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tunities of the Beaupre beggars were entirely for-
gotten in the presence of abject misery which found
expression in the clamour of the hundreds who, literally,
swarmed round our carriage. Unfortunately, the
step had been let down, so these miserable people
mounted upon it, and thrust their grimy hands into
our faces. It was the same old cry, " Je meurs de
faim," " Je n'ai pas de pain," " Un sol pour l'amour de

Truth told, most of these poor wretches looked as
though their tale was true, and, as we threw out the
sols, they scrambled for them as though their lives
depended upon it. Through the whole of France
the peasantry seem not the least ashamed of begging.
I am informed, on good authority, that even the
farmers themselves often beg for a sol without any
feeling of shame. From my personal experience, a
halfpenny would satisfy the most noisy beggar in
that country.

Bonaparte's Pillar, near Boulogne, is, unlike the
rest of his monuments, mesquin to the greatest
degree. It is surrounded by scaffolding ; and will


probably now never be finished. 1 The situation
chosen for the camp, on a very elevated spot, is so inju-
dicious — supposing that concealment was desired —
that one cannot believe Bonaparte to have had any
serious intention of invading England. Indeed, it is
now universally believed, that the long-menaced
invasion was merely a feint, to conceal a projected
attack on Germany. If the invasion of our shores had
really been intended, so conspicuous a spot would,
surely, have been avoided. I am told by military
men that, from the actual size of the ground, there
must have been far fewer troops in that camp than we
had imagined.

The approach to Montreuil-sur-Mer is magnificent.
The day was fast closing in, and we were driven by
our postilion — a farmer picked up en route — without
stirrups or boots. He carried a very long whip, which
he cracked incessantly ; and flogged (not his jaded
horses) our servants, seated on the box of the
carriage, the long lash being wholly out of the
postilion's control ! The road is a chausse'e, with
deep ravines on each side ; fortunately the road is
three times as broad as any in England. The horses
constantly crossed from side to side, entirely uncon-
trolled, and, at one time, it looked as if we must go over
into the ravine. But an expletive from the postilion
drove them across to the other side. Such fine,
tractable animals I never before saw. They resembled
the old Flemish pictures, having long tails and manes,
and moved by word of command.

We reached Montreuil just in time to enter the
town before the gates were closed ; and, as it was
nearly dark, this added to the awe incidental to
entering, for the first time, a strongly fortified town.
Two heavy draw-bridges were drawn up behind us as
we passed the three lines of fortifications. While pre-

1 On my passage through Boulogne in 1824 I found that the Pillar is
completed, and produces a very good t fleet. (Note by Lady Shelley.)


senting our passports to the officer on guard, we
noticed a heavy portcullis suspended over our heads.
Eventually we were permitted to pass, and we entered
a deep, arched gateway through which we emerged
into the totally dark streets. Montreuil is situated on
the summit of a very steep hill, which impressed me
deeply; and, as we climbed slowly up the streets, the
few lights in the interior of the houses gave us a
glimpse of people sitting on their doorsteps, who,
observing that we were English, groaned and hissed.
There were a few cries of "Vive la Republique," which
made me feel very uncomfortable, and to wish myself
out of a town where, for the first time since we landed,
we were inhospitably received. 1

The sight of the inn, however, soon restored my
courage. I was agreeably surprised to find it so clean
and neat. We drank tea in our bedroom, to be sure,
but, during that time, two pretty chambermaids, while
making the beds, chattered unceasingly in a friendly

On the following morning, at about eight, we set
off. It happened to be market-day, and crowds were
entering the town. The women were pretty, and
their costumes extremely becoming. The virgin white-
ness of their caps, and sleeves, made a fine contrast
with their brightly coloured petticoats, their striped
bodices, and gaudily flowered kerchiefs thrown negli-
gently across their shoulders, or over their caps.
The general effect was highly picturesque. While
we waited, under the arched gateway, hundreds of
peasants arrived, sitting sideways on donkeys which
were laden with fruit, vegetables, and flowers. As
this gay concourse passed us, in a kind of pageant,
I gazed upon the scene in silent admiration ; an
adequate description of it is quite beyond my powers.

1 This town was much attached to Bonaparte. Lord Arthur Hill told me
that he had great difficulty in getting past it when on his way to England with
despatches. (Note by Lady Shelley.)


