Louis Siffrein Joseph Loncrosé de Salamon.

Unpublished memoirs of the internuncio at Paris during the Revolution, 1790-1901 online

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decree passed which granted her a pension of four
thousand francs, and this pension was placed out of
the reach of her creditors. Blanchet saw her more
than once at my house, and witnessed the cordial re-
ception I always gave her. Accordingly, she thought
she would make bold to ask her for a little soup.
Madame de Soyecourt received her haughtily, saying :
" Citoyenne Blanchet, I have not enough for myself."
Blanchet retired, all in tears, when luckily she ran
up against M. Guastaldi, a countryman of mine, and
also my physician. He was passing without noticing
her, for, indeed, she was little better than a skeleton.
Blanchet believed he was avoiding her purposely.
So she placed herself in front of him, and, seizing
him rather roughly by the arm, exclaimed : " So you,
you abandon me also ! " Guastaldi recognized her
immediately, and cried : " What ! Blanchet ! you
here ! " After she told him what had happened to
her, he turned back to the ladies. " You have a trea-
sure in this house," said he, — "a treasure you have
thought unworthy of your notice until now. This



Blanchet is one of the most estimable women in tlie

Then, every one was in a hurry to help her, — even
Madame de Champcenetz, who gave her fifty francs.
Madame Duchilleau never ceased, as long as she was
spared, to show her the most tender affection ; in fact,
if Blanchet had permitted it, she would have made
her a present of everything she had brought with her
into the prison. Madame de La Rochefoucauld, who
had been deserted by her maid, also treated her with
much kindness. Blanchet became very much attached
to this lady; she tended skilfully the leg-sores from
which she suffered, and obtained a number of little
delicacies for her from the keeper, — chocolate, for

Pardon me, madame, all these details; they are
unimportant enough, and can have but little interest
for you, but the history of Blanchet is so closely con-
nected with mine that I must speak of her.

As I ha-ve already related, her imprisonment was
the source of much sorrow to Madame Dellebart, as
well as to me.

We were informed, in course of time, that, besides
my plate and money, two beautiful clocks and six-
teen hundred of my choicest books had been carried
away from my house ; the books were scattered among
the public libraries.

To resume the thread of my adventures, I went to
the residence of Madame de Senozan, sister of Mar
dame de Malesherbes, and the best and most estimable
woman in the world. Sentries were stationed in
front of the gate, to watch those who entered her


h6tel; but I made my way in by a secret staircase,
without any one noticing me, except the concierge^
and he used to see me coming every day to the house

As I was describing to her the sad events that had
occurred during the last few days, she interrupted
me, saying : " I know everything, perhaps more than
you do ; the child of this poor woman has been trans-
ported to the Hospice de la Charity, and has, for the
last three days, been lying between life and death."
She added that she sent her servant Comtois every
day to inquire after him.

He died the next day of brain fever, calling with
heart-rending cries for his mother and his master.

I felt the loss of this young man excessively, and
at the present day I never tliink of him without sor-
row. He was a remarkably clever youth, and I was
beginning to employ him as secretary, even for my
Roman correspondence ; for, though he was scarcely
fourteen, he showed a discretion beyond his years.

Madame de Senozan also informed me that her
brother, nephews, and nieces were all now reunited
at Port Royal, which had been changed into a prison
and called Port Libre.

I left her, feeling the utmost compassion for her
many misfortunes ; it was our last meeting.

I returned to Madame Dellebart's in the evening
with these melancholy tidings. I did not stir out
of her house for six days after. On the seventh, I
determined to pay a visit to Madame la Vicomtesse
d'AUemane, who was then living at Versailles, with
whom I had been very intimate. She, too, was a


prisoner in her own house, under the surveillance of
two keepers. She had not been dragged to prison,
owing to a certificate of ill health which I had per-
suaded Doctor Guastaldi to give her. I made known
to her my doleful situation, and begged her to send
her valet de chambre to the baker-woman who lived
opposite my house, to inquire whether there were any
letters for me.

I learned afterward that the commissaries, finding
out that this woman took charge of my correspon-
dence, had come to the shop to seize it, just at the
very moment when the valet de chambre was carry-
ing it away in safety.

