Louis Siffrein Joseph Loncrosé de Salamon.

Unpublished memoirs of the internuncio at Paris during the Revolution, 1790-1901 online

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" Come," said she to him, " come and save your old
friend. He has not been massacred, but may be at
any moment."

" What ! not dead ! " cried the constitutional bishop.
"Well, he must be saved; I will go at once and see
him after the session."

FREE. 109

Madame Blancliet was a tall vigorous woman. She
seized Tornd by the collar of his coat, and said :

" It 's all very well for you to say : ' 1 11 go and see
him — after the session.' You '11 go now, and I shall
not let go of you until you promise to come with

Torn^ knew of old the temper and resoluteness of
this woman ; he did not care to have an unpleasant
scene in the very middle of the garden, with any
number of people looking on. He decided the best
thing for him to do was to follow her.

On the way, they met another deputy, who saluted
Torn^. Blanchet, whom nothing escaped, said to the
abbd, —

" You know that gentleman ? "

" Yes, he is one of my colleagues, and a friend

" Oh, monsieur," said Blanchet, addressing the
new-comer, " would you not like to do a good
action ? "

Tliis gentleman, having been informed as to what
was expected of him, exclaimed , —

" Very well then, let us all go and rescue him from
his rather unpleasant position."

I saw them arrive on Wednesday, about eleven.
They Avere accompanied by one of the gentlemen who
had examined me after I was summoned out of the
violon. I was conducted to the same garret I first
entered, and the two deputies having written on the
register that they would be responsible for me, I was
at once set at liberty.

The Abb^ Tornd said to me : " Go to my house."


Blanchet called a carriage, and we started for tlie
hotel of the deputy.

I remained there eight days, and I must say he
showed me the greatest attention.

In the evening, a decree of the Commune of the
10th of August was handed to me. It was signed by
Robert, president, and Tallien, secretary. It declared
me free, and had been granted on the petition of
Herault de Sechelles. I was to be set at liberty

I left behind me the Abbd Sicard and M. de Soldrac.
They were not released until Friday, after the mas-
sacres were over.

The Wednesday morning before I left, I noticed
through the window of the violon a member of the
Commune, in his tricolor scarf, with several bags of
money beside him. He was paying the assassins.

The wages of those who had " worked well," that is
to say, " massacred well," was from thirty to thirty-
five francs. A certain number had to be content with

There was one of them who obtained only six
francs. His labor had been considered very insuffi-

It was a horrible spectacle to see those wretches
arguing which of them had done the most butchery.

I saw also a woman, who must have been whelped
in hell, insult a corpse. She was astride of it, and
shouted : " Look how fat this dog of a calotin was ! "

I turned away, quivering with indignation.



The Internuncio is named Vicar Apostolic for France. — A
Present from Pius VI. to Madame Blanchet. — Mea Culpa.

And now, maclame, you have all the details of my
lamentable story, which I have here set down at your
express wish.

Your tender heart will be deeply horrified and
affected by this dismal narrative of an atrocious

It is the record of my recollections, which I have
gathered together as best I could, and resembles
the account I sent the Pope after I was released.
I did not, unfortunately, keep a copy of this document ;
besides, in the narrative I wrote for Pius VI., I
described simply what occurred to myself personally,
and made no mention of the Abb^ Sicard. When a
person writes to a sovereign he ought to be terse and
concise, and confine himself to those subjects that
are likely to interest his august correspondent. How
much more necessary was this, when I had the honor
of writing to the greatest of all sovereigns, the immor-
tal Pius VI. I

His Holiness deigned to console me in a letter
written under his own hand. It began with the words :
" Mon cher abbd ; " all the rest was in Italian. It was
full of affection and tenderness.


Cardinal Zelada also sent me an important de-
cree, by order of the Pope. It emanated from the
sacred congregation of cardinals instituted at the
beginning of the Revolution for the supervision
of French affairs, and conferred on me the title
of Vicar Apostolic for all France, with the most
extensive spiritual powers.

Pius VII. confirmed these powers, on becoming
Pope. They did not cease until the arrival in France
of a legate a latere^ who delegated to me special
powers for the administration of Normandy.