To see Montreuil is, in my opinion, worth all the
fatigue of a journey to France. I have never seen
anything more artless, more brilliant, or more pictur-
esque. This fine race of peasants, filing past our
carriage, saluted us cordially ; and surprised us with
the cry " Vive les Anglais ! " I wondered whether
those happy faces could have had husbands or
brothers at Waterloo ! But I must not attempt to
analyse the French character too closely. The momen-
tary expression of feeling is no index to the mysteries
of the heart. This, at least, was plain : if the town
of Montreuil is really in favour of Bonaparte, the
peasantry rejoice at the prospects of peace.

As we advanced towards Noyelles the land be-
came very poor, and the inhabitants ragged and
dirty. The women were less pretty, and their dark-
coloured dresses were far less picturesque. The
cornfields were choked with weeds, and the houses
were built of mud.

The first view of Abbeville is very striking. It
is situated on a plain with hills rising behind it.
The demonstration of loyalty was very great. Nearly
every house had a white flag, and garlands hung from
the balconies. As the cracking of our postilion's
whip drew people's attention towards us, loud
" Hurrahs ! " and cries of " Vive les Anglais ! " greeted
us. The houses at Abbeville are chiefly built of
wood, and are very ancient. The post-boys whom
we secured here, wore the real jack-boots, and cocked
hats so familiar to us from drawings.

I never saw a country so uninteresting as the
road from Abbeville to Poix. The heat was almost
unbearable, and the only relief to this dull monotony,
came from the women on the road, who threw
nosegays into our carriage, and ran by its side in
hopes of a few coppers.

After passing Grouvilliers, a small, dirty town,
celebrated for its worsted stockings, (which the



women spin at their doors,) we met a number of
soldiers. Others lay by the roadside without arms
and legs. They were, apparently, returning to their
homes ! We also met many ill-looking people on
the road to Beauvais, where we passed the night.

Our reception was somewhat doubtful — a mixture
of groans, and hurrahs — and the inn smelt horribly.
A wooden gallery, into which the bedroom windows
looked, surrounded the stable yard. The staircase
was outside the house. The Paris coach was just
setting off, and the inn was full of officers returning
to their homes from the Army of the Loire. In
spite of the terrible odour of this place I slept
soundly, and next morning, at five, we moved on

On the Paris side of Beauvais, milestones, marked
with the Cap of Liberty on a spear, marked the
distance from the capital. A fine avenue of trees
borders the straight, (probably Roman,) road all the
way to Paris. As we approached St. Denis we saw
marks of shot upon the trees ; and there were traces
of bivouacs here, and there, in the burned cornfields.
Close to St. Denis stood a park of artillery ; and,
within the town, there were several English regi-
ments. The bridge we crossed had been broken
down by the French, and was in a very dilapidated
condition ; it seemed to me to be very unsafe. The
houses had been pierced with holes, for purposes of
defence. Forage waggons lined the streets ; and
hundreds of our brave Guards, and of the gallant
42nd, were lying about the town, enjoying a repose
which they had so well earned ! As we passed
slowly through the encumbered streets, every face
seemed to be that of a friend ; and we were met with
answering smiles from our brave countrymen, who
quickly recognised the English carriage.

On leaving St. Denis, we obtained the first view
of the heights of Montmartre, which had been


Bonaparte's mad, but stoutest hope. He appears
not to have, in the slightest degree, foreseen the fine
manoeuvre by which the Duke approached on the side
of Argenteuil and St. Cloud ; thus turning the heights
of Montmartre without an attack, which, from the
strength of the French position, would have cost him

We reached Paris at eleven in the morning, and
occupied apartments at the Hotel " de Napoleon " —
or " Bourbon," or " Louis Dix-huit," or " de la Paix,"
for it enjoyed all those names during the first week
we inhabited it !

Shelley, having changed his travelling clothes, went
off to call upon the Duke of Wellington, who, in
about half an hour, returned with him to see me.
In order to understand the delight which the Duke's
courteous, and prompt visit caused me, it must be
remembered that the hero of Waterloo was regarded
by his countrymen with feelings of the deepest
gratitude. His victories, crowned by the glory of
Waterloo, had relieved Englishmen from a state of
deep despondency ; and had placed his reputation as
a merciful conqueror on a plane with the heroes of
chivalry in all ages. I had seen him, in the previous
year, surrounded by admiring crowds ; nay, listened
to by kings and princes with the greatest respect.

