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as that English Colonel — that dandy who is said to be
the handsomest man in England, and whom I can com-
pare to nothing but the Prince of Coxcombs. "

This expression, a dandy, ^ was a favourite word with
Napoleon for designating men who displeased him. In
the present instance he alluded to a tall Englishman
called Colonel or Captain Matthews, and who passed for
a devourer of hearts — English ones, be it observed. I
could not avoid laughing still more heartily at this idea
of the First Consul and his pretensions to elegance and
fashion ; whereas he had at that time an utter antipathy
to everything that is called fashionable, and showed it
in the most unqualified dislike of such young men as
had the misfortune to pass in the world for agreeable and
elegant. Soft speeches, graceful attitudes, and all other
qualifications of a beau, he treated with even more bit-
terness and contempt than he generally bestowed on the
persons he most disliked. Madame Bonaparte presently
afterwards made an observation in praise of M. de Fla-
haut, who, she said, possessed a variety of talents,
" "Wliat are they ? Sense ? Bah ! who has not as much
as he ? He sings \yell — a noble talent for a soldier, who
must be always hoarse by profession. Ah, he is a beau !
that is what pleases you women. I see nothing so ex-
traordinary in him; he is just like a spider with his
eternal legs. His shape is quite unnatural ; to be well
shaped " Here his speech was broken in upon, for

1 Godelureau,



170 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTES.

being at that time much given to laughing, I could not
restrain a second fit on seeing the First Consul look with
complacency at his own small legs (which, like his
whole person, were then very shapely), covered with silk
stockings, and a shoe sharp-pointed enough to have pierced
the eye of a needle. He did not finish his sentence,
but I am certain he meant — " to be well shaped his leg
should be like that. "

And yet no being could have less vanity than Napo-
leon ; he was neatness itself, and extremely particular in
his dress, but made not the slightest claim to elegance.
For this reason the movement which approached his
hand to his leg as he mentioned the spider legs of M. de
Flahaut^ set me laughing by its naivete. He both saw
and heard the laugh, and, what is more, he understood
it, and coming towards me again said : " Well, you
little pest! What do you find to laugh at? So you
must make game, in your turn, of my legs. They do not
figure as well to your fancy in a country dance as those
of your elegant friends. But a man may both sing and
dance without being a dandy. Let me ask yourself,
Madame Junot, if Talleyrand's nephew is not a pleasing
young man ? " My answer was ready. The person he
alluded to was Louis de Perigord, who, as well as his
brother and his sister, now Madame Justus de Noailles,
had a large fortune ; he was then nineteen years of age
and already united to the acuteness of his uncle a sound
judgment, sprightly wit, polished manners, and a vivid
resemblance to his father's person. The last is a eulogium
in itself.

Napoleon, then addressing Josephine, said : " I desire
you will be dazzling in jewellery and richly dressed ; do
you hear ? " " Yes, " replied Madame Bonaparte ; " and

1 This gentleman was subsequently one of the aides-de-camp of the
Emperor.



JOSEPHINE'S CHARMING MANNER. 171

then you find fault, perhaps fall into a passion, or you
erase my warrants of payment from the margin of my
bills. " ^ And she pouted like a little girl, but with the
most perfect good-humour. Madame Bonaparte's man-
ners possessed, when she chose it, a seducing charm.
Her graciousness might be too general, but undeniably
she could be, when she chose, perfectly attractive and
lovable. When the First Consul announced his wish
regarding her toilet, she looked at him so prettily, walked
towards him with such graceful sweetness, her whole
manner breathing so evident a desire to please, that he
must have had a heart of stone who could resist her.
Napoleon loved her, drew her close to him, and embraced
her. " Certainly, my dear love ; I sometimes cancel your
warrants of payment because you are occasionally so im-
posed upon that T cannot take it upon my conscience to
sanction such abuses ; but it is not, therefore, inconsistent
to recommend you to be magnificent on state occasions.
One interest must be weighed against another, and I hold
the balance equitably though strictly. Here, I will tell
you a story which will do wonders as a lesson if you will
but remember it. Listen, too, " — beckoning us to draw
near, — "listen, too, you young giddy-pates, and profit
by it.

