Louise Florence Pétronille Tardieu d'Esclavelles Epinay.

Memoirs of Madame d'Épinay online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryLouise Florence Pétronille Tardieu d'Esclavelles EpinayMemoirs of Madame d'Épinay → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






— 1




























lv«:^ty of






(Courtiers and
^ourites Oj

Music at d'Epinay's

From the painting by Kainmerer

Courtiers and Favourites
of Royalty

[Memoirs of the Court of France

With Contemporary and [Modern lUiistrations

Colle^ed from the

French U^ational <-/lrchivcs


Leon Vallee



cMadame d'Epinay

In Three Volumes
Vol. Ill


Societe des 'Bibliophiles

New York

{Merrill &■ "Baker


Limited to One Thousand Sets



Chaptxr XVI (continutd).


Portrait of M. de Margency — The army of Germany — M. de Jolly as
Madame de Pompadour's ambassador Z

Chapter XVII

Saint-Lambert in the field with Grimm — Madame de Pompadoor s
desire to become ruler of Neufchatel — Life at La Chevrette—
Mademoiselle d'fipinay's character — M. d'fipinay reappears on
the scene for a moment — Madame d'fipinay refuses Rous-
seau's affection — Philharmonic association of Francueil and M.
d'fipinay — Meetings between ;Rousseau and Madame d'Houde-
tot — Conversation between Rousseau and Madame d'fipinay on
the subject of education — Intimacy and subsequent rupture be-
tween Madame d'Houdetot and Madame de Verdelin — News from
the army — Gloomy pictures — M. de Margency's affected letter
— A grand dinner at the Hermitage — Saint -Lambert's sudden
return — Rousseau in Paris at Diderot's house — Desmahis turned
religious — Diderot prevents D'Holbach from going to La Chev-
rette — Rousseau, Saint-Lambert, and Madame d'Houdetot to-
gether Z4

Chaptkr XVIII

Madame d'fipinay's comments upon the past and future — Ronsseaa
imagines that she is keeping Saint-Lambert informed — His fury
— Warlike notes — He goes to fipinay to avoid a scandal —
Hurried departure of Saint-Lambert — Therese's chattering — M.
de Croismare and Mademoiselle d'fipinay — News of the battle of
Hastenbeck — M. de Jully's letters about Geneva — The D'Holbach
household — The Abbe de V * * * — Grimm's return — His conver-
sation with Rousseau — Madame d'fipinay's unaccountable illness
— She has to leave Pau-is — Grimm wants Rousseau to accompemy
her — Diderot stirred to action by Grimm — Rousseau revolts —
Madame d'Houdetot's endeavours to keep the peace — Grimm's
final attack upon his old friend — Rousseaa defends himself —
Definite rupture . . . M


Chaptbr XIX

News from Madame d'Epinay — How the philosophers prepare to
explain Rousseau's departure — The part which Diderot is mads
to play — His poetical declamations against Rousseau, who
proudly decides to leave the Hermitage — Arrival of Madame
d'fipinay at Geneva — Voltaire's attentions to her — Publication
of the "Lettre sur les Spectacles" — Tronchin enlisted amongst
the author's enemies — M. de Margency quarrels with D'Holbach
— Last appearance of Francueil — Return of M. d'fipinay from
Geneva — Pictures of Genevese life — "Les Delices" and the
d^shabilM of Voltaire and Madame Denis — M. de Jnlly's
amiability — Madame d'Esclavelles visits Diderot in Paris at
D'Holbach's— Rousseau leaves the Hermitage .... 144

Chapter XX

Madame d'fipinay at Voltaire's house — Madame d'Houdetot and
Saint-Lambert again — Madame le Vasseur — Portrait of Voltaire
by Madame d'fipinay — Saint-Lambert defends Rousseau —
Madame d'fipinay's popularity at Geneva, as being the friend
of Rousseau — M. d'fipinay's opinions in regard to the educa-
tion of his son — Rousseau's last letter — Madame d'fipinay sends
for Grimm, who, after some delay, arrives — The stay at Geneva
prolonged — Madame d'fipinay proposes to get her writings printed
— Voltaire's censure 203

Additional Correspondence of Madame d'fipinay .... 243

Letters from J. J. Ronsseaa to Madame d'fipinay (not inserted in the

Memoirs) 264

Select Letters of Madams d'fipinay to various persons • • . 880



Music at Madame b'^pinay's. Frontispiece.