Even in those days Wellington, in London, was
treated almost as a sovereign prince. His conversa-
tion conferred distinction, his wish was law. And
yet, what were his former triumphs by comparison
with Waterloo? Here was a man, in the very midst
of his camp, only a fortnight after that battle, walking
unattended from his palace to call upon me the
moment that he heard of my arrival in Paris !

Wellington entered the room, looking as simple and
unobtrusive as usual. I must admit that my enthu-
siasm for this great soldier was so great that I could
not utter one word ; and it was with the greatest


difficulty that I restrained my tears ! l It was fortunate
that I did so, for he would certainly not have under-
stood the cause of such weakness. High-wrought
sentiment was entirely foreign to the Duke's nature.
He was dressed in a dark blue military great-coat,
plain hat, and boots. His eye has, I think, even more
than its usual fire ; he looks remarkably well, and is
fatter than he was last year.

The painful feeling of awe which I at first felt in
the Duke of Wellington's presence was soon dis-
pelled by the kindness of his manner, and the openness
with which he conversed on the only subject about
which I could think, or speak, namely, himself and
Waterloo ! It was from his officers, and their accounts,
that I learnt justly to appreciate the innumerable fine
qualities of this truly great man. Every one has some
trait to relate of the Duke's character, of his talent, his
coolness, and even his sensibility on the field of battle. I
am told that when he gave the order, which changed the
hitherto perilous defence at Waterloo into the glorious
attack which decided the fortunes of that day, the ex-
pression of Wellington's face was almost superhuman.
During the whole of June 18, he was exposed to the
hottest fire. Nothing but the peculiar protection of
Providence could have saved him. As he himself said
to me : " The finger of God was upon me." He told me
that at one time he was galloping alone in the rear of
the British line, having despatched all his aides-de-

1 Walter Scott's impressions on first meeting Wellington are conveyed in
a conversation with his friend Ballantyne. " I may now say that I have seen
and conversed with all classes of society, from the palace to the cottage, but
I have never felt awed or abashed except in the presence of one man — the
Duke of Wellington, who possesses every one mighty quality of the mind in a
higher degree than any other does, or has ever done. I beheld in him a great
soldier and a great statesman — the greatest of each."

Walter Scott probably had the Duke in his mind when he described the
introduction of Roland Graeme to the Regent Murray in "The Abbot."

" He felt overawed in the presence of the eminent soldier and statesman,
the wielder of a nation's power, and the leader of her armies." — Lockhart's
" Life of Scott," vol. i. p. 340 (Adam & Charles Black, 1898).














camp on errands, when suddenly the Belgians opened
fire upon him. Without drawing rein, he sent off a
Sardinian officer who happened to be near him.
11 Dites-leur," said the Duke, " que je suis le Com-
mandant en Chef." This had of course the desired

On the day before the battle, the Duke rode
Copenhagen to the Prussian headquarters, to ascer-
tain whether he might depend upon old Bli'icher's
co-operation. It was agreed between them that night,
that although the Prussians were, for the moment,
completely disorganised, yet, if Wellington were
attacked on the following day, the Prussians would
come to his support with all speed. If, on the other
hand, Wellington were not attacked, then the Prussians
and the British were to make a joint attack on the
French on June 19. 1 The Duke rode Copenhagen

1 This is a vexata qnastio. The circumstance was first mentioned by
Lockhart in his Life of Napoleon, published twenty years after the Battle of
Waterloo. Lord Ellesmere, who wrote under the inspiration of Wellington,
states (Ellesmere, p. 157) that Lockhart was mistaken, but he does not give
any account of the Duke's proceedings after dark on June 17. The Rev.
Julian Young, in his Memoir of Charles Young, the tragedian (pp. 158 et seq.),
tells us that Mr. Robert Pierrepont, the father of Lady Charles Wellesley,
related the following incident, which he heard from the Duke of Wellington's
own lips :

" On June 17, early in the day, I had a horse shot under me. Few knew
it, but so it was. Before ten o'clock I got on Copenhagen's back. There was
so much to do, and to see to, that neither he nor I were still for many minutes
together. I never drew bit, and he never had a morsel in his mouth till eight
p.m., when Fitzroy Somerset came to tell me that dinner was ready in the
neighbouring village of Waterloo. The poor beast I myself saw stabled, and
fed. I told my groom to give him no hay, but, after a few go-downs of chilled
water, as much corn and beans as he had a mind for. I impressed upon him
the necessity of strewing them well over the manger first.

