Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

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eighth Viscount Valentia. She married in 1810 James Wedderburn Webster,
a friend of Lord Byron, the poet. In February 18 16, her husband obtained
from Baldwin .£2,000 in damages, for a libel charging Lady Frances and the
Duke of Wellington with adultery.



that the bestowal of this Order has given great offence
to several officers, who think that they also deserve
this valued distinction.

" I have given it to those officers who, in my opinion,
are best entitled to it, for general conduct throughout
the campaign, and not for any particular battle. I
think I have selected the best officers in the army,"
said he. " I never give anything to favour ; nor do I
listen to solicitation. My sole object is to be just, and
I don't in the least care what is said."

I sat by the Duke during dinner. He was more
agreeable than ever. Afterwards we walked into the
beautiful grounds, and when we reached the Conserva-
tory it was quite dark. We had great fun in going
through it, with two or three wretched candles. 1 A
storm came on, with vivid flashes of lightning. The
Duke brought us home. He told me to go to the
opera next night. . . . After the opera, went to Lady
Castlereagh ; to Madame Crauford, and to Talleyrand's.
At the latter place there was a table dcjen, and I saw
a woman lose fifty napoleons in a few minutes.
Madame Perigord did not play. She was very friendly
with me, and I like that society extremely.

Next day I went to see Monsieur Denon, 2 who is
very amiable. He showed me his curiosities. The
foot of a mummy of an Egyptian princess is beautiful ;
so also the hand of Pauline Borghese. Denon gave,
me a medal of himself. He has dozens of portraits,
medals, etc., of Napoleon, and professed great attach-
ment to him. I like him for that. We spent the
whole morning with Denon.

Saw the Duke for a moment, and heard with regret
that the Emperor of Russia had sent a request that he
would dine with him. This prevented the Duke from
dining at Lord Stewart's.

1 The fortunes of war could not be better exemplified. Imagine the Duke
of Wellington playing the Merry Andrew in the grounds of Malmaison !
* The celebrated Egyptologist.


The dinner-party consisted of above forty persons ;
the Duchesses de Courlande, and de Sagan, Mesdames
Perigord,and Talleyrand; Lords Castlereagh, Granville,
and Kinnaird. Prince Schwartzenberg was there, and
talked a great deal to me. He seems well informed,
and amiable. In speaking of the scarcity of money in
France at the present time, he declared that vast
treasure had been concealed by individuals. It had
been Bonaparte's policy to spend all his money in
France ; and when he made his preparations for the
Russian campaign, he spent enormous sums in the
purchase of provisions in Paris, rather than supply his
troops from foreign soil. Most of the money thus
spent was hoarded by the contractors and farmers.

Went to Madame de Coigny's. This is the most
like the old French society of any I have seen. The
only women present were Lady Kinnaird and Madame
Girardin. The latter has most tranchant manners.
Benjamin Constant — nicknamed Inconstant — was there;
and a Monsieur de Maubourg, who is considered very
handsome. I do not admire him. After passing the
Cour — where our hostess will not allow carriages to
enter — we ascended a dirty, narrow, winding staircase ;
and, on the fourth floor, we were received by Madame
de Coigny. Although the whole arrangements struck
me as mean and uncomfortable, it is not half so bad as
Grassini's house, or even Madame de Peysac's,to whom
I paid a visit next day. In the Cour they were making
mattresses ; and the stairs were dirty beyond descrip-
tion. There was so strong an aroma of onions that I
felt quite ill. But Madame de Peysac is a very pretty,
pleasing woman, and I believe very good. She assures
me that many of the French women in these days are
fond of their husbands, and very domestic ; but that
rank covers every fault. She says that the people
who are most censorious, and who would not receive
a countess that behaved ill, are themselves privileged
to do whatever they like. She talked very freely of


the Princesse de Benevento, 1 whom Talleyrand has
got rid of in order to please the King. She added :
" Mais elle etait d'un caractere si difficile, que si
Talleyrand n'avait pas ete la bonte meme, il l'aurait
renvoyee longtemps avant." Thus spoke her friend !
Madame de Peysac vindicated Madame Perigord from
the aspersions of Madame Crauford, and said : "Quoique
nos femmes soient mauvaises, je ne crois pas qu'elles
aillent jusque la." She says that Monsieur Perigord
does not behave very ill to her. On the day of the
Duke's ball he fought a duel with an Austrian officer,
and received a sword-cut, which made a deep wound
on his forehead. Madame Perigord attended the ball
in order that the encounter might not be known.

