Louis Siffrein Joseph Loncrosé de Salamon.

Unpublished memoirs of the internuncio at Paris during the Revolution, 1790-1901 online

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oyen Blanche t," taking the name of my poor old
servant, and sometimes " Eysseri," which is the name
of one of my Italian ancestors.

Thanks to these precautions, and also to the good-
ness of God, my correspondence with Rome was
never interrupted during the whole course of the
Reign of Terror.

1 Strange to say, this was the name of the secretary of legation
attached to the embassy sent hy Pius VI. to negotiate with the Direc-
tory in 1796.




Fall of Robespierre, — The Internuncio's Letter to Citizen
Legendre. — The Baronne de Courville and her Daugh-
ter. — Blanchet searches for her Master, and finds him
at Ranelagh. — The Internuncio and Bourdon de l'Oise.

These harassing adventures were brought to an
end, at least for the time.

Chaumette, attorney to the Commune, and the rest
of the wretches perished on the scaffold. Robes-
pierre himself met with the same fate.^

His fall revived my courage, which had been cruelly
shaken by the murder of so many excellent friends.
I decided to write at once to the Committee of Gen-
eral Safety, and ask the release of Blanchet.

I made as pathetic and eloquent an appeal in be-
half of that faithful servant as I was able. I gave
full details of all the horrors she was forced to endure
at the hands of the section of Bondy. I dwelt espe-
cially on the death of her child, whom they had bar-
barously flung out on the street at four o'clock on a
January morning, half naked and sick, and exposed
to a piercing cold, so that he died three days after in
the Hospice de la Charitd, in the Rue des Saints-P^res.

1 On the 10th of April and 28th of July, 1794.


In conclusion, I entreated them to set her at liberty
immediately, since no crime could be alleged against
her, except that of being a faithful servant, devoted
to her master, whom she had cared for since his

Then I threw myself in the way of President Collet,
as he was making his customary visit to his cousin at
Auteuil, and begged him to carry the letter to my
secretary's niece, who would see that it reached its

This woman lived in the Rue de Seine, and was
acquainted with Legendre, whose sister was her in-
timate friend.

Everything turned out as successful as I could
have wished. Blanchet was released on that very
day, so that Collet was able to announce to me on
the next morning : " Blanchet is free ! She is now
at your house. The seals are still left on your private
apartments, but they have been removed from the rest
of the rooms."

These tidings took a weight off my heart ; I felt less
melancholy than I had done for a long time. I de-
termined to pay another visit to my two ladies, and I
ate my share of the turkey to which the daughter had
invited me, after all !

My unjust suspicions had vanished, and I was
charmed to make their acquaintance, for they be-
longed to the very best society.

The lady was styled the Baronne de Courville, and
her husband was commandant of Saint-Dizier.

When she mentioned her name I was for the mo-
ment somewhat confused ; for I remembered that a


certain Baronne de Courville had been seriously com-
promised in the trial of Cardinal de Rohan, on the
subject of the famous necklace. However, I soon
discovered she was not the same person.

This lady is still alive, but her amiable daughter
died at the early age of twenty-three, having, some
time before, lost her husband.

Her death occurred during the trial I had to un-
dergo on account of my connection with the Pope,^
and I have been told that, when she was in the last
agony, she asked : " Has that gentleman been ac-
quitted ? " " Yes," was the answer. " Well, tell him,
then, that I was very glad."

It was a considerable time before these ladies
knew my name ; so, when they spoke of me, they
used to call me " that gentleman."

Meanwhile, Blanchet had set out on a search for
me, two days after she left prison, in company with
the baker woman who had taken in her child, and
at length discovered me on the road that leads to

She was so pale and thin that I did not recognize
her at a distance.

She approached, trembling, and did not utter a
single word, for fear of endangering me.

I told her, reassuringly, that I was no longer ex-
posed to the same perils I had been in the past.

Her first care was to give me three hundred francs,
which she held in her hand. She had earned them by
doing up the linen of the ladies imprisoned in Les
Anglaises. She was extremely skilful, and preferred

1 Book III.


working to obeying the orders of the patriots, who
told her she must force the aristocrates to support her.