" There lived at Marseilles a rich merchant who re-
ceived one morning, through the hands of a young man
of good family and fortune, a letter strongly recommend-
ing the bearer to his notice : the merchant, after having
read the letter, instead of either throwing it aside as
waste-paper, when he found that it covered one only of



^ This circumstance happened many times. I have myself seen two
bills erased with the Emperor's own hand ; one was for linen, the other
for essences and perfumery- " You have your own linendraper, Made-
moiselle L'Olive," said the Emperor ; " why try an unknown warehouse f
You must pay these new fancies out of your allowance."



172 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

the foiir sides of the sheet, tore it in two, placed the
written half in a leaf of his portfolio, and the other half
that would serve for writing a note upon into another
portfolio, which already contained a number of similar
half-sheets. ^ Having attended to this act of economy, he
turned towards the young man, and invited him to dinner
for that very day. The youth, accustomed to a life of
luxury, felt bvit little inclination to dine with a man
apparently so mean. He accepted the invitation, how-
ever, and promised to return at four o'clock. But as he
descended the narrow counting-house staircase, his mind
rapidly reverted to the observations he had made upon that
small gloomy room, with the two long offices which led
to it, encumbered with dusty ledgers, and where a dozen
young men were working in melancholy silence ; he then
repented of his folly in accepting the invitation. The
duties of the toilet were discharged more for his own
satisfaction than in compliment to the host who expected
him ; and that done, he proceeded to the banker's house.
On arriving there he desired to be conducted to the mer-
chant's lady. A number of valets in rich liveries led him
across a small garden, filled with rare plants, and after
conducting him through several apartments sumptuously
furnished, introduced him to a handsome drawing-room,
where he found the banker, who presented him to his
wife, who was young and pretty, and elegantly attired :
he himself was no longer the unattractive-looking person-
age his guest had seen in the morning, while the manners
and conversation of fifteen or twenty visitors, who were
assembled in the drawing-room, led to the inference that
this house was one of the most refined in the city. The

1 Paper was far more costly at the beginning of the century than it is
now. Any one who has much correspondence also knows that the space
taken up by it would be half as much again if every blank sheet were
also filed.



BONAPARTE'S STORY, AND ITS MORAL. 173

viands were excellent, the wines exquisite, the table
covered with an abundance of massive silver-plate ; in
short, the young traveller was obliged mentally to admit
that he had never partaken of more delicate fare or seen
a greater display of magnificence ; and he was more than
ever confounded upon ascertaining from one of the persons
near him that the banker gave a similar entertainment
twice a week. Wliile coffee was serving, he ruminated
on all that he had witnessed. The banker, observing
his fit of abstraction, succeeded, by drawing him into
conversation, in finding out the cause of his perplexity,
and observed emphatically : ' You are too young to under-
stand how masses are formed, the true and only power;
whether composed of money, water, or men, it is all
alike. A mass is an immense centre of motion, but it
must be begun — it must be kept up. Young man, the
half-sheets of paper which excited your derision this
morning are one among the many means I employ for
attaining it. ' "

I was much struck afterwards by this idea of masses as
the foundation of power, so characteristic of Napoleon's
policy.



CHAPTER XVI.

The First Consul said one day to Junot, " You and
your wife see a great many foreigners, do you not ? "
Junot replied in the affirmative; and in truth, English
and Eussians, the latter especially, constituted the chief
part of our society. Junot had just bought a country
house at Bievre, where we frequently had large parties;
and the First Consul had given us for the baptismal gift
of my little Josephine the house in the Champs-Elysdes,
which enabled us to receive our guests with convenience,
and creditably to fulfil the duties of the post Junot occu-
pied, as well as those to which he was bound as the old-
est friend and servant of that astonishing man on whom
the eyes of the whole world were at this time fixed.

To such an extent was this admiration of Napoleon
carried, that it sometimes happened that Englishmen
came to France only for a few hours, went to the parade
of the troops in garrison, saw the First Consul, and
returned to England. Junot enjoyed this tribute of in-
terest. I have sometimes seen a dinner interrupted for
half an hour, while the company listened with avidity to
his account of his favourite General's glorious early
years. The ladies were not outdone in curiosity respect-
ing the previous life of Napoleon ; they asked even more
questions than the men.

