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1 07 988
By Constance Wright
SILVER COLLAR BOY
THEIR SHIPS WERE BROKEN
A CHANCE FOR GLORY
MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
by CONSTANCE WRIGHT
HOLT, RINEHART AND WINSTON
Copyright 1959 by Constance Wright
In Canada, Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada, Limited.
All rights reserved, including the right to repro-
duce this book or portions thereof in any form.
Published, March, 1959
Second Printing, April, 1962
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-6675
Printed in the United States of America
For Mary Lee, with all good will
-and a few doubts
Recently, in 1956, Count Ren6 de Chambrun, one of Adri-
enne de Lafayette's descendants, took possession of the cha-
teau of La Grange-Bl&ieau, where she spent the last years
of her life; there he discovered a treasure trove of documents.
Until these have been sorted over and made available to
scholars, no absolutely definitive life of Adrienne can be
written. So much material is already available, however, that
her story is told here with the hope that only a few minor
details are lacking and with the conviction that the last
word can never be spoken of a person of whom there is abun-
dant record, and who lived so abundantly.
PART ONE: January, ij 8 2 October,
I. HEROIC HOMECOMING 3
n. A RED TAPESTRIED ROOM 10
in. THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON 19
IV. THE KING'S JAILER SI
PART TWO: October, 1791 October, 1792
V. THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS 47
VI. A WAITING TIME 56
VH. THE BEST OF NEWS 64
VIH. SOLDIERS FROM HELL 74
DC. THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION 81
PART THREE: October, 1792 June, 1794
X. A NET OF MANY STRANDS 93
XI. THE LAW OF SUSPECTS 100
XII. DETAINED 112
PART FOUR: June, i^-January,
XIII. LE PLESSIS PRISON 123
XIV. OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY 132
XV. IN THE SHADOWS 143
PART FIVE: January, i^-November, 17^5
XVI. MRS. MOTIER 157
XVII. A NEST OF EXILES 169
XVIII. THE CANTICLE OF TOBIT 178
XIX. PRISON IDYL 186
PART six: November, i^-November, 1799
XX, FREEDOM CAMPAIGN 197
XXI. RELEASE 206
XXII. BY THE WATERS OF PLOEN 216
XXIII. ANOTHER SEPARATION 226
PART SEVEN: November, i^-Christmas Eve, 1807
XXIV. THE GARDEN OF PICPUS 241
XXV. YEARS OF GRACE 249
XXVI. YOURS ALONE 259
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMN S 267
January, 1782 October, 1791
C H AFTER I
s, which today is a city of light, of broad boulevards,
of endless vistas, was at the end of the eighteenth cen-
tury still a walled town. It was surrounded by field and
woodland and by sprawling suburbs, some of them as hide-
ous slums as one could find anywhere in Europe.
The streets of the city proper were narrow and crooked.
In winter they were thickly smeared with mud and sewage,
but on the day preceding January gist, 1782, a miracle of
municipal house cleaning was brought to pass. The entire
city was swept clean; thousands of firepots were distributed
for after dark illumination for January 2 ist was to be a day
of fte, of fanfare. At Versailles, Queen Marie Antoinette of
France had borne a son. In the morning she would come
from La Muette, a royal hunting lodge on the edge of the
Bois de Boulogne, for her churching in Notre Dame. Later
in the day, the King would join her for a state banquet at
the Hotel de Ville.
The weather on the sist was clear and bright. Everyone
was out; everyone wanted to see the royal processions as
4 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
they entered and left the city. In the afternoon, however,
sensation seekers discovered that there was a counter attrac-
tion. In the Rue St. Honor, which was off the expected line
of march, a crowd gathered in front of a large, handsome
house, which, with its wide forecourt, its pillared facade,
and beautiful formal garden that stretched as far as the
Tuileries and what is now the Rue de Rivoli, was one of the
showplaces of Paris.
This was the city mansion a hotel in the primitive sense
of the term of a very important family that for generations
had held high positions in the government of France. The
Due Mar6chal de Noailles was the patriarch of the clan; his
eldest son, the Due d'Ayen, was Captain of the King's body-
guard. The Hotel de Noailles had always been admired, but
for the past five years passers-by had stopped to gape at it in
wonder. It was widely known that this was the home not
only of the Noailles dukes and duchesses but of a Noailles
son-in-law, the Marquis de Lafayette.
All knew the life story of this remarkable young man. In
1774, at the early age of sixteen, Gilbert du Motier, one of
the richest boys of noble blood in France, was married to
Marie Adrienne Franoise, the second of the Due d'Ayen's
five daughters. Three years later he left abruptly to fight in
the American War for Independence. In 1779 he returned
a universal hero, the darling of the court and of the nation,
only to depart for another long campaign across the Atlantic
which had recently ended in victory. Three days ago, Lafa-
yette had landed at Lorient and word had just been spread
about in the capital that he might arrive at any moment.
Among those who waited at the gate of the Hotel de
Noailles were some women who sold fish in the Paris market.
Dressed in their Sunday best, they had brought with them
sheaves of laurel to present to the conqueror. That Lafa-
yette had routed the British almost single handedly at York-
town they were sure; they were also sure that in some way,
HEROIC HOMECOMING 5
not yet revealed to them, he would be the champion of lib-
erty their liberty at home.
Presently a carriage appeared; cheers and cries of "long
live Lafayette" went up. The tall young man of twenty-four
who emerged from the post chaise, with his broad shoulders,
his great beak of a nose and his reddish hair, was no Prince
Charming, but the crowd had not expected that he would
be as pretty as a porcelain doll. In his uniform of an Amer-
ican Major General, Lafayette was an impressive, a soldierly
As always, his manners were equal to the occasion. He ac-
cepted the fishwives' offering gratefully and without the
slightest hint of condescension. He made a little speech of
thanks and waited patiently until all had had a good look
at him before entering the house.
It seemed as if the show was over. The servant who opened
the door to him, and even the fishwives, could tell the Mar-
quis that his wife, the person he had wanted most to sur-
prise, was not at home. She and all the adult members of
her family her father, her mother, and her sisters were at
the reception at the Hotel de Ville. When they would re-
turn was anybody's guess. By this time the town hall dinner
must be over, but protocol demanded that no one should
leave before the Queen had been bowed into her coach.
After her would come the King, the Princes of the Blood,
and all the high dignitaries of the realm in slow moving,
well-established order of precedence. This might mean a
wait of several hours, and the crowd began to thin out soon
after Lafayette had disappeared from view.
A short time later, however, those who lingered got their
reward. A fresh wave of sightseers began to pour in from the
direction of the Hotel de Ville, filling the street and the
courtyard of the Hotel de Noailles and lining the steps of
the parish Church of St. Roch across the way. First, distant
shouts and the blare of trumpets, then, the thud of horses'
6 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
hoofs and the jingle of harness announced that there had
been a change of royal plan. The Queen's coach, with its
mounted escort and outriders, all decked out in their be-
ribboned birthday finery, came lurching down the Rue St.
HonorS. It ground to a halt before the house of the Due
Again a shout went up, a double-barreled shout, for the
Queen was not alone in her jewel box setting. Beside her on
the velvet cushions was seated a young woman, elaborately
dressed, elaborately jeweled, but not as resplendent as the
Queen, for no one was permitted to out-glitter royalty. Dark
haired, white skinned, with delicately chiseled features
what one noticed first about Adrienne de Lafayette were
her very large, her very expressive eyes, deep set under thick,
dark eyebrows. Because she was so small and slight, Adrienne
who had recently celebrated her twenty-second birthday-
looked almost like a school girl; her youth, her pallor were
perfect foils to set off the triumphant, full-blown beauty of
That the Marquise de Lafayette should be riding in the
royal coach was due to a generous impulse on the part of
Marie Antoinette. Just as the dinner party at the Hotel de
Ville was breaking up, the news of Lafayette's return was
passed from mouth to mouth, from ear to ear, until it
reached the Queen. She realized Adrienne's predicament.
All the ladies at the dinner were expected not only to wait
their turn here but to follow the coach as far as La Muette
for another round of curtseying, a second ceremonial fare-
Marie Antoinette sent word to Adrienne to leave at once
and to hurry home to her husband. When Adrienne de-
murred, the Queen offered to alter her route and invited
in fact, commanded the young wife to come with her. There
was kindness in the invitation; there were also showmanship
and a consideration for popular sentiment with which the
HEROIC HOMECOMING 7
Queen was seldom credited. She saw, no doubt, that on this
day of days the people of Paris would like to view the mother
of the Dauphin, but they would also like to see the wife of
their favorite Marquis.
Lafayette himself, when he heard the noisy overture to
the Queen's arrival, hurried out of the house and pushed
his way through the crowded courtyard. He was standing
bareheaded at the gate when the coach drew up. The Queen
leaned out; she extended a hand for him to kiss; she smiled.
She knew Lafayette far better than she knew Adrienne. He
had been one of the rather fast and foolish set that revolved
about her in the early days of her marriage. At that time she
had not thought too highly of him an awkward, tongue-
tied youth, a clumsy figure on the ballroom floor. Once
Marie Antoinette had laughed at the Marquis when he was
chosen as her partner in a quadrille and had made a few
blundering missteps that spoiled the pattern of the dance.
When he became a hero she learned to be more gracious.
And she was very gracious now. She congratulated him on
the American victory and on the part that he had played in
it. "As you see," she said, "I have brought you Madame de
Lafayette. Her place today is not with me, but with her hus-
Lafayette murmured his thanks. All eyes during this brief
and largely one-sided conversation were fixed upon the
Queen. When the signal for the coach to move on was given,
all eyes were fixed on Adrienne, who had not spoken a sin-
gle word. She had been helped out on the farther side of the
carriage and stood staring speechless at her husband.
If possible she had become more pale; all color had
drained from her lips and cheeks. She took a step forward,
stumbled, and would have fallen if Lafayette had not sprung
forward to catch her. Sweeping her up in his arms, her head
against his shoulder, her voluminous skirts trailing to the
ground, he carried her toward the house, much impeded by
8 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
the curious who pressed about him and followed to the very
The crowd was enthralled. Those who couldn't get near
enough to see plainly, shoved their neighbors, craned their
necks, and stood on tiptoe. Those who had handkerchiefs
took them out to wipe their eyes. There were enthusiastic
ululations, ohs and ahs of commiseration and delight.
For a legend had grown up about Adrienne, just as it had
grown up about her venturesome husband. She was his faith-
ful, virtuous wife; she was Penelope to his Ulysses; she was
the mother of his only son, who had been named George
Washington Lafayette after the American general. When
the treaty of alliance between the colonies and France had
been signed, the American envoys went to pay her their re-
spects. It was even said that when Voltaire the great Vol-
tairereturned to Paris from exile in 1778, he sought out
Adrienne and fell on his knees before her. "I wish," he cried,
"to present my homage to the wife of the hero of the New
World; may I live long enough to salute him as the liberator
of the old!"
Closely identified as she was in the public mind with Lafa-
yette, it seemed altogether fitting to the onlookers in the
courtyard of the Hotel de Noailles that the poor little woman
should faint at sight of her husband after years of separation.
Fainting was much in fashion, particularly among fine ladies
and Adrienne was, after all, the daughter of a duke. In los-
ing consciousness she had behaved just as her audience had
hoped she would, and it went away well-satisfied after the
door had closed upon her. What it had just witnessed was
as good as the finale of a stage play, and soon a popular bal-
lad was being sung in the music halls of Paris that told how
Lafayette had come home from the wars to offer to his wife
"a heart of flame."
It so happened that the little drama of Lafayette's return
HEROIC HOMECOMING 9
had been judged correctly, though across the footlights, so
to speak, only its crude outlines could be grasped. Its finer
points were known to none but the principal actors.
Adrienne was indeed a good and faithful wife and her
faint had been quite genuine; she was not given to swooning
for stage effect. When she came to herself in the privacy of
her father's house, she was dissatisfied with the part she had
played. This was not the greeting she had intended for her
husband. She had been overwhelmed as much by the public-
ity of her meeting with Lafayette as by the sudden release
from long tension.
During the past eight years Adrienne had known moments
of exquisite happiness, but she had also known much sorrow,
much frustration. The history of her marriage to Gilbert du
Motier was and would forever after be the history of her
A Red Tapestried Room
EVEN BEFORE SHE first saw him, even before she had heard
his name, Adrienne de Noailles became aware of Gil-
bert's existence. She was a child then, not yet entered on her
In the mansion of the Rue St. Honor, Adrienne had had
an unusual upbringing. Most children of noble families were
put out to nurse and might pass their early years in a peasant
cottage, or even in one of the ugly slums that surrounded
Paris. If they were girls, they were sent away to a convent as
soon as they could toddle and little more notice was taken
of them until they were ripe for marriage.
Not so the daughters of the Duchesse d'Ayen. Though
convent-bred herself, she could not bear to be separated from
her children. Her five little girls had a governess and masters
who came in to teach them music and dancing, but the Duch-
ess herself was their most effective teacher.
Every afternoon they would assemble in her crimson tap-
estried bedroom. Before they settled down, the smaller ones
on stools, the larger ones on chairs, there was an argument as
A RED TAPESTRIED ROOM 11
to who should sit closest to their mother in her high-backed
berg&re beside the fireplace, or by the open window if the
weather was warm. Her snuff box, her work bag, and a pile
of books would be spread out on the table beside her.
The Duchess read aloud to her children from religious
works she was deeply and sincerely religious from books of
history and mythology, from books of the classic poets and
dramatists. Sometimes even before they could write them-
selvesshe would have them dictate letters to her so that
they could learn to express themselves clearly and eloquently.
But this was not a formal study hour. Most of the afternoon
was given up to conversation; in the eighteenth century,
conversation was a serious business, an art in itself. The
Duchess and her little flock talked about the day's happen-
ings, about what they had done or seen, about what they
should or should not do in a given situation.
The Duchess, though naturally impatient herself, always
allowed them to express their own ideas. Once she com-
plained that they were not as obedient as children of their
age ought to be and Adrienne spoke up wisely. "That may
be, maman" she said, "because you let us argue and raise
objections. You will see that when we are fifteen we will be
as obedient as other children."
Already Adrienne was thinking of marriage. Fifteen was
the accepted age of female consent of consent, that is, of a
girl to the will of her parents for she could take it for
granted that her parents would select her husband and well
in advance might wonder what their choice would be.
The day for obedience came earlier for Adrienne than she
had expected. She was twelve, and her older sister Louise
was thirteen, when they noticed that a coolness had arisen
between their father and mother. This was not unusual. The
Duke, a gregarious man, a born courtier, and an atheist, was
very different in temperament from his devout, home-loving
wife, who would rather dine with her children and their
12 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
governess than with the King and Queen at Versailles. The
girls saw little of their father. He was so often away from
home that they never felt at ease with him.
For a year the strained relationship continued. Then Adri-
enne, when she and Louise went occasionally with their
mother to Versailles, began to meet a tall, red-haired boy, a
young Marquis who was living with his tutor in her father's
house. Gilbert du Motier was an orphan. His childhood had
been spent in the country, in Auvergne. For the past three
years he had been at a fashionable boy's boarding school, Le
Plessis, in Paris, where the younger brothers of the Dauphin,
the future Louis XVI, were also pupils.
The meetings were always casual and always chaperoned.
They generally took place, as if by chance, out of doors in
the garden. Another boy, somewhat older than Gilbert, was
frequently present. He was the Vicomte Louis de Noailles,
a cousin once removed, the son of the girls' great uncle, the
Due de Mouchy. In the autumn of 1773, Louise, aged fifteen,
was married to her cousin. At this time Adrienne's mother
broke the news to her that she was promised to the Marquis
de Lafayette. The marriage contract had been signed months
ago in February, not only by the two families involved but
also by the King.
This explained the presence of Gilbert at Versailles and
also the long, undeclared war between Adrienne's parents
that preceded it. When, almost two years earlier, Lafayette's
guardians had proposed him as a husband for one of her
daughters which one was immaterial to them Henriette
d'Ayen refused her consent. Her reasons seemed fantastic to
the Duke, Her chief objection was that Gilbert du Motier
was much too rich; she didn't want greater wealth for her
children than they already possessed. That the Marquis was
so young and an orphan, with no one to guide him, was also
It had taken many heated discussions behind closed doors,
A RED TAPESTRIED ROOM 13
many conferences with Lafayette's proposers, before Madame
d'Ayen yielded, and then only with the proviso that the
young people should have an opportunity to become ac-
quainted before anything was said to Adrienne. In the inter-
val the Duchess had met Gilbert and had taken an immediate
liking to him. She told Adrienne that she had come to love
him as if he were one of the two sons she had lost in infancy.
She was sure that he would make her daughter very happy.
Adrienne accepted this prediction as trustfully as she
would any other arrangement that her mother might have
made for her.
Before the wedding that took place on April nth, 1774,
when Adrienne was five months past her fourteenth birth-
day, there were nightly receptions in the Hotel de Noailles.
All of Paris came in rainbow review to offer their congratu-
lations to the fiancee, who, frizzed and curled, laced within
an inch of suffocation, sat bolt upright on a tabouret beside
her mother's chair. As each guest appeared, Adrienne rose
and was led forward to be introduced, often a mere formality,
since many who came to the Rue St. Honor6 were relatives
she had known since early childhood. To each of the deep
bows that were made to her she was expected to return a
curtsey in the grand manner, her left leg doubled under her
to support her slim young body, her right foot extended to
make a point beneath her satin petticoat. The wedding gifts
that accompanied or followed these visits were magnificent
and consisted chiefly of jewelry.
On April nth, the bride was led by her father to her
prie-dieu in the crowded, candlelit chapel of the hotel. After
the Nuptial Mass was performed, Adrienne was allowed to re-
tire upstairs for a few hours, to take off her veil and relax a
little before she was re-dressed in yet another costume, even
more elegant than her wedding gown of silver tissue. She
then went downstairs to join the wedding guests as a married
woman, a marquise.
14 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
The festivities were long drawn out and ended with a
feast, the young couple being seated for the first time side
by side at the head of the table. Honeymoons had not yet
been invented. The good old folkway custom of helping to
undress the bride and groom and seeing them get into bed
together was nowadays considered crude, but about mid-
night a procession formed to lead the newlyweds to the door
of the best bedroom in the house, the same red tapestried
room with which Adrienne was so familiar. There she and
Gilbert spent their wedding night.
Did she already love her husband? Years later, looking
back, Adrienne could smile at the question and say no. She
had only a childish, tepid liking for this overgrown boy,
whom most people thought glum and shy. He had never
been shy with her. Even in their early encounters he had let
her see how affectionate he could be, how eager he was for
Madame d'Ayen, moreover, had impressed upon her
daughter the necessity of making a great effort to endear
herself to her husband. She herself, alas she admitted it with
a sigh had never studied the art of pleasing a man. In the
early days of her own marriage she had let the Duke see ail
too plainly that she had a mind of her own!
la the year that followed the Lafayette-Noailles wedding,
the Duchess exerted herself to make home attractive to her
son-in-law, for a clause had been inserted in the marriage
contract that Gilbert and Adrienne should live with her
until they were old enough to have a home of their own. The
Duchess overcame the physical inertia that in part accounted
for her retired way of life and, much to the Duke's satisfac-
tion, took Louise and Adrienne to the Queen's balls at Ver-
sailles and gave dinner parties for them there and in Paris.
Because she had no social ambitions of her own and was so
A RED TAPESTRIED ROOM 15
kind and cordial to everyone who came to her house, she
developed a belated reputation for being the perfect hostess.
A few weeks after Adrienne had turned sixteen, she gave
birth to her first child, a frail little girl whom she named
Henriette for her mother. The baby should, of course, have
been a boy, a marquis-to-be, but Lafayette was not unkind
enough to press the point. He was delighted, he said, to be
a p&re de famillea. real family man and took much notice
of Henriette when he was at home.
He was, unfortunately, often absent. Even before he left
boarding school Lafayette had set his heart on a military
career and, as a prospective son-in-law of the Due d'Ayen,
had been able to buy a commission in the Noailles Dragoons,
a crack regiment that the Duke himself commanded. Each
summer Lafayette went for four months of war manoeuvers
at Metz. When he was in Paris, he led the conventional life
of a gay and chic young officer, going often to the races, the
masked balls at the opera and the Cabaret of the Wooden
Sword, a roadhouse halfway between Paris and Versailles,
where there were nightly contests in seeing who could con-
sume the most wine without disappearing beneath the table.
One did not take a wife to such resortsparticularly a wife
who had been as carefully brought up as Adrienne.
Each time that Lafayette left her for one of his tours of
military duty, Adrienne found the parting more difficult;
each return was more rapturous. That Gilbert might go far-
ther than the garrison town of Metz, that he might spend
years away from her instead of weeks and months, never
crossed her mind until a day in April of 1777.
Adrienne was pregnant for a second time. Gilbert had
gone to England for a few weeks' visit to one of the Noailles
uncles who was Ambassador to the Court of St. James. In-
stead of coming home directly from London, as was expected,
he was next heard from at Bordeaux. He had heard of the
16 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
revolt in the American colonies. Like many other young
enthusiasts who longed to twist the British lion's tail, he had
enlisted in the American army and had bought a ship to take
him and a group of his fellow officers across the Atlantic,
The Duke, who had not been consulted, was outraged.
He was sympathetic to the American cause in principal, but
not in practice for members of his family. He ordered the
scapegrace to return and was disobeyed. Fearful of arrest,
of being dragged back ignominiously to Paris, Lafayette dis-
guised himself as a postillion and galloped across the border
into Spain. Shortly after, word came to the Hotel de Noailles
that Lafayette's ship, La Victoire, had sailed from a Spanish
Adrienne was stunned. In his letter of farewell, Gilbert
apologized for shrinking from a goodbye that he knew would
be so painful to them both, but that was the only excuse he
gave for keeping his intentions secret.
How little she had known himl How little they had shared,
one with the other, their most perplexing problemsl At the
time of her marriage, Adrienne had had a secret sorrow of
her own. Like many adolescents who have outgrown their
nursery conception of religion, she was plagued by religious
doubts, doubts so strong that she had not yet after two yeans
of seeking received her First Communion. She said nothing
to Gilbert, knowing that he, like most men of her acquaint-
ance, was not a practicing Catholic. After she became his
wife, however, and knew that she was going to bear him a
child, her misgivings suddenly vanished. The revelation that
she was in a state of grace came peacefully, without further
struggle and she was able to receive the sacraments in all
sincerity. Gilbert, too, it now seemed, had had his inner,
hidden conflict, a conflict between luxuriating in a pam-
pered, too thickly cushioned, way of life and proving himself
in what he thought to be a noble enterprise.
She quickly came to his defense in the only way that was
A RED TAPESTRIED ROOM 17
possible by saying nothing. Harsh words were spoken by
the elders of the Noailles clan of Gilbert's folly, of his dis-
obedience, and lack of consideration for his wife. Adrienne
hid her grief and preferred to be thought childish or unfeel-
ing rather than to swell the chorus of disapproval. She found
a firm support in her mother, who also refused to speak ill
of her much loved son-in-law.
During that first long, two-year absence, Adrienne bore a
second daughter, who was christened Anastasie. She saw her
little Henriette sicken and die. When Lafayette returned to
her in glory his wife's family had long ago come around to
the widely held opinion that he was a hero another child
was begotten who proved to be the son for whom both Adri-
enne and Gilbert had longed. George Washington Lafayette,
born on Christmas Eve of 1779, was two years old, his sister,
Anastasie, was four, on the day in January when their father
was crowned with laurel by the fishwives of Paris and their
mother rode home in the royal coach beside the Queen.
For Adrienne, the past two years had been, if possible,
more trying than the first separation. Long, affectionate let-
ters had come from America during the earlier campaign,
but, with British cruisers patroling the Atlantic, communica-
tion had been difficult recently and she had gotten most of
her news from English newspapers that gave as gloomy a
view as possible of the American war.
Adrienne had had time to assess her marriage and to make
certain difficult resolutions for the future. She had accepted
the fact that she was married to an ambitious man; Lafayette
had made it very plain that with him, his career would al-
ways come first. What he had undertaken in a spirit of ad-
venture had become a serious mission and he had let her see
how strong a hold the democratic ideas he had absorbed in
America had upon him. They were ideas that she herself
could assimilate, since they coincided so closely with the
18 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Christian concept of the brotherhood of man that she and
her sisters had learned at their mother's knee.
What plans Gilbert might have in mind, what new dan-
gers he might court in carrying them through, she could
only guess. She would help him if she could, but foresaw that
her part in the years ahead would be passive. She would have
to continue, as in the past, to stand aside, to make few de-
mands. That Gilbert loved her she could not doubt; when
he was with her she was sure of it. But he did not love her
exclusively, passionately as she had learned to love him. Just
as she once had hidden her religious strivings from him, so
she would hide her deepest feelings from him now; other-
wise, he might come to resent a wife who was overpossessive,
who clung about his neck.
And yet at their first encounter she had fainted in his armsl
For long after Lafayette's homecoming, Adrienne kept a
careful watch upon herself, though every time that Gilbert
left her, even if only for a very few moments, she had a defi-
nite feeling of malaise. Her heart contracted as if again he
were gone beyond recall, or as if she might have lost him in
some more subtle but no less cruel, manner.
The sternest task Adrienne had set herself was to show no
jealousy of the admirers, male and female, who flocked about
Lafayette, or even of anyone in particular a woman to
whom his fancy might have strayed*
The House in the "Rue de Bourbon
HONORS CAME THICK and fast upon Adrienne's husband in
the early months of 1782. The King, whom he visited
promptly at La Muette on January 22nd, promised to make
him a Marshal de Camp, a military distinction that came
usually only to men who were twice his age. Lafayette was
invited to dine in company with the gray-haired immortals
of the French army, one of whom was Adrienne's grand-
father, the Due Marchal de Noailles, and another, Adri-
enne's great-uncle, the Due Marchal de Mouchy. Later
Lafayette was to receive the most rarely awarded French dec-
oration, the Cross of St. Louis.
In the meantime he was feverishly busy. The American
war was over, but the treaty which would recognize the in-
dependence of the colonies and put an end to hostilities be-
tween England and France would take months more than
a year, as it turned out of negotiation. There were frequent
conferences with the French cabinet and with the American
commissioners in Paris. Lafayette was also much in demand
socially. "I had the honor," he said later of this halcyon
20 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
time, "of being consulted by all the ministers and, what is
much more worth while, of being kissed by all the ladies."
A gallant man could say no less. There were some and
they were not altogether friendly who suggested that the
Marquis was more interested in politics than in women, but
when he had first gone overseas the gossips of Paris and Ver-
sailles had wondered if there was not a romantic motive for
his flight. Lafayette might have been crossed in love.
Love, in a society in which young people were expected
to do as they were told and marriages were made by parents,
guardians, and lawyers, was a deliriously personal and unin-
hibited affair. As long as certain conventions were observed,
it need not be kept a secret. Everything concerning Lafa-
yette, including the state of his affections, was now news-
worthy. While the honors he had received from the King
were being talked of and envied, word was also being passed
about that the Hero of the New World and the Old had
found himself a mistress, and that she was a lady whom he
had once courted unsuccessfully before he had become so
At that time Lafayette had often gone with his brother-
in-law Louis de Noailles, Louise's husband to the Palais
Royal, the home of the Due de Chartres, son of the Due
d'Orleans, the King's cousin. Chartres had introduced horse
racing into France from England, was a mighty pursuer of
women, and an organizer of parties of pleasure that were
sometimes held informally in the public amusement places
of Paris. The King's brothers, the Comte de Provence and
the Comte d'Artois, took part in these expeditions and some-
times also the Queen, who was bored by the dull and pomp-
ous routine of Versailles and by her dull, but virtuous,
Lafayette at this early stage of his career had none of the
social graces he later developed. He was diffident and proud,
self-consciously aware of his country upbringing and of the
THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON 21
fact that he was received into smart society only because he
had married a daughter of the Due d'Ayen. He tried to assert
himself by doing exactly as his companions did, by drinking
more wine than he could stomach, by trying unsuccessfully
to provoke his friends into fighting duels with him, and by
making a few timid advances to one of the prettiest women
of the Due de Chartres' coterie.
This lady's name was Agla de Hunolstein. She and her
husband were members of the Duke's household. Madame
de Hunolstein was somewhat older and far more sophisti-
cated than her admirer and she was not particularly flat-
tered that this bumpkin from Auvergne should have singled
her out. She didn't actually laugh in his face, as Marie An-
toinette did when he failed so miserably as a dancing partner,
but she snubbed him nevertheless.
Like the Queen, however, Madame de Hunolstein took a
different view of Lafayette when, almost overnight, he be-
came a national figure. At the time of his first return from
America, she was proud to let the world know that he was
her "friend" and that she saw him frequently. She was also
one of the first to greet him with open arms in 1782 and was
ready and eager to give him more, much more, than a cere-
monial kiss on either cheek.
During that spring and summer, while the trees were in
leaf and the fountains played in the courtyards of the Palais
Royal, Lafayette became the accepted lover of Agla6 de
Hunolstein. He could visit her whenever he chose, and his
comings and goings were noted by the Palais Royal group.
Soon, however, the affair began to run a wavering course.
Lafayette had little time to devote to romance. Agla, at first
so receptive, became moody and apprehensive; she several
times suggested a break in their relations. Her life, which
had been so pleasant and light-hearted hitherto, was becom-
ing complicated. There were good reasons for her uneasiness,
which she hid from Lafayette. Trouble was in the making.
22 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
In the autumn, when the Marquis went to Spain for five
months on business that concerned the American peace, a
barrage of ill-natured talk was directed at his chosen lady.
It was said that Agla6 had dismissed Lafayette five years
earlier to America because she saw her way to a more impor-
tant and profitable liaison with the Due de Chartres. The
Duke was tired of her, it was said; by the time of Lafayette's
return he was glad to be rid of her. And it was just as well
that her present cavalier was rich because Madame de Hun-
olstein wheedled her suitors into buying her expensive pres-
ents. A Russian nobleman, for example, had given her a
handsome set of furs. It was even said that Agla6 had become
thoroughly promiscuous and at night went scouting for
lovers in the dark arcades of the Palais Royal, a part of which,
open to the public, was given over to shops, restaurants, and
Some of this malignant gossip was due, no doubt, to jeal-
ousy of Lafayette. He had risen so fast in the world and was
so universally caressed that he had made a few enemies. But
part of the mischief Agla had brought upon herself. She had
committed the serious blunder of breaking one of the con-
ventions by which the game of dalliance was played. It was
permissible for a married woman to have a lover only as long
as she remained officially a married woman and the Comte
de Hunolstein had openly repudiated his wife. He would
have nothing more to do with her.
When Lafayette came back from Spain in the early spring,
he was in Paris only a very short time before going to his
birthplace, Chavaniac, in Auvergne. There, on March 27th,
1783, he wrote a letter to his mistress, a sorrowful letter of
farewell. He had not seen her while he was in Paris, but he
had heard from her and she had asked him to give up all
claim upon her. She wanted written proof that their affair
was at an end.
Agla6 was frightened; she was burning her bridges behind
THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON 23
her. Her family, scandalized by the bad reputation she had
acquired, was trying to force a reconciliation with her hus-
band. If that failed, she would have to leave the court and
live a retired life away from all temptation.
A woman faced by such a dilemma was in need of comfort
and this Lafayette generously supplied. He had heard the
stupid slanders, he said and dismissed them all as contempt-
ible lies. He was doing now what she asked only because he
realized that he had had all the pleasure from their connec-
tion, she the pain. It was he who had always taken the
initiative; he had been the pursuer, she the pursued. In his
final sentence he slipped into the second person singular, the
thee and thou that in French denotes a very special tender-
ness. "But at least my heart is my own, dear Agla6. All that
you are, all that I owe you justifies my love, and nothing,
not even you, can keep me from adoring you."
They did not meet again. The efforts to patch up the de
Hunolstein marriage came to nothing. Lafayette no longer
visited the Palais Royal and in June, Agla6 left the palace to
live in a convent.
Her disappearance caused only a minor ripple of interest.
The gossips, putting two and two together, said that Lafa-
yette had deserted her. His heart could not have been broken
because he was often seen in the more sedate salons that he
now frequented with yet another lady whom he had met
even before he went to Spainl She was a sister of one of his
Franco-American officers. She was even more beautiful than
Madame de Hunolstein and, unlike poor Agla, was witty
and intelligent. There was a kind of magic about Madame
de Simiane; when one met her at a social gathering she was
so charming, it was said, so ready to be pleased, that one felt
like giving another party especially in her honor. Though
she had been much courted, no man could claim to be her
lover, and for Lafayette to have won her heart was yet an-
24 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
He had his magic too, it seemed, for he was able appar-
ently to enjoy his intimacies with other women and at the
same time remain on excellent terms with his devoted little
wife. Not by a word, not by the flicker of an eyelash, did
Madame de Lafayette notice the attentions that her husband
paid Madame de Simiane. Earlier, when he was in pursuit
of Agla, she had turned a deaf ear to all malicious talk.
Though no one who observed her could believe that she was
indifferent, no one, least of all her husband, suspected the
full cost to her of her forbearance.
When, years ago now, Lafayette's guardians were looking
about them for a suitable match for their ward, one of them
claimed that "if he doesn't make his wife happy he will be
the first man of his family to have failed." Lafayette had
had every intention of living up to this tradition. He would
have liked to make the whole world happy and why not
Adrienne, of whom he was so very fond? However far he
might be from her, however absorbed by other loves and
other preoccupations, she remained the stable center of his
restless life; she was the one to whom he could always return
and find unchanged.
He was soon to discover how useful she could be to a man
whose career was about to enter on a new phase.
Lafayette had been pleased, if not surprised, when
shortly after his return from America Adrienne told him that
she was again pregnant. A brother for George Washington
Lafayette was on the way, the prospective father wrote to
George's august namesake across the ocean. But this was only
wishful thinking. The "brother" was to be yet another sister,
a seven months child, born in September of 1782.
The baby was christened Marie Antoinette Virginiethe
third of her names, the name by which she would be known,
representing a compromise. Adrienne had wanted the name
THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON 25
of a saint, Lafayette a name that was peculiarly American
and Virginie fulfilled both requirements.
In the same month in which Virginie was born, her father
came of legal age. A noble might be married in his teens, he
might even become a Major General before he was twenty,
but he was not thought capable of controlling his business
affairs until he was twenty-five.
During Lafayette's minority his estate had been managed
by an agent, a Monsieur Morizot, who groaned over the
lavish sums that, unknown to him, his client had borrowed
to spend on the American war. Morizot had had to sell vari-
ous properties to cover these debts. He now had to make
another cut into capital, for Lafayette's first move after
reaching his majority was to commission Morizot to find him
a suitable house in Paris.
The house that the agent bought was in the Rue de
Bourbon, on the left bank of the Seine, across the river from
the Hotel de Noailles. It was not as spectacular as Adrienne's
childhood home, but it was on a large scale and, what with
the furniture and the necessary alterations, cost more than
a quarter of a million livres.
The family moved into the Rue de Bourbon in 1783.
They had barely settled in when Lafayette was off for a third
voyage to America that lasted seven months, followed by a
tour of Germany and Austria to inspect the might of France's
most powerful neighbors.
Adrienne had looked forward to having a home of her
own. She and Gilbert had often talked of a place where they
could sit cozily by their fireside and be able to entertain a
few friends without asking permission of their elders. But
there was little coziness in the Hotel de Lafayette; their
friends were legion now. During the seven years that the
hotel flourished as a social center, guests by the score sat
down daily at the long banqueting table in the dining room.
26 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
There was such a constant stream of visitors that the host
and hostess were seldom alone.
Many of the visitors who came to the Rue de Bourbon
were, of course, Americans. Lafayette continued to be active
in behalf of his adopted country. In getting the youthful
nation on its feet economically, he worked closely with the
first American minister to France, Thomas Jefferson. If an
American was ill, in trouble, or in debt, or if he merely
wanted an admission card to Mass at Notre Dame at which
the King would be present, Lafayette came to the rescue.
If the Marquis was not at home, as was often the case, Mad-
ame de Lafayette acted for him.
Every Monday evening Adrienne presided over American
dinners at which Virginia hams were sometimes served,
hams that had been cured in the smokehouse at Mount
Vernon, presents from General and Mrs. Washington.
French guests were also invited to enjoy this exotic fare and
in so doing, make personal friendships that would strengthen
the bond between France and her new ally.
The prim American ladies who sat down at Adrienne's
board Miss Abigail Adams of Quincy, Massachusetts was
one of them thought that the mistress of the house was
"very agreeable and pleasing/' She was not quite as beautiful
as they had expected, but they were gratified to find one
French marquise who was not over-rouged and overdressed
and one French home in which children were seen and heard
and cherished. The little Lafayettes learned to speak English
almost as soon as they learned to speak French. They were
sometimes allowed to come downstairs after dinner to sing
American songs for the company. That the children's mother
seemed more anxious than their father to have them perform
only added a homely touch to this scene of domestic harmony
in the midst of Old World splendor.
But was it a good thing for the children to be exposed to
all the attention they were getting? Adrienne asked herself
THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON 27
this question and decided that a little flattery and caressing
would not hurt her girls, but that it might have a bad effect
on her boy. He would soon be old enough to realize that he
was the son o an important personage and might become
vain or bumptious. He would be distracted too, from his
lessons by the constant coming and going. When George was
six-years-old Adrienne, with Lafayette's concurrence, rented
a small apartment in the Rue St. Jacques, not far from the
Hotel de Lafayette. Here George could live quietly with his
tutor, a young man named Flix Frestel, and she could visit
him every day.
Her days were very full. Every charitable organization in
Paris wanted her support and the prestige of her name in
soliciting funds. She became increasingly involved in her
On the walls of the study in his new house, Lafayette had
had engraved the Constitution of the United States, with an
empty frame beside it for the Constitution of France that
he told his visitors he hoped to have a hand in writing. Un-
til that day should come, he devoted himself to reforms that
tended towards democracy, one of them being the extension
of civil liberties to Protestants and Jews. Lafayette went to
the desolate sections of the country where the few Huguenots
left in France were living and brought the leaders of the
outcast sect to his home in Paris for secret conferences with
government officials and for Adrienne to entertain. She was
glad to cooperate, for she, a convinced Catholic, believed
firmly in liberty of conscience. Any infringement of that
liberty was a denial of the freedom of will that God had
given to man.
Certain welfare projects that Lafayette undertook were
handed over almost entirely to Adrienne's management, for
he had found that, though inexperienced, she had a surpris-
ingly good head for business. Lafayette had a scheme for
relieving the grim poverty that existed in his native hill
28 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
country of Auvergne. He established a school on his estate
at St. Georges d'Aurac to teach weaving to sheepherding
peasants and to give much needed winter employment. It was
Adrienne's job to ask for gifts of money from individuals
and from the government to keep the school running.
