Madame de (Anne-Louise-Germaine) Staël.

Ten years' exile; online

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During the Years 1810, 1811, 1812, and 1813,








Pkeface, by the Editor

















Causes of Bonaparte's animosity against


Commencement of opposition in the
Tribunate. — My first Persecution on
that account. — Fouch^ - _ .
System of Fusion adopted by Bonaparte.
— -Publication of my Work on Lite-

Conversation of my Father with Bona-
parte. — Campaign of Marengo
The Infernal Machine. — Peace ofLune-
ville - - -

Corps diplomatique during the Consul-
ate. — Death of the Emperor Paul
Paris in 1801
Journey to Coppet. — Preliminaries of

Peace with England - -
Paris in 1802. — Bonaparte President of
the Italian Republic. — My return to
Coppet - - . - .

New symptoms of Bonaparte's ill will
to my Father and Myself.— Affairs
of Switzerland - - - _
Rupture with England. — Commence-
ment of my Exile . - .
Departiire for Germany. — Arrival at
Weimar - - . - -
Berlin, — Prince Louis-Ferdinand
Conspiracy of Moreau and Pichegru
Assassination of the Duke d'Enghien
Illness and Death of M. Necker
Trial of Moreau . - - ,
Commencement of the Empire -















Advertisement by the Editor - - - 115


I. Suppression of my Work on Germany.

— Banishment from France - - 125
II. Return to Coppet. — Diflferent Persecu-
tions 138

— III. Journey in Switzerland with M. de

Montmorency - - - - 146
IV. Exile ofM. de Montmorency and Ma-
dame Recamier. — New Persecutions 1 55
V. Departure from Coppet - - - 165
VI. Passage through Austria; 1812 - - 175
VII. Residence at Vienna - - - 183
VIII. Departure from Vienna - - - 189
IX. Passage through Poland - - - 199
X. Arrival in Russia - - - - 206

XI. Kiow 209

XII. Road from Kiow to Moscow - -216

XIII. Appearance of the Country. — Charac-

ter of the Russians - - - 221

XIV. Moscow - - - - - - 226

XV. Road from Moscow to Petersburg - 236

XVI. St. Petersburg - - - - 238

XVII. The Imperial Family - - - 248
XVIIl. Manners of the great Russian Nobility 264
XIX. Establishments for Public Education. —

Institute of St. Catherine - -261

XX. Departure for Sweden. Passage

through Finland - - - - 272



The production which is now submitted
to the reader, is not a complete work, and
ought not to be criticised as such. It con-
sists of Fragments of her Memoirs, which
my mother had intended to complete at her
leisure, and which would have probably un-
dergone alterations, of the nature of which I
am ignorant, if a longer life had been allowed
her to revise and finish them. This reflec-
tion was sufficient to make me examine most
scrupulously if I vt^as authorized to give them
publicity. The fear of any sort of respon-
sibility cannot be present to the mind, when
our dearest affections are in question; but
the heart is agitated by a painful anxiety
when we are left to guess at those wishes,
the declaration of which would have been a
sacred and invariable rule. Nevertheless.

* Aug-ustus, Baron de Stael-Holstein.


after having seriously reflected en what duty
required of me, I am satisfied that I have
fulfilled my mother's intentions, in engaging
to leave out in this edition of her works,* no
reduction susceptible of being printed. My
fidelity in adhering to this engagement gives
me the right of disavowing before hand, all
which at any future period, persons might
pretend to add to this collection, which, I
repeat, contains every thing, of which my
mother had not formally forbid the publica-

The title of Ten Years' Exile, is that of
which the authoress herself made choice ; I
have deemed it proper to retain it, although
the w^ork, being unfinished, comprises only
a period of seven years. The narrative be-
gins in 1800, two years previous to my
mother's first exile, and stops at 1804, after
the death of M. Necker. It recommences
in 1810, and breaks off abruptly at her arri-
val in Sweden, in the autumn of 1812. Be-

* Les (Euvres completes de Madame la Baronne de Stael,
publiees par son Fils. Precedees d'une notice sur le carac-
tere et les Merits de Madame de Stael, par Madame Necker
de Saussure. Paris ^ 17 vols. 8vo. and 17 vols. 12mo.


tween the first and second part of these
Memoirs there is therefore an interval of
nearly six years. An explanation of this
will be found in a faithful statement of the
manner in which they were composed.

