« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
From Chambers' Journal.
BY MRS. CROWE.
appointed écuyer to the princess upon the marriage,
and consequent resignation, of the Baron de Brig. MADAME LOUISE.
nolles. Louis XV. of France had, by marriage with At the time of his appointment, Saint-Phale was Maria Leczinska, daughter of Stanislaus, king of not much more than twenty years of age, the son of Poland, two sons and several daughters. These a duke, handsome, accomplished, eminently agreeladies were the aunts of Louis XVI., of whom we able, and with a name already distinguished in arms. frequently find mention made in the history of that He had himself solicited the appointment, and it had unfortunate monarch.
been granted to his own wishes, and the influence Madame Louise, the heroine of our story, was of his father, without demur; Madame Louise, one of the youngest, and was also the one that took when the thing was mentioned to her, making most after her mother in character. Maria Lec- no objection. Indeed she had none. The vicomte zinska was a pious, amiable, tender-hearted woman, was but little known to her; for, avoiding the court and Louise resembled her in these characteristics ; festivities as much as her father would permit, and whilst the sort of education she received, being when she did attend them, appearing there rather brought up in the abbey of Fontrevault, tended very as a spectator than a partaker-beyond the general much to increase the seriousness of her natural dis- characters and the personal appearance of the gay position ; so that, after she lost her mother, though cavaliers of the court, she knew nothing of them. she continued to reside with her father at Ver- She had always heard Saint-Phale's name coupled sailles, or Paris, or wherever he might be, and so with the most flattering epithets; she had also lived in the court, she was not of it, nor ever im- heard that he was brave, generous, honorable, and bibed a taste for its splendors or amusements, and extravagantly beloved by his father and mother ; still less for its dissipations and vices. Notwith- and her own eyes had informed her that he was standing all her virtue and piety, however, Louise extremely handsome. To the latter quality she was a woman still, and a woman with a tender, was indifferent; and the others well fitting him for loving heart ; and in a court where there were so his office about her person, she signed his appointmany gay and accomplished cavaliers, it must have ment without hesitation, little dreaming at the been next to impossible for that loving heart to re- moment that she was also signing the fiat of her main untouched. But poor Louise had one safe- own destiny. In due time the Baron de Brignolles guard against love, which, pure and pious as she took his leave, and the vicomte entered on his duwas, she would willingly have dispensed with— ties; and it soon appeared evident to everybody she was deformed. With a lovely and bewitching that he had not sued for the situation without a face, and eyes of inconceivable beauty, her figure motive. The princess' lady of honor was the was quite distorted, from the consequences of an Comtesse de Châteaugrand, Anatole's cousin ; and unfortunate fall in her infancy. Without meaning with her he was, to all appearance, desperately to derogate from her merit, it is extremely possible smitten. He wore her colors, as was the fashion that this misfortune may have considerably influ- of the gallant world at that period, paid her the enced her character, and led her to seek in heaven most public attentions, and seemed determined not those consolations of the heart that she despaired only to be violently in love, but that all the world of enjoying on earth.
should know it. Of course each of the princesses had a regular There was, however, nothing very surprising in suite of servants, and of ladies and gentlemen in this. The Comtesse de Châteaugrand was a waiting ; and amongst these, each had also an widow with a considerable fortune, and though écuyer and a lady of honor, who were in imme- nearly ten years older than Anatole, she was still diate and constant attendance on their persons. extremely handsome ; added to which, she was The office of the écuyer was one which placed him very amiable, much esteemed by her mistress, and in a peculiar situation as regarded his mistress : he she and the young vicomte had always been on placed her chair, opened the door for her, handed the most friendly terms. His passion, therefore, her up and down stairs, and accompanied her in as we have said, excited no surprise in anybody; her drives and walks, and, in short, wherever she but whether the lady returned it, was altogether went ; so that, were it not for the respect due to another affair, and was indeed a question that creroyalty, it must have been difficult for a susceptible ated considerable discussion amongst the curious in young man, or a susceptible man of any age, to be these matters. in this hourly attendance on a charming princess “But she looks so happy—so calm !" said the and retain his heart entire. The deformity of poor young Duchesse de Lange. Madame Louise, as well as her piety, however, “And why not, when she has every reason to were perhaps thought sufficient defences against be so ?'' answered the Comtesse de Guiche. “Are any dangers of this description, as regarded either not his attentions unremitting ? What can she party ; for, without some such confidence, it would desire more ?" seem a great oversight on the part of the king “Ah, true," replied the other ; “happy if you to have placed in this necessarily intimate relation will, but calm !" with her one of the most fascinating men about the “Well, and why not calm ?" repeated Madame court; for such, by universal admission, was the de Guiche. young Vicomte Anatole de Saint-Phale, who was " Ah, one is never calm when one loves !"