More work for Adrienne resulted from her activity, and
her husband's, in the antislavery movement. At Cayenne in
French Guiana, Lafayette bought a plantation, La Belle
Gabrielle and a large number of Negro slaves, who were to
be freed as soon as they had been educated and given a means
of supporting themselves. Adrienne conferred frequently
with the priests of the Seminaire du Saint Esprit in Paris,
who had a mission at Cayenne and who were willing to
supply teachers for the plantation school; she spent long
hours in correspondence with the plantation's manager. At
this time she also visited the prisons of Paris to investigate
the horrible conditions that existed there, one of Lafayette's
aims being a reform of the penal code.
Reform reform on an even more far reaching scale was
the subject of eager talk, not only in the Hotel de Lafayette
but also in dubs and in the political salons where Lafayette
frequently met his beautiful friend, Madame de Simiane.
The feeling that something was basically wrong in France
had been growing for a generation and now was the time to
set it right. There was a brief period, a delicious moment,
when it seemed as if the whole world might be rebuilt ac-
cording to the blueprints of wise men and philosophers.
None would suffer, all would gain.
In 1787 an "Assembly of Notables" was called to the
Palace of Versailles to make recommendations to the Ring
that would solve the staggering financial difficulties that con-
fronted his government In this Assembly Lafayette brought
to the fore his civil liberty program and bluntly suggested
that one way to meet the national deficit was to drastically
THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON 29
reduce the expenditures of the royal household. He had in
mind the huge amounts spent on pensions, sinecure appoint-
ments to favorites, and the extravagances of the Queen.
"The millions that are being dissipated are raised by tax-
ation/' he said, "and taxes can only be justified by the true
needs of the state." There was a shocked silence around the
long, green conference table as he added that, "the millions
given over to depredation and cupidity are the price of the
sweat, the tears and even the blood of the people."
At a later session, presided over by the Comte d'Artois,
the King's brother and Lafayette's fellow playboy of Palais
Royal days, Lafayette asked that a National Assembly, repre-
senting all classes in the kingdom, should be called. Again
a silence of stupefaction; such a body had not met in France
for more than a hundred-and-fifty years.
The royal Count leaned forward in his gilded armchair;
his plump cheeks had crimsoned. "What, Monsieur you de-
mand the convocation of the Estates Generall"
"Yes, Monseigneur, and even better than that," Lafayette
replied, with significant emphasis on the final words.
"You are willing, then, that I say to the King, 'Monsieur
de Lafayette makes the motion to convene the Estates Gen-
From that time forward, Lafayette was looked upon as a
dangerous man by the court party, the clique that sur-
rounded the Queen. Marie Antoinette, who had smiled on
the Marquis so graciously when she brought home his wife
to the Rue St. Honor, saw to it that he was stripped of his
title of Mar&hal de Camp.
Nevertheless, within a year, so desperate was the govern-
ment's need for money that the Estates General was sum-
moned. The very nature of the archaic Assembly had been
forgotten; decaying manuscripts were searched to define its
powers and composition. Hopes for what it could accomplish,
30 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
however, were high and there was always the hope for
"something even better."
The meeting of the Estates was scheduled for the spring,
but before it met, France was devastated by a series of un-
foreseen calamities. The harvests of 1788 shriveled under a
scorching sun; hailstorms destroyed orchards and vineyards
as well as fields of standing grain. The price of bread rose
steeply; restrictions were put upon its sale, so that even guests
in great houses were expected to bring their rolls with them
to a dinner party.
The population of Paris and its environs swelled alarm-
ingly. Unemployed workers from the cities, and peasants
from the ravaged countryside, poured into the capital. Some
of these people came from distant provinces and spoke
strange dialects; with their hairy faces and tattered clothing
they seemed barely human.
The winter that followed was colder than any living man
could remember. Great bonfires were kept alight on the
banks of the Seine to keep the poor from freezing to death
and the ranks of the poor increased from day to day. Here,
close at hand, in the very heart of the city, was a new force to
be reckoned with, the blind, unreasoning thrust of hunger
and nakedness. As yet the men of good will, reformers such
as Lafayette, had not guessed or felt its power.
The Kings Jailer
DURING THAT COLD WINTER of 1789, Adrienne must often
have seen the fires that burned along the river bank as
she drove back and forth between her house in the Rue de
Bourbon and her mother's house in the Rue St. Honor6.
Madame d'Ayen was alone there now. All of her little girls
were grown and married and one of them, the sister next in
age to Adrienne, had died in the spring of 1788, leaving a
In January, the Duchess herself came dose to dying of
pneumonia. She made a slow recovery. One day when her
daughters were gathered about her bed in the red tapestried
room she spoke sadly of the troubles that might lie ahead for
France and for her children, in particular for Adrienne's
Gilbert du Metier was, and had always been, Madame
d'Ayen's favorite son-in-law. She was not politically minded
and could not fully understand all of Lafayette's "American
ideas," but she applauded all that he had done to break down
the barriers that divided man from man and to mitigate
32 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
poverty. These were ills that should be fought unceasingly,
but the battle might be long and bitter. Gilbert would be in
the forefront of events suppose he failed, or came to harm!
At the time Adrienne did not take these words too seri-
ously. They were only a by-product of illness, she thought,
of Madame d'Ayen's tendency to worry, of her dread of
change and conflict. Later, however, Adrienne would re-
member her mother's prophecy and when it had been made.
In the spring, Madame d'Ayen was so much better that
she went to recuperate at her husband's villa at Versailles,
taking Adrienne and her family with her. In May, the Estates
General convened in a blaze of medieval pageantry, more
thought having been given as to how the representatives of
the various orders in the state should dress than to how they
should vote or carry on their business. Adrienne saw her
husband walk in a procession that included not only the
clergy, nobles, and commoners but the King, the Queen, and
royal pages and royal falconers, with hawk on wrist. As a
noble delegate from Auvergne, Lafayette was costumed in
cloth of gold, with a plumed hat in antique style that might
have been worn by a courtier of the seventeenth century.
At first it seemed as if the will of the King and of the
majority of the nobles and high ranking clergy would pre-
vail, and that the three orders would each form a separate
chamber. But the commoners, the Third Estates, demanded
that there should be a single assembly in which all votes had
equal value. Lafayette felt so strongly on this subject that he
was ready to rush off to Auvergne to stand for re-election as
a representative of the Third Estate, when the difficulty was
swiftly resolved. The commoners, locked out of their meeting
hall, refused to disband except at the point of a bayonet,
and the King, who was always unwilling to go to extremes,
gave ground. France's first parliament, her first National
Assembly, came to birth.
Within a matter of weeks the constitution that Lafayette
THE RING'S JAILER S3
had dreamed of was being written. It was not a republican
constitution. No one, not even he, thought that that was
possible in a country where royalty had been so long estab-
lished. The most workable form of democracy, the best that
could be hoped for, was a limited monarchy such as was al-
ready in existence in England.
During the long, hot summer months mighty changes in
taxation and government were voted into existence and all
feudal privileges, titles, and prerogatives were outlawed. Lafa-
yette was elected vice-president of the new Assembly, and on
July i ith made his maiden speech, suggesting that a Declara-
tion of the Rights of Man, closely modeled on the American
Bill of Rights, should be written into the constitution.
The Assembly was debating the proposal when on July
14th news came to Versailles that the Bastille, the Paris
prison into which so many unfortunates had disappeared
without trial, had fallen before the attack of an unarmed
mob. When King Louis was told by one of his courtiers of
what had happened he asked, "Then this is a great riot?"
The answer was, "No, sire, this is a great revolution."
Lafayette, and all who thought as he did, rejoiced that the
old symbol of despotic power was gone, but he was horrified
by the savage, wholesale massacre of the prison's defenders
after they had surrendered and by the days and nights of
mob slaughter and destruction that followed. He went back
to Paris at the head of a delegation sent by the King to in-
vestigate and at once was given the difficult and dangerous
job of keeping order in the city. Adrienne, leaving her chil-
dren with her mother for safe keeping until the autumn,
soon joined him in the Rue de Bourbon.
There, a new routine had been established. She saw even
less of her husband than of old. Her house was even more
crowded, even more of a public place. Uniforms and epau-
lettes appeared in the Hotel de Lafayette; spurs jingled across
its highly polished floors.
34 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Lafayette had been put in command of the Paris militia,
and under his direction what had been a local, amateur
police force became the well-paid, the well-equipped Na-
tional Guard of France. He often worked round the clock,
his days given up to active duty, his nights to administrative
detail. Lafayette was immensely popular with his men, but
they were an undisciplined, headstrong lot, eager to follow
him to battle, as he told one of his American friends, but
very reluctant to stand sentry when it rained.
It was raining dismally on October 5th, 1789, when a
ragged army of women and men disguised as women-
marched on Versailles, demanding bread and the return of
the King to Paris. They were on their way before Lafayette
was aware that they had left the city. An even larger, a more
menacing crowd had gathered before the Hotel de Ville and
threatened to follow. Lafayette and his guardsmen marched
with them, hoping to keep some sort of order and to prevent
Night had fallen before the marchers reached the royal
palace. A muddy, bedraggled multitude surrounded it. Camp
fires had been lit in the Place d'Armes. Over one of them a
horse which had been accidentally shot was being roasted
Except for the horse, there had been no casualties, though
throughout the day there had been much wild talk, much
drunkenness, and threats made against the Queen. In the
popular mind the "Austrian Woman" had become a witch,
the source of all the evils that afflicted France. Lafayette,
however, thought that there would be no further demon-
stration that night; the long march and the rain had had a
subduing effect. He posted guards, found quarters for his
troops in the city churches, and toward morning, exhausted
by having been on his feet continuously for almost twenty-
four hours, went to bed in the now empty Noailles mansion.
He had less than an hour's sleep. At dawn an orderly was
THE KING'S JAILER 35
leaning over him, shaking him and shouting in his ear that
the mob had broken into the palace and had tasted blood.
Two of the royal guards had been killed. The Queen's bed-
room had been invaded. She had escaped, just in time, by a
secret staircase to the King's apartments.
Lafayette rushed to the scene. The lower floor of the palace
was awash with a flood of whirling, frenzied folk, while
above, on the upper floors, the royal family and their attend-
ants were marooned. Lafayette and his men managed to flush
and sweep the invaders out of the building and to barricade
He went out on a balcony and tried to harangue the
crowd, but his voice could not be heard above the hubbub
below. There was a moment's silence when the King ap-
peared and in his dull, lethargic manner announced that he
would do as his good people of Paris wished; he would go
back with them to the city. There were cheers at this; there
was a call for the Queen. She started to go out with the
Dauphin and her daughter, but a howl went up: "The
Queen alone no children!"
Marie Antoinette was pale; she hesitated. Lafayette held
out his hand to her. "Madame, will you come with me?"
There were tears of rage and humiliation in her eyes as
she put her hand in his. He led her out into the sunlight a
strangely disheveled figure, still half-dressed. A petticoat and
a yellow striped wrapper had been thrown over her night-
gown; her hair hung loose on her shoulders. As if they were
at the head of a line of stately dancers, Lafayette led her for-
ward where she could be seen by the crowd. He then bowed
elaborately and fell on one knee to kiss her hand.
The pantomime, the touch of theater, had just the effect
that he had hoped for. There was enthusiastic applause from
those who only a moment earlier had wanted to disembowel
the Queen and tear her limb from limb. There were cheers
again when Lafayette went out on the balcony with one of
86 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
the palace soldiers, presented him with the tricolor cockade,
the insignia of the National Guard, and kissed the man fra-
ternally on either cheek.
Later in the day the royal family, escorted by Lafayette
and the ever present mob, went back to live permanently at
the Tuileries and the court party had its bitter say on the
subject of Lafayette. He was nicknamed "General Morpheus"
because he had been asleep when the mob broke into the
palace. He was accused of being the King's jailer.
There was only a grain of truth in the charge but appear-
ances were against him. The removal of the seat of govern-
ment to Paris for the Assembly soon followed the King and
Queen to the capital had raised the Commander of the
National Guard to a position of supreme importance. Gov-
ernment of any sort was impossible in the midst of riot and
confusion, and preventing riot and confusion was Lafayette's
business. He not only protected royalty whenever it appeared
in public, but in private he tried to persuade the King, and
especially the Queen, to accept the new dispensation.
Sometimes he despaired. Madame de Simiane, who had
been influenced by the anti-Lafayette diatribes, urged her
friend to be more respectful to his sovereigns but Lafayette
replied that, for their own good, he was only trying to tell
them the truth. Louis and Marie Antoinette were like
naughty children who would not take their medicine unless
told that the werewolf would eat them. "Believe me," he
said, "they would have been served better by a harder man."
Though sometimes he felt that "all hell was conspired
against him," his self-confidence, his inborn optimism, bore
him up against all discouragements. And, on one occasion,
he felt that he had triumphed. On July i4th, 1790, the first
Bastille Day, there was a glorious rally in the Champ de
Mars, the great open parade ground on the left bank of the
Seine, not far from the Rue de Bourbon. In the presence of
400,000 civilians and 60,000 troops, the King and the entire
THE KING'S JAILER 37
nation swore to support the constitution that the Assembly
was so busily writing that it could give little attention to gov-
erning the country. Adrienne witnessed the ceremony. With
her was her son George, who, usually kept in the back-
ground, was allowed for once to see his father riding on his
famous white horse, Jean Le Blanc, at the head of his guards-
men and taking the oath at a great Altar of Liberty, twenty
feet high, which had been set up in the middle of the field.
To a ten-year-old boy, it was a holiday from school and a
thrilling spectacle to Adrienne a solemn moment. With
pride, but with dismay, she saw her husband at the head of a
revolution that was daily becoming more complex and un-
predictable. She completely shared Lafayette's principles and
saw in them a fulfillment of the Christianity she so fervently
professed. Nothing in her training or her experience, how-
ever, had prepared her for the violence of deed and the vio-
lence of opinion in this time of upheaval. Many aristocratic
doors were closed to her now. There were members of her
own family who failed to recognize her in public and who
no longer came to the Rue de Bourbon.
Lafayette had no sooner made it plain that he took his
new position seriously and was determined that law should
prevail, than attacks began upon him from the extreme left
as well as from the right. Certain members of the Jacobin
Club were beginning to see that the mob of Paris could be a
useful tool for their own ends; certain radical journalists
undertook to destroy Lafayette's popularity by a fusillade of
newspaper articles and pamphlets that ridiculed everything
about him, from his patriotism to his red hair.
He was said to be the Queen's lover certainly a shot that
was wide of the mark. His love affair with Agla de Hunol-
stein was disinterred and given as the reason for his hostility
to the Due de Chartres, now the Due d'Orleans, whom Lafa-
yette suspected of having instigated the hunger march on
38 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Versailles and other outbreaks in the hope that the King
might be deposed so that he, the Duke, might seat himself
upon the throne. Adrienne herself was brought into the lime-
light when a lurid account was given of the loose morals as
well as of the overzealous piety of "General Redhead's
In policing the city, Lafayette was often called upon to
protect priests and church property. The church had been
nationalized; the clergy were forced to take an oath of alle-
giance to the state and many of them resisted on grounds of
conscience. Adrienne strongly sympathized with these rebels
to an authority that they would not recognize. She was will-
ing to discuss the matter with those who had conformed and
would let them state their views, but she made a point of
being present at her parish church of St. Sulpice when a
nonjuring priest denounced the oath from the pulpit. She
and her mother took part in a correspondence with the
Vatican in a vain attempt to prevent a break between France
and the Holy See.
Once Adrienne felt that she had to take a stand that might
seem disloyal to Gilbert. Lafayette had invited the Bishop of
Paris to dinner. Adrienne was sure that the bishop, who had
just conspicuously taken the oath, was coming not as a private
individual nor as a churchman, but as a politician seeking to
identify himself with Lafayette. That day Adrienne spent in
the Rue St. Honor6, though her empty place at the head of
her own table was noticed and unfavorably commented
Above all, throughout these troubled, swift-moving weeks
and months, Adrienne feared for her husband's safety. Lafa-
yette had to deal constantly with crowds that were very dif-
ferent from the good humored, sentimental folk who shed
tears in the Rue St. Honor6 when they saw him greet his
wife. Sometimes he was able to talk to them, or even to
trick them, as at Versailles, into good behavior; more often
THE KING'S JAILER 59
he and his men had to use the forward rush of their horses
and the flat of their swords. Each time that he was called
out on an emergency and he was on call at all hours
Adrienne felt that he was in far greater danger than when
he was fighting the British three thousand miles away in
She had a brief respite from her worries when, in April
of 1791, Lafayette gave up his command of the National
It had been announced that the King was to go to St.
Cloud for Easter Mass. There was a rumor that he might be
leaving the city, or even that he might be leaving France.
When Lafayette arrived at the Tuileries to escort the royal
carriage he found a noisy crowd packed so closely in the
courtyard that the carriage could not move. Again the King
yielded to popular demand and gave up his expedition,
though Lafayette urged him to persist.
Disgusted by Louis' weakness and by the insubordination
of his troops, for some of them had sided openly with the
mob, Lafayette sent in his resignation to the Hotel de Ville.
He quitted his house in the Rue de Bourbon to escape being
asked to reconsider, and Adrienne was left to deal with the
contrite delegation of officers and officials of the Paris Com-
mune that tramped into her salon.
She knew how each of the guardsmen had behaved at the
moment of crisis. Some she greeted cordially, to others she
was only coldly polite. As she listened to their arguments,
she hoped that her husband would stand firm against their
pleas, but four days later Lafayette again took up his burden
and Adrienne hers, of being constantly alert to danger.
Familiar sounds could make her tremble; the clatter of
horses hoofs in the courtyard of the hotel, a midnight knock
upon the door, the hurry of footsteps down a corridor.
Her fears gave her no rest. They reached their climax on
40 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
July i7th, 1791, when yet another, a more disastrous riot
occurred on the Champ de Mars.
Again it was the position of the King and Lafayette's
guardianship of him that was the cause. On June 2oth, Louis
and Marie Antoinette had actually tried to slip out of the
country; they were arrested, at Lafayette's command, and
were brought back to the Tuileries. On July i7th, a petition
was laid on the great Altar of Liberty in the center of the
Field of Mars, calling for Louis' dethronement.
The day was Sunday. A crowd gathered. A few people had
come to sign the petition and many more to see what would
happen next, for the Mayor of Paris had forbidden the dem-
Suddenly a woman screamed. She was standing on the
wooden platform beside the Altar and felt something sharp
prick through the sole of her shoe and pierce her foot. The
point of a gimlet protruded from the flooring. Excitement
soared as two men were dragged out from the hole under
the Altar. They had a keg with them which they protested
had nothing in it but drinking water. They were apparently
making a hole in the floor so that they might take turns in
squinting up for a worm's eye view of the undergarments
of female signers of the petition.
No one believed their bizarre story or gave them time to
prove it. The keg, someone shouted, must be full of gun-
powder; the hole was a duct for the fuse that would set off
the bomb just when it could do the most damage. The two
men, both of them were old and unable to defend them-
selves, were buffeted about by the crowd. They went down
under blows from every side. In a few minutes all that was
left of them were some shreds of clothing, some bloody frag-
ments of trampled flesh and two heads bobbing about on
THE KING'S JAILER 41
This happened early in the day. Lafayette was summoned.
By the time he reached the Champ de Mars the heads had
been carried off the field and the affair seemed to be over.
He returned to his home, but at eight o'clock in the evening
he was again sent for.
And from eight o'clock onward, Adrienne was in torment.
Earlier in the day a bullet, fired by a sniper, had whizzed
past Gilbert's ear and now she expected that there would be
further gunplay. Recently a law had been passed by the
Assembly that in case of serious disturbance, a red flag should
be hung from the Hotel de Ville, the riot act should be read
aloud three times, and then, if the crowd did not disperse,
the troops were to fire.
As she waited anxiously in her quiet house, its windows
open to the warm summer air, Adrienne heard the sound of
distant firing a single volley, then, after an interval, a
second. Later she was to learn that the first salvo had gone
over the heads of the crowd, which stood its ground and an-
swered with catcalls and a shower of stones. The second
volley took effect, and at least a dozen people, but probably
more, fell. Looking out of the window, Adrienne saw for it
was still light people running wildly through the street.
She judged rightly that the mob had been deflected from the
Champ de Mars and that the danger there was over.
But the danger had only shifted ground. The street filled
rapidly from end to end with a shrieking, jostling crowd that
pressed about the closed gates leading into the courtyard.
The terrified servants came flocking to Adrienne from all
parts of the house. Anastasie and Virginie followed their
mother's small, determined figure as she hurried about, re-
assuring the more hysterical members of her household and
seeing that doors were barred and windows closed and shut-
tered. Even so, one could hear the tumult from without and
soon one of the most terrible of all sounds a crowd shouting
42 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
with a single voice, shouting for revenge and the head of the
wife of Lafayette.
Before he galloped off that evening, Lafayette had posted
a double guard at the doors of the house. The men how
pitifully few they now seemed! were drawn up in battle
line in the courtyard, but they could not protect the entire
building. The windows of Adrienne's private sitting room
on the ground floor looked out on a garden and beyond it to
the Square of the Palais Bourbon. It was here that the first
assault was made. Some of the rioters had climbed over the
garden wall and were advancing on the house when a little
troop of cavalry swooped into the square and charged the
crowd, which dispersed as quickly as it had gathered. The
Rue de Bourbon was cleared, the attacking force in the gar-
den melted away, and in a very short time all that was to
be seen of it were a few flying figures disappearing into the
dusky side streets leading off the square.
The threat to the house had come and gone like a whirl-
wind, but it had left its mark on Adrienne and even more
deeply on her youngest child. Virginie-- little Virginie--
who was not yet nine years old, would remember to the end
of her life the terrible cries she heard from the street and
the way in which her mother reacted to them. Tears, tears
of relief and almost of joy, were trickling down Adrienne's
cheeks as she threw her arms protectively about her little
girls and cried, "At least your father is safel At least he is
Oddly enough, a period of peace followed the riot in
the Champ de Mars, which the radical press promptly
magnified into a massacre. The Jacobins who were chiefly
responsible for laying the petition on the Altar Marat, the
journalist, Danton, Desmoulins, and Robespierre disap-
peared from Paris and went into hiding. They soon returned,
THE KING'S JAILER 43
however, to blacken the name of Lafayette. In the Jacobin
Club he was branded as an "assassin of the people." A pam-
phlet detailing his crimes "only since the Revolution" was
circulated, as well as caricatures of him hanging from a
On the other hand, the Assembly publicly thanked him
and the National Guard for the action it had taken and,
unperturbed, went back to putting the final touches to the
constitution which had been so long in the making. On
September igth, the document was submitted to King Louis,
who, in chastened mood, declared that he would accept it,
maintain it at home, and defend it from attack abroad. On
the 24th, he went before the Assembly to take the oath, not
from a throne, but from an ordinary armchair placed to the
left of the presiding officer.
Again the constitutionalists exulted. They felt that at last
their goal had been reached. The King was not an ideal
monarch, but he was better, they said, than any other in
Europe he had learned his lesson. Royal power had been
curbed; all Frenchmen were now equal before the law; pros-
perity would return and disorders would gradually die away.
So deeply ingrained was the idea of kingship in the French
mentality that shouts of "vive le roi" were heard once more
in the streets of Paris and even Robespierre said in a speech
before the Jacobin Club that the revolution was over. The
Club, however, must continue its work of keeping patriotism
at a high level in the country.
Lafayette had long thought that this would be the proper
moment for him to retire from public life, or at least to take
an extended holiday. He had never accepted any remunera-
tion for his work and he had never aspired to office. He
would again resign his command of the National Guard and
this time the severance would be lasting. He would go to
spend the winter at his boyhood home, Chavaniac in
44 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Adrienne was overjoyed. She, too, was in need of a holiday,
for her years in the Rue de Bourbon had always been strenu-
ous; of late they had been harrowing. She would be sorry to
say goodbye to her mother, but their parting would be brief.
The Duchess promised to come soon for a visit at Chavaniac.
Adrienne also contracted for a visit from her dearly loved
sister, Louise de Noailles.
On October 8th, Lafayette said a formal farewell to his
troops at the Hotel de Ville. There was a flurry of speech-
making and testimonials. His men gave him a sword, the
hilt of which had been forged from metal salvaged from the
ruins of the Bastille. The Commune of Paris ordered a gold
medal to be struck in his honor and gave him a bust of
General Washington by Houdon.
That same afternoon the Lafayettes, all but George, who
would follow a few weeks later with his tutor, Monsieur
Frestel, left Paris. Adrienne had been busy, as any housewife
would, in making arrangements for a long-term shift from
city to country living. The baggage vans were packed. The
great house in the Rue de Bourbon was shrouded and
handed over to a small staff of caretakers.
Adrienne left it without regret. She saw ahead of her
something that she had always yearned for: a quiet family
life, away from murderous crowds, away from politics, and
the endless round of social obligations, away, in short, from
everything, including the fascinating Madame de Simiane,
that kept her husband from her. Nine years and more had
gone by since Lafayette's return from America. Adrienne
would soon be thirty-two, and it seemed as if she might at
last have Gilbert not entirely, but a little to herself.
October, 1791 October, 1792
The House in the Hills
>TIHE JOURNEY TO AUVERGNE was to be made in a fleet of
X light carriages, better suited to the rough provincial roads
than a heavy, cumbersome coach. In the first carriage rode
Adrienne and Lafayette, in the second Anastasie, Virginie,
and a little pinched, dried-up elderly lady, Mademoiselle
Marin, who had once been governess to the Duchesse d'Ayen's
children in the Hotel de Noailles and who was now in charge
of Adrienne's daughters. Other carriages followed, filled with
all the servants who could be persuaded to leave Paris for a
winter in the country.
Chavaniac is only some four hundred miles to the south
and slightly to the east of Paris, but the Lafayettes took a
full ten days to get there. They passed through Fontaine-
bleau, skirted the rich valley of the Loire, and soon were
moving through the hills that were familiar to Lafayette as
a boy. Auvergne is a beautiful, an eerie region, with its
forests, its deep-cut river gorges and towering rock forma-
tions. On the cliffs above the winding road perched frag-
ments of ruined castles that had been destroyed more than
48 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
a century earlier when the power of feudal robber barons
was broken by the crown.
In towns along the way, there were frequent halts for
festivities. Auvergne was proud of its illustrious son and gave
him the sort of wholehearted welcome that recently had been
lacking in Paris. Lafayette had to listen to elaborate, lauda-
tory speeches, to walk bareheaded in ceremonial processions,
and to drink ceremonial draughts of wine. The carriages
were forever filled with flowers. When they left the city of
Clermont it was after nightfall, and ahead of them moved a
long, glittering line of mounted National Guardsmen, swing-
ing torches. At Brioude, the nearest large town to Chavaniac,
a triumphal arch had been raised.
On the i8th of October, the end of the pilgrimage came
in sight. The chateau of Chavaniac stood and still stands
on the slope of a hill, commanding a view of distant moun-
tains, a long, massive building, with turrets at either end.
Beneath it nestles a village of some forty or fifty houses.
Adrienne knew it well, for she had traveled this way more
than once and, while Lafayette was in America in 1784, had
spent an entire summer at Chavaniac.
She was well-acquainted therefore, with the doughty old
lady who was now the sole occupant of the chateau, an aunt
of Lafayette, who had helped to bring him up and who was
the mother of the little girl cousin with whom he had played
in childhood. Madame de Chavaniac she, like Louise de
Noailles, had married a near relative and so had preserved
her maiden name was long a widow and long childless. Her
daughter had married and died in childbirth soon after
Lafayette left for his first adventure overseas. All her emo-
tionsand they could be violent when aroused were
centered on the male members of her family, living and
dead: on Lafayette and his son George; on Lafayette's father,
her brother, who had been killed thirty-two years ago at the
Battle of Minden,
THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS 49
The old lady's greeting to the travelers was fervent. She
thanked God for all his mercies. As she embraced her adored
nephew, she cried out in her deep and far from feeble voice,
"I never thought that I would live to see you againl"
Two weeks after the Lafayette carriages drove into the
courtyard of the chateau, the Duchesse d'Ayen arrived, fol-
lowed soon by Louise de Noailles. They had not traveled
together because Madame d'Ayen had stopped at Plauzat,
not far from Clermont, to visit another of her brood, Pauline,
the Marquise de Montagu. A few days later to Madame de
Chavaniac's great delight George and his tutor appeared.
The family circle was complete. Not for years had the old
house in the hills been so full of people and activity.
The children were enchanted to find themselves free to
roam wherever they would, unsupervised. The Duchesse
d'Ayen was always happiest when she was with them and
with her daughters; she found Madame de Chavaniac con-
genial. At Plauzat one could no longer go to Mass, and there
was a hall close to the chateau where meetings of a club,
affiliated with the Jacobin Club of Paris, were held. The
excited shouts of debate were plainly audible in Pauline de
Montagu's sitting room. Here at Chavaniac, the Duchess was
pleased to find that the village cur6 was living in the chateau
and that the little church at the foot of the hill was full of
worshippers on Sunday.
A strong feeling of good will existed between those who
lived in the village and those who lived in the castle. As a
boy, Lafayette had accepted all the riches that came to him
without question, but later he had learned to be a good land-
lord. One year when the crops failed in Auvergne, he dis-
tributed his grain gratis instead of holding it for a high price.
He had established a doctor in the town and had built a
good road leading to it so that weekly market fairs could be
held. Nearby, at St. Georges d'Aurac, was the weaving school
he had founded. From England, Lafayette had imported
50 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
blooded cattle and hogs to improve the local breed, as well
as a trained agriculturist to superintend his farms.
He wrote to Madame de Simiane that the changes he
found in Chavaniac were all for the good. In the old days
when he, the lord of the manor, walked abroad, everyone
took off their hats to bow to him. Now it was he who bowed
to the representative of constituted law, Dr. Guitandry, the
There was much for Lafayette to do beside write to Mad-
ame de Simiane. He had sent an architect down from Paris
who was already at work with his assistant on plans for re-
modelling the chateau. It had been built originally as a forti-
fied place, with small concern for comfort. There was a great
vaulted guardroom on the ground floor. A spacious circular
staircase led up grandly to the second floor, where the family
would live and try to keep warm during the winter months
when snow lay thick on the roofs and cold winds blew down
through the crevices of the hills. There were already many
family portraits in the house, but Lafayette had ordered nine
pictures to be painted of the principal scenes of the revolu-
tion. Eventually they would hang in what he was pleased to
call "the Washington Gallery."
Seeing her husband so absorbed in his projects and appar-
ently so contented, surrounded herself by so many people
whom she loved, Adrienne felt that it was time to relax and
enjoy herself. She was surprised to find how difficult that
was. She was not often troubled by haphazard moods of de-
pression. Perhaps it was merely physical fatigue that ac-
counted for her low spirits or was it a presentiment that this
blissful state of affairs was too good to be true or lasting?
Adrienne was relieved when Lafayette gracefully declined
a position on the Council of the Haute Loire to which he had
been elected, on the grounds that it would take him away too
often from his home. Less reassuring was a speech he made
to a large contingent of the National Guard that visited the
THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS 51
chateau. Lafayette said that he was charmed to find himself
a private citizen; the only thing that could draw him out of
his retirement was the possibility of France being attacked
by some foreign power. This remark echoed an incident of
the trip from Paris that at the time had troubled Adrienne
and accounted in part, for her present sense of insecurity.
She, as well as her mother, had expected to visit Pauline
de Montagu on her way to Chavaniac. Devoted though she
was to Louise, Adrienne was also fond of her two younger
sisters, and particularly of Pauline, who was seven years her
junior. One could not help loving Pauline. She was as caress-
able and impulsive as a child. Like all the d'Ayen daughters,
she was devout and was almost absurdly concerned with
scruples as to right and wrong doing that had once been
discussed by young philosophers in the red tapestried bed-
room of the Hotel de Noailles.
The two sisters had seen little of one another lately. Since
her marriage in 1783, Pauline had lived with her father-in-
law, the Vicomte de Beaune, an irascible gentleman of the
old school. He was an uncompromising royalist and, like all
of the breed, had come to disapprove violently of the con-
stitution and of Lafayette, the King's jailer. Even when
Adrienne went without her husband to see her sister in Paris,
the Vicomte would stalk from the room without speaking to
her, banging the door behind him.
The old gentleman was well out of the way now. He had
left for Coblentz in February, following in the footsteps of
so many other nobles who had bolted across the Rhine imme-
diately after the fall of the Bastille. Pauline and her husband,
Joachim, had been staying all the spring and summer in
Auvergne, and it had seemed the perfect moment for a re-
union. Before leaving Paris, Adrienne wrote suggesting that
she and her family should stop for a few days at Plauzat on
their way south.
The letter that had come back to her was tear-stained.
52 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Tears came easily to Pauline. Except for her baby daughter,
Noemi, she wrote, she was alone at Plauzat, Joachim having
gone on a brief trip to Paris. There was nothing that she
would like better than to have a visit from Adrienne and
Gilbert, but she still lived in fear of her trigger-tempered
father-in-law. If the Vicomte de Beaune should ever hear
that she had entertained the renegade Marquis de Lafayette
in his chateau, he was quite capable of putting her out on
the doorstep and having nothing more to do with her.
But Pauline couldn't bear to have her sister pass her by.
She had an urgent reason for wanting to see Adrienne, even
if it was only for a very few minutes, and said that she would
come to meet the Lafayettes at the posting station at Vaire,
near Plauzat, where they would have to stop to change horses.
When the travelers drew into the town, however their
journey then was nearly over there was no sign of Pauline.
Vaire was so small that it could be taken in almost at a
glance. A servant came out of the inn to tell Adrienne that
there was a lady inside who wanted to speak to her.
Adrienne and Lafayette entered. They found Pauline wait-
ing for them in a dark little private room into which she
had popped directly from her carriage, not wanting to be
recognized. Even smaller than Adrienne, Pauline closely re-
sembled her sister; they both had inherited their mother's
white skin and her beautiful dark eyes.
Pauline's eyes were wet as she rushed into Adrienne's arms.
How sad it was, she cried, that they should have to meet in
this fashion and who knows when or where they would
meet again! Pauline had a confession to make that she knew
would distress her sister and brother-in-law. It was this that
had brought her to the posting station. She herself would
soon be leaving the country. She and Joachim were about
Emigrate the very word had taken on a new, an emo-
tional significance even before the King's attempt to escape
THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS 53
from France. The number of Frenchmen who had gone to
the Rhineland since the fall of the Bastille was not large in
proportion to the total population, but among the emigrants
were the King's two brothers, the Comte de Provence and
the Comte d'Artois, who were loudly demanding the armed
help of the sovereigns of Europe in restoring absolute
monarchy in France. The military forces that had been
gathering at Coblentz and Worms were a threat to the new
regime that Lafayette and his friends had struggled to create
against so many internal difficulties a threat of which they
were only too well aware.
It was some comfort to learn that the de Montagus were
not going to the Rhineland but to England. All last winter,
to emigrate or not to emigrate had been a smouldering ques-
tion in the household of the Vicomte de Beaune. Joachim
had taken the view that the royalists should stay at home; if
they sought foreign aid in solving their domestic problems
they might have to pay dearly for it later. There were many
painful scenes, the old man violently abusive, the young man
pale with anger but trying to keep a curb on his temper and
maintain the respectful tone that every French son should
use in speaking to his father.
Pauline had been much too timid to express her own opin-
ion, but secretly she agreed with her father-in-law. Without
sharing his personal hatreds, she, too, was a royalist and,
with the noisy shouts of Jacobins continually in her ears at
Plauzat, thought it was high time to leave France. For
months she had been gently trying to sell the idea to Joachim.
She had read aloud to him all the discouraging news in
the Paris newspapers. He had begun to weaken a little after
that dreadful affair in the Champ de Mars that might have
cost Adrienne her life, but he didn't really succumb until
word came from Germany that his poor old father might die
of a broken heart because of his son's stubbornness. Joachim
felt that in quitting the country he was a martyr to filial
54 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
duty, but that in going to England he was sticking by his
principles. He was now in Paris making preparations for a
quiet trip across the Channel with his wife and child.
All of this was briefly told in the dark little inn at Vaire
in the short time it took to take one set of horses out of the
carriages and harness up another. Lafayette said that he dis-
approved entirely of what Pauline and her husband were
doing, but he would always continue to love his little sister-
in-law. He kissed her very affectionately at parting.
Adrienne, more profoundly stirred, clung to Pauline until
the last moment. She promised to write as often as she could.
Pauline promised too, for, though they were now definitely
on opposite sides of the fence, they must try to keep in touch
with one another.
Remembering later that brief rendezvous at Vaire, Adri-
enne realized how easily, how inexorably, Lafayette might
be swept out of this quiet backwater of Chavaniac. She
could not unburden herself to her mother because she dis-
covered that her mother knew nothing of Pauline's plans.
Pauline apparently could not bring herself to tell her news
a second time.
But the autumn days continued to pass peacefully; the
first snow had fallen, and Adrienne was just beginning to
regain confidence in the future when the blow fell, the blow
that had fallen so often in the past. In mid-December a
courier, wearing the royal colors, arrived at Chavaniac with
a dispatch for Lafayette. Lafayette had been put in com-
mand of a section of the regular army. No war had been
declared, but France was mobilizing.
There was no question of refusing to answer this call to
arms. Lafayette, as always when action lay ahead, was full of
enthusiasm. War had no terrors for him. He felt that a sense
of emergency might unite the nation. Just before Christmas
of 1791, only two months after his arrival, he left the chateau,
taking with him his valet, Chavaniac, who was the son of the
THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS 55
village tailor, and a boy named F&ix Pontonnier, the coach-
man's son, whom Lafayette had educated to be his secretary.
All over France there were similar partings. At al-
most the same moment, Pauline de Montagu was writing to
Adrienne and her mother on the eve of her departure from
Paris. The snow was falling there also. For the last time
Pauline went to Mass with her younger sister, Rosalie de
Gramniont. Many of the churches in Paris were closed, the
pulpits of the few that were open being occupied by priests
who had taken the required oath. The sisters went to a
private house where services were being held in secret, hop-
ing that their footprints in the snow would not betray them.
The following day, very early, before it was light, Rosalie
came, her cloak powdered white with flakes, to say goodbye.
She and Pauline took care to be very casual in the presence
of the servants, who thought that the young master and mis-
tress were just going away for a few days and would soon be
When Joachim had gone downstairs, carrying the baby
Noemi, who had been taken out of her crib and was still
asleep, Rosalie drew Pauline aside and in a whisper asked
if she was sure she hadn't forgotten something. "Of course,
you are taking your diamonds with you."
"Why should I?" Pauline asked. "I wouldn't wear them.
We won't be going to any grand parties in England."