Course of Study from the Writing of the Dauphin. pa»k

Baron Grimm 14

The Chevalier St. Lambert 16

Entrance to the Forest of Fontainebleau ,22

A Visit to Rousseau at the Hermitage 46

The Battle of Hastenbeck 88

Geneva ........ 96

Jean d'Alembert ........... 178

Diderot 220

BoussEAU IN his Last Illn£SS 278

niriquBa ddl lo §nilnw ecil moil ybujS b dzwoD

■{VT.f I n'/; ,^!fi,inr.rT invjiunntA" ?.hi;M ^o alr.n.jitr;/ 'jL)i/',(|t.,:idi<M t,fi) moil
ssIIeV riooJ )o riciJosiib 3d) tsb'iu bsHqin^oJori'^

Course of Study from the writing of the Dauphin
corrected by Bossuet

From the Bibliutheque Nationale of Paris "Manuscrits franjais, No. 13,79?"

Photographed under the direction of Leon Vallee
especially for this work





CHAPTER XVI {continued).

From M. Grimm to Madame d'Epinay.

I HASTEN to thank you for your letters, my dear
friend ; they have given me sincere pleasure. I
should have liked to shed a torrent of tears while I
read them, but I am so unhappy that neither
sorrow nor joy can make me weep. Your poor
friend, always surrounded by onlookers, cannot
abandon himself to his feelings ; he is in a state of
perpetual constraint ; you know how that suits me.
You can guess how weary I feel, and attribute to
that alone the feeble expression of my gratitude
and affection. I did not need to be separated
from you to feel that my heart is united to yours
by the strongest and most indissoluble ties ; but I
feel more than ever that you could replace every-
thing for me, if I were allowed to live as I please.

You are delighted at the favour I enjoy ; ah !
do you not see how far it removes me from you ?
It will need all my cleverness to secure all the

VOL. Ill I


advantages offered to me. If I did not flatter
myself that I should succeed, I should not speak so
calmly to you about it. I admire destiny and that
upon which a man's position and fortune depend.
What have I done to deserve mine ? What will
not many people do without being able to secure
the like ? They would be happy if they could do
so ; and yet I am not.

My dear friend, I wait for your letters with an
impatience which you can never conceive. I am
uneasy about your health ; I do not know why,
but I cannot convince myself that it is good. The
milk diet should be commenced with the utmost
precaution. I should like to reply to all your ques-
tions at once ; I do not know with which to begin.
Amuse yourself without injuring your health,
and then I shall enjoy all your pleasures. It is
impossible for me to talk to you as I should like,
my dear friend ; we are in too great confusion.

The courier is just starting ; I must make haste
to close my parcel. If I do not have a letter to-
morrow, I shall be greatly to be pitied. My re-
gards, etc.

From M. Grimm to Madame d'6pinay.

My dear friend, you tell me nothing new about
Diderot ; I guessed that he would hinder the
negotiations about La Chevrette ; although he
said nothing definite to me, I presumed that it
was bound to be so. You see, my dear friend,
how difficult it is to destroy prejudices ; however,
it may come to pass, if you can take upon yourself


to do nothing in the matter. Leave things alone ;
time manages everything. If that honest head,
which possesses such beautiful eyes, no longer
worries about cleansing itself from offences of
which it is innocent, it will insensibly confound
its enemies.

Nothing that the Baron d'Holbach has told
you ought to make any alteration in your mode of
life, or in the manner in which you treat each of
those of whom he has spoken to you. What can
they say ? It seems to me that you ought to hold
the following opinion in regard to these matters :
Duclos is a rascal, therefore you turned him out ;
Desmahis is a madman, you need not try to cure
him ; Margency may chatter, but what does it
matter to me ? What can he say ? The more in-
timate he becomes with you, he is bound to think
better of you ; he is a very agreeable companion ;
you should be on neither better nor worse terms
with him. I advise you always to answer the Baron
very lightly in regard to this, and to cut short the
thread of his chatter ; he is very fond of talking,
and that only makes mischief. Whatever reason
you may have for wishing Diderot to think well of
you, if he does not, so much the worse for him ;
you will do admirably without him, and you will
be none the worse for it. Seek your resources in
yourself, my dear friend ; and who ever had
more than you ? Every look that you direct
towards yourself ought to beautify your existence
and to make it precious to you. By treating
your friends with uprightness and confidence, you

I — 2


will gather round you agreeable and honourable
society, and you will derive from friendship the
only advantage that one has a right to expect
from it.