I will not anticipate my mother's narra-
tive of the persecution to which she was sub-
jected during the imperial government : that
persecution, equally mean and cruel, forms
the subject of the present publication, the
interest of which I should only weaken. It
will be sufficient for me to remind the reader,
that after having exiled her from Paris, and
subsequently sent her out of France — after
having suppressed her work on Germany
with the most arbitrary caprice, and made it
impossible for her to publish any thing, even
on subjectss wdiolly unconnected with poli-
tics ; that government went so far as to make
her almost a prisoner in her own residence,
to forbid her all kind of travelling, and to
deprive her of the pleasures of society and
the consolations of friendship. It was while
she was in this situation that my mother be-
gan her Memoirs, and one may readily con-


eeive what must have been at that time the
disposiiion of her mind.

During the composition of the work, the
hope of one day giving it to the world scarce-
ly presented itself in the most distant futuri-
ty. Europe was still bent to that degree
under the yoke of Napoleon, that no inde-
pendent voice could make itself be heard ;
on the Continent the press was completely
chained, and the most rigorous measures
excluded every v/ork printed in England.
My mother thought less, therefore, of com-
posing a book, than of preserving the traces
of her recollections and ideas. Along with
the narrative of circumstances personal to
herself, she incorporated wdth it various re-
flections which were suggested to her, from
the beginning of Bonaparte's power, by the
state of France, and the progress of events.
But if the printing such a work w^ould at
that time have been an act of unheard of
temerity, the mere act of writing it required
a great deal of both courage and prudence,
particularly in the position in which she was
placed. My mother had every reason to be-


lieve that all her movements were narrowly
watched by the police : the prefect who had
replaced M. de Barante at Geneva, pretended
to be acquainted with every thing that pass-
ed in her house, and the least pretence would
have been sufficient to induce them to pos-
sess themselves of her papers. She was
obliged, therefore, to take the greatest pre-
cautions. Scarcely had she written a
few pages, when she made one of her
most intimate friends transcribe them, taking
care to substitute for the proper names those
of persons taken from the history of the En-
glish Revolution. Under this disguise she
carried off her manuscript, when in 1812 she
determined to withdraw herself bv tlhAit
from the rigors of a constantly increasing

On her arrival in Sweden, after having
travelled through Russia, and narrowly es-
caped the French armies advancing on Mos-
cow, my mother employed herself in copy-
ing out fairly the first part of her Memoirs,
which, as I have already mentioned, goes no
farther than 1 804. But prior to continuing
them in the order of time, she wished to take


advantage of the moment, during which her
recollections were still strong, to give a nar-
rative of the remarkable circumstances of her
flight, and of the persecution which had ren-
dered that step in a manner a duty. She
resumed, therefore, the history of her life at
the year 1810, the epoch of the suppression
of her work on Germany^ and continued it up
to her arrival at Stockholm in 1812: from
that was suggested the title of Ten Years'^
Exile, This explains also, why, in speaking
of the imperial government, my mother ex-
presses herself sometimes as living under its
power, and at other times, as having escaped
from it.

Finally, after she had conceived the plan
of her Consider a f-ions on the French Revolu-
tion, she extracted from the first part of Ten
Years'^ Exile, the historical passages and
2:eneral reflections which entered into her new
design, reserving the individual details for the
period when she calculated on finishing the
memoirs of her life, ^nd when she flattered
herself with being able to name all the persons
of whom she had received generous proofs of
friendship, without being afraid of compro-


mising them by the expressions of her grati-

The manuscript confided to my charge
consisted therefore of two distinct parts : the
first, the perusal of which necessarily offer-
ed less interest, contained several passages
already incorporated in the Comiderations
on the French Revolution ; the other formed
a sort of journal, of which no part was yet
known to the public. I have followed the
plan traced by my mother, by striking out of
the first part of the manuscript, all the passages
which, with some modifications, have already
found a place in her great political work.
To this my labour as editor has been confin-
ed, and I have not allowed myself to make
the slightest addition.