We had for neighbours in our new habitation a Rus-
sian family, whose enthusiasm for the First Consul sur-
passed that of his most ardent admirers. This was the
Diwoff family; the Countess Diwoff, in particular, had



PRINCESSE LOUIS DE ROHAN. 175

such an exclusive passion for him, for his glory, for his
most trifling actions, that Junot and I did not hesitate
to admit her to the intimacy she demanded, and which
the proximity of our respective residences increased ; so
that I always found pleasure in spending an evening with
my little sister, as she insisted on my calling her, though
thirty years older than myself, and the more so as her
many parties included all the foreigners of distinction
in Paris.

One of Napoleon's peculiarities, perhaps but little
known, was his extreme aversion, during the Consulate
and the first years of the Empire, for the society of for-
eigners and of that of the Faubourg Saint Germain, but
amongst the travellers with whom France was then inun-
dated were a few whose names he held in consideration,
and a very limited exception was made in their favour.
He had generally some bitter remarks to make upon per-
sons of notoriety, whose reputations had preceded them in
France.

No one was more the object of these remarks than the
Princesse Louis de Eohan, alias Priiicess Troubetskoi,
Duchess of Sagan, Duchess of Courland — I scarcely
know by what name to call her, filled as the history of
her life is with divorces. Her beauty at this period could
not be questioned ; but it was not to my taste. I may
be deemed fastidious, and I will plead guilty ; but I could
never like those snowy charms, destitute of all animation
— that swan-like transparent skin — those eyes, whose
only expression was pride ; a pride for which it would be
difficult to assign a cause, unless it was intended as a
compliment to the memory of her grandfather, Biron. I
could discover no beauty in that neck, certainly fair, and
dressed in the most shining satin, but stiff, formal, and
devoid of feminine grace. This is an attraction which,
however, she ought to have possessed, for she ruined



176 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

herself in husbands — a singular article to set down among
tlie expenses of a pretty woman, but it was nevertheless
true.

A clause in the last marriage contract stipulated that
M. Louis de Eolian should have a pension of 60,000
francs in case of a divorce demanded by the Princess ;
but if the demand was made on his part it was to be but
12,000. M. de Eohan, therefore, left matters to the
will of Providence, or rather to the will of his wife, con-
tenting himself with the enjoyment of present possession,
without disturbing himself about the future. Various
strictures of the Princesse de Eohan upon the Court of the
Tuileries, and especially upon his sisters, had reached the
First Consul, who in consequence, perhaps, concerned
himself more with her than he would otherwise have done.
One evening he enlarged upon the absurdity of founding
pretensions on rank and riches, in a country altogether
Eepublican, and where all such distinctions were con-
founded in perfect equality.

" Mr. Pox, " said he, " will always hold the first place
in an assembly at the Tuileries, and Mrs. Pox would in
France always take precedence of the Princesse de Eohan,
because the reputation of her husband is reflected upon her.
As for Madame de Courland, as she is called, I really do
not understand upon what high merit she founds her right
to treat with rudeness a people who do not desire her
company, and are well versed in her pedigree. "

This sally showed me the danger of injuring those who
have not attacked us. There can be no doubt that the
First Consul, desirous as he was of preserving with the
young Emperor the friendly relations he had held with
his father, would have been particularly gracious towards
a lady who was partly his subject, had not her own pro-
ceedings drawn his ill-will upon her. The airs of the
Princess were especially ill-judged at a period when



THE DUCHESS OF COURLAND. 177

France, so great in herself, saw assembled within her
bosom all the greatest and most illustrious denizens of
England, Germany, Italy, and Eussia.

"N-Vlien the Princess trespassed on the rules of polite-
ness, which continually happened, the source of her high
pretensions was naturally looked into, and her genealogy
was found to be but of seventy years' standing, — suffi-
cient, it is true, to confer nobility on a really illustrious
extraction, but by no means adequate to support an hered-
itary title to arrogance.

