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vented from becoming acquainted with the extent of these
splendid objects, and accordingly embraced eagerly the
opportunity now afforded me of making many excursions
in the company of artists and scientific men, in order to
gratify my taste for the arts. When the First Consul
heard of this, he reproached me for not including our
foreign visitors in the parties. " You are the wife of the
Commandant of Paris ; it would be an agreeable way of
doing the honours of the city to show your friends that
we are worth the trouble they take in visiting us. "



CHAPTER XVIL

In compliance with the expressed wish of the First
Consul, several English and Eussian friends were invited,
to their great satisfaction, to join our excursions to view
the objects of art; and M. von Cobentzel, hearing that
strangers were admitted, begged to be included among
the elect, and was not refused. The recollection of his
travelling costume affords me, even now, a portion of
that hilarity with which my young mind first scanned it.
He arrived at my house at twelve o'clock, accoutred like
Baptiste the younger, in the Orator ThvMvted, with the
exception of the helmet, the absence of which was fully
redeemed by a little tumed-up three-cornered hat, and all
this preparation was for a ride, not to the Valley of
Montmorency, but to the Rue de Richelieu, or the
Louvre.

He proved, however, the best and most agreeable of
companions on such occasions, for he was remarkably
well informed, and could converse with interest on all
scientific subjects. Among our most intelligent and
most polite guides were Millin, Denon, the Abb^ Sicard,
who was at the head of the Institution of the Blind ; M.
Lenoir, of the Museum of the Petits-Augustins ; and
Reigner, Director of the Armoury.

David was also one of our most useful cicerones.
Although he and Robert did not very readily understand
each other's vernacular tongue, they were both versed in



184 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTi:S.

the language of science, which needed no interpreter
between them. I indulged a few moments of pride in
the triumph of French talent over foreign prepossession.
The name of David produced at first rather a singular
effect; but the mist of prejudice speedily dispersed in
presence of the head of our regenerated school, and David
was not only received, but sought after by all that was
noble or enlightened in Paris, even from the most distant
lands. It was, however, in his own gallery that the
victory was completed. His Belisarius was there to be
retouched, which is not the less a fine picture for being
somewhat inferior to Gerard's. There is poetry in the
old soldier recoiling with surprise and pity at the sight
of his aged General, blind, and soliciting alms. It must,
I think, have been this picture which inspired Le Mercier's
admirable cantata, for I can call it notliing else, which
Garat has so finely set to music.

We visited the Gobelins ^ and other manufactories of
Paris, and extended our excursions to some leagues' dis-
tance, to Jouy, Virginie, Versailles, etc., and amongst
other curiosities saw the steam-engine of Chaillot, called
the Perrier waters, which Paris owed to the skill of two
brothers of that name in 1778.

A circumstance not generally known, relating to the
Perrier waters, is the controversy between two highly
celebrated men on the subject of the original company's
proceedings. Beaumarchais and Mirabeau were the par-
ties in this paper war, which degenerated into virulence

1 It has been generally said that this establishment was first instituted
by Colbert, the Minister of Louis XIV. This, however, is a mistake.
Jean Gobelin had a manufactory on the same site as the present, about
the year 1400, and chose this spot, as well as many other dyers, owing
to the excellent quality of a small stream, the Bievre, for the purposes of
dyeing woollen goods. This man realized a fortune, and added consider-
ably to his premises. Subsequently Colbert purchased the whole, and it
thenbecame a royal manufactory.



MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES. 185

and abuse for want of temper on both sides ; not content
with carrying it through the medium of the journals,
pamphlets were circulated, which are now extremely
scarce, and not to be met with at all in the shops,
Mirabeau accused Beaumarchais of making a stock-
jobbing affair of it. The fact is that, several proprie-
tors having treated with the Government, the latter
came into sole possession, and the pumps were placed
under the direction of public functionaries.

One of our earliest visits was paid, as may be supposed,
to the Museum of Paintings, which, independently of
the curiosity so admirable a collection (then the finest
in the world) must universally inspire, was moreover a
novelty to the Trench themselves, as the gallery had been
but a very short time adorned with those numerous cliefs-
d'ceuvre that we had snatched from barbarism and indif-
ference, and in many instances, as may be proved, from
approaching and total ruin.

