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nated. But it affords no materials for extract, unless our quotations were extended to a far greater length than our limits warrant. On the whole, we would say of the present publication, that it can add no laurels to Oehlenschläger's fame, but will not, we think, tarnish those he has already obtained.
Art. XII.—Mémoires de Madame la Duchesse d'Abrantes, ou Souvenirs
historiques sur Napoleon, la Revolution, le Directoire, le Consulat, l'Em
pire, et la Restauration. Tom. I.–VI. 8vo. Paris, 1832. We have to apologize for our delay in noticing a work so pre-eminently distinguished amidst the swarm of pretended Memoirs, of pseudo-Autobiographies, that the Parisian press has of late years littered. Our excuse is, that we wished to review as a whole memoirs embracing so important an epoch as that announced in the Duchess's title page; but when, upon closing the 6th octavo volume, we found ourselves no further advanced than the offer of the consulship for life, we felt compelled to abandon our wish as hopeless, and to make up our mind to emit our opinion of this interesting publication—a work it has no pretension to be called-piece-meal.
We have termed these volumes distinguished, because they bear internal evidence of authenticity, and interesting, because all authentic information touching Napoleon must be so; but in one respect the book has, we confess, disappointed us.
We looked for the simple (we do not mean uncoloured, that were indeed idle,) downright gossipping about an illustrious individual, that charms us in many old memoirs, male to say truth as well as female. But, alas for this march of intellect! where shall we now-a-days find anything of the kind ? Despite the total disregard of time and place, which frank and pleasant gossipping only can justify, the Duchess of Abrantes chooses to instruct us in politics, metaphysics, the fine arts, and what not, imperatively requiring us to accept her ipse dixit, amongst other matters, for Mr. Pitt's having instigated not only every attempt upon Bonaparte's life, but also the murder of the Emperor Paul, and, we believe, of every soul assassinated during his ministry. Mr. Fox's denial of some of the atrocities imputed to his political rival, which she admiringly records, she seems to admire merely as a patriotic falsehood.
We are indebted for these Memoirs, it should seem, to those of Bourrienne, which incensed the Duchess, both as the widow of Junot, and as, in her own proper person, an especial pet of Napoleon. For our own part we must say, that as far as we can see, in essentials at least, these two pictures of the aspiring young Corsican adventurer, the triumphant General, and the First Consul, do not seem materially to disagree, inasmuch as the lady, even when she contradicts the gentleman, appears to us only to state the same fact with different feelings, consequently putting it in a different light. Nevertheless, he who would form to himself a correct image of Bonaparte, would do well to study him both in the pages of his discarded secretary, and in those of the widow of his once favourite aide-de-camp. If jealousy of a schoolfellow immeasurably exalted, if resentment at the withdrawal of that exalted schoolfellow's long confidence in the companion of his boyhood—a withdrawal by no means satisfactorily accounted for--darken Bourrienne's pictures of the coldly calculating selfishness which unhesitatingly sacrificed the lives and affections of all individuals to every immediate personal interest, who so well calculated to relieve those sombre hues with the orient tints of morn, to record every symptom of kindness and sensibility, every trait of goodnature and playfulness, as Madame Junot? And here we must bring back to the reader's recollection the circumstances explanatory of the lady's bias. Not only was Madame Junot's mother, Madame Permon, (the daughter of a branch of the Imperial Comneni settled in Corsica,) an early friend of Madame Mère, as Napoleon's mother was whimsically entitled, but the connection was near being drawn yet closer, even to the substituting of the Permon to the Beauharnais family. After a hint or two, that looked to us somewhat suspicious (of course unin tentionally) touching the regard that subsisted between Madame Permon and her friend's son, the Duchess tells us, that Bonaparte one day proposed to that lady, then in widow's weeds, to marry her son Albert Permon to his sister Pauline, her daughter Laure, (our authoress in proper person,) then a child, to one of his brothers, and to begin by bestowing her fair though matron hand, upon himself. Considerations of age, fortune, and other sundries, induced the widow to decline all these matrimonial schemes ; and in a marvellously short time afterwards, we know not exactly how short—inasmuch as our Duchess despises chronology-the rejected lover married Madame Beauharnais.