" As soon as Somerset and I had despatched a hasty meal, I sent off Somerset
on an errand. This I did, I confess, on purpose that I might get him out of
the way ; for I knew that if he had the slightest inkling of what I was up to,
he would have done his best to dissuade me from my purpose, and want to
accompany me.

" The fact is, I wanted to see Bliicher, that I might learn from his own lips
at what hour it was probable he would be able to join forces with us next

" The moment that Fitzroy's back was turned, I ordered Copenhagen to be



on June 17 over sixty miles! On the 18th he
rode Copenhagen throughout the entire battle ; and

re-saddled ; and told my man to get his own horse and accompany me to
Wavre, where I had reason to believe old ' Forwards ' was encamped.
Wavre being some twelve miles from Waterloo, I was not a little disgusted,
on getting there, to find that the old fellow's tent was two miles still farther
off ! However, I saw him, got the information I wanted from him, and made
the best of my way homewards. Bad, however, was the best ; for, by Jove !
it was so dark that I fell into a deepish dyke by the roadside ; and, if it had
not been for my orderly's assistance, I doubt if I should ever have got out.
Thank God, there was no harm done, either to horse or man."

Mr. Ropes is inclined to doubt this story because it was not set down at the
time. But we think it would be impossible for a man with any notions of
honour, or veracity, to have invented such a story. It would, for instance,
have been unnecessary to have invented the incident of the Duke falling into
a deep dyke.

Mr. Justice Coltman, during a visit which he paid to Strathfieldsaye in 1838,
heard the same story from the Duke himself.

The late General Sir Frederick Maurice doubts the truth of the story ; and, in
the Quarterly Review (vol. lxx. p. 464), we are told that an aide-de-camp from
Lord Anglesey intercepted the Duke on his way to dinner, on the evening of
the 17th, and informed him that the 7th Hussars had been engaged with French
Lancers, and that the enemy was pressing his rear. The Duke " immediately
returned to the field, and remained on the ground till dark." The Quarterly
Reviewer seems to think that this settles the question. But what are the facts ?
The Duke, by his own showing, did not reach his quarters at Waterloo until
eight o'clock, when he went to dinner. The affair with the aide-de-camp may
very well have taken place an hour earlier.

On the other hand, we have Lady Shelley's assertion here given — information
imparted to her a month after the Battle of Waterloo — in all probability by
the Duke himself.

Mr. Ropes refers to some Notes made by the late Baron Gurney, of the
Exchequer Court, of conversations which he held with Wellington. One day
he asked the Duke whether it was true that he had ridden over to Blucher the
night before the Battle of Waterloo ? The Duke replied : " No, that was not
so. I did not see Blucher the day before Waterloo."

Mr. Ropes (not unreasonably) thinks that this settles the question. In our
opinion it merely shows a discrepancy between the honest evidence of Mr.
Justice Coltman of the Common Pleas, and the honest evidence of Baron
Gurney of the Court of the Exchequer.

Meanwhile, the statement recorded in Lady Shelley's diary is supported by
probability. That the Duke of Wellington, on the eve of an engagement with
mixed troops against the flower of the French army, should have wished to
make himself personally acquainted with the condition of the Prussian army
after the Battle of Ligny, seems to be the most natural thing in the world.
However little the Duke might like to have the matter known, he was far too
cautious a commander to neglect an opportunity of gaining invaluable informa-
tion at first hand, even in the face of greater risks than those which he actually


next day to Brussels, where, on the Duke dismounting,
this noble animal kicked up his heels and scampered
half over the town before he was caught.