"Poor darling all the more reason why you should take
Pauline saw that Rosalie was more realistic than she, that
this might be a long absence, that some day she might need
the money that the diamonds represented. Picking up her
jewel box, she hid it under her cloak as she went downstairs
to join her husband in the carriage that would take them to
A Waiting Time
FOR A SHORT WHILE after Lafayette's departure, the
Duchesse d'Ayen and Louise de Noailles stayed on at
Chavaniac. It meant much to Adrienne that her mother
should be with her at such a time, her mother who had
comforted her all during the years that Gilbert spent in
America. Louise's presence was also a consolation. Louise
was gentle and serene the angel of the d'Ayen family. In
childhood she and Adrienne, being so nearly of an age, had
shared all the pleasures and pains of their growing years.
Their marriages had drawn them even closer, for Louis de
Noailles, Louise's husband, went to America with Lafayette
in 1780 and came home an ardent liberal a fayettist, as
Lafayette's sympathizers were sometimes called.
Unless they were willing to take the risk of being snowed
in for days at a time, however, Adrienne's guests could not
linger indefinitely. The Duchess began to be restless so far
from home and was anxious to be in Paris because her
youngest child, Rosalie de Grammont, was pregnant and
close to term. Louise had also to get back to her husband,
A WAITING TIME 57
who would soon be called into service, and to her three small
children, Alexis, Alfred, and Euph&nie.
Adrienne saw first her mother and then her sister go.
Again she expected that the separation would not be long,
for she hoped that in the spring she would go to Paris, or
perhaps to join her husband somewhere in the north.
There was a sense of loneliness, however, of isolation in
this remote and mountainous region, after the last carriage
had driven off. Adrienne was on the best of terms with Aunt
Chavaniac, but the old lady's views on almost every subject
were positive and antiquated. Her horizon was limited; for
years she had gone no farther from the chateau than to the
village church. The youngest members of the family, George
and Virginie, were cheerful folk to have about the house,
but they were absorbed in the world of childhood, which is
a world apart. For adult companionship, Adrienne turned
to her older daughter Anastasie. Anastasie was fourteen now,
almost a young lady. An observant, imaginative girl, she
was proud to be made her mother's confidante. She and
Adrienne had always been intimate, but now a very special,
a woman-to-woman relationship developed.
This was to be a time, a slow moving time, when one
waited from day to day, from week to week, for news that
letters from Paris and the Paris journals might bring. Adri-
enne heard from her mother and sisters frequently, and
from Lafayette. He was sometimes in the capital, camping
out in the deserted house in the Rue de Bourbon, and some-
times moving about from one army post to another.
On Christmas Day of 1791, Lafayette rode out of Paris on
his way to Metz, escorted to the barrier by cheering National
Guardsmen. He was as gay, one of Adrienne's correspondents
wrote, as if he were going to a wedding.
But his new command, he soon discovered, was far in-
ferior to the fine military force he had himself built up. The
58 MADAME DB LAFAYETTE
line soldiers were poorly clothed and poorly armed. Disci-
pline was slack. France had been so long at peace that forti-
fications near the frontier were in bad repair and there was
a great shortage of trained officers, fully a third having gone
across the Rhine.
In Paris the situation had deteriorated. The Assembly
which had written the constitution had dissolved itself and
passed a law denying to its members the right to stand for
reelection in the new Assembly which began its sittings in
October. This body was dominated by members of the Ja-
cobin Club, and even more so by a group of fiery represent-
atives from the Gironde, disciples of Rousseau, with a lively
antipathy to all aristocrats. Girondists were soon given min-
isterial rank. Lafayette was under frequent attack in the
Assembly and in Marat's sheet, The People's Friend. His
popular following had steadily declined since the "massacre"
in the Champ de Mars.
The drift toward war was constant and compelling. All
factions, except the extreme radicals led by Marat and
Robespierre, looked to it as a solution rather than a catas-
trophe. Throughout the winter, administrative and economic
affairs were allowed to run to ruin as the debate on foreign
policy rose and fell, and rose again.
A demand was made that the Austrian Emperor should
withdraw his troops from the borderline of France and that
the 6migr6 forces should be expelled from the Rhineland.
It was disregarded. At last, prodded by his advisers, King
Louis appeared before the Assembly and in a feeble voice
asked that war be declared on Austria, the homeland of his
wife. The vote on the motion that followed was almost unan-
By that time, April s>oth, the winter was over. There were
a few skirmishes with the enemy, a brief and unhappy excur-
sion into Belgian territory. Adrienne read with horror that
a high officer, a general in Lafayette's division, had been
A WAITING TIME 59
killed. After the French forces had retired there came a lull
in hostilities but how long would that continue?
Because of his lack of military success, the cry was raised
that Lafayette was holding his fire and was dallying with the
enemy. Just how far this Jacobin hate propaganda had
spread was demonstrated to Adrienne when, in the early
spring of 1792, a battalion of volunteers from the Gironde
on its way to the front appeared in the village. Some of the
townspeople came to her and told her that the troops were
in an ugly mood. When they learned that the chateau up
there on the hill belonged to Lafayette there was talk of
burning it to the ground.
Adrienne took prompt action. She sent word that the men
were to be well fed at her expense and invited the officers to
dinner at the chateau. The dinner was so pleasant and har-
monious, the hostess so tactful and charming, that there was
no more anti-Lafayette talk while the Girondists remained
in the town.
And now it was June, June 2Oth, 1792. In Auvergne, sum-
mer was ripening, in Paris, the weather was already sultry.
A demonstration took place, unpremeditated, perhaps half
ludicrous, yet altogether sinister in its implications. A crowd
from the poorest sections of Paris and its suburbs frisked
through the Assembly hall, just across the garden from the
Tuileries. The proceedings of the Assembly were halted
while the fa Ira was sung and danced about a pair of
breeches swinging from a pole and a calf's heart skewered on
a pike and labelled "the Heart of an Aristocrat." Greetings
were shouted to leftist members and threats and insults to
the right. A speech was made, complaining that the French
army was not fighting as it should and that the King was not
living up to his end of the constitution.
Then why not visit the King himself? Toward four in the
60 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
afternoon the crowd streamed across the garden to the palace.
The gate, for some mysterious reason, was unbolted and un-
guarded. The mob surged in and up the great staircase, carry-
ing, along with various crude, homemade weapons, a full
sized cannon. For hours Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
were trapped, he standing on a bench in the embrasure of a
window, she and the little Dauphin wedged in a corner be-
hind a table. No harm was done them, but they were freed
only when the demonstrators were worn out with the heat
and acrobatics of the day and drifted off to visit other sec-
tions of the palace.
As soon as he heard of this affair, Lafayette left his camp
at Sedan and hurried back to the capital. On June 2 8th, he
appeared unexpectedly before the Assembly to protest the
insult to the crown and to the governing body. He demanded
the closing of the Jacobin Club. There were a few cheers
when he strode into the hall, but a motion was brought by
the left and lost to censure him for having quitted his
troops even for a few days without permission.
That night the house in the Rue de Bourbon was again
picketed by National Guardsmen. Lafayette intended to ap-
pear at a review that was scheduled for the following day
and to make a speech that would recall the Guard to a sense
of responsibility for keeping order. But morale in the corps
had declined. So few appeared at the rally that the review
Lafayette, during this brief visit to Paris, also had an au-
dience with the King and Queen, in a last attempt to gain
their confidence, to save them from the werewolf that threat-
ened to devour them, the Paris mob. He urged them to leave
the city and to go to Compifegne, well to the east of Paris,
where they would be under cover of his army.
But he might have saved his breath. The Queen had never
forgotten her humiliation at Versailles. She was reported to
A WAITING TIME 61
have said later that she would rather die than owe her life
a second time to Lafayette.
Adrienne learned of all of these events, not only from the
newspapers, but from the repercussions in her own family.
Soon after the outbreak of June soth, the Duchesse d'Ayen
moved out of the Hotel de Noailles, so dangerously close to
the Tuileries, and went to stay with Rosalie de Grammont
in a little house in the Faubourg St. Germain. The Due
d'Ayen, who had been in Switzerland, ostensibly for his
health, hurried home a quixotic gesture; he had formerly
been officer of the King's bodyguard and felt that it was his
personal duty to protect the King. Word came from England
that Pauline de Montagu and her husband, who were sor-
rowing for the death of their baby Noemi, had gone to the
continent. Joachim had at last decided that the time had
come for him to join his father and the &nigr army on the
For Adrienne herself there was a difficult decision to be
made. Lafayette wrote to her to come to him at Sedan. The
impulse to bundle herself and her children into a carriage
and to set off at once was almost irresistible. But a family
and even a wife, if she went alone would be an encum-
brance to a general who might go into action at any mo-
ment. Adrienne, also, had been stung by the attacks on her
husband's patriotism in the press. Fresh ammunition would
be supplied if it became known that Lafayette was taking
special precautions for his nearest and dearest. And there
was Madame de Chavaniac; it would be brutal to leave her
here at the mercy of the next band of incendiaries who hap-
pened to visit the village.
For weeks Adrienne could not bear to say a definite no,
and during those weeks the collapse of all that Lafayette had
worked for in his country first loomed and then became a
certainty. On August loth, another day of intense heat in
62 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Paris, the Tuileries was invaded for a second time. There
was nothing slipshod about this attack. It had been well or-
ganizedand even well advertised in advance.
At an early hour the streets were flooded with people. The
poor folk from the suburbs were there again, but many of
them were well armed, and among the insurgents was a lit-
tle band of patriots who had marched up through the heart
of France from Marseilles, shouting a new, a magnificent
battle song that spoke of a day of glory, of tyranny affronted,
and a blood red flag.
The royal family, forewarned, left the palace and took
refuge with the Assembly. The birds having flown, it seemed
for a moment as if this affair might fizzle out, as if this might
be another June 2Oth. Again the crowd swept into the pal-
ace. The men from Marseilles rushed up the staircase, but
this time their way was blocked. At the top of the stairs the
palace guards were stationed Swiss mercenaries, but brave.
A hand to hand struggle began and soon became a slaughter,
in which nine hundred and fifty armed men and even the
lackeys and the cooks in the royal kitchen were butchered.
The streets surrounding the palace were littered with corpses.
Smoke billowed from the stables which had been set ablaze.
Until ten o'clock in the evening firing continued.
Several of Adrienne's near relatives were at the Tuileries
on that terrible day of August loth, and all miraculously
escaped. Her father had followed the King into the Assembly
hall. Her brother-in-law, Theodule de Grammont, Rosalie's
husband, was given up by his family for dead until late in
the day. He had spent several hours hiding in a chimney
when the massacre was at its height and after dark arrived
unhurt at the house in the Faubourg St. Germain.
Letters from Rosalie and her mother, written that very
night, told Adrienne of these escapes, but from Lafayette she
heard nothing then, or in the days that followed. For news
of him she had to rely on the printed word and the time
A WAITING TIME 63
lag in communication was cruel. There were reports that
Lafayette was organizing a counterrevolution in the Ar-
dennes, that he would march on Paris to restore the constitu-
tion. The King and Queen had been imprisoned in the
Temple. The Assembly, now completely under the control
of the Jacobins, had declared Lafayette a traitor to the new-
born French Republic, soon to be proclaimed. Commission-
ers had been sent to Sedan to arrest him and to bring him
back to Paris for trial. A price had been set upon his head.
For more than two weeks after the loth of August, all at
Chavaniac were kept in ignorance and Adrienne in a blind-
ing agony of suspense.
The Best of News
26iH OF AUGUST was a Sunday. After dinner all the
A family were gathered in Adrienne's sitting room, one of
the few rooms in the chateau that had been completely re-
decorated and refurnished with modern furniture that had
come from Paris. The room was very quiet. Conversation
had died a dwindling death. All eyes were fixed on Adri-
enne. That morning she had sent a man to Brioude to ask
for letters, and any moment now Michel could be expected
Madame de Chavaniac, very gloomy, sighed occasionally.
Close beside her was her faithful handmaiden, Mademoiselle
Maillard and next to her was Mademoiselle Marin, Anas-
tasie's and Virginie's governess. Virginie and George were
whispering softly to one another in a corner. Monsieur F61ix
Frestel, George's tutor, was stretched out in an armchair,
absentmindedly turning over an old book of riddles. Also
present, and also silent out of respect for the lady of the
house, was Monsieur Vaudoyer, the architect; his assistant,
THE BEST OF NEWS 65
Monsieur Legendre; and Mr. Dyson, the English farm super-
Father Pierre Durif, the cur6 of Chavaniac, quietly entered
the room. A plump and, ordinarily, a cheerful man, the
priest was still out of breath from having played shuttlecock
with the children. He whispered to Mademoiselle Marin to
ask if the papers had come. She shook her head and whis-
pered back that it was almost time for vespers; he mustn't
keep the whole village waiting for Michel. After looking out
of the window several times and several times comparing his
watch with the clock on the mantelpiece, Father Durif tip-
toed out again.
Anastasie sighed. She had been playing shuttlecock also
and was ashamed of herself. It was childish, she thought. It
might seem as if she didn't care that her father had not been
heard from and might have met with some terrible misfor-
tune. She saw her mother get up from her chair and go into
the next room.
Adrienne had not been able to sit still a moment longer.
She felt that she must be alone when and if the mail ar-
rived. Only a few minutes later Flix Frestel came in and
handed her a letter. She could see that it was not from Lafa-
yette; it had been written by Louise de Noailles. Adrienne
tore it open and had barely skimmed it through when Aunt
Chavaniac appeared on the threshold.
"Well is there any news of my nephew?" she asked im-
"Yes, Aunt, the best of news!" Adrienne was radiant. "He's
safe. He has left the country!"
"He has left the country you tell me that, Madame!" The
old woman's face was haggard, her eyes wide with horror
and indignation. She sank down in a chair by the door and
began to keen, tearing at her clothes and beating with her
fist and knee against the wall.
66 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
"I will never see him again," she cried. "He is gone! I
will never see him again!"
Mademoiselle Maillard rushed in, followed by others of
the household- The servants were never very far away at
Chavaniac. They expected, as a matter of course, to take part
in every domestic crisis, comic or tragic. Mademoiselle Mail-
lard loosened the kerchief that swathed the old lady's neck
and tried to quiet her, but it was almost half an hour before
Madame de Chavaniac was coaxed out of her chair and led
away, still loudly sorrowing, to her bedroom.
Adrienne could not offer first aid because she herself was
surrounded. The moment she stepped back into the sitting
room everyone in the chateau, including Monsieur Vau-
doyer, Monsieur Legendre, and Mr. Dyson, crowded about
her to kiss her hand and congratulate her as if the most
wonderful good fortune had come her way.
Actually Louise had written that Lafayette's attempts to
bolster up resistance to the Jacobin coup had failed. His
troops had refused to follow him to Paris and he, and a group
of his officers and men, despairing of any further effort had
ridden across the frontier into Belgium.
But to Adrienne this was, for the time being, the best of
news. He was safe! He had survived! She could not believe
with Madame de Chavaniac, that she would never see him
again. She was touched by the outpouring of good will her
announcement had caused, all the more because Michel,
there in the background, was loudly telling her and the oth-
ers that he had heard at Brioude that many manor houses
in the neighborhood had been attacked by revolutionists
and they might expect something of the sort soon at Cha-
As soon as she could, Adrienne sent George to comfort his
aunt he, who meant so much to her. He went rather reluc-
tantly and quickly returned to report that everything he
said seemed to make her cry the harder. Down in the village,
THE BEST OF NEWS 67
Father Durif was ringing the church bell a joyful sound,
but for once Adrienne intended to be absent from vespers.
She asked Monsieur Frestel to stay home from church with
her to help sort the papers in her desk. She couldn't take
lightly Michel's talk of an attack on the chateau. There were
no Jacobins in Chavaniac; Adrienne knew that every man,
woman and child in the village was her friend, but even
before affairs had reached their present pass in Paris there
had been much lawlessness in the district and now one could
expect the worst.
She and Frestel went over the contents of her desk and
tossed many items into the fire. She decided to put valuables
and even some of the pretty furniture from her room into an
underground vault in the cellar where the family archives
were stored. She decided also that the children must leave
But where could she send them? Four or five years ago
Lafayette had bought a large estate and, as part of it, an old
mansion twelve miles away at Langeac. The house was in
poor repair and had never been properly furnished. The
Lafayettes had lent it to an American woman, married to a
Frenchman, and she and her two children were living there
temporarily. Langeac might do as a refuge for Anastasie and
Virginie, but a better hiding place for George and Frestel
materialized even as Adrienne was at work at her desk.
As if an angel had sent him, and before the family had
come back from church, a fifteen-year-old boy named Portal
arrived at the chateau after a long day's tramp from Con-
angles, a little village high in the mountains, not far from
the great monastery of the Chaise Dieu. Portal's father had
entered the priesthood after his wife's death and, unlike Fa-
ther Durif, had taken the oath of allegiance to the state. He
offered to hide Lafayette's son in his house.
Conangles was so remote that rioting there was unlikely.
Adrienne gratefully accepted the offer. She herself saw to it
68 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
that Portal was given something to eat and put to bed so
that he could get a few hours sleep before he, George, and
Frestel would start back that very night for the village.
When the news was broken to George that he was to make
a long hike into the mountains after nightfall he was de-
lighted, but Anastasie and Virginie wailed when they were
told that they were to go to Langeac. They begged to be
allowed to stay with their mother. She, however, was inex-
orable; they had to go and go at once, for already the sun
was beginning to slip out of sight behind the western rim
of mountains. Their clothes were packed, a small carriage
was brought around to the door and, still glumly rebellious,
the girls climbed in accompanied by Mademoiselle Marin
and a maid. A manservant rode off behind the cabriolet,
and one went on ahead to warn the American lady that she
might have to give up her beds to visitors that night.
There was still a great deal for Adrienne to do before she
could get some rest herself. She superintended the removal
of most of the furniture from her room to the hidden storage
vault in the cellar. There were two of her husband's treas-
ures that she wanted to preserve even if the vault was dis-
covered: Lafayette's swords of honor, the one that had been
given him by the National Guard and one with a gold hilt
that was a gift from America. These she took out to bury in
After the rest of the chateau had gone to bed, Adrienne
helped George and Frestel to disguise themselves in rough
country clothes and sent George to wake his benefactor, Por-
tal. The three young folk set oflE shortly after midnight in
high spirits. They had renamed themselves for the journey;
they would be Jacques, Jeannot, and Pierre, if they were
separated in the dark and had to call to one another. Portal
had a wicked looking dagger with him that he intended us-
ing if they were attacked by prowling watchdogs.
When she had let them out into the night with her bless-
THE BEST OF NEWS 69
ing Adrienne, worn out by the day's excitement and activ-
ity, wearily climbed the stairs to her bedroom.
She was so tired that she overslept and was awakened the
following morning by the distant booming of a cannon. She
remembered fortunately that this was nothing unusual, for
the 2 7th of August was the fte day of Saint Julien, the
patron saint of Brioude. She felt unrefreshed, however; she
had a bad headache and foresaw that she would have little
chance of pampering herself.
The day was filled with alarms, false, or not so false it
was hard to say which. Adrienne was hardly out of bed when
an anonymous letter was found slipped under the front door
saying that the chateau would certainly be attacked by a
force that was gathering at Le Puy, a larger town than
Brioude, the seat of departmental government, some thirty
miles distant. A little later in the morning the innkeeper's
wife at Chavaniac came to Adrienne to say that a mysterious
stranger wanted to meet her about dusk at a lonely spot on
the road to St. Georges d'Aurac.
Though her head was still pounding, Adrienne kept the
rendezvous, taking with her two men from the chateau as
bodyguard. She found that the mysterious stranger was a
gentleman she knew slightly at Le Puy who could tell her
nothing definite of an uprising, but who urged her to come
to his country house in yet another village for a few days.
Adrienne declined the invitation, not wanting to leave
Aunt Chavaniac and knowing how hard it would be to dis-
lodge her. The old lady had fully recovered from the emo-
tional outburst of Sunday and, as far as she herself was
concerned, feared neither man, beast, nor devil. She could
discuss quite calmly with Adrienne what they would do if
the "brigands," as she called them, actually came. If they
were men from Brioude, then one might stay to parley with
70 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
them but i they were from Le Puy it would be better to
take to the woods if, of course, there was time.
For the next few days Michel, the best runner in Cha-
vaniac, was stationed on a high point overlooking the road
to Le Puy but each evening he reported that he had seen
nothing on the road but the usual traffic, an occasional cart
or a solitary rider.
Toward the end of the week two commissioners came from
Brioude, sent by the district Council to put government
seals on the doors of the house as a protection against ma-
rauders. Heartened by this, Adrienne thought that it would
be a good idea to go herself to talk with the district author-
ities. She was just about to set off when a letter was handed
to her, the letter she had been waiting for so long. It had
been written by Lafayette on August igth at Rochefort in
Belgium, where he and his companions were being tempo-
rarily detained by the first Austrian troops they had met
after crossing the French frontier. They had declared them-
selves neutrals in the present conflict and had asked for safe
conduct to the coast.
Over the years, Adrienne had received scores of letters
from her far-ranging husband but never one like this. Gil-
bert had written to her sometimes in sorrow, as when he
learned in America that Henriette, their first child, had
died but he had never had to write her of a personal dis-
aster, a personal defeat. It was he who had always been the
comforter; it was she who had been in need of reassurance.
Lafayette was too close, perhaps, to the catastrophe which
had driven him into exile to analyze it competently. In his
heart, he said, he would have preferred a republic in France
but cold logic had told him that this would be too great a
break with tradition. He realized that in trying first to create
the reformed government and then maintain it, he had be-
come the target of attack by extremists in all parties. Thus
he had worked steadily for his own downfall, though he did
THE BEST OF NEWS 71
not see how he could have acted otherwise without dishonor.
"I make no excuse," he concluded, "either to my children
or to you for having ruined my family. There is none among
you who would want to owe his fortune to conduct that went
against my conscience. Come and join me in England. Let
us settle in America. There we will find the freedom that no
longer exists in France, and my affection will try to compen-
sate you for all the joys that you have lost. Adieu, dear
For a moment Adrienne was so lifted out of her present
concerns and worries that she thought of giving up her trip
to Brioude; instead she gave the letter to Madame de Cha-
vaniac, who slipped it into the bosom of her dress and prom-
ised to guard it with her very life. Adrienne drove off with
a much more distant goal in view than the nearest large
town. As soon as she could safeguard Chavaniac she would
leave it perhaps forever.
At Brioude she found a good deal to encourage her, though
local elections for the National Convention that would re-
place the short-lived Legislative Assembly were going on and
there were noisy crowds in the street. Lafayette owned a
house in Brioude, but Adrienne avoided it.
She spent three days in lodgings that a young National
Guardsman whom she met as she was driving into the town
found for her. She was visited by leading citizens and told
that she had nothing to fear at Brioude, though they could
not guarantee that trouble might not come from some other
direction. Various places of refuge were offered by various
friends; some were fantastic an old house that had exten-
sive subterranean passages, a hut on the top of the Mont
Dore, the highest mountain in the district. On Sunday
Adrienne went to Mass, taking care to choose that of a non-
juring priest whom she felt needed her support.
On her way back to Chavaniac she stopped to have dinner
with the girls at Langeac. She had sent Monsieur Vaudoyer
72 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
to call on them earlier in the week and one day had ridden
over herself on horseback. Anastasie and Virginie still con-
sidered themselves wretched, persecuted exiles. They had
been taking turns standing sentinel all day long at a window
that looked towards home. Adrienne told them that if all
remained quiet for the next few days they could come to
Chavaniac, at least for a visit.
She sent for them on Saturday. Anastasie rode ahead of
the carriage on the return trip. She went along slowly most
of the way because Evrad, one of the men, was walking be-
side her but when she came in sight of the chateau and saw
her mother and her aunt sitting out on a balcony she gave
her horse its head and galloped grandly up the hill. As she
swept into the courtyard she was followed by a flock of
women and children from the village who had come to wel-
come her home.
Anastasie was more thrilled than frightened when Adri-
enne told her in confidence that they must still be on the
watch and described the arrangements she had made for a
quick escape from the house. She had had a crude sedan
chair brought down from the attic and two of the strongest
men would carry Aunt Chavaniac in it to a ravine in the
woods. Another man would carry Virginie, who was so small
that she might not be able to keep up with the others as they
"But what will we do about Mademoiselle Marin?" Anas-
tasie asked. "She would be sure to follow Virginie and she
walks so slowly. If she was left behind no one would take
her for a peasant because of those high-heeled shoes she
"Well, in that case, we will just have to count on the vil-
lage people taking care of her," Adrienne said with a sigh.
That evening when they were having supper, Mercier, the
Chavaniac butler, kept muttering to himself as he stood be-
hind Adrienne's chair and passed the dishes about the table.
THE BEST OF NEWS 73
"Things don't look good to me," he said, loud enough so
that all could hear him. "Going to kill everyone rob every-
thingand they're not far off. You ought to get out of here,
every one of you, right away."
Mercier was one of the men who had gone with Adrienne
to meet the mysterious stranger that evening on the road to
St. Georges d'Aurac, and he was disgusted with her for not
having accepted the gentleman's offer of an asylum.
Soldiers From Hell
*T-IWO DAYS LATER on Monday, September loth, 1792, at
JL eight o'clock in the morning, eighty-six armed men
tramped up the hill from the village. Mademoiselle Benoite,
the elderly housekeeper, who always wore a spindle attached
to her belt to keep her hands busy in idle moments, looked
out of the window and saw them just as she was carrying a
jug of coffee up to Madame de Chavaniac's bedroom. The
soldiers had encountered Monsieur Legendre, the architect's
assistant, as he was crossing the courtyard. They had backed
the young man up against a tree and told him not to move
if he valued his life.
Mademoiselle Benoite burst into Madame de Chavaniac's
room. "Get up, Madame, get up right away!"
"What on earth is the matter with you, Benoite?" the old
lady asked, sitting up and pushing back the bed curtains.
"Oh, Jesus-Mary! Look out the window quick! They've
filled up the whole courtyard!"
"But who are they?" Madame de Chavaniac asked, not to
be hustled out of her bed unnecessarily.
SOLDIERS FROM HELL 75
"Who? Who? You make me tired, Madame, with your
whos! Soldiers, every kind o soldier, every color and all
armed to the teeth!"
"Where do they come from?" Madame de Chavaniac
asked, still not to be stampeded into hysteria.
"From hell; God forgive me!" Mademoiselle Benoite
cried, piously crossing herself.
At the same moment Evrad, the man whom Adrienne had
deputed to carry Virginie if they had to escape from the
chateau, shot into the room where Virginie was being dressed
by Mademoiselle Marin. "At least we can save the childl"
He swung Virginie up on his shoulder and started for the
"Wait till she gets her clothes on. She'll catch her death of
cold," Mademoiselle Marin protested.
But Evrad paid no attention to her except to grumble at
her for wasting time. He quickly opened the door and as
quickly banged it shut. The next room, it was the dining
room, was full of soldiers.
The butler, Mercier, had gone straight to Adrienne's sit-
ting room. She was there and in the doorway was a huge
musketeer, his gun across his shoulder. He had just informed
Mademoiselle Maillard that if anyone tried to leave the
house there would be a general massacre but to Adrienne he
said with a grin, "Don't be frightened. We're just some peo-
ple who have come from Le Puy, and we have a commissioner
The commissioner was an unprepossessing individual who
had a split upper lip, like a hare, and looked as if he might
be an escaped convict. He introduced himself to Adrienne
as Alphonse Aulagnier, Justice of the Peace at Le Puy. He
handed her a letter from the Committee of General Safety
in Paris, dated August igth, and signed by Jean Marie Ro-
land, the Minister of the Interior. It ordered him to secure
76 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
the persons of Madame de Lafayette and her children and
to transport them to Paris.
While Adrienne was reading this document she was ap-
palled to see Anastasie enter the room and to hear her say,
"Bonjour, maman." Now she could not pretend that all of
her children were away from home! Madame de Chavaniac
also came in.
The best thing to do, Adrienne thought, was to get Aulag-
nier and his men out of the house as quickly as possible be
fore any pilfering, or worse, began. Resistance was out of the
question. "I will go with you at once to Le Puy," she said,
"and will give myself up to the authorities there. I will go
as soon as the horses can be harnessed."
She told Mercier to see that the carriage was brought
Aulagnier asked for the keys to Adrienne's desk. He must
see if she had any letters from her husband. Unfortunately,
the letter that Adrienne had received before going to Brioude
was no longer wedged between Madame de Chavaniac's ker-
chief and her stays. It was in the desk and with it was an-
other letter that Lafayette had written a few days later to
his aunt in which he said that he supposed Adrienne had
already left Chavaniac for England.
While Aulagnier was ferreting through the desk, Adrienne
slipped off to Virginie's room where Virginie, in tears, was
being forcibly restrained by Mademoiselle Maillard and
Mademoiselle Marin. Virginie had wanted to follow Anas-
tasie to her mother's room. Adrienne tried hurriedly to com-
fort the child and told her that she must stay where she was.
On no account must she be seen by Aulagnier or the sol-
diers. If they should come here, Mademoiselle Marin could
hide her inside the fireplace. This seemed more feasible than
Madame de Chavaniac's suggestion that Virginie should be
dressed as a peasant and turned out to run with the village
SOLDIERS FROM HELL 77
When she returned to the sitting room, Adrienne found
the commissioner reading Lafayette's letters. "You will see
by them, monsieur," she said, "that if there had been any
just tribunals in France, Monsieur de Lafayette would not
have hesitated to appear before them. He was sure that not
a single action of his life could compromise him in the eyes
of true patriots."
"I am afraid, Madame," Aulagnier replied, not too un-
kindly, "that the only court today is the court of public
The wait for the carriage began to seem long. Adrienne,
to pass the time, spoke to one of the soldiers, whom she
thought had a pleasant face and who was wearing a white
uniform that she did not recognize. She asked him what was
"I am from Medoc," the soldier said. "They sent us to Le
Puy because we had a little trouble in our regiment. We
killed one of our officers, but," the man shrugged, "what
could you expect? The fellow was an aristocratl"
Adrienne became increasingly uneasy as she saw that the
men were beginning to wander away to other parts of the
house, staring curiously at everything they discovered. They
particularly admired the work that had been begun on "the
Washington Gallery" where Lafayette had intended to hang
his pictures of the Revolution.
"Think of owning all this," one of the sightseers said, "and
then going off and betraying his country!"
Mademoiselle Benoite hobbled after them as they stopped
to inspect the portraits of bygone Lafayettes in armor, ruffs,
and farthingales. "Who are these people?" a soldier asked.
"Some fine aristocrats, I suppose!"
"They were good people in their day," Mademoiselle
Benoite said in a sepulchral voice, "and now they are no
more. If they were alive today things might not be going as
badly as they are!"
78 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
The soldiers ran the points of their bayonets through the
canvases and later, when they invaded Madame de Cha-
vaniac's room, they stabbed a picture of Lafayette to the
heart. They also broke open the desk and smashed a jar in
which the old lady kept her snufL
But at last the carriage appeared. Madame de Chavaniac
had nobly said that she would go with Adrienne to Le Puy
and farther still to Paris, if necessary. Anastasie would have
to go also, since she had been recognized by Aulagnier. Adri-
enne was touched when Mercier, Evrad, and another servant
volunteered to follow the coach on foot among the soldiers,
keeping their ears open to hear if any mischief was intended
before Le Puy was reached. Adrienne was much relieved
that the commissioner had made no enquiries for other Lafa-
yette children than Anastasie and that Virginie had not been
Just as she was getting into the carriage, the man whom
she had sent several times to Conangles to communicate with
George innocently asked, "Shall I keep on going to see Mon-
sieur Georges while you are away?"
"Of course," Adrienne whispered, "-only keep stilll"
As if this was not enough, Monsieur Vaudoyer approached
to say goodbye and added in surprise, "Then Mademoiselle
Virginie is staying here?"
"Oh please, monsieur!" Adrienne murmured, sinking back
on the cushions.
It was a good thirty miles to Le Puy and since the
morning was well advanced it was clear that they could not
get there by night with their military escort, all of whom,
except Aulagnier, were unmounted. Adrienne was cheerful.
This was infinitely better, she said, than two weeks ago when
she had not even received her sister's letter saying that Lafa-
yette was safe. She thought that she might plead her cause
SOLDIERS FROM HELL 79
successfully and perhaps make her captors feel a little fool-
ish for what they had done. Madame de Chavaniac was un-
concerned, although she said that it was certainly strange to
be knocked out of her accustomed groove for an expedition
of this kind. As they slowly jolted along, Anastasie felt sorry
for poor little Virginie, who had been left behind and who
was probably suffering pangs of jealousy.
At a small town, Villeneuve, they stopped so that the sol-
diers could eat and drink and Adrienne told Evrad to go
back to the chateau to reassure them there. Aulagnier said
that they would spend the night at Fix, which stood at a high
point on the mountainous road to Le Puy.
It seemed as if the horses couldn't drag the carriage up the
steep incline, burdened as it was with half a dozen soldiers
hanging on behind it, but at last, after a struggle, the summit
was reached. The women were helped out of the coach and
went into the inn. Aulagnier settled with them the hour
when they would leave at two in the morning, as soon as
the moon had risen.
Mercier came up to their room and said that the soldiers
were not such bad fellows after all and he didn't think that
there was anything to fear from them. Aulagnier, too, had
been very friendly and had invited him to dinner.
Adrienne thanked Mercier, with tears in her eyes, for his
devotion. He, too, was moved. "Oh, it's nothing," he said
gruffly. "That was easy to do." He would sleep, he said, on
a mattress in front of the door to guard them during the
After they had had something to eat, all but Aunt Cha-
vaniac, who refused to take anything but some sugar water,
they knelt down to say their prayers. A great scuffling broke
out below angry voices, a cry, "To arms!"
Adrienne thought that someone might have come to res-
cue them, that there would be a fight to the death. "Oh,
80 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Aunt, I am afraid someone will be killed," she exclaimed
But Aunt Chavaniac had no such illusions or compunc-
tions. It was just a soldiers' brawl. "Eh, Madame," she said
contemptuously, "if they want to kill one another, let theml"
Presently the fracas subsided and sleep was possible. Anas-
tasie dropped into complete oblivion, Madame de Chavaniac
slept the uneasy sleep of old age, and Adrienne lay awake,
wondering whether the soldiers would have time to get dan-
gerously drunk before two o'clock in the morning.
At two, the travelers were aroused and given some milk
to drink by the innkeeper's wife, who was sympathetic, but
who prophesied that soon they all would be on their way to
Paris. The journey to Le Puy was then continued by moon-
The Court of Public Opinion
VERY ANCIENT, the very curious town of Le Puy en
- Velay rises in the form of an amphitheater from the floor
of a high mountain valley, its steep and narrow streets paved
with pebbles of lava. Twin pinnacles of volcanic rock are
today crowned with gigantic statues and on a third is perched
a miniature doll's house of a church. The church of St. Jean
d'Aiguilhe had been in position, airily suspended, for more
than eight hundred years when the Lafayette carriage ap-
proached the town on the morning of September i ith, 1792.
The sun had been up for hours.
The travelers fell silent as they neared the suburb that
had grown up outside the old city wall. At Fix they had
been told that a prisoner who was being brought into Le
Puy was set upon by a mob at this point and killed. One
could not be sure how much protection to expect from Mon-
sieur Aulagnier and his cohorts.
Adrienne saw that for the first time Anastasie was showing
signs of nervousness. She whispered in her daughter's ear,
"If your father knew that you were here, how anxious he
82 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
would be but at the same time he would be very proud of
People stared at the carriage as it passed and shouted
wordless threats; stones rattled against its sides. A few flew
in at the window before it had reached the gate of the town.
Aulagnier had asked Adrienne where she wanted to go in
Le Puy, and she had replied that she wanted to be taken
straight to the building that housed the government of the
department. The Department Council was not in session
when she arrived, but the members were sent for and soon
began to file in. Among them was the mayor of the town
who was an old acquaintance. Adrienne remembered his
having come to Chavaniac occasionally in the past.
She had had plenty of time in the long hours on the road
to plan exactly what she should say when she found herself
in this particular room and facing this particular audience.
"I place myself confidently under your protection, gentle-
men," she said. "I recognize in you the authority of the peo-
pleand that I have always respected. You may take your
orders from Monsieur Roland if you choose or from anyone
else. I choose to take orders only from you and I give myself
up to you as your prisoner."
The municipal officers were surprised, perhaps, that a
woman could be so reasonable and so businesslike. Aulagnier
produced the letters he had found in Adrienne's desk at
Chavaniac. The question was raised: what should be done
with these incriminating documents? The board decided that
they should be sent to Paris.
Adrienne asked that copies of the letters should be made
before they were dispatched and asked permission to read
some of them aloud.
Again there was a flutter of surprise. One of the men said
ironically that he was afraid she might find it painful to read
her husband's letters in public and to the present company.
THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION 83
"On the contrary," Adrienne said. "I find support and
comfort in the feelings they express."
She knew that she was taking a risk to let her husband
speak for himself she might be interrupted; she might be
howled down but in a firm voice she read the passages that
set forth most clearly Lafayette's patriotism and his political
outlook, in particular the passage in which he stated his
preference for a republican form of government, now that
France no longer had a king.
While she read, there was absolute silence. Adrienne
sensed, as an actor or a public speaker senses instinctively,
that her audience was with her. She had touched the imag-
ination and emotions of these coldly hostile men. Their hos-
tility was impersonal. They were not really cold; they, too,
loved their country. Other people drifted into the hall to
listen. When she had finished there was applause, and the
Mayor of Le Puy fervently congratulated her.
It had occurred to Adrienne that the Mayor had gone too
far and might damage his position with his more radical col-
leagues by appearing to be so intimate with her. She would
do him as good a turn as she could under the circumstances.
She thanked him for his sympathy, "But why have you not
been to see me, Monsieur le Maire?" she asked reproach-
fully. "You have not come to Chavaniac for a very, very long
The President of the Council, Monsieur de Montfleury,
though less demonstrative, seemed also to be her friend.
Adrienne urged him and his fellows to consider obeying this
order of the Committee of General Safety in spirit but not
to the letter. It would be unjust and pointless to force her
and her children to make a long journey in these dangerous
times and to go to Paris where only a week ago, as she had
learned from the newspapers, there had been a wholesale
murder of prisoners in their cells. No definite accusation had
been brought against her. Her only possible value was as a
84 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
hostage for her husband, for whom she was proud to go
security and whose opinions she gloried in sharing but why
could she not be a hostage here in Auvergne?
"I would be much obliged to the department," Adrienne
said, "if it will allow me to remain under house arrest at
Chavaniac. If so, I will give you my word of honor not to
leave my home without your permission."
It was getting late. President de Montfleury said that the
matter would be discussed and decided at the next meeting
of the Council. In the meantime, the three Lafayette women
could stay here in the municipal building where they would
The following day de Montfleury pleaded Adrienne's cause
so well that a letter outlining her proposal was written im-
mediately to Minister Roland by Alphonse Aulagnier. Adri-
enne was told that she would have to remain in Le Puy,
however, until a reply came back from Paris.