I will add that, a month after the massacre,
Madame Blanchet also received her letter from Rome.
It contained a bill of exchange for three thousand
francs on the brothers Rassuret, bankers. Rue Neuve-
Saint-Augustin, payable to her name.

The Abb6 Maury used to lodge formerly in this
street, and I suspect it was he who addressed her to
these bankers.

This munificence toward a plain woman of the
people is, perhaps, without example in the annals of
the court of Rome. It was the more pleasing to me
inasmuch as it was an evidence of the high value the
Pope placed on my life. Cardinal Zelada, however,
has never alluded to this incident in his despatches,
and so I have never mentioned it to him.

Doubtless, madame, your emotions have been pain-
fully excited by the relation of such misfortunes;
but a lady gifted with your piety must derive great
consolation from the thought that religion alone can
work miracles.

1 Mgr. Caprara, in 1801.


All these priests died with heroic resignation.
Not a murmur escaped a single one of them, and none
had the baseness to invent a lie to save himself.

On the other hand, almost all the laymen bewailed
and resisted their fate. There were some even who
died in despair.

As for myself, madame, what will you think of the
odd fancy I had ? At the very moment when I was
within an inch of death, when everything ought to
have become indifferent to me, I kept looking back
at wicked Sodom, and saying to myself: "Shall I
never have the chance to wear my red waistcoat ? "
Now notice that, up to the 10th of August, I firmly
refused to put off my ecclesiastical habit, and it was
only on the evening of my arrest that my gray coat
and red waistcoat were brought home.

Well, after confessing my weakness, I ought to add
that I did my best to banish this bad thought, and, if
I have sinned, you know there is mercy for every







Subject OF this Second Book. — The States-General and the
Chambre des Vacations. — Usher, A l'audience ! — Vert
Impolite op Manuel. — Baillt and the Procession. — The
Affair of the Quarrtmen of Montmartrb. — The Protest
OF the Parliament.

You wish me, madame, to continue the history of
my adventures, and relate those which have marked
the second period of my life. Although this period
has not been as terrible as the first, yet I do not know
but that it has caused me more vexation, weariness,
and torment than the former, doomed as I was to
wander from forest to forest around Paris for the
space of nine months, and with no shelter or refuge in
my distress.

I was condemned to death in my absence, with
forty-nine of my associates in the Parliament of Paris,
who all perished on the scaffold on Easter Sunday,
1794.1 At their head were my two best friends, the

1 On the 20th of April, according to the Moniteur.


First President de Saron and the President de

The States-General was convened in May, 1789,
at the urgent and repeated demand of all the Parlia-
ments, and especially of that of Paris. One of its
first acts was to abolish the exalted magistracy which
had given it birth. This was, indeed, the height of
ingratitude. But that France might not be left with-
out courts of law, tribunals called "Chambres des
Vacations " were created in all the Parliaments.

I had the honor of being chosen by the king to sit
in that of the Parliament of Paris, presided over by
the President de Rosambo, the gentlest and most
merciful of men.

We did our work with heroic zeal and courage, in
the midst of the first turmoil and effervescence of the
Revolution. We were constantly threatened with
death, and every effort was made to force us to abandon
our post. Emissaries of the Revolution were ever at
our heels, trying to frighten us. We were told at one
time that we should be attacked in our seats, in the
very presence of the spectators ; at another, that the
assault would take place after we left the Palais and
were getting into our carriages.

There were many old men amongst us, and old men
are as cowardly as women. The stories told by the
court ushers often filled them with dismay, and I
frequently found them deliberating at the huvette^ —
a little room in which refreshments were dispensed,
— whether they should hold court or not. M. de
Rosambo was sometimes undecided how to act. Occa-
sionally the old men got the better of him, when they


would say : " We cannot stay here any longer — we
get neither honor nor profit by it ; why should we risk
our lives?"

