Louis Siffrein Joseph Loncrosé de Salamon.

Unpublished memoirs of the internuncio at Paris during the Revolution, 1790-1901 online

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Some persons I did not know remarked me on the
way, and said, —

"Be of good courage, monsieur ! We have all
pitied you, and everybody is in your favor."

" I am recognized," said I to Richard ; " let us get
along quickly."

We entered by the great gate.

An excellent supper was already on the table,
awaiting my arrival. I noticed that the fish was
particularly fine. Richard and I partook of it with

This worthy man, who deserved to occupy a higher
position, wept with joy. He said to me, —

"You have spoken like an angel! During the
whole thirty years I have been in the prison, I have


never seen any one make such a defence as you did !
They will never dare to condemn you ! "

" I hope so," I answered ; " but I wish the trial was
over, whatever the result."

" You are right," returned Richard. " Still, what
you said will make an impression on the jurors during
the night, and, above all, their wives, to whom they
will relate all that has occurred, are sure to be on
your side."

My counsel came early in the morning. His first
words to me were, —

" Be of good courage ! "

" Ah ! " I answered, " you never thought of say-
ing that to me yesterday, when I had far more need
of it!"

"Yesterday I was almost certain you were lost.
One of the judges assured me in the most unequivocal
terms that you were to go before a military commis-
sion, and that was why you saw me so downcast. I
thought that all our methods of defence would be
useless. They have not dared to do this, owing to
the feeling displayed by the audience in your behalf.
You are indebted for your safety to the good will of
the people !

" Permit me to add also that you spoke with much
eloquence, and said just what you ought to say."

We left for court at nine o'clock precisely. Richard
was very busy at the Palais, trying to find out what
was said about me.

He returned to the prison just before the judges
had taken their seats, looking very happy, and whis-
pered in the ear of his servant, —


" He is safe ; I saw the questions ! " ^

M. Bellart and I had planned together the course
we intended to adopt, and it was a very bold one.

Basing our action on the laws which proclaim the
sanctity of private correspondence, we demanded that
the functionaries who had violated those laws should
undergo the penalties prescribed by the legislature.
Consequently, we asked that, according to the terms
of such and such an article, — which we cited, —
the minister of police should be condemned to two
years' imprisonment, and on his release be compelled
to pay over to me, for the benefit of the poor, such
damages as the court in its Avisdom might decree.

On the other hand, the public prosecutor denounced
me in a most violent harangue, and concluded by
insisting that I should be condemned to capital

Then the president put the usual questions to the
jurors. They were couched in the following terms :

"Has there been a correspondence with the ene-
mies of the state?

" Is the prisoner guilty of this crime ?

"Has he acted with evil intention?"

The jurors deliberated for a long time. Many had
been prejudiced by the use the commissary of the
Directory had made of the word spy.

Luckily, as I have abeady mentioned, a letter to
me from Cardinal Busca had been seized at the post-
office. It was written in Italian.

1 No doubt the questions the president put to the jurors. It is
very hard, however, to understand how Richard could augur the inter-
nuncio's safety from reading them.



Among the jurors was the Abb^ Champagne, a
married deacon and bursar of the College de Navarre,
who was thoroughly acquainted with this language.
He translated the letter for the other jurors, and said:
" The prisoner is charged with being a spy ; but no,
he is not a spy, not at all. He is the friend of the
Pope. The Pope writes to him by his minister that
he loves him and continues to hold him in the greatest
esteem and affection, A sovereign prince never ex-
presses himself in such terms with regard to a spy.
To end the matter," he added, "I regard the pris-
oner simply as an envoy of the Pope, and I am in
favor of his acquittal."

G^ndral de Tolosan was equally zealous in my
favor, and after two hours' deliberation the jury re-
turned into court with their verdict. To the first
two questions the answers were in the affirmative;
to the last, in the negative.

The president was therefore compelled to discharge

The verdict was received with enthusiastic applause.
But I had to drink my chalice to the dregs. In-
stead of being set at liberty at once, as is usual even
in the case of criminals, I was forced to remain an-
other twenty-four hours in prison.

