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which had just occurred, was running away, when Napo-
leon said to him : " Stay, giddy-pate, are you going through
the streets without your hat ? "

He returned to the First Consul's cabinet, where he
had left his hat ; the time was not yet come when the
Prince of Neufchatel would not have presumed to enter
the Emperor's presence, even at three o'clock in the
morning, without his coat buttoned, his ruffles, dress-
boots, and his plumed hat under his arm. " Give my
love 1 to your wife, Junot, and tell her that I have a two-
fold quarrel against her : first, because she has not given
the Eepublic a soldier ; and secondly, because she has
made me lose my wager with Josephine. But I shall not
be the less her friend and yours." And again he pressed
Junot's hand and let him go.

It would be impossible to describe the delirium of joy
which was painted on Junot's countenance and actuated
his manners when he returned to me. He bathed his
daughter's little face with tears of delight so soft, so pure,
that it was easy to - see his happiness without his uttering
a word. Then, throwing himself on his knees beside my

1 The words tujiras mes amities was a form of speech very often used
by Napoleon to those he loved.



EXTRAORDINARY CONDUCT OF MY FATHER-IN-LAW. 117

bed, he took my hands, kissed them, and thanked me for
his child, his daughter, his little Josephine.

But notwithstanding his joy, Junot perceived that
something weighed upon my heart which was not con-
nected with my past sufferings.

" What is the matter ? " said he, embracing me again.
" Notliing, but a great deal of happiness." " I know you,
Laurette ; I see the tears in your eyes : your heart is not
at ease. "What is the matter ? "

I looked at him without answering ; the tears rolled
down my cheeks, but I wottld not speak. At this moment
M. Marchais came in. " What ! again ? " he said to me.
" My dear General, you should scold your wife, and the
way I see you employed gives you additional right to do
so ! " Junot at this moment had his child in his arms
and was embracing it. " You shall hear all, then. Oh,
Madame Junot, make no signs to me ; I shall not heed
them ! You must know, then, General, that this young
mother, who is a little heroine for courage, as soon as she
was safely put to bed, and had learned that you were not
at home, sent for your father, that he might give his
blessing to your child. I went myself to seek M. Junot,
but he refused to come as soon as he learned that the
infant was a girl. At length he was persuaded ; but
when Madame Junot, notwithstanding her weakness,
took the babe in her arms to present it to him, saying,
' My father, bless your granddaughter; it is another heart
that will love you,' instead of embracing the child, he
replied in a tone of vexation :

" ' It was not worth while to make all this noise about
a wretched girl. What is your husband to do with this
little crying thing? He will give it a pretty reception
. . . and the First Consul too ! do you think he does
not wish his Generals to have boys?' ,If I had any
authority over your father other than that of a physician



118 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTiiS.

in his patient's chamber, I confess I should have used it
with some severity. I have frankly told you all this
because it is a part of my duty, and because to-morrow, or
the day after, a similar scene might have a fatal effect
upon Madame Junot. It has affected her seriously, be-
cause she believes that the birth of a daugther is a great
grievance to you, and it is in vain that I have represented
to her that a mother of seventeen and a father of twenty-
nine years of age will have time enough to pray for boys
without bemg in despair at a first disappointment, and
meanwhile the grandfather may fret as much as he
pleases."

Scarcely had M. Marchais' first words struck Junot's
ears than he understood the cause of my distress ; and
he seated himself upon my bed and wept with me, while
he dried my eyes with his handkerchief and kisses.

Then, taking up his daughter out of a little basket ^ of
fine embroidered muslin, made on purpose that "she might
lie in it upon my bed, he placed her in my arms, and
embraced us both with an air of such joyful delight as
left no doubt of the sentiments of his heart, which, how-
ever, never could be doubtful to me. But the first mo-
ment of my father-in-law's denunciation was terrible ;
no doubt he had no mtention to injure me, but he might
have killed me. " Mamma," said I to my mother-in-law,
who just then came in, " you were right, you see ; he loves
it as well as if it had been a boy."

" Did not I tell you so ? " replied this excellent woman.
" My son's heart is too good and too noble to entertain
the ideas his father would have given him credit for."