returned the duchesse, with a little air of affecta- her turn quite pale with horror at the sight of the tion.
vicomte's attentions." “ That is so like you !" returned the comtesse, “ Be in love herself-certainly not,” said Madlaughing “You are so sentimental, my dear—a ame de Guiche; “ besides, to what purpose, poor real heroine of romance. I maintain that Madame thing, with her unfortunate figure? But I think de Châteaugrand is perfectly content, and that she she is much too kind-hearted to endeavor to cross intends in due time to reward his devotion with the loves of other people. However, certain it is, her hand. I am sure he deserves it. Except that she is not so fond of Madame de Châteaugrand waiting on the princess, he never does anything in as she was." the world but attend to her caprices; and I do be- And so, to her great grief, thought Madame de lieve she often affects to be whimsical, for the sake Châteaugrand herself. Louise, the gentle, the of giving him occupation."
kind, the considerate, was now often peevish, im“He certainly does not seem to recollect that patient, and irritable ; and what rendered the change there is another woman in the world besides the infinitely more afflicting to the comtesse was, that princess and his cousin,” said the duchesse, with all these ill-humors seemed to be reserved solely some little spite.
for her—to every one else the princess was as genMany a conversation of this nature was held al- tle and forbearing as before. So she was even to most within hearing of one of the parties concerned her at times still ; for there were moments when -namely, the vicomte—and many a jest, besides, she appeared to be seized with remorse for her inamongst his own companions, rendered it quite im- justice, and on these occasions she would do everypossible that he should be ignorant of the obser- thing in her power to make amends for it; but as vations made upon him, and Madame de Château- these intervals did not prevent an immediate recurgrand; but he never showed himself disposed to rence of the evil, poor Madame de Châteaugrand resent this sort of interference, nor did it cause began to think very seriously of resigning her situhim to make the slightest attempt at concealing his ation, and so she told the vicomte. attachment; whilst the comtesse herself, though “ If you do, my dear Hortense,” answered he, she could not be more ignorant than he of the court turning as pale as if she had pronounced his sengossip, appeared equally indifferent to it. The tence of death—“ if you do, I am undone !” consequence was, as is usual in similar cases, that “Why?" said the comtesse. 6. You need not the gossip nobody seemed to care for, and which resign because I do.” annoyed nobody, became less interesting ; and grad- “I should not dare to remain," answered he. ually the grande passion of the Vicomte Anatole “Besides, it would be impossible—I know it for his cousin being admitted as an established fact, would! I have always told you so. But for whilst it was concluded, from the calmness of the you I never could have undertaken the situation, lady's demeanor, that she had accepted his pro- as you well know ; I should have been discovered." posals, and that they were to be married some day, “But my dear Anatole, you can hardly expect people began to think little about them; and ex- me to remain here to be miserable; and I really cept a hint now and then, that in all probability am so,” returned Madame de Châteaugrand. “ It the true interpretation of the mystery was, that is not that I would not bear with her humors and they were privately married already, very little was caprices ; I love her well enough to bear with a said.
