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parable Durante formed his chief study. He left the
Conservatoire young, and, according to the then pre-
vailing fashion amongst struggling composers, had to
make choice of a patron. He was acquainted with
Madame Ballante, whose immense fortune gave her the
means of patronizing the arts. She received the young
musician, and soon found how honourable to herself
would prove the protection she extended to him.

Madame Ballante had a daughter who did not listen
with impunity to his ravishing notes; she loved him
passionately, and the mother permitted his addresses;
they were married, but after a brief but happy union
she died, leaving a son. He was in despair ; his mother-
in-law, Madame Ballante, had educated and adopted a
young orphan, whom she bestowed on Cimarosa, saying :
" My friend, she is my second daughter ! " Alas ! his
tender heart was not destined for happiness : his second
wife also died young, leaving him a son and a daughter.

Cimarosa, besides extreme goodness of heart, possessed
much talent and considerable information. He sang to
perfection, and accompanied his voice with brilliant ex-
ecution. My brother, who was enchanted with his com-
positions, as those who have a soul for music must always
be, once spent a whole morning with him trying music,
Cimarosa at the piano, my brother accompanying with his
harp. Cimarosa gave a theme, which Albert took up and
varied ; the author then sang it in various keys and move-
ments, as a barcarole, canzonet, polacca, romance, etc.,
and this delightful contest lasted three hours. " The
most agreeable hours," my brother has often observed,
" which in my life I have ever passed in this manner. "



CIMAROSA. 7

Cimarosa was a charming companion, gay, fond of a
laugh, and possessing in the highest degree that generosity
which is always inherent in an artist of true talent. How
many unfortunate emigrants has he not relieved ! Wlien
at Paris, his beautiful Finale del Matrimonio, Pria che
spunti, or Quelle pupille tenere, were applauded with rap-
ture approaching to frenzy ; it was not known that the
profits of these immortal productions were devoted to the
comfort of our unhappy countrymen. But he lived under
a Government incapable of appreciating him, and, instead
of a wreath in the name of the country, persecutions
and chains were the reward of his humanity — persecu-
tions which, it is well known, hastened his end. He at-
tempted, but in vain, to struggle against Eoyal terrorism ;
more skilful than the Eepublican, its cruelty was even
more active and permanent. This, it is true, could not
easily be, but the horrors committed at Naples are not
known to the public, and the eye which could penetrate
that multitude of assassinations, legal robberies, and
religious persecutions to which Naples was at this time
a prey, would turn aside in disgust.

Madame Ballante was also a victim to the trouble
which distracted that beautiful country ; she lost all her
fortune, and Cimarosa had the consolation of receiving
her at his home. " You are the mistress of my house, "
said he ; " is not everything I possess your property ?
Are you not my mother ? " Cimarosa died on the 10th
of January, 1801 ; his name will be as immortal as his
works.

But to return to Paris. The Opera was always the
admiration of Europe, but has greatly improved since the
period of which I am now ^VTiting. Another theatre was
at that time much frequented — the Theatre de Montan-
sier ; Tiercelin, Yertepr^, Brunet, and Bosquier-Gavaudan
attracted thither all the lovers of frank and hearty gaiety ;



8 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

its receipts exceeded those of the Opera by fourteen or
fifteen thousand francs per annum.

For some weeks I had experienced so ardent a desire to
see a masquerade that I began to feel absolutely unhappy
in finding the carnival drawing to a close without having
joined in this amusement, just then reintroduced by the
First Consul, who had himself attended them. I deter-
mined to ask my mother to take me to one ; but my first
word brought an answer that put a stop to all my hopes
in that quarter. " In the first place, " said she, " it
wearies me beyond everything ; in the next, I do not
choose that you should go to gape for four hours in a
room full of dust and the odour of rancid oil. " " I
gape ! " cried I, " gape at a masked ball, which every
one asserts to be the most diverting of all amusements I "
" You do not know what you are talking of, " replied my
mother ; " but, if you are obstinate, go with your hus-
band ; your marriage is still sufficiently recent to permit
you to be seen together, even if you should be recognized. "

At this moment my aunt Comnena came in. She had
been some time at Paris, and, while waiting the arrival
of the rest of her family, lived with my mother. She w^as
still a young woman, gay, because she was happy, and
taking pleasure in everything.