Madame Permon, a true Frenchwoman, presently quarrelled with Bonaparte himself about a commission which he neglected to procure for some cousin of hers on the appointed day. The intimacy between the families nevertheless still continued; and when Junot, whose impassioned devotion to Napoleon could not but command some return of affection, married Laure Permon, all the First Consul's kindness for the daughter of his lost love seems to have revived, if indeed it were not succeeded by warmer feelings. We would not be censorious, else the Duchess tells us some things that might awaken a suspicion that she does not tell all, especially as we remember Madame de Genlis's warning to memoir writers against such silly indiscretion. We, however, who had rather be deemed credulous than censorious, are willing to believe that the First Consul visited the young bride's solitary bedchamber at Malmaison, at early dawn, only to read his despatches there, litter her bed with the covers, and pinch her feet through the bed clothes; as also that she designedly cured him of so awkward a habit, by one night irresistibly detaining Junot to share her couch, where Bonaparte found him next morning, when, as commandant of Paris, he ought to have returned to his post after
supper. A little quarrel followed between the First Consul and the lady, but it soon blew over, and she appears to have remained a favourite. She
herself professes to share her husband's enthusiasm for the hero; whilst she speaks of the usually beloved Josephine, even when praising her, in a tone that sounds very like the bitterness of rivalry, either personal or filial, and of Marie Louise with absolute detestation.
We do not propose giving much space to a book that either is, or will shortly be, in every body's hands; and having generally enounced our opinion of the character of the work, and of the authoress's peculiar fitness for writing it, we shall merely add an extract, or two. And now we truly regret our delay; for those extracts we must needs take from the newest, and therefore least known volumes, which offer us nothing so impressive or entertaining as some of the earlier scenes of that well named period, the Reign of Terror, (of the frightful influence of which upon the obscurest individuals, we, in our tranquil country, can hardly form an idea,) and others from Bonaparte's youth. We have, however, selected a couple of passages totally unconnected with politics, a subject we have no desire to discuss with the fair Duchess, and which exhibit the First Consul in his most amiable character, even whilst betraying something of the cloven foot.
One day a gentlemanly looking youth was observed lingering about the gates of Malmaison, and entreating to see the First Consul, as a matter upon which his very existence depended. Upon being closely interrogated by the aides-de-camp, it appeared that he was a candidate for admission to the Polytechnic School, but excluded even from the preliminary examination of the competitors, because he had received his instruction solely from his father, not from any public professor.
“But,' said Duroc, with his accustomed mildness and civility, 'what would you have the First Consul do in the affair? This is a rule invariably observed with regard to all candidates. What would you have of the First Consul?'
« "I would have him examine me,' answered the youth, with a delightful naïveté. 'I am certain that when he shall have questioned me, he will judge me worthy to share the labours of those youths of whom he desires to make officers fitted to execute his great conceptions.'
“ The three comrades looked at one another. Duroc and Junot, as well as Lacuée, thought that this youth, with his burning words and glance of fire, could not but please the First Consul. Duroc repaired to his apartment. Napoleon smiled with that sweet, that luminous smile, which he had when pleased.
“. And this young hair-brain wants me to examine him?' said he to Duroc. • But how should such a fancy occur to him ? It is so strange.' And still smiling, he rubbed his chin. How old is he? asked the First Consul, after walking about for some time without speaking, but in a gracious silence.
Perhaps about seventeen, General.” 06 Fetch him.'
The youth's appearance pleased as had been anticipated. “"Well, young man,' said the First Consul, approaching the youthful enthusiast with a gracious smile, so you would be examined by me?'
“The poor boy, trembling with delight, could not answer.' Napoleon liked neither insolent hardihood, nor timid bashfulness; but what he now beheld was a silence caused by the soul's speaking too loud-and he understood it.
“Compose yourself, my boy. At this moment you are not sufficiently collected to answer me. I will occupy myself with other business, and then we will attend to yours.'
« «The First Consul then led Junot to a window, where he said to him, *Do you note that youth? Had I a thousand like him, the conquest of the world would be but a pleasant ride.' ”.
The examination went off happily, and the youth, at the very summit of human felicity, was dismissed with a note in Bonaparte's own hand, to order his immediate admission into the Polytechnic School; where the Duchess, though she has forgotten his name, recollects that he distinguished himself. We readily believe it.
One other scene and we have done. Two packets of MS. pamphlets, or satires against Bonaparte, had been mysteriously delivered to Madame Junot and Madame Permon, the latter had promptly thrown her packet into the fire. Bonaparte was strongly persuaded of Madame Permon's ill-will towards himself, and Junot was hesitating how to act, when an express arrived from Albert Permon, then in office at Marseilles, with a similar packet sent to him in his mother's name. This reiteration decided Junot. He hastened to the Tuileries at 11 o'clock at night, and presented his brother-in-law's letter to Bonaparte, who was just going to bed. After walking about for some time, rubbing his forehead, he stood still before Junot.