I cannot, by -the -way, refrain from advising
you to act with the greatest caution in regard to
Rousseau. I have for a long time thought his
behaviour towards you not quite straightforward.
He does not venture to speak ill of you, but he
allows others to speak disparagingly of you in his
presence, and he makes no attempt to defend you.
I don't like that.

So my dear friend has always had an idea that
I mistrusted her ? What a suspicion I You know
very little of me if you think that I am a man to
adopt the impressions of others when I am able to
see and judge for myself. Confess that you are
unjust, my friend, and believe that, if I often
do not say what occupies my attention, it is not
want of confidence that keeps me silent, but the
fact that I am not fond of arguments or useless
reflections. There is often not a word of truth
in the conjectures which hope or fear makes us
form ; and besides, why should we flatter ourselves
with expectations or alarm ourselves prematurely ?
For instance, I have more than one idea in my
head for settling down near you ; but my views
depend upon so many " ifs " and " buts," that I
could not say anything rational to you. We
must leave it to time to bring about each circum-
stance, and, when the time comes, I will speak.
Trust to me ; you know whether you are dear to


me or not ; destiny may vex us greatly, but it
only rests with you to make me always happy.

M. de Croismare's son has had the measles ;
he will remain at Cambrai until he has quite re-
covered. Tell the Marquis that M. de S*** has
handed the money, which he intrusted to his
care, to his brother. Also inform him of my
feelings towards him ; they ought to be known
to him.

It is execrable weather here ; nothing but rain.
Everything is under water. I am told that it is
the usual weather in this country. I did not need
this additional circumstance to make me dislike it.

Adieu ! my dear and incomparable friend, I
carry your image in my heart. May you be as
happy as I desire I You do not know how dear
you are to me, since you have suspicions of my
confidence in you. Adieu ! I beg you will give
my respects to Madame your mother, and em-
brace the dear children for me, if Mademoiselle
Pauline's dignity is not offended.

I bless the Comtesse for having stopped the
visit to Chantilly.

From Madame d'6pinay to M. Grimm.

Yesterday, when I was going to begin to write
to my dear friend, I received a visit from the Com-
tesse d'Houdetot. She seemed gayer and wilder
than ever ; she wearied me, for I am not at all in
that frame of mind. She told me I might expect
to see her here on a few days' visit with Madame
Blainville. I shall do all I can to avoid her, if


possible without offending her, for her sister-in-
law's kindness is heavy and unendurable. The
Comtesse wishes to make the acquaintance of
the Baron d'Holbach and his wife. I will have
nothing to do with it. The Baroness, who knows
her slightly, does not like her at all. On the
other hand, if the Baron speaks to me about her,
I will beg him not to be influenced in this respect
by any wish to oblige me, or any feeling of regard
for me; and, while praising her disposition and
character, I will say nothing about the unsuit-
ability of this connection.

Mademoiselle le Vasseur has just been to see
me. She tells me that, a few days ago, Rousseau
had a fearful quarrel with M. Deleyre, and nearly
turned him out of the house. His temper grows
more unmanageable every day ; she declares that,
since his last visit here, he spends his days and
nights in tears ; she and her mother cannot under-
stand the reason. He talks to himself during
the night. He cried out the other day : " Poor
Madame d'Epinay, if you only knew ! " No one
knows what he means. He says that he is coming
to stay a fortnight here, that he has a number
of things to confide to me, and that he has always
found himself benefited by my advice. But it
seems to me incredible, although Mademoiselle
le Vasseur assures me that it is true, that the
Comtesse d'Houdetot visits the hermit nearly
every day, and that they have been forbidden
to tell me. She leaves her servants in the forest,
and comes and returns alone. Little Le Vasseur is


jealous. I myself think that either she is lying or
that they have all lost their heads.

The Baron came to dine and spend the day
here ; it was wretched weather, and we did not
leave the fireside. He is to come back to spend
Easter here with his wife, and I think that that
is all I shall see of them ; they have already told
me that they can hardly leave Paris. I am lucky
not to need them, my friend ; you see what use
they are to me ! As for the Marquis de Croismare,
he is in love with Mademoiselle la Grive, who sold
him some maps cheap last week ; she and her
collection of commonplace trifles will prevent him
from coming for some time.