Every morning we hear of riots having occurred in
the gardens of the Tuileries during the night. The
rioters throw stones at the women, and sabre those men
who refuse to cry " Vive le Roi." I think that matters
look very bad. During the past few days everyone
has been anxious on the subject of Labedoyere ; but
nothing certain is known as to what form his trial
will take. Each person contradicts the other. Grassini
tells me that he was betrayed by his most intimate
friend, who had promised to procure him a safe
asylum in Paris. He had been led to believe that
this friend possessed a secret armoire, in which he
would never be discovered. And yet, only two hours
after he entered his hiding-place, he was arrested !
Fouche's marriage has amused us much. He is a
wizened old man of sixty. His bride, Madame de
Castellane, is a beautiful young woman of twenty-five !
She is of good family, and has a moderate fortune,
but, obviously, possesses a good deal of ambition.

The Duke dined with them the day after the marriage.

Wednesday. — I have passed a very happy day.
The Duke asked if I would like to ride his mare at
the Russian review. Of course, I was delighted !

1 Talleyrand was created Prince of Benevento by Napoleon in 1806.


We were late ; so the Duke sent Lord Arthur to
escort me. I rode at the Duke's side. The Emperor
of Russia spoke to me. A great honour indeed !
Lord Cathcart told me afterwards that the Emperor
was never known to speak to any woman on parade,
except the Crown Princess of Prussia !

I suppose he made an exception in my favour
because he thinks that the Duke likes me. The
Emperor professes to be very fond of the Duke ot
Wellington. The other day he sent him a message in
these terms : " Dites-lui que je l'aime comme ma
maitresse ! "

The Russian troops are very fine fellows. One
regiment, in French cuirasses, was from Siberia.
The cavalry horses very large and handsome. Those
of the artillery are small, but very beautiful. The
crowd was not so great as at previous reviews.
After riding along the line we took up our station
on the Place Louis XV. I was between the Duke and
Prince Schwartzenberg, when, to my chagrin, the
Emperor sent for them both, so I remained under
the care of an aide-de-camp, and the two Princes
Lichtenstein. After the review I was taken to head-
quarters ; where I was made to drink some wine and

In the evening I went to the Theatre Favart with
Lord Cathcart. On our arrival we found the house
full to overflowing. The boxes had been let twice
over ; and there was nowhere for us to sit down ! We
went on to the Theatre Francais in despair.

How I love a Review ! The Duke was kindness
itself. He tells me that he has been so deeply
engaged during the past week, that he has not been
able to go out anywhere. He has been writing all
night, practically.

■ • • • •

1 have had an interesting conversation to-day with
a sergeant of the National Guard. I am convinced


that much of his statement is true, although it may
be slightly exaggerated. I believe that the past
week, in Paris, has been a very critical one. Projects
were on foot to assassinate the King, the Emperor of
Russia, and the Duke of Wellington. If the plot had
succeeded Paris would have been sacked. Fortunately,
most of the conspirators have been arrested. He tells
me that on Thursday night, while he was on guard at
the Tuileries, he saw Fouche, no less than three times,
admitted to the King's presence.

• • • • •

On Sunday I rode with Prince Maurice Lichtenstein,
and an Austrian colonel round the fortifications of
Belleville, Montreuil, and Montmartre where the battle
was fought last year. The forts are very formidable.
Napoleon, this year, designed to surround Paris with
powerful batteries. The guns are now lying on the
ground beside their carriages. Only in one or two
places are the guns mounted, and these are guarded
by British soldiers !

The view is very grand. Paris on the left, the
plains of Clichy on the right. It was here that
Bliicher advanced, with very sinister intentions. The
village of La Villette has greatly suffered, and is very
nearly deserted. As we ascended Montmartre we
saw an immense crowd of people. When Shelley
rode up to see what it was, he found men, women,
and children amusing themselves by throwing sticks
at a poor goose ! We also heard the barking of dogs
at the Porte des Combats, where bears, bulls, and even
monkeys are baited, two or three times a week,
for the amusement of the degenerate inhabitants of
this vile city, which every evening presents the
appearance of a fair.

The Boulevards are lined with shows of various
kinds ; and the trees are lighted up, after the manner
of Vauxhall. The coffee-houses are always full, and
a sort of false gaiety reigns supreme.