Two of these letters were from Rome, and one of
them contained a cheque on the Italian banker Caccia,
Rue Saint-Denis. It was for three hundred Roman
crowns, and was to be paid me in specie.

I went there early the next day ; but the banker,
through fear of compromising himself, refused to cash
my cheque, and this embarrassed me very much.

The other letter was from the Cardinal Secretary
of State; it was full of consolation and encourage-
ment, and showed the deep interest his Eminence
took in me. I had found means, in fact, to make
him acquainted with my distressing situation. As I
was not able to procure the necessary books, I had
also requested him to ask the Pope to dispense me
from reading the breviary. His answer was that the
Pope granted me all the dispensations I needed, and
recommended me to use every precaution to avoid

On the next day I went to see the Duchesse de


Sulx, whom I had the honor of knowing. She lived
in the Rue des Saints-P^res. She was not in prison,
because, as she had resided only a short time in this
quarter, she was but little known in the neighbor-
hood. I begged her to go to the prison of Les
Anglaises and inquire about Blanchet, also to carry
her sugar, coffee, and anytliing else she might desire.
She accepted the commission willingly, and visited
the prison, dressed as a servant. As she was slim
and active, the distance did not frighten her; be-
sides, she was a charitable, good-hearted woman.
She often went on the same journey; but, after a
time, she told me that the door was shut against
everybody, and Blanchet had been taken to another
prison. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart.
I did not see this virtuous woman again until fifteen
years afterward.

In this fashion I went knocking at every door,
with the view of softening somewhat the afflictions
my poor Blanchet had to endure. The same purpose
led me to the door of Madame d'Aulnay. She lived
in the Rue des Mathurins, and was an extremely
charitable woman. For a wonder, she was never
incarcerated during the entire Revolution. I re-
quested her to hit on some plan by means of which
I might be able to convey two hundred francs to
Blanchet. She promised to do so, and succeeded,
employing as her agent one of those roving peddlers
who seem capable of making their way anywhere
and everywhere.




Mge. Salamon leaves the House of Madame Dellebart. —
— His Hostess in the Rue Paradis. — An ex- Abbe becomes
Professor in a Medical School. — A deplorable Fellow-
countryman. — The Fine Shirt and the Old Bordeaux of
the Jacobin.

I HAD been wandering up and down Paris for
about a month, but had continued to take my meals
at Madame Dellebart's, when one day her daughter
said to me, —

" Francois has told mamma that two men have been
asking whether there was not a stranger here, but
mamma does not want you to know."

I thanked her for intrusting me with this important
secret, which, I observed, I should turn to account at
once. "In fact," I answered, "one of two things
must have happened : either this is true, and I ought
to move out as quickly as possible ; or it is false, and
then it is clear the servants are tired of my presence.
Perhaps, too, they are afraid — and not without
reason — that I may compromise their mistress.
Who knows but some day or other they may say as
much to myself, without meaning to hurt me ? So,
in any case, it is my duty to leave you."

The religieuse was in despair at having told me.
She dreaded a scolding from her mother, but I soon
brought her to her senses. I spoke to Madame


Dellebart in the evening of my resolution ; she raised
all kinds of objections, and pressed me earnestly to
stay with her.

It happened at the time that there was a lady in the
house who was her particular friend. This lady and
her husband caught some portion of our conversation,
and invited me to spend the night with them. I
accepted the offer gratefully, but, I must add, to the
great annoyance of Madame Dellebart.

I started out at midnight with my new hosts.
They crossed the boulevard, entered the Faubourg
Poissonnidre, and conducted me to the Rue de Paradis.

It did not take me long to perceive that the good
lady was in far greater alarm than I was. She intro-
duced me into the house with the greatest caution,
looking this way and that, and murmuring every
second : " Good God ! we have been seen ! " Then
she showed me into a tiny little room under the roof,
in which I did not close an eye the whole night, for
they seemed to be making a racket all the time below
stairs. Accordingly, I left very early in the morning,
without giving notice to any one, and I have never seen
my hostess since.

It will strike you as an odd circumstance that I had
all the time found a lodging in that very section of
Bondy which persecuted me.