She, Anastasie, and Aunt Chavaniac resigned them-
selves to living as comfortably as they could contrive in the
municipal building. They were prisoners, but the sentinels
at their door were National Guardsmen who had asked for
the assignment so that they might protect Lafayette's wife
and family. Adrienne could have visitors and many people
she knew in Le Puy came to offer their sympathy. She could
also hear from home, from Virginie and George, and could
write letters, one of which went to her mother in Paris.
She went over in her mind the people she knew who might
have some influence with Roland. The list was meager, but
she decided to write to Jacques Pierre Brissot, who had often
come to the house in the Rue de Bourbon and had often
been a guest at her table. At that time Brissot was head of
the French Antislavery Society in which both Lafayette and
THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION 85
Adrienne were active. He was now one of the Girondist lead-
ers in the National Convention.
"Monsieur," she wrote, "I really believe that you are a
sincere fanatic for liberty. This is a compliment I can pay to
very few people nowadays. I won't go into the question
whether your kind of fanaticism like religious fanaticism-
defeats its own end, but I cannot think that one who has
done so much for the emancipation of Negroes could be an
agent of tyranny."
She described the circumstances of her arrest without a
warrant. She compared it to the methods that the kings of
France had once used to send prisoners to the Bastille with-
out trial. She asked Brissot to do what he could to free her
so that she could go to England, join Lafayette, and emigrate
with him to America.
The letter was sent off at the same time as the communica-
tion of the Council to Roland. A week, two weeks, went by.
Toward the end of September, Adrienne was called again
into the assembly room to listen to the word that had come
The arrangement she had suggested was satisfactory, she
was informed, if the local authorities would be responsible
for her safekeeping. She had won her point, but not without
a sharp little slap on the wrist from Roland. Brissot had
shown him her letter and the minister had taken offense at
some of the expressions she had used; the style of writing she
had learned from her mother was too aristocratic. She had
said, for instance, "I consent to owe you a service;" that
smacked too much he thought, of "the antiquated pride of
what had once been called nobility." There was frenzied
applause in the Council chamber when this part of Roland's
letter was read aloud.
Adrienne could have passed over the rebuke with a smile,
if she had been in a smiling mood, but she was depressed to
realize that victory had come too late. She had had some very
86 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
disheartening news while she was at Le Puy. Lafayette was
not in England, as she hoped he would be by this time. His
declaration of neutrality had not been worth the paper on
which it was written. It was reported in the newspapers that
he was a prisoner of the anti-French coalition, made up of
Austria, Prussia, and the German principalities, which con-
sidered him a dangerous revolutionary. He was on his way
to a Prussian fortress Spandau, the papers said.
Again the impulse to go to him was overwhelming. How-
ever difficult it might be to travel, or to leave France, Adri-
enne bitterly regretted that she had promised to stay at
Perhaps, she thought, her promise might be rescinded as
she listened to the Council debate how she should be
guarded. It was proposed that the Commune of Aurat in
which Chavaniac was situated, should supply sentinels for
the chateau. "I here declare, gentlemen," Adrienne cried,
"that I will not give the parole I offered if guards are to be
placed at my door."
But the Commune of Aurat had no intention of posting
guards. Its representative said to the Council that if Adrienne
had given her word of honor that should be sufficient. "I
would go bail for her myself," the man from Aurat said,
"for she's a fine woman."
It was agreed that the Commune should merely check on
Adrienne's presence at Chavaniac every two weeks and re-
port to Le Puy.
Shortly thereafter, on October 5th, the three prisoners left
for home. They were accompanied to their doorstep by a
squad of commissioners, who were impressed by the welcome
given Adrienne, Anastasie, and Madame de Chavaniac. Not
only the household and the village turned out, but some of
the officials from Aurat were there also. Adrienne could not
resist saying in the presence of her guards from Le Puy that
THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION 87
she was not as aristocratic as Monsieur Roland thought. She
felt honored to owe a service to her country neighbors and
to find herself under the protection of people who trusted
After the officers from Le Puy had left she invited the
Aurat delegation to stay to supper. Before the meal was over
she proposed her husband's health, and the toast was drunk
But the toast was only a flourish. Back in her own
house, Adrienne's one absorbing aim was to leave it as soon
as possible. The day before coming home from Le Puy she
battened down her pride and wrote to Roland, begging him
to release her "I ask it on my knees," she said so that she
could go to Germany. Prisoners of state were sometimes given
the privilege of having their wives with them. If she could
not actually live with her husband, at least she could be
She wrote in similar vein to Brissot. His only reply to her
first appeal had been through Roland, but at least he was
responsible for her being now at Chavaniac. "I should not
write to you again, monsieur," she began for she felt that
he had betrayed her confidence "after the use that you make
of my letters. ... Do not expect to find bitterness in what
I have to say, nor even the pride of injured innocence. I
plead my cause with the sole desire of gaining it."
These two letters she sent to Paris by a special messenger,
an old friend whom she found waiting for her at Chavaniac.
His name was Beauchet; he was the husband of one of her
former maids and he had been sent to Auvergne by the
Duchesse d'Ayen as soon as she heard of her daughter's ar-
Adrienne could not wait to be free herself, however, be-
88 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
fore beginning to work for her husband's freedom. She
thought at once of America. Mr. Dyson, the farm superin-
tendent, wanted to go home to England while the going was
good; one could not tell what international complications
might arise in the near future. This seemed to Adrienne a
good way of communicating quickly and safely with Lafa-
yette's "adopted father," President Washington.
She wrote to him, asking that an American envoy be sent
to Europe to negotiate her husband's release. If his family
could go with him to the United States, so much the better;
but if that was impossible, their being left behind must not
be considered an obstacle. She did not mention Lafayette's
name, and she omitted her signature, thinking that Dyson's
papers might be examined before he was allowed to leave
the country. Dyson promised to explain everything himself
to the President.
Six months, however, and even more might go by before
an answer came from Philadelphia. There were other Amer-
ican friends who were close at hand and the most obvious
one to approach was the present Minister to France, Mr.
Adrienne knew this successor to Thomas Jefferson well,
for he had often been present at the Monday night American
dinners at the house in the Rue de Bourbon. Once, to please
him, Adrienne had had Anastasie sing a little ditty that Mor-
ris himself had composed. Morris was not altogether to her
taste, nor to her husband's. He was a snob, had identified
himself with the court party, and took a rather dim and
carping view of Lafayette's zeal for reform. Adrienne felt
sure, however, that Morris would and should be concerned
by her present plight.
There were others outside of France to whom she could
turn, in particular Thomas Pinckney, the American minister
to England, a country that thus far had maintained a hands-
Madame de Simiane
From a painting by Madame Vigte-Lebrun
The Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette and Marie Antoinette on the balcony at
Versailles: October 5th, 1789
The Lafayette-d'Ayen wed-
Monfieui le Comte DE LA R1V1FRE, &
Monfirur If Comte DE LUZIONEM , font
vtnu^pour avoir I'honneur de vous fairepart
t!u ni.iriaf^e tic Afonficur Ic Marquis JDE LA"
1-A1 r.TT> Icur arrierc-pedt-Filv & Ncveu,
avec Madeinoifcllc 1>E NOAiLLES.
From the Sibliotheqite Rationale
Gilbert and Adrienne de
Lafayette at the time of
The three children of Adri-
enne de Lafayette: Anas-
tasie, George Washington,
The chateau of Chavaniac
From a drawing by General Cctrbonei
A nineteenth century view of the town of Olmutz
Sketch of "Cataquois," the
Olmutx jailer, by Anastasie
Madame de Lafayette in
her later years
The chateau of La Grange-
The storming of the Bastille
From a govaehe by EouSl
Lafayette, as Commander of
the National Guard, rescuing
a victim from the Paris mob
THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION 89
off, wait-and-see policy in the present war. She would write
to Morris, she could try to write to Pinckney; but how much
better it would be, she thought, if she could speak to them
herself or if she could send someone to represent herl
One night, soon after her return from Le Puy, Adrienne
was roused from her bed to speak with Fflix Frestel, who
had stolen back from his hide-out in the mountains. He and
George had been living all these weeks safely, but monot-
onously, at Conangles; their presence in the village unsus-
pected. Portal's grandmother kept house for her priestly son
and his family. She had seen that the refugees were well-fed.
Portal and his brother waited on the family at mealtimes
and were ready to slip into the guests' places at the table if
anyone came to the house and George and Frestel had to
hide themselves hurriedly in the attic.
One could not live forever in an attic, however. Frestel
wanted to know what was Adrienne's pleasure and was ready
to cany out any program she suggested for George.
It would be best for George, Adrienne thought, if he were
out of the country. If he came to Chavaniac he would be only
another hostage and, young though he was, he might be use-
While the rest of the chateau slept, Adrienne and Frestel
spelled out in whispers a plan for Frestel to go to the autumn
trade fair at Bordeaux. He could easily get a license as a
small time merchant and also the passport now needed to go
from one department to another. He would take George with
him. They would try to find a passage aboard a ship that
was going to England. There they would confer with Thomas
Pinckney on efforts to rescue Lafayette. They might even
travel farther still to Germany.
Before daylight the plan was complete and Frestel was
gone as quietly as he had come. Adrienne had told him that
she didn't want to see George before they left, for at the last
90 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
moment she might not be able to part with her son. She was
ready to make any sacrifice herself, however, and to demand
any sacrifice from her children that would serve their father.
She had always been honest enough to admit to them and
to herself that she was wife first, she was mother second.
October, 1792 June, 1794
A Net of Many Strands
EVEN BEFORE ADRiENNE was taken to Le Puy on September
loth, 1792, Lafayette's American friends in Europe had
been alerted by Lafayette himself.
A young man named William Short, who was the United
States minister at the Hague, received a note that had been
hurriedly written in English by the prisoner at Brussels on
August 26th. It began, "My dear friend: You have been ac-
quainted with the atrocious events which have taken place
in Paris." Short had indeed heard of the atrocious events
and was much perturbed. He had come to France in 1784 as
Thomas Jefferson's secretary, had made many French friends
and had fallen head over heels in love with an aristocratic
lady, the Duchesse de la Rochefoucauld. Short was longing
to hear from her and the letter in hand only added to his
Lafayette, after telling of his arrest by the Austrians and
their disregard of his declared neutrality, asked the minister
to come to Brussels at once and claim him as a compatriot.
"I am an American citizen, an American officer, no longer
in French service, and I don't doubt of your immediate and
urging [sic] arrival."
94 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
It was true that Lafayette was, technically speaking, an
American citizen. In 1784, he and his male posterity had
been granted an honorary citizenship by two states of the
present union. It was also true that his services to the Amer-
ican nation had been immeasurable, freely given without
thought of reward not to mention the countless services to
individual Americans, one of whom happened to be Short
himself. After Jefferson went home in 1789, Short had very
much wanted the post in Paris. Lafayette had written to
Washington warmly recommending him and, though Morris
had been appointed in his stead, Short was grateful to the
Marquis for what he had done.
There was every reason therefore for Short's coming to
Lafayette's aid but go to Brussels! demand a prisoner of the
mighty Austrian Empire! Short could not see himself, a rep-
resentative of a small, weak country far across the globe,
doing that. Lafayette also had been branded as a traitor by
the present French government. There was a treaty of al-
liance between France and America. Looking in either di-
rection, Short could see only an impasse. And he was very
far from home. This was too great a responsibility for him to
Short did not reply to the Brussels letter immediately. A
second, more urgent appeal arrived three days later "depend
on it, no time is to be lost." At last the harassed young man
wrote to apologize lamely for not coming to Belgium. He
was too busy, he said; he would come later on his way to
Spain on a diplomatic mission. He hoped that all would be
well by that time, for he didn't believe that Lafayette would
be held for very long.
But even as he wrote, Short saw how shabby his excuses
were. He salved his bruised and aching conscience by taking
counsel with his American colleagues, with Morris in Paris
and Thomas Pinckney in London. William Cannichael in
A NET OF MANY STRANDS 95
Madrid, the only other American representative in Europe,
was too far away to be readily consulted.
In early September, a worried, three-cornered correpond-
ence began. Both Morris and Pinckney agreed that Short had
done the right thing in doing nothing. Morris thought that
''the less we meddle in the great quarrel which agitates Eu-
rope the better it will be for us." Pinckney saw no use in
making a request only to have it refused; he had, however,
drafted an official note to the Austrian ministry and was
ready to sign it if the others would cooperate.
So the matter rested when Gouverneur Morris heard from
Adrienne. Her letter was delivered to him by Monsieur
Beauchet, the man whom the Duchesse d'Ayen had sent to
Chavaniac and who earlier had carried Adrienne's appeals
to Roland and Brissot. This was only one of many trips that
Beauchet made back and forth between Paris and Auvergne.
He was invaluable as a means of communication now that
the public mails were so hazardous and he could give the
personal touch that Adrienne felt was so important.
On his first trip Beauchet had seen both Roland and Bris-
sot and had found that, though Roland might be irritated
by aristocratic expressions, he was a kindhearted man. Via
Beauchet, Roland sent back word to Adrienne that he was
deeply sorry for her. He would wait for a favorable moment
to present her case to the Committee of General Safety and
hoped that before long, he might have good news for her.
In the meantime she would have to wait, as she had so
often waited before, for a letter from America and for
Again winter closed in. Adrienne could remember sadly
that at this time last year Gilbert was at home, peacefully
conferring with Mr. Dyson about his cattle and hogs and
with Monsieur Vaudoyer about the improvements to his
house. Except for one brief notice in the Paris papers that
96 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Lafayette had been taken not to Spandau but to Wesel in
Westphalia, his name had disappeared from the public press.
Adrienne wondered if perhaps she might not possibly get
news of him through diplomatic channels and wrote to the
Duke of Brunswick, the commander of the allied armies. She
sent her letter to the French Minister for War. Again
Beauchet was her messenger.
When he returned about the middle of December, Adri-
enne learned that Roland had been successful with the Paris
committee and that she was free of her parole, free to go
and come as she chose within the narrow circle of her own
department of the Haute Loire. She would need a special
dispensation to go beyond it and Roland warned her to give
up all idea of trying to join her husband; it would be very
unsafe for the wife of Lafayette to travel even in France at
present, and in the Rhineland there were battle lines to cross.
The first use that Adrienne made of her limited liberty
was to go to Le Puy on business, for she was plagued by a
new disability that threatened to chain her to Chavaniac as
closely as had her word of honor. For the first time in her
life she was very short of money.
In the past, money had always been there for the asking.
When cash in hand ran low, one wrote to Monsieur Morizot,
the man of affairs who had always been and still was in
charge of Lafayette's estate. If one was in a hurry one could
always borrow. Lafayette had been carelessly extravagant
and had reduced his patrimony by a half, but his credit was
until recently excellent. Like many husbands, he left to
Adrienne the dreary routine of paying bills, and now bills
were coming in and there was very little with which to pay
them. Lafayette had been classed as an emigrant noble and
his property had been confiscated by the state. This applied
not only to his lands in Auvergne but to the much more
valuable holdings he had inherited from his mother's side
of the family in Brittany.
A NET OF MANY STRANDS 97
What particularly worried Adrienne was that Madame
de Chavaniac's affairs were hopelessly entangled with her
nephew's. As a result of a sale of some of his aunt's real estate
that had turned out badly and for which Lafayette felt he
was to blame, he had given her a promissory note to cover
the loss. He had thought that the interest on the note would
provide her with a safe and steady income as long as she lived.
Adrienne frequently made the long, cold journey to Le
Puy that winter to protest before the department Council
Lafayette's classification as an &nigr and to consult a lawyer
who was trying to validate her claim that debts made earlier
on sequestered property should be honored. It was particu-
larly difficult to do anything about the estates in Brittany-
there was no one in Paris whom she wanted to ask to repre-
sent her but she could not even try to go to Germany, she
felt, until Aunt Chavaniac's future was secure and some
other long-standing obligations had been disposed of.
For she still intended, in spite of Roland's warnings, in
spite of war and passports and frontiers, to make the attempt.
It was part of her plan that George should leave the country
before she did. All during the fall and early winter she
hoped to hear that George and Frestel had got their passage
to England from Bordeaux.
She had wished that Madame de Chavaniac should know
nothing of this scheme, remembering how last August the
old lady had moaned and beat her fist against the wall be-
cause she thought that she would never see George's father
again. Somehow the secret had leaked out; it was hard to
keep a secret in the small, talkative world of Chavaniac. With
great, and uncharacteristic, self control Madame de Cha-
vaniac said nothing to Adrienne directly, but her manner
to her niece was cold and mournful and the subject of
George's whereabouts lay, undiscussed, like a sword between
Frestel was able to write to Adrienne from time to time,
98 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
but only in veiled language that was difficult to interpret.
Once she thought that they were actually off, but later Frestel
let her know that it was useless to try to get out of a port
that was so well guarded; ships by the score were lying idle
at Bordeaux. He was going with George to his parents' home
in Normandy to see if there was any chance of slipping across
the Channel from that point.
Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, they turned up at
Chavaniac. Adrienne saw them come home with mixed feel-
ings of relief and disappointment. She could not join at once
in her aunt's and the girls' festival of joy.
Frestel told her in private that he was willing to try again
if she could give him the means, for all the little supply of
money she had handed over to him in October was ex-
hausted. For several days she weighed the heavy risks against
the featherweight chances of success. She finally decided that
it would be hopeless; George could stay where he was, since
there was nowhere else that she could send him except back
to the garret of Father Portal's house at Conangles. On
Christmas Eve, 1792, George celebrated his thirteenth birth-
day in the home of his ancestors.
The old year drew gloomily to its end. On December
27th, William Short was writing to Morris that Lafayette
and three others who were taken with him in Belgium, all
of whom had been members of the French Constituent As-
sembly and therefore guilty of tese-majeste in royal eyes,
were being treated very harshly in WeseL Some said that
Lafayette was dead, others that he had gone insane. Short
did not believe these rumors, but he was afraid that Lafa-
yette was the one "individual in all France whom both the
Prussians and the Austrian* hate most cordially."
Late in the year though it was for military action, all along
the eastern battle front the armies of the French Republic
A NET OF MANY STRANDS 99
were delivering hammer blows. The &nigr6 regiments that
last summer were so proud and menacing were broken and
decimated. No quarter had been given them on the field; no
prisoners had been taken. All of Belgium was in French
hands and refugees were streaming into Holland, the only
avenue o escape.
Among those who fled were Pauline de Montagu, Pauline's
soldier-husband, Joachim, and her father-in-law, the Vicomte
de Beaune. They were among the lucky few who had been
able to commandeer a carriage at Aix-la-Chapelle. They were
speeding in it down the road on the left bank of the Rhine
that led into the Low Countries. Their destination was again
England, for it seemed likely that Holland also would fall
to the French. When they came to the point where the Lippe
flows into the Rhine they saw on the opposite bank the
town of Wesel and its high-walled fortress.
Pauline leaned out of the window of the carriage, tears
streaming from her eyes. She knew that this was Lafayette's
prison. All of the migr& had heard with glee of his down-
fall. Pauline, if she had dared, would have liked to ask to
stop so that she could search the windows of the fortress and
perhaps see her brother-in-law's face pressed against the bars.
Her father-in-law, no doubt, knew what was in her mind
but for once the old Vicomte, who hated Lafayette as cor-
dially as any Austrian or Prussian could, was tactful. He
refrained from asking Pauline why she was crying. He didn't
even register a protest against the open window and the cold
air that was rushing into the carriage.
In far away Chavaniac, Adrienne, too, was thinking con-
stantly of Wesel and its fortress and of the way thither. Over
her and hers lay coiled a net of many strands. Slowly but
surely the net would contract and she would find no loop-
hole for escape.
The Law of Suspects
IN JANUARY OF 1793, Monsieur Beauchet was again in
Chavaniac and spent less than twenty-four hours at the
chateau. Gouverneur Morris had suggested that Adrienne
might write to the King of Prussia and had sent her the draft
of a letter to sign. She thought the tone of the letter was too
humble, too crawling, and composed one of her own.
At Morris' suggestion, she also wrote to the Princess of
Orange, sister of the Prussian King, and to the Prussian
Prime Minister, Lucchessini. Adrienne had happened to see
in a foreign journal, an article by the German playwright,
Klopstock, in which he spoke admiringly of Lafayette. She
wrote to him at once, thinking that this might start a pro-
Lafayette movement among German intellectuals. All of
these letters she gave to two Italian plasterers who had been
working under Monsieur Vaudoyer's direction and who
were going home to Italy.
She was ready to snatch at any straw that drifted within
her reach. In March, not having heard from Washington,
THE LAW OF SUSPECTS 101
she wrote to him again. Had her letter failed to reach him?
"Was it necessary that it should arrive to excite your interest?
I cannot believe it! But I confess that your silence and the
abandonment of Monseiur de Lafayette and his family for
the last six months are, of all our evils, the most inexplicable
to me. ... I will only add that my confidence in General
Washington, though severely tried, still remains firm."
Often many weeks went by without Adrienne's hearing
what was going on in the great world except as reported in
the press. Then Beauchet would appear with first-hand news
of her family and of what was going on in Paris. At the time
of his January visit, he described in sorrowful detail the trial
for treason of King Louis, then in progress. After Beauchet
had gone, the Paris papers reported the King's execution on
A few days later, Adrienne read of the removal of Mon-
sieur Roland from the ministry. His fate, like her husband's,
had been bound up with that of the King. Roland had al-
ways been at odds with the radical Commune of Paris and
wanted Louis' penalty to be decided by a national plebiscite.
Adrienne no longer had a potent friend in office.
The Girondins were now on the defensive. They were
faced in the Convention by the Paris Jacobins, a grimly de-
termined group who were bent on establishing a strong
centralized government and even, if necessary, a dictatorship
to meet the dangers, internal and external, that had mush-
roomed in the early months of 1793.
On the ist of February, war was declared between France
and England. An even mightier anti-French coalition was
formed, including not only Great Britain but all of Europe
except Russia. At the same time, a serious revolt against
military conscription broke out in La Vendee. The dlan
which had carried the French to victory in the first few
102 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
months after the fall of the monarchy faltered. There were
reverses on every front, though political agents were sent to
the armies to see that their leaders were making every effort,
and the threat of the guillotine hung over those who failed.
In March, General Dumouriez, the most competent French
commander, was defeated and promptly deserted to the
This had a direct effect upon Adrienne. Officials came again
from Le Puy to go through the papers in her desk, for
Dumouriez had once been her husband's colleague. A repre-
sentative of the Committee of General Safety, Lacoste, was
traveling through the Haute Loire in April making investi-
gations and Adrienne heard that he was saying that she, the
wife of another general who had left his troops and gone
across the border, should be arrested. She resented the com-
parison between Dumouriez, who had sold out completely
to the Austrians, and Lafayette, who had flatly refused to
give them any military information. She thought she would
forestall any move the Paris emissary might make against her
by paying him a personal visit. Again she went to Brioude;
she found Lacoste in the city hall.
"I have come to tell you, Monsieur," she said, "that though
I am always glad to be a hostage for Monsieur de Lafayette
I am not willing to be a hostage for one of his enemies. Be-
sides, it would make no difference to Monsieur Dumouriez
if I lived or died ... All I ask is that I should be left with
my children in the only place that is bearable to me while
their father is a prisoner of the enemies of France."
The commissioner was surprisingly gentle spoken. "Citi-
zeness," he said, using the new form of address which had
been instituted in Paris, "your sentiments are a credit to
"I don't care particularly about their being a credit to
me," Adrienne replied. "I only want them to be worthy of
him my husband."
THE LAW OF SUSPECTS 103
She was told that for the present no action would be taken
Other crises, however, could not be dealt with so easily.
In Paris a debate was underway to decide whether atheism
or the worship of Rousseau's Supreme Being should be
declared the state religion and in consequence, persecution
of priests became common in the provinces. Several were
mobbed to death at Le Puy and one at Brioude. One day
Father Durif, the jolly cur who liked to play shuttlecock
with the children, was arrested on the village street of Cha-
Adrienne hurried off to Le Puy to see her friend, de
Mountfleury of the department Council. He had told her
that he would rescue any unfortunate person she recom-
mended to him, but his position in the department was
becoming precarious and^in this case he could only give
The charge brought against the cur6 was the old one that
in the past had been overlooked; he had refused, as so many
others had refused, to take the civil oath. He was to be tried
at Aurat before a jury made up of peasants. The Mayor of
the Commune, who would preside at the trial, was Monsieur
Guitandry, the doctor whom Lafayette had set up in practice
at Chavaniac. It was to be expected, therefore, that the pris-
oner would be acquitted. The rub would come, when the
decision was submitted to the district court in Brioude for
After the trial, which smoothly ran its predicted course,
Adrienne went to Brioude and found that the outlook there
for the case was very bad. Power was pyramiding in France.
The court was afraid that the judgment was too favorable
and might be questioned at Le Puy. This would be a black
mark against the Brioude judges, and for the defendant, as
Adrienne knew, it would be fatal.
104 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
She took it on herself to delay the referral to Le Puy for
a few days, using her formidable powers of persuasion on
each of the judges in turn to accept the Commune's decision.
She succeeded, at least she won over the majority, and Father
Durif was sent back to Chavaniac, She realized, however,
that in the process she had made some enemies and that some
day what she had done might be held against her. She
couldn't be accused of aristocratic sympathies, but it could
be said that she was a religious fanatic.
This was a consideration to be borne in mind if she were
to ask for special favors and only by means of special favor
could she gain her end, the end, which she had always kept
in sight, of reaching her husband. She clung to it desperately
while the Paris papers reported one military disaster after
another and all the confusing attack and counter attack that
was going on in the National Convention.
The Girondins could control the votes, but it became in-
creasingly plain that they could neither keep order in the
country nor, what was even more important, wage a foreign
war and win. Only force could oust them; this the Paris
Commune was eager to supply.
On Sunday, June 2nd how many violent Sundays had
Paris known in the last few yearsl the Convention hall was
surrounded by armed roughs, hired by the Commune for
forty sous a day. There was no blood letting, but the Giron-
dins were turned out into the street. From now on the
Commune and a new Committee of Public Safety, which had
been formed in April, would govern France and govern it
by the systematic use of fear and repression. A Reign of
Terror was about to begin.
For some time Adrienne did not feel the weight of the
heavy hand that lay over her. There was no appreciable
change in her situation. Moreover, she was completely ab-
sorbed by a letter that had come into her possession, a letter
THE LAW OF SUSPECTS 105
written in Gilbert's familiar pointed script. The old longing
to be with him flared up again and seared her.
That she should hear from her husband at all after
eight months of silence was due to the efforts of Gouverneur
Morris. The American minister had at last bestirred himself.
He was visited in Paris by Madame d'Ayen and later by
Louise de Noailles, who told him she had heard that Lafa-
yette and his companions were being all but starved in the
fortress of Madgebourg near Berlin, where they were trans-
ferred from Wesel soon after Pauline de Montagu viewed
the fortress on her way to Holland.
Morris did not believe this rumor any more than Short
believed that Lafayette was dead or had gone mad, but he
sent the equivalent of 10,000 florins in United States money
to Germany that Lafayette could draw upon for food and
doctor's bills. In making these arrangements, Morris asked
permission from the Prussian War Ministry for Lafayette to
write and receive a few letters, under the supervision of the
commandant of the fortress. In February, Adrienne wrote
via Morris, taking care in this first attempt to communicate
to say nothing that might be censored and to give as rosy a
picture as possible of affairs at Chavaniac.
The news she read so eagerly in June was two months old.
Lafayette, writing like a schoolboy under the coldly critical
eye of a Prussian officer, could not tell her what life was like
in a Prussian prison and, besides, he did not want to worry
He and his fellow prisoners had been kept, both at Wesel
and Magdebourg, in dark little underground cells infested
with rats and vermin. They had been badly fed and deprived
of sunlight, air, and exercise. All had fallen ill and Lafayette
had had a return of an old pulmonary complaint that twice
before, in happier days, had put him to bed for months at a
106 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
time. He admitted to Adrienne that he had not been well but
told her that he was taking as good care of himself as possible.
He had been much alone. The only familiar face that Lafa-
yette had seen, except on rare occasions, had been that of his
valet, Chavaniac. For an hour each day, Chavaniac was al-
lowed to visit the cell and for an hour the two men from
Auvergne would forget their troubles and gossip of their
home town and its inhabitants. Lafayette asked Adrienne to
go to see Chavaniac's father, the village tailor, and to give
him six louis that was due him.
She must also tell the parents of Flix Pontonnier, his
other employee, that their boy was well. F61ix, who was only
sixteen, might easily have escaped when the others were
taken in Belgium but he had not been willing to desert his
patron. When the Prussians learned that Flix had been
Lafayette's secretary and could read and write, he, too, was
kept in solitary confinement
Yet another matter that weighed on Lafayette's mind was
La Belle Gabrielle Plantation and the Negro emancipation
scheme for which Adrienne had done so much when they
were living in the Rue de Bourbon. He hoped that the work-
ers at La Belle Gabrielle had not suffered because of the
change of government in France and that Adrienne had been
able to do something for them.
He was sorry, he said, that he could write so little and so
insipidly. She must know how great a faith he had in her
courage and capability and how constantly he thought of her
and all at Chavaniac. The very thought that what he wrote
might be read in his home gave a lift to his spirit.
"Adieu, dear heart adieu again. Here is an end to my
paper and, Monsieur le Commandant who is watching me
write, must find the time long. I embrace you as tenderly as
I love you."
There was consolation in those final words, but on Adri-
enne the total effect of the letter was depressing. It pointed
THE LAW or SUSPECTS 107
up how little she had been able to accomplish in spite of all
The only replies to the many letters she had written was
one from the Princesse of Orange that said nothing and
one from President Washington, telling her as gently as pos-
sible that he could do nothing for Lafayette officially though
he had sent, through a bank in Holland, a personal gift of
money to the prisoner.
As for Adrienne's business affairs at Le Puy, they were still
unsatisfactory. Lafayette could not realize how impossible
it was for his wife to do anything about their responsibilities
at Cayenne or even how difficult it was to set aside six louts
for the village tailor. Adrienne's resources were almost at an
end; all income from Auvergne and Brittany had ceased.
Spurred to a final effort, she sent Monsieur Beauchet, her
faithful mail runner, to Gouverneur Morris with a request
for a loan of 100,000 limes, giving as security all her dower
rights in Lafayette's estate for which she had registered a
claim at Le Puy. Morris granted her the loan, saying
graciously that he was sure the American government would
reimburse him if she could not; he began to send her the
money a little at a time, with Beauchet as purveyor. Adrienne
used what she received to settle her most pressing debts and
reserved part to pay the running expenses of the chateau,
which had been put on an austerity program.
In the course of her financial negotiations she had to sign
many legal documents. It was becoming a common practice
for the wives of emigrant Frenchmen to get a civil divorce
from their husbands for reasons of business or security, often
with the hope of remarriage in the future. The idea was
suggested to Adrienne, but she recoiled from it in horror.
Even if she had not been the faithful daughter of a church
that banned divorce, she would not have stooped to such a
subterfuge if the benefit to herself and her children had been
ten thousand times greater than it was. Each petition, each
108 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
statement to which she put her hand began or ended with
the proud words the Wife of Lafayette.
As the summer ran its course, Adrienne scanned the hori-
zon for a way to open, a way out. Several of the Girondin
leaders had left Paris to head up revolt in provincial cities
at Toulon, Bordeaux, Lyons, Caen. It seemed for a time
as if the rebellion at Lyons might succeed and Adrienne
thought that she might be able to get there. But the Com-
mittee of Public Safety was waging war as vigorously at
home as abroad and even more ferociously. When the
Girondin defense of Lyons failed and the city had fallen,
hundreds of its citizens were lined up against its walls to
be shot. The Convention decreed that the town itself should
be razed and the name of its site changed to Commune-
But somehow, in spite of the dreadful news that filtered
into Chavaniac and none of it was as dreadful as the reality
life went on much as usual in Adrienne's home. She spent
much time with her children. She saw that they did their
lessons. She read aloud to them as her mother had once read
aloud to her and her sisters in a room looking out on the
peaceful garden of the Hotel de Noailles.
With Anastasie, Virginie, and George, Adrienne took long
walks through the woods and fields surrounding the chateau.
Sometimes they would set off with a book and would sit
down to read in a spot by a rushing stream where there was
a particularly spacious view of what Virginie called "our
charming mountains." On Sundays, Adrienne and her chil-
dren met with the women of the village to recite the rosary
and to read the prayers of the Mass that could no longer be
celebrated in the Chavaniac church after Father Durif s
On September i7th, a Law of Suspects was passed, under
which all ci-devant nobles and relatives of &nigrs could be
THE LAW OF SUSPECTS 109
confined in "Houses of Detention" to be set up in the prin-
cipal town of each district. Adrienne was alarmed at first
not so much for herself as for those of her family who were
still in Paris.
The previous autumn, Rosalie de Grammont and her hus-
band had gone to an estate they owned at Villersexel in
Franche Comt6; and in the spring the Due d'Ayen returned
to Switzerland. The Duchess and Louise had stayed on at
St. Germain, though Louise's husband, Louis de Noailles,
who had escaped from the country and was in England, urged
his wife to join him there. But Louise did not want to leave
her mother alone. For a time they both thought of coming
to Chavaniac and had even gotten their passports when the
Due Mar&hal de Noailles, Adrienne's grandfather, fell seri-
ously ill and they felt that they must stay to be near him.
When he died in August, there was his widow, the old
Mar^chale, to be nursed. Only a few days before the decree
of September i7th, they all returned to Paris, were visited
by the police, and were put under house arrest in the Rue
Adrienne learned that the only possible protection from
being declared a suspect herself was to get a new card of
citizenship, which would have to be examined and counter-
signed by a special committee in each district. At Aurat, she
procured cards for herself and for everyone at the chateau.
The Commune offered to write her a special recommenda-
tion for civic virtue, but she felt it would be unwise to make
any difference between her card and that of Madame de
Chavaniac, who had said, with her usual emphasis, that she
didn't want to be represented as a loyalist to a government
Adrienne took the cards to Brioude and after some diffi-
culty got a visa for all of her servants. There was so much
hostility shown, however, so great a reluctance to certify any
110 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
hireling of the traitor Lafayette, that Adrienne did not even
try to present her own card or Madame de Chavaniac's.
A few days later, a member of the Revolutionary Com-
mittee arrived to examine all papers at the chateau and to
destroy all, as he put it, that were "tainted" to the smallest
degree by "feudalism." He was rather surprised to find how
indifferent Adrienne was to this procedure and how readily
she handed over her keys. He was still at work when, on
November igth, 1793, Adrienne received a notice saying
that she would be arrested as a suspect the following day.
She said nothing to her family until the morning came.
She softened the announcement by saying that she was sure
that she wouldn't be detained very long. All, even the chil-
dren, realized the seriousness of the situation. The excite-
ment, the high spirits which preceded Adrienne's first arrest
had long since evaporated. There were no woods now to
which one could fly, no friends to whom one could appeal.
That afternoon the examination of the papers was brought
to an end. The commissioner had collected a large pile of
yellowed deeds to property and family records. These he
loaded into a cart, along with a bust of the late King. He had
announced that there would be a Revolutionary ffite held in
the town that evening and that all its inhabitants should
come to dance about the bonfire.
Towards evening the officer who would make the arrest
his name was Granchier appeared. All the family were
gathered, as they had often gathered before, in Adrienne's
sitting room. The order was read aloud. Adrienne produced
an old card of citizenship. Granchier handed it back to her,
saying that it was out-of-date and that it had not been signed
by the Brioude committee.
In the silence that followed, Anastasie spoke up, "Citizen,
are daughters prevented from going to prison with their
THE LAW OF SUSPECTS 111
Anastasie, cheeks flaming, tears brimming her eyes, in-
sisted that though she was not to be sixteen until next July,
she was in her sixteenth year. She was therefore an adult and
a suspect. She should be included under the law that affected
Granchier seemed embarrassed. Perhaps his embarrassment
was ideological; one of the declared aims of the revolution
was to restore private virtue and the sanctity of the home,
yet here he was separating a mother from her children. Or
perhaps, being a family man himself, Anastasie's agonized
insistence had caught him off his guard. Ignoring the girl,
Granchier changed the subject to some other arrests he had
already made in the district. The women were all to be
taken to Brioude, he said. They had been rounded up from
far and wide and some of them were to sleep tonight in the
church at Aurat. He would spare Adrienne that discomfort.
She could spend her last night at home if she would promise
to come to Aurat in the morning.
When darkness had fallen, those who looked out of the
high windows of the chateau saw no bonfire light and heard
no throb of music in the village. The Revolutionary revel was
a complete failure. Adrienne's neighbors had heard of her
arrest and out of sympathy stayed at home with their doors
closed. Lacking an audience, the cart and its contents was
moved on to another, more receptive, village.
The next morning at nine o'clock, Adrienne drove with
her children to the church at Aurat. There she said goodbye
SHE WAS GONE and without her, the chateau was desolate.
George and Virginie, with the India-rubber resilience of
the very young, went back to their ordinary occupations, but
Anastasie grieved and Aunt Chavaniac was sunk deep in
sorrow. She and Adrienne might have had differences of
opinion, but in all fundamentals they were one and the older
woman had come to lean heavily on the younger. There had
never been any question as to which of the two was the
leader. Too late, Madame de Chavaniac realized the im-
portance to Adrienne of a testimonial from the Commune
and asked Dr. Guitandry, the Mayor, to write one for her
niece on official Commune paper. All else in Adrienne's be-
half she left to Flix Frestel, who was now the active head of
the household. "I embrace you all," Lafayette had written,
"and Monsieur Frestel too, for he is really one of the family."
After November igth, George's school work was frequently
interrupted because his tutor was often on the road. Frestel
went every week on horseback to Brioude with a bundle of
clean clothes for Adrienne. A laundry list was neatly sewed
to the bundle and on the back of the paper a brief message
from home was written. In the same way, Adrienne could
send a few words in reply.
In the town, Frestel was able to pick up a little news at
second hand. Adrienne was lodged in what had once been
a large private dwelling. Meals for which the inmates were
expected to pay were sent from a tavern across the street
and the innkeeper, Madame Pelatan, was a friend of the
Lafayettes. Her young daughter, aged thirteen, went in and
out of the House of Detention constantly, carrying baskets
and kettles of food. She always managed to speak with
Adrienne, though sometimes she was shouted at and slapped
by the guards for fraternizing with a prisoner.
With the help of Madame Pelatan, Frestel arranged for
the Lafayette children to visit their mother more than once
-T Anastasie first, and later George, then Virginie. They
would leave the chateau at night and ride along the dark
mountain roads, arriving at Brioude before it was light. The
day was spent in hiding at the inn. When it was again dark
and all the town was quiet, they were let into the prison by
a jailer whom Frestel had bribed. Sometimes they could stay
for several hours, but often there was only time for a quick
embrace in the dark and a few whispered words, for Adrienne
did not have a room to herself. The prison was overcrowded
and she and four or five others slept in an alcove, only sepa-
rated from the corridor by a screen.