The Duchess of Courland, her mother, united with a
haughty carriage considerable amenity of speech and man-
ner, and pleased me much. She had been beautiful —
more so, indeed, than her eldest daughter. I was not
acquainted with her daughter, whom they called Eccel-
Icnza; but I think the beauty of the Duchesse de Dino,^
the youngest daughter, incomparably preferable to that of
her eldest sister ; there was more fire, more feeling, more
intellectual vivacity in one of her black eyes than in the
whole person of Madame de Sagan. At the time I am
speaking of, however, she was a child, and could not enter
into rivalry with her sister. A\1iat an admirable pic-
ture is Gerard's of the Duchesse de Dino ! It is the most
enchanting of the children of the desert. Her turban,
her robe, the sky which surrounds her, all is in harmony
with the Oriental character she assumes ; the picture, like
all others from Gerard's hand, is admirably poetical.

Madame Dolgorouki, of whom I have before spoken,
had the power of being extremely agreeable if she had
had the inclination, but this was unfortunately wanting.
She found us more lenient in our judgment upon her than
her own countrj'men, one of whom. Prince George

^ The Duchesse de Dino was married to a nephew of Prince Talley-
rand in 1809, and died in 1862. Her career in the political world is well
known.

VOL. Ill, — 12



178 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

Galitzin, declared a mortal enmity against her. I have
known few men so witty, but he was too satirical to be
liked. Without absolute misanthropy, he was no friend
to human nature, which was neither good nor amiable
enough to please him, but such characters as the Princess
Dolgorouki he persecuted incessantly. The Prince was
for ever in pursuit of some of her absurdities, her pride,
her literary pretensions, her passion for splendid attire ;
he drew admirably, and possessed the difficult art of
making the most exact resemblances in caricature.

Who does not remember with sensations of tenderness
and pleasure the charming Pole, Madame Zamoiska ? How
attractive was her mild, amiable, and intelligent coun-
tenance ! The sweetness of her disposition, the grace of
her manners, and the symmetry of her figure ! Her hus-
band, though colder in manner than is usual with the
Poles, was agreeable and much liked in society.

The lovely Lady Conyngham, since so celebrated in
England, was then in the first bloom of that beauty which
acquired such general and just admiration, though I must
confess that a countenance so devoid of expression could
never interest me. In contemplating the Venus de
Medici, I know that the almost divine vision before me
is but a marble statue, and look for no smile responsive
to mine ; but in a living and intellectual being I have a
right to expect something more than mere regularity of
feature — some emanation of mind ; the face of the beau-
tiful Marchioness, however, exhibited none.

She was extremely elegant, dressed well, and carried
her solicitude for her complexion to the extent of saving
it by spending the day in her bed, from which she rose
only in time to prepare for a ball or other evening engage-
ment. Lord Conyngham was a striking contrast to his
wife. The Duchess of Gordon, who, in her masculine
language, often hit upon a witty truth, once said of him :



LORD YARMOUTH. 179

" Lord Conyngliam ! Oh ! He is a perfect comb — all
teeth and back. "

The English Ambassador, Lord Wliitworth, appeared
to have been selected by his Government expressly for
qualifications likely to prove disagreeable to us. His
fine figure and handsome face could not atone to French
society for his haughtiness, in which his wife, the Duchess
of Dorset, seconded him to admiration. Their manners
speedily rendered both so unpopular in the circles they
frequented that their stay at Paris must have been any-
thing but pleasant to themselves ; his lordship, however,
knew it would not be of long duration. There were other
Englishmen in France of greater distinction, for origi-
nality at least, if for no superior attribute.

Amongst these was Lord Yarmouth, now Marquis of
Hertford, respecting whom a greater diversity of opinion
was entertained as well by his own countrymen as ours ;
but one qualification which he indisputably possessed was
a clearness and acuteness of intellect rarely met with in
the most subtle Venetian or Gascon. The faculties of
Lord Yarmouth's mind were incomparably more penetrat-
ing than those of his countrymen generally, whose capaci-
ties, however extensive, are for the most part slow of
conception. Young as he then was, an indifferent
opinion of his fellow-creatures was but too visibly im-
printed on his features ; his countenance, his smile,
expressed utter coldness, or a sardonic and cynical criti-
cism of all that was passing around him. The world
of fashion was not to his taste ; but when he was induced
to j)ut on harness, as he termed it, he made himself
perfectly agreeable to those with whom he associated.
He was passionately fond of gambling, and played nobly
and generously.^

1 Thackeray's portrait of the Marqnis of Steyne (in " Vanity Fair ")
will be recalled by this passage.



180 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

One of the new-comers, who was generally well re-
ceived, was the Count Philip von Cobentzel, Imperial
Ambassador to the French Eepublic. I never knew a
man whose excellent sense and judgment, courteous
manners, and goodness of heart, were more perfectly in
harmony with talents of the highest order, or more
absolutely out of keeping with his countenance and the
whole exterior man. His person was less comic than his
cousin's, when the latter received couriers in black silk
breeches and puffed hair — but scarcely less unusual.