1 This barcelonnette was the tasteful production of Mademoiselle
Olive, — in form of a swan, the feathers of which were embroidered in
relief with white cotton ;'tlie wings, a little spread, made a sort of handle
to lift it by ; the back was open, forming the cradle, and from its neck and
reverted head fell a veil of white Indian muslin for the curtain, which was
gathered up in the beak of the swan.



MEMORIAL OF ST. HELENA, 119

I have been led into some minute particulars connected
with my first accouchement in order to expose the false-
hoods which the Memorial of St. Helena has propagated.
I am confident that the Emperor was wholly incapable
of saying what is there attributed to him in the chapter
entitled " Junot and His Wife."



CHAPTER XII.

I HAVE always been fond of the society of artists and
literary men, and in whatever situation fortune has placed
me I have made it my principal study to assemble around
me the chief talents of the day. Amongst a crowd of
distinguished men I had the happiness of receiving
Nadermann, Garat, Denon, Girodet, Lefebvre, Eobert
the Elder, Lemercier, Millin, Delille, Talma, and many
others.

The last name upon this list reminds me of an adven-
ture in which Talma played a part, certainly not that of
Cinna or Orestes. To what perfection he acted those
dignified parts with which French tragedy abounds is
well known ; but at the time I am speaking of he was
immersed in the gloom of those English tragedies which
he rendered so terrible ; and the contrast made his
gaiety in society, which provoked the cheerfulness of all
around, peculiarly striking.

My readers may remember a certain M. d'OfFreville,
who lived like a salamander in a perpetual fire at Lucien
Bonaparte's mansion of Plessis, and continued to fatigue
every one with his vanity and absurdity. On my mar-
riage he presented himself to me with an epithalamium in
each pocket, and an acrostic upon every one of Junot's
names and mine ; there was no resisting his folly.

His conceit made him ridiculous, and restrained every
sentiment of commiseration which otherwise his age
would have demanded. He was the butt of all his
acquaintances.



THE TKAGEDY OF ST AT IRA. 121

After pronouncing a fine eulogium on himself, he
would walk up and down the room majestically, with one
hand in his waistcoat pocket, and the other playing with
his laced shirt-frill, which was in keeping with the other
ornaments of his dress, — his plaited ruffles, silk stockings,
and buckled shoes.

He had composed a tragedy, on which he had bestowed
ten years' labour to very little purpose ; but he would
rather have renounced his hopes of salvation in another
life than have believed that any production in the world
could be equal to his Statira. "Faith!" said Junot one
day, " this man must be hoaxed ; his incorrigible vanity
deserves punishment."

He furnished us with the opportunity in a very few
days. He came one morning to request I would perform
a promise which, in a moment of gaiety, I had thought-
lessly made him, of procuring Talma's permission to have
Statira read before the Committee of French Comedy.

I was much embarrassed, for I would not for the world
have spoken of this production to Talma, Dugazon, or
Fleury. I answered that I should shortly see one of
these gentlemen, and would report the answer; but the
good poet was not so easily satisfied, and he so strongly
insisted on my giving him a letter of introduction to one
or the other of the committee that I was really puzzled in
what manner to put him off, when, fortunately, Junot
came in and at once extricated me from my difficulties.

" Your work shall be read next week, M. d'Offreville,"
said he in a solemn tone ; " it shall be read at my house by
Talma himself."

" Oh, General, you are too good ! Oh, heavens ! my
work read at Madame Junot's ; at your house, my dear
General, and by Talma himself! it is too much!" Here
was the poet in a delirium of joy at the idea of his tragedy
being read by Talma. I could not understand Junot, but



122 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANXilS.

in two words he let me into the secret. The day was
fixed, Junot arranged the whole affair, and communicated
his project to Talma, who willingly undertook to second
it. Our party consisted of the two Baptistes of the French
comedy, Talma and his wife, Fleury, Dugazon, and Dazin-
court. It was agreed that Talma, as soon as he saw
D'Offreville, should speak to him of his tragedy, of the
part he wished to take in it, and of the pleasure he should
have in reading it after dinner.

I never saw such an expression of extraordmary joy as
that which was portrayed on D'Offreville's burlesque
physiognomy when on my introducing him to Talma the
latter addressed liim with the most hyperbolical praises
of his work, with an air of seriousness which was enough
to make those acquainted with D'Offreville die of laugh-
ing. He bowed, thanked him in broken words, and in
the most rapturous terms concluded by pronouncing
Talma divine.