As soon as she heard of my want of a chaperon, she
offered to accompany me to the ball at the Opera, and so
enchantingly that I could not refrain from jumping up to
embrace her, while I returned a thousand thanks. " It
is understood, then, " said she, " I shall dine with you ;
we will mask to the teeth, and give ample provocation to
many people who will never suspect us of being at the
ball to-night. "

Now it is necessary to explain the cause of the extreme
avidity with which the masked ball was attended. This
innocent pastime had been suppressed from the com-



THE JVIASQUEKADE. 9

mencement of the Kevolution, because it was unknown
to the Komans and Athenians. Here, however, was a
slio'ht mistake, for at Eome tradition shows that if mas-
querades did not actually exist, there was, at least, a
sufficient approach to them to authorize ours. At length
the generation which was passing away wished to divert
itself once more under a mask ; and the generation which
was looking up demanded cheerfulness ; with one voice,
then, the masquerade was called for. Two only had yet
been given.

Junot laughed at my desire to go to this ball, and said
the same thing as my mother : " Ah, my poor Laurette,
how you will be overpowered with ennui ! " " Ah ! " ex-
claimed I, scarce able to restrain my tears, " you are all
leagued against my pleasure; why should I be wearied
where every one else is amused ? "

" Let them say on, niece, we will be amused too ; and
at two o'clock in the morning your husband shall see
whether you are wearied, and repent of his impertinence. "
" Agreed, " cried Junot, " I wish for nothing better ; we
shall see. "

We dined very gaily, and passed a delightful evening ;
my aunt was always communicative, open, sincere, and
possessed excellent spirits. My delight, however, was
great when midnight arrived ; I summoned my maid, and
my aunt and I were ready in an instant. While I was
looking in the glass to see how my domino became me,
I started and gave a piercing cry on perceiving behind me
a great black phantom, with large brilliant eyes and a
negro face.

" Oh, heavens, how you frightened me ! " I exclaimed,
while Junot embraced me, laughing heartily. " Oh ! oh !
is this your courage? how will you bear, then, to find
yourself amongst two thousand such masks ? " I looked
at him, and was still frightened ; his great black figure



10 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTES.

was anything but agreeable. " But why have you made
yourself such an object ? " " Wliy ? was it not agreed
that I should give an arm to you and my aunt ? " " What
of that ? " " What of that ? Would you have me prom-
enade the salon of the Opera with my face uncovered?
A pretty concern we should make of this masked ball !
No, I sacrifice myself for your pleasure to-night ; let us
take our masks and be gone. "

I did not wait a second order, but the horses went too
slowly to please me ; I thought we should never reach
this much-desired Opera-house. At length we entered as
the clock struck one, Junot giving us each an arm. On
first stepping into the room and casting my eyes round
me, the effect of the novel and strange scene upon me was
like that of walking the deck of a ship. My head was
giddy; I grasped Junot's arm with all my strength; my
aunt made me sit down; this indisposition was the effect
of the sudden light and excessive heat.

Wlien I had recovered myself, " Now, " said Junot,
" how do you propose to proceed ? You are to amuse
yourself according to your taste, and you are to be very
much amused, you know ; you should speak to some of
your acquaintances." "I see none," said I. My aunt
laughed, for some persons that she recognized were pass-
ing every minute, and she began to predict that I should
speak to no one all night. " Come, " said Junot, " take



courage.



My heart beat and my cheeks burned, as though I was
about to commit some bad action, but, summoning reso-
lution, I addressed myself to M. Victor de Laigle, whom
I was in the habit of meeting at my mother's, and, in-
deed, at the entertainments of all my friends. I ap-
proached him, and in an accent which I intended to be
witty, said to him, " Good-evening, how do you do ? "

He took my hand, eyed my figure, examined my feet,



A COMIC SCENE. 11

and then muttered : " Hem — hem — not much amiss.
Well ! but have you nothing to say to a man beyond
inquiries after his health ? " He retained my hand a
moment longer, then, dropping it, turned on his heel,
saying, " What a stupid mask ! "

What I felt at this moment it would be impossible to
describe ; to hear myself called stupid by an acquaint-
ance ! It confused me beyond all conception, and I
stood rooted to the spot and actually stupefied. M.
Victor de Laigle was by this time at the opposite end
of the room, laughing and jesting with other masks, and
no doubt saying, " I have just escaped from the stupidest
little mask, yonder, that I ever encountered. "