The establishment of the Museum of Painting and
Sculpture, in the situation it now so admirably occupies,
is due to M. Thibeaudeau, who, in 1792, was a member
of the Committee of Public Instruction, where his voice
was as influential as it deserved to be ; and the Conven-
tion, in compliance with the report of that Committee,
ordered the establishment of a National Museum, and
fixed the 10th of August in that year for its opening.

On the first opening of the Gallery of the Louvre for
the reception of works of art, nearly five hundred and
fifty paintings, by the first masters of every school, were
deposited in it; but it was not till 1798 that the museum
was enriched by that profusion of inestimable treasures of
art, from Italy, Piedmont, Holland, and the Netherlands,
which rendered it the first in Europe.

In the spring of 1800 they were opened to general
inspection ; but the restoration of such works as had sus-



186 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

tained injury was not completed till 1801, when we were
at length enabled fully to enjoy the rich fruits of our
various conquests. Denon had himself restored many of
the finest productions to more than their pristine beauty ;
these were yet in the Grand Salon of the Louvre, waiting
to be placed in the gallery, where they were to make an
incalculable addition to the value of the treasures already
committed to his charge. ^

The Gallery of Apollo had been opened to the public a
few days previous to our visit, and contained a new
treasure, consisting of original drawings, not only of
French painters, but of all the Italian schools. There we
contemplated the first ideas of Eaphael, Carlo Maratti,
Michael Angelo Bounarotti, Leonardo da Vinci, Cor-
reggio, Guercini, the three Caraccis, Julio Eomano,
Perugino, Tintoretto, and a number of other illustrious
names. Denon told me that this gallery had always
been dedicated to drawings, which, however, till the
resurrection of our Museum, remained nearly in obscurity,
though amounting in number to more than eleven thou-
sand, principally by Lebrun, Jabach, Le Sueur, Lanoue,
Poussin, and others, whose slightest efforts are deserving
of attentive study.

There were, however, but few drawings of the Flemish,
Dutch, and German schools. Amidst that profusion,
where the eye, fatigued with the beauties and wonders
of the Italian school, reckoned more than three hundred
original drawings of each of the famous painters I have
mentioned, but one could be found of Eembrandt's, one
by Ruysdael, and three by Teniers, so fertile in the pro-
ductions of his easel. At that time we had only one

^ The Institute had- published notices of the paintings exhibited, and
Denon, though a contributor to that catalogue, had himself compiled a
similar one. Both contained curious details respecting the pictures and
their adventures. The walls of the gallery then displayed twelve hun-
dred and forty pictures by the first masters, and of all the schools.



TREASURES OF ANTIQUITY. 187

drawing by Van Huysum ; Eubens alone produced seven-
teen or eighteen.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the rarities that enriched
the Gallery of Apollo ! Magnificent tables of the finest
mosaic, ancient bronzes, Etruscan vases, etc. ; and in the
adjoining room how many precious curiosities were
deposited !

The Museum of Armoury was not in existence at the
time of our rambles, but was already commenced under
the superintendence of M. Eeigner, and we were shown
at his house a number of singular curiosities : such as a
small missal, enclosing a pistol ; an ancient emblazon-
ment, partly effaced, was still sufficiently distinct to
indicate its having been formerly the property of a high
dignitary of the Church. M. Eeigner had already amassed
a large collection of rare and curious arms, which his care
had preserved from the revolutionary wreck. Many not-
able articles from the Chateau of Chantilly and the
Eoyal wardrobe were in his possession.

The armour of Joan of Arc and Charles the Bold were
also among these treasures of antiquity. Joan's armour
was not complete, yet the weight of the remaining por-
tions amounted to sixty-six pounds. This feminine
panoply was of most singular construction, uniting the
uttermost extremes of deficiency in safety and ingenuity
to avoid fatigue. I know not whether Agnes Sorel was
attired in similar armour, when on her white palfrey she
occasionally followed her royal paramour to the field.

During a visit we paid to M. Charles, a scientific man,
who had constructed in the upper story of his house a
magnificent camera obscura, a ludicrous incident occurred.

M. von Cobentzel had solicited the addition of one of
his private secretaries to our party, for the purpose of
taking notes of all that passed under our observation;
and he desired the poor secretaiy to go down to the court.