Oh, my friend ! how fastidious you have made
me ! I feel it every day. I used to be very fond
of M. Margency's society, when I saw him from
time to time in Paris — but, from morning till
night, and tete-a-tete! I do not believe that any-
one in the world but you would be able to
endure such a trial. My companion's indolence
is positively enervating to see ; he is never in
the same mind for fifteen minutes together. If
I try to talk, I do not find a single idea in his
head ; at other times I discover a crowd of them,
but all so mean, so utterly insignificant, that they
are lost in the air before they reach the ear. He
sticks like grim death to the opinion of the
moment, and then, to one's utter astonishment,
gives it up a quarter of an hour afterwards without
being asked to do so. He begins thirty different
things at once, and never keeps up one ; he is


always delighted with what he is going to do,
and tired of what he is doing ; the most sublime
piece of writing only inspires him with scorn, if it
unfortunately contains any expression that offends
his ear. I am sure that he would not forgive the
handsomest woman in the world if her hair were
badly dressed. He also has an aversion for
everything that smacks of the provinces. He
is not wanting in penetration or cleverness, but
I have never found him grasp a vigorously con-
ceived idea, or one out of the common. I wanted
to tell you all this ; I like him very much, but I
would rather be alone, or have some companion
who would unite and amalgamate his fancies with
mine, which are many. Really, without this
reflection, I should perhaps already have taken
a dislike to him.

I thank you for your explanation of your atti-
tude of reserve, which I confess had worried me
somewhat. I throw myself at your feet and do
justice to your sublime prudence. What you say
on this subject has made me laugh. It is so true
and so exactly like you that it is impossible not to
yield. Yes, my friend, it is not to-day for the
first time that I feel that I can trust myself to
your guidance without misgiving ; you inspire me
more and more every day with that kind of security
which is enjoyed by a child asleep on its mother's

Yesterday, I began to take milk in the evening ;
it agrees with me admirably, and I have never felt
so well in my life. Do not be in the least uneasy


about me ; all my privations and my care for my
health have become my chief pleasure next to that
of writing to you ; but, whereas the latter is only
momentary, the former is continual. In other
respects, I am neither cheerful nor sad, but a
trifle absent-minded and rather melancholy. Such
a state has its charm, and I find it hard to forgive
those who attempt to get me out of it. The
picture of your life which you have drawn is
always present to my mind. It is certainly I
who have reason to think myself unhappy ! I am
able to abandon myself to my melancholy and
dejection, while you, who are always subjected to
annoyance, have scarcely time to write. You only
wanted this punishment, I this privation! I am
going to try and find some pleasant and useful
occupation for myself.

I read to Pauline the paragraph in your letter
in which you mention her and her brother, and
ask permission to embrace her. She looked at
mamma and said: "I think we may let him."
** Yes," said my mother, laughing, *' but only until
he comes back." ** All right," answered Pauline,
** and then we shall see."

From M. Grimm to Madame d'^pinay.

The Camp «^ ***

After three days' march we have halted here
before continuing our journey to ***, where we
shall arrive on the 30th. I am waiting to hear
from you, my dear friend, and I am well. That


is all that I can tell you in my present state of
confusion, surrounded as I am by people who take
no interest either in you or me, and who have
something else to think about. Write to me as
often as you can ; I trust in you. As I had
foreseen, I shall have to go through the whole
campaign, without being of any service and with-
out being with myself. I had written a letter to
the Comtesse of C*** on this subject when I left
Paris ; she showed it to the Due d'Orleans, and
wrote me a reply, in accordance with the answer
he gave, which drew from me tears of gratitude.

We are advancing, and the enemy does not
retire ; but, in spite of that, I can hardly believe
that a battle will take place. There is great talk
of peace, and I catch at the news with avidity.
Be so kind as to send me the gazettes regularly.
Believe me, my dear friend, however eagerly I
desire to talk to you, it is quite impossible in the
midst of fifteen people who are making a fearful
racket. However, I will write to you as often as I
can. When you do not hear from me, do not be
uneasy, but be sure that it has been impossible for
me to write.