great deal more ; but to lose her friendship, her But now there arose another bit of court gossip. affection, her confidence, breaks my heart.” Observe, my dear," said the Duchesse de Lange, She must be ill," said the vicomte. to her friend the comtesse,“ how fast Madame secret malady is preying on her, I am certain. Do de Châteaugrand is declining in the princess' fa- you observe how her cheek flushes at times, and
how her hand trembles ? To-day, when I handed “I am perfectly confounded at it,” returned her a glass of water, I thought she would have let Madame de Guiche ; " for certainly her attachment it fall.” to Madame Louise is very great; in short, it is de
," returned Madame de Châteauvotion ; and the princess herself has always, till grand. “Certain it is, that she does not sleep as lately, appeared to set the greatest value on it. she used to do—in short, I believe she is often up How is it that she, who never in her life showed half the night walking about her room." the slightest tendency to caprice, should begin “I think his majesty should be informed of it,” with such an injustice towards her most faithful said the vicomte, " that he might send her his friend ?"
physician." “It is inconceivable !" replied the duchesse. “I think so too,” answered the lady ; “But what do you think the Duc d'Artois says when I named it to her the other day, she was about it?"
very angry, and forbade me to make any remarks “Oh, the wicked man!” returned the Comtesse on her; and, above all, enjoined me not to trouble de Guiche, laughing ; “but what does he say?" her father with such nonsense.'
“He says it is the attachment between her and “I am afraid her religious austerities injure her Saint-Phale that offends the princess ; that she is health,” said Anatole. so rigid, that she can neither be in love herself, nor “ A propos,” returned the comtesse ; she deallow anybody else to be so; and that he has seen sired me to tell you that she goes to St. Denis to
morrow immediately after breakfast, and that no the princess, as she threw herself into the nun's one is to accompany her but you and me.” arms with a burst of passionate tears—for they
St. Denis, as is well known, is the burying-place were the first open demonstration of a long-sup of the royal family of France, and there, conse- pressed grief. “ Tell me,” she continued, after quently, reposed the remains of Maria Leczinska, an interval, as she raised her tearful face—“lell the princess' mother; and it was to her tomb that me, are you really happy?” Madaine Louise first proceeded alone, whilst her “ Yes," replied Sister Marie, very happy two attendants remained without. A long hour now." they waited for her; and Saint-Phale was beginning “Would you go back again to the world ; to get so alarmed at her absence, that he was just would you change, if you could ?” about to violate her commands by opening the gate “ No, never !" answered the nun. of the sanctuary, when she came out pale and ex- “ I remember your taking the veil,” said Mahausted, and with evident traces of tears on her dame Louise, after an interval of silence ; "and cheeks. She then entered the precincts of the con- you will remember me, probably, as a child at that vent, requesting to be conducted to the parlor. Even time ?" in a convent of holy nuns, who have abjured the Oh, yes ; well, quite well, I remember you," world and its temptations, the prestige of royalty replied the nun. “ Who could forget you that is not without its effect; and on this occasion the had once seen you ?" . prioress came forth to meet the princess, whilst the “I was pretty, I believe, as a child,” said sisters rushed to the corridors to get a peep at her, Louise. with as mundane a curiosity as the mob runs after “ Beautiful! angelic! as you are now, my a royal carriage in the streets of Paris or London. princess !” exclaimed Sister Marie, surprised for Louise looked at them benevolently; and with tears a moment, by her enthusiasm and admiration, out in her eyes, and a sad smile, told them how much of her nunlike demeanor. happier they were than those who lived amongst the “ As I am now?" said Louise, fixing her eyes intrigues and turmoils of a court. “Ah, my sis on the other's face. ters,” she said, “how happy you should be ! “ Pardon me!” said the nun, falling at her feet, What repose of spirit you may attain to in this holy fearing that the familiarity had offended ; " it was asylum !”
my heart that spoke!” Alas! could she have looked into some of those Rise, my sister," said Louise; “I am not hearts, what a different tale they would have told offended ; rise, and look at me!” and she threw her! But when we are very miserable ourselves, aside the cloak which, with its ample hood, had that situation which presents the greatest contrast concealed her deformity. to our own is apt to appear the one most desir- “ Jesu Maria !” exclaimed the sister, clasping able.
her hands. “There is amongst you, my sisters—that is, if " You are a woman-you were once young she be still alive—a princess, at whose profession yourself, and, as I have heard, beautiful also. I was present, when a child, with my mother,” Judge, now, if I am happy!” said Madame Louise. “ Is the friend of Maria “But, my princess,” answered the why Leczinska here?"