My counsel came toward the middle of the next
day and asked Richard whether the public prose-
cutor had sent him an order for my release at the
expiration of twenty-four hours. As Richard an-
swered in the negative, M. Bellart warned him
that, in that case, the law authorized my counsel to
restore me to liberty himself at the end of twenty-
four hours, and he begged him to let him do so.


It can be readily imagined that my good Richard
was not the man to stand in the way of my release,
and he opened the door immediately.

• •••••

And now, madame, I have reached the conclusion
of my lamentable history. Doubtless many things
have escaped me, for it is a long time since all this

My life since then has been tranquil and unevent-
ful, spent in the discharge of the spiritual mission
with which I have been invested.

In 1801 I was sent to Normandy in order to admin-
ister the entire province, and there I had to govern
five of the most important dioceses of France, notably,
that of Rouen, which is the seat of an archbishopric.

I took up my residence in this city ; but during the
winter I travelled through all these dioceses, naming
vicar-generals to act in my name.

This province was very much divided regarding
the oath of fidelity and submission to the laws of the
Republic. I succeeded in my efforts for peace and
conciliation, notwithstanding the obstacles thrown in
my path by the intruding priests.

The Cardinal Legate was so well satisfied with the
success of my mission that he wrote me several let-
ters, by order of the Pope, assuring me of the pleasure
my administration had given his Holiness, and that
I more than realized his fondest hopes.



The Abbe de Salamon to Cardinal Zelada.

Paris, the 12th of June, 1786.

. . . Nor have I shown less zeal, monseigneur, in
the unhappy affair of Prince Louis de Rohan. How
often have I hastened to visit such of my colleagues as
were most opposed to him, in order to convince them as
to what their religion required of them, and to show them
that, both for the edification of the weak and the silenc-
ing of the murmurs of the misguided, they should have
the greatest respect, not for the person of the accused,
but for the eminent character with which he was in-
vested, he being a priest, a bishop, and decorated with the
Eoman purple !

I insinuated that we had not to judge the previous
conduct of Prince Louis, nor his want of respect for the
royal majesty, but simply the crime of swindling, with
which he had nothing to do.

It is very true that, by his own confession, he knew
of the fraud after its commission, and that, nevertheless,
he had kept the jewellers Boehmer and Bassange in their
error, and delivered to them a receipt in the name of her
Majesty the Queen for 30,000 francs. But, with the aid
of M. le President, who has the highest esteem for your
Eminence, we have dispelled this little cloud, to which the


attorney-general of the king attached so much import-
ance. The court, full of respect for religion and for the
Eoman purple, treated Prince Louis with all possible
courtesy. When he appeared before the assembled Cham-
bers to undergo an examination, he was requested to take
a seat, and when the examination was over and he was
retiring, the court rose to do him honor. — (Vatican
Archives : Nunciature and Affairs of Avignon.)


From the Same to the Same.

Palais du Louvre, 15th of March, 1787.

. . . Your Eminence will be surprised to learn that, at
the very moment an attempt is made to diminish the
privileges of the clergy, an archbishop of Toulouse -^ has
been made minister and placed at the head of the finances.
The happiest consequences are predicted from this choice.


To the Same.

Paris, the 5th of August, 1788.

. . . You have no doubt heard of the frightful excite-
ment created by the attempt to overturn the French
constitution in most of the provinces, and especially in
Bretagne. Twelve gentlemen from the latter province were
sent as deputies to demand from the king the restoration
of then- privileges. They were seized during the night
and immured in the horrible dungeons of the Bastile.
Twenty-two other deputies arrived soon after the news of
this act of violence, and demanded an audience of the
king. The Bishop of Dol, who was exiled for the affair
of the edict in favor of the non-Catholics, pronounced a

1 Lomenie de Brienne.


vehement discourse, which I have the honor to send you,
together with the Memoir he read before his Majesty, at
the head of the deputies. I also enclose the reply of his
Majesty. It was not satisfactory, and six deputies are
to arrive from each of the dioceses, making in all fifty- two.

The Parliament of Bretagne, although embraced in the
lettre de cachet, which it does not recognize, met at Vannes
on the 24th. It deputed twelve of its members to go to
Versailles, but they were compelled to return, when within
eight leagues of this city.