188 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

walk twice across it, and when in the middle to take off
his hat and make us his best bow. The unfortunate
wi"ht, who did not much like the part he was to perform,
set out with all the reluctance of a jaded horse. To
descend two or three hundred steps, then mount again,
and afterwards return by the same circuitous route, and
all for the simple purpose of making a genuflexion, was
not indeed calculated to afford much diversion to the
actor; but he would have been amply repaid could he
have witnessed the intense delight of M. von Cobentzel.
No sooner did he perceive his man at the extreme point
of vision than he broke into the most joyous exclama-
tions. As he advanced, the raptures increased ; but when
at length the secretary, faithful to his injunctions, stopped
in the middle of the court, and made us his three obei-
sances, civilly taking off his hat, as every man who
knows how to salute is in duty bound to do, oh ! then
M. von Cobentzel screamed with delight, as children do
the first time they see the magic-lantern — clapped his
hands, danced, and returned the salutations of the secre-
tary, addressing him in German ; in truth, it must be
confessed, in extenuation of his absurdity, that it was
not a little amusing to see before us, at the distance of
a hundred and fifty or a hundred and eighty feet, a little
figure offering to our view, not a resemblance, but the
very identity of a person who, but the moment before,
was of our party.

The Cabinet of Medals and Antiques was much less
frequently visited during the Consulate than at the pres-
ent day.i Millin, its guardian, was truly proud to

1 A slight history of the formation of the Cabinet of Medals will not
be uninteresting here. The Cabinet was not always in the royal library.
It was commenced at the Louvre. Francis I., who appears to have been
the first King of France who interested himself in such subjects, collected
some gold and silver medals of the Middle Ages, not to form a cabinet,
but as ornaments for his apparel, and for that purpose had them set in



HISTORICAL MEMORIALS. 189

usher us into his own domain, as that portion of the
National Library confided to his care may be properly
called. Such historical memorials of the earliest ages
and of all nations offered an interesting field of investiga-
tion, and half the pleasure we derived from it may fairly
be attributed to our learned instructor. The medals,
when we saw them in his keeping, were not yet arranged
with all the care which had been bestowed on them before



rich gold and silver filigree. He was followed by Catherine de Medicis,
who brought an abundant store of such curiosities from Florence.
Charles IX. increased his mother's collection by that of the learned
Groslier. But the civil wars, the commotions excited by the League,
produced an era of destruction that nothing could resist, and the medals
were almost entirely pillaged and dispersed. The good King who suc-
ceeded would willingly have remedied all the evils of those disastrous
times : he recovered some of the stolen gems, and summoned the learned
Bagarris to Paris, to superintend the Cabinet of Medals he intended to
form. But, alas ! death intervened, and his son, a perfect cipher, did not
concern himself with following up the plans of his predecessor. Bagarris
quitted Paris, carrying with him the treasures he would have contributed.

The fine Cabinet of Medals and Antiques of the Louvre was at length
instituted by Louis XIV., that is to say, by Colbert, who, far more
deserving of the name of " great " than his vainglorious master, aug-
mented that rich collection by whatever treasures his extreme economy
enabled him to purchase : he despatched enlightened connoisseurs into
Switzerland, Italy, and Greece, to select the most valuable specimens ;
but it would seem that a sinister fate has invariably attended an institu-
tion which should be distinguished in the annals of science alone. In
1662 the Due d'Orleans, father of the celebrated Mademoiselle, bequeathed
to the King all the rarities, medals, and manuscripts in the Chateau de
Blois, where he resided ; and Bruneau, the well-informed keeper of the
collection, was appointed by Louis conservator of the medals of the roj-al
cabinet. In November, 1666, this unfortunate man was assassinated and
robbed in the Louvre itself ; and the circumstances of the crime made it
apparent that the medals were the object of the assassins. The precious
deposit was, in consequence, transferred to the royal library, which was
then, as it is now, in the Rue Vivienne.

An antiquary named Vaillant enriched the Cabinet of Medals by an
ample harvest brought from Africa, Persia, and the most distant coun-
tries. In 1776, under the reign of Louis XVI., it acquired the immense
collection of M. Pelerin, comprising many rare and precious articles, and
amounting to no less than thirty thousand medals.