Is there no happiness on earth, nay, even “I am here," answered a sweet low voice. in a court, but with beauty? Besides, are you
“ Clotilde de Mortemart ?" said the princess in- not beautiful ? Ay, and a thousand times more so quiringly, looking in the direction of the voice. than hundreds that are not”“ Formerly,” answered the
“ Deformed,” rejoined Louise: “do not fear Marie du Sacré Cœur."
to utter the word ; I repeat it to myself a hun“I would speak with you," said Madame dred times a day.' Louise, taking her by the hand : “ lead me to “ This amazes me," said Sister Marie, after a
pause, whilst her countenance expressed her surAccordingly, whilst all the others retired, Sis- prise as eloquently as words could have done. ter Marie conducted her royal visitor to her little Madame Louise, the fame of whose devotions apartment.
and self-imposed austerities has reached even our * That stool is too inconvenient for your high- secluded ears, are they but the refuge of a mortiness,” said she, as the princess seated herself, “Ified”. will ask the prioress for a chair."
Vanity,” added the princess, as respect again “ By no means; it is what I wish,” said Ma- caused the nun to hesitate.
“Not exactly : dame Louise. “ Sit down opposite me—I want I cannot do myself the injustice to admit that altoto talk to you. Nay, nay, sit !” she added, ob- gether, for I was pious before I knew I was deserving the hesitation of the nun. “ Sit, in the formed. It was my natural disposition to be so ; name of heaven!
What am I, that you should and my mother, foreseeing how much I should stand before me? Would to God I was as you need the consolations of religion, cultivated the
feeling as long as she lived ; and when I was old “ How, madame !" said the sister, looking enough to be aware of my misfortune, I felt what surprised. “ Are you not happy?”
a blessing it was that I had not placed my happi“ Friend of my mother, pity me!" exclaimedness in what seemed to make the happiness of the
women that surrounded me. But it was not to of St. Denis. Louis was at first extremely unspeak of myself that I came here," continued Ma- willing to hear of the proposal. Louise was his dame Louise, “but to ask a favor of you. Young favorite daughter ; and he not only did not like to as I was when you took the veil, the scene made part with her, but he feared that her delicate a great impression upon me; and I well remember health would soon sink under the austerities of so my mother's tears as we drove back to Paris after rigid an order. But her determination was taken ; she bade you farewell. I remember also, when I and at length, by her perseverance, and the rewas older, hearing a motive alleged for your reso- peated assurance that she was not, nor ever could lution to retire from the world, which, if it would be, happy in the world, she extracted his unwillnot give you too much pain, I should be glad to ing consent. She even avowed to him that, belearn from your own lips.”
sides her own private griefs, the being obliged to The pale cheek of the nun flushed with a faint witness his irregularities afflicted her severely ; red, as she said, “ What would my princess wish and as she believed that to immure herself in a to hear?"
convent, where she could devote her life to prayer, “ Is it true," said Madame Louise, “ that it was a sacrifice pleasing to the Almighty, she hoped was an unrequited love that brought you to this by these means to expiate her father's errors, as well place ?"
as attain peace for herself. Fearing the opposition “ It was,” answered the sister, placing her she might meet with from the rest of her family, hand before her eyes.
however, she entreated the king's silence, whilst “Excuse me," said Madame Louise ; " you she herself communicated her resolution to nobody will think me cruel to awaken these recollections ; except the Archbishop of Paris ; and he having but it must have been a bitter sorrow that could obtained his majesty's consent in form, Madame have induced you, so young, so beautiful, so highly- Louise at length, on the 11th of April, 1770, at born, to forsake the world and become a Carmel- eight o'clock in the morning, bade adieu to Verite?"