I resumed my wanderings through Paris. I did
not know very well where to go, when, on passing
through the Rue des Cordeliers, near the Ecole de
Medicine, I perceived a young man whom I thought
I recognized. I was not mistaken.

He was a priest of my native town, son of an


apothecary, and I had known him formerly ; his name
was Audin Rouviere.

I approached him and said, —

" I believe, monsieur, I have seen you somewhere."

" The very impression you make on me also," he

" You would not happen to be the Abbd Audin ? "

"Ah, monsieur," he said quickly, "do not pro-
nounce that word 'abb^.' I am a professor in the
Ecole de M^decine, and I live in the entresol you
see yonder."

I told him, in my turn, that my name was so and so.

He begged me to enter his lodgings, with many
demonstrations of friendship. When we were seated,
I said, —

" I thought you were chaplain at the Hospice.*'

" Did you now? " he answered, bursting into a roar
of laughter. " As if there were any chaplains left I
But tell me what are you doing yourself ? "

" You know well that I was clerical councillor in
the Parliament, and I am very much afraid I may be

" In that case, you had better remain here, — the
devil himself would never find you out in this hole !
Our concierge is a regular wine-barrel, and there is no
danger from him. Here is a key; you can come in and
go out when you like."

I took him at his word, and accepted his offer.

The entresol was almost devoid of furniture, and
there was no sign of any servant whatever. " Well,"
said I to myself, "I have at last found a lodging
where I am not likely to be disturbed for some time ! "


He showed me into a small closet, where there was
a little pallet stretched on rough planks ; there was a
bed-quilt, and that was all. "• I shall not be badly off
here," I said to him.

He brought me a large sheet, however, which I
made up into a kind of pillow, thinking myself very
lucky to have something to rest my head on.

But when I had lain down, I felt the air blowing in
on me from all directions, and I was regularly frozen
throughout the night, owing to the want of bed-

I slept very badly then.

But my companion would have kept me awake in
any case. He cried out in his sleep like a madman,
now uttering exclamations in Latin, now in French,
and jumping and tossing about furiously.

At seven in the morning, he left his room, making
a great noise as he did so. He appeared again at half-
past eight. " 1 have been giving my lesson," he said
to me.

He asked had I slept well. " Ah ! " I answered,
" how could you expect me to sleep well, considering
the sad situation in which I am placed ? "

We breakfasted on nuts. Then he went out, and
returned with a few small fishes, which were to com-
pose our dinner.

When it was dark, I made my way to Madame
Dellebart, and informed her of my new domicile.
She entreated me to, at least, dine with her every
day; but I told her it would be the greatest impru-
dence for me to consent.

When I returned, I met my young professor, who


was enthusiastic over Hs profession. He was in love,
he said, with a niece of Dr. Portail, who did not
know he was a priest and invited liim once a week
to dinner. He confided to me that he intended to
marry her.

" But you seem to have forgotten that you are a
priest ? "

" Oh ! " he answered, " you are still imbued with
those foolish prejudices, are you ? "

" Do not speak in that way," I answered. " Por-
tail will never give you his niece."

" But I assure you the doctor thinks a lot about
me. He has me to dinner every Sunday. And, as
for his niece, I am fairly wild to get her."

I thought to myself : " I pity the poor girl, if she
marries you ! "

I learned eventually that the affair had gone very-
far, and he had been on the point of having her ; but
Dr. Portail discovered he was a priest, and showed
him the door.

I passed my time, then, tranquilly, though sadly,
in my new home, thinking myself very fortunate to
have this little retreat instead of being in prison.
The ex-abbe cooked our meals himself; they gener-
ally consisted of fish fried on the gridiron, though
occasionally we had a leg of mutton, with a plentiful
seasoning of garlic. We spent the evening playing
draughts, a game to which my companion was pas-
sionately addicted ; I had barely an idea of it, yet I
won often enough, which gave him a high idea of my
capacity. I judged thereby that he was not much of
a player himself. It was a terrible bore to me, spend-


ing two hours at a stretch in such a childish occupa-
tion ; but, of course, it was necessary to keep in the
good graces of my host.

Our nights all resembled one another. He leaped
and tossed about in the queerest way. Sometimes
he would thunder out phrases from his lessons, and
sometimes passionately implore the favor of his

As sleep was impossible, I turned and turned in
my bed, where, as I have stated, I had not sufficient
covering, and was often chilled through.