Many of the detained persons at Brioude were of the un-
reconstructed royalist persuasion, people whom Adrienne
might have met on her early visits to Chavaniac, but of
whom she had seen nothing recently. At first they refused to
speak to the wife of Lafayette. She was better received by
the less blue-blooded inmates and became particularly
friendly with the wife of a Brioude baker, a very religious
Eventually the hostility of the aristocrats disappeared
114 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
when they discovered that Adrienne refused to let differences
in politics be a bar between them. They were all companions
in misfortune here and there was so much that they could
do for one another! Many of the women were old; some were
ill. Adrienne acted as nurse and learned to cook for invalids.
She arranged to have her meals with a little group of her
patients, one of whom was a nun who was almost blind;
without their realizing it, she bore the greater part of the
expense. With the jailers she got on so well, that she became
a spokesman for the prison community and was deputed to
ask for favors. In this way, but not without being abused for
her pains, she managed to get one of the most seriously sick
women moved out of a room where she was sleeping with
For a short time, a day in January of 1794, it seemed as if
the Brioude prison, full to overflowing though it was, might
have another guest. A commissioner came to the chateau to
arrest Madame de Chavaniac. She received him with her
usual intrepidity but when he read out the order of arrest
she suddenly burst into tears. She had been listed as the
parent of an &nigr6, but her only child, her daughter, the
little girl who had been almost a sister to Lafayette, had been
dead for more than sixteen years.
"Citizen," she sobbed, "I no longer have the happiness of
being a mother."
The commissioner withdrew, overawed by her grief and
said that, since a mistake had been made and since she was
so well along in years, she could stay where she was.
Through her midnight meetings with Frestel and her chil-
dren, Adrienne was able to get news of her mother and sister
in Paris and to keep in touch with her business affairs, which
still needed much personal attention. She asked Frestel to do
her a favor. Last spring the first parcel of Lafayette real
estate, a mill at Langeac, had been put up for auction. Adri-
enne, who was present, had lodged a protest against the con-
fiscation, and Madame de Chavaniac was able to buy the
mill with the claim that Adrienne had registered for her as
one of those to whom Lafayette owed a debt. Now other,
larger, holdings were to be sold and Adrienne wanted to go-
on parole, or guarded, if necessary to the sale.
Frestel journeyed to Le Puy to beg permission from the
authorities. He was given a bad half hour at the municipal
building by President Reynaud of the Department Council,
a successor to Adrienne's friend de Montfleury, who was now
himself under arrest. The request was angrily rejected.
Reynaud raged against the Lafayettes. He would like to tear
out Lafayette's bowels with his own hands, he said. Adrienne
was "the arrogance of the Noailles family personified," and
her children were "little serpents that the Republic had
nurtured in its bosom."
Frestel came home much shaken and full of gloomy fore-
bodings for the future. He was glad to hear later that Rey-
naud had been recalled to Paris but that only meant that the
man's venom had been shifted to the place where it could
do the greater harm.
As long as she was at Brioude, Adrienne might be irked
by restraint and lack of privacy but she was in no immediate
danger. The threat that hung over her and all others in
similar plight was of being taken to Paris and of being called
before the Tribunal of the Committee of Public Safety. The
fact that she was a woman would be no protection; since the
execution of the Queen in October, women were being in-
cluded in the national blood purge.
The winter dragged to its end and it seemed as if she
might have been forgotten. It was lambing time in Auvergne;
it would soon be time to take the cattle to the high pastures.
Spring was far advanced when, early on a morning at the
very end of May, a messenger arrived at Chavaniac to say
116 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
that the order had come from Paris. Adrienne after six
months of detention was to leave that very day at noon.
Frestel hurriedly collected all the jewelry in the chateau
that had not been sold, the servants contributing their share,
and galloped with it to Brioude. The children were to fol-
low as quickly as they could in a carriage. He found that
Adrienne had been removed from the House of Detention
and was in the common jail. It was a shock to see her in a
cell in which there was nothing but the cot on which she
was lying and some chains stretched out on the floor.
As usual, however, she was in command of herself and of
the situation. She had seen a priest, none other than Father
Durif, who had been arrested again and who was so over-
come by grief that he could hardly listen to her confession.
She had likewise seen de Montfleury, another prisoner, and
had asked his advice. Her friends in the House of Detention
were dismayed to hear that she was leaving them, but she
refused to be completely downhearted.
"I am not called before the Revolutionary Tribunal," she
said stoutly. "I am only being transferred."
Oddly enough, the officer who was to take her to Paris, a
Captain of Gendarmerie, was a brother of de Montfleury.
He was so disposed in Adrienne's favor, even before he had
seen her, that he refrained from reading aloud the order of
arrest and merely handed it to her in silence. They should
have left for Paris yesterday, but he had consented to a
twenty-four hour delay so that she could see her family. In
addition to all of this, he had offered to take her in a post-
chaise instead of an open cart, which was the transportation
that the government provided in such cases. It was to pay
for this journey that Frestel had brought the jewelry with
him from Ghavaniac.
He and Adrienne discussed what was the best thing for
him to do and decided that he should follow her as far as
Melun, near Fontainebleau, where Gouverneur Morris had
a summer home. The American Minister would, of course,
help them if he could.
Soon the children trooped into the cell George and Vir-
ginie, solemn, frightened, Anastasie crying hysterically. She
flung herself on her mother. She would not be left behind,
she cried. When Anastasie heard that Frestel was going to
Melun she begged so passionately to go with him that Adri-
enne, seeing how overwrought the girl was, consented. In an
instant Anastasie was wild with delight. It was almost as if
her mother was not being taken to Paris if she could follow
her. She drove off at once to Le Puy to get a traveling permit.
Frestel left also to prepare for his journey. He already had
his passport which only needed to be visaed at Aurat. George
and Virginie remained alone with their mother. Hitherto
she had shielded them as much as possible. Her own child-
hood had been so sheltered that it had been a surprise to
her and her sisters to discover that there was any wickedness,
any man-made sorrow, in the world. But her children had
been born to be wise before their time.
She knelt down and prayed with them. It was Ascension-
tide and she repeated with them the Veni Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit. She talked very seriously with George
about his responsibilities. He was now the man of the family.
He must take care of his sisters; he must comfort his Aunt
At noon, the postchaise and the Captain arrived at the
prison. It was time to say goodbye. Adrienne gave the chil-
dren some last instructions and then the final instruction,
the one that she had saved to the end so that it would make
the deepest impression if she should die, she said, George
and his sisters must make every effort to find their father in
Germany and to set him free.
When the postchaise had disappeared, George and Vir-
ginie went back alone to Chavaniac. Late that night they
were joined there by Anastasie. She had had a harrowing
118 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
experience at Le Puy. At first the door to the municipal
building was barred to her. The official whom she finally
reached was not the one who had stormed at Frestel, but he
was even more vindictive.
He had been writing at his desk when Anastasie came in
and did not even look up at her while she poured out her
story and begged for the traveling permit. He brushed away
a letter that Adrienne had written him and refused to read
it; he couldn't be bothered, he said, to lift so much as his
little finger for a prisoner who had been summoned to Paris.
Looking up at last, seeing that Anastasie was a grown girl,
he made an unpleasant comment on her motives in wanting
to go to Melun with Frestel and laughed at his own joke.
Anastasie left the room trembling with rage and disgust.
She drove back to Aurat where the tutor was waiting for her.
The officials there were sympathetic, but they did not dare
to give her the permit. Anastasie, in despair, saw Frestel ride
away without her, for he couldn't wait a moment longer if
he was to catch up with the postchaise before it reached
When Frestel was having his passport signed, one of the
clerks said sourly, "There goes an officious fellow! He wants
to defend people who are not worth defending."
"I only hope that I am clever enough to succeed/' Frestel
shot back at the man who had taunted him. "If I do, I know
there are plenty of people even in this room who will envy
Meanwhile Adrienne and the Captain were on their
way to Paris, traveling the same roads, passing through the
same towns where two years earlier there had been triumphal
arches put up to welcome Lafayette. By the time they drove
into Melun, Frestel was riding beside them.
Adrienne was given a day of rest and the opportunity to
write a letter to each of her children which the tutor would
take back to Chavaniac after he had seen Gouverneur Mor-
ris. Frestel told Adrienne of Anastasie's state of mind when
she returned from Le Puy. In the letter to her elder daughter
it was the longest of the three Adrienne begged Anastasie
to stand up to persecution as a Christian should. She should
try to forgive her enemies, even the man who had treated
her so cruelly and refused her the permit.
The travelers noticed no signs of hostility until they
neared the capital* When they passed through Fontaine-
bleau, a mob seemed to rise from the cobblestones and sur-
rounded the postchaise, drumming against its sides with fist
and stick and shouting threats. This was a frightening fore-
taste of what might lie ahead.
Throughout the journey, Adrienne had refrained from
saying too much about her misfortunes. She knew that the
Captain was sorry for her and did not want to play upon his
feelings. Before leaving, she had asked him if there would be
any chance of escape during the trip and he had said that
there would be none. Now she asked herself what she would
do if he should offer to save her. It was not impossible; and
he might save himself as well. But there was his brother, de
Montfleury, in prison, who would certainly pay the penalty.
Would I have the strength to say no, Adrienne wondered.
In the opposite corner of the chaise, the Captain was
thinking the same thoughts, but in reverse. He was asking
himself what he would do if Adrienne should break down
and beg him pitifully to rescue her. He had seen the two
pale, frightened children she had whispered to so earnestly
at the prison door. Would he risk his brother's life? Or would
When they were driving through the suburbs of Paris,
they turned to one another and, as if they had read one an-
other's minds, they made a joint confession. Now that it was
too late for action, they could speak out.
120 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
In the press of city traffic the postchaise passed unnoticed.
It headed towards the Rue Pave and drew up before the
gate of a building still under construction that adjoined an
even larger one. This was La Petite Force Prison. The Cap-
tain, still suffering from a sense of guilt, asked Adrienne if
there was anything he could do for her, short of setting her
free. She gave him the address of Monsieur Beauchet, who
had traveled back and forth so faithfully between Paris and
Chavaniac and done so much important business for her.
She wanted the Beauchets, man and wife, to know that she
was here and if possible to let her mother know.
Before she left Brioude, Adrienne had learned, to her
sorrow and consternation, that her mother, her grandmother,
and Louise had been taken to the Luxembourg Palace, which
was now used as a House of Detention. They, too, were
prisoners in all but name.
June, 1794 January, 1795
Le Plessis Prison
THE DAY THAT Adricnnc arrived in Paris was June yth,
1794, the igth of Prairial, Year II of the new Revolution-
ary calendar. On the soth of Prairial, the Fte of the Supreme
Being would be celebrated in the garden of the Tuileries
the Jardin National, as it was now called.
A large amphitheater, designed by the painter David, had
been constructed. There would be music; there would be a
procession of girls, dressed in white, carrying armfuls of roses.
At the climax of the day's program, the members of the Paris
Convention would appear on the palace steps and Robes-
pierre, its President, the dictator now of France, daintily
dressed in sky blue coat, silver waistcoat, and golden shoe
buckles, would make a speech and set fire to dummy figures
of Atheism, Discord, and Selfishness, while the crowd chanted
a newly-composed anthem:
"Thy temple is on the mountains, in
the winds and on the waves.
Thou hast no past, no future . . ."
124 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
In preparation for the Fgte, the streets through which Adri-
enne rode were decorated with green boughs and in prison
coutryards throughout the city, wreaths of laurel were being
In Le Plessis Prison in the Rue St. Jacques, across the river
from La Force, a white-haired, aristocratic lady, who thought
that all this fanfare for a new religion was foolishness and
wicked impiety, slipped quietly away from the wreath-
making and went upstairs to her room. She was the Duchesse
de Duras, a daughter of the Due de Mouchy, Adrienne's
great-uncle. She was also a sister of Louis de Noailles, who
had married Adrienne's sister, Louise. According to the com-
plicated relationships that existed within the Noailles clan,
she was a relative of Adrienne by marriage as well as by birth.
Madame de Duras, who was separated from her husband
and whose only son had escaped to England, had been living
quietly in the country with her father and mother when she
was arrested in August of 1793. She had spent several months
at Beauvais and Chantilly before being brought, in April,
to Le Plessis, which housed seventeen hundred "detained
persons" and which had been a boys boarding school, the
same school where Lafayette was a pupil when his guardians
were arranging his marriage with the daughter of the Due
d f Ayen. Madame de Duras recognized familiar names names
of men whom she knew well scribbled up, schoolboy fash-
ion^ on the walls of her new home.
By this time, she was a seasoned prisoner. Only occasion-
ally did she allow herself to think how splendid and luxuri-
ous life had been in the past, though she was sometimes close
to tears when she looked out of the window and saw the
roofs of the great houses in which she had been a guest and
the spires of churches in which she had worshipped. Most
of the time now, she thought of food, of the small amount of
money she had managed to conceal, of the little comforts
she might buy from her greedy jailers. Each day had its prob-
LE PLESSIS PRISON 125
lems and to her, the future was a blank. She had a stoic con-
viction, not untinged with pride, that all of her caste were
doomed to destruction. A law had just been passed that
"enemies of the people," a term that could be loosely inter-
preted, were liable for the death penalty and could be tried
without counsel. Each night when she said her prayers, Mad-
ame de Duras included her own name in the prayers for the
dying; she had said them so often that she knew them by
Life in Le Plessis was disgusting and chaotic. The com-
pany was mixed; not all here were political suspects. Street-
walkers and nuns, pickpockets and duchesses shared the
same bedrooms and scrambled for food at the bare board
tables in the refectory which were never scrubbed and smelt
horribly of grease and stale wine. There was squalor in Le
Plessis, but, though there was much brutality, it was hap-
hazard and unsystematic. The prisoners were locked in at
night; they sometimes had to stand at attention for hours at
the doors of their cells while they were being counted and
they were forced out into the courtyard daily, rain or shine,
for exercise. Except for these inconveniences they could do
very much as they pleased during the daylight hours.
There was much visiting back and forth. Games of picquet
and chess were played, musical groups were formed. Madame
de Duras, who was not sociably inclined, regretted that she
had so little uninterrupted time for reading. Before leaving
Chantilly, she had stuffed the pockets of her voluminous
skirts with books.
Some were books of devotion well-worn and well-
thumbed. Madame de Duras, for one, could never forget that
this horrible place might be the anti-chamber to sudden
death. A dozen times a day, when a guard appeared and
they were constantly in and out of the cells on one pretext or
another she thought that her. last hour had come. She was
determined to meet her hour as a Noailles should. She was
126 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
so impassive, so unemotional, that one of the jailers paid her
a sincere compliment. "You would make a fine appearance
on the scaffold/' he said.
"I certainly hope so," she answered proudly.
She had decided that if she were brought before the Tri-
bunal she would answer no questions. If she were con-
demned, she would say, "You have sentenced to death an
innocent woman. As a Christian, I forgive you but you in
turn will be judged by a God of Vengeance!"
Though in the old days Madame de Duras would have
gone a long way round to avoid meeting a condemned man
on his way to the gallows, she now ran to the window when-
ever she heard the creaking of wheels in the street and the
opening of the outer gate of the prison, which announced
the arrival or departure of a fresh batch of prisoners. One
day, a fortnight after the FSte of the Supreme Being, a con-
voy arrived from La Petite Force. Madame de Duras, looking
down, recognized a familiar face in the crowd that was being
hustled into the courtyard of the prison. It was the face of
her cousin, Adrienne de Lafayette, the sister of her sister-in-
law, Louise. They had not met for several years. Madame de
Duras, whose mother had been chief lady in waiting to Marie
Antoinette, was of the court party and had firmly turned her
back on the radical Lafayettes.
As soon as the newcomers were enrolled at the office and
were allowed to mingle with the other inmates, Madame de
Duras hurried to find her cousin, to embrace and kiss her as
affectionately as if they had parted only yesterday after a
harmonious family dinner party.
The older woman and the senior captive took the
younger under her wing and inducted her into the ways of
Le Plessis. Madame de Duras felt that Adrienne, who had
led so pure a life in a society where there was much philan-
dering, needed her protection. She herself had gone to great
pains and some expense to get a tiny single room on the fifth
LE PLESSIS PRISON 127
floor of the building where she would not have to listen to
the loud-mouthed quarrels, the moans and nightmare mut-
terings of fellow sleepers. She did the same for Adrienne,
though the room was a mere cubbyhole, just large enough
for a cot and nothing else.
During the day the cousins were often together. Unlike
though they were in temperament there was little warmth
and little magnetism in Madame de Duras' make-up they
shared a common background and a common anxiety for
their relatives in the Luxembourg, only a few blocks from
Adrienne's mother, sister, and grandmother had only been
there since the end of April, but her cousin's parents had
been there all the winter. The Due and Duchesse de Mouchy
were arrested in October and Madame de Duras had asked
to be brought to Paris from Chantilly, thinking that she
might be with them. During the past months much of her
little hoard of money had been spent in corresponding with
the Luxembourg. Letters could be despatched and received
through the prison office but at a price.
On the whole, the news from day to day had been better
than one could expect. The Duke and Duchess were old and
ailing and had never completely recovered from the shock
of being separated from their child, but they were not too
uncomfortable in their present quarters. They were familiar
with the Luxembourg. The Duchess had, in fact, been born
there, her mother having been lady in waiting to a royal
princess in the days of Louis XIV.
A devoted servant, Madame Latour, had followed her
master and mistress to the prison, served their meals, which
were sent in from the Hotel de Mouchy, and helped them to
dress in the morning something they had never learned to
do for themselves. A daily programme was followed, similar
to the routine to which they were accustomed. In the morn-
128 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
ing the Duke and his wife took a slow-paced walk in the
courtyard or the corridors while their room was being tidied;
after dinner they played cards and "received" their friends;
in the evenings they read the newspaper, though Madame
Latour would sometimes hide it if she saw that there was
anything in it that might distress them.
They had been disturbed when their Noailles relatives
arrived in April and were given the room above them, for
the old Duchesse Marchale de Noailles, the de Mouchys'
sister-in-law, was eccentric, to say the least. She had once
stolen a holy relic from a church and had corresponded, so
she thought, with the Blessed Virgin, whom she called "that
little bourgeoise of Nazareth." The Duke feared that the
Marchale might commit some fatal indiscretion.
Shortly before Adrienne came to Le Plessis, Madame de
Duras learned that a great calamity had befallen her parents;
their beloved Latour, who was so indispensable to them, had
been ordered to pack her belongings and to leave the prison.
Madame de Duras saw in this a very evil omen.
There was still more disturbing news on June 26th, two
days after Adrienne's arrival. Madame de Duras received a
note from her father, saying that her mother had had a vio-
lent attack of indigestion in the night. He had done what
he could for her, neighbors had helped, and one of them, a
doctor, had prescribed a few grains of emetic with good re-
sult, but the patient was still very weak. He would certainly
write to his daughter again the following day. He ended, as
always, "We embrace you and love you, my dear child, very
On the following day, Madame de Duras repeatedly went
down the five long flights of stairs from her room to the office
on the ground floor to ask for a letter, but always in vain.
It grew late. She was told that no more mail would come that
day. She sought out some women who had husbands at the
Luxembourg and who heard from them regularly. She asked
LE PLESSIS PRISON 129
them if they could tell her anything about her father and
mother, the Due and Duchesse de Mouchy. Some said no.
Some seemed embarrassed and evasive.
All evening she could talk of nothing else to her compan-
ions and noticed how they withdrew from her, almost as if
they were frightened. "They are hiding something from me,"
she said to Adrienne. "I can guess what all of you are trying
to keep secret. Cousin, you will have some dreadful news to
tell me tomorrow."
Early next morning, as soon as she was let out of her room,
Adrienne went to Madame de Duras' door. She had been
selected as the one to tell her cousin that there had been no
letter yesterday because the old people had been taken to
the Conciergerie before the Duke had had a chance to write.
At the Conciergerie, prisoners spent but a single night be-
fore appearing at the bar of the Tribunal in the Hotel de
The de Mouchys had been accused, among many other
crimes against the state, of having caused the massacre in
the Champ de Mars on July i7th, 1791. After three years of
uncounted, immeasurable bloodshed, the memory of the
day when Lafayette had ordered his men to fibre on the crowd
about the Altar of Liberty still rankled and could be used
to deadly effect. No defense being allowed to the accused,
Madame de Duras' parents were executed within a few
Adrienne, who knew only that they were gone, did not
need to speak. One look at her sorrowful face was enough.
Madame de Duras' iron composure was broken. She asked
in a voice strangled by sobs to be left alone. For several days
she did not leave her room and only came out at last to pay
a visit of condolence on one of her neighbors, who, she
learned, had just lost her husband and her sixteen-year-old
* * *
130 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
For the tempo of executions was quickening now.
The Terror, which had been adopted as a policy to enforce
obedience to the state, had become an end in itself, while
the state had dwindled to the will of a single individual.
Sixty persons were being put to death daily at the Barrifere
de Trdne outside the city walls. Daily, prisoners disappeared
from Le Plessis. No sooner had they gone than their beds in
the dormitories were filled by fresh arrivals and the jailers,
who always snatched up the few belongings that were left
behind, did a brisk business in selling to newcomers.
Under pressure of despair, a few took what seemed to
them the easiest, the least painful exit. In the portion of the
prison where the men were kept segregated from the women,
a man summoned to the Conciergerie stabbed himself and
was carried out, still living, on a litter. One day when Adri-
enne and Madame de Duras were in the refectory, a young
woman leaped out of an unbarred window to her death in
the courtyard. But these were isolated cases. There was a
tendency among the survivors Madame de Duras, the fatal-
ist, had noticed it to discover reasons why one should escape
and another be taken.
It was in this way that Adrienne tried to persuade herself
that her mother, sister, and grandmother would be over-
looked. Her great-uncle, the Due de Mouchy, had been a
Marshal of France and had held many important offices; the
Duchess also had been closely identified with the Queen.
None of the three Noailles women now left in the Luxem-
bourg had been in any way prominent. The Mar&hale was
old and senile. Madame d'Ayen had always led a very re-
tired life, seldom going to Versailles, devoting herself entirely
to her children and her grandchildren. And Louise how
could anyone think that Louise, with her angelic face and
gentle ways, was capable of the sinister political plotting that
was now being used as the most common accusation?
Though she had always been able to face up to reality, as
LE PLESSIS PRISON 131
far as it affected herself, without flinching, Adrienne con-
tinued to hope, though Madame de Duras gave her no en-
couragement. Several weeks passed. On July nd a rumor-
one never knew where these rumors originated began to
circulate in the prison that some members of the Noailles
family had been guillotined. Madame de Duras heard it first
and kept it to herself. She questioned the jailers, but they
were unusually reticent. Newspapers seldom penetrated to
Le Plessis, but one came her way; in it was a brief notice
saying the Duchesse Marchale de Noailles and the Duchesse
d'Ayen had been executed.
It might not be true, however; one couldn't believe every-
thing that was printed nowadays. Madame de Duras used
some of her little supply of assignats to bribe a jailer to go
to the Luxembourg to make inquiries. He brought back
word that confirmed the newspaper item. Louise, of whom
no mention had been made, was also dead.
Still Madame de Duras hesitated to say anything to Adri-
enne. Her cousin had been so kind to her in her own be-
reavement, and so kind to others, that she shrank from telling
her. She, too, had been deeply attached to Louise, who, be-
ing so much younger than she, she had looked upon almost
as a daughter.
Again it was the embarrassment and silence of others that
forewarned the victim. Adrienne, alarmed at last, finding
that people looked away when she spoke to them, came run-
ning to Madame de Duras with a direct question "they are
dead?" Again Madame de Duras could not speak for her
Outside the Walls of the City
IT WAS NOT UNTIL many weeks, and even months, later that
Adrienne learned the pitiful details from two persons
who were close to her mother and sister during their last
When in April the three women were told that they must
go to the Luxembourg they were not very much alarmed.
During their house arrest in the Hotel de Noailles they had
become used to never going out, to being visited only by a
few intimate friends, among whom was a priest, Father Car-
richon, who came regularly to see the old Duchess and some-
times stayed to dinner. Their chief concern was leaving
behind them Louise's three children, Alexis, Alfred, and
Euphmie. Euphmie, who was only four-years-old, was sent
to board with a Madame Thibaut who lived at Saint Mand
on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes. The boys would go
back to the house of their grandfather, the Due de Mouchy,
in the Rue de l'Universit6 and live in the suite of rooms
formerly occupied by their father. They would be cared for
by their tutor, Monsieur Grelet.
OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY 133
Monsieur Grelet was only twenty-three-years-old, a lay
brother of a monastic order. He had been teacher of the
youngest class in the Oratory School that the boys had at-
tended. Grelet had shared what little money he had with the
family, which had been living for some time past on what
could be realized by selling jewelry and knickknacks. Louise
was so grateful to this generous and devoted young man that
she had adopted him spiritually if not legally as her eldest
son, and the many letters she wrote to him after leaving
home began with the words, "my dear child."
Twice a day a basket of food was brought from the Hotel
de Mouchy to the Luxembourg and this was the means of
carrying on the correspondence. Louise was busy from morn-
ing to night with house cleaning, making beds, washing
dishes, and caring for her two elderly companions. She asked
for brooms, cooking utensils, and screens to be sent from
home to make their room more livable. One of her commis-
sions for Grelet was for two ear trumpets; both her mother
and grandmother were deaf and she had to shout so loudly
to make them hear that she was afraid she was annoying her
next door neighbors. The old Mar6chale, always notional
and flighty, was a difficult patient. At night Louise tied one
end of a string to her own arm, the other to her grand-
mother's bed so that she would be sure to wake if the old
lady was restless and needed attention.
When the food basket arrived, Louise would hastily scrib-
ble a note for Grelet or Alexis. She told the boys to be sure
to speak of her to Euph&nie when they went, as they often
did, to Saint Mand; Euph&nie was so young that she might
forget her mother.
Louise was anxious, she begged for news, when Alfred was
sick for several days in May. The boys must work hard at
their lessons, she wrote, but they must also be out-of-doors
often in the fresh air. They came sometimes to play in the
Luxembourg gardens and she told them that she would be
134 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
looking out of a friend's window to see them. If they caught
sight of her, they must be careful not to wave or to show any
sign of excitement, for someone a guard might be watch-
After the death of the Due and Duchesse de Mouchy,
Louise asked for a white dress, the only mourning she could
wear for her husband's parents. Her own death, she realized,
might be near and she confided to Grelet how earnestly she
struggled to accept the will of God. Sometimes she was frozen
with terror of what might lie ahead and was humiliated to
find how tenaciously she clung "to this unhappy earth," in
spite of all its sorrows. She wrote a will and a letter to her
husband telling him that it was her last wish that the boys
and also Euph&nie should remain under Grelet's care. She
wrote also to Alexis, telling him that some day he must tell
his father how much they owed to the tutor. To Grelet him-
self she wrote, "You are my only, but my abundant, conso-
lation on this earth."
On the evening of July sist, Grelet was walking towards
the Luxembourg, carrying a bundle of things that Louise
had asked him to bring her. When he came in sight of the
prison, he saw from far off that a large crowd was gathered
around the gate. He left his package in a shop in the Rue
Tournon so as not to be too conspicuous. As he drew nearer,
he saw that there was a big open wagon with seats down the
two sides, standing in front of the prison. The crowd had
gathered to see some prisoners taken to the Conciergerie.
Grelet had seen such sights before unmoved, but this time
he felt a dreadful premonition.
He pushed through the crowd to get as dose to the gate
as possible. A wicket swung open and the doorman, who
knew him by sight and knew his errand, looked out and
waved him away. "Be off with you/' he said. "They're in
Grelet ducked back into the crowd and waited until the
OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY 135
doorman had disappeared before trying to edge closer. In a
few moments, the gate itself was opened and the prisoners
began to file out, preceded by two guards. Louise de Noailles
was the first woman to appear. She passed so close to Grelet
that she was able to take his hand and squeeze it affection-
ately. Grelet was aware that a guard was watching them.
Louise was helped into the wagon; her mother and grand-
mother came next, followed by a dozen or more men and
For some time the wagon stood still and Louise, looking
at the tutor, clasped her hands and bowed her head, her lips
moving in prayer. She gestured a benediction and then
three more for Alexis, Alfred, and Euph&nie. Her mother
also saw Grelet and raised her hand several times to her lips
to symbolize a kiss. All this pantomime was not lost upon
the crowd. People began to look about them to see who was
being signaled. Grelet stared stolidly ahead of him. When
at last the procession began to move, he plodded close beside
They were crossing the Pont Neuf when Grelet, still close
to Louise, heard a shout behind him: "I arrest you! You
there I know you!" It was the guard who had seen Louise
clasp his hand.
Grelet took to his heels and raced down the Quai des
Lunettes, the gendarme in pursuit and shouting, "Stop him
Grelet turned the corner into the Rue de Harlay and
would have won the race if a crowd of workmen had not just
then begun to pour out into the street from a factory. Several
tried to stop the fugitive but Grelet slashed at them with
his cane. He was almost out of the crowd and could see ahead
an empty street where the going would be good when he
stumbled and went down with two men on top of him.
The gendarme pounded up. "He was communicating with
a prisoner/' he panted.
136 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
A few minutes later, Grelet found himself walking into a
police station near the Conciergerie. Just before the door
closed on him, he saw the van from the Luxembourg dis-
charging its freight at the prison door.
Grelet was pushed into a dark little cell and for several
precious moments was alone. He had time to get some papers
out of his pocket, tear them to pieces, chew them to a pulp
and swallow what he could of the sticky lump. When the
jailer returned, the prisoner was asked for the card of iden-
tity that all citizens of Paris were supposed to carry, giving
name, address, and occupation.
Grelet handed over his card. "Let me tell you how it hap-
pened," he said.
He told the guard what was almost, but not quite, the
truth; he had been near the Luxembourg by chance when
the prisoners were coming out, and one of them recognized
him and took his hand-that was all, not a single word had
passed between them.
The man listened impassively and went away with the
card. He was gone for a very long time, so long that Grelet
could picture with anguish a squad of police knocking at
the door of the Hotel de Mouchy and ransacking it from top
to bottom. There were letters, including all the correspond-
ence with Louise, hidden in the rooms that Grelet occupied
with the children. He had told Alexis where they were and
to destroy them if any strange men came to the house while
he was away. But Alexis might not have had time; the child
ought to be in bed and asleep at this hour. Grelet realized
that his very life might depend on the quick thinking and
prompt action of a boy who was only eleven-years-old.
After what seemed an endless wait it had been several
hours the guard returned. "Here's your card," he said
gruffly. "Now get out. And the next time don't stand so close
to a prisoner."
Grelet took his card and cane and, as he went out into the
OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY 137
night, felt a brief moment of absolute happiness. Then he
remembered the three women whom he had last seen vanish-
ing into the Conciergerie. They must have seen him dash
away with the gendarme running after him. He hoped that
it would be some comfort to them to know that he had es-
caped and that the children were not left unprotected.
It was eleven o'clock when Grelet reached the Hotel de
Mouchy. All was peaceful there, though the two little boys
were still wide awake. They were full of questions. They
told him how frightened they were when he didn't come
home at his usual time.
Grelet said that he had had a lot of business to attend to
and had been detained. He couldn't tell them about it now
because it was so late, but tomorrow he would surely tell
them. This seemed to satisfy the boys. After the tutor had
heard them say their prayers, he put them to bed.
Very early the next morning, at six o'clock, Grelet woke
the children and said that they were going to spend the day
in the country. They would go to Saint Mand< to see their
sister Euph&nie. On the way they would call on Father Car-
Father Carrichon, the priest who had visited Louise
and her mother while they were still under house arrest, had
made a promise that he hoped and at the time believed he
would never have to fulfill. He was talking with them of the
executions that were becoming more and more frequent, of
the need to be prepared for death, since no one, apparently,
was safe. "If you should ever go to the guillotine," Father
Carrichon said, "I God helping me would go with you."
They took him at his word and several times thereafter
reminded him that he had agreed to be with them at the end
and to give them Absolution.
On the morning of July 22nd, the priest was just about to
138 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
go out on an errand when there came a knock at his door.
He opened to find Madame de Noailles' two sons and their
tutor. The boys seemed to be in high spirits, but the tutor
was pale and haggard.
"Let's go into your bedroom," Grelet whispered. "We will
leave the children here in the study."
When the door was closed, the tutor sank down in an arm-
chair and covered his face with his hands. "It is all over,
Father," he groaned. "The three Noailles ladies are to appear
before the Revolutionary Tribunal today. I have come to
remind you again of your promise. The boys are going with
me to Vincennes to see their sister. When we are in the
woods, I will try to prepare their minds a little for this ter-
Father Carrichon was horrified. Priest though he was and
used to minister to the dying, he shrank from the sight of
death and such a death as this! He thought of the boys in
the next room who were looking forward to a day in the
country, who could hardly wait to reach the woods; he
thought of the baby sister who would not be old enough to
"I'll go," he said. "I'll change my clothes but what an
errand! Please God to give me strength to see it throughl"
The boys were skylarking when the priest and Grelet re-
turned to the study. Father Carrichon saw them go off gaily.
God have pity on them and on me, he groaned as he took
off his cassock and put on a blue coat and a red waistcoat.
Nowadays it was unsafe to wear canonicals in the street; he
had told the Noailles women when he made them his prom-
ise that he would wear a red waistcoat so that they would be
sure to recognize him in a crowd.
At two o'clock, very heavy hearted, his head aching vio-
lently, Father Carrichon went to the Palais de Justice. The
great gate into the courtyard was closed. He questioned a
man who was coming out and learned that the Tribunal had
OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY 139
only just begun and would be in session for several hours*
He went away, did some trivial errands, and drank a cup of
coffee at a friend's house to clear his head. At five, he was
back at the Palace.
There was still no sign of the court having risen. Father
Carrichon wandered restlessly about the building, climbed
the steps to the Sainte Chapelle, sat down there a moment,
returned to the great hall, and frequently went to listen for
any signs of life in the courtyard. He wanted this hour to
pass quickly, yet dreaded its end.
At six there was a sound of movement, the opening of
heavy doors, the creaking of wagon wheels. The tumbrils
were being loaded inside the court and were coming out.
In the first were seven women, one of whom was the Mar-
chale de Noailles. She was dressed in black, her hands were
tied behind her. For a moment Father Carrichon thought
that the other two, her daughter-in-law and granddaughter,
might have been acquitted, but in the last cart to emerge
were Louise and her mother.
Louise was dressed in white and looked incredibly young.
Instead of being a woman in her middle thirties, she might
have been a girl. She was talking to her mother and was
looking about her eagerly. Someone close at hand in the
crowd said "Look at that young one how lively she isl See
how she is talking to the woman next to her."
Father Carrichon, who knew that Louise was looking for
him, could imagine what the two women were saying:
"Maman, he isn't here!"
"I am looking as hard as I can, mamon but he isn't herel"
The carts passed slowly by without Louise once looking
in Father Carrichon's direction.
The priest went back into the Palace, hurried through it
to a farther door and took a short cut to stand in a conspicu-
ous spot by the entrance to the bridge which led to the right
140 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
bank of the Seine. The crowd was denser now. Again the
procession lumbered by without the priest's being seen,
though still Louise was searching for hi and on her moth-
er's face was an expression of strained anxiety.
Father Carrichon felt infinitely weary. It was hopeless, he
said to himself. She would never see him. The crowd was too
great. He longed to give up, to go home but not without
making one last attempt.
Again he took a short cut and reached a spot in the Rue
St. Antoine, almost opposite La Force Prison. As he hurried
along, the sky began to darken, thunder grumbled in the
distance. Just when he had reached his station, the storm
broke in a wild gust of wind flashes of lightning, thunder
claps. The rain poured down, and in an instant, the street
was swept dean of people except for those who, like the
priest, had taken shelter in a doorway.
Now the carts were coming up at a quickened pace. The
women in them were buffeted about by the storm; with their
hands tied behind them they couldn't protect themselves.
The old Mar6chale's bonnet was swept back from her face;
a lock of her white hair was tossed by the wind.
Just as the last cart drew abreast of him, Father Carrichon
stepped out from the doorway and stood, a solitary figure in
the downpour. Nobody could miss seeing him now. Louise
smiled, as if to say, "At last you are here! We have waited
so long." She spoke to her mother and Madame d'Ayen's
sad, anxious face brightened.
Marching boldly beside the cart and sometimes hurrying
on ahead of it, Father Carrichon looked for a good place in
which to carry out the really important part of his promise.
As the procession entered the Faubourg Saint Antoine, it
slowed at the crossing of two streets. Father Carrichon turned
and made a sign to Louise. She and her mother bowed their
heads as he pronounced very slowly and distinctly, and with
OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY 141
what seemed to him divinely inspired conviction, the entire
formula of Absolution.
Almost immediately the storm was over, as though it's
work was done, the rain died down to drizzle and then ceased
altogether. As they moved through the Faubourg Saint An-
toine, one of the most wretched, overpopulated slums of
Paris, a crowd again collected and insults were shouted at
the rain-soaked, bedraggled women in the carts. The Mar6-
chale was the chief target; her identity was known. "Look at
her," someone shouted. "Look at that Mar6chale, who used
to be so grand, who used to ride in a fine coach! Now she's
in the cart like all the restl"
The last cart, for some reason, passed unnoticed and in it,
the two women whom Father Carrichon had soothed and
served, rode serenely, a look of peace and contentment on
their uplifted faces.
They were nearing the end of their journey. The big open
space outside the city wall, which is now the Place de La
Nation, was crowded. In its center, the guillotine stood on a
raised platform. The executioner and his two assistants were
waiting. One of them was a tall, handsome young man, who
held between his teeth the stem of a full blown rose.
The carts were unloaded, the prisoners drawn up in two
long lines facing the city, with their backs to the scaffold so
they could not see it. Again Louise searched for Father Car-
richon in the crowd and found him. A man at his elbow
said, "That young girl seems happy; she's looking up to
heaven, she's praying but what good will it do her?" As if
on afterthought, he muttered something about "rascals" and
"bigots." Madame d'Ayen stood with her eyes closed, as if
she were praying at the altar and offering a final act of con-
The priest longed to go away now. He shifted his position
and saw the old grandmother sitting on a block of stone near
the steps that led to the scaffold; she was staring ahead of her
142 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
with vacant eyes. The first to climb the steps was a big, burly,
white-haired man who was said to have been a tax collector.
The Marchale was the third victim. When it came her turn
it was necessary to cut away the upper part of her dress to
bare her throat. The executioner and his men worked
quickly and quietly, without exchanging a single word. Each
time, after the knife had fallen, the severed head and head-
less body were thrown down into a cart.
Madame d'Ayen was the tenth to die. The executioner
tried to pull her cap off without drawing out the pin that
fastened it to her hair and for a moment a grimace of pain
distorted her features. Louise came next and suffered the
same minor brutality. As she stood there in her white dress,
looking so youthful and so innocent, Father Carrichon
thought of the virgin martyrs of the early church as pictured
by the master painters. She is in Heaven, she is happy now,
he said piously to himself, as the abundant stream of blood
gushed out and her body went down into the cart.