sailles forever. Accompanied by the vicomte and “ It was,” returned the
nun, so bitter, that I Madame de Châteaugrand, to whom, since her felt it was turning my blood to gall; and it was former visit to the convent, she had been all kindnot so much to flee from the misery I suffered, as ness, she stept into her carriage, and drove to St. from the corruption of my mind and character, that Denis. As by taking the veil she renounced all I fled from the sight of that which I could not see earthly distinctions, and amongst the rest that of without evil thoughts.”
being buried with the royal family of France, she “Ah, there it is! I understand that too well !” now visited those vaults for the last time ; and said the princess ; you were jealous !”
having knelt for some minutes at the tomb of her “I was,” answered the nun; “and what made mother, she repaired to the convent, leaving her it so bitter was, that the person of whom I was two attendants in the carriage. The abbot, who, jealous was the woman I loved best in the world." having been apprized by the archbishop, was in
“ You loved Henri de Beaulieu, and he loved waiting to conduct her to the parlor, now addressed your cousin ?” said Madame Louise. The nun several questions to her with respect to her vocacovered her face with her hands and was silent. tion, representing to her the extreme austerity of
“ How cruel you must think me, to rend your the order, which was indeed a sort of female La heart by recalling these recollections !” continued Trappe. She answered him with unshaken the princess.
firmness; and then, without once looking behind “ It is so long since I heard that name,” said her, she passed into the cloister, where the priMarie, “ I did not think I was still so weak." oress and the sisterhood were informed of the
,” said Louise, seizing her hand, honor that awaited them. She proceeded to the “ did your anguish endure long after you had en-chapel, where a mass was performed ; and having tered these gates? Did repose come quickly ?"! thus, as it were, sealed her determination, she re
“ Slowly, slowly, but surely,” returned the nun quested that her two attendants might be conducted with a sigh. “ Till I had taken the irrevocable to the parlor, whilst she, through the grate which vow, I had a severe struggle ; but I never wav- now separated her from the world, told them that ered in the conviction that I had done wisely; for they were to return to Paris without her. it was only by this living death I could have ever The effect of this unexpected intelligence on conquered myself. Dreadful temptations had some- Madame de Châteaugrand was no more than the times assailed me whilst I saw them together. princess had anticipated. She wept, entreated, Here I saw nothing-heard nothing; and my and expostulated : but the Vicomte de Saintbetter nature revived and conquered at last.” Phale, after standing for a moment as if trans
"I see,” said the princess, rising : “I com- fixed, fell flat upon his face to the ground. prehend it all!” and then embracing her, she Amazed and agitated at so unexpected a result, added, “ Pardon me the pain I have given you : it the princess was only restrained by the grating has not been without a motive. We shall meet which separated them from flying to his assistance ; again ere long."
but before she could sufficiently recollect herself to On the following day, Madame Louise requested resolve what to do, the prioress, fearing the effect a private interview with the king, for the purpose of so distressing a scene at such a moment, came of obtaining his permission to join the Carmelites and led her away to her own apartments.
“ But tell me,
It would be difficult to describe the state of the der. She was then stretched on the earth, corprincess' mind at that moment. The anguish ex- ered with a pall, and the prayers for the dead propressed by Saint-Phale's countenance could not nounced over her. When she arose, the curtain be mistaken. He that she had supposed would which closed the entrance to the interior of the be utterly indifferent to her loss! Why should it convent was lifted, and every eye was fixed on it affect him thus, when he had still with him his as she passed through the opening, to return to love, the chosen of his heart-Hortense de Châ- the world no more. As that curtain fell behind teaugraud? She did not know what to think : but her, a fearful cry echoed through the vaulted roof certain it is, that the resolution which had been so of the abbey, and a gentleman was observed to be unflinching an hour before, might perhaps, but for carried out of the church by several persons who pride, have been now broken. With a bewildered immediately surrounded him. Every one, howmind and a heavy heart she retired to her cell, ever, was too much occupied with his own feelings and there kneeling, she prayed to God to help her at the moment to inquire who it was. On the car through this last struggle.