I had been ten days in the apartments of my de-
plorable compatriot, when a man entered unceremo-
niously. The concierge had left the door open by mis-
take, and I was not able to hide myself so quickly
as not to be seen.

It was the cousin of my host.

His first words to him were : " Who is that man ? "
I did not very well hear their conversation after this,
but my entertainer had the weakness to confess every-

" You are a dead man," said his cousin to him.
"If this man is discovered with you, you will be
guillotined along with him for a dead certainty ! "

He was gone at last, and I perceived that Rouvi^re
was quite upset. I asked him who the man was, and
added : " Evidently, my presence here is beginning to
frighten you."

" He is my cousin. But no, I am not frightened,
not at all."

" Oh, I beg your pardon. If you have told him
who I was, he must surely have tried to alarm you as
to the consequence of having me here."


"Well, then, you have guessed the truth! He
told me if you were found in my apartments, I was
sure to be guillotined along with you. But no matter,
I am not afraid."

" He has told you nothing but the truth, my dear
fellow," I answered, " and I have made up my mind
to leave you; for, without meaning any harm, he
might mention to one of his friends that I am here."

I set out the same evening, and related my adven-
ture to Madame Dellebart. She said immediately :

" Well, you see now you must stay with me. We
are accustomed to each other's ways. Don't be
alarmed : nothing will happen to either you or me, I
assure you — Why," added this excellent woman,
whom I had known for only a little over a year,
"why, since your departure, the house has looked
empty ! "

I embraced and thanked her again and again.

But in the midst of those perpetual alternations
of fear and hope, I had not the consolation of accepts
ing the offers of my friends, knowing that such
acceptance on my part would endanger their lives.

" No, no," I answered, " I must wander wherever
my fortunes direct me. And you will not see me
again more than once a week, and then only when I
am sure the coast is clear." While I was uttering
these words she wept bitterly.

Nevertheless, I consented to stay during the night,
and I left the next morning at daybreak.

All this time, I had no news of Madame Blanchet,
and found it impossible to discover the prison in
which she was detained.


I proceeded next to the Rue Cassette, to find the
husband of the woman who had aided Blanchet in
her search for me among the dead bodies at the
Abbaye. He was a Jacobin, and therefore, I thought,
likely to have access to the prisons, and to be able to
discover where they had put my faithful old servant.

When I knocked at the door, he was still asleep ;
but he heard me after a time, and came and opened
the door. He was in his shirt sleeves, and I noticed
that this same shirt was made of the finest Holland
linen. Yet he was but a poor carpenter, and, to add
to that, a professional drunkard. In fact, he had
killed his wife by his ill treatment.

He received me with effusive good nature, and ran
to dress liimself in order to talk with me. He began
by pressing me to take something. I answered that
I did not come for eating or drinking, but to get
news of my poor Blanchet, the friend of his deceased

" Well, we can eat a bit, for all that ; it won't pre-
vent us talking," and the tears came to his eyes.

I did not venture to decline a share of his break-
fast, for fear of offending him ; but I was in dread he
might offer me some of his wine, which was sure to
be bad, and bad wine I cannot abide in the morning.
So I sat down to breakfast, and he placed a large
black bottle immediately on the table, a bottle corked
and sealed too. Good gracious ! it was Bordeaux ! —
then some beef, which looked appetizing enough for
an epicure.

I ate more than I should have believed possible, —
indeed, more than I ought. The wine was delicious.


I said to myself : " Decidedly, he never came by that
shirt and that bottle honestly 1 " But you may be
sure I kept my suspicions to myself I

At last, I explained to him the cause of my visit.
When I told him that Blanchet had been arrested, he
wept copiously.

"Ah!" he cried, raising his overflowing eyes to
heaven, " she was the friend of my defunct ! — I
loved her from my heart, although she had the mis-
fortune to be an aristocrate.''^

''Aristocrate or not," I answered, " I want you to go
into all the prisons and find out where she is now."

He promised, and arranged that we should meet in
two days' time at his house, in the evening. I left,
feeling quite happy at the thought that Blanchet
would soon have news of me, and I should have news
of Blanchet.