But she confessed to me that she had very little
reason to be grateful to most of these great ladies.
Accordingly, she used to reckon the slights she re-
ceived from them in making up the account, and her
charges were pretty high. As she was a first-rate
needlewoman and ironed to perfection, these ladies,
who were just as coquettish in prison as they had
been at Versailles, would have no one else to work
for them.

Nevertheless, she had become attached, as I have
already mentioned, to old Madame de la Rochefou-
cauld, whose legs were covered with sores, and who
had been deserted by her women.

She parted from me in tears.

I told her she must come and see me in my attic,
which I pointed out on our return through the main
street of Passy.

She also informed me that the section of the Unit^,
my own section, and always inclined to favor me,
had removed from my house the two keepers, who
had cost me five francs each a day for two months,
and had burned four cartloads of wood and all my
candles, as well as eaten all my oil.^ Luckily, they
did not touch the cellar; for this, I had to thank
Blanchet, who insisted on having the seals placed on
it, as well as on the rest. The presence of mind of
that woman was unique.

1 This detail will not surprise anybody acquainted with the ex-
cellent oil of the south of France. It is eaten with bread, just as
butter is in the north.


I was careful not to say anything to her about her
son, but my silence told her plainly enough of her

I directed her to leave the Rue des Augustins and
take apartments in the Faubourg du Roule, so that
she might be nearer Passy, where I had had a little
lodge for the past eight years.

But I had still to be on my guard until the 9th
of November, for the Terror reappeared again for a

At length, however, I decided to adopt such meas-
ures as were likely to lead to the removal of the seals
from my ajjartments and the restoration of my books,
clocks, and plate.

With this object, I paid a visit to Bourdon de
rOise, who had been attorney to the Parliament. He
was a bad man, but I had done him a great service
once upon a time. He lived in the Rue des Saints-

Although nine years had passed since we met last,
he knew me immediately, and said bluntly, —

" Eh ! so it 's you, is it ? Come in. What do you
want ? "

" Listen to me," I answered ; " you know me of
old to be a sincere and trustworthy man, do you

" Yes," he returned, quickly.

"And I know that you, too, are a sincere and
trustworthy man, a bad head — don't be angry — but
a good heart. So I have come to ask you to do me a


1 Without doubt, after the 13th Vend^miaire.


" But did you not subscribe to the protest of the
Chambre des Vacations ? "

" Well, supposing I did, Bourdon de TOise, what
follows ? You know better than any one that in the
Parliament the minority was pledged to accept the
ruling of the majority and to sign it. This is why I
subscribed to the protest, although I was opposed
ijo it."

" I 'm very glad to hear that ! Well, tell me what
I can do for you."

" You can obtain the removal of the seals from my
apartments, and the restoration of everything that
has been taken from them."

" Come this evening to the Committee of the Secr
tion. I '11 do all I can for you."

" But I am condemned to death by default. Be-
sides, the decree against the nobles has not been re-
pealed. If I go before the Committee they may arrest

" Have no fear," he said ; " all you have to do is to
invoke the protection of Bourdon de I'Oise. Come
this way. You have read, I suppose, in some of the
newspapers that Bourdon de I'Oise is nothing but a
drunkard, is always swilling wine, nothing but the
best Bourdeaux will satisfy his luxurious palate.
Ucce signum ! Here is a basket of it ; have a glass
or two."

"Thanks," I answered; "but I see some very
tempting grapes on your table. If you will let me
have some, I should prefer them."

" Take what you wish."

I took three or four bunches of grapes, and went


away, eating them. I appeared before the Committee
in the evening, and a decree was passed in my favor.
The seals were raised, nor was I asked to pay any-
thing for their removah

But the property the rascals took from my house, I
never set eyes on again.