It was in vain that Junot and my aunt reasoned with
me ; nothing could console me for having been called
stupid in conversation. " But you must agree, " said
Junot, " that you deserved it ; was ever such a thing
heard of as asking a man how he is, in company, by
way of conversation ? " " What would you have had me
say ? "

"Faith! I can't tell: anything but that."' And in
truth he was in the right; it was scarcely possible to
be more foolish than I was this night. I never men-
tioned this little scene to M. Victor de Laigle, and he
is still ignorant of it, unless Junot charitably informed
him who it was who was so anxious about his health at
the masquerade. The result of this wearisome night,
from which I expected so much pleasure, was to give me
a disgust for masked balls, which for years I could not
get over ; nor, indeed, have I ever again taken pleasure
in them.



CHAPTER 11.

EvEEY one wlio has trodden the boards of a private
theatre will agree with me that no circumstances of their
lives afford reminiscences more abomiding in pleasure and
gaiety than the rehearsals, and everything, in short, that
is merely preparatory. But in candour they must equally
admit that the actual scenic representation is absolute
torture. I have experienced both, and can speak from
practical knowledge.

Mademoiselle de Beauharnais's success at Madame
Campan's in the representations of Esther and other
pieces, in which Mesdemoiselles Auguier and Mademoi-
selle Pannelier, as well as herself, gave proofs of remark-
able talent, naturally induced her to bring the theatre of
Malmaison into use. Eugene Beauharnais was a perfect
actor. I may, without partiality, say that Junot had
superior talent ; M. Didelot was an admirable Crispin ;
I acquitted myself tolerably in my parts ; and General
Lauriston was a noble Almaviva, or any other lover in
Court dress.

But the cleverest of our company was M. de Bour-
rienne ; he played the more dignified characters in real
perfection ; and his talent was the more pleasing as it was
not the result of study, but of a perfect comprehension
of his part. Grandm^nil and Caumont, at that time the
supporters of such characters at the Comedie Frangaise,
could have discovered no flaw in M. de Bourrienne's
performance of Bartholo, of Albert in Lovers' Follies, of



THE THEATRE OF MALMAISON. 13

the Miser, or of Harpagfene ; in The Florentine he might,
perhaps, even furnish them occasionally with a turn of
expression worth seizing and copying.

The First Consul himself was almost the sole manager
of our dramatic repertory. It was at first but limited,
for we dared not venture on first-rate plays, or undertake
parts beyond our capacity. We played The Heir, The
Thoughtless Ones, llie Rivals, Defiance and Malice, and
a number of charming little witty pieces, which certainly
have not been equalled since either in good sense or good
style. Afterwards we grew bolder; the First Consul
himself demanded longer plays. The repertory was all
at once increased by fifty pieces, which were put into our
hands with a careful distribution of the several parts in
conformity with our individual talents. The theatre of
Malmaison had at that time an excellent comjDany ; lat-
terly it was open to every one, and was no longer
endurable.

The first play acted at Malmaison was The Barler of
Seville, and in saying that this representation was perfect
I do not hazard a word that memory can call in question.
We have still many survivors of that merry and delight-
ful period, and I fear no contradiction in asserting again
that The Barber of Seville was acted at the theatre of Mal-
maison better than it could now be performed in any
theatre in Paris.

Mademoiselle Hortense de Beauharnais took the part
of Eosina; M. de Bourrienne that of Bartholo; M.
Didelot, Figaro; General Lauriston, Almaviva; Eugene,
Basile ; and General Savary sneezed in perfection in the
part of the Sleeper Awakened.

I have just observed that Bourrienne played well be-
cause he understood and felt his part. The same may be
said of Mademoiselle Hortense. Gaiety, wit, sensibility,
delicacy, all that the author Beaumarchais meant to in-



14 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTJfcS.

fuse into his Eosina, she caught instinctively ; she entered
into the character of the young and fair Andalusian with
all her native grace and elegance. To her fine acting she
united a charming figure and an exquisite carriage,
especially on the stage. Many years have elapsed since
those joyous evenings, but my memory still forcibly re-
calls the graceful and pleasing image of Mademoiselle
Beauharnais, ^ with her profusion of fair ringlets beneath
a black velvet hat, ornamented with long pink feathers,
and the black dress so admirably fitted to her small and
symmetrical shape. I seem yet to see and hear her.