The second part I deliver to the public
exactly as I found it, without the least
alteration ; and I have scarcely felt myself
entitled to make slight corrections of the
style, so important did it appear to me to
preserve in this sketch the entire vividness
of its original character. A perusal of the
opinions which she pronounces upon the


political conduct of Russia, will satisfy
every one of my scrupulous respect for my
mother's manuscript ; but without taking
into account the influence of gratitude on
elevated minds, the reader will not fail to re-
collect, that at that time the sovereign of Rus-
sia was fighting in the cause of liberty and
independence. Was it possible to foresee
that so few years would elapse before the
immense forces of that empire should
become the instruments of the oppression
of unhappy Europe ?

If we compare the Ten Years'^ Exile with
the Considerations on the French RevoIutio7i,
it will perhaps be found that the reign of
Napoleon is criticised in the first of these
works with greater severity than in the other,
and that he is there attacked with an elo-
quence not always exempt from bitterness.
This difference may be easily explained :
one of these works was written after the fall
of the despot, with the calm and impartiality
of the historian ; the other was inspired by
a courageous feeling of resistance to tyran-
ny ; and at the period of its composition, the
imperial power was at its height.


I have not selected one moment in pre-
ference to another for the publication of
Ten Years'^ Exile; the chronological order
has been followed in this edition, and the
posthumous works are naturally placed at
the end of the collection. In other respects,
I am not afraid of the charge of exhibiting a
want of generosity, in publishing, after the
fall of Napoleon, attacks directed against
his power. She, whose talents were always
devoted to the defence of the noblest of
causes—she, whose house was successively
the asylum of the oppressed of all parties,
would have been too far above such a re-
proach. It could only be addressed, at all
events, to the editor of the Ten Years'^
Exile; but I confess it would but very little
affect me. It would certainly be assigning
too fine a part to despotism, if, after having
imposed the silence of terror during its
triumph, it could call upon history to spare
it after its destruction.

The recollections of the last government
have no doubt afforded a pretence for a great
deal of persecution ; no doubt men of integ-


rity have revolted at the cowardly invectives
which are still permitted against those, who
having enjoyed the favours of that govern-
ment, have had sufficient dignity not to
disavow their past conduct; finally, there
is no doubt but fallen grandeur captivates
the imagination. But it is not merely the
personal character of Napoleon that is here
in question ; it is not he who can now be
an object of animadversion to generous
minds ; no more can it be those who, under
his reign, have usefully served their country
in the different branches of the public ad-
ministration : but that which we can never
brand with too severe a stigma, is the system
of selfishness and oppression of which Bo-
naparte is the author. But is not this
deplorable system still in full sway in
Europe ? and have not the powerful of
the earth carefull}^ gathered up the shameful
inheritance of him whom they have over-
thrown ? And if we turn our eyes toward
our own country, how many of these in-
struments of Napoleon do we not see, who,
after having fatigued him with their servile


complaisance, have come to offer to a new
power the tribute of their petty machiavel-
ism? Now, as then, is it not upon the
basis of vanity and corruption that the
whole edifice of their paltry science rests,
and is it not from the traditions of the
imperial government that the counsels of
their wisdom are extracted ?

In painting in stronger colours, therefore,
this fatal government, we are not insulting
over a fallen enemy, but attacking a still pow-
erful adversary ; and if, as I hope, the Ten
Years* Exile are destined to increase the
horror of arbitrary governments, I may
venture to indulge the pleasing idea, that
by their publication I shall be rendering a
service to the sacred cause to which my
mother never ceased to be faithful.




Causes of Bonaparte's animosity against me.

It is not with the view of occupying the public
attention with what relates to myself, that I have
determined to relate the circumstances of my ten
years' exile ; the miseries which I have endured,
however bitterly I may have felt them, are so trifling
in the midst of the public calamities of which we are
witnesses, that I should be ashamed to speak of my-
self, if the events which concern me were not in
some degree connected with the great cause of
threatened humanity. The Emperor Napoleon,
whose character exhibits itself entire in every action
of his life, has persecuted me with a minute anxiety,
with an ever increasing activity, with an inflexible
rudeness ; and my connections with him contributed
to make him known to me, long before Europe
had discovered the key of the enigma.

