Henriette Louise von Waldner Oberkirch.

Memoirs of the Baroness d'Oberkirch, countess de Montbrison (Volume 2) online

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VOL. 11.



The Count de Montbrison hereby notifies that he reserves the right of
Translating this Work in France.





Chapter I.

Disputes at the Luxembourg — M. d'Aubenton — The
queen's ball — Kemark of the count du Nord — I
speak German to the queen — Supper at the princess
de Lamballes' — The queen dances there — The
French guards — Marshal Biron — Collation for the
countess du Nord — Note from the countess du
Nord — Visit to ChantiUy — The princes of the
house of Conde and of the house of Orleans — Sur-
prises — M. Laujeon — Illuminations — Isle d'amour
— The prince of Conde — Mdlle. de Conde — Hunt —
The celebrated stables— Hunt by torchlight — The
duke d'Enghien — The duke of Bourbon — Stag-
himt — ^Verses— Friendship of two princes .

Chapter II.

Conversation at the countess du Nord's— On the
royal family — About some persons at court — M. de
Maurepas — The marshal de Luxembourg's wife—
Dinner and supper guests — Visit to the duchess
de Polignac — Her connexion with the queen —
Visits to celebrated houses, M. Beaujon — Strange
life of a financier— ' Les Berceuses' — M. de la
Reyniere — Le Sieur Clerisseau — His impertinence
to the count du Nord — Tact of the prince— The


.58 /U. 2




marcliioness de la Eiviere — A new Ljcurgus — The
duke d'Aumont — The marchioness de la !Ferte
Jubault — M. de Barigny — Madame GeofFrin —
Castor and Pollux — Comj^any at the duchess de
Chartres — Madame de Mackan — Madame de
Beckendorf falls ill — I take her place — The queen
and the countess du Nord at Marly — Sevres, mag-
nificent presents - The countess du Nord at the
* Bal d'opera '—The Parhament — M. de Demesson
— The princess de Marsan — Verses on the princess
de Piedmont — Adieux — Departure — Verses —
Triple nonsense — Success of the august travellers
— Remark of the count du Nord .... 23

Chapter III.

Choisy — Reception by the royal family — What the
queen said to me — The magic table— Orleans —
The princes at Lyons — Menard — M. de Marigny —
The Blois accent — Anecdote of Sir WilUam
Hamilton — The count de Marnier — Javotte —
Generosity - A dame damee — Nantes — Marquis de
la Suze — M. de Coeslosquet — M. de la Harpe —
Strange— The Port de TOrient— M. de Pirch and
M. de Wii-tersheim — The 'Powerful' sets sail —
Our dress — Brest — Count Hector — M. de la Motte
Piquet — Departure of seventy ships — Sham battle
— M. Groignard — One of the queen's femmes de
chamhre — Lower Brittany — Belle Isle — Madame
Montesson — The count of Artois and Mdlle. du
The — The duchy of Mayence — The marquis de
Broglia — Brood hens — Broglia chateau — MiM. de
Beauvron — The duke d'Harcourt — Marshal d'Har-
court ......... 51

Chapter IV.

Baron de Bock — M. de Conrobert — Amiens ; arrival
of Prince Baratinsky — The count d'Equevilly — The



princess de Eobecque — The Montmorency family
— Le chien de Nivelle — Dunkirk — Ostend — The
Archduchess Christina, governess of the Low
Countries — The prince of Starenberg — High offices
— Anecdote of the count of Starenberg and the
duke de Choiseul — Prince de Eauwitz — Prince de
Ligne — Anecdote — The nun — Dreikscheid — The
old cities of Flanders — Curious story of the count
du Nord — Strange vision — The Beguinages —
Dinner at the archduchess's — The sick pearl —
Medallion — Court bah. — Simon the saddler — Prince
Galitzin — M. de Markoff— The convent of St.
Michael 81

Chapter V.

Entrance into Holland — We travel in three divisions
— Friendship of the count du Nord for Prince
Kourakim — M. de Krusse — M. de la Fermiere —
We cross an arm of the sea — Prince Galitzin — The
prince and princess of Orange — Tulip mania — The
wooden house —Tastes of the stadtholder — F^te —
Mdlle. de Merverkerke — The duke de Vangugon —
Dispute about precedence — The Hollanders — Cele-
brated garden— Reliance of the count du Nord —
M. Reindeck — Saardam — Souvenir of Peter the
Great — M. Forth Lowen — The Hollanders and
Voltaire — The Count GoloflPkin — The lost supper
— The drunken postihons — The count of Roman-
zofF — The prince-bishop of Liege — The duke and
duchess of Gloucester — Sjoa — Princess Antoinette
of Hesse — Aix-la-Chapelle — The little angel —
Beneficence of the count du Nord — Landgrave of
Hesse Cassel — Arrival of the princes Louis and
Eugene of Wurtemberg — The resident nobility —
Number of princes — I meet my husband and
daughter — Return to Alsace — The storks . . 108


Chapter VI.