CHAP TER XV
In the Shadows
ADRIENNE DID NOT KNOW; she could only imagine. She
JLX could grasp the fact that her mother and grandmother
were dead, but it seemed impossible that she would never
see Louise again. For a long time she was absorbed by her
grief; it seemed to put a barrier around her. Her faith in
God stood firm, but she wondered sometimes if she were not
going mad, for strange thoughts crossed her mind. She was
glad that her husband and her children were not with her;
she felt that in this deeply shadowed hour, even the sem-
blance of human comfort would be more than she could
Like Louise, Adrienne had prepared herself to die. When
she felt her strength ebbing she would recite the begin-
ning words of the Credo, "I believe in God, the Father Al-
mighty." The only book to her hand in Le Plessis was a Latin
psalter and, although she had never studied Latin, she was
so familiar with the liturgy of the church that she could read
it without too much difficulty. The psalms, with their som-
ber beauty, their universal expression of man's sense of the
144 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
divine, she had known intimately since childhood; many of
them she could repeat by heart. Coining on them now in a
new medium, she found that they had a new poignancy.
They spoke to her of virtues she had most admired in her
mother and sister, virtues that she coveted for herself and
had prayed God to give her.
Like Louise, Adrienne had set down in writing a testa-
ment to her religious faith. "I have always lived and I hope
with the grace of God to die in the bosom of the Catholic
Apostolic and Roman Church," she wrote. "I declare that in
the principles of that holy religion I have found my support,
in its practices my consolation. I am confident that it will
bear me up at the moment of my death. I believe in You,
oh my God. I hope for all that You have promised. I put all
my trust in the merits of Jesus Christ and in the price of
His blood; I wish to liken my life to His, and I unite my
suffering to His suffering, my death to His death. . . ."
"With all my heart," she continued, "I pardon my en-
emiesif I have any and my persecutors, whoever they may
be, and even the persecutors of the one I love. I pray God
to heap His bounty upon them and to pardon them, as I
have pardoned them. Lord, in praying for my persecutors as
sincerely as Your grace inspires me, You will surely not re-
ject my prayers for the one who is so dear to me and You
will deal with us according to the magnitude of Your mer-
To her children, Adrienne gave her most tender blessing,
but not to her husband not openly, at least. Even in this
most intimate outpouring, she felt that she should protect
him, that she should refer to Mm only as "the one I love,"
or "the one who is most dear to me." Since she had been in
Paris, his name had never crossed her lips and she could not
be sure who might read what she had written after she was
gone. That God would deal with Gilbert according to the
magnitude of His mercies she could not doubt, for she had
IN THE SHADOWS 145
never been able to believe in a hell for nonconformists.
Those who were doing the Lord's work on this earth would
be saved. Surely at the moment of their death God would
In order that nothing should be lacking, however, she in-
corporated into her testament yet another paragraph in
which she spoke of her love for her country, her loyalty to
it, that "no persecution, from whatever quarter it may come/'
could shake. Again she obliquely mentioned Lafayette. In
her feelings of patriotism, she said, she had found a model
in "someone who is very precious to my heart."
"Oh God, in You have I put my trust," she concluded,
"You are all powerful and in the great day of eternity, You
will bring us all together to praise You for evermore. In
You, in You alone is my hope. Have pity on me, oh my Godl"
There was nothing that she could add to these words after
Madame de Duras' shattering announcement, except perhaps
the thought that following in the footsteps of those she loved
might make the end less bitter. Preoccupied, withdrawn into
herself, Adrienne paid little attention to what went on
around her, though, in the days immediately following her
mother's and sister's death, her own fate and the fate of all
in Le Plessis was being decided.
Louise, Madame d'Ayen, and the Mar^chale had died on
July 22nd. On the 27th, the 8th of Thennidor by the new
calendar, a fearful sense of uneasiness spread throughout the
prison. Something unusual had happened outside there in
the city no one knew exactly what. The prisoners were not
allowed to go down to the courtyard. All the wickets that at
intervals were set in the passages and on the stairs were
closed. Was there to be an indiscriminate massacre, as there
had been in the early days of the Revolution? Would the
prisoners be lined up against the walls to be shot like the
people of Lyons after the city had fallen to the Convention?
146 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
On the gth of Thermidor, cannon roared in the distance.
The guards seemed frightened; they whispered excitedly to
one another; they looked suspiciously at the prisoners and
refused to answer questions. On the following day, the loth,
they returned to normal and were more talkative. The news
spread rapidly that there had been another revolution-
minor in scope which had overthrown the dictatorship.
Robespierre and twenty-one of his stalwart supporters had
been executed as outlaws, without trial. The Terror was at
The change in atmosphere was immediate. People leaned
out of the windows of the houses that surrounded Le Plessis
and waved joyously to the inmates. Down in the courtyard,
there were cheers and hand clapping because a prisoner who
had been kept in solitary, whose very existence was unknown
to the rest, had come out into the daylight. The same after-
noon, a woman was set free. As she went out the gate a great
shout of "liberty liberty" went up and was echoed from
room to room, from floor to floor.
During the next few weeks discipline was relaxed, visitors
were admitted, and male prisoners, till now severely segre-
gated, were allowed to walk in the courtyard with the women.
Madame de Duras was shocked by the talk, the amorous do-
ings, that went on there and offered her room as a refuge to
some youthful Carmelite nuns, who were afraid to go down
for their daily exercise. She felt that the doom that hung
over her and her ilk had not been lifted. Every day people
were going out of the prison, but as yet no nobles had been
One day, however, as Madame de Duras was reading in
her cell, she was surprised by a call from a lawyer who
worked for a Paris Deputy, Citizen Legendre, a member of
the Committee of Public Safety. He questioned her carefully
and said that he might be able to do something for her.
Legendre and another deputy would soon come to the prison
IN THE SHADOWS 147
to review the cases of the prisoners and to set free the ones
whom they thought had been falsely charged.
On October i6th, the great gate of the courtyard was
thrown wide and the carriage of the two deputies rolled in.
It was the first time that any vehicle had been admitted ex-
cept the carts that had brought and taken away fodder for
the guillotine. Two days later, Madame de Duras and Adri-
enne were summoned to the office.
Just as they were going in one of the deputies looked up
from his desk and said severely to the guard, "Take the ex-
nobles out of here! It isn't proper that they should be ques-
tioned before the worthy sans culottes. 9 '
It was a bad beginning. When, after a three hour wait,
Madame de Duras was called into the room and gave her
maiden and married names in answer to the first question,
the deputy bounced up and down in his chair with rage.
"Those are terrible names!" he cried "We can't free this
woman! Her case must be referred to the Committee."
The other official he was the Citizen Legendre of whom
Madame de Duras had heard was less menacing but the
prisoner went away feeling that no good would come of the
The next morning, while she was sweeping out her room,
her door was pushed open. She was so attuned to disaster
that her heart missed a beat, but it was only one of her fel-
low prisoners. She shouted cheerfully, "You're free!"
Until the jailer appeared with a written order for her re-
lease, Madame de Duras refused to believe that this was any-
thing more than a cruel joke. But there was the order in her
hand! She swiftly made up her few belongings into two small
bundles and went to say goodbye to Adrienne.
For there had been no mercy shown to Adrienne. Her en-
counter with the deputies had been even more unsatisfac-
tory than her cousin's. She was last of all to be questioned;
Legendre was hostile from the outset.
148 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
"I bear a grudge against you/' he said, with cold ferocity.
"I detest your husband, you, and your name!"
"I will always defend my husband," Adrienne replied
wearily, "and there's no crime in a name."
The other deputy said that Lafayette had betrayed his
country. Neither he nor Legendre could take the responsi-
bility of judging her. She must send her papers to the Com-
"Will you take them for me?" Adrienne asked. "There is
no one else here to whom I could give them."
The man shook his head.
"When you were surrounded by your aides-de-camp," Le-
gendre growled, "you sang a different tune. You were more
Adrienne realized with dismay, that this might mean that
she was being accused, as her mother and Louise had been
accused, of taking part in a conspiracy. That evening she
wrote a hurried letter, full of blots and erasures, asking the
American Minister to France to take her papers, such as they
were, to the Committee of Public Safety.
It was not the first letter she had sent out into the world.
Numbed though she was, Adrienne had taken immediate
advantage of the opportunities to communicate that devel-
oped after the xoth of Thermidor, when each outgoing pris-
oner was laden with messages to friends and relatives of those
who were left behind in Le Plessis. Adrienne had written
twice to the Minister and had given the letters to Monsieur
Grelet, who had come to see her and Madame de Duras,
bringing Alexis and Alfred de Noailles with him. Grelet was
about to take the boys and Euph&nie to their aunt, Rosalie
de Grammont in Franche Comt6, but Adrienne had thought
to interest the Minister in her sister's motherless children,
whose father, Louis de Noailles, had fought for America.
Her petitions were addressed not to Gouverneur Morris but
to his successor in office, Mr. James Monroe, who, the papers
IN THE SHADOWS 149
announced, had arrived in Paris shortly after the death of
Morris, unpopular though he was with the Jacobins, had
served Adrienne well. When Frestel had gone to see him at
Melun in June and told him of her danger, he wrote forcibly
to the French Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, saying how
badly any action against the wife of Lafayette would be
viewed in the United States. This letter, no doubt, had saved
Adrienne's life. The French Republic, with all of Europe
against it, did not want to offend its only ally, feeble and dis-
tant though that ally was. During the weeks that she had
been in La Petite Force and Le Plessis, Adrienne's dossier
may have come often to the top of the pile on the public
prosecutor's desk, but if so, it had always been put back again
at the bottom.
This she did not know, however, nor did she know that
Monroe had been enthusiastically and fraternally received by
the Convention and was in a far better position to help her
than Morris. Being so newly arrived, he felt that he must
move delicately, but through Grelet, he had assured her that
he would work unofficially for her freedom and that he was
ready to go much farther than that if any serious move was
Adrienne did not have to wait long for a reply to her latest
appeal. A secretary came to take her papers to the Committee
and, a few weeks later, on October 27th, 1794, she was re-
moved from Le Plessis to a prison infirmary in the Rue des
Her new place of enforced residence was a small one
where the inmates were somewhat better fed and lodged than
in Le Plessis. Adrienne found herself the only woman among
twenty men, all of whom were French Creoles from the West
Indies. They had heard of La Belle Gabrielle Plantation at
150 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Cayenne and at first, like the aristocrats at Brioude, they
showed her great ill will because of the stand she and Lafa-
yette had taken against Negro slavery.
Again, as with the aristocrats, Adiienne won them over
by refusing to take offense and by meeting them on the
ground of their common humanity and their common mis-
fortune. All of these slave holders came to respect and admire
her, as did also the inmates of another House of Detention
the Maison Delmas, in the Rue Notre Dame des Champs to
which she was transferred eight days later. There, her com-
panions were members of the group which was responsible
for the terrorist regime. Even with them she was able to live
One day the jailer told her that there were two people, a
man and woman, asking for her at the outer gate of the
prison. She hurried downstairs and, in her eagerness, ran
across the courtyard to the gate. Beyond it stood a short,
erect, slender man who was James Monroe; with him was a
dark-haired, beautiful young woman, his wife Elizabeth. In
the background, a crowd had collected about a handsome
carriage. Carriages were very rare now in Paris. Only officials
were able to use them and the fact that the American Min-
ister had come to call on a prisoner in such state was causing
just the sensation that Monroe had planned.
Adrienne had not seen an American since the days when
there were weekly American dinners at the house in the Rue
de Bourbon. She had never met Monroe, but she knew that
he had been her husband's friend and comrade-in-arms at
the Battle of Brandywine. Her English, never as fluent as
her husband's, was in bad repair but she was able to exchange
a few words with these friendly people who, with their well-
kept clothes and smart equipage, seemed to have stepped out
of a remote, an almost forgotten past.
Monroe gave her to understand that her release waSr cer-
tain and not far off, he hoped. When she was free, she and
IN THE SHADOWS 151
her family would need help and he suggested that she should
draw up a list of the things that her American friends might
do for her.
"If I should obtain my liberty/' Adrienne wrote it was
still an "if;" she was still a prisoner and could not take it for
granted that she would survive "I make with confidence the
following requests . . ." First, she would ask America to care
for the future of her son, George Washington Lafayette, who,
as his father's heir, shared his father's American citizenship.
George, she hoped, might go to America and finish his edu-
cation in the United States. She would like him to have some
sort of business training, or she would like him to enter the
American navy. Secondly, she asked her American friends to
take charge of her will and a letter to be given to George in
case of her death.
Since she was penniless now, there were certain financial
obligations that she was unable to meet and that she hoped
might be taken care of by the American government. Adri-
enne had learned how wretchedly things had been going at
Chavaniac. The family had at times been dependent for food
and fuel on what their neighbors in the village had brought.
They were living now on sufferance in the chateau, which
had been sold over their heads. At the sale of the house fur-
nishings, Madame de Chavaniac was able to buy her bed and
a few necessities, but had had to part with everything else,
including the picture of her beloved brother, Lafayette's
Adrienne, therefore, asked that the interest on the promis-
sory note that Lafayette had given to his aunt in 1785 and
which had caused Adrienne so much concern, so many weary
journeys to Le Puy, should be paid. There were also pensions
she wished to give various dependents: to her mother's el-
derly governess, who was here in Paris; to Mademoiselle
Marin, her daughters' governess, who had shared all their
hardships at Chavaniac.
152 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
There were others to whom Adrienne felt that she owed
an infinite debt the Beauchets; her personal maid, Made-
moiselle Benjamin, who had insisted on lending her her sav-
ings; Mercier, the butler, who had found another place, but
who some day might come to want. And there was F61ix
Frestel; Frestel had left a little library behind him in Paris
that had been impounded with the Lafayette belongings in
the Hotel de Lafayette. If the books could not be returned
to him, Adrienne felt that he should be reimbursed. She also
remembered two other of the men servants at Chavaniac and
the coachman, Pontonnier, whose son, F61ix, had chosen to
share Lafayette's prison in Germany.
As the list lengthened, Adrienne's fingers grew numb, for
the weather had become very cold. The winter of 1794-1795
was to be remembered as one of the worst that Paris had ever
known, only to be compared with the winter of 1788 just
before the Revolution. Adrienne had always craved warmth
and suffered severely. The water in her room was always
frozen. The dining room in which she and her housemates
ate was without heat of any sort.
She found unexpected comfort, however, in talking to a
carpenter who came to make repairs to the Maison Delmas.
The carpenter was Father Carrichon. He had exchanged his
disguise of a red waistcoat and a blue coat for a workman's
apron and in this way was earning his living. Adrienne could
speak to him of her mother and sister and hear what he had
to tell with horror, it was true, but with a welcome release
of emotion. She made to Father Carrichon a general Confes-
sion, one that covered her entire life and this return to the
past drew her mind away from the dreary present.
Meanwhile not only Monroe but other friends were trying
to break the deadlock that held her a prisoner. Madame
Beauchet, who had come daily to the prison to ask for Adri-
enne, even when this meant personal risk, was working on
the sympathies of a clerk she knew in the Committee of Gen-
IN THE SHADOWS 153
eral Safety. He always put her off by vague promises, but at
least she learned from him that all the members of the Com-
mittee had come around to a favorable view of Adrienne's
case all except her declared enemy, Citizen Legendre.
One day in January, Madame de Duras, who had also
been tormented by the cold and was living in an unheated
attic, went to see Legendre very early in the morning before
he had finished dressing to go to his office. She reminded him
that, though she was an aristocrat, he had let her go, saying
that she had suffered more than she deserved. Surely her
cousin, Madame Lafayette, could make the same claim.
Whether it was this argument, or the early hour, or the
sheer weight of Madame de Duras' impressive personality,
Legendre promised to do what she asked, and on the 22nd
of January, 1795, put his signature to Adrienne's release.
January, 1795 November, 1795
PARIS WAS ICEBOUND, the Seine was frozen over, and in all
the city there was no place that Adrienne could call
home. The two great houses where she had lived, the Hotel
de Noailles and the Hotel de Lafayette, stood vacant, their
doors and courtyards sealed, their windows shuttered. To
neither had she any legal claim, and except for Madame de
Duras, shivering in her garret, none of her large family con-
nection was in Paris. Those who were not dead were widely
scattered. But an aunt a very youthful aunt, a half sister of
Adrienne's mother who had married a friend of Lafayette,
the Vicomte de S6gur, was living with her husband and chil-
dren at Chatenay, on the city's outskirts. To Chatenay Adri-
enne went directly from the house in the Rue Notre Dame
She was tenderly welcomed by her relatives and, after
months of sorrow, loneliness, and discomfort, she was warmed
in body and spirit. The feeling of deadness, of futility, that
had oppressed her gradually receded.
The S6gur household was a busy one. The children worked
158 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
indoors and, weather permitting, -worked in the garden. The
Vicomte, a clever man who could turn his hand to anything,
was earning a small income by writing skits for the Paris
theaters. Adrienne's aunt, only a few years older than she,
was gentle and beautiful. She had the same soothing quality
that had made Louise de Noailles so universally beloved.
Her oldest daughter, Laure, was the same age as Adrienne's
Anastasie and the two girls had been prepared for their First
Communion together. Sixteen-year-old Laure was now going
through a period of great religious excitement and uncer-
tainty that reminded Adrienne of her own adolescent suffer-
ings in the early days of her marriage. She talked with Laure
about her troubles and gave her advice drawn from her own
experience, the substance being that faith was a gift from
God and that in God's good time the gift would come. The
feeling that she was being useful to someone for Laure re-
sponded to her spiritual therapy gave Adrienne the energy
she needed to attack her own difficult practical problems.
There was only one problem really, but it had many con-
tingencies. It was the same problem that she had been un-
able to solve, that she had had to lay aside when death hung
over her the problem of how to reach her husband. While
Adrienne was in Brioude and in Paris, a whole new chapter-
she knew it only in outline had been added to the saga of
The last letter she had received from Gilbert was written
in October of the preceding year and reached her while she
was in the Brioude House of Detention. It gave an account
of improved health and its tone was cheerful. For this there
was a reason that could not be given openly in a letter to be
scanned and passed upon by the Commandant of Magde-
Lafayette had at last been able to get in touch with the
outside world. The American money that Gouverneur Mor-
ris had deposited to Lafayette's account was used not only
MRS. MOTIER 159
for food but for financing a secret, uncensored correspond-
ence with friends in Hamburg and London, where many
French Constitutionalists had fled after the Jacobins took
over in August of 1792. The letters were written with a
toothpick for a pen and with soot mixed with vinegar for
ink on blank pages torn from books. Lafayette's valet, Cha-
vaniac, who was allowed to spend an hour each day in the
prisoner's cell, bribed one of the garrison soldiers to take the
letters into the town where a resident American sent them
on their way.
In London, the leader of the movement to free Lafayette
was his cousin, the Princesse d'H&iin. She was one of the
intellectual ladies who had fluttered about Lafayette in the
early, pre-Revolutionary phase of his career; some had even
said that she was a rival to Madame de Simiane.
Madame d'H&iin worked for Lafayette with Thomas
Pinckney and others of the Franco-American community in
Britain. Conferences were held with the Prussian and Au-
strian Ministers, appeals were made to the Prussian King,
and Lafayette's letters, as they now came through, were cop-
ied and sent far and wide, some to America. The Whig op-
position in Parliament was inspired to make speeches in
Lafayette's behalf in the House of Commons and motions
were brought, all of which were defeated by the Tories, for
the English to intervene.
On the other hand, much of Lafayette's correspondence
with Hamburg was concerned with an escape plot that for
months kept his hopes and spirits at a high level. They fell
to zero when the plot collapsed and he was transferred to
another Prussian prison at Neisse in Silesia. Lafayette was
again very ill and thought he might be dying. He wrote a
letter of farewell to the Princesse d'H&iin and asked her to
communicate with Adrienne, his children, and his aunt.
Before long he faced a new removal that swept him still
deeper into enemy territory. After four months at Neisse,
160 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
from January to May of 1794, Lafayette and the two friends
who had been with him at Magdebourg, C6sar de la Tour
Maubourg and Xavier Bureau de Pusy, were handed over
by the Prussians to Austria and were carried across the fron-
tier. Nothing more was heard from them; for months even
their whereabouts were unknown.
Then, in November, two young men a German, Dr. Jus-
tus Erich Bollmann and an American, Francis Huger of
South Carolina had made a daring attempt to rescue Lafa-
yette from his prison and came within an ace of succeeding.
Failure though it was, this exploit advertised the fact that
Lafayette, de Maubourg, and de Pusy were at Olmiitz in
Moravia, a three days' journey to the east of Vienna, near the
foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. A much longer faring
lay ahead of Adrienne than she had imagined and tried to
encompass two years ago.
Adrienne's first move was to go to call on the Monroes and
to thank them for their services. She told Monroe what she
intended; to go to Vienna and beg the Austrian Emperor for
permission to live with Lafayette in the prison of Olmiitz.
She would take her daughters with her, but she felt she could
neither take George into Austria nor leave him behind in
France. She wanted him to go with Frestel to America to
live under the protection of his namesake, President Wash-
Monroe promised to cooperate in getting her passports
and told her that the United States would stand behind her
financially. A year ago, in March, 1794, Congress had appro-
priated $34,000 dollars in back pay for Lafayette, who in
the past had refused to accept any return for his services as
a Major General in the American army. There was also some
money, untouched as yet, that Washington had sent as a per-
sonal gift. That alone would more than cover traveling ex-
MRS. MOTIER 161
Before she left prison, Adrienne had written to George
and Frestel to come to Paris. They arrived within a week
after she had gone to stay with the de Sgurs. She did not
want to meet them there, for she was afraid that that might
bring trouble to the family that sheltered her. She made a
rendezvous with them at the house of two elderly spinsters
nearby at Chilly, where an old friend, a Dominican priest,
had been hiding all during the Terror.
Her meeting with George was ecstatic. "I never thought
I could feel such happiness again," she cried as she kissed
him and held him close. Other joys might come, but this,
the first, had proved that she could meet them more than
George had changed very much in the months since she
had said goodbye to him in the jail at Brioude at the mo-
ment of her departure for Paris. He was fifteen now; he was
as tall as she was. He had become just the sort of boy that
she had always wanted him to be. He didn't want to go to
America there was none of the spark of adventure in the
undertaking that had lured his father across the ocean but
he was willing to shoulder his share of the family burdens.
Frestel also offered to fall in with Adrienne's plans, though
she knew he would have much preferred to go back to his
family in Normandy. She made it plain that it was not
George's safety of which she was primarily thinking. In the
United States they would have a mission. Just as she once
had tried to send them to Thomas Pinckney in London, she
was sending them now to persuade George's godfather to take
a definite step towards freeing Lafayette.
For the passports, Adrienne could not rely entirely on her
American friends. The Vicomte de S6gur introduced her to
an influential member of the new Committee of Public
Safety, Boissy d'Anglas, who had led the movement to over-
throw Robespierre and was anxious to set right all that
Robespierre had set wrong. Boissy d' Anglas made out a pass-
162 MADAME OE LAFAYETTE
port for George under the family name of Motier, which was
little known in France, and got his colleagues to sign it with-
out telling them for whom it was intended.
An American businessman in Paris, James Russell, offered
to take George with him to Le Havre and put him on board
a little vessel bound for Boston. No one on the ship would
know the passenger's true name. In Boston, George would
go to stay with Mr. Russell's father until Frestel arrived by
another ship. When Frestel was there, they would commu-
nicate with President Washington, go to Philadelphia, and
deliver a letter from Adrienne.
"Monsieur, I send you my son," she wrote. "Although I
have not had the consolation of being listened to, nor getting
from you the help that I thought most likely to deliver his
father from the hands of our enemies still, it is with deep,
sincere and undimished confidence that I put my dear child
under the protection of the United States. He has long
looked upon it as his second country. . . ."
Her wish for George, she said, was that he should lead a
very secluded life in America, that he should resume his
education, so interrupted during the past three years, and fit
himself to become a good American citizen.
Adrienne was moved to speak feelingly of Frestel. "The
one who will give you this letter, Monsieur, has been our
support, our protector, our comfort, and my son's guide
since our misfortunes. I hope that . . . they will never be
separated and that some day we will all be reunited in the
land of liberty. It is to this generous friend that my children
owe the saving of their mother's life. ... He will tell you
that I have given no cause for accusation, no reason for re-
proach from my country The supreme sacrifice that this
friend has made is leaving a family of his own that he dearly
loves. I ardently wish Monsieur Washington to know what
he is and how much we are indebted to him. . . .
"I will say nothing now of my own situation, nor of that
MRS. MOTIER 165
of the one that interests me even more than my own. I rely
upon the bearer of this letter to interpret the feelings of my
heart. . . ."
After the letter had been written and the passports were
in order, Adrienne said goodbye to George an ordeal for
her, an even greater ordeal for the boy who had to go so far
away among strangers and whose exile would begin with a
long sea voyage without even the comfort of Frestel's com-
Adrienne was so afraid that at the last moment she might
not be able to part with her son that before George's ship
had left Le Havre she had taken the second step towards her
goal of Olmutz she was on her way to Auvergne.
The long, hard winter was over and it was again spring-
time as she followed the familiar route south. The fields, the
forest, even the towns, showed little sign of the guerrilla
battles that had been fought, the fearful toll in lives that the
last few years had taken. Again, almost at the end of her
journey, Adrienne came to Vaire, the posting stop where
was it only four years ago? she had met Pauline de Mon-
tagu. In the same shabby little inn where Pauline had hidden
herself, she found Anastasie and Virginie. She had told them
that she was coming. They couldn't wait to see her and had
rushed to Vaire. They were hysterical with joy and excite-
Last summer they had expected everyday to hear that their
mother was dead and they had never known when they
might be separated from one another. They had been told
cruelly that Aunt Chavaniac and Anastasie might be
taken to the House of Detention at Brioude and that George
and Virginie would go to an orphan asylum. But now their
mother was here, only a little changed, a little pale and worn
after her long ordeal. She promised that she would not leave
164 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
them again. Wherever she went they would go with her.
It was Saturday when Adrienne arrived. In a few remote
places church services were being resumed and she heard
that Mass would be celebrated the following day in a small
village, Montout, three miles up in the hills from Vaire.
Adrienne, Anastasie, and Virginie climbed the steep way to
the little church. They knelt together to say prayers of
thanksgiving and to witness again the solemn mystery of the
Mass performed by a robed priest.
Then on to Chavaniac. Adrienne had allotted herself only
a week at the chateau, most of which would be devoted to
business. With the money that Monroe had given her, she
could make payments to her creditors; she could give a sub-
stantial sum to Madame de Chavaniac. When the week was
up, it took all of Adrienne's resolution to say goodbye to the
old woman and to leave her alone in the dismantled house,
brooding on the sorrows of the past and present; on Gilbert,
who was a prisoner in Austria; on George, who was a wan-
derer to the uttermost ends of the earth. Adrienne and the
girls Madame de Chavaniac loved them too were going
very far away. Would she live to see any of them return?
On a May morning, depressed by a leave-taking that
seemed so final, Adrienne, Anastasie, and Virginie set off for
Paris in a rickety postchaise that could be sold for a song or
abandoned at the end of their journey. They had only got
as far as Brioude when they met two wayfarers coming to-
ward them on foot, a man and a tiny woman, her odd little
face, with its slits of eyes, bronzed by the sun. It took a mo-
ment to realize that this was Rosalie de Grammont and her
husband, Theodule. They had been for weeks on the road,
trudging all the way from Tranche Comt6 to Paris to see Adri-
enne and, not finding her there, farther still to Auvergne.
This youngest of the daughters of the Duchesse d'Ayen
had been the most difficult to manage and to settle in life.
Rosalie was stubborn and she was not as comely as her sisters.
MRS. MOTIER 165
She was not married until she was an "old maid" of twenty-
one, having herself refused several offers made to her parents.
She only accepted her present husband after prayer and
saying that she didn't believe that true happiness could be
found upon this earth. In spite of this bleak prelude, the
marriage had been amazingly successful and harmonious.
The de Grammonts had walked their long road because
they had no money to spend on traveling post and were
afraid of the company they might meet in public convey-
ances. They were not as indigent, however, as they seemed.
Rosalie, who had urged Pauline to take her diamonds with
her to England, had some of her own marriage jewelry con-
cealed on her meager person. She wanted to give it to Adri-
enne. She wanted also to lament with her their common loss.
It was impossible to part after a brief roadside talk. The
de Grammonts turned about and the whole party went on
slowly towards Clermont, taking turns walking and riding
in the chaise. At Clermont they read news in the papers that
halted them for three weeks.
There had been new disorders in Paris, a final effort of the
Jacobins to regain control of the government. Again the
Assembly hall was invaded by an armed mob and one of the
deputies was killed. That day, May 20th, Boissy d'Anglas,
the de Sgurs* friend who had got the passport for George,
was presiding. He respectfully saluted the bleeding head of
his colleague that was held up to him and, though pikes were
at his breast, refused to put the motions that the mob de-
manded. For a few hours the Jacobins were again in control
until the hall was cleared at bayonet point. There followed
a mopping up period when the insurgents were brutally
liquidated and the Faubourg St. Antoine, the cradle of Paris
mobs, was stripped of all arms by government troops.
When word reached Clermont that order had been re-
stored in the capital, the Lafayettes started again for the
north. Adrienne had used her three weeks in Clermont in
166 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
preparing her little Virginie, who was now twelve, for her
First Communion. The de Grammonts went on, as they had
intended, to Chavaniac. Adrienne did not need Rosalie's
diamonds for herself, but there was another use to which
they could be put With them and the money Adrienne had
given her, Aunt Chavaniac might be able to buy back the
chateau or at least to make the first down payment on the
purchase. This would give the lonely soul a motive to sur-
vive, a look into the future.
When she reached Paris, Adrienne found that Boissy
d'Anglas was the hero of the hour and that this would be a
help to her in getting a passport. While Monsieur de Sgur
conferred with the Deputy, Adrienne was forced to give all
her attention to legal and business matters.
It seemed as if she might some day have some property in
her own right. A law had been passed which recognized in-
heritance from those who had been condemned to death
during the Terror. The Duchesse d'Ayen had owned several
estates, one in the Pas de Calais, two in Brie at Fontenay
and La Grange-Bteneau, about thirty miles from Paris. Adri-
enne registered a claim for herself and her joint heirs and
went to Fontenay and La Grange. She and the girls moved
into the empty manor house at Fontenay, which was the
nearer to the capital of the two estates.
There were many errands that took her to Paris in the
ensuing weeks. The Duchess had left a will, with many
charitable bequests, and Adrienne had to find that is, bor-
rowthe money with which to meet them. There was also
some work to be done for Aunt Chavaniac, who had gladly
accepted the de Grammonts' loan and had bought bade the
chateau from its recent owners.
To economize, Adrienne made her frequent trips from
Fontenay to the city on foot. She was stronger now and felt
equal to any exertion. Along the way, doors of churches stood
open. She would slip in out of the hot summer sun and sink
MRS. MOTIER 167
down to rest. Though worship was no longer forbidden, the
churches were, for the most part, empty. There in the dark
and quiet, Adrienne said prayers for her dead and sometimes
found relief in weeping for her mother and sister.
But however much else she had to do, her chief aim in go-
ing to Paris was to find out if her passport was ready. She
was prepared to leave on an hour's notice. At last she was
told that the Committee of Public Safety could not give her
a passport for Germany and Austria but they could for Amer-
ica. Her American friends suggested that she should leave on
a vessel that was America bound, but which would be going
first to a German port, Hamburg. There the United States
Consul would issue a traveling permit valid for travel to
Austria to "Mrs. Motier of Hartford, Connecticut," one of
the states of the union in which Lafayette had been natural-
Adrienne was well-satisfied with this arrangement. On
September 8th, the future Mrs. Motier and her daughters,
Anastasia and Virginia, found themselves on board a tiny
ship, The Little Cherub, out of Boston, lying in the harbor
of Dunkirk. The night preceding, they had slept at the house
of the American consul. Adrienne was writing a letter to
Gilbert to send on ahead of her to Olmiitz:
"So I am free, my dearest, since here I am on the road that
brings me closer to you. The excess of my joy is such that I
cannot describe it except by saying that I reproach myself
for being still capable of having such a strong feeling after
our misfortunes. They will poison the rest of my life, but I
feel that the One who could snuff out my life has spared me
so that I might find you again. This hope revived me, almost
at the foot of the scaffold. ... It has seemed to me and the
experiences of our three years of captivity come to the sup-
port of what I think that the only one to serve you properly
is the one who is yours alone . . ."
168 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
On September gth, The Little Cherub lifted its anchor
and, beaten and tossed about by unfavorable winds, took
eight days to round the bulging coast of Holland and to come
to Hamburg. There Adrienne's arrival was being eagerly
awaited by Pauline de Montagu.
A Nest of Exiles
KULINE BE MONTAGU in the past four years had led a
agrant life. She had had much to contend with. After
the death of her child, Noemi, the disastrous Rhineland cam-
paign, and the flight into Hollandduring which she had a
brief glimpse of Lafayette's prison Pauline, her husband,
Joachim, and her father-in-law, the Vicomte de Beaune, re-
turned to England.
For a time they lived in a cottage at Richmond, where the
Vicomte complained continually of the weather it was for-
ever raining and insisted on reading frivolous novels aloud,
which serious-minded Pauline found hard to bear. The old
gentleman was extravagant also and must have his valet,
come what may. Pauline struggled to do the housekeeping
and marketing, but in the old days she had never entered a
shop and she couldn't remember which sold meat and which
vegetables. When she asked Joachim, he couldn't help her.
It was lack of money that sent the family, now augmented
by a baby boy who had come to replace the dead Noemi, back
to the Continent. By that time, August of 1793, all of
170 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Pauline's diamonds had been sold, hither and yon, and al-
ways at a loss; even a pair of gold-handled embroidery scis-
sors had disappeared from her sewing basket.
In Brussels, Joachim went briefly into the secondhand
clothing business with a rascally partner and then the
money was gone. Pauline's poor little baby died. In their
distress, the parents didn't know where to turn. At this
moment, a letter arrived from Switzerland, from Pauline's
aunt, the Comtesse de Tess6, a sister of the Due d'Ayen,
asking her to come for a visit. Madame de Tess had also
sent her niece a handsome gold snuff box to pay for the
It seemed hard to part Joachim had not been included in
the invitation but the de Montagus decided that Pauline
should go to her aunt at Lowemberg and Joachim and his
father would go to Constance, where some relatives of
Joachim's mother would welcome them.
At Lowemberg, Pauline was far from happy. The Comtesse
de Tess was one of the eccentrics of the Noailles family.
Very pretty as a young woman, she had lost her good looks
after an attack of smallpox. This was a good thing, she stoutly
declared, because it had forced her to sharpen her wits and
develop her mind. Her face was deeply pitted; she had a
ridiculous habit, nervous in origin, of making faces as she
And she was a mighty talker. Before the Revolution, only
the most advanced ideas had been discussed in her Paris
salon. Madame de Tess6 had a taste for metaphysics; she
was a free thinker and an agnostic, a former friend and
disciple of Voltaire. This did not prevent her, however, from
making the sign of the cross whenever she took a dose of
In action, Madame de Tessd had proved to be more canny
than the rest of her family. When she emigrated from France,
she took with her a considerable sum of money and many
A NEST OF EXILES 171
portable valuables, such as the gold snuff box. Instead of con-
suming her hoard, bit by bit, she bought a dairy farm in
Switzerland which produced enough food to feed herself and
the large number of unfortunates she had taken under her
One of her guests was the Marquis de Mun, an old ad-
mirer, a dashing cavalier in his day, whose chief function
now was to talk wittily and sometimes profoundly and
philosophically with his hostess. Pauline was distressed and
bewildered by the daring opinions that were tossed back
and forth in Madame de Tessas drawing room. She would sit,
quietly sewing in one corner of the salon, and take as little
part in the conversation as her elderly uncle, the Comte de
Tess6, who long ago had given up trying to compete with his
wife on an intellectual plane. Pauline tried to make herself
useful, but except for her skill with the needle she was feck-
less, and when given the task of weeding and watering the
vegetable garden raised a fine crop of thistles.
When summer came, Pauline wanted to see her father, the
Duke, who was also in Switzerland in the Canton of Vaud,
not far from Lauzanne. She set out on July *6th, squired by
another of Madame de Tessas proteges, the son of the
Marquis de Mun. This gay young man liked to tease Pauline,
whose sense of humor was not robust, but today he tried to
amuse her by stopping to pick her a bunch of flowers in the
forest and singing her a burlesque ditty which he made up
as they drove along. But Pauline, though she tried to show
her appreciation, was sad. She had heard recently of the death
of the Due and Duchesse de Mouchy and had a premonition
that this meeting with her father would be soirowful.
Early on the second day of their journey, they saw a two-
wheeled trap coming towards them, in it an elderly man
holding a large green umbrella over his head to shade him
from the sun. Pauline did not recognize her father immedi-
ately. The Duke had aged; on his face was a tragic look.
172 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
When the carriages were abreast, he called out to ask if she
had heard any news.
News what news? Pauline was so frightened that she
leaped impulsively out of the carriage and ran towards her
father. He helped her into the trap and told young de Mun
to turn around and drive back to the inn where they had
spent the night. He and Pauline would follow.
While they were on the road the Duke was silent. He asked
Pauline not to question him until they were alone. When
they were closeted in a room at the inn, he told her first of
her grandmother's death, then of her mother's and her sis-
ter's. The news of what had happened only five days earlier
at the Barrifere du Tr6ne in Paris had traveled fast to
Pauline had begun to tremble even before he began his
recital. She flung herself into his arms and wept on his shoul-
der. She had always stood in awe of him, she and her
sisters having realized, with no word spoken, that, though
he respected their mother, he did not love her and there
had never been any question of where their loyalty lay.
Never had he been so tender as now. Though he was not
a religious man, he wept too as Pauline recited The Mag-
nificat, her mother's favorite portion of the liturgy in time
of stress and fell on her knees to repeat the prayers for the
When she was a little more calm, she said that she was
ready to go with him to Lausanne, but he thought it better
to take her back to Lowemberg. There Madame de Tess6,
forewarned by de Mun, fell on her knees before her niece,
with arms spread wide to enfold her. All the household
showed their compassion by treating Pauline as if she were
an invalid, her aunt tiptoeing to her door in the morning
to see how she had passed the night. Joachim came hurrying
from Constance to comfort her. Masses were said for the
Noailles martyrs at Fribourg and in the cathedral at Con-
A NEST OF EXILES 173
stance, where Joachim took his wife for a long visit with
While Pauline was gone, Madame de Tess was being
persecuted by a Swiss banker, who in the past had lent the
Mar&hale de Noailles some money. Not content to register
a claim on the dead woman's estate, he tried to collect it
from her daughter. If the debt had been small, Madame de
Tess would have paid it, but the sum was so large that to
do so would mean ruin to her and all who lived on her
bounty. The banker threatened court action and Madame de
Tess was sure that the canton, which had shown marked
hostility to &nigrs, would decide against her. Ever practical,
she resolved to sell her farm, shake the dust of Switzerland
from her feet, and go to Germany.