The province of Dauphine also assembled, on the 21st
of last month, to the number of seven hundred. There
is general consternation, trade is as dull as it can be, and
justice does not exist. We must be a cause of wonder to
other nations.

The ministers are always promising the States-General,
but they do not want it, and are careful not to fix a date
for its meeting.

Your Eminence must have been astonished at the lan-
guage of the Archbishop of Narbonne,^ when, at the head
of his clergy, he took leave of the king. This prelate
did not blush to thank the king for the edict in favor of
the non-Catholics ! Everybody is indignant at such con-
duct. But the clergy have no nerve, and they have re-
fused to protest against this discourse.

I have pressed several bishops to do so, but all in vain.
... A decree of the Council of State is announced for
to-morrow, granting to Dauphine the restoration of its
states, and fixing the date for the convocation of the
States-General. It is the only way of recovering tran-
quillity and filling the coffers of the king, which are
empty. . . .

The Abbe de Salamon,

Councillor of the Parliament,
(From the Vatican Archives : Nunciature of France.)

1 Mgr. Dillon.



To the Same.

Paris, the 12tli of August, 1788.

MoNSEiGNEUR, — The clergy of France have at length
separated. The assembly was divided, and this prevented
it from effecting any good. Your Eminence must have
been surprised when you saw the discourse of the Arch-
bishop of Narbonne, the president. His boldness in
thanking the king for the edict in favor of the non-
Catholics should have been rebuked by the clergy. But
no ! — there was not a single protest against the edict. I
send your Eminence a little pamphlet; it will prove to
you how little zeal these prelates have for the glory of
their order, which, even before the monarchy existed, was
the first order in the state, and was loaded with privileges.

Well ! such will not be the case any longer. They
wish to be on an equality with the noblesse in the provin-
cial assemblies, they will preside alternately ; and, what
is worse, at the very moment when the Parliament is
opposing with all its strength the verifications of the prop-
erties of the king's subjects, as contrary to their liberties
and the source of all kinds of vexations, the clergy, on
the demand of the archbishops of Rheims and Bour-
deaux, have decided to submit to these verifications ! It
makes one sick to think of it.

At last, the demand of the Parliament has been effec-
tive : the States-General will assemble on the 1st of May,
1789. We all believe that peace will then be restored
throughout the kingdom.

Fifty-two fresh deputies arrived here yesterday to ask
for the release of the twelve gentlemen imprisoned in the
Bastile. They are not to leave until their petition is
granted. It is uncertain whether they will be received by
the king.


The whole country is in consternation. A mere word
is sufficient to procure your arrest and imprisonment in
the Bastile, which is crowded with captives. And who
does all this ? An archbishop,^ who is creating a panic
among twenty-four millions of human beings. It is hoped
that the king, who has good intentions, may see that he
is deceived, and may dismiss from his councils those who
tarnish the glory of his reign and injure the tranquillity of
the state. . . .

P. S. — Your Eminence knows my handwriting, and
there is no need of my signature. I act as I do, fearing
my letters may be opened at the post-office.

(Vatican Archives.)


To the Nuncio.^

Monday, the 27th of April, 1789.

M. the Abbe de Salamon has the honor to present his
respectful compliments to his Excellency the Nuncio, and
to inform him that the unimportant riot which occurred
at about four o'clock had its origin in a private affair.

The Sieur Reveillon, a wholesale paper manufacturer,
had the imprudence to say in an assembly of his district,
" that the workmen could easily live on twenty sols a day,
and even on fifteen." These words created some excite-
ment at the time ; but to-day the workmen became furious
against this Reveillon, and searched his house for him.
Fortunately, he escaped to the Chatelet. A mob gathered
around it, and insisted on having him out and hanging
him. Not succeeding, they went to the yard of the Palais,
erected a gallows, and hanged him in effigy. Then they

1 Lomenie de Brienne.

2 The nuncio at Paris at this time was Dugnani.


Nevertheless, as I was leaving the apartment of M. le
President, a messenger arrived with the news that the
mob was running in the direction of Reveillon's house,
with the intention of plundering or even burning it. The
shops were all shut, and there was a dreadful panic. Just
as I was entering the carriage of M. de Castillon, a gentle-
man came up to us in a state of great alarm and told us
to return to the Hdtel Galifet. Still, although only a
soldier of the Pope,^ I told him we should stand our
ground and see what was going to happen. The result
showed I was right.