You overwhelm me by writing so regularly ;
continue to do so, my dear friend, I beg of you ;
your letters are my only consolation. I congratu-
late you upon enjoying as you do the beauties of
nature. Oh, you were born under a lucky star !
I implore you, do not miss your vocation ; it only
rests with yourself to be the happiest and most
adorable creature upon earth, provided that you


do not put the opinion of others before your own,
and know how to find satisfaction in yourself

I am delighted to hear about your health.
Oh ! if you could only continue well while I am
far from you, I think I could almost console my-
self for our expedition into this accursed country.
We lead a tolerably hard and very magnificent
life. We have left the heavy baggage at * * * ;
but, in spite of that, on every march it takes three
hours for the train of our indispensable necessaries
to pass. This is scandalous, and I am more than
ever persuaded that the world is made up of abuses
which a man must be mad to attempt to remedy.
I envy you your good fortune in being able to plan
schemes of work ; I wish I were in the same posi-
tion ; but we live three in a room, sometimes more.
I dare not speak to you of my tortures any more.
Adieu I my dear friend. I have already begged
you, and beg you again, not to wait for my letters.
I am in excellent health, and nothing, good or bad,
can happen to me except through you.

You do not tell me how your mother is : I
assume that she is well. Give my respects to her.
I have so much to say to you and so little time
that I must defer it to another occasion. I am
writing a few lines to M. de Margency.

From Madame D'lfepiNAY to M. Grimm.

I knew that M. de Jully had for a long time been
endeavouring to obtain some post in the department
of foreign affairs ; but, having failed to obtain what


he wanted, and apparently having some reasons
for avoiding Paris, which nobody can guess, he has
decided to accept the Residency at Geneva. He
came yesterday to tell us. My mother and myself
in vain exhausted all our efforts in representing to
him that his resolution was exceedingly odd ; that
he was going to expatriate himself and make him-
self miserable for life, by leaving and deserting a
family to which he might be indispensable, as he
would be to my children, to us, to the Comtesse
d'Houdetot. It was no use ; he has made up his
mind to expatriate himself for a few years : so he
declared to us with the obstinacy with which
Heaven has endowed him. He agrees with all
our arguments, and none the less adheres to his

" But, my dear brother," I said to him, " if
you only intend to leave Paris for a few years, why
do you not travel without binding yourself to an
inferior post ? " He replied, like the Comtesse de
Pimbeche : " My dear sister, I want to be bound."
We cannot make it out at all. What appears to
me even more singular is his choice of Geneva, for
he is devout even to meanness.

In short, he is going to leave within two
months ; but I am afraid he is taking a foolish
step. Do you know what I foresee ? He will set
out ; he will reside at Geneva, since he has made
up his mind to do so ; he will be bored to death ;
then he will return to Paris, where he will play a
very insipid part after this freak, and in this manner
he will lose the respect which his honourable


character and mediocrity had gained for him. It
is said that it is the Marquise de Pompadour who
has put this folly into his head ; what is certain is,
that she openly plays the part of his patroness,
and that he praises her to excess.

The Comtesse d'Houdetot is deeply grieved at
her brother's folly ; we all look at it in the same
light. But she is still more grieved at the fact
that the detachment in which the Marquis de
Saint-Lambert is serving is going to Westphalia.

As for myself, having exhausted my grief, I feel
inclined to take men as they are, and to amuse
myself at their expense. I will begin with you,
my friend. Tell me, for instance, what you mean
to do with the gazettes ? This request appears to
me altogether fantastic. Do you want to learn
what you did three weeks before ? or do you wish
to read the future in them ? As I know nothing
about them, I will send them to you that you may
inform me what one ought to see in them.



From M. Grimm to Madame D*]fepiNAY.


I HAVE received no letters to-day, and have
returned to the frightful solitude in which my
soul will always be plunged when I no longer
hear of you. Sadness, uneasiness, impatience,
and weariness are my companions in this desert,
and will not leave me until the moment when I
shall be able to rejoin you. Oh, my dear friend, I
only live for you ; my heart is closed to every other
feeling but this, which absorbs it entirely. To
help me to endure my absence from you, I seek in
vain for the firmness and energy of which I was
sometimes capable ; I can no longer find them.
You pity me, and I need it greatly ; you are very
generous, far more so than I believed. From the
outset you appreciated my situation, and felt how
painful it was for me. Your letters are full of

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryLouise Florence Pétronille Tardieu d'Esclavelles EpinayMemoirs of Madame d'Épinay → online text (page 1 of 22)