Louis Siffrein Joseph Loncrosé de Salamon.

Unpublished memoirs of the internuncio at Paris during the Revolution, 1790-1901 online

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tions present. It was intended to be placed in the
hands of the king at once, and to remain a profound

But, by a fatality which is to me inconceivable,
M. de Rosambo locked it up in a private drawer in
presence of his valet de chamhre^ who had been in the
service of his family for forty years.


This old servant became suddenly smitten with
reYolutionary principles, and, in the month of Sep-
tember, 1793, he denounced his master and revealed
the secret of the famous protest to the section of
Bondy, in which the Hotel de Rosambo was situated.
No one knows why he did so, for he loved his

The fu'st care of this abominable section was to
get a search-warrant and proceed to rummage the
entire Palais for the important document. Then it
sent its commissaries to Malesherbes in the Loiret,
and the whole family of M. de Rosambo, including
M. de Malesherbes and M. de Chateaubriand, his
son-in-law, were conducted to different prisons.

All the members of the Parliament of Paris com-
posing the Chambre des Vacations were eventually
seized, one after the other, and with them the presi-
dents a mortier,^ whose names were inscribed at the
head of the document, but who had not signed the
protest ; these were M. Bochard de Saron, First Presi-
dent, M. de Gourgues, M. de ChampMtreux, and M.
Noiseau d'Ormesson.

1 So called from the shape of the cap ; it was made of black velvet,
with a gold band around it, and resembled a mortar. — Tb.




The Section op Bondt tries to seize Mgr. de Salamon. —A
Lady op the Ile Saint-Louis who lacked Courage. — A
Devoted Friend. — A Discovery : MM. de Saron, d'Or-


Beaulieu : A Magistrate who makes Stockings. — Ma-
dame Dellebart and her Daughter. — On a False Scent. —
Letter prom M. de Chateaubriand to Mgr. de Salamon.

CoimjMISS ARIES of the section of Bondy came to
that of the Unity, where I resided, and asked per-
mission to take me within their jurisdiction.

I had been living in perfect tranquillity since the
massacre, and, as I took my turn at mounting guard,
I passed for a good citizen and felt that I was quite
secure. The revolutionary committee of my section
were unwilling to have any part in my arrest, and
answered that they did not know where I was living.
Indeed, one of them came secretly to my house, and
asked for me. Blanchet told him I was not in. " So
much the better ! " he replied. " Tell him not to
show himself here for some days, because the section
of Bondy wants to have him arrested. We really do
not know why."

As it has always been a custom with me to tell
my servants the place where I am going, Madame
Blanchet found me in the lie Saint-Louis, just as I
was sitting down to dinner.


She sent in word for me to come out to her, and
said, —

"The section of Bondy has a warrant for your
arrest, so you must not come home for a few days."

After I had dismissed her and charged her to try-
to find out the cause of this new persecution, I re-
turned to table, but no longer had any appetite. Still,
I put as good a face on the matter as I could, for
the lady in whose house I was had no courage, and
would certainly have had an attack of the nerves if
she knew my danger. I stayed until dark, although
in a state of great anxiety, and after I left, at half
past eight, I wandered at haphazard, not knowing
where I could get a night's rest.

As I was tramping along, the idea occurred to me
of going to the Rue Sainte-ApoUine, near the Porte
Saint-Martin, where a rich widow lady of my ac-
quaintance lived, having a little hOtel all to herself.
She was a tall, handsome woman, about fifty years
old, and had an excellent heart. I had only known
her for about fifteen months, but it was enough to
render her very much attached to me. She took a
singular interest in my stories of the massacres of
the 2d and 3d of September. Her sole companion
was a daughter, who had wished to become a nun,
but had returned to her mother on the suppression
of the religious orders.^

Still, I felt some hesitation at the notion of enter-
ing at so late an hour. At this period a mere noth-
ing excited terror, for domiciliary visits and arrests
were becoming more numerous than ever. But the

1 In 1792.


danger of being surprised while wandering through
the streets banished my scruples, and I entered the
house of this excellent woman.