We returned in the carriage to the house of the First
President, when all was over. The whole affair was in-
significant. It may happen, however, that a reveille may
be rung out for Heveillon to-night. This is the whole truth
of the matter. (Vatican Archives : Nunciature of France.)


Letter of Mgr. de Salamon to the Editor-in-chief of the
Ami de la Beligion.

I have read in your journal of the 17th, that an ecclesi-
astic of the diocese of Besan^on had refuted the pamphlet
which attacks the authenticity of the Briefs issued by
Pius VI. against the Constitution of the Clergy. Allow
me to confirm the statements of this ecclesiastic, and to
add my positive testimony to the proofs he has adduced.

Although a clerical councillor in the Parliament of Paris,
I was born a subject of Pius VI. , and was named by him
in 3 790, after the departure of Mgr. Dugnani, inter-
nuncio to Louis XVI. I was recognized as such, and
, exercised the functions of the office until the 10th of

In March, 1791, I received, through Cardinal Zelada,

1 That is to say, a priest.


the original briefs, in the legal and usual form, with a
short letter on parchment for each of the metropolitans.
I forwarded them at once to Cardinal de La Rochefou-
cauld, archbishop of Rouen, the archbishops of Cambrai,
Toulouse, and Aries, who were still in France, and even
to Cardinal de Lomenie.

These prelates acknowledged their reception, all but the
archbishops of Toulouse and Sens. When I complained
of this silence to the Abbe Godard, grand vicar of Toulouse,
I received a reply, a little after, from the archbishop.

I had them translated and printed by the Sieur Copart,
although very heavy penalties then existed against all who
should publish acts emanating from Rome.

The authenticity of these briefs cannot, therefore, be
called in question.

Louis de ^k-lamo^^ Bishop of Saint-Flour.

Saint-Flour, 30th of October, 1821.


Fragments of the Memoirs of the Abbe Sicard, relative to
Mgr. de Salamon and the Cure de Saint- Jean en Greve.

"... While all this was passing, the door of the prison
was opened with a great noise to admit a fresh victim.
And what a victim ! Great God ! it was one of my com-
rades in the Mairie, whom I believed dead, the Abbe

S .^ He had been transferred, with sixty others, on

the 1st of September, had been dragged in the midst of
them to the yard, to be massacred with them, and had
found himself unconsciously in the ranks of the murderers,
instead of among the murdered. Profiting by the disorder
that reigned in this execrable theatre, he made his way to

1 Salamon.


the very table where the committee sat, and begged his
life with that accent of despair which penetrates the
hardest hearts. The result was that he was locked up
amongst us.

" What an interview and what a moment for us both!
... I had learned through the concierge of the massacre
of all the prisoners, with whom I knew that he was. When
I saw him again, it seemed to me as if I was about to see
all my other friends.

*' It was he who informed me of the glorious and heroic
death of the cure of Saint- Jean en Greve, that venerable
old man, who replied with such courage to the questions
of his assassins, and who preferred death to the oath
which they proposed, demanding only one favor, that
his death might be as speedy as possible, and he ob-
tained it.

" The most ferocious of the band seized the old man
by the hair, fixed his head on a block, and struck at
it with a sabre. Another hewed off the head from the

" Thus began the massacre of those victims to whom
Manuel, ten days before, had announced their freedom. . . .

'' Such was the narrative of my old comrade, who had
escaped by a miracle from this bloody tragedy.

'' About three in the morning, when there was no longer
any one to be slaughtered, the murderers remembered that
there were still some prisoners in the violon. They knocked
at the little door opening on the yard. Every blow was for
us a sentence of death. We thought we were lost.

" I rapped gently at the door which communicated with
the hall of the committee, trembling with fear lest I should
be heard by the assassins who were threatening to break in
the other door. The commissaries answered that they had
no key. We had, then, to await in patience our frightful


" There were three of us in this prison.^ My two com-
rades saw a plank above us which they thought might
afford us a chance of safety. Only one could reach it,
by mounting on the shoulders of the others.