In contrast to Count Louis's slovenliness and perpetual
action. Count Philip, a little man, was neatness and pre-
cision personified. Amongst his striking peculiarities
may be reckoned his well-tied queue, and his front hair
carefully turned up above the forehead, which gave him a
perfect resemblance to the ace of spades, a nickname which
was accordingly given to him ; his dress, always strictly
suited to the season, of the make of Maria-Theresa's
Court, and most incongruous with the fashions of the
day ; his clear shrill voice, like that of a good old active,
gossiping woman; and the odd constraint of his gait^
shuffling between the quick pace, most natural and con-
venient to him, and the slow motion which he considered
most becoming to an ambassador. With all these eccen-
tricities he was an excellent man, of observant habits and
retentive memory, and chatted freely and very agreeably
with such persons as pleased him.

He was once the subject of a humorous incident. At
a ball at my house, about two o'clock in the morning,
the Duchess of Gordon took Count Philip by the hand
and led him down the whole length of an English
country-dance, at that time the favourite amusement,
and introduced 'about four times at every ball. The
Duchess bustled about not the less actively for her
respectable rotundity, dragging after her the illustrious



AN ODD COUPLE. 181

diplomatist, not in the habit of moving his slender legs
with such impetuosity.

The Count, who enjoyed a joke, but did not relish
being its object, was conscious of the ludicrous spectacle
in which he was figuring; the unrestrained joviality of
his partner, howevei, got the better of his vexation, and
he good-humouredly attended her up and down the dance,
making one of his formal bows whenever he asked her
hand, acquitting himself on the whole with good grace,
and laughing heartily afterwards at the mad prank in
which the Duchess had made him share. The singular
effect of a couple so oddly assorted, not only with each
other, but with the young and merry group amongst
whom they mixed, might well make an impression
which time has not effaced from my mind.

Wliile passing in review the persons who in 1802
enlivened the society of Paris, I must not omit my
beloved friend Madame Demidoff, who created a great
sensation there by the luxury and splendour of her estab-
lishment, which exceeded all that had yet been witnessed
in Paris since the Eevolution. Her husband, who was
then a different being from when we last saw him on his
road to die in Italy, but neither more amusing, good-
humoured, nor agreeable, gave fetes and balls, as he
afterwards did at Florence ; but in 1802 my amiable
Elizabeth was present to do the honours of his house,
and the fine salons of the Hotel de Praslin were continu-
ally opened to a joyous multitude, happy not only in the
gaiety of the scene, but in the charm, so seldom experi-
enced in such crowded assemblies, of a friendly and kind
reception. Madame Demidoff did not, however, bestow
her affections indiscriminately ; it was not every one that
she loved, but there was a magic in her simplest word or
look which charmed all who approached her.

" I am very glad to see you, " said she, in her soft



182 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTi:S.

sweet voice, smiling, and inclining her head with a grace
peculiarly her own. And these simple words, addressed
to a stranger whom she saw, perhaps, for the second or
third time, comprised all that the most cordial hospi-
tality could offer; but when any one she loved, myself
for example, approached, " How happy I am to see you ! "
said she ; and the pressure of her hand and animation of
her countenance plainly spoke her sincerity. Madame
Demidoff was not pretty, and yet she was universally
pleasing ; because she possessed charms which are superior
even to beauty, — unaffected grace and suavity. Who
that has seen her waltz can forget her sylph -like move-
ments ? unequalled in ease and suppleness by any other
person I ever knew, except Madame Lallemand.

During the visits of these distinguished foreigners in
Paris much attention was directed to the treasures of art
it contained, as well as to the specimens it afforded of
the national industry and skill. I had hitherto, from
various causes, more particularly from my attendance
upon my dear mother during her long illness, been pre-


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