The Internuncio leaves Paris. — "Pardon me, I have made a
Mistake ! " — Nights in the Open Air. — A Hermit Canon.
— The Internuncio's Council: MM. Joli, Le Moyne, and
GiRARD, Author of "Le Comte de Valmont."

I WALKED mecliamcally along the Seine, as far as
the Ecole Militaire, and reached the bastions raised
on the side of the hill called La Montagne des Bons
Hommes, or La Montagne de Passy.

The keeper of the bastion said to me politely : " If
you have no certificate of civism you cannot pass by
here, unless you are willing to accompany me to the
barrier of the guard house."

I thanked him, and descended toward a little street
which passes tlirough the park of the Princesse de
Lamballe.i I crossed the Rue Basse and the Rue de
rEglise,^ and found myself near La Muette (a villa
of the king) without having any real consciousness
of where I was going.

I remembered then that Madame Pasquier and her
children had a suite of apartments close by, in which
I had given the nuptial benediction to her eldest son,
who married a widow, Madame de Rochefort.

1 Now the asylum for the insane kept by Dr. Blanche.

2 Now the Rue Berton and the Rue de I'Annonciation.


I went thither on the spot, but was thunderstruck
at seeing a sentinel before the door, who shouted at
me : " What do you want ? " I turned on my heels,
answering quickly : " Pardon me, I have made a

After this rebuff, I rambled here and there
through the Bois de Boulogne, watching for some
spot where I could spend the night with as little
inconvenience as possible. The place that offered
most chances of comfort was the kiosk in which
the inhabitants of Auteuil dance on Sundays. I
returned there late in the evening, when the lights
were out in the cottage of the gamekeeper, who lived
quite near. I stretched myself on the floor, after
placing a bundle of straw under my head; I had
picked it up in the meadows, where the people who
are in the habit of leading their cows for pasture into
these quarters doubtless had brought it for a seat.

I fell asleep, but my slumbers were often inter-
rupted ; I sometimes started up, fancying that my
hospitable shelter had been discovered.

Later on, I found another place which was comfort^
able enough ; it was near the Villa Bagatelle, close
by the Pyramid, and not far from Madrid, where I
used to come very often, when M. de Eosambo re-
sided there.

In fact, this was the reason that made me select the
Bois de Boulogne in preference to the other woods
around Paris. I knew nearly all its windings.

The next day, I returned to Madame Dellebart's ;
she shed tears on learning where I had passed the
night. She declared I must stay with her, not only
the rest of the day, but the night also.


I yielded, especially as I should be nearer my Jaco-
bin friend, whom I was to see on the morrow.

In fact, I kept my appointment with him to the
minute. He informed me that Blanchet was still at
Les Anglaises, in the Rue des Fosses-Saint-Victor.
He assured me also that he had warmly recommended
her to the keeper of the prison, and had asked him to
furnish her with soap and coal.

After hearing this good news I left Paris and went
to Saint-Cloud, with the intention of taking some
refreshment — I was frightfully hungry — in one of
the wretched inns of that village.

I slept during the night under the arch of a bridge,
on the straw which the women who came to wash
there left behind them.

On the fourth day I returned to Madame Dellebart's
in the evening. She had been bitterly anxious about
me, and when she saw me enter, looking altogether
woe-begone, with my hirsute beard of several days'
growth, she could not restrain her emotion, and
melted into tears.

I told her all that had occurred since my last visit,
and particularly what I had learned about Blanchet.
She promised to send Francois the next day to her
with sugar, coffee, and even money if she needed it.

I said that this was hardly necessary, because I gave
her, when I saw her last, fifteen hundred francs in
assignats and twenty-five louis-d'or.

However, I was afterwards informed that the sec-
tion of Bondy had deprived her of the assignats, but
did not discover the gold, which she had hidden
under her clothes.



Notwithstanding the urgent entreaties of Madame
Dellebart, I left her on that very evening, but prom-
ised to see her on the Tuesday of each week and
remain the whole day. Only on this condition would
she let me depart. She gave me a little bottle of
Malaga wine, and stuffed my pockets with bread.

I did not start until very late, and I had an object
in this delay : I wished to be at the barrier just at the

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