It was her evening for receiving, and there were
several persons present. I saw at once that my
sudden arrival surprised her ; but she did not betray
her astonishment, for fear of creating suspicion among
her guests. On the contrary, she said, as soon as
she saw me : " Ah ! how pleased I am to meet you !
You must dine with me ! " When we were alone,
however, she exclaimed, —

'' My dear friend, what has happened ? "

" Alas ! madame," I answered, " I am afraid of
being arrested. People are speaking of several ar-
rests, and particularly of those of the members of the
Parliament. Madame Blanchet has told me not to
come near my own house for several days."

" Well, then, my friend," she said, wiping away the
tears, "you must stay here. There is a very fine
bedroom on the second story. I have none with me
but my daughter, whom you know well, and servants
whom I can trust."

I replied, at the same time embracing her, that I
accepted her offer for the moment, but I would not
abuse her kindness ; for, if I were to remain long under
her roof, it might be fatal to her. I added that it
would drive me to despair, if she suffered imprison-
ment through me.

" Let us not speak of that," she said, interrupting
me; "and now you must think of nothing but
getting a good night's rest. To-night, my daughter
will sleep with me, and you will have her room. We
shall have yours ready to-morrow."


I went out early the next morning, leaving word
for Madame Dellebart — such was the name of this
admirable woman — that she need not expect me at

I ran straight to the hotel of the First President
de Saron in the Rue de 1' University, in order to notify
liim of what had happened. His concierge^ who, as
the event showed, was an abominable fellow, received
me with these words, uttered in tones denoting
pleasure, —

''He was taken to La Force at three this morn-

From there I proceeded to the house of M. d'Or-
messon. As he was in a very feeble condition, he
had not been dragged to prison, but he was kept
under surveillance.

I made several other wearisome journeys. I went
to M. de Marc^, councillor of the Grand Chamber, Rue
Michel le Comte. He had been in the Madelonnettes
since morning. I then called on my colleagues in the
Marais, one after the other. They were all in prison.

It was now four o'clock in the evening ; I had been
walking since eight, and was still fasting.

Nevertheless, I started from the Rue Saint-Ana-
stase in the Marais, and went to the Rue de la
Madeleine in the Faubourg Saint-Honor^, where the
Pasquiers, father and son, resided. I found no one
at home but Madame Pasquier, who was very fond
of me. As soon as she saw me, she said : —

" You are just in time — I have a capital fowl, all
the way from Mans, for dinner, and you will join me
in eating it,"


" I thank you, madame, — but where is M.
Pasquier ? "

"He is at M. d'Auhiay's, Rue-Neuve des

I related briefly our perilous situation, and left to
warn my colleague to fly. I met him in the Rue de
r Arcade. "For God's sake!" I said to him, "fly!
— do not return home — all our friends have been
arrested. Men belonging to the section were at my
house yesterday, and I am surprised they have not
been at yours. We are lost — and I am still com-
pletely in the dark as to the cause of our arrest."

This was the last time I saw my dear friend. He
was not arrested in his house, but peculiar circum-
stances led to his imprisonment afterward, and he
was guillotined with our unfortunate colleagues.

I was now utterly worn out, but I managed to drag
myself along from the Faubourg Saint-Honore to the
Rue Simon le Franc in the Marais, where I had been
already. I called on one of my friends, a clerical-
councillor like myself, the Abbe Chaubri de Beaulieu.
I found him on the sixth story, in a wretched room.
He had learned a trade, and was busy making woollen

" Great God ! " I exclaimed, " you take life easy,
and we are all in a state of anguish ! "

" I have lived unknown," he answered, " for the
last two years. I am supposed to be a common
workman, and so I have no fear. I would be in-
clined to wager a good deal that I am in no danger
of arrest."

This assumption of perfect security reassured me,


and I was tliinking whether I ought not to pass the
night with him, when a leg of mutton, garnished
with potatoes, was brought in ; it had been roasted at
the baker's oven, and exhaled a delicious odor.

" You will dine with me," said the abbd at once,
and he added, with a smile : " I call this my dinner,
though it is the only dish to which I can invite you."

" I accept the invitation gladly, for I have walked
four or five leagues to-day, and am still fasting."

I made a hearty meal, and bade him good-bye
about eight o'clock.