“Do you give me your word of honour that your mother-in-law has no concern in all this?
“My mother-in-law! exclaimed Junot-my mother-in-law! and he told the story of the burnt papers. As he spoke, Napoleon assumed an attentive air. Suddenly he began to walk rapidly about his cabinet, and his brow grew menacing. Junot stood perplexed.
Bonaparte now poured forth a tirade upon Madame Permon's intercourse with his enemies, which ended with,
“And you, too, great simpleton as you are, you too make friends of my enemies.''
“ Junot gazed with an air of stupefaction upon his general. He fancied himself in a dream, and at length asked, "Who can you mean, General?'
“ "Who?'-Why that M. d'Orsay.--Him whom they call the handsome d'Orsay. Was not he well nigh shot as a Clichy conspirator? Has not he been in the Temple? Fouché was telling me the other day that he was a dan
This speech produced an explosion of Junot's wrath against Fouché, to whom he gave the lie direct, and of his zeal in justification of his friend d'Orsay. His brow reeked with perspiration, his voice grew husky. Napoleon approached him, took his hand, and said
“Come, come, you are a mere child !-Hold your tongue!—What the devil!-I am not speaking of you, my most faithful friend. Did not you prove your attachment when I was in chains ? Would you not have followed me to prison?
“ I would have followed you to the scaffold ! exclaimed Junot, striking the table with his clenched fist, so as to make every thing upon it bound off. Napoleon laughed. « «Well, then! you see it is impossible I should say a single word that can
VOL. X. NO, XIX.
wound your heart, Monsieur Jumot.' As he spoke he pulled his ear, his nose, his hair (his usual marks of kindness.) Junot shrank.
“Ah, I hurt you!' said Napoleon, drawing still nearer to him; and laying his small white hand upon Junot's fair locks, he caressed him, as though he would have appeased a child. "Junot,' he resumed, looking at him with unutterable sweetness, do you remember one day in the Serbelloni palace at Milan? You had been wounded there, just there,' and the small hand tenderly patted the large deep scar. "I pulled your hair, and took away my hand, full of your blood.'
“The First Consul turned pale at the bare recollection; and repressing a shudder, he went on :— Yes, I own it, I then felt that there is a weakness inherent in our human nature, which in women is more developed, more exquisite. I then understood that one might faint. I do not forget that epoch, friend; and from that time the name of Junot cannot unite in my mind with even a show of perfidy. Your head is hot-too hot—but you are an honest, excellent fellow. You Lannes-Marmont-Duroc-Berthier-Bessieres,'At every name Napoleon took a pinch of snuff, and walked about, occasionally pausing and smiling at the name that reminded him of a faithful servant.
“My son Eugene.—Yes, those are hearts that love me-upon them I may rely.--Lemarrois—there is another of the faithful.–And that poor Rapp; he has not been long about me, and yet he loves me enough to be rude.—Do you know he scolds me sometimes ?? ”
Every shadow of dissatisfaction with Junot had now vanished, but not with Madame Permon. Another burst of anger at her enmity to himself and preference of his brothers was only appeased by informa. tion that she was probably on her death-bed. At these words Bonaparte came close to Junot, seized his arm, and exclaimed:
5 € Corvisart must see her ! " He rang.–Let citizen Corvisart be told I wish to speak with him.' And he continued to walk about in agitation. How! That woman, so handsome, 80 blooming not fifteen months since!' (He had attended a ball she gave upon her daughter's marriage.) “Poor Madame Permon !-Poor Madame Permon!'
“ He sank into his arm-chair, covered his eyes with his hands, and remained some time silent. Then rising, he again walked about with the rapidity always observed in his movements when any thing affected him. 'Desgenettes too must see her--and Ivan. It is impossible but what the faculty must have some means of curing a person as healthful and blooming as a rose.
With a little more to the same purpose the scene ends, Junpt is dismissed for the night, and, for aught we are told, the strange story of the MS. satires may never have been thought of again.
And now, having exhibited Bonaparte in a somewhat more kindly light than he usually appears in, except to revolutionary eyes, which ours are not, we take our leave of Madame la Duchesse d'Abrantes, until she shall favour us with a few more volumes.