I shall not here enter into a detail of the events
that preceded the appearance of Bonaparte upon
the political stage of Europe ; if I accomplish the
design I have of writing the life of my father, I will
there relate what I have witnessed of the early part


of the revolution, whose influence has changed the
fate of the whole world. My object at present is
only to retrace what relates to myself in this vast
picture ; in casting from that narrow point of view
some general surveys over the whole, i flatter my-
self with being frequently overlooked, in relating
my own history.

The greatest grievance which the Emperor Na-
poleon has against me, is the respect w hich I have
always entertained for real liberty. These senti-
ments have been in a manner transmitted to me as
an inheritance, and adopted as my own, ever since
I have been able to reflect on the lofty ideas from
which they are derived^ and the noble actions which
they inspire. The cruel scenes which have dis-
honoured the French revolution, proceeding only
from tyranny under popular forms, could not, it ap-
pears to me, do any injury to the cause of liberty :
at the most, we could only feel discouraged with re-
spect to Fronce ; but if that country had the mis-
fortune not to know how to possess that noblest of
blessings, it ought not on that account to be pro-
scribed from the face of the earth. When the sun
disappears from the horizon of the Northern regions,
the inhabitants of those countries do not curse his
rays, because they are still shining upon others
more favoured by heaven.

Shortly after the 18th Brumaire, Bonaparte had
heard that I had been speaking strongly in my own
parties, against that dawning oppression, whose
progress I foresaw as clearly as if the future had
been revealed to me. Joseph Bonaparte, whose
understanding and conversation I liked very much,
came to see me, and told me, " My brother com-
plains of you. Why, said he to me yesterday, why


does not Madame de Stael attach herself to my
government f what is it she wants f the payment of
the deposit of her father ? I will give orders for it :
a residence in Paris ? I will allow it her. In short,
what is it she wishes ?" *' Good God !" replied I,
*' it is not what I wish, bat wimt I think, that is in
question." I know not if this answer was reported
to him, but if it was, 1 am certain that he attached no
meaning to it ; for he believes in the sincerity of
no one's ophiions ; lie considers every kind of mo-
rality as nothing more than a form, to which no
more meaning is attached than to the conclusion of
a letter; and as the having assured any one that
you are his most humble servant would not entide
him to ask any thing of you, so if any one says that
he is a lover of liberty, — that he believes in God, —
that he prefers his conscience to his interest, Bo-
naparte considers such professions only as an ad-
herence to custom, or as the regular means of for-
warding ambitious views or selfish calculations.
The only class of human beings whom he cannot
well comprehend, are those who are sincerely at-
tached to an opinion, whatever be the consequences
of it : such persons Bonaparte looks upon as boo-
bies, or as traders who outstand their market, that
is to say, who would sell themselves too dear.
Thus, as we shall see in the sequel, has he never
been deceived in his calculations but by integrity,
encountered either in individuals or nations.


Commencement of opposition in the Tribunate ^^-^
My first persecution on that account*— FouChe,

Some of the tribunes who attached a real mean-
ing to the consiitution, were desirous of establish-
ing in their assembly an opposition analogous to
that of England ; as if the rights which that con-
stitution professed to secure had any thing of reali-
ty in them, and the pretended division of the bo-
dies of the state were any thing more than a mere
affair of etiquette^ a distinction between the differ-
ent anti-chambers of the first-consul, in which ma-
gistrates under different names could hold together.
I confess that I saw with pleasure the aversion en-
tertained by a small number of the tribunes, to rival
the counsellors of state in servility. I had especi-
ally a strong belief that those who had previously
allowed themselves to be carried too far in their
love for the republic, would continue faithful to
their opinions, when they became the weakest, and
the most threatened.

