his leaning to the House of Austria. It will be the Dauphin’s business to keep him within proper limits; and now I have warned you about what made me most uneasy I feel more satisfied, for I desire above all things that the peace of my family should never be troubled.’”

The interview closed to the mutual satisfaction of the King and his grandson, neither of them with the slightest idea of any more serious calamity than the quarrels at court between the Houses of Lorraine and Savoy being likely to interfere with the secure and magnificent tranquillity of their lives. But it wanted only eighteen years and a few months to the fall of the Bastille, and though the small-pox cut short the life of Louis XV. before the evil days, they were seen by many of his courtiers as old or older than himself.

But nothing would ever have induced him as long as he lived to allow the States-General to be summoned. He regarded them with an unchanging abhorrence which seems prophetic.

One evening, during his coucher, the conversation turning upon difficulties in the financial situation owing to the refusal of the parliaments of the different provinces to enregister certain taxes, a man highly placed in the King’s household remarked—

“You will see, sire, that all this will necessitate the assembly of the States-General”: whereupon [280] Louis XV., abandoning the calm repose of his usual manner, seized him by the arm, exclaiming vehemently—

“Never repeat those words! I am not bloodthirsty, but if I had a brother and he were capable of offering such advice I would sacrifice him in twenty-four hours to the duration of the monarchy and the tranquillity of the kingdom.” [90]

It was remarked later that under Louis XIV. no one dared think or speak; under Louis XV. they thought but dared not speak; but under Louis XVI. every one thought and spoke whatever they chose without fear or respect.


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