After the opera this evening I saw the Duke. He
is sad, and looks ill. He is evidently much worried.

• • • • •

Went again to the Bibliotheque Royale, and was
shown some of the manuscripts. It is really wonder-
ful to behold five or six rooms quite full of these
valuable manuscripts. They have not any of Sully's
handwriting. I was struck by a passage in one of
Voltaire's letters : " La crainte de deplaire ote tous
les moyens de plaire." How often, and particularly
this last week, have I felt the truth of that obser-
vation !

In the afternoon I visited Madame Cherome. I
passed through a dirty ante-room, where they were
at dinner; and was shown into a bedroom! The
staircase was malodorous, but the bed was gilded !
She has been very civil and useful to me — a classe de
societe a part, which I am very glad to have seen.

• • • • •

A most happy day ! I called on Madame Perigord
and found her alone, and employed like an English-
woman. She is delightful ; and very pretty, which
is, I own it, one reason why I like her. Besides, she
has, apparently, taken a fancy to me.

I dined at three o'clock to-day, in order to ride
with the Duke, who offered to mount me on Copen-
hagen. A charming ride of two hours. But I found
Copenhagen the most difficult horse to sit of any I
had ever ridden. If the Duke had not been there,
I should have been frightened. He said : " I believe
you think the glory greater than the pleasure in
riding him!"

There was a concert at the Duke's that evening
and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I am not sure
that it was not quite the most delightful evening I
ever passed. The Emperor, who was present, talked
a long time with me, and insisted on my sitting
down. I did not feel at all shy, although there was


an immense circle looking at, and perhaps envying
me! The music was perfection— Grassini and Paer, 1
Nadermann played the horn ; and there was a violon-
cello player superior to Crosdale.

After every one had, as we thought, gone home,
we were surprised to see about forty people at supper.
Eventually, Miss Rumbold began to play a polonaise,
and the whole party jumped up. The Duke took
my hand, Madame Crauford led ; and we danced all
through the house. The polonaise then changed : we
began to valse, and kept it up until two in the morn-
ing! It was quite delightful.

• * • • •

August 1 6, 1815. — Went with Lady Castlereagh to
St. Germains. She is an indefatigable walker. As
the heat was intense we deserted her, and sat under
the trees. Prince Saxe-Coburg, Lady Emma Edg-
cumbe, 2 Mr. Bathurst, etc. We amused ourselves
sketching. Dined at Lord Castlereagh's. I sat by
him. He is very agreeable, and strikingly handsome
when he is animated. His conversation most interest-
ing. The violent Mr. Smith, Member for Norwich,
dined there, and toadied Lord Castlereagh consider-
ably. I see that he is coming round. He abused
Whitbread — so much for political friendships !

Lady Castlereagh says that it is true the friends
of Labedoyere 3 offered £5,000 to the gaoler of

1 Paer was the composer of " Didone " and other operas.

2 Lady Emma Edgcumbe, daughter of second Earl of Mount Edgcumbe,
married 1828 John, first Earl Brownlovv. She died 1872.

a Colonel Labedoyere was an officer of handsome figure, and elegant
manners, descended of a respectable family ; young, enthusiastic, and
daring. He owed his promotion and appointment to the Royal Court,
but his heart dwelt on the glories of the Empire. When Napoleon escaped
from Elba Labedoyere was quartered at Grenoble. He assembled his
regiment, and, in defiance alike of the commands of General Marchand and
of the injunctions of the Prefect, he left Grenoble at the head of his regiment,
and marched to welcome Napoleon. Marchand did his utmost to induce the
garrison to remain loyal, but the prestige of Napoleon was irresistible. The
Emperor entered Grenoble in triumph. After Waterloo, Labedoyere, in the
Chamber of Peers, made a violent speech demanding the recognition of


l'Abbaye to permit his escape. We all agreed that
Labedoyere deserved to be a member of the Legion of
Honour more than most of those who belong to it.

There has been a cruel mistake about this Order of
the Bath. Colonel Percy wrote the name of Prince
Wrede 1 so like Conde, that the letter was taken to
the last-named personage, who was intensely flattered,
and was, of course, equally mortified when the
blunder was discovered.