One of these tribunes, a friend of liberty, and en-
dowed with one of the most remarkable under-
standings ever bestowed upon man, M. Benjamin
CoiiStant, consulted me upon a speech which he
purposed to deliver, for the purpose of signalizing
the dawn of tyranny : I encouraged him in it with
all the strength of my conviction. However, as it
was well known that he was one of my intimate
friendsj I could not help dreading what might hap-

TEN years' exile. 21

pen to me in consequence. I was vulnerable in my
taste for society. Montaigne said formerly, / am
a Frenchnaa through Paris : and if lie thought
so three centuries ago, what must it be iiow, when
we see so many persons of extraordinary intellect
collected io one city, and so many accustomed to
employ that intellect in adding to the pleasures of
conversation. The demon of ennui has alwa^^s
pursued me ; by the terror with which he inspires
me. I could alone have been capable of bending the
knee to tyran 'V, if the example of my father, and
his blood which flows in my veins, had not ena-
bled me to triumph over this weakness. Be that
as it may, Bonaparte knew this foible of mine per-
fectly : he discerns quickly the weak side of any
one ; for it is by their weaknesses that he subju-
gates people to his sway. To the power with which
he threatens, to the treasures with which he dazzles,
he joins the dispensation of ennui, and tiiat is a
source of real terror to the French. A residence
at forty leagues from the capital, contrasted with
the advantages collected in the most agreeable city
in the world, fails not in the long run to shake the
greater part of exiles, habituated from their infan-
cy to the charms of a Parisian life.

On the eve of the day when Benjamin Constant
was to deliver his speech, I ha i a party, among
whom were Lucien Bonaparte, MM. ***, ***, *5<'^j
***, and several others, whose conversation in dif-
ferent degrees possesses that constant novelty of
interest which is produced by the strength of ideas
and the grace of expression. Every one of these
persons, with the exception of Lucien, tired of be-
ing proscribed by the directory, was preparing to
serve the new government, requiring only to be


22 TEN years' exile.

well rewarded for their devotion to its power. Ben-
jauiin Constant came up and whispered to me,
" \'o»r drawing room is now filled with persons
w'vlx whom you are pleased : if I speak, to-morrow
it will be deserted : — think well of it." " We must
follow our conviction,'' said I to him. This reply
was dictated by enthusiasm ; but, I confess, if I
had foreseen what I have suffered since that day, I
should not have had the firmness to refuse M Con-
stant's offer of renouncing his project, in order not
lo compromise me.

At present, so far as opinion is affected, it is
nothing to incur the disgrace of Bonaparte : he
may make you perish, but he cannot deprive you
of respect. Then, on the contrary, France was not
enlightened as to his tyrannical views, and as all
who had suffered from the revolution expected to
obtain from him the return of a brother, or a friend,
or the restoration of property, any one who was
bold enough to resist lam was branded with the
name of Jacobin, and you were deprived of good
society along with the countenance of the govern-
ment : an intolerable situation, particularly for a
woman, and of which no one can know the mise-
ry without having experienced it.

On the da}' when the signal of opposition was
exhibited in the tribunate by ray friend, I had in-
vited several persons whose society I was fond of,
but all of whom were attached to the new govern-
ment. At five o'clock I had received ten notes of
apology ; the first and second 1 bore tolerably well,
but as they succeeded each other "rapidly, I began
to be alarmed. In vain did I appeal to my con-
science, which advised me to renounce all the plea-
sures attached to the favour of Bonaparte : I was

TEN tears' exile. 23

blamed by so many honourable people, that I knew
not how to support myself on my own way of think-
ing. Bonaparte had as yet done nothing exactly
culpable ; many asserted that he preserved France
from anarchy : in short, if at that moment he had
signified to me any wish of reconciliation, I should
have been delighted : but a step of that sort he will
never take without exacting a degradation, and,
to induce that degradation, he generally enters in-
to such passions of authority, as terrify into yield-
ing every thing. I do not wish by that to say that
Bonaparte is not really pa'^sionate : what is not
calculation in him is hatred, and hatred generally
expresses itself in rage : but calculation is in him
so much the strongest, that he never goes beyond
what it is convenient for him to show, according to
circumstances and persons- One day a friend of

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Online LibraryMadame de (Anne-Louise-Germaine) StaëlTen years' exile; → online text (page 1 of 18)