190 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTtiS.

the disgraceful robbery ^ a few years later, but the col-
lection already boasted of upwards of sixteen hundred
drawers.

^ In M. de Sartiues' days the police was of another complexion ; but,
■without travelling so far back, such an event would not have occurred
under Comte Dubois' administration.

During M. de Sartines' lieutenancy of police in France he received a
letter from the Minister of the same department at Vienna, stating that
a great criminal had taken refuge in Paris, to the certain knowledge of
the police at Vienna; and entreating M. de Sartines, in virtue of the
friendly relations existing between the two Courts, to adopt every means
for the arrest of the criminal, whose person and dress were described
with the utmost minuteness. M. de Sartines issued his orders accord-
ingly : his subordinates were set to work ; neither garret nor cellar
escaped their scrutiny ; the most active search was continued upwards of
a month. At length, after five or six weeks had elapsed, M. de Sartines
writes to his brother of Vienna :

" Sir and dear Brother, — Immediately upon the receipt of your
letter, I hastened to make inquiries in every direction for the criminal
you had described. The efforts of my people were for a long time fruit-
less, but we have at length succeeded in discovering him, and I have the
pleasure of informing you that it is in your power to seize him immedi-
ately, for he is at this moment in Vienna, which he has never quitted ;
you will fiud him in such a faubourg, at such a number."

Every indication by which the fugitive could be traced was exactly
given, even to a flower-pot standing on his chamber-window.

This story reminds me of another and very amusing one respecting
M. de Sartines.

He had a friend for whom he entertained a fraternal attachment.
Such friendships are sometimes dangerous ; but, be this as it may, his
affection was as warm as two compatriots might be supposed to entertain
for each other in Monomotapia, with no other civilized being near. His
friend, on the other hand, thought it advisable to play the Monomotapian
in earnest, but in quite a different sense, as will presently appear. One
day, in the course of conversation, the friend said :

" The police is a fine thing, to be sure ! I am sure nothing useful
ever comes to your knowledge ! You learn only what you are intended
to know ! "

M. de Sartines grew angry. To doubt the alertness of his myrmidons
was to dispute his omnipotence, for his credit at Versailles rested entirely
on their unparalleled ingenuity in tracing the most difficult clues. He
asked his friend, in a tone of defiance, whether he would not be much



M. DE SARTINES AND HIS POLICE. 191

I cannot exactly recollect whether it was General
Hitroff, aide-de-camp to the Emperor Alexander, then

astonished to hear the most circumstantial detail of everj'thing he had
done or said for a whole week.

A secret reflection made the latter smile at the proposal.

" WeU, let us try," said he : "I consent ; but I wager a hundred louis
that your hounds are at fault ; and, remember, all you may accomplish
will stand for nothing if a single hour is unaccounted for."

" That is a matter of course," said M. de Sartines.

The two friends shook hands upon it, and the execution of the enter-
prize was to commence the next day. On the second morning the scout
who was charged with watching the friend, and whose new task allowed
a holiday to the pickpockets and cut-purses of Paris, made his appear-
ance before M. de Sartines and delivered his report ; which specified that
the party had risen at nine o'clock, had put on his slippers and dressing-
gown, had sneezed, yawned, and coughed for a quarter of an hour, then
had taken chocolate, read the Mercure de France and one of Freron's bulle-
tins, had written a note, but it was not known to whom, because he had
instantly put it into his pocket, where even an emissary of police could
not follow ; but it was a love-letter, that was ascertained, for the paper
was perfumed, and the note folded in a particular manner. It was
decidedly a love-letter. After this the friend had walked to the Tuileries,
taken a few turns on the river terrace, then walked three times up and
down a certain portion of the centre alley ; had saluted Mademoiselle
Arnould three times, Madame Dugazon once, Mademoiselle Gaussin
twice; then had dined at M. le Premier's, because one cannot stay in the
garden for ever saluting one's friends, however charming. After dinner
he had been Madame le Premier's partner at cribbage, had won eight
louis, and nobly lost them again at quinze. After this he had been to the
Opera, had directed his glass to all the boxes, and scrutinized all the ladies
— one especially. After the Opera he had supped with M. de Sartines.
" It appeared," said the report, " that he must have made an indifferent
dinner, for he supped like a half-famished man : he ate of five or six
dishes," and, to do the spy justice, M. de Sartines found the delicacies of
his table scrupulously recapitulated. " But, Monseigneur," said the last
lines of the report, " my comrades and I found it equally impossible to

discover what became of M. de on leaving your hotel ; his carriage

drove with such rapidity that no human being could keep pace with it."