You have now, madame, the narrative of the sec-
ond period of my misfortunes. I might have men-
tioned many other little details, but they would have
bored you. Still, your tender heart must undoubt-
edly have taken an interest in my faithful servant,
and in my excellent friend Madame Dellebart, and,
perhaps, you may wish to learn what became of

Blanchet died six years ago,^ after suffering cruelly
from a long and painful ilhiess. I could not save
her as she had saved me; but I had the conso-
lation of proving to her that I exhausted all human
means in the effort to do so. For the nine months
and a half that she kept her bed, I watched her day
and night, taking turns with a servant whom I had
employed to take care of her for some years. I
spent three nights out of every week beside her pil-
low, and on other nights I had to get up more than
once, for the poor woman would sometimes not suffer
any one near her but me. She would only take her

i About 1805, according to presumed date of these Memoirs. It is
not strange, then, that we find her mixed up with the trial of the
internuncio in 1797. See Book III.


medicine from my hand, and I rendered all such ser-
vices to her as are rendered to the sick, even the most
repulsive, as much from affection as from gratitude.

She died with great courage. When she saw her
end approaching, she did not speak of death, for fear
my sorrow might overpower me, but she asked for a
confessor, and for M. Colin, my notary. I brought
them to her bedside. She insisted on making a will,
giving me back all that she had ever received from
me, for whatever relations she had were very distant.
Before dying, she gazed steadfastly upon me, without
speaking ; but I knew she wanted to say something,
and I asked : " What do you wish, Blanche t ? Tell
me, I will do whatever you desire." " I wish to
embrace you," she murmured. " Then embrace me,
my dear, dear friend. Why did you not say so at
once ? " As soon as I saw that she was in the last
agony, I recited the prayers for the dying. She ex-
pired in the morning, gently, like one falling asleep.
I attended to her burial in a proper manner, had a
solemn Mass sung for her in the church of Le Roule,
and followed her remains to the grave.

I had also the consolation of soothing the last
hours of Madame Dellebart. The Revolution had
made a profound impression on her, apart from the
fact that it had deprived her of a portion of her in-
come. She fell sick. Her daughter wrote me a let-
ter, saying that the condition of her mother had
grown worse, and that she complained of not having
seen me for a long time. Although it was eleven at
night when I received this message, I ran immedi-
ately to the Rue Saint-Apolline. I found her very


ill. No one had ventured to speak to her about the
sacraments, — not that she was exactly without re-
ligion, but she was not pious, and the thought of
death had always been repulsive to her. Not know-
ing very well how to approach the subject, I con-
versed with her on my misfortunes and the many
consolations I had found in religion. "It is it," I
said, " that has supported me in all my affliction ;
thanks to my prayers, I have escaped from the midst
of assassins, and have saved my life by the almost
miraculous interposition of Divine Providence. And
if I have again, quite recently, escaped the hands of
my executioners, even after they had condemned me
to death, it is to God I owe my safety.^ But you
people of the world," I added, "you do not raise
your eyes to Heaven, you never have recourse to
religion. Even you, my dear friend, you who are so
good and charitable, do not ask your God to cure
you, but your doctor, who is powerless to relieve
you. You are weak, no doubt, but you are naturally
full of good dispositions. Beg of God to restore
your strength, and you may be cured. My prayers
in your behalf will be heard. But you must begin
by purifying your soul, for it is a long time since you
have confessed. Do it now, and all the rest mil fol-
low. Say the word, and I shall have a confessor here

She remained silent for a moment, then, offering me
her hand, a thin poor hand that had been once very
pretty, for Madame Dellebart had been beautiful in
her time, she murmured, —

1 As this trial took place in 1796-97, Madame Dellebart must have
died in 1797.


"Thank you, my friend; God has preserved you
to be of service to me. Do not send for a confessor;
a man so good as you are must be as compassionate
a confessor as one could desire, — and, indeed, I have
need of indulgence."

"Well, then," I answered, "rest a little for the
present ; it is now one o'clock in the morning. I
think I require a little repose myself ; but to-morrow
morning I will be near you."