The Abbe Chaubri de Beaulieu was never molested
during the entire Reign of Terror, and he is living
to-day in the same quarter. But he occupies a far
finer apartment than the one I met him in, and
practises as a lawyer.^

When I reached Madame Dellebart's, at ten in the
evening, I found her in tears. She had imagined
that I must have been arrested in some street, and
had given up all hopes of me. I related how I had
spent the day, and she felt relieved ; but when I told
her of my long and weary journeys, she burst into
tears again. She was, as I have said already, a woman
of rare goodness of heart.

She informed me that Madame Blanchet — that
woman has always seemed to me to divine intuitively
whatever steps I took — had come in search of me,
although I had never given her a hint of the place of
my retreat. Blanchet related to her that she had found

1 The Abb^ Chaubri de Beaulieu, like many other clerical councillors,
and, indeed, like a large number of the abbe's of the ancient regime,
was not in holy orders.


out the reason for this new persecution of so many
eminent persons. It was caused by the discovery of a
document concealed in M. de Rosambo's desk, in which
my name figured among the rest. At the very
moment I heard these words, that accursed protest
flashed across my memory, and I could not refrain
from crying : " Ah, how could M. de Rosambo have
kept such a document ! " But I added, in extenua-
tion : " He has not been able to reacts the king and
give it to him."

You can easily guess that Madame Dellebart and
I had a long conversation on that evening, and it was
two in the morning before we retired.

She conducted me herself to the beautiful chamber
she had prepared for me. It was an exquisitely neat
apartment, hung with Persian muslin.

Madame Dellebart loved fine furniture and fine
stuffs, but neatness and cleanliness more than either.
So, in this respect, her house, although rather small,
was a perfect jewel of a house. From hall to attic
ever3rthing shone as if it were new.

I went to bed and slept well, indeed, much better
than I expected. Then, at nine in the morning, this
excellent lady sent me, in a little silver coffee-pot,
some remarkably fine coffee and cream ; the cream
came from her farm at Pantin, formerly owned by
Mile. Guimard, the famous dancer at the Opera.

Her daughter was present at my little breakfast,
and showed me all the sympathy to be naturally ex-
pected from a person consecrated to God and full of
good feeling besides. She was, for that matter, a
woman of rather limited understanding, and her piety


also was of a somewhat unintelligent character. " My
daughter is a bigot," her poor mother used often to
say to me. She was twenty-seven, and very pretty,
but very pale. The reason she came to keep me com-
pany in my room was because her mother rose late.

Blanchet arrived on the same day, at about ten
o'clock. She appeared extremely dejected. She had
wept much, both on account of tlie danger I ran and
also because she had not seen me for two days. I did
my best to calm and console her.

However, the discovery of the protest was ever in
my mind, and inspired me with the liveliest anxiety.
I had always had a presentiment that it would be
fatal to us ; and when it was discussed, I was totally
opposed to its adoption, not through want of principle
or love for revolutionary ideas, but I believed it equally
useless, whether the Revolution continued or came to
an end. Nevertheless, I signed it. It was, then, only
by a violent effort that I could keep from appearing sad
and pensive, for when my thoughts are preoccupied,
I am naturally inclined to show it in my countenance.

Blanchet told me that the commissaries of the sec-
tion of Bondy had returned the day before, at four
o'clock in the afternoon, and were in a very bad tem-
per at not finding me at home. They insulted her
grossly, and asked where I was. Not knowing how
to get rid of them, she answered imprudently that I
had gone to the Chateau of Bonneuil on business.
It is unnecessary to say that this was false. The
scoundrels believed her on her word, marched to
Bonneuil, which is four leagues from Paris, turned
the chateau upside down, and, of course, found notliing.


I did not learn of this till later, and I reproached
Blanchet very severely for her conduct, although her
motive was good, and she wished to send these wicked
men on a false scent. I recommended her to confine
herself to a simple negation for the future.

I passed my time very pleasantly with Madame
Dellebart, who anticipated all my wishes and attended
to my wants as carefully as on the first day I entered
her house. I sometimes departed in the morning and
did not return until evening, after aimlessly rambling
through Paris, without very well knowing where I
was going. Every morning, my little breakfast was
brought into my chamber. Blanchet came to see
me every other day. She related the gossip of her
neighborhood, and all the rumors that were in circula-
tion, and certainly they were not reassuring.