Eeturn to Etiipes and Schweighausen — Beception —
Madame Hendel again — The count du Nord — The
reigning duke— Fete at Montb6hard — Inauguration
of the statue of Peter the Great — Departure for
Switzerland — Monument at Etupes — Verses by
Florian — I go to my father — He receives the
princes and their suite — Count Wartensleben —
Prince and princess de Holstein — Duke and duchess
of Deux Ponts — Prince Max — Princess Christina of
Saxe — Clock of the cathedral at Strasburg — M.
Blessing — Cupid transformed into Mars — Duel
between M. de Schomberg and Baron Lefort —
Verses — Superior officers — Eastadt — ]\Iargrave of
Baden — The celebrated Todi — The impromptu
house — Les fetes Thessahennes — Nobihty and
counts of the empire — Countess Hohenheim — Visit
to Hohenheim — English village — M. de la Fer-


miere disguised as a windmiU — The 'Solitude' — ■
' LTr-sN^isch ' — Splendid hunt — Affectionate letters
— Mdlle. de Cramm again — We set out for Stras-
burg — Keflections 141

Chapter VII.

Bankruptcy of Prince Rohan de Guemenee — Noble
conduct of the princess — The duchess de Pohgnac
is made governess to the royal children — Under-
governesses — The countess and MdUe. de Soucy —
Madame de Crequi — M, de la Harpe — Betrothment
of Princess Elizabeth and the Archduke Francis of
Austria — Birth of a princess — Catherine II. — Two
letters from the grand-duchess of Piussia — The
court — An evening at Etupes — Lottery — Ladies
of honour — Marchioness de Vernouillet — MdUe.
de DomsdorfF — Prince-abbot of Rathsamhausen —
M. Frouchin — Anecdote of Voltaire — MM. de



Wargemont — Captain Loto — Councillor Eossel —
Madame de Scliack — Madame de Danitz — The
lesser passions of society . . . . .169

Chapter VIII.

The duchess de Bourbon at Montbehard — Particular
attention — Her character — Her marriage — The
duke's passion for her — Accident to the duke
d'Enghien soon after his birth — Coolness — Mar-
chioness de Barbantane — Countess de Hunolstein
— The duke of Bourbon at the camp of St. Eoche
— Sohtary walks — Confidence — MdUe. de Camilhac
— Madame de Monaco — Madame de Courtebonne
— Mdlle. Michelet, of the Opera— Scene at the " Bal
d' opera " — Becomes public — The king interferes —
Duel between the count d'Artois and the duke de
Bourbon — The count d'Artois visits the duchess
— Their reception at the opera — Indifference of
the duke of Chartres — Princess Henin . . .184

Chapter IX.

The cadogans — Conspiracy against powder — Fair and
red hair — Archduke Maximilian — Prince of Hesse
Darmstadt — M. de KeUermann — Birth of Princess
Alexandrina — The ladies' aurds and the ladies'
nieces — Dignitaries of the chapter of Remiremont
— Death of the count de Waldner — On mourning
— The bailiwick of Saxe is asked for my uncle —
Letter of the Grand-duchess Marie to the Arch-
duke Maximihan — The Teutonic order — Mer-
gentheim — M. Michel — Command of the duchess
of Bourbon . . 196

Chapter X.

Paris and the duchess of Bourbon — The Tuileries —
Gentlemen leave off swords — The 'carabas' and



the ' pots-de-chambre ' — Madame de Dietrich —
M. Ochs of Basle — Three amiable women — M.
Qiiinquet and M, Lavoisier — ' The Marriage of
Figaro ' — Verses — Mdlle. Contat — The young
postulant — The devotee and Peter the Cruel —
Baron de Thunn — M Thelusson — M. Desguerres —
Duchess de la VaUiere — Duke de Chatillon —
Suf)per in the open air at the duchess de Bour-
bon's — Baroness de Zuckmantel — Marquis de Deux
Fonts — Forbach — The Bethune Pologne — What
that means — The new Minotaur — Princess de
Bouillon — Rodogune — The queen in the grove of
Apollo — Dinner at Madame de Mackan's — M. de
Villefort — Duchess de Beauvron — Marquis de
Harcourt — No more eating — Expedient — The
j)rince de Conde 209

Chapter XI.