On the ist of January, 1795, the farm having been sold
and the proceeds safely deposited with a bank in Hamburg,
Madame de Tess6 left Lowemberg with her flock. Making
leisurely stops at Erfurt, Nuremberg, and Ulm, they came to
rest at Altona, just across the river from Hamburg. There
Madame de Tess6 rented a house while she looked about her
for a farm in the neighborhood. She would not be hurried
in her choice; for one thing, the new property must have a
large enough dwelling on it to accommodate all her non-
At Altona, the same sort of life was followed as at Lowem-
berg, a large part of every day being given up to cards, intel-
lectual readings aloud, and endless, scintillant conversation.
Pauline registered her usual silent protest and would slip off
frequently by herself to Mass in the one small chapel that
existed in this Protestant town. She spent much time in visit-
ing 6migrs even poorer than she and in making dothes for
them. She was at work on a large wool afghan for a needy
priest, the exiled Bishop of Clermont, when she heard that
Adrienne was coming to Hamburg with her daughters. The
174 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
news came indirectly via the Princesse d'H&iin, Lafayette's
cousin in London.
The day that the letter arrived, Pauline's knitting was laid
aside. She was too nervous, too excited, to sit still. She had
heard, of course, of Adrienne's imprisonment and release.
She herself had written to Adrienne from Erfurt, warning
her that if she left France she should be careful in her deal-
ings with French people she might meet, for, since the Ter-
ror, the emigrant aristocrats felt still more bitterly towards
Pauline had thought that Adrienne might be planning to
come to Switzerland but here she was on her way to Ham-
burg. Why? Was she escaping from a fresh wave of horror at
The bond that united the daughters of the Duchesse
d'Ayen, the bond that had set Rosalie de Grammont tramp-
ing from Franche Comt6 to Auvergne, was strong, and
Pauline longed to see her sister whom she looked up to and
admired for the qualities she felt lacking in herself; Adrienne
was so brave, so capable, so resolute in action.
At the same time Pauline dreaded the encounter. What
things they would have to say to one another! Before she left
Switzerland, Pauline had had another visit from her father.
From something that he said, she suspected that he was stay-
ing in Switzerland because he expected to be married again,
to a Countess Golovkin, whom Pauline had met in the course
of her wanderings, but whom she barely knew. The knowl-
edge that their mother was to be replaced so soon would
make the meeting with Adrienne still more heartbreaking.
The next day, September 1761, Pauline forced herself to
take up her knitting, but again the afghan dropped from her
fingers as she heard the firing of a cannon, the signal that a
foreign ship had entered the harbor of Altona. This was not
unusual, but Pauline had another of her strong presenti-
ments; she was sure that Adrienne was on board. She was just
A NEST OF EXILES 175
about to rush out of the house and down to the waterfront
when Madame de Tess stopped her in the hall and tried to
persuade her not to wear herself out unnecessarily. They
were still arguing when Adrienne, Anastasie, and Virginie
walked into the house.
One look at Adrienne told Pauline that, though her sister
had suffered, she had not been broken by her sufferings.
She had the old look that Pauline had always thought of as
heroic, a look of calm self-possession, of intrepidity. After
the first embraces, Madame de Tess6 tactfully took her two
young nieces by the hand and led them away so that the two
sisters could be alone. For a long time they stood looking at
one another, unable to speak.
Pauline broke the silence. "Did you see them?" she asked,
her breath catching in a sob.
"No," Adrienne said gravely, "I did not have that happi-
ness." As Pauline clung to her, she told a little of what she
had heard from Grelet and Father Carrichon.
They couldn't remain alone too long with their sorrow,
so intimately shared; they both knew that the others were
waiting impatiently to question Adrienne. The talk that
afternoon in the salon was not of metaphysics. Adrienne re-
tailed all that had happened to her in the past four years, in
Auvergne and in Paris, all that she knew of the conditions
that existed in the mother country, where a new constitution
had been adopted and a new form of government, consisting
of a legislative body and an executive board of five directors,
had been instituted. When the question was asked of why
she had come to Hamburg, Adrienne replied almost casually,
as if it was a matter of course, that she was on her way to
Olmiitz to live with her husband.
Madame de Tess and Monsieur de Mun protested loudly
and eloquently. She might never reach Olmiitz, even if she
reached Vienna all sorts of obstacles would face her there.
Hadn't she had enough of brutal jailers and stinking, ver-
176 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
minous cells? She shouldn't expose herself again or her
daughters to the hardships of prison life.
Adrienne put aside their arguments gently. She didn't
stand in awe of her aunt, or her aunt's elderly gigolo. What
they said showed their affection for her, and no lack of con-
sideration for Lafayette. On the contrary, Lafayette was their
political hero; Madame de Tess6 had been one of his most
ardent admirers from the very outset of his career.
Adrienne said that she had foreseen that there would be
difficulties, but she thought they could be overcome. While
she was talking, Pauline sat close beside her sister on the
sofa, looking up at her admiringly and every once in a while
putting an arm out to hug her sister close. She would treas-
ure every word that Adrienne said against the time when
Adrienne was gone all too soon.
Adrienne had warned her that her stay at her aunt's
house would be only long enough to make preparations for
the trip to Austria. She did not try to get in touch with the
many friends of Lafayette in Hamburg who had tried to
rescue him while he was in Magdebourg, but from the Amer-
ican Consul, Mr. John Parish, whom she went to see immedi-
ately about her passport, she got much information.
Recently, only a few weeks earlier, the heroes of the
abortive rescue attempt at Olmiitz, Dr. Bollmann and the
American, Francis Huger, had passed through the town on
their way to England after having been prisoners themselves
since last November. A year ago, Bollmann, with the backing
of Americans in London, had gone to Olmiitz. He had got-
ten in touch with Lafayette through the prison doctor, who
was duped into carrying secret messages, written in lemon
juice, to and from the fortress.
Somewhat reluctantly, Bollmann had fallen in with a plan
of Lafayette's to spirit him away when he was taken for a
drive outside the walls of the town, a special concession that
had been made to Lafayette's poor health. Bollmann had
A NEST OF EXILES 177
gone to Vienna to get horses for the adventure and there he
had enlisted Huger, a medical student and, by an almost in-
credible coincidence, the son of the man in whose house
Lafayette had stayed when he first landed in America in
1777. Though the plot had misfired and the two young men
had been arrested, they were released in August. After his
brief taste of freedom Lafayette had actually mounted a
horse and almost reached the frontier he was closely guarded
and nothing had been heard from him.
All of this was of consuming interest to Adrienne. The
consul made out a passport for her and her daughters under
her new name of Mrs. Motier. Since her real nationality must
be kept hidden, she engaged a French servant to go with her
as far as Vienna, a man who could speak German and who
would attend to all the business of the trip while she re-
mained silent in the background. She also bought, as cheaply
as possible, a postchaise and a few necessities.
While she was with Madame de Tess6, Adrienne could not
help meeting many of the large colony of &nigrs who lived
in the vicinity. News traveled fast in this community of
exiles; all wanted to see someone who had just come from
France. Adrienne could give some of her visitors word of
their relatives at home and though most of them, she knew,
had gloated over Lafayette's downfall, she showed no resent-
ment. This was an object lesson in Christian forgiveness that
was not lost on her two daughters.
Within a week, Adrienne, Anastasie, and Virginie said
goodbye to their relatives and left for Vienna.
The Canticle of Tobit
HEY HAD NONE of them traveled outside of France be-
JL fore or so far from home. A whole new world, seen only
through the peephole of a carriage window, passed before
their eyes. In public they were mum and tried to be as in-
conspicuous as possible; in the inns along their way they hid
themselves behind closed doors. The German-speaking serv-
ant was well worth his hire as courier, but there were some
anxious moments as they pressed on from posthouse to post-
house, from frontier to frontier of the checkerboard of Cen-
tral Europe. At last, in mid-October, they reached the
beautiful city on the Danube that was the heart and center
of the Austrian Empire.
Here, too, they had little chance for sightseeing and tried
to avoid attention. One of Adrienne's uncles had been Am-
bassador at Vienna for many years before the war between
France and Austria began in 1792. He had made many
Austrian friends. To one of them, a Countess Rumbeck,
Adrienne had a letter of introduction.
The Countess was very kind. She advised Adrienne to go
THE CANTICLE OF TOBIT 179
to see Prince von Rosemberg, the Grand Chamberlain of the
Austrian court. He, too, had been a friend of the Noailles
The Prince was a little puzzled at first to know who this
Mrs. Motier of Hartford, Connecticut was and what she
wanted. He seemed to be a benevolent old gentleman, how-
ever, and when the servant who had let her in was gone,
Adrienne revealed her identity and her mission. Von Rosem-
berg said that he would get her an audience with the Em-
peror Francis II, without the Emperor's ministers knowing
anything of it.
Adrienne, Anastasie, and Virginie went to the great,
sprawling jumble of buildings that make up the Hofberg
and were led into a room in the inner royal apartments. The
Emperor appeared. He was a young man, still in his twenties,
a nephew of the slaughtered Marie Antoinette. His manner
was coldly polite, but one felt that this was due more to
shyness than lack of sympathy. He courteously listened while
Adrienne asked very simply and directly for permission to
share her husband's captivity.
"I give you my permission," the Emperor said, without
any show of surprise; he had been told, apparently, what she
would ask. "As for his liberty" Adrienne had not mentioned
liberty "that would be impossible. His case is very compli-
cated. My hands are tied."
Adrienne, breathless with emotion, murmured her thanks
for the great favor he had shown her. She said that the wives
of her husband's two friends who were with him at Olmiitz,
Monsieur de la Tour Maubourg and Monsieur Bureau de
Pusy, would envy her.
"They have only to act as you do," the Emperor said, with
a stiff little inclination of the head. "I would do the same
Adrienne said tentatively that she had heard there were
certain inconveniences in Prussian prisons she had indeed
180 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
heard that there were worse than inconveniences at Wesel
and Magdebourg! If she found anything wrong at Olmiitz
and had any requests to make, might she write directly to the
"I consent," Francis said, still rigidly polite but obviously
anxious to make the interview as brief as possible. "You will
find, however, that Monsieur de Lafayette is well-fed and
well-treated. I hope you will give me credit for that. Your
presence will give him yet another reason for feeling well-
satisfied. What is more, you will be pleased with the com-
manding officer at Olmiitz. In the fortress the prisoners are
distinguished only by number, but your husband's name is
As they left the imperial presence, Adrienne was dizzy,
reeling with happiness. She wanted to leave Vienna that very
day, but she knew that that was impossible. She would have
to wait at least a week for the order admitting her to the
prison to pass through various hands and for word to be sent
ahead of her to Olmiitz. She wrote to Hamburg; she wrote
to George in America, urging him to ask President Washing-
ton to communicate with the Emperor; she wrote also to
James Monroe in Paris, telling him that she had arrived
There was a strong temptation to luxuriate in the cer-
tainty that she would soon be with Gilbert and to do nothing
more herself, but she couldn't forget that her secondary, but
none the less cogent, reason for coming to Austria was to
work for Lafayette's freedom. She would have to see the
Emperor's chief adviser, Baron von Thugut. He was the
power behind the throne, she had been told. When the Em-
peror had said that his hands were tied, he might have been
referring to Thugut.
Adrienne did not look forward to the interview. Thugut
was unpopular even in Austria and was known to be rabidly
anti-French, anti-Revolution, anti-Lafayette. At the moment
THE CANTICLE OF TOBIT 181
an exchange was being arranged of certain Jacobin prisoners
for the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who
was still in France the only survivor of the French royal
family. It seemed to Adrienne ironic that Lafayette, who had
tried to save the lives of the King, the Queen and their chil-
dren, should be held while those who had voted for the
King's death should be set free. But she disdained to use
such an argument with Thugut, though before they met she
drew up a written statement of the injustice of her husband's
imprisonment and presented it to him.
She found the Minister to be as hostile as she had expected.
He was a fantastically ugly man, a mixture, someone had
said, of Punch and Mephistopheles. He refused to respond
to any of her advances, though she tried her best to put a
little warmth, a little friendliness into their conversation.
"Surely, Monsieur Thugut," she said, "the coalition lays
too much stress on the importance of a single man."
"Too much importance!" Thugut repeated venomously,
his ugly face contorted.
She knew that it had been useless to come to see him and
was only glad that Prince von Rosemberg had arranged for
her to speak with the Emperor first, without the knowledge
of his evilly-disposed counselor.
While she was waiting for her permit, Adrienne renewed
acquaintance with two women whom she had met formerly
in France. Madame d'Ursel and Madame de Windischgratz
were relatives of the Comtesse de la Marck, one of the best
friends Adrienne had ever made outside of her own family.
Both of them were warmhearted and were ready to help her
in any way they could. At the end of the week, they invited
her to come to their house to meet the Minister of War,
Count Ferraris, who would deliver her the permit.
"I think it is my duty to warn you, Madame," the Minister
said disapprovingly as he handed her the paper, "that you
should think twice before you take this step. You will be very
182 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
uncomfortable; life in prison may have some serious conse-
quences for you and your daughters."
Adrienne thanked him mechanically. She had not really
listened to what he was saying. She was only aware that she
was holding the open sesame to Olmutz and that before she
slept that night, she would have left many miles behind her.
In a matter of hours, of minutes, she would be on the last
stage of the journey she had dreamed of for three long years.
The carriage that Adrienne had bought in Hamburg
had broken down before she reached Vienna and she had had
to hire an open wagon to make the three day trip to Olmutz.
She and the girls traveled late and early. As they neared the
end of their route, the rolling country through which they
had been passing flattened out and they entered a wide, fer-
tile plain, which stretched for miles in all directions and
through which flowed a sluggish river. They had moved along
so fast that it was only eleven o'clock in the morning of the
third day when the driver turned around on his seat and
pointed his whip towards the horizon, "Olmiitz," he said.
One could see in the distance the outlines of the high wall
that surrounded the city, the tapering points of steeples
pricking up above it.
The vision blurred. Tears filled Adrienne's eyes and rolled
down her cheeks as she began to recite one of her best loved
canticles, the prayer of the blind patriarch from The Book
of Tobit, that romantic tale of a journey, a miraculous mar-
riage, and heavenly guidance. When each of her daughters
married, Henriette d' Ayen had read them the words that the
old Tobias spoke in praise of God after he had heard the
wonders that accompanied his son's quest.
"Thou art great, O Lord, forever, and thy kingdom
is unto all ages.
THE CANTICLE OF TOBIT 183
"For thou scourgest, and thou saveth: thou leadest
down to hell, and bringest up again: and there is none
that can escape thy hand.
"Give glory to the Lord, ye children of Israel: and
praise him in the sight of the Gentiles.
"Because he hath therefore scattered you among the
Gentiles, who know not him, that you may declare his
wonderful works: and make them know that there is no
other almighty God besides him."
The night before, Adrienne had said that she wondered
how she, how anyone, could survive the overpowering happi-
ness that lay ahead of her. Her heart sank a little, however, as
they approached the city.
It was not surrounded, as was Vienna and Paris, by sub-
urbs; its fortifications, which had been remodeled and
strengthened during the wars between Frederick the Great
and Maria Theresa, rose up sheer from the plain. On the
battlements, cannon were mounted; one could see the gleam-
ing bayonets of sentinels above the ramparts. In Vienna,
Adrienne had almost succeeded in convincing herself that her
stay and her husband's here would be short, but now she
was not so sure.
They entered the city through a guarded gate. They drove
through the winding streets and squares of the town to the
house of the Commandant, General von Shroeder. Adrienne
sent in her name.
The officer who appeared was not the Commandant, but
his deputy, Major von Germack, who was in charge of the
military barrack where the prisoners were housed. The Major
drove with Adrienne and her daughters to the southern end
of the town, where the barrack stood a great gaunt building
which had at one time been a Jesuit college. With its blank
facade and rows of narrow, pointed windows, it still had a
184 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
The cells of the prisoners were at the rear of the building
on the first floor. A guard unlocked a wicket to let them in
and locked it behind them. Adrienne was once more a
prisoner. If she had had any misgivings she had none! it
would have been too late now to turn back. She was trem-
bling with impatience to press forward.
But there was a tantalizing, excruciating delay while the
luggage was examined. Everything was turned out and
thoroughly pawed over; some table knives and forks that
Adrienne had brought with her were confiscated. She and
the girls were told also to hand over their purses; there
would be no bribing of jailers here, as at Le Plessis.
They were led down a long series of somber passages. They
came to a halt before two padlocked doors. The guard
selected a key from the bunch that hung at his wrist.
The door opened on a narrow, bare room at the end of
which was a single, barred window; the upper half being
closed by a solid shutter. The man who, with the light be-
hind him, looked up in surprise, might have been a stranger.
His ragged clothes hung loose; his skin had the bluish pallor
of an invalid. Adrienne's moment of supreme joy came to
her with a stab of pity and horror.
Lafayette did not know that she was coming! The letter
that Adrienne had written aboard The Little Cherub and
dispatched from Hamburg had never reached the prison.
The prisoner was bewildered, incredulous that his wife
should be here, that these two big girls who put up their
faces to be kissed were the little daughters he had last seen
four years ago at Chavaniac.
For almost a year now, ever since the Bollmann-Huger
rescue attempt last November, Lafayette had not been out-
side of his cell or the equally small and bare room that ad-
joined it. He had seen no one but his jailers and for weeks
at a time had been ill with his old chest complaint. How
THE CANTICLE OF TOBIT 185
completely he had been cut off from all news was evident in
the questions that he asked. From where had they come?
Where had they been? He had thought that they were in
Switzerland or perhaps in England with Pauline. He knew
vaguely that there had been a terror in France he had heard
of the King's execution before leaving Prussia but he had
had none of the details.
Adrienne, as she realized that he also knew nothing of
the personal tragedies for which she had thought to prepare
him in advance, waited for him to ask a question and dreaded
the answer she must give. There seemed to be constraint on
his part as well. They spoke of many people, of many things,
but he failed to ask for her mother or Louise, the two mem-
bers of her family to whom he had been particularly devoted.
Several hours passed. It began to grow dark. The Major
returned, bringing a squad of soldiers with him. It was time,
he said, for the young frauleins to be locked up for the night.
They could spend the day with their parents, but they were
to sleep next door. The locking up process was performed
with full military ceremony. As though they were desperados
who might at any moment make a dash for freedom, Ana-
stasie and Virginie were marched from one room to the other
under the naked, crossed swords of the guard.
When they were alone, Adrienne told Gilbert what he had
sensed, what he had avoided forcing her to say until she
could find full comfort in his arms.
^|-1HE FOLLOWING DAY, Adricnne began to discover that the
JL Austrian war minister had been right when he predicted
discomforts for her and her daughters. She began to see how
misleading or how misinformedthe Emperor had been
when he said that her husband was well-fed and well-lodged.
The two rooms in which Lafayette had paced restlessly
back and forth for eighteen months, when he was not pros-
trated by fever, were bare of all furniture except a stove
which was fueled from without and frequently failed to give
any heat a bed, a commode, a table, and four or five straight-
backed wooden chairs.
The outlook from the rooms was dreary, though far-
reaching, the barrack being set so high on a rise of ground
that one could see over the walls of the city and catch a glint
of the river that flowed around this southern end of the town.
Beyond, lay marshlands, diapered with bands of fog on these
chilly October mornings. In the foreground was a jumble of
outbuildings, used as arsenals and storehouses.
Immediately below the windows was an empty space
PRISON IDYL 187
through which flowed an open sewer, its slimy contents
flavoring the rooms with a sickening smell even when the
windows were tightly closed. The barrack latrines were
located here. Dead bodies from the military hospital next
door were sometimes carried out and deposited by the sewer
until they could be coffined; almost daily, soldiers were
brought here to be flogged, the thud of the whip and the
shrieks of the victims plainly audible.
Three times a day, the prisoners' meals were carried in by
a soldier and dumped down upon the table. They were suffi-
cient, but unappetizing. The dishes were often dirty and had
been left standing so long in the guardroom en route from
the kitchen that their contents were well-seasoned with
tobacco smoke. Since neither fork nor knife was provided,
one ate with one's fingers "a custom," Lafayette commented,
"that I have seen among the aborigines of North America."
On the first Sunday after her arrival, Adrienne asked the
Major if she and her daughters could go to Mass at the near-
est church, but the only answer was a vigorous shake of the
head. She thought that she should complain of this in writing
to the Commandant for hadn't the Emperor said that the
Commandant would be obliging? She put it off, however,
thinking that General von Shroeder might come to see her
The very thought of complaining of anything anything at
all was distasteful to her. In spite of the squalor of her
surroundings, in spite of being frustrated in her religious in-
clinations, she was happy happy as she had never been be-
fore in her life, except at brief intervals. After twenty years
and more of infatuated love, she had her husband entirely to
herself; he could not escape her now. There was no career of
adventure to beckon him across the seas, no dangerous duties
to the state to call him out at all hours, no mistress, no
friends or henchmen clamoring for their share of his atten-
tion. He was hers, and hers alone.
188 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
And, as always when he was with her, he seemed content
that this should be so. He had lost none of his responsiveness,
his skill in the give and take o affection. She had been afraid
that his bitter experiences might have warped him, but he
still possessed the quality that she had always adored in him,
of detached judgment on human beings and events. He made
no effort, as she did, to forgive his enemies, because hatred
personal hatred seemed entirely absent from his make up.
Gleefully she noted that, though he was still haggard and
gaunt, his physical condition seemed to improve a little from
day to day and this could only be accounted for by her being
there with her children.
The strange life that they led soon fell into a pattern. In
the mornings, Adrienne was locked into the room next door
with the girls until noon. She gave Virginie, poor little Vir-
ginie whose education had been so neglected, lessons, as best
she could in the absence of all schoolroom equipment. At
dinner time, all three went back to Lafayette's room and
stayed there until evening.
They talked how much they had to say to one another!
They were busy in various ways. Anastasie took over the
housework. She mended her father's clothes, which were in
a fearful state of dilapidation after four years' wear without
replacements. One old coat that was beyond repair, she cut
up to make him a pair of quilted shoes. As a present for her
father, Anastasie drew a sketch on her thumbnail later
transferred to paper of the chief jailer, a detestable little
man whom she and Virginie had nicknamed Cataquois. A
round bullet head, a meager whisp of pigtail curled over his
left shoulder Cataquois was represented carrying a small
hand lamp to light him down the dark passages to the cells,
a switch swinging from his wrist by a thong. In the evenings,
much to Virginia's delight, Lafayette read aloud to his family
from the battered miscellany of books in the cell.
Much daylight time was spent in writing. The pens that
PRISON IDYL 189
Adrienne had brought with her were confiscated along with
the tableware, but a small slab of India ink had escaped the
luggage inspection. Lafayette had a toothpick, a very valu-
able toothpick, worth to him its weight in rubies. With it he
had written all the secret letters he had smuggled out of the
prison at Magdebourg. Now it was put to use again. Ana-
stasie wrote, at her father's dictation, a memorandum to his
friends and followers; if not written in his familiar, easily
recognized hand, there might be a chance some day of send-
ing it out of the prison. For paper, Anastasie used the fly
leaves of books; they were much too precious the India ink,
also for Virginie to scribble on or to do her sums.
Adrienne too, toothpick in hand, spent long hours bent
over a volume by Buffon, the French naturalist. It had wide
margins and many blank pages, on the reverse of which were
printed engravings. She had wanted for more than a year to
compose a tribute to her mother in the form of a memoir.
While she was in Vienna, she had opened a book by Pascal
and had come upon a passage that seemed to express so per-
fectly her mother's creed that she thought she could actually
hear her mother's voice speaking softly in her ear. Adrienne
intended not only a brief biography but a psychological por-
trait. To do so, she must go back to the beginning and see
her mother as a child.
Slowly, delicately, her work took shape.
"Anne-Louise-Hemiette d'Aguesseau, my mother," Adri-
enne wrote, "was born on the isth of February, 1737. Mad-
ame de Fresnes, her mother, having died a few days after
her birth; her father, son of Chancellor d'Aguesseau, handed
her over to the care of a nurse, with whom she was sent,
when she was three years old, to the Convent of the Visitation
of Saint Denis. There she was particularly entrusted to one
of the nuns, Madame d'H&icourt, a most accomplished per-
son, who had great talent as a teacher. She knew how to make
190 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
virtue attractive to her pupils. But to virtue my mother's
heart was naturally inclined; to its practice she applied her-
self from her earliest childhood with that rectitude which
was her special characteristic. With an irresolute, but supe-
rior mind, with a physical and moral inclination to be
troubled and alarmed in all circumstances, she had one aim
that was superior to all others. To her could always be ap-
plied the words o the n8th Psalm, 'My soul is continually
in my hands, yet do I not forget Thy law.' "
Adrienne felt that what her mother had shared with the
psalmist and with Pascal to an unusual degree, was the sense
of divine guidance and, at the same time, of personal moral
The serious, anxious little girl whom Adrienne had con-
jured up, refrained from playing chess because she found
herself thinking of gambits during Mass; she carried on a
stately correspondence with her grandfather, the Chancellor.
Having read at the age of five a book about the fathers of
the Church, who wrestled with demons in the desert, Henri-
ette d'Aguesseau was frightened to think that God might
have chosen her to be a saint and that she might see terrible,
soul-searing visions. She did not find her true vocation until,
at eighteen, she was married and had children of her own,
for "to be a mother God had formed her."
"A mother my mother;" as she wrote the words over and
over again with pride, Adrienne relived her own childhood
and her sisters' in the Hotel de Noailles. Scenes that she had
never forgotten and could never forget came back to her.
With her sisters, she was standing once again in the garden
of the hotel, her face pressed against the windowpane of a
dim-lit room on the ground floor. The Duchess had been
very ill and for weeks the children had not been allowed to
see her. Looking in, they began to whimper, to sob, for the
woman lying in the great bed was a stranger. Their mother's
PRISON IDYL 191
face had been so scarred by smallpox that for a moment they
did not recognize her!
There was little fear however, little shock in most of what
Adrienne could recall so vividly. Peace and security had been
her earliest heritage. She tried to analyze the confidence that
her mother had inspired.
"It was not the kind of confidence which I think many
mothers strive for and seldom obtain from their children,
the confidence one feels in a companion of one's own age.
It was intimate and limitless; it was born of the innate crav-
ing to be directed and approved ... It was the confidence
that always brings one back to a support, to a guide on whose
wisdom and tenderness one may lean. . . . Even when one
did not agree with her decisions, even when one was sure of
her disapproval, one turned to her and the idea of hiding
what had been done, or said, or even thought, was unthink-
able. Such were the feelings that I had for my mother, when,
as often, she let me discuss my problems with her."
Adrienne, when she wrote these words, had come in her
account to the time of her own marriage, and, in the shabby
room at Olmiitz, with Lafayette beside her, she poured out
her gratitude for all that her mother had done to make the
marriage perfect. She remembered little things, not fully
appreciated at the time perhaps, that had smoothed her way
and his; the gayeties that the Duchess arranged for the
newly married couple, the dinner parties, the balls at Ver-
sailles, the time when Gilbert was inoculated for smallpox
and Madame d'Ayen rented a little house at Chaillot where
she could nurse him and keep him amused during the
tedious weeks of convalescence.
How loyally she had come to his defence when he went to
America for the first time and the elders of the Noailles clan
grumbled! How constantly she tried to keep Adrienne's cour-
age up during the long years when he was overseas! It was
loyalty also that had bridged the gap between his political
192 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
ideas and hers during the Revolution. Even at the last, when
he was an exile and all the nation was against him, she had
had the courage to work for him, trudging to see people in
Paris who might help him, or to collect any scrap of news
that she might send to Chavaniac.
Of the end of her mother's life, of what Grelet and Father
Canichon had told her, Adrienne could not bring herself to
speak but she set down a few details she had learned from a
Madame Lavet, one of the prisoners who was at the Con-
ciergerie on the night before the execution, one of the few
The three Noailles women were exhausted when they ar-
rived at the prison. They had only enough money to buy a
little gooseberry wine to slake their thirst. Neither Madame
d'Ayen, nor the Marchale fully realized that death lay ahead
of them. The Marchale sat up in bed and read over and
over her act of accusation, saying that she couldn't possibly
be put to death for a conspiracy of which she had never
heard. At times she would break off to worry about her cap,
which she thought was too elegant, too aristocratic to be
worn before a Revolutionary committee. Madame d'Ayen
lay down on a cot and kept begging Louise to lie down beside
her and get some rest, which Louise did occasionally to
humor her mother. Louise knew that it was useless to save
her strength, since this was her last night on earth.
In the morning, the Duchess seemed to see the inevitable
more clearly, and she, who was so timid physically, so apt
"to be troubled and alarmed in all circumstances" showed
great courage. She talked very tenderly of her grandchildren
and tried to leave a watch for them as a final keepsake, with
her fellow prisoners. But the women in the cell were afraid
to take it, nor would they take a lock of hair, a miniature,
and an empty pocketbook that Louise wanted to give them.
For the last time Louise, who had spent the night reading her
prayer book helped her mother and grandmother dress and
PRISON IDYL 193
said with a smile to Madame Lavet as she thanked her for
her kindness, "Your face is happy; you will not die I am
Father Carrichon, who had given her mother and Louise
Absolution on their way to the scaffold, had told Adrienne
when she saw him in Paris that as he came away from the
Barrifcre du Trdne, he thought of the centurion who stood
at the foot of the cross. It would not be irreverent to see, in
that cruel death outside the walls of Paris, a reenactment, an
imitation of the death in which "all Christians find their
"That is the consolation which remains to us and which
sustains us," Adrienne wrote on the final page of the volume
by Buffon. "To follow in the footsteps of those so dear, I
think, would have made easy the horrors of such an end.
"I have rejected silence, though what I have had to say is
November, 1791 November, 1799
T^EACEFULLY, almost imperceptibly each day was like the
A one before, the one that followed after two months went
by. Christmas was not far off and still there had been no call
from the Commandant of Olmiitz, General von Shroeder,
though Adrienne had asked to see him and had written to
him, not with the toothpick pen, but with one supplied her
by Major von Germack.
Every four weeks the Major had visited the cell so that
Adrienne could write to Mr. Parish, the Consul in Hamburg,
for money to pay for her board and lodging in the prison.
Unlike Lafayette, she and the girls were not to be guests of
the Austrian government. The first time Germack came, he
brought Adrienne a letter from her father in Switzerland,
the second time, letters from Pauline and Madame de Tess.
Under the officer's watchful eye, she was allowed to reply
When Germack came in December, Adrienne wrote to the
Minister of War, Count Ferraris, whom she had met in
Vienna. Again she asked to go to Mass, hoping that the minis-
198 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
ter would reply promptly and favorably so that she could
be in church on Christmas Day. She asked also that she and
Lafayette might see Lafayette's friends, de Maubourg and
de Pusy, whose cells were in the same block, who were only
a few yards off and yet so far.
It would only take three days for mail to go to Vienna,
three for a return, but Christmas came and went and the
New Year of 1796 had come in before Adrienne heard from
Ferraris. He was concise and frigidly courteous. He told her
that it was the War Department's duty to guard the prisoners
of His Imperial Majesty, not to decide the conditions under
which they were being held; he could do nothing for her.
He took obvious satisfaction in reminding her that he had
warned her in advance and that it was by her own choice that
she and her daughters were in the barrack.
Again Adrienne made use of the writing materials Ger-
mack brought her. She thanked Ferraris pointedly for his
politeness in answering her letter. She complained of Von
Shroeder's neglect and repeated the demands that she had
made; to go to Mass, to see de Maubourg and de Pusy, and
also Lafayette's servants, Chavaniac and F61ix Pontonnier.
As to his reminder that she had come here of her own free
will, she felt that she could speak for herself, Anastasie, and
Virginie when she said that they none of them had changed
their minds; they were all three much happier here in prison
with Lafayette than they could possibly be anywhere else.
But she had yet another request to make. Since Christmas,
Adrienne had begun to feel wretchedly ill. Her health, which
had survived so many privations, so many long, jolting jour-
neys, so much sorrow, had cracked under the strain of a
sedentary life. Her head ached, she had begun to run a fever,
her arms and legs felt heavy and were swollen. At first she
had hidden her symptoms, and was so cheerful and serene
that neither Lafayette nor the girls noticed that anything was
FREEDOM CAMPAIGN 199
When they discovered her condition, the doctor was sent
for, Dr. Kreutschke, who was in charge of the military hos-
pital. He could speak no French. He had, however, received
his dose of Latin in medical school and Lafayette could re-
member enough of the Latin he had learned as a small boy
from the cur of Chavaniac to tell the Doctor Adrienne's
symptoms and question him. Kreutschke was baffled; a dis-
order of the blood was as near as he could come to a diag-
nosis. He could suggest nothing effective in the way of
Urged on by Lafayette, Adrienne asked Ferraris in her
January letter if she could go to Vienna for a week to consult
a competent physician, leaving her daughters with their
father while she was gone. This time the reply was less slow
in transit. On January 27th, Ferraris informed her that
neither he nor die War Department could give her permis-
sion to leave the prison; for that she must apply to the Em-
Adrienne wrote at once to Francis, the result being a wait
of many weeks and then, in March, a visit his first from
the Commandant. General von Shroeder told her verbally
what was the Emperor's pleasure; she could go to Vienna if
she wished, but on one condition, that she should never
return to Olmiitz.
Adrienne's recoil was definite. For Von Shroeder's bene-
fit, she put into writing a statement that she preferred to
stay where she was, no matter what the effect might be on
her health. After all that she had been through, she couldn't
face "the horrors of another separation."
It was a cruel disappointment to her, however, for she had
intended to do much more in Vienna than to let a doctor
examine her and listen to her medical history. She would
have seen again the friends she had made at the time of her
first visit; she would have tried to get close to someone at the
top level of authority, other than Baron von Thugut, and
200 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
to investigate the hidden as well as the obvious reasons for
Lafayette's imprisonment. All her complaints and petitions
for privileges had been made with the underlying idea of
furthering her campaign for freedom.
There was nothing for it now but to make light of her
miseries so as not to worry her family. Adrienne put up
with the poor comforts of the cell, though there was not even
an easy chair in which she could rest her aching body. She
was particularly distressed that she could do so little for the
other Olmiitz prisoners, who had been so self-sacrificing, who
had always put Lafayette's welfare first, and had made no
move toward their own individual liberties.
Although it was true that Lafayette had not seen any of
them since he had been in Austria, he had been able to com-
municate with de Maubourg and de Pusy after a fashion,
thanks to Flix Pontonnier, the coachman's son, Lafayette's
Fflix was a talented and ingenious lad. He could play the
recorder and had worked out a shorthand code based on the
words of certain popular airs which was known both to Lafa-
yette and to the servant of Cdsar de la Tour Maubourg. This
man was watched much less closely than Flix and could see
his master frequently. De Maubourg had been allowed to
receive outside letters when they were denied to Lafayette
and, by means of Felix's plaintive toodings, a few rudi-
mentary messages were relayed from one cell to another.
Before Adrienne came to Olmiitz, for instance, Lafayette had
learned through Fflix that she was still alive but nothing
After their arrival in October, Anastasie and Virginie lost
no time in developing a simpler, more efficient means of cor-
respondence. When they were locked up for the night, the
girls would let down from their window at the end of a cord,
a small package and dangle it beneath the nose of the guard
FREEDOM CAMPAIGN 201
below. In the package might be a piece of cheese, or some
other tidbit they had saved from their supper. After pleasant
relations had been established, they ventured to let down
letters addressed to de Maubourg or de Pusy along with
their bribe. A night or two later a return letter would be
tied to the string before it was drawn up through the bars.
This was well enough for the time being, but in March
something of great importance happened, something that
compensated for Adrienne's having to abandon her plan to
go to Vienna.
Anastasie had been feeling poorly. She was feverish and
Adrienne was concerned lest Virginie might catch the in-
fection; the two sisters had to share a single narrow bed. Dr.
Kreutschke, who had taken to paying regular professional
visits, one day asked the guard to see the room where the
young ladies slept; he was afraid that it might be damp;
dampness was a mighty breeder of fevers.
Kreutschke was in the room for only a short time, but
when Anastasie and Virginie returned to it in the evening
they found that the bed had been rumpled. A fat bundle had
been stuffed beneath the coverlet, a bundle of mail which
had come from Hamburg. It had been brought to Olmiitz
by a person unknown, who signed himself "Feldmann."
After that, at fairly frequent intervals, Kreutschke came
to and went from the prison with his pockets loaded. He
was apparently being well-paid for his services. "Whoever
you are, Monsieur Feldmann," Adrienne wrote, "we thank
you with all our hearts." Now she could write fully and
frankly to her family and to many others! Now she and Lafa-
yette could know all that their friends were doing and had
done for them!
There were friends, it seemed, no farther away than
the encircling walls of Olmiitz, that one could see from the
202 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
barrack window. Even here in the heart of the Austrian em-
pire there were liberals who sympathized with Lafayette's
democratic aims and who had learned that he was in the bar-
rack. The rector of the local university was one; a prosperous
merchant, Herr Hirsch, was another.
Months ago, Hirsch had received a packet of letters for
the Lafayettes, forwarded by James Monroe from Paris. He
kept them for sometime and, despairing of getting them into
the prison, burned them. In April of 1796, Hirsch was sum-
moned to The Golden Swan in the Bachesgasse, the best inn
in Olmiitz, to meet a Baron Feldmann who had come to the
town on business. Hirsch was rather surprised when Feld-
mann, a total stranger, embraced him affectionately in the
public room of the inn and whispered in his ear, "Pretend
that you know me! I am a friend of Gilbert!"
Feldmann was actually a French army officer, H. L. V.
Ducoudray-Holstein, who had been educated at Leipzig and
spoke perfect German. While on leave in Hamburg, he met
several of Lafayette's friends, among them Mr. Parish, the
American Consul, who sent him to Austria with all the trap-
pings of an affluent business man fine clothes, a fine carriage
to ride in, and a servant to wait upon him. He intended to
travel around to other commercial centers in Austria and
Silesia to put the authorities off the scent, but as long as he
was needed to carry mail his main route would be between
Hamburg and Olmiitz.
In Hamburg and elsewhere, pro-Lafayette activities had
never ceased in the past three and a half years, but that
spring and summer of 1796 much was being done in Eng-
land. Some of Lafayette's Magdebourg letters had been cop-
ied and sent about to private individuals, but the letters that
began to trickle out of Olmiitz via Feldmann got an even
wider audience. Their substance was incorporated into arti-
cles that appeared in liberal English newspapers and also in
Holland, over the signature "Eleuthfere," die Greek word
FREEDOM CAMPAIGN 203
for "freeman." Some of them purported to have been written
by an ex-officer of the guard at Olmiitz to his brother, giving
an inside, firsthand account of what went on within the
prison. All the grimy details, all the humiliating restrictions
were described and nothing was lost in the telling. The
fact that Adrienne had come as an angel of mercy to Olmiitz,
and that now she and her daughters were being as barbar-
ously persecuted as Lafayette himself, was featured.