I think I never was present at a more amusing dinner-
party in my life. The champagne and madeira soon put
D'Offreville into excellent spirits ; and he proposed favour-
ing us with an improvisation, which he had been prepar-
ing from the day he had been assured that Talma would
read his tragedy : but as it was to pass for an impromptu,
he had taken good care not to bring his written paper
with him, never suspecting his memory of treachery.
But the wine he had drunk, and the noisy mirth which
surrounded him, had so confused his ideas that, after giv-
ing the two first lines their highest effect, after shading
his eyes, and enacting all the monkey tricks necessary to
produce a belief in an actual improvisation, he stopped
short, wholly unable to recollect another word.

The total silence in which the whole party were listen-
ins to his recitation and awaitmg its continuation added
to his embarrassment, and made him look absolutely



AN IMPROVISATION. 123^

stupefied. After an interval of becoming solemnity, Gen-
eral Lallemand interrupted the silence. "Indeed, M.
d'Offreville," said he, " it is a sad thing that you cannot
recollect any more of your improvisation." " I beg your
pardon," said he, " I shall continue immediately," and he
again repeated the two unfortunate lines : —

" Say, Muse-loved Talma, does thy voice divine
Deign with immortal fame my verse to crown "



" My verse to crown — my verse to crown ; " and he
would have harped upon the same unharmonious string
for an hour if Talma had not cried out in his inimitable
accent : —

" ' While Tyre's proud walls re-echo my renown.' "

Now, this happened to be a line in the famous tragedy
of Statira ; Junot had whispered it to Talma, who pro-
nounced it instantly, to the admiration of the company.
But D'Offreville saw nothing ludicrous in it ; on the con-
trary, he was ready to worship the man who was already
master of the finest passage of his tragedy. " Is not that
inspired poetry?" said he to Talma; "how your talent
will shine in performing so brilliant a character as that of
my hero ! You are supremely fortunate, my dear sir !
But let me beg you to give me the unutterable pleasure
of hearing these fine lines read with such judgment as
yours ; here is the piece." And he drew from his pocket
the much-honoured Statira, wrapped in vellum, and tied
with fresh bows of rose-coloured ribbon.

This last folly was almost too much for the gravity of
the company. Talma was still holding his cup of coffee
in his hand, when the simpleton gravely proposed to him
to read five acts of pathos consecutively. Talma, in
reply, took him by the arm, and, leading him and me to



124 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

the recess of a window a little out of the noise, said to
him : " My dear sir, I understand from Madame Junot
and the General that your work is full of beauties ; now
I should wish to read this chef-d'ceuvrc with all the
attention it merits, and to be listened to with the respect
I should demand for it. At present this is impossible ;
do you see those wild fellows, Baptiste the younger and
Dugazon "

The latter was at this moment relating to his auditors
that he had once been aide-de-camp to the Commune of
Paris, and describing his adventures in this capacity in
the most laughable manner. " I therefore recommend,"
continued Talma, "that Madame Junot should indulge
us with a promenade in the Bois de Boulogne or else-
where ; we shall converse while we are out upon literary
and theatrical subjects, and when we return in the cool
of the evening our minds will be composed and prepared
to enjoy the delightful impressions which the reading of
Statira promises, and which I engage to assist with my
best abilities."

I seconded the motion, and Madame Talma supported
us ; so that D'Offreville, however anxious for the com-
mencement of the reading, had no alternative ; and as it
was only a pleasure deferred, it was tolerably well re-
ceived. I rang and ordered the horses, which were
already harnessed to three carriages.

On my return to the salon equipped for the ride,
Junot approached me and said, in a perfectly natural
tone : " I understand, my dear, that you intend to take a
drive ; in my opinion you had better pass an hour or two
at the Theatre Montansier, where they are performing a
new piece, which J am told is charming. My box is not
lent, and I will borrow that of the. manager and M.

D ." The name was an invention intended only to

deceive D'Offreville, who would have supposed a scheme



VISIT TO THE THEATRE. 125

laid against himself if lie had found several boxes hired
beforehand ; he was foolish, but not stupid.

Junot's proposition carried the day by acclamation,
and we set out for the Thdatre Montansier, then at the
Palais Koyal. D'Offreville was put under the care of M.
Charles, M. Lallemand, and M. de Laborde, first aide-de-
camp to Junot. On reaching the theatre he proposed to
join me in my box, for the pleasure of conversiag with
Talma ; but this was not exactly the intended plan.
" No, no," said these gentlemen ; " Madame Junot's box
is full ; you are going with us into one where you will
see excellently."