I left her without saying a word to her daughter of
what had occurred ; the latter would have persecuted
her with her exhortations and warnings to prepare
herself well. She was, as I have mentioned, a very
scrupulous and very tiresome person, though, as a
religeuse^ regular enough. Her poor mother, who
knew her thoroughl}^, sometimes said to me : " You
cannot imagine how much my daughter makes me

Madame Dellebart ordered my breakfast to be sent
to my room as usual, and requested me to come to
her at ten. "I have passed a very good night," she
said, " and it is to you I owe it. Pray finish your
work." After confessing her, I explained that, as I
could not remain long with her, I was going to the
parish of Bonne-Nouvelle, where I knew a priest who
would bring her a consecrated Host. When I re-
turned I perceived she had informed her household
of the good act she had just been engaged in. Her
daughter was on her knees at the foot of the bed. In
order not to excite her too much, and knowing that
she was now well prepared, I did not deliver any ex-
hortation. I contented myself with reciting the Con-


fiteor^ and, after the usual absolution, I gave her
Holy Communion. The news of her conversion was
a source of much satisfaction to the entire household,
and it afforded me great consolation to find that she
felt much better the next day ; she was even able to
sit up for two hours ; but it was one of those passing
gleams of brightness that forebode death. I returned
to Passy, but was by her side the next day. She was
extremely feeble, and the doctor told me she had not
much time to live. " How happy she ought to be,"
I thought, " to have received the sacraments ! "
When I asked her if she wished me to recite the
prayers, adding that it was better to do so sooner
than later: "Yes," she murmured, "I should like
you to do so." I made haste then to say the prayers
for those in the last agony. As soon as they were
finished, she asked me should I not like to have a
souvenir of her affection. "Gladly," I answered,
"and I shall cherish it as a precious possession."
She gave me a ring enriched with diamonds, a " hoop-
ring," I think they call it. " I was once very fond,"
she continued, " of the works of Voltaire and Rous-
seau. Perhaps you may wish to have them ? " " Yes,"
I replied ; " this is also a sacrifice you should make,
for these two philosophers have done much harm to
religion, and I do not wish you to keep them any

At length, she died, very piously indeed, but she
wept much. I left the house, promising her daughter
to return in the evening and to recite the Office for
the Dead. On the next day I said the prayers, gave
the absolution, and performed all the ceremonies


which are customarily used before earth is thrown on
the coffin. I accompanied the remains of Madame
Dellebart to the cemetery of the Barri^re Blanche,
and I have often shed tears since over the memoiy of
this excellent and charitable friend.








Looking Backwards. — Plan of a Concordat Between the
Pope and the Directory : Del Campo, Pierracchi and
Cardinal Bdsca.— Cochon, Prefect of Police, arrests
THE Courier sent by the Internuncio to Pius VI.

The last portion of my adventures took place after
the Revolution.^

They were not less perilous than the others, and
more humiliating.

It was then that I was thrown into a dungeon,
lighted only by a narrow, grated window, placed
immediately under the roof ; a little straw served
me for a bed. It was then, also, that I was
transported to the Grande Force, in the midst of
thieves and cut-throats, and, finally, incarcerated in
the Conciergerie, which was ordinarily the anteroom
to the scaffold.

1 De Salamon considers the Revelation to have ended with the be-
ginning of the Directory.


I was charged with a capital crime, and for about
five months I was confronted by an adversary bent
on sending me to the guillotine, — the terrible

To believe my accusers, I was the chief of the
most skilfully-devised conspiracy that had ever been
invented, and twelve portfolios, discovered in my
rooms at Paris and Passy, a:Eorded indubitable proofs
of this conspiracy.

In short, I was involved in such a critical situation,
that I was abandoned by everybody, even by my
closest friends.

In 1790, after the flight of Dugnani, I had been
named by the late Pope Pius VI. internuncio to
Louis XVI. Obliged to perform all the functions of
Nuncio Apostolic, I received, in my official capacity,
the various briefs of his Holiness directed against
the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and transmitted
them, in the canonical forms^ to the metropolitan arch-
bishops, of whom there were still many in France,
charging the latter to make them known to their
respective suffragans.

On my side, I gave these briefs the widest possible
publicity, and had them translated into French and
printed, in spite of the decree of the National Assem-
bly which pronounced the penalty of death against all
who " published, printed, or distributed " briefs or
other acts emanating from the court of Rome.

Where the interests of our holy religion are involved,
no human consideration should have the slightest
weight with a true Christian, still less with a man
who, like me, was the organ of the Holy See.