of the new-made nun alone the voice struck familFrom that time nothing more was known with iarly ; or perhaps it was not her ear, but her respect to Madame Louise till six months after heart, that told her it was the voice of Saintwards, when, her novitiate being completed, she Phale. made her profession. On that morning the hum- Louise was a Carmelite ; the profligacies of the ble cell inhabited by the princess exhibited a very king and the court proceeded as before ; Madame unusual appearance : robes of gold and silver bro- de Châteaugrand, instead of marrying her cousin cade, pearls and diamonds, and a splendid lace veil, Saint-Phale, married M. de Rivrement, to whom were spread upon the narrow couch. In this it appeared she had been long engaged ; and magnificent attire she was for the last time to ap- Saint-Phale himself, after a long and severe illness, pear before the world, and for the last time her which endangered his life, quitted France for Italy, own women were in attendance to superintend her whither he was sent for the sake of the climate. toilet. When she was dressed, everybody was At length, in 1777, when Lafayette astonished the struck with her beauty ; and as she wore a superb world by his expedition to America, the vicomte cloak, the only defect of her person was con- astonished his friends no less by returning suddenly cealed.
from the south, in order to join it; and in spite of Of course the profession of a daughter of the entreaties of his relations, he executed his deFrance” was an event to create a great sensation. sign, and there he fell at the battle of Monmouth All Paris turned out to see the show, and the road in the year 1778. from thence to St. Denis was one unbroken line He did not, however, die in the field, but linof carriages. Mounted officers were to be seen gered some days before he expired ; during which in all directions, the royal guard surrounded the interval he wrote farewell letters to his father and abbey, and the pope's nuncio came from Rome to mother; and one also, which he entreated the latperform the ceremony.
ter to deliver according to its address, which was On this solemn occasion, of course the attendance to “ The Sister Therèse de Saint Augustin, forof the princess' écuyer and lady of honor was merly Madame Louise de France." considered indespensable, and Louise had prepared As soon as the poor bereaved mother had sufherself to see them both ; but instead of Saint- ficiently recovered the shock of this sad news, she Phale, to her surprise she beheld advancing to hastened to St. Denis to fulfil her son's injunction ; offer his arm her former attendant, the Baron de and the Sister Therèse, having obtained permisBrignolles. A pang of disappointment shot through sion of the superior, received and opened the letter. her heart : he had not cared, then, to see her for The first words were an entreaty that she would this last time, and she should behold him no listen to the prayer of a dying man, who could more! She felt that she turned pale and trembled, never offend her again, and read the lines that foland she could not trust her voice to inquire the lowed. He then went on to say that from his cause of his absence ; but De Brignolles took an earliest youth he had loved her; and that it was opportunity of saying, that hearing the vicomte to be near her, without exciting observation, that was too ill to attend, he had requested permission he had solicited the situation of écuyer; but to resume his service for this occasion. Louise knowing that from the inequality of their condibowed her head in silence-she durst not speak. tions, his love must be forever hopeless, he had
At that solemn ceremony were present Louis studiously concealed it from its object. No one XVI., then dauphin of France ; Marie-Antoinette, had ever penetrated his secret but Madame de the queen of beauty, and the idol of the French Châteaugrand. He concluded by saying, that nation; the Comte de Provence, afterwards when that curtain hid her from his view on the Louis XVIII.; and the Comte d'Artois, who sub- day of her profession, he had felt the world consequently, as Charles X., likewise lost the throne. tained nothing more for him, and that he had ever
After an eloquent discourse by the Bishop of since earnestly desired that death which he had at Troyes, which drew tears from every eye, the length found on the field of battle, and which he princess retired for a few moments, and presently had gone to America on purpose to seek ; and reäppeared, stript of her splendor, shorn of her asking her blessing and her prayers, he bade her beautiful hair, and clothed in the habit of the or- farewell forever.