Parisian fashions — Mdlle. Bertin and M. Sick — The
galleries of the Palais Royal — Epigram on the duke
de Chartres — The three branches of the royal
family — The Danaides — Mdlle. Guimard — Verses
— Concert at the count d'Albaret's — The pubhc
amuser — He mimics Voltaire — Scene — Madame de
Montesson — Madame de Genlis — Madame Mara
and Madame Todi — Baulard — Mdlle. Dugazon —
Petit Bourg — Walk with the duchess of Bourbon
— The duke de Chartres— Confidence — The witch-
craft of the regent — The count of Modena and the
devil — The Autichamp family — Champrosay —
Weakness of the duke of Orleans — Kiss— M. Du-
perron— Marquis of Brunoy — Licentious plays —
Return to Paris — Misalliances — The deserted wife
— The 'grand' and 'petit' Palais Bourbon — Ill-
judged waggery at the Tuileries — Scandal set afloat
by a gentleman attached to the suite of the count
of Artois 232


Chapter XII.


Marchioness de Persan — Nouvelle a la main —
Countess de Bose — I go to Versailles with the
duchess de Bourbon — Storm — Choiseul drawing-
room — Marshal Biron — 'Atys' — Marchioness de
Larocheiambert — Countess de Balbi — Baroness de
Beseuval — Eemark — Count de Melfort — King of
Sweden visits the duchess de Bourbon — Anecdote
of his presentation to Louis XVI. — Viscount
Balincourt — Madame de Houdetot's verses on
the duchess de la VaUiere — Duchess de Bourbon
adores the blessed sacrament — The 'Beau Boule-
vard ' — Mesmer — Martinez Pascalis — Saint Martin
— Animal magnetism — Vestris — MdUe. St. Hu-
bertin — Fontainebleau — The eve of the presenta-
tion — The " lionours " — Testimonials — Decision of
the king — Exceptions to the required testimonials
— Testimonials necessary for taking one's seat in
the royal carriages — The honours of the Louvre
— The ' Tabouret ' — The right of putting on royal
mourning — Marshal de Castries — M. de Breteuil —
My presentation — The queen's game — Duchess de
Quiche — Countess d'Ossun — Viscountess de Polas-
tron — Countess de Chalons — Ladies presented in
1784 — Princess de LambaUes — Pleasantry of the
count d'Artois — The fan — Armida — Bagatelle —
Baron Zuckmantel — Singular distraction — M. de
la Galisi^re— Abbe Moselles 266





Disputes at the Luxembourg — M. d'Aubenton — The
queen's ball — Eemark of the count du Nord — I speak
German to the queen — Supper at the princess de Lam-
balle's — The queen dances there — The French guards —
Marshal Biron — Collation for the countess du Nord —
Note from the countess du Nord — Visit to Chantilly—
The princes of the house of Cond6 and of the house of
Orleans — Surprises — M. Laujeon — Illuminations — Isle
d'amour — The prince of Conde — MdUe. de Conde — Hunt
— The celebrated stables — Hunt by torchlight — The
duke d'Enghien — The duke of Bourbon — Stag-hunt —
Verses— Friendship of two princes.

Hth June. — The countess du Nord was very fond
of morning excursions, particularly in my society,
as that reminded her of our dear Montbeliard.
We went to the Luxembourg to see the picture
gallery, which is one of the most beautiful in tlie
world. The palace of the Luxembourg awakens
many a thought of the past. We were shown the
chambers of Mary de Medicis and of the great
Mademoiselle. We remarked as somewhat sin-
gular, that this palace has always been the theatre
VOL. 11. B


of discord. It witnessed tlie quarrels of Maiy de
Medicis and Louis XIII. ; of Mdlle. de Mont-
pensier — first with her father, Monsieur, Gaston
d'Orleans, afterwards with her mother-in-law, Ma-
dame de Lorraine, and her sisters, the other
daughters of Monsieur, her equals in rank, though
her inferiors in fortune. This palace was afterwards
the ahode of Madame de Berry, daughter of the
regent, who stood in drawn battle against the whole
world ; and in our own days of the count de
Provence, who does not seem to agTee very well
with anybody. Certain places are in the order
of Providence destined for certain things. From
the Luxembourg we went to the Jardin du Roi :
there had been preparations made to receive their
imperial highnesses in the cabinet of natural
history and of natural philosophy. We first ex-
amined the hothouses and plants. The cabinet
of natural history is unrivalled in its collections
from the animal, mineral, and vegetable worlds.
We saw several interesting experiments on gases,
phlogiston, &c. &c.