Her brother Eugene was equally perfect as Basile, and
M. de Bourrienne in the part of Bartholo. General
Lauriston succeeded well in the various situations of
Alraaviva, though some fault was found with those of
the soldier and the bachelor. He was not altogether per-
fect till the grandee of Spain reappeared under the mantle
of the student. M. Didelot was excellent in Figaro.

But our success was most remarkable in that point
which generally reduces the managers of private theatres
to despair ; that is to say, the perfect correspondence of
the whole piece : the parts were thoroughly learned, and
everything went off well.

Madame Murat sometimes acted at Malmaison. She
was very pretty. Her hands and arms were beautiful,
and her fair bosom acquired new brilliancy beneath a
black velvet bodice, with a gold stomacher ; but she had
an unfortunate accent, which was particularly fatal to the
parts she selected. Her sisterly relation to the First
Consul, however, screened this defect from observation,
whereas Madame Louis Bonaparte, had she been but the
wife of an aide-de-camp, must have been applauded for
the excellence of her acting.

This reminds me of an incident which befell me,

1 Hortense Beauharnais, wife of Louis Bonaparte.



EIVALEY OF MALMAISON AND NEUILLY. 15

partly through the instrumentality of Madame Murat,
or, at least, through her want of acquaintance with the
stage. There was a sort of rivalry between Malmaison
and Neuilly. Lucien frequently acted both in tragedy
and comedy with his eldest sister, Madame Bacciochi.
Lucien acquitted himself admirably, and declaimed to
perfection. His only failing, and that not altogether
dependent on himself, was the modulation of his voice,
which was too shrill and in too elevated a key for a
tragic tone. But this inconvenience was slight, and
Lucien gave great satisfaction as Zamora. I have heard
his performance criticized ; in my own judgment I did
not perceive the defects attributed to him, and I was
delighted with him almost throughout the part.

Not so with Madame Bacciochi. Her acting was
irresistibly laughable. The First Consul found it so,
and, far from flying into a rage, as M. de Bourrienne
represents, he did nothing but laugh during the whole
play whenever his sister appeared on the stage, and when
we returned to the drawing-room, he exclaimed : " I
think we have seen Alzira beautifully parodied. " He
repeated the same thing to Madame Bacciochi herself,
who was not the best pleased with it.

Plays of all kinds, of three and afterwards of five acts,
were performed at Neuilly — we had no fear of tragedy,
still less of comedy. Ptegnard's Lovers' Follies, not too
perfectly represented, spurred us to emulation. It was
got up at Malmaison. Madame Louis was to undertake
Afjatha, Lisette was assigned to me, Albert to M. de
Bourrienne, Erasto to Eugfene, and Crispin to M.
Didelot.

By this arrangement the piece would have been well
managed, but the spirit of mischief intervened. Madame
Louis, always good-natured and yielding at the first re-
quest, reversed the whole order of things. Madame



16 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTES.

Murat performed Lisette. Agatlia, a part which I did
not like, and which was not suited to me, fell to my lot,
and as the climax of misfortune, for some reason I do
not remember, Eugfene could not play Erasto; this was
known only two days before the representation, and Junot
was obliged in that time to learn the whole part, and to
act it with only a single rehearsal ; but all this was noth-
ing compared to what followed.

This unfortunate part of Agatha is very difficult; it
requires much judgment. A ray of reason must be always
perceptible to the lover, while the guardian, though an
acute and sensible man, must believe his young ward a
confirmed idiot ; then a degree of sentiment must pervade
all that chaos of singing, dancing, accident, and battle ;
in short, it is extremely difficult to play the part well,
and Dugazon, who was my instructor and set his heart
on my success, had nearly overset my courage by saying
to me one day :

" You must not play this part; you will fail as com-
pletely as they do at Neuilly. " " Oh, don't say so! " I
exclaimed, terrified at the idea. " I have not a doubt of
it, " he proceeded ; " and the more certainly as you are
horribly supported. The General, too, has a part that
does not suit him. The play will be a total failure. "

And thereupon Dugazon began to mimic every one who
was to support the dialogue with me, and with such
buffoonery that it was impossible to avoid laughing till
the tears came. My self-love, however, would not permit
me to laugh at his prophecy that the play would prove a
failure, and I did all in my power to prevent it; but
there was no remedy, and the hour of the tragi-comedy
arrived at length.