" One of them addressed me in these words : ' Only one
can escape. You are more useful in the world than we
are, and that one must be you. We can form a ladder
for you with our two bodies.' "

Then follows a contest of generosity between the three,
not unlike that described by Coppee in his drama, entitled :
" L'un ou I'autre." Finally, the Abbe Sicard climbs to the
shoulders of the first, then to those of the second, and
thanks to this ladder — and also to his agility — disap-
pears. He climbs back again when the danger vanishes,
and his preservers had not to pay for their devotion with
their lives.


Another Fragment, supposed to he by the Abbe Godar'd.^

" The cure of Saint-Jean en Greve addressed these
words to his companions : —

"'My dear brethren! to-day is Sunday. We would
all celebrate or hear Mass, if we were free. Since we
cannot have this happiness, let us unite ourselves with the
sacrifice offered at this moment by some minister of Jesus
Christ ; there is every likelihood that this shall be our last
Mass, and that our next one may be said in heaven. Every-
thing proclaims that this is our last day.'

1 According to the Abbe Sicard, this happened before the arrival of

S , that is to say, Salamon.

2 " Annales Catholiques," t. 1, Relation de la Conversion de M. de
Chamois. This episode recalls that of the massacres of the Commune,
in which President Bonjeau, converted by the Jesuits, confessed to
Pere OUivaiut.


" Immediately, all the priests fell on their knees, and
the cure began the prayers of the liturgy."

Further on the writer speaks of '•' the confession" : —

' ' At these words [of the cure] M. de Chamois threw
himself at the feet of the priest and confessed.

" All the priests confessed to one another. They then
begged the saintly cure to give them the general absolu-
tion." . . .

The author describes the escape of the prisoners
through the window : —

"An order had been obtained from Manuel to deliver
one of the priests imprisoned in this hall [the chapel of
the Guild of Artisans]. He was summoned at the very
moment the assassins were breaking into it. The door
yielded to their blows, and that the priest protected by
Manuel might not be included in the general massacre,
they relaxed their fury for a time, and allowed this priest
to be called.

' ' He had escaped through one of the windows, and was
no longer with his companions.

" He was called for several times, and was told that
Manuel wished to save him. This priest was not known
to those who called for him. Some one else might have
taken this opportunity to escape. M. de Chamois could
have profited by it more than any one, for he was of the
same height as the priest who was to be saved." ^

1 Comparing this account with the " Memoirs/' b. i. c. vii., we see
that this priest was the Abbe Godard,




Extract from the notes to a poem on the death of de LoizerolleSj
quoted from the " Ristoire du Tribunal Revoluiion7iairej" by M,

The President de Eosambo undoubtedly accelerated
his own destruction.

The anecdote is worthy of Tiberius, and I relate it on
the faith of that illustrious and unfortunate magistrate
himself, who told it to me with a serenity I was far from

During the last year in which the Parliament of Paris
was allowed to hold its sessions, there had been a perma-
nent tribunal, called the Chambre des Vacations, destined
to prolong the course of justice until the accession of a
new order of magistrates.

This Chamber was presided over by the venerable de

Before dissolving, it passed a unanimous resolution
protesting against the new disorganizing laws, which in a
few months had overturned a throne upon which sixty-three
kings had sat.

The son-in-law of Malesherbes saw the necessity of
hiding from the Revolutionists the original monument of
his honorable resistance to the popular tyranny which was
beginning to involve every one in a common ruin.

He took into his confidence an old attendant who had
been in his service for thirty years, and whom he believed
incapable of treachery. He ordered him to have a hollow
key made, in the interior of which the dangerous parch-
ment could be deposited.

His agent performed his mission. M. de Rosambo,
with his aid, placed the protest in the empty key, which


was closed by a secret spring, and, tranquil as to the
issue, shut himself up with his family in the solitude of

The patriots of the Eevolutiouary Committee found
the means of undermining the agent of M. de Rosambo.
Perhaps they told him he should one day inherit the post
of president h mortier if he enlightened his country on
the general conspiracy of the magistracy against the Re-
public, and the old servant did not hesitate to betray his
master to save his country.



The undersigned, considering that the stability of the
throne, the glory of the nation, and the happiness of citi-

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