The extensive information possessed by the
count du Nord, is a matter of universal astonish-
ment. Nothing in the arts or sciences seems a
mystery to him ; he takes an interest in every-
thing, and possesses the happy art of always saying
that which is most flattering to the person and the


nation. M. d'Aubenton is delighted with the
count. The following verses were addressed to
him on this occasion. It must be confessed that
the Parisians have a passion for rhyming : —

Peter, the Great so justly styled,

Amongst us once instruction sought ;

Lowly in foreign lands he toiled,

And fame and wisdom thus he bought.

From us he learned then : to-day

The debt his heir doth well repay.

After the visit to the Jardin du Koi, I returned
home to dress, that I might go to Versailles, where
the queen this evening gave a fancy ball. I had
not yet learned to accustom myself to the annoy-
ance of going, in full dress, in a carriage from Paris
to Yersailles ; one could scarcely be more uncom-
fortable ; and the ladies, who several times in the
week practise this postilion exercise, ought to be
weary of it.

The ball was delightful ; there was a profusion
of wax-lights and girandoles. The drawing-rooms,
which are well known, were dazzling, especially
the gallery. The entire court were dressed in
their best. The ladies who danced wore white
satin dominos, a small hoop, and short train. The
count and countess du Nord attracted, as usual,
great attention ; the one, by his ease of manner
and the pointed elegance of his expressions ; the
other, by her grace and beauty.



The dress of the princess was magnificent. She
wore the celebrated chalcedonies, of which so much
has been said. They were the most beautiful in
Europe. The queen was never weary of admiring
them ; and the princesses came alternately to get
a close view of them, for they were too dazzling
when seen from a distance.

A little incident of this evening served to call
forth that refinement of mind and elegance of ex-
pression, which had done so much honour to the
count du Nord during^ his residence at Paris. The
crowd, anxious to see him, pressed in the direction
in which he and the kino^ were advancing' to take
their seats. The king complained of the pressure ;
the count du Nord drew back immediately, say-
ing —

" Sire, pardon me : I am become so French,
that I fancy, like the others, that I cannot come
too near your majesty.''

The queen danced with the grand-duke. Never
was any one more graceful or more dignified than
our august sovereign. The beauty of her form,
and the queen-like grandeur of her bearing, are
beyond all praise. I happened at one moment to
be behind her and the grand-duchess.

" Madame d'Oberkirch," said the queen, " I pray
you to say something in German, that I may know
whether I still remember it. I am no longer


acquainted with any language but that of my new

I said something in German. She remained
some moments thoughtful and silent.

" Ah ! " said she, at length, " I am indeed
charmed to hear this old Teutonic ; you speak
German like a Saxon, madame — without the Al-
satian accent, which astonishes me. What a noble
language the German is ! but the French, that
seems to me, from the lips of my children, the
softest idiom in the world."

This august princess always loved France dearly,
whatever her calumniators may say.

One of the most striking coup-d'oeils that I have
ever seen, is that of the royal family at a ball, when
all the court is assembled. There is a gracious
majesty in the bearing of the queen, particularly
in her airs de tete, which is peculiar to herself.
The kindness and affability of the king are ex-
treme. Their majesties are followed by Madame
Elizabeth, and all the princes and princesses, all
attended by their respective suites. The effect is
magical, as well by the c^uantity and splendour of
the jewels, as by the gold and silver embroideries,
and the richness of the stuffs. Those who have
not seen this tableau vivant can form no idea
of it.

The fete was not prolonged to a late hour ; these


ceremonious assemblies are not amusing : when all
has been seen, everybody is anxious to retire. We
were the more anxious, on this occasion, to with-
draw, as we were to sup with the princess de
Lamballe, the superintendent of the queen s house-
hold, and the friend of her majesty. This princess
is of Savoy-Carignan, married to the son of the
duke de Penthievre, the poor prince de Lamballe,
who died so young ; she is consequently sister-in-
law to the duchess de Chartres. She is beautiful
and fascinating, and a model of every virtue ; par-
ticularly of filial piety towards the father of her
unhappy husband, and of devoted affection to the
queen. The princess had invited their imperial
highnesses by order of her majesty, who wished to
pass this evening with them, and to procure them
an additional pleasure. The society was not nu-
merous, but very select. After supper we played
at lotto, a game at that time much in fashion, and
at which a great deal of money was lost. I had
the honour of being seated near the countess de
Provence ; all the royal family were present. After
lotto, dancing was introduced ; the queen danced
a quadrille. This little ball was, beyond com-
parison, gayer than the former. The king only
showed himself for a few minutes, and then retired.
When he was gone, pleasure was no longer yoked
by deference, and all enjoyed an easy intimacy