Moreover, God rewarded my zeal and fidelity, for
the printers and booksellers who were prosecuted on
account of these briefs never denounced me.

It was also my sad mission to notify Cardinal de
Brienne, Archbishop of Sens, that, by the degree of
the Sacred Congregation of Cardinals, he was expelled
from the sacred college, and forbidden to wear the
robes of a cardinal.^

It was in compliance with the orders of the Pope
that I took charge of the internunciature, and I was,
in consequence, very nearly falling a victim during
the September massacres, from which I escaped, con-
trary to all expectation, and solely owing to Divine

When these sad scenes terminated, I received
conclusive evidence of the Pope's satisfaction with
my conduct.

The Sacred Congregation for the Affairs of France
named me Vicar Apostolic of the whole kingdom, and
also of Brabant.

In this capacity, I kept up an active correspondence
with the nuncios at Brussels and Lucerne, and with
the Vice-Legate of Avignon, who had taken refuge at

Frightened at my heavy responsibility, and dis-
trusting my own strength, I formed a little council of

My immense correspondence demanded also the
greatest prudence.

I must confess that all my success was owing to the
help I received from certain good priests and many

1 The decree was issued on the 26th of September, 1791.


pious women, that class of women who are always
full of resources for the service of God.

They were particularly skilful in furnishing me
with the means of despatching my letters, and seeing
that they safely arrived at their destination.

So, until 1796, I was able to fulfil my mission un-
distui'bed, and almost without interruption.

In the same year, the Directory seemed inclined to
enter into negotiations with the Pope, and even made
overtures to him, through the medium of the Marquis
del Campo, ambassador of Spain.

Cardinal Busca, the Pope's new Secretary of State,
ordered me to confer with M. del Campo, and sent an
Italian priest, named Pierracchi, to assist me.

We had also an interview with the Minister of
Foreign Affairs.^

The object was to conclude a concordat between
the Pope and the Directory.

The Directory was willing to make many conces-
sions, if the Pope consented to sanction the Civil
Constitution of the Clergy. The half of the former
bishops would be recalled and restored to their sees,
and the half of the constitutional bishops would retain
theirs. In case of vacancy, the Directory would sub-
mit three names to the Holy See, from which it was
to select one.

Such was the basis of the concordat offered by the

It was, in fact, already printed, but a new oath was

1 In 1796, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or, as it was then desig-
nated, of Exterior Relations, was Charles Delacroix. He was suc-
ceeded by Talleyrand.


required from the bishops and priests. This oath
displeased Pius VI., and he refused firmly to accept
the proposal.

Immediately the Directory broke off all negotia-
tions ; the Abb^ Pierracchi was ordered to depart in
twenty-four hours, and I received a hint that it would
be better for my health to keep out of the way for a

Meanwhile, General Bonaparte was making the
most rapid progress in Italy. The legations of
Bologna, Ferrara, and Urbino were already invaded,
and the Pope, to preserve the remainder of his posses-
sions, saw himself under the sad necessity of sending
Cardinal Mattel and his own nephew, Duke Braschi,
to the tent of the conqueror, to sue for peace.

The French general granted an armistice, on condi-
tion of receiving a contribution of several millions ;
during this armistice, a final peace was to be nego-

But the conditions were very hard. Pius VI. con-
sented to them only with the view of gaining time
and saving his capital. It was his settled purpose,
however, to form an alliance with the King of Naples,
and obtain from him a considerable force of soldiers.

He also collected a small army secretly, and in-
trusted the command of it to an Austrian general,^
sent him by the Emperor of Germany.

The treaty he made with the King of Naples also
implied that the latter should despatch a respectable
army to his relief.

These tidings, which I had learned only quite

1 General Colli.


recently, gave me great satisfaction, and I was
beginning to feel somewhat tranquil, when, having
attended a reception given by a Belgian banker, who
liked to see foreigners at his house, I noticed that
Prince Belmonte, the Neapolitan ambassador, was
looking quite radiant.

I began to have some suspicions, and I observed
him narrowly.

I noticed also that he had recognized me, and had
turned away his eyes when my looks met his.

But I did not lose sight of him. I made my way to

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