One day I committed a great imprudence: I re-
turned to dine at the house of the lady in the lie Saint-
Louis, where Blanchet first warned me of the peril
in which I stood. It was a recreation, and I needed
something at the time to divert me from my sad
thoughts. Of course, you will easily understand
that I did not breathe a word as to my melancholy
position to the lady.

When I made my appearance in the evening at the
house of Madame Dellebart, she told me that she had
not seen my poor Blanchet, although it was the day
for her visit. I was very uneasy, but I did not ven-
ture to send any one to inquire into the reason of her
absence, for my messenger might want discretion, or
might be " shadowed " on the way back.

At length, Blanchet came at noon, the next day,


with the news that my house had been searched for
the third time, and that those engaged in the search,
after uttering the most terrible tlireats, left the place
in a perfect fury at not finding me. She handed me
a letter at the same time, which the wife of one of the
seventy-two deputies imprisoned in La Force ^ had
brought for me, offering to take charge of my reply.

The letter was from M. Chfiteaubriand, the brother
of the author, who, being under the impression that I
was at liberty and in no danger, wrote that he and
liis friends were all in prison, that they had been
separated, and he was ignorant where M. de Male-
sherbes and Madame de Rosambo were confined.
I answered that I was myself a wanderer and an
outlaw, not daring to go to my home, which had been
searched three times ; that I was obliged to live in
Paris as best I could, and was absolutely ignorant of
what was taking place; however, I had heard that
M. de Malesherbes was in the Madelonnettes, and
Madame de Rosambo at the Anglaises. I added that
I despaired of being useful to him in the future,
because it was my intention to get away as soon as
possible, and I was determined to do everything I
could to avoid arrest.

He received my reply, but I had no further news
of these dear friends.

However, I still remained with Madame Dellebart,
who showed me all the solicitous affection that a
mother would show a beloved son. We had such

1 Partisans of a moderate policy. They were expelled from the
Legislature on the 31st of May, 1793, a date that witnessed the fall of
the Girondins and the inauguration of the dictatorship of Robespierre.
They resumed their functions after the 9th Thermidor.


delight in each other's conversation that we often
remained, after the daughter had gone to bed, up till
two in the morning, relating the various incidents
that marked our lives. She had witnessed many
strange scenes in hers, and she was a born raconteuse.
Besides, she was familiar with fashionable society,
and still had persons of the highest distinction at her
receptions. As for myself, I had travelled extensively,
had frequented the best society in Paris, and, above all,
had witnessed the September massacres. Besides, she
was very much interested in politics, and had been on
terms of the closest intimacy with the famous Favier,
the great diplomatist employed by Louis XV., while I,
on the other hand, corresponded with a court consid-
ered, not without reason, the most sagacious of all the
courts in Europe.



Blanchet Arrested. — The Section of " Bandits." — Two


Mesdames de Champcenetz, de Soyecourt, de la Roche-
foucauld, d'Urtat and Duchilleau. — Their Conduct to
Blanchet. — Intervention of Doctor Guastaldi. — Death
of Blanchet's Son. — A Baker who will be Master in
his own House. — Mgr. de Salamon interests the Duchesse


FROM Rome.

However, I remained four days without receiving
any news of Blanchet. Her absence caused me much
distress and fear. Madame Dellehart shared my
anxiety, for she had become very fond of Blanchet,
and never spoke of her without adding : " That ex-
cellent woman ! " We had a presentiment — which
turned out only too true — that she was arrested.

After mature deliberation, we decided that Madame
Dellebart should send Frangois, her confidential ser-
vant, to the Rue des Augustins, to make inquiries in
the neighborhood of my house, and particularly of
the woman who kept the bakery opposite.

Francois was perfectly successful. Madame Blan-
chet had been dragged out of the house on New
Year's Day, at four in the morning, and all she was


allowed to take with, her was the clothes she wore.
The section had seized my plate and money, that is to
say, fifteen hundred francs in specie and two thousand
in assignats, had affixed seals to my apartments, and
had stationed two guards in my kitchen and hall, who
were to receive five francs a day. But he could not
discover where they had taken Blanchet. All he was
able to learn was that they tore away her son, a boy
of fourteen, from her arms, and flung him into the
street, where he would have been frozen to death on
that cold winter's morning, had not the baker given
him shelter. Francois had been warned also to be
careful not to mention where I was.