wliicli the presence of the queen in no way re-

We left Versailles to return to Paris at four in
the morning. A night passed at a fete seems
great dissipation to a person of my quiet habits. I
fell asleep in the carriage : the weather was de-
lightful ; it was broad day, and the peasants were
repairing to their daily labours. What a contrast
between their calm, contented faces, and the weary
expression of our features ; the rouge had fallen
from our cheeks, — the powder had been shaken
from our hair. The reverse of a fete medal is not
beautiful, and is calculated to inspire many philo-
sophic ideas to any one who is willing to reflect.
M. d'Oberkirch laughed at me because I com-
plained. He had a very good maxim : — '' Those
who go through pleasure as a task, and who com-
plain when their work is accomplished, do not
deserve to be amused/^

I complained much, and was but little amused ;
the one implies the other.

9th June. — I slept until noon, and if I had not
been called, I would have slept much longer. I
was to accompany Madame Je Beckendorf to the
Champ de Mars, to see the French guards go through
their exercises. On the previous evening the count
du Nord had visited the depot : he went on foot,
and was received by the marshal de Biron, colonel


of the French guards. The prince Baratmsky ac-
companied his imperial highness. The grand-duke
passed a very agreeable morning : he visited the
pupils who are being trained for the regiment, and
tasted their soup. The marshal turned towards
the young man who had lent his spoon, and said—

" Preserve the pewter spoon carefully, and re-
member that the count du Nord has made use
of it/'

The count du Nord had, the evening before, re-
lated all this, which inspired us with a still livelier
interest for this noble regiment, which is composed
of three thousand picked men. What a splendid
coujo-cVoeilthey -presented I The old marshal marched
at their head, commanding and directing them with
the vigour of a young man. The Champ de Mars
was crowded to excess, the people thronged around^
all were so gay, cries of joy, hurras, and shouts of
applause re-echoed from all sides. I have never
had so close a view of the Parisians, or been so well
able to appreciate their character. They drank
and sang to their full content, whilst some danced
to the sound of music. Their imperial highnesses
were much amused. This mode of proceeding did
not at all resemble that of our Paissians and Ger-

The suite of the count du Nord, and that of the
marshal, were most brilliant. The French and


Muscovite gentlemen, all dresssed in their most
brilliant costumes, sparkled in the sun. Amongst
the spectators were many officers in uniform.

After the various exercises, the count du Nord
visited the soldiers in hospital, amongst whom he
distributed a considerable sum of money. The
solicitude of the marshal de Biron for the poor men
was truly paternal. He knew each, called him by
name, and inquired minutely into the state of his
health. This procedure touched the prince even
to tears.

" These are my children,'' said the marshal; "we
have passed many years together: I would like to
see them happy, and cannot allow them to want
anj^hing when they are ill."

The marshal prayed the countess du Nord and
the ladies, as well as the grand-duke and his officers,
to partake of a collation at his hotel, in the rue
de Varennes. The table was laid in the garden,
which is the largest in Paris, and covered with a
profusion of fruits and flowers that embalmed the
air. The band of the regiment was concealed in
the grove, and played the most melodious airs.
After the repast, their imperial highnesses made
a circuit of the company, and spoke to all the
officers : they afterwards visited the groves, the pavi-
lions, and summer-houses. The countenance of the
marshal was beaming with joy.


On returning to their abode, the illustrious tra-
vellers sent five hundred louis to the soldiers of
the French guard, that they may refresh themselves.
This money was accompanied by a little note from
the countess du Nord, written with her own hand,
and addressed to the marshal de Biron, This note
v>'as couched in the most charming words. The
marshal kept it as a trophy, as he said. After
this collation, I called on Madame de Beckendorf,
and in the evening visited the Rubens' gallery at
the Luxembourg. I have nothing to say about
this gTeat painter — all that could be said has been
repeated a hundred times.

lOf/i June. — I was oblio'ed to rise at the dawn
to make my toilette. These full-dress toilettes are
terribly wearisome, especially when performed so
early in the morning. We were to go to Chantilly
to the prince de Conde, and it was necessary to be
in time for dinner. This party was, in my opinion,

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