The "Eleuthfcre" articles continued to be printed at inter-
vals for many months and eventually got under the leathery
skin of the Austrian government. Protests were sent through
the Imperial Ambassador at the Court of St. James and, since
nobody in England seemed to know who "Eleuthfcre" was,
spies were sent from Vienna to try, unsuccessfully, to nose
him out and silence him. At the same time the Whig leaders
in Parliament, Fox, Sheridan, and Fitzpatrick, who as early
as 1794 had spoken for Lafayette in the House of Commons,
kept up their sniping tactics.
The friends of Lafayette were convinced that the chief
obstacle to freedom was not in Vienna, but in Whitehall.
The Tory government of William Pitt was pushing the war
against France in spite of apathy and resistence at home
and the Tories had never forgotten Lafayette's part in the
As for Austria, she was sick of being forever beaten by the
French. She could gain little by victory and was dependent
on her ally, England, for military supplies. Baron von
Thugut, the malevolent, ugly man whom Adrienne had in-
terviewed in Vienna, was the slave of Pitt Fox one day in
Parliament quoted the very words that the Emperor had
spoken to Adrienne: "My hands are tied." It was Pitt, Fox
suggested, who had tied them.
This brought a rolling, polysyllabic riposte from the Tory
benches. "Those who start revolutions will always be in my
eyes the object of an irresistible reprobation," the speaker
204 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
intoned. "I take delight in seeing them drink to the dregs,
the cup of bitterness that they have prepared for the lips o
The exchanges in Parliament had publicity value in the
campaign for freedom, but of more practical importance for
the future, were certain military events that were taking
place far to the south of Vienna. In Paris, the five members
of the recently elected Directory spent most of their time in
plotting against one another and in picking the public purse;
on the Rhine the French armies were making little head-
way; but in March of 1796 a young, untried General, Napo-
leon Bonaparte, was put in command of the Army of Italy,
chiefly because his charming, newly-acquired wife, Josephine
Beauharnais, was a good friend of one of the Directors.
Soon news of astounding victories, of towns taken, of Aus-
trian armies brushed aside, came back to France and thence
by slow degrees to Olmiitz. The significance of the Italian
campaign was not grasped at first by the prisoners, for their
hopes lay elsewhere. All of them, de Maubourg and de Pusy
as well as the Lafayettes, and even F61ix Pontonnier, who
was studying English in his cell, intended to go to America,
if they were freed.
One of the first uncensored letters that Adrienne wrote
was to Lafayette's would-be rescuer, Dr. Bollmann, who,
with his colleague, Francis Huger, had set sail for the United
States about the time Adrienne was arriving in Austria. The
American coterie in London had encouraged the adventur-
ous Bollmann to make another effort for Lafayette; he had
been given letters of introduction that would bring him to
the attention of President Washington. Adrienne thought
that by this time, May 22nd, Bollmann would be back in
England with instructions of some sort from the President.
She wanted not only to thank the Doctor for all that he and
Huger had done and suffered, but to ask for news of her son
FREEDOM CAMPAIGN 205
George, whom he must surely have seen. From George him-
self, Adrienne had heard nothing since she parted from him
more than a year ago in Paris. Only from Pauline had she
heard of her son's safe arrival in the United States.
TJORTUNATELY, considering the uncertain heating system in
JL the cells, the winter had been mild, but with the return
of warm weather the windows had to be kept open. The sun
beat into the dingy little rooms, in which no cross draft was
possible and the smell of the sewer was the smell of death.
Swarms of flies buzzed about the prisoners* ears.
Adrienne's illness increased and could no longer be dis-
regarded. She was continually feverish. Abscesses formed on
her swollen arms and legs. She had difficulty in moving about
and even found writing for any length of time painful.
Anastasie became her amanuensis. She and Virginie were the
only ones who were still healthy, for the letters from de Mau-
bourg and de Pusy told a depressing tale of sickness. De
Maubourg could no longer stomach the rancid prison food.
De Pusy could survive it better, but he was steadily losing
weight and strength.
The following autumn, Major von Germack who, de
Maubourg had quipped, was "born to be a jailer, just as
Voltaire was born to be a poet" disappeared from the prison
staff and his place was taken by a Captain MacElligott, a
Scotchman who had taken service in the Imperial army. He
was very obliging, came to the cells often and tried to make
them a little more comfortable, though what he could do
was severely limited by his lack of authority.
Adrienne and the others also noted a change for the better
in the manners of the jailers. Even the underlings, even the
turnkey, Cataquois, and the men who paced back and forth
at night beneath the girls' window, had heard of the tri-
umphs of General Bonaparte. Each victory raised a trifle
higher, the respect in which the prisoners were held.
And throughout another damp and foggy winter, that
brought no relief to Adrienne's illness, the victories con-
tinued. By spring, every fortified town in Italy had fallen to
the French. An army was advancing on Vienna itself. In
April of 1797, a truce was called and the preliminaries to
peace discussions were begun.
In Paris, the Directory was being bombarded by Lafayette
petitions, for some of the Constitutionalists had come out
of hiding and were making themselves heard. Instructions
were sent to Bonaparte that a demand for Lafayette's release
should be made at once. Another general, General Clarke,
was sent to Italy to sit in on the negotiations and with him
went a young man, Louis Romeuf, who had served under
Lafayette and rode into exile with him in 1792. At the same
time, Victor de la Tour Maubourg, C&ar's brother, and
Florimond, C&ar's son, went to Vienna with Ducoudray-
Holstein, alias Baron Feldmann. Disregarded there, they
went on to the castle near Milan where Bonaparte was living
The victorious General had little sympathy with the pris-
oners of Olmiitz, but he allowed Romeuf to go back to
Vienna to talk with Thugut. As a direct result of these talks,
a visitor was ushered into Lafayette's room on July 24th by
Captain MacElligott an Austrian officer, whose polished
208 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
boots and smart uniform were in sharp contrast to the ragged
clothes and the homemade cloth shoes o the man who cere-
moniously received him.
MacElligott did not need to introduce the two, for they
had met before. The Austrian officer was the Marquis de
Chasteler, who had taken Lafayette into custody almost five
years ago in Belgium. He had traveled fast to Olmiitz, mak-
ing the trip from Vienna in a single day. He had been com-
missioned to report to the Emperor on the conditions in the
Jesuit barrack and to deliver an offer of freedom to the
French prisoners. Its most important proviso was that Lafa-
yette and his friends should promise never to set foot on
Austrian soil again.
There were bows, excessive politeness, and dignity on
either side. Lafayette was too proud to draw attention to
the state of his clothes or the room; he left that to the eyes
and nose of his visitor. The only complaint he made was
that he had been kept so long without news of his family.
He showed a chilly lack of enthusiasm for Chasteler's pro-
posal, said that he needed time to think it over, and that
first he would have to consult with his two friends. To this
de Chasteler consented.
The next morning, at the early hour of seven o'clock, the
key grated in the lock, the door swung back, and de Mau-
bourg and de Pusy walked into the room. The three com-
rades, so long apart, looked sorrowfully at one another. No
one of them realized, perhaps, how much he himself had
changed. De Maubourg had lost several of his teeth; he and
de Pusy, still in their forties, were old men before their time.
As they embraced Lafayette, feeble, invalid tears were trick-
ling down their cheeks.
There was little time to talk privately, however, and there
was little to be said. All three quickly and unanimously
agreed that the offer must be rejected.
In a very short time, Captain MacElligott again appeared
with the Marquis de Chasteler. The prisoners drew them-
selves up to greet him. Imaginary epaulettes sprouted from
their shoulders; imaginary swords dangled at their sides as
they explained that, though none of them had the slightest
wish to see Austria again, they might, as Frenchmen, be or-
dered by their government to do so in some military capac-
De Chasteler expressed his regret. At his request, they
drew up a statement of their joint decision and any com-
ments they wished to make on their imprisonment. After the
three documents had been looked over, signed, and dated,
de Chasteler and the others withdrew, leaving Adrienne and
Lafayette alone again.
Adrienne had no fault to find with the way in which her
menfolk had behaved. It would be dishonorable, she thought,
to sneak out of Austria like branded criminals. When they
left, it would be as prisoners of state, whose importance to
France had been fully recognized. But that they would leave
sooner or later seemed at the moment certain.
As days and weeks went by, however, the certainty began
to fade. In August a letter they were delivered openly now
came from Louis Romeuf in Vienna. He respected the
stand that Lafayette had taken, but he was beginning to be
discouraged. The Emperor was pigheaded and indifferent.
Thugut was furious. At each interview with Romeuf, he
poured out his hatred for Lafayette and for Lafayette's "in-
The only feature of the situation that was in Romeuf s
favor was that Thugut was disgusted with the whole affair
and wanted to be rid of it. When, at a moment of compara-
tive calm, Romeuf suggested that Lafayette should be handed
over to the American consul at Hamburg, Thugut yielded.
Romeuf wrote to Olmiitz, hoping, yet doubting, that the ar-
210 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
rangement would be satisfactory and reported that he was
off for Hamburg to consult with the Consul, Mr. Parish.
More weeks went by. The prisoners had signified their
acquiesence but nothing happened, no word came from
Vienna. Had Thugut gone back on his word? Was he playing
Adrienne, ill though she was, her sufferings redoubled by
the fetid air and the heat of yet another summer, wrote let-
ters to everyone she could think of who might appeal to
Thugut or to the Emperor, making drafts of the appeals to
be copied and signed. She advised Romeuf as to what he
should do and say that would neither compromise him nor
run contrary to the stand that Lafayette had taken.
At last, on September igth, 1797, five years and a month
after Lafayette's capture in Belgium, the order for release
arrived at the prison. Adrienne was so ill that Lafayette and
the others wanted to put off leaving the town for a short
time, until she was in better condition to travel, but she
wouldn't hear of it. A single day, a single hour longer in this
hated spot would be too much!
There were few preparations to be made for the journey,
little to be packed. The Lafayettes were reunited with Flix
Pontonnier and Chavaniac. F61ix had grown to man's estate
in the past five years and looked sickly; the valet also.
All the company drove to The Golden Swan in the Baches-
gasse, which Feldmann had made his headquarters when he
was in Olmiitz. He was there to greet them in person and
to reveal his identity as Ducoudray-Holstein. He would
travel with them, he said, as far as Hamburg.
During the dinner that was eaten at the Swan, there was a
good deal of hysterical laughter, a good many bad jokes made
about the awkwardness that everyone showed in handling
knife and fork. No time was lost in sitting over table. Before
the sun was low, a caravan of carriages drove out of the west-
ern gate of the city. Soon the high walls of Olmiitz dwindled
down into the distance behind it.
In the last unit of the caravan rode a single traveler to
whom no one had been more than coldly polite. He was an
Austrian Major, who had been given the thankless task of
seeing that his charges got to Hamburg and were properly
All were anxious to reach the seaport city as soon as pos-
sible, but knew that they would have to travel by easy stages
because the jarring motion of the carriage was painful to
Adrienne. In spite of the mild autumn weather, all the win-
dows were at first kept closed. After having spent so many
months and years indoors, the prisoners of Olmiitz were
almost overpowered by the glare of the sun and the rushing
currents of free air that blew about them.
Several days after they left, but while they were still in
Austrian territory, they saw across some fields, at a bend of
the road, a solitary rider, who had wheeled his horse about
and was looking at them. They recognized Louis Romeuf.
So much of the valiant work he had done for them had been
done in secret that he thought it unwise to approach them.
With a wave of the hand, he rode away. They knew, however,
that he had come all the way from Hamburg just to catch a
glimpse of them and that they would see him soon again.
In the Austrian towns through which they passed, the
travelers were often stared at curiously, but the gentleman in
the last carriage prevented anyone from coming near enough
to speak to them. What a change when they crossed the fron-
tier! They were surrounded by friends. Romeuf was waiting
for them at Dresden, and also the wives of de Maubourg and
de Pusy who, with their children, had been living in sight
of Austria for weeks, expecting the arrival of the Olmiitz
party daily. There were two de Maubourg girls, who were
212 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
older than Anastasie and Virginia. Madame de Pusy had a
little five-year-old daughter, whom her father had never seen.
The caravan was enormously increased. Now began a se-
ries of receptions that brought to mind the triumphal prog-
ress that the Lafayettes had made six years ago from Paris to
Auvergne. Crowds flocked to the inns at every stop. In Leip-
zig and Halle, university towns, the student corps turned out
en masse in their caps and sashes. There were torchlight pro-
cessions and the fine, deep-throated roar of young male voices
shouting Kommerslieder, followed by The Marseillaise.
Ducoudray-Holstein was ecstatic. He had been a student
himself at Leipzig, he knew these songs. Lafayette had never
heard them, nor had he heard the great anthem of the Re-
public, but he, who always enjoyed popularity, was uplifted
by the cheers and applause.
Adrienne, too, ill though she was, was somewhat revived.
Much of the cheering was for her; all these good people knew
how she had come to share her husband's prison. She was
bewildered when one day a young man, who had just been
introduced to her, stood speechless before her and then fell
on his knees. He would have kissed the hem of her dress, if
she had not laughingly twitched it away and told him to
stand up. "I am not a goddess," she exclaimed.
When she saw that her worshiper was crestfallen, she asked
Virginie to give up the chair beside her to him so that she
could chat with him and make amends.
She was very tired when they reached Hamburg, but ap-
parently no worse for the trip. If anything, she had begun to
gain a little strength, though hardly enough to meet the
whirlwind welcome staged by Lafayette's admirers. Many
American ships were lying in the mouth of the Elbe; all
their flags were flying when the Lafayette party approached.
The wayfarers were about to cross the river in a ferry when
an American sea captain came to invite them on board his
ship for dinner and offered to row them ashore to the city
in the afternoon.
It was five o'clock when they finally arrived at the house
of the American Consul, John Parish. Such masses of people
had gathered about it that a way had to be cleared for the
Lafayettes to enter. Once they had been squeezed inside,
both Adrienne and Lafayette collapsed from exhaustion.
They wept. Adrienne was led to a sofa by Mr. Parish, almost
in tears himself. In thanking the Consul, Lafayette found
that he had forgotten how to speak proper English. He
could only stammer out a crude translation of what he might
have said in French.
"My friend, my dearest friend, my deliverer! See the work
of your generosity! My poor, poor wife, hardly able to sup-
They had barely recovered and wiped their eyes when the
room began to fill. The Austrian Minister, Baron Buol von
Schauenstein, appeared with the Austrian Major who had
come with the caravan from Olmutz, and with an old friend,
who must be thanked for his services, Gouverneur Morris.
Morris had been in Hamburg all summer and had been din-
ing that day with Baron Buol.
The Baron made a florid speech in which he said how
happy he was to deliver Lafayette to Parish, "who seemed to
love and respect him so much." He added, however, that the
ex-prisoners could only stay in Hamburg for twelve days and
the release must be looked upon as a courtesy to the United
States; it had nothing to do with any demand that might
have been made by France.
This was a bit of face-saving that deceived no one and of
which Lafayette politely expressed his doubts in his reply
to Von Schauenstein. He must give full credit, he said, to
General Bonaparte. As soon as the ceremony was over, Lafa-
yette, de Maubourg, and de Pusy went to call on the French
214 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
In the twelve days that they remained in Hamburg, Adri-
enne rested as best she could, though there were constant
visitors and constant invitations that had to be accepted.
Adrienne met the dramatist Klopstock, to whom she had
once written so desperately from Chavaniac and all the
friends who had tried to rescue Lafayette from Magdebourg.
Lafayette himself wrote letters to those he could not thank
in person, among others to Francis Huger in America and
to "Eleuth&re" in England. "Eleuthfere," he learned, was a
French journalist, Josephe Masclet, whom he had never met
an unknown, but enthusiastic fayettist.
Though Lafayette thanked Bonaparte and one of the mem-
bers of the French Directory, Barras, who had been active in
his behalf, he did not write to the Directory as a whole. Be-
fore reaching Hamburg, while he was still at Dresden, the
newspapers reported that three of the Directors Barras was
one of them had seized the executive power for themselves.
The two ousted officials, Carnot and Siys, sent a secret
emissary to Lafayette, urging him to come back to Paris at
once to join them in a counter move, but he refused, not
wanting to take part in yet another lawless coup d'etat.
There was no hope, therefore, of a return to France at
present. Where else could they go America? It was now Oc-
tober and Adrienne was in no condition to make a winter
voyage across the Atlantic. Besides, they learned from their
American friends that diplomatic relations had become
strained between the United States and France and that
James Monroe had been recalled from Paris.
They were somewhat puzzled by the cool attitude towards
them of Gouverneur Morris, who had been so helpful when
help was needed most. He had slipped back into his pre-
Revolutionary attitude of monitor and critic. For this, there
was a personal reason. Morris was miffed by the reply Lafa-
yette made to Baron Buol's speech at the American Consul's,
but even more by the fact that the Lafayette party was stay-
ing at an expensive inn in Hamburg instead of finding
cheaper lodgings in the suburbs. Morris could not forget
that Adrienne had borrowed 100,000 livres from him in
1793 and he was beginning to wonder when he would see
his money again.
Return to the world had exacted its penalty. Just as the
sun and wind had been too much at first for the liberated
prisoners, it was at first a shock to re-discover the complex-
ities of human relationships and the animosities, great and
small, that govern them. Adrienne was glad when it was de-
cided shortly before their time in the city was up, that they
should all go with the de Maubourgs, the de Pusys, and two
other friends who had attached themselves to their group to
a little town named Ploen in Holstein, not very far from
By the Waters ofPloen
WAS NOT ONLY a town of Ploen, there was a lake of
the same name and on the farther shore Madame de
Tess6 last summer had found the farm of her dreams. Wit-
mold was the name of the estate. It had vast fields, in which
flax, wheat, and hops were grown; there were barns for the
cattle, chicken runs, and a house large enough to accommo-
date all of Madame de Tessa's entourage. In the daytime, the
gentlemen ranged the woods in search of game and fished in
the lake; in the evenings they gathered in the salon for cards,
literary discussions, and the verbal fireworks in which Mad-
ame de Tess6 delighted.
Before she left Altona, she had provided herself with a
chaplain, a superannuated French priest, the Abb de Luchet,
who was without visible means of support. As far as she was
concerned, Madame de Tess said, his position was a sine-
cure. "But," she added with one of her grimacing smiles, "I
think that my niece will manage to keep him busy."
Pauline, as always, was well-occupied from cockcrow until
late into the night. She and a valet of the Marquis de Mun
BY THE WATERS OF PLOEN 217
were the only attendants at the early Mass that the Abb
celebrated daily in his room at the top of the house. Pauline
would then visit the stillroom, where the dairy maids were
at work. She didn't know how to make the excellent butter
and cheese that were sold at a good price in the Hamburg
market, but she could act as her aunt's deputy in seeing that
all was going smoothly. Part of each day was set aside for
her devotions, part for her correspondence. Pauline had or-
ganized a charitable fund on a large scale for needy &nigrs
and this involved a great deal of letter writing. She had also
written many letters in behalf of the prisoners of Olmiitz,
among them one to Gouverneur Morris and one to the Em-
Pauline still visited the sick indefatigably, knitted stock-
ings for the poor, and made layettes for newborn babies. She
even had had time, during the past year, to produce a baby
herself, begotten during one of several visits that Joachim
had made at Madame de Tessa's invitation. The baby, a boy,
who had been christened Attale, was lusty and seemed more
likely to survive than any of the four other children whom
Pauline had brought into the world.
Pauline fretted all during the long delay that preceded the
liberation from Olmiitz. When she heard that Adrienne was
in Hamburg, that she was actually coming to Witmold, her
schedule was disrupted. She felt the same frenzy of excite-
ment as when her sister had arrived at Altona two years ago.
She tried to work, to keep calm, but it was more than flesh-
Pauline's quivering, hypersensitive flesh could bear.
On the morning of October loth, Pauline was upstairs in
her bedroom praying for patience when she heard the squeal
of a bugle far away across the lake. She knew what that
meant. It was a good old German custom for the postillion,
who went on ahead of a convoy of carriages, to announce
their arrival by a fanfare. Travelers from a distance seldom
came to sleepy Ploen. Adrienne must be nearing the town.
218 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Pauline ran downstairs, out of the house, and down to the
lake where a number of small-masted rowboats were docked.
The Marquis de Mun was sitting in one of them, about to
push off for a quiet, meditative fishing expedition. The old
man was startled when Pauline suddenly leapt down into
the boat and hysterically demanded to be taken across the
lake to meet her sister. Neither of them was an experienced
navigator, but somehow, between them, they managed to get
up the sail. The day was fine; a breeze, fortunately a gentle
breeze, was blowing. They were soon bobbing across the
water and as they looked back, they saw that a whole fleet
of tiny craft was following them. The others had seen Pau-
line dash out of the house and were on their way to Ploen
On the opposite shore, a group of people were standing,
five tall males and eight females, one of whom was a small
child. As the boat's nose bumped the shore, Pauline scram-
bled out without waiting for assistance and flung herself into
Adrienne's arms. She embraced Lafayette she had always
loved him in spite of his insanely radical ideas then Anas-
tasie and Virginie, who seemed a little embarrassed by their
aunt's fervor. The strangers were introduced, the de Mau-
bourgs and de Pusys and their children. The two unattached
men were a Monsieur Pillet, who had also been a member
of Lafayette's military family in 1792, and a Monsieur Tho-
dore de Lameth, a fellow prisoner at Wesel. After a meeting
in Hamburg, neither could bear to be separated from their
friend and former chief.
By this time the fleet from Witmold was in. All the party
was accommodated in the flotilla of boats. Lafayette and Anas-
tasie embarked with Joachim de Montagu; Adrienne, Pau-
line, and Virginie entrusted themselves to Monsieur de Mun.
During their zigzag way across the lake, Adrienne clasped
Pauline's hand and murmured the verses from The Canticle
of Tobit that she had recited when she first caught sight of
BY THE WATERS OP PLOEN 219
the walls of Olmiitz. On the Witmold shore, Madame de
Tess, the only one who had been left behind, was standing
waiting, with outstretched arms.
That was a gala day at Witmold and many gala days of
rejoicing followed it. There was not room for all to stay in
the farmhouse or rather, in the farm-mansionbut some-
how the four Lafayettes were squeezed in. The others found
themselves accommodations in the village and there was a
constant going and coming across the lake.
After dinner what mighty conversations in the drawing-
room! Madame de Tess6 was in her element. The subject
was politics; past, present, and future. The battles of the
Revolution were fought over again. Pauline, to her amaze-
ment and sorrow, discovered that these men, who had been
in the thick of the fight, had no regrets that the Revolution
had taken place. They had less to say against the Convention,
which had persecuted them, than against the royalists who,
by fleeing the country, had failed to support them. Lafayette,
as usual, kept his temper, but his friends and, in particular
Theodore de Lameth, were caustic.
Pauline could hardly contain herself. One day, when Lafa-
yette was calmly explaining to a visitor the abuses that had
caused the Revolution, she exploded. "It is certainly wonder-
ful," she cried, springing up from her chair, "how some peo-
ple can take their minds off the dreadful things that have
happened by all this petty faultfinding with the shortcom-
ings of the old regimel"
But later she was ashamed of herself and did penance in
her diary and in the long letters to Rosalie de Grammont
that she wrote every night before going to bed. Peace, family
peace, was more important than politics.
"Gilbert," she confided to Rosalie, "is just as good, just
as unaffected, just as affectionate, just as gentle spoken, as
you remember him. He loves his children tenderly, and, in
spite of his cold exterior, is devoted to his wife. ... He has
220 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
lovely manners and a calm way with him that doesn't de-
ceive me. I know that he would like to play an active part
again. I avoid as much as possible discussing directly with
him anything that touches the Revolution. ... I am afraid
of blowing up! . . . Poor Gilbert! God preserve him from
ever again being called upon the stage of public life!"
Thinking of her young nieces' spiritual welfare, forgetting
perhaps how constantly they had been exposed to revolution-
ary talk, Pauline would lure Anastasie and Virginie away
from the salon to another room. While the girls sewed, she
read aloud to them the sermons of F&ielon, The Book of
Job, and Bossuet's Funeral Orations. Adrienne was often
with them, but she was at home in both camps. As Madame
de Tess had once said, Adrienne was one of the few people
who was able to reconcile completely the catechism with the
Rights of Man.
But the house party at Witmold could not go on for-
ever. For a month the Lafayettes enjoyed Madame de Tessa's
talkative hospitality and then looked about them for a place
to spend the winter. With the de Maubourgs they rented a
house at Lemkuhlen, a few miles from Witmold, near enough
for constant visiting back and forth.
To finance this venture Adrienne had to go to Hamburg
to borrow money. She alone had any collateral on which to
borrow. When Lafayette left Olmiitz, some of his property,
the rich lands in Brittany he had inherited from his mother,
was still unsold, but the Directory, taking a mean revenge
on him for his failure to recognize the legality of their pres-
ent status, disposed of this last portion of his estate. What
with the expenses of the past three years, the long journeys,
the money given to Madame de Chavaniac to buy back the
chateau, the Lafayette exchequer was again bare. There was
the large debt to Gouverneur Morris still hanging over
BY THE WATERS OF PLOEN 221
Adrienne and the interest to be paid regularly on a sizable
sum that she and Gilbert had seen fit to settle on Dr. Boll-
mann, who, unlike his American comrade, Francis Huger,
was not a man of property.
Bollmann was still in America. The German adventurer
had failed to persuade President Washington to commission
him as an agent of the United States in freeing Lafayette.
Settled in Philadelphia, he had gone into business with his
brother and was courting an American girl, all of which called
for more capital than he had been able to raise. Adrienne
and her husband thought that it would be a graceful way of
showing their gratitude to help along his marriage plans by
their gift and had arranged the matter through some friends
of Bollmann in Hamburg.
The two families, the de Maubourgs and the Lafayettes,
had hardly taken root at Lemkuhlen when George arrived
from America, via France. George was in his nineteenth year.
To his father, who had not seen him since the winter of
1791, who remembered him only as a boy of eleven, he was
an entirely new personality. Even his mother found it hard
to realize that this far traveled and mature young man, in
whom both she and Gilbert could take such pride, was their
George's years in America had not been happy. He had
accomplished nothing for his father; he had been desperately
homesick. It was five months after his arrival in Boston be-
fore he even saw his illustrious godfather and namesake, for
that summer of 1795, the political situation in the states was
so tense, the rivalry between the pro-French and pro-British
parties so keen, that Washington hesitated to receive the son
of Lafayette. When at last he invited George and Frestel to
Philadelphia, he made up for his earlier coldness.
George was adopted as a son of the house, as his father had
been before him. The letter that George brought with him
from Mount Vernon praised both visitors for Washington
222 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
had taken a great liking to Frestel also to the skies. No ex-
cuse was made, however, for the President's doing nothing
for Lafayette during his captivity except to write to the King
of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria unofficially. Washing-
ton's duties as a private individual were never allowed to
impinge upon his duties as chief of state.
In Paris, George had said goodbye to Frestel and gone to
call on General Bonaparte to thank him for his father's de-
liverance. The General, that day, was not at home. Madame
Bonaparte was cordial and said that she hoped that her hus-
band and George's father might cooperate. But that had been
a mere passing politeness. There was no sign in Paris that the
ban might be lifted on a return to France. For the present,
at least, the Lafayettes must resign themselves to exile.
Exile was quite bearable for Adrienne, now that her fam-
ily was once more, after so many years, sheltered under the
same roof. The Holstein winter was long and cold, the roads
were often blocked with snow, but many guests came to
One who came the most frequently and stayed the longest
was Csar de la Tour Maubourg's younger brother, Charles.
He, too, had been a very junior member of Lafayette's staff
in 1792. He was a very handsome young man, and some-
thing quite unusual in a Frenchman had very little to say
for himself. Charles' reticence was something of a joke in
the family, but Anastasie stood up for him. A great admirer
of her father, she liked to talk politics and argue herself, but
it was better, she said, to hold your tongue than to say a lot
of foolish things for which you were sorry later.
At twenty, Anastasie was an odd mixture of innocence
and sophistication. She had had a strange and traumatic girl-
hood; she had had no companions of her own age except
little Virginie. In spite of all that she and her sister had
BY THE WATERS OF PLOEN 223
been through, the relatives at Witmold took note that the
Lafayette girls looked and seemed younger than their years.
Anastasie had long ago lost her prison pallor. She was as
pink-cheeked and pretty as if she had been well-fed and had
led the most pampered, the most sheltered of lives.
One day Charles de la Tour Maubourg sought a private
interview with Lafayette. Lafayette was spending much time
these days in his study where he was trying to write his mem-
oirs as a possible source of future income. Charles spoke of
his personal prospects. They were practically nonexistent;
he was a soldier without a commission and he was poor, ex-
cept for the promise from his brother of thirty thousand
francs when he, Charles, should settle down. Charles wanted
to settle down at once. He wanted to marry Anastasie.
Lafayette was charmed; so was Adrienne when she was
told of the offer. They had nothing to give their daughter
as dowry, but Charles was well aware of that. This was a
true love match, something unheard of in their own early
days, when each noble marriage was preceded, as theirs had
been, by months and even years of sordid dickering over
settlements and inheritances. Charles was, also, the brother
of their friend, the friend who had shared so many of their
trials. They could ask for nothing better than an alliance
between the Lafayette and Maubourg families.
When the news was taken to Witmold, however, there
were outcries, the lifting of hands, the rolling of eyes. Mon-
sieur de Mun said that only savages in the American wilder-
ness married in this offhand fashion. Madame de Tess said
that there had been nothing like it since Adam and Eve
mated in the Garden of Eden. She continued to be very dis-
paraging and outspoken until she saw that her niece and
nephew were completely unimpressed by her comments. At
least Anastasie and Charles knew what poverty was and were
not afraid of being poor, Adrienne said.
224 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Madame de Tess then offered to provide the trousseau
and the wedding.
After Easter, when the lease was up on the Lemkuhlen
house, the whole family moved back again to Witmold. Just
before the wedding, Lafayette's still beautiful, still fascinat-
ing friend, Madame de Simiane, arrived from France for a
few weeks visit. Lafayette had been cut off from all direct
communication with her during his captivity, but he knew
from friends that she had survived the perilous years, and
as soon as possible he had begun to write to her, she to him.
Madame de Simiane had had to fascinate an ex-Jacobin and
get a forged passport to leave the country and to reach Hoi-
"I thought I would find you all very low-spirited here,"
she said, "but you do nothing but talk about weddings and
For Pauline was expecting another baby at any moment,
and, round as a ball, was full of excitement and bustle in
preparing the trousseau. Madame de Simiane prophecied
that Pauline would be brought to bed in one of the big
clothespresses she was forever diving into headfirst.
Adrienne had to leave most of the arrangements and the
active work to others, for her old sickness, which had re-
mitted for several months, came back on her full force. Again
her arms and legs were swollen and abscessed. She could no
longer walk. There was talk of putting off the wedding, but
she refused as flatly as she had refused to delay in leaving
Olmiitz last autumn. Abb de Luchet was to celebrate the
Nuptial Mass, and on the wedding day, May gth, 1798, Adri-
enne was carried into the improvised chapel at Witmold in
an armchair, borne on one side by George and on the other
by her future son-in-law.
"When I think," she said, "of the fearful situation my
children were in a short time ago, when I see them all three
about me and find myself on the point of adopting a fourth
BY THE WATERS OF PLOEN 225
child according to the wishes of my heart, I feel as if I
couldn't thank God enough."
Ten days after Anastasie's marriage, Pauline's baby, a girl,
was born and immediately after birth was christened by
Madame de Tess in one of her atavistic returns to religious
ritual. In her hurry to make the little stranger a Christian,
Madame de Tess picked up a bottle of cologne and poured
it over the baby as she made the sign of the cross.
AHUENNE RECOVERED SLOWLY from her second illness. By
midsummer she was very much better, though not en-
tirely well not as well as she wanted to be, for she must gird
herself for yet another effort. If there were to be any sort of
financial security for the Laf ayettes, something must be done
about settling the inheritance from the Duchesse d' Ayen and
that would necessitate a visit to France. Adrienne was obvi-
ously the one to cross the border, since her name did not ap-
pear on any of the list of &nigr&.
How strange it seemed that it should be she who was leav-
ing Gilbert he who had left her so often, so cavalierly. He
was very nervous now at the prospect, very much afraid that
her strength would not be equal to all that she would have
to do and the many miles she would have to cover. He
showed plainly that he had come to depend upon her being
constantly with him; this, for Adrienne, was something new,
something to be savored.
In July the entire family went to Hamburg. Charles and
Anastasie would go with Adrienne as far as Holland, where
ANOTHER SEPARATION 227
the de Maubourgs were settled near Utrecht. Virginie would
go all the way to France with her mother. After Lafayette
had seen them off he and George returned, very much de-
pressed, to Madame de Tessa's house at Witmold.
Adrienne had arranged to stay with the Beauchets in
Paris, in the Rue de l'Universit6. She could not afford any
but the most modest lodgings and she was glad to be with
such good and faithful friends as her former maid and for-
mer confidential messenger during the anxious years at Cha-
The matter of the inheritance, Adrienne found, was com-
plicated. Some of the heirs of the Duchess were far away and
some were minors. One of them was the daughter of Clo-
thilde de Thsan, the third d'Ayen sister, who had died so
long ago in 1788, just before the Revolution. Little Jenny
de Thesan was living with her father in Germany. Louis de
Noailles, the father of Louise's children, was in America. All
of Pauline's presumed share, she being officially an outcast,
belonged to the state. Adrienne arranged for a friend of the
family, a lawyer, to buy this portion with the expectation
that it could be bought back if, and when, Pauline was re-
instated as a citizen.
Adrienne was able to consult not only with lawyers but
also with Rosalie de Grammont, who had come from Franche
Comt, bringing with her Monsieur Grelet, Alexis, Alfred,
and Euph&nie. Unfortunately, the de Grammonts were liv-
ing on the opposite side of the city and meetings were rare.
Adrienne felt that she could spare no money for cab fares
and because her legs were still swollen, walking was painful
Not all of her trudgings about Paris with a cane were on
behalf of the inheritance. She was trying to get the names of
all the family the names of all their friends as well erased
from the rolls of the proscribed. She had to deal with corrupt
228 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
and disgusting politicians, for the administration of the Di-
rectory was venal from top to bottom.
Sometimes it seemed as if her burden was more than she
could bear and criticism from those in Holstein made it none
the easier. Once when Lafayette reported what the denizens
of Madame de Tessa's salon said and what they thought she
should or should not have done in a particular case it hap-
pened to be that of Charles de Maubourg she lost patience
and replied sharply.
A contrite letter sped back to her. "I am deeply sorry, my
dear heart," Lafayette wrote, "that I have inadvertently
wounded you. ... I admit, however, with pleasure and all
my heart, that it was I who was wrong and you who were
right ... Of all this there remains to me only the sorrow of
having tormented you with our speculations on the Lake of
Ploen and so to have provoked you."
He had complete confidence, Lafayette said, in all that she
did, in all that she was. The only thing that he couldn't trust
her for was giving a truthful account of her health; that was
more important to him than anything else. He implored
Rosalie to watch over her. He, who had had such a close view
of her illnesses, could tell Rosalie that the worst possible
thing for Adrienne was to get overtired or overworried. Vir-
ginie too, must pretend that she was a strict little school-
marm and lecture her mother whenever necessary.
Adrienne, through Lafayette's letters, was kept abreast of
the gossip of Witmold; nothing was too large or too small
to interest her. Pauline had gone for a visit to a Protestant
family, the Stolbergs, whom she had converted to Cathol-
icismand was troubled by a fever blister on her lip; George
was longing to hear from Frestel, whom Adrienne had seen
in Paris; Madame de Tess6 was thinking of selling her farm,
for it seemed as if Holstein would be drawn into the anti-
French coalition. Always adventurous, she wanted to go to
America and was taking English lessons from George. Lafa-
ANOTHER SEPARATION 229
yette himself was outlining a book, a great book about the
legal benefits to mankind of the Revolution, but he didn't
think that he was capable of writing it himself and wanted
Adrienne to find just the right author, perhaps his old friend,
Thomas Paine, and just the right publisher in Paris yet an-
She intended to go to Chavaniac before her return and the
very idea filled Lafayette with excitement. Since their libera-
tion, he had heard regularly from his aunt. She was still
vigorous; the only concession she had made to age was tak-
ing a lady companion to live with her. The only serious
trouble recently in Lafayette's home village had been a sheep
killing she-wolf that Dr. Guitandry, the Mayor, had at last
gotten rid of; with all the world in ferment this seemed an
ideal state of affairs. Adrienne, Lafayette wrote, must be sure
to thank the good doctor when she saw him, for all his serv-
ices in the past.
But when would he, Gilbert, see her? That was the ques-
tion that Lafayette asked over and over. When they were re-
united, he promised her, they would never part again.
The weeks and months went by, however, and Adrienne
against her will remained in France. She accomplished her
trip to Auvergne, but she could not seem to accomplish a
just and satisfactory apportionment of her mother's estate in
the absence of so many of the legatees. She and her husband
were sinking deeper into debt day by day. All of Adrienne's
inheritance might be swallowed up in clearing away these
encumbrances and then there would be nothing left to live
In his letters, Lafayette spoke constantly of going to Amer-
ica to start life anew, though his American friends, Wash-
ington among them, had discouraged the idea. Relations
between the two countries had almost reached the breaking
point, chiefly because of the stupid arrogance of the present
French government. There was bitter irony for Adrienne in
230 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
the thought that Lafayette might not be well-received in
America merely because he was a Frenchman.
At last she realized that she could do nothing more at pres-
ent in France. In February o 1799, she had a good reason
for turning her back on Paris. Anastasie was going to have a
baby and, though Lafayette assured her that a good doctor
was in charge of the case, Adrienne wanted to be present
when her first grandchild was born.
She and Virginie would only have to go as far as Holland
on their return trip. Holstein had become enemy territory,
and Lafayette and George had taken refuge in the Batavian
Republic, which was willing to shelter them in spite of its
alliance with France. They were living in a pretty little cot-
tage which Charles and Anastasie had rented at Vianen, not
far from Utrecht. Lafayette could report how happily the de
Maubourg's marriage was turning out Charles was actually
talkative! He himself had renewed an old friendship with a
General Van Ryssel, who had headed the Dutch Republican
troops in 1787. When he and his young folk went to dine
with the General in Utrecht, they took with them Charles'
brother, Victor de la Tour Maubourg, who was in love with
Van Ryssel's daughter. While a lively game of cards was be-
ing played by the youngsters in the evening, the two old
soldiers would sit over a quiet game of chess in a corner of
When Adrienne at last arrived, Lafayette was relieved to
find that she looked better and stronger than when she left
in July, though she was now in her fortieth year and threads
of white were beginning to appear in her dark hair. Sixteen