I groaned at the spectacle of such UTCsolution.
But I always waited until M. de Rosambo asked my
opinion, a thing he never failed to do. Then I said :
" I tliink we should hold court ; the king has placed
us in this perilous post, and the king alone can relieve
us of our functions. If we must perish, it will be a
glorious thing to die on th.Q fleur-de-lis^ victims of our
fidelity to the orders of the king. Does a soldier with
any sense of honor abandon the post confided to him ?
A magistrate ought to have as much courage as a
soldier. Do you march first, M. le President, I follow

President de Rosambo did not lack courage, but he
required to be supported. Accordingly, as soon as I
had thus expressed myself with my natural vivacity,
he cried to the usher i '''• Al 'audience ! " The old fellows
grumbled between their teeth, but ended by following
us, and I must say that we have never been insulted.
Courage always awes rascals.

I ought to add that during the sixteen months we
sat in this chamber, we always showed a firm front,
and never fell into the snares that were laid for us on
all sides.

Manuel, the famous attorney of the Commune, used
to write very impertinent letters to the president,
giving liim orders, in fact. He would command him,
for example, to hear such and such a case. The
latter was annoyed at such officious intermeddling,
and would often ask, —


" M. r Abb^, what is to be done ? "

"Nothing, M. le President," was my invariable
answer. "Impertinent people do not deserve an
answer ; and, as to the contents of the letter, you will
act as you think fitting."

M. Bailly, the mayor of Paris, also tried to humili-
ate us, or rather to lay a trap for us.

The festival of the Assumption was drawing nigh.
It was usual to have a solemn procession on this day
in memory of the vow of Louis XIII., in which the
Parliament took part. The mayor did not fail to
invite us to be present, which was not at all neces-
sary. His object was to give the Commune preced-
ence over the Parliament. Now, this ancient body
had always had precedence over all others. We took
the matter into consideration. Many were of opinion
that the invitation ought to be accepted, for, in fact,
said they, the Chambre des Vacations was not the
Parliament, and could not have precedence over the
Commune, especially a Commune as illustrious as
that of Paris.

Such a proposal made me flush with indignation,
and, when it was my turn to speak, I said, —

" M. le President, we are the Parliament ; we have
all the attributes of the Parliament, and it is a point
of honor with us to sustain its dignity. It is the
first corporation of the realm, and, if it must perish,
let it perish while guarding all its prerogatives. —
They are setting a trap for us. M. Bailly," I added
ironically, " that modest philosopher, wishes to see
us in his train. I oppose such a pretension with all
my energy."


" But what excuse can we give for our absence ? "
cried several voices.

"This one," I answered. "I propose that, with-
out making any reference to the mayor's invitation,
we pass the following resolution : —

" ' The Chambre des Vacations, having considered
whether under existing circumstances its presence at
the procession in honor of the Assumption of Our
Lady would be advisable, and having reflected that
it has been appointed by order of the king to dispense
justice to his subjects without any interruption,
resolves : —

" * The Chambre des Vacations will not attend the
procession on the festival of the Assumption, in mem-
ory of the vow of Louis XIIL, and it will continue,
with zeal and assiduity, *to dispense justice to its

" ' The aforesaid resolution will be communicated to
M. le Maire by M. le President.' "

My proposal was adopted; we did not go to th&
procession, and our action met with general approval.
As for M. Bailly, he was very much surprised, but
did not venture to complain.

At other times, we received hints that it would be
just as well for us to imitate all the rest of the great
corporations of the state, and send in our adhesion
to the work of the National Assembly, and also
present it with an address of congratulation. But
we firmly resisted these perfidious suggestions.

As it became evident we could not be shaken in
our resolution, an effort was made to intimidate us,
by exciting a kind of revolt against us.


A certain person, lately deceased, had bequeathed
a sum of two hundred francs to each of his workmen
in some quarries which he owned at Montmartre.
His heir wanted to have the will broken, and had
brought the case before the Chamber. The quarry-
men were present to sustain the validity of the will.
I was appointed to report on this dangerous affair.

The time needed for a thorough examination into
a matter of such importance occasioned one of those
protracted investigations, the necessity of which the
parties to a suit cannot even conceive, much less can
they bear them patiently. Accordingly, the quarry-
men imagined, or rather some mischief-makers put it
into their heads, that we did not intend to decide the
case at all, and that we purposed, by repeated delays,
to deprive them of their legacies for the profit
of the heirs, who were influential. They resolved,
therefore, to compel us to give judgment by force.