Hereupon they made a preconcerted signal to the door-
keeper, who opened the stage-box to the right of the
audience ; General Lallemand and M. de Laborde pushed
D'Offreville into the box and shut the door, leaving him
tete-h-teU with a man whom he did not know, and
whose appearance was almost as singular as his own.
This man was dressed in a scarlet cloth with copper but-
tons, yellow breeches, striped stockings, an immense
cravat, a powdered wig with a great queue, and a three-
cornered hat badly cocked, which he took off and put on
again ten times in a minute.

D'Offreville, to whom Ms conductors had said, "We
shall return presently," awaited patiently the commence-
ment of the piece. The curtain drew up ; but an actor
in his stage dress came forward to announce that, the
principal actress being extremely ill, the performance
could not take place. "What!" cried D'Offreville's
neighbour in the red coat, with a hoarse voice, " what do
you mean by that ? I have paid three francs and a half

to see the show, and I will see it, or " And here

he stood up, leaning over the front of the box, and vocif-
erating in a great rage. " Sir," said D'Offreville to him,
pullmg one of his red skirts, " it is not usual to talk in



126 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTJfcS.

this manner here ; they will turn you out, sir." " Hem !
what is this fellow saying?" And, turning towards
D'Offreville, the man in the red coat burst out laughins.
"Ah, I know you very well ! You come from the Estra-
pade ; ^ you compose tragedies to make people laugh."
" Sir, sir," said D'Offreville, " pray speak lower ! " And
he attempted to effect a retreat, but in vain, the door
would not open ; for General Lallemand, M. de Laborde,
and M. Charles were behind, holding it fast.

At this moment a voice from the gallery shouted out :
" James ! James ! " and James, who was the man in the
red coat, looked up and answered : " Ah ! ah ! is it you,
John ? Come here my lad , — here is plenty of room ;
come here."

And the accent and attitude of the watermen of the
fens was perfect ; for by this time my readers may have
guessed that the man in the scarlet coat was Tiercelin
the actor, and that the farce they were performing was
Tlie Farce arid No Farce, represented for the second time
only. Tiercelin, who was in the secret, played his part
excellently ; and what made the joke perfect, from my
box, where we could see the whole, was that the audi-
ence in the pit took the introduction of D'Offreville for a
new scene, and every time he leaned forward to Tiercelin
to give his advice, several voices cried out " Louder ! "

The poor author of Statira stood as much in dread of
these cries as of his terrible neighbour, who, seeing the
impression he made upon him, gave him from time to
time a most menacing glance. " Oh ! " said he, " I have
told you I know you; you come from the Estrapade.
You should cry out like John and me upon those thieves
who take our mojiey and give us nothing for it."

The piece proceeded. Tiercelin, or James, as he is
called, was furnished with a gourd, out of which he

1 The Eue de I'Estrapade in Paris.



D'OFFREVILLE DISCOVERS THE JOKE. 127

drank five or six times during the act. Generally he had
nothing in his gourd ; but it happened that evening, hav-
ing a bad cold, that the gourd contained barley-water.
When he saw the apprehension with which he inspired
D'Offreville, it came into his head, to our great gratifica-
tion, to offer him his gourd, recommending him to drink
to recover himself; and to our still greater delight the
other took it, so much was he afraid of his companion ;
and, tasting, notwithstanding his expectation of having
his throat burned with peppered brandy, was not a little
surprised at swallowing nothing but warm water fit to
make him sick. He drank, however, what was in the
gourd, amidst the encouragements of Tiercelin and the
reiterated applause of the pit, which would have been
delighted with this unexpected scene if the new actor
could have been persuaded to speak louder.

But D'Offreville at length discovered the joke, and
immediately precipitated himself head foremost, like a
ram in a rage, against the box-door ; and so furious was
he that when the gentlemen outside opened it, he pushed
through without seeing them. But he was not to es-
cape thus ; and all the young men of the conspiracy sur-
rounding him, he found himself, without the power of
retaliation, once more in my drawing-room in the pres-
ence of Talma. When he commenced his complaints we
all told him he did not know what he was talking about ;
that the box he had been put into was the manager's,
who had given an order to one of the common people, a
waterman, who, it would seem, lived in the Ptue de I'Es-
trapade and knew him, which he had given him to under-
stand by his manner, rather vulgarly, to be sure.