You can easily imagine my consternation at these
tidings. Madame Dellebart, her daughter, and I were
in such a state of grief that we could not dine ; in-
deed, we did not even think of sitting down to table.

I spent the following fortnight in trying to find out
the prison where she was confined ; but all my efforts
were unavailing.

However, she was, as I learned afterward, lying, at
this very time, on a wretched mattress in a lock-up
belonging to the section of Bondy, in the parish, of St.
Laurence, weeping as if her heart would break, and
suffering dreadfully in body as well as in mind.

Her amazement and terror, when she was suddenly
startled out of sleep and saw her bed surrounded by
armed men ; her horror at being dragged half-naked
through the streets ; the chilling cold of one of the
severest nights in winter ; the agony of being separ-
ated from her only son, the last of nine children, —
all this affected her to such a degree that she fell


seriously ill, and was for three whole weeks on the
brink of the grave.

In spite of her condition, these barbarians always
kept her in sight constantly, as if, indeed, there was
any chance for the poor woman to escape ; and their
presence, as she confessed to me afterward, was a
greater torture to her than all her other sufferings.
They even spied on her and put questions to her
during her sleep, in the hope that they might wrest
from her some liint as to the place in which I was
concealed ; but she never uttered a word.

At last her vigorous constitution triumphed, and
she was restored to health, but after a long convales-

There was in the section of Bondy — Blanchet
called it the section of " bandits " ^ — a revolutionary
committee composed of abominable men. Two of
them were especially noteworthy for their infamy,
two loathsome creatures from Auvergne, named
J^rSme and Baptiste. These wretches were the
immediate cause of the death of nearly two thou-
sand persons. They often came to torment Blan-
chet with their questions. When they had worn
out her patience, she said to them sternly in Pro-
vencal, which is very like Auvergnat : " Yes, I know
where he is, but you shall never know. He will live
to have you both hanged, and all people of your

These words so frightened the savages that they
took to their heels immediately.

1 The French pronunciatiou of " bandits " is so near that of Bondy
as almost to excuse Blanchet's pun. — Tr.


At length, as nothing could be got out of her, they
imprisoned my stout old housekeeper in the convent
of Les Anglaises, Rue des Fosses-Saint-Vic tor.i

This poor woman, the victim of her loyalty to her
master and to the good cause, suffered many humilia-
tions in a place where she might have expected con-
solation and encouragement.

She was given a wretched mattress in the room of
Madame de Champcenetz. This charitable dame,
furious at seeing her apartment invaded by " com-
mon people," as she said, gave fifty francs to the
keeper to remove Blanchet.

Yet Blanchet's virtues might have excited the
respectful compassion and sympathy of this haughty

It must be admitted, however, that her external ap-
pearance at the time was not calculated to inspire
confidence, for she had only just recovered from a
grievous illness, and her convalescence advanced but
slowly in a prison where she was deprived of every-
thing. Then, her clothing was almost in rags, for she
had, as I mentioned already, been dragged from bed
at four in the morning, and not given time to take
anything with her except what was under her hand.

She was pitilessly chased, then, out of Madame de
Champcenetz' apartment, and banished to a garret,
which had no windows, but only shutters, in which
she was exposed to every wind that blows.

Seeing herself abandoned by everybody, and being
absolutely in want, she decided, in her despair, to lay

1 The Convent of English ladies of the order of St. Augustine is
to-day at NeuiUy.


her case before Madame de Soyecourt, nee Princesse
de Nassau-Sarrebruck, without, however, mentioning
the cause of her detention, for fear of injuring me.
This lady was under the greatest obligations to me.
I made her acquaintance at a time when she was
sunk hopelessly in debt. All her property had been
sequestrated, and her creditors wished even to seize
her pension. She appealed to the Parliament to make
at least provision for her subsistence. I was appointed
her reporter, and I treated her as I thought a princess
should be treated, for I was the means of getting a

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