A rumor of these machinations reached us. Some
councillors were of opinion that it would be better to
abandon the affair altogether. It was too important,
they said, to be decided by the Chambre des Vaca-
tions. Let us declare ourselves without jurisdiction,
and dismiss it to the Grand Chamber, which would
hear it on the return of the Parliament. " Another
evidence of their weakness," said I to myself. So,
when my turn to speak came, I opposed this cowardly

" Messieurs," said I, " you will doubtless be irri-
tated because I happen to hold an opinion, although
I am the youngest among you, the very reverce of
that expressed by M. Fr^dy, who is the doyen of


the Parliament. I respect and honor M. Frddy;
but our enemies will regard our adoption of his pro-
posal as a sign of great weakness, and the quarry-
men as a denial of justice, since they know, as well
as you do, that the Parliament will never sit again.
The attacks on us will become more audacious than
ever, when we have shown ourselves so destitute of
manly firmness. As for myself, I am of opinion that
we should use all due diligence in investigating this
affair and bringing it to a conclusion ; and, most as-
suredly, I shall work at my report, in season and out
of season."

I reported the state of the case every day to M. de
Saron, our first president. He entertained a very
warm regard for me, and I loved liim as a father.
Although he died on the scaffold with great courage,
his disposition was naturally feeble and timorous.
After I had spoken as related above, he said to
me : —

"M. I'Abbd, I think you have been wrong. We
ought to pluck this thorn out of our foot the best
way we can. If the case turns out badly for these
workmen, you will be the first victim."

" I am willing to run the risk of that," I answered.
" An act of weakness actually turns my stomach with
loathing, and to give way to revolutionists is not at
all to my liking. Besides, what motive have you for
saying that these workmen will lose their case ? My
present belief is that the will is perfectly regular."

" God grant it ! " he replied.

This excellent man used to give us a formal dinner
every week, although he was not the president of the


Chambre des Vacations, in order to lessen the ex-
penses of M. de Eosambo, who was obliged to receive
us twice a week at his table. The banquet was
usually on Tuesday.

Now, some days after the conversation I have re-
lated, we were just sitting down to dinner with M. de
Saron, when word came to us that the quarrymen
to the number of two hundred had gone to the Palais
in search of us, and, not finding us, they were now at
the house of M. de Saron, with the same object in

At this news, there was general dismay, and one of
my confreres turned to me, saying, —

" See now what your giddiness and boastful courage
have brought upon us ! "

These words stung me to the quick, and, rising
unceremoniously —

" Permit me," I said to the president, " to deal
with this disturbance myself. I am going to put on
my robe, which is in my wardrobe at the Palais. Do
you remain quietly at table, and do not allow this
trouble to interrupt your dinner."

I returned soon, garbed in my black robe. At the
same moment, the servant said; "Here they are!
they are entering the court ! " I hastened down,
stopping at the top of the grand staircase, so as to
prevent them from mounting to the apartments of
the First President. I could see there was a great
uproar in the court. The workmen were parleying
with the guard stationed at the door, who refused to
let them go further. But they forced an entrance,
and were already on the first step of the staircase,


when I appeared to view. My presence at the head
of the staircase, clad as I was in my official robe,
seemed to astonish them very much. " What brings
you here ? " I exclaimed. " Who has given you the
perfidious advice to come to this place in a disor-
derly band ? Do you believe you can intimidate the
magistrates of the Parliament? Undeceive your-
selves. They are not a bit afraid of you, and have
given proof of their courage in more difficult circum-
stances than this. As far as I am concerned, I am here
in your presence, and I do not fear anything you can do
to me, — and it is on me especially that you ought to
wreak your unjust fury, for unfortunately I am your
reporter. But be assured there will always remain
enough of magistrates to punish your reckless out-
rages, and fling the whole of you into prison. And
besides, what a strange method you are taking to get
justice done you ! Don't you know that if you won
your suit by violence, your opponent would say that
the verdict was null, and it would be set aside by the
king ? Much better off you will be then ! Let four
of you come up here and tell me what you want."