To form a just conception of the nervousness (that is
the proper word) felt by us Comedians in Ordinary of
Malmaison, it should be premised that on the day of our



MADAME JUNOT AS AGATHA. 17



representation, which was generally Wednesday, it was
the First Consul's habit to invite forty persons to dinner,
and a hundred and fifty for the evening, and consequently
to hear, criticize, and banter us without mercy. The
Consuls, the Ministers, the Diplomatic Corps, Council-
lors of State, Senators, their wives, and all the members
of the then Military Household of the First Consul,
formed our audience. But the most terrible was the
First Consul himself. There he sat in his box, close
beside us, his eyes following us and accompanying their
glances with a smile more or less arch at the slightest
departure from the piece.

The morning of the representation of Lovers' Follies,
Dugazon said to me, after hearing Bourrienne rehearse
Albert admirably : " Well, take courage, my pupil, you
will save the State. You two may do wonders. Crispin
is good, too. As for the General, his part is nothing.
Come, carry this off successfully, and you will deserve
well of the country by foiling a conspiracy. "

In the part of Agatha the dress is changed five or six
times. I had requested Madame Murat, and Dugazon
also had charged her, not to enter the stage to commence
the third act without first ascertaining that I had com-
pleted my officer's dress under my black domino as the
old grandmother. The two first acts had passed off tol-
erably, with the exception of a few errors of memory
and some little deficiency of spirit; but the piece still
marched — it was soon destined to limp.

Whether from misunderstanding or forgetfulness,
Lisette appeared upon the scene without troubling
herself about me. The question whether or not I was
ready was, however, deserving of attention, for but a
very short scene intervenes between that in which I
receive the money from Albert and my return as an
officer. It was therefore imperatively necessary that I

VOL. III. — 2



18 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

should be in full costume underneath my great black
cloak, and I was accordingly putting on my boots when
I heard the first lines of the act ; I cried out directly,
but in vain ; I had not yet come to the end of my
troubles. The day was suffocatingly hot : agitation and
fear threw me almost into a fever, which did not accel-
erate matters; the boots would not come on, and while
my waiting-maid pulled till she almost broke my leg,
my ankle began to swell. At length I heard the speech
preceding my own, and throwing the boot ten feet off, I
hastily assumed my black domino, and entered upon the
scene; but my poor head was wandering. I mechani-
cally repeated the words assigned me, but my feet at the
moment occupied my whole attention.

In an interval between the couplets I whispered to
Junot : " What can I do ? I cannot get my boots
on!"

" Hey ! What ? " said he, for he could not hear. I
repeated the same thing to Bourrienne, but as I spoke
very low and quickly neither of them understood ; this
little by-play, however, so puzzling to them, began to
excite more notice than I wished in other quarters. At
last I made my exit, ran to my boots, and endeavoured
to draw them on — impossible ; the foot was still more
swelled, and I might as easily have shod the Colossus of
Ehodes as have driven my feet into either of them.

At this moment Dugazon, who was roaming about
behind the scenes, arrived to witness my despair. He
ran up to me, and, embracing me, said : " All goes on
well, but what the deuce were you looking for under your
feet just now ? " As my brain at the moment retained
but one fixed idea, I answered, staring at him in utter
consternation : " I cannot get my boots on ! " " You have
not your boots on ? " said he, swearing — " you have not
your boots on ? "



A DRAGOON IN WHITE SATIN SLIPPERS. 19

At that moment my husband's valet, who was to bring
me a very small sabre that I had ordered, tapped at my
room door, and presenting a sword as large as Mahomet's
Damascus blade, told me in his German jargon that my
sabre was not ready, but that he had brought me the
smallest of the CheneraVs, and it was necessary to be
cautious in using it, for it would cut like a razor.

" Here is a new trouble ! " I exclaimed.

" Eh ! do not be uneasy, " said Dugazon, capering ; " it
is all very well. You have a greatcoat; never mind
black shoes, keep on your white ones. Agatha is mad :
it is no disguise. All those about her know that an
access of her malady has just seized her, and that she has
assumed a military dress because her head is unsteady.
Well, she has forgotten her white shoes. Eeally, upon
my honour, this is not amiss. "

Saying this, he pushed me on the stage, and it was
fortunate that he did so, for my turn was come, and I
should never have had the courage to appear thus as an
officer of dragoons in white satin slippers. I took good
care not to look towards the First Consul's box; to have



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