• • • • •

Went to Lord Stewart's ball. We found the Duke
of Wellington there. He was charming, and most
kind. His manner is the most paternal of any one
I ever saw ; and so far removed from any nonsense,
that I am convinced his attachment to Lady Frances
is platonic. Of this I am certain : if there is any love
in the case, it is only on the lady's side. His manner
to her in public is simple and kind. 2

At supper I sat by Prince Saxe-Coburg, with whom
I had an interesting talk about Saxony, and German
politics. He says it is very grating to the whole of
Germany that a new, and upstart Power, like Prussia,
should be enriched at the expense of the old Electors.

I never realised what sentimental and genteel
comedy could be, until I came to Paris and saw
Mdlle. Mars, and Fleury. I could not help contrasting
the perfection of French comedy with that which
prevails in England. It is not so difficult to account
for the different state of the stage in the two countries.


Napoleon's son as his father's successor. Subsequently, the Allied Powers,
irritated by the treachery of the whole French army, and the perfidy of Ney,
Labedoyere, and Lavalette, determined that they should bear the penalty.
Labedoyere was selected, being the first who gave the example of treason to
the army. All three were convicted of high treason. Lavalette escaped
from prison, but Ney and Labedoyere met their fate with heroic courage.

1 Field-Marshal Prince Wrede commanded the Bavarian Army.

2 I have since had reason to know that the whole report was a fabrication.
(Note by Lady Shelley.)


In France, tragedy is, so to speak, on stilts; and
decidedly unnatural. Comedy, on the other hand,
is the ton de la bonne socicte ; and yet the actresses
are much less received in society than with us. If
I may venture on a reflection ; I believe that the
French cannot feel deeply about anything. Society
here makes a point of attending the theatres. It is
its daily occupation. Consequently, the boxes in
Paris theatres decide the histrionic tastes. With
us, in England, it is the pit. John Bull would not
stand the stiff French tragedy for a moment. Shake-
speare speaks the language of Nature, which every one
can understand ; and perhaps more forcibly where
les convenances are less considered. John Bull would
as little understand the refinement which pleases in
French genteel comedy, and which it requires French
tact to appreciate. His bonhomie, and respect for
morality, would prevent him from receiving, with
roars of laughter, those double cntendres which de-
light the French so much. They would disgust an
Englishman, and would prevent his taking his wife
and his daughter to the theatre, as the Parisian
bourgeois does every Sunday.

Went early to see " Tartuffe." Never did Fleury act
better; while Mdlle. Mars, both in Moliere's play, and
also in " La Jeunesse de Henri V," was enchanting.

Mr. Russell and Colonel Stanhope were with us.
The Duke was alone in his box — I mean without
women — and he joined us afterwards in the Salle.
He asked if I would go to Lady Castlereagh's ; I
agreed ; and we set off in the glass coach. En route,
we began to dread being stuck down to supper. I
then told him of Lady Castlereagh's prudery, and
nonsense the night before at Lord Stewart's. She
would not permit Lady Emma Edgcumbe to dance
a French dance with Miss Rumbold ; although they
had been dancing English ones together without fear
of contamination !


The Duke said : " Dam-mit, I can't go — we'll punish
her for her nonsense. Let's go to Crauford's and
end with Talleyrand's." This little speech made me
laugh, and we changed our destination.

We arrived, and found the circle dreadful. Grassini
was cross, the ladies highly indignant. The Duke
yawned ! We stayed about five minutes, and then
moved on to Talle3 7 rand's. He was not yet come
home. Madame Perigord had la migraine, no other
woman present.

After all, French society is a bore, unless one goes
with a jolly English party to enliven them ; then it is
excellent fun.

• • • • *

August 25. — What an age since I last wrote in
my journal ! I must make a sort of pot pourri up
to to-day. At the beginning of the week we dined
with Talleyrand, whom — in spite of his amiability
towards myself — I cannot help disliking profoundly.
I am, of course, pleased by his attentions. I sat
next him at dinner. The soup had been placed in the
middle of the table. Talleyrand stood up, and began
to ladle it out. As he did so, he threw down a great
decanter of water with his elbow, and broke it into
a thousand pieces. This did not seem to disconcert
him in the least — at any rate, it did not make him very
cross. We had a sumptuous repast, and ended with
a large course of fish ! I wondered whether we were
destined to eat our dinner all over again.

During the whole repast the general conversation
was upon eating. Every dish was discussed, and the
antiquity of every bottle of wine supplied the most
eloquent annotations. Talleyrand himself analysed
the dinner with as much interest, and seriousness as if
he had been discussing some political question of

I managed, however, to have a small conversation
with him about the French stage. On this, as on


all subjects, he spoke well, but with a great deal of
affectation. As we left the room I expressed my
admiration -for Madame Perigord. "Ah, oui," said
he, " elle est aimable, et pleine d'esprit. Elle n'a de
la jeunesse que le naturel."