They listened in silence, and four of them mounted
the stairs. I advanced and took my place on the
first step, in order to force these ambassadors to re-
main on the second. Thus I had the advantage of
towering above them. " What do you desire ? " I
said; " you may speak with perfect freedom."

My own servant stood, with some of the other ser-
vants, behind me, to defend me in case of need. I
recommended them to keep quiet and make no


One of the four quariymen spoke in behalf of the
others. I noticed that one of his companions kept
his cap on his head. Striking my left arm emphati-
cally with my right hand, I exclaimed : " As long as
I wear this robe, I shall not permit any one to offer
it disrespect. 0:ff with your cap, sir ! "

He doffed it immediately.

Then the other one said, —

" We have not come here to show you any disre-
spect, but we have been told you were unwilling to
decide our case, that the Parliament will never
return, and we might as well bid good-by to our

"Those who told you that," I answered, "are
idiots. There is not a word of truth in it ; they are
your enemies. Have confidence in your judges.
Your attorney must have informed you that a suit
of this sort cannot be decided in a hurry; it takes
time, and that is the cause exactly of all those
delays which make you fancy you will not have
justice done you. Retire quietly, and await our
decision calmly and respectfully. The case will be
soon over, I assure you, and I am your reporter.
But remember I have not the slightest fear of you,
and if you do not obey me, I shall have nothing fur-
ther to do with it. Send also two of your comrades
to me in the evening. I shall present them to M. le
Premier President, in order that they may apologize,
in your name, for your audacity in daring to create a
disturbance within the precincts of his court. Now,
trust to me and retire."

The poor quarrymen, who had been simply the


tools of cleverer knaves than themselves, at once
withcbew, after promising to send two of their com-
rades to me in the evening.

I did not take time to pull off my robe, but returned
immediately to the dining-room.

" So there you are, my dear abbd ! " exclaimed
M. de Saron, when he saw me. "I perceive that
everything has passed off well. Come now and finish
your dinner in peace." But I was still excited, and
had no longer any appetite. I said, with a smile to
M. de Saron, —

" This evening it will be your turn to play your
part. I have to present two of our quarrymen to
you ; they are coming to apologize on the part of
their comrades, for pressing their acquaintance on
you without an invitation. You must be prepared,
then, to make them a little speech."

M. le President would have preferred if I had
spared him the visit, but he consented with good
grace to receive them. The quarrymen were faithful
to the appointment ; I requested M. de Rosambo to
be present also, and all passed off well.

Six weeks afterward, the court rendered judgment,
and these good fellows got their legacies.

It was this incident that gave occasion for the
report that I had been saved during the September
massacres by the quariymen of Montmartre : it was
not true.

For sixteen months, we labored without interrup-
tion, and I may add without honor or profit, for no
one deigned to express himself satisfied with our un-
remunerated toil. Yet we got through over twenty-


three thousand cases, civil as well as criminal, and it
fell to my share to report three thousand four hun-
dred of them. The president was overwhelmed with
requests from parties who would have no one but me
for reporter, because I was so affable and so quick
in disposing of every affair brought before me. The
effect of such excess of work was to drive me into
a sort of consumption, while, for the entire month
that brought our labors to an end, I was afflicted with
a terrible dysentery. At last, we begged the First
President to tell the king that it was utterly out of
our power to serve him any longer, that we were
nearly all sick, and that, therefore, it was our earnest
prayer he would be graciously pleased to consent to
our separation. He granted our petition on the 1st
of November, 1790.

But before separating, we resolved to leave a mon-
ument that should witness our principles and our
attachment to our sovereign. After deliberating a
whole night in the study of M. de Rosambo, our
chief, we drew up a protest against the subversion of
the laws of the realm, the annihilation of the royal
authority, and the decrees tending to overthrow the
rights of the clergy and nobles. This protest was
signed by all the members of the Chambre des Vaca-

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Online LibraryLouis Siffrein Joseph Loncrosé de SalamonUnpublished memoirs of the internuncio at Paris during the Revolution, 1790-1901 → online text (page 10 of 23)