' What, wretch ! " exclaimed M. de Sartines, " you have been weary-
ing me to death these two hours with insipid details about slippers, and
dressing-gowns, and eating ; and then you lose the scent at the very
moment it should be most acute. Take care that you succeed better

to-morrow ; I must know how every minute of M. de 's time is

employed."



192 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTiiS.

in Paris, and one of the best-informed persons I have
ever met with in the numismatic science, that accom-

" I\ry dear friend," said lie, the next day, " I have heard news of you, as I
will prove at the end of the week . . . A h ! ah ! ah ! This is the way yon
proceed ! Stay, I will give you a bit of friendly advice : Do not seek the
company of actresses so much. Yesterday, at the Tuileries, you were
seen with the most facinating ones ; I do not like to see you the dupe of
such infatuation. . . . And afterwards at the Opera ! Take my advice —
choo.se better company. . . . The real pleasures of the heart are not to be
met with in .so low a sphere. You understand me 1 "

" Yes, indeed," answered his friend, " and so much the more readily,
that I have not waited to receive your advice before I followed it."

" Really ? " said M. de Sartines, with a look of surprise.

"Really — yes."

" Then you will make me your confidant ? "

" Certainly not ; it is your part to find out all you •want to know ; I am
mute."

M. de Sartines, whose curiosity was excited by his friend's expressions,
awaited with still greater impatience the next day's report ; but was again
disappointed. The slippers, the dressing-gown, the chocolate, all ap-
peared in their turn ; but from midnight to one o'clock M. de dis-
appeared, as if by enchantment, and no trace of him could by any means
be found. M. de Sartines flew into a passion, and told his scouts :

" I discharge you all, unless you bring me to-morrow such a report as I
have required."

The persons thus menaced looked at each other as they left their
master's cabinet.

" What is to be done ? " said one to the leader.

" There is no alternative," replied he, and communicated his plan.

The following morning M. de had just put on his slippers, and

thrust his arms into the sleeves of the dressing-gown so well described in
the informers' reports, and was about to seat himself before a cup of that
smoking and .savoury coffee the precise quality of which had been recited ;
his lips had just relaxed into that triumphant smile of roguish malice
when his valet announced three men who were earnestly desirous to see
him. "They begged," said the valet, "as a particular favour, to be
admitted."

M. de was not inaccessible ; he ordered that they should be intro-
duced, and then sent away liis valet.

" M. le Comte," said the chief of the party in a supplicating accent,
" you would not deprive brave men, all fathers of families, of their sub-
sistence. We come to' beg you will save our lives ; for if we are dismissed
from our vocation we shall no longer have bread, and no resource will be
left us but to hang or drown ourselves."

So saying, all threw themselves on their knees.



THE CABINET OF MEDALS. 193

panied us to the Cabinet of Medals, or a Germanized
Dane ; but whichever it was, his presence gave rise to a
warm discussion respecting one of the votive bucklers
found in the Ehone, ujDon which opinions were very
much divided ; the foreigner maintaining that the design
represented the continence of Scipio, while Millin de-
fended the antiquity of his buckler, declaring it to mean
the restoration of Briseis to Achilles, and this opinion
agrees with that of Winckelmann. It weighs forty-two
marks, and is six feet and a half in circumference ; an-
other is forty-three marks in weight and six feet nine
inches round. The Cabinet contains numerous similar
pieces, but our scientific riches consisted chiefly in
medals. We had many that were unique, and the
nationality of such a treasure ought to have made cu-
pidity itself tremble to covet it. The gold medallion of
Justinian, which is justly at the head of the collection,
is three inches in diameter. Another choice medallion

" My good friends, " cried M. de , hastening to raise them ; " for

Heaven's sake, what is the matter with you ? How can I influence your
fate ? I do not understand you."

" Alas ! your wager with M. de Sartines is the matter in question : we
are to inform him of your proceedings from minute to minute. We


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