The Duke has given us his boxes at all the theatres
in Paris. He has promised to join us at the opera on

As I was very anxious to see the w r onderful Musee,
and being told that it was " a deux pas de chez nous,"
we sallied forth on foot along a trottoir (such as it is)
in the Rue de la Paix, to the Tuileries Gardens. The
orange trees are in full bloom, the fountains playing,
and under the trees a deep shade, such as one rarely
sees in England. Though the heat was excessive,
groups of young people were dancing " La Ronde," and
singing "Vive Henri Quatre." All this was on the
Terrace, under the King's windows ! On reaching the
arch, leading to the Place du Carrousel, we were refused
admittance, because Shelley was not in uniform. An
official civilly told us that we might have permission
to enter at the entrance on the Quai. In spite of the
suffocating heat we trudged along the vile pavement,
and the endless facade of the Louvre, to a spot which
was strewn with broken stones. Old building
materials were scattered around, and other houses,
in a rickety condition, surrounded the entrance to the
Musee. I w r as much disappointed at the appearance
of this famous place, and would have turned back, but,
fortunately, we determined to persevere. We were
richly rewarded. It strikes me that the people one
meets look triste; they have suffered too much even
for French buoyancy. Prussian officers were driving
about the streets with laurels in their hats. The
French are completely conquered !

At the grand opera " CEdipe et Telemaque " was
given. The singing was detestable ; the house dirty,
and not nearly so fine as I had expected. But the
ballet was superior to any I had ever seen. There
were five or six dancers equal to the best in

ioo MADAME DE PEYSAC [ch. ix

London. The scenery, and the size of the stage are
both superior to London. The Duke's box was
full of officers— Sir Lowry Cole, 1 Baron Tripp,
Fremantle, Lord Arthur Hill, etc. There were only
two women in the house besides myself! The boxes
and the pit were completely filled with officers and
soldiers belonging to the Allied Armies. There were
many Cossacks present, with puzzled looks depicted
in their faces. The delight that 1 felt in sitting next
to the hero of Waterloo, listening to his cheerful
conversation, is not easily expressed in words. He
seemed to be the youngest, and the gayest of the party.
After the opera the Duke of Wellington proposed
to introduce me to Madame Crauford, to which I
agreed, and we drove with our party to her house. 8

On our arrival we found a dozen women, sitting in
a circle round the room, while a few men were stand-
ing about, talking to each other. The women wore
large bonnets, and cambric muslin gowns. They
looked like a set of housemaids ; and were markedly
demure — so much so, indeed, that, with the exception
of Madame Crauford and her daughter, (who look as if
they had walked Bond Street,) they appeared afraid of
even speaking to a man. One would have taken these
women for paragons of virtue, except for the caution
that it would not be wise to call upon any of them
before four o'clock in the afternoon, for fear of inter-
rupting a tete-a-tete en boudoir! These women were all
frightful except Madame de Peysac, who is very attrac-
tive. I became well acquainted subsequently with this
pleasing little woman ; and, in spite of the tone of
society in which I found her, she appeared to me
to be a most amiable, and thoroughly virtuous woman.
The poverty of her husband made her a sort of

1 General the Hon. Sir Lowry Cole, wounded at Salamanca. He received
in May 1S15 the thanks of the House of Commons for his gallantry at that
battle, b. May 1772.

2 Madame Crauford was the grandmother of the celebrated Count d'Orsay.


humble companion to the Princesse de Benevento.
Several of the English officers, and one in particular
well calculated to please, made various, but unsuccess-
ful, attempts to become interesting to her. She
assured me that the English were much mistaken
in their opinion of domestic life in France— for that
since the Revolution, and with the consequent stop
put to manages de conveuance, which, with few
exceptions, have ceased altogether, there are in-
stances of domestic happiness quite as numerous
as we could find in England. 1

As I came to Madame Crauford's with the Duke
I was mar 1 ,: a great fuss with, and was given the
seat of honour. Although at first everything was
stiff, the Duke soon enlivened the company. We
laughed and had a great deal of fun, which continued
as we drove homewards.

Madame Crauford had produced a robe de porkale of
the latest fashion, by way of recommending her dress-
maker. It was most amusing to watch her agonies, lest
the other ladies should see that robe before she wore
it ; it being the only one of its shape in Paris. That
this lady with her great, broad red face, and fat figure,
should aspire to lead the fashion was extremely droll.

I am told that French society cannot be judged by
Madame Crauford's standard. She is not visited
by people in the best society, and, much as I admire
the Duke of Wellington, I own that he shows no

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 33)