"But," said Junot, "if I were you I should be very
proud of being recognized thus, and for an author, even
by people the most remote from your ordinary asso-
ciates! D'Offreville, I should look upon the meeting



128 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCPIESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

witli this waterman as the greatest homage to your
great talents."

It would be absurd to make such speeches to a man
who understood irony ; but D'Offreville was persuaded to
see in this adventure a circumstance of which he had a
right to be proud : whether it were Tiercelin, or plain
James of the Estrapade, on this point he could not divest
himself of some doubt, but the actor or the waterman had
said : " You compose tragedies ! " This was enough to
make him forget the warm water and the suspicious
character which had been forced upon him.

"And when you are called for on the day of the first
representation of Statira" said Madame Talma ; " when,
having made a sufficient resistance to the demands of an
impatient audience, my husband and I will lead you
between us upon the stage, that the whole house may be
able to see you, — a different homage will then be ren-
dered to your talents ! " D'Offreville listened eagerly, and
seemed to enjoy in anticipation the ecstasy of his tri-
umph. "But where are M. Talma and our Statira V
said he, casting a glance of intelligence on M. Talma.

" Here am I," said Talma ; " but where is the manu-
script ? Come, prepare the table : two wax lights and a
glass of sugared water. But, M. d'Offreville, be so good
as to give me your manuscript ; for though I have retained
many beautiful lines of this immortal work, I have not
learned it by heart." But D'Offreville was more ridicu-
lous at this moment than he had been at any preceding
part of the entertainment. His cherished manuscript was
lost ; nor could he recover it. The truth was that I had
stolen it from the spot where he had concealed it, as the
only means of avoiding the infliction. "My Statira !" he
exclaimed, in a kind of frenzy, as if he was calling his
mistress ; " my Statira ! "

At length supper was announced. D'Offreville, at first



A THOROUGHLY RIDICULOUS CHARACTER, 129

in despair, found comfort in making a capital meal, — a
power which seldom failed him. They afterwards made
him recite some madrigals, and two or three acrostics
upon Laura and Andoche ; then he repeated, as a child
does his lesson, the letter he had received from Voltaire ;
and before rising from table he had become quite as
vainglorious and as complete a braggart as ever. But
when after supper his dear Statira was restored to him,
when he had found upon examination that not a single
absurdity was wanting to it, he proceeded to utter such a
tissue of nonsense that Junot cried out in great wrath :

" This man is absolutely incorrigible." " I have seen
many such characters," said Talma, " but never one so
thoroughly ridiculous."

Did he not wish to have his precious production read
after supper ! " We shall see about that some day next
week," said Talma ; " for to-night, or rather this morning,
I entreat you to excuse me." It was already two o'clock.
" And how am I to return home ? " said the little man.
" You know that Madame d'Offreville would die of grief
if any harm should happen to me." This apostrophe w^as
addressed to me in a somewhat petulant tone ; for he
could not forgive me for the occurrences of the day,
though I was no otherwise concerned in them than as hav-
ing shared the general mirth. "You know," he continued,
''all the tenderness of that incomparable woman !"

The fact was that the wife was quite as ridiculous as
her husband ; I dare say they were attached to each
other ; but to make a parade of love, when their joint ages
amounted to a hundred and fifty years, was of itself
absurdity enough. " Well," said M. Charles, " I am
going to drive you home in my cabriolet." " No, no, I
shall," said General Lallemand. M. de Laborde interfered
with, " I propose myself that honour." " If M. d'Offreville
will trust himself with me ? " chimed in M. Bardin.

VOL. III. — 9



130 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

M. d'Offreville looked at them all in turn ; the remem-
brance of the misadventures of the evening made him
tremble ; but he found M. Charles's countenance the most
inviting. He determined to confide himself to his care ;
and making low bows to M. Talma, who bent still more
profoundly in return, he ascended the slight cabriolet of
M. Charles, to which was harnessed a little mare known
as the most vicious brute in Paris. To his other defects
D'Offreville added that of being timid in a carriage ; and his
apprehension was converted into absolute terror when the
cabriolet took, with the speed of an arrow, the road to the


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