Talleyrand seemed pleased with his mot, and
repeated it to Madame Perigord herself. This evi-
dently delighted her, for she kissed him on both cheeks
repeatedly. Talleyrand then proceeded to feed her
with coffee, out of his own cup, and used his own
spoon for that purpose.

He is a frightful object to look at ; and rolls his
tongue about in a disgusting manner. He has a
club-foot ; but, in spite of all that, the French ladies
find him irresistible.

Suddenly Talleyrand put down his coffee-cup and
exclaimed : " Allons ! Je vais bien vous amuser !
Je vais vous raconter une histoire d'un de nos bons
Parisiens qui est d'une parfaite betise.

"J'ai envoye chercher le Directeur des Gobelins ce
matin, pour lui dire que l'Empereur d'Autriche desire
avoir le portrait, auquel on travaille, de l'lmperatrice
Marie Louise, et qu'on le finit de suite. II repondit, ' Ah !
Monseigneur, j'ai aussi fait faire un portrait de moi ;
n'est-ce pas que vous pourriez le faire passer aussi, a
l'Empereur ?"

We suggested that the story was so inherently
improbable that we suspected Talleyrand of having
invented it for our amusement. He assumed an air
of injured innocence; and, placing his hand upon his
breast, exclaimed in tragic tones : " Sur mon honneur
— c'est vrai ! " He certainly told the story very well.
Before dinner Madame Perigord — thinking that Talley-
rand might possibly not be in the vein — said that he
was so engrossed by public affairs that he had lost his
spirits, and much of his bonhomie. We, therefore, con-
sidered ourselves fortunate in finding him in such good
form. Talleyrand gave me his box at the Frangais ;


so we went there before going to Lady Castlereagh's
very pleasant ball. Colonel Stanhope, the life and soul
of every party, surpassed himself in fun and mirth ;
and we danced until the small hours of the morning.

The next day we went to the Vallee de Montmorenci
with Lady Castlereagh and her party, numbering
nearly fifty people. Walter Scott was one of them.
His first appearance is not prepossessing. A club-foot,
white eyelashes, and a clumsy figure. He has not
any expression when his face is in repose ; but, upon
an instant, some remark will lighten up his whole
countenance, and you discover the man of genius.
His conversation reminds me of his poems — the same
ideas and images recurring — and often the same
careless manner of expressing them.

We all agreed that the valley is uninteresting ;
indeed it scarcely deserves the name. As a storm was
brewing, we took shelter, and passed the time at
dinner. Meanwhile the storm broke, and cooled
the air. Afterwards we visited the Chateau de Mont-
morenci — a most beautiful spot, completely destroyed
by the Prussians. This is a fit subject for Crabbe's
Muse, but without his minute details. There was an
atmosphere of misery surrounding this place, which
depressed me. The body of the celebrated Constable,
Anne, reposes in the church, which stands on the
brow of a mountain clothed with acacia, and pines.
This eminence overlooks the chateau, from which it
is separated by a deep valley, at whose extremity
lies a fine lake, with the plains of Clichy beyond it.
The sun was setting as we reached the spot from
whence this lovely view burst upon us. A herd of
cattle was passing on the other side of the lake, in
which their forms were reflected. We heard the
sound of a bugle in the distance, and saw soldiers
passing, and repassing to their bivouac. The scene
awoke a train of melancholy ideas, and made me
realise the instability of human greatness !

140 SAb REFLECTIONS [ch. x

Before me stood the deserted hall, desecrated by the
removal even of its pavement. The gilded chairs were
stacked to form bedsteads, for the dirtiest of the human
race ; and, here and there, they were heaped together
for firewood ! The splendid mirrors, which had once
adorned these fine rooms, were cracked in every direc-
tion. The painted ceilings (fortunately out of the
marauder's reach) were uninjured. They recalled
the great, and noble deeds of the Montmorencis ;
and testified to the former grandeur of the chateau.
They conjured up the scenes of bygone Ages, when,
with almost regal state, the Montmorencis claimed
kinship with a race of kings. What a change ! and
what a lesson for reformers. What has the Revolution
done for France ? Although some abuses have been
removed, the mass of the people are more corrupt
than ever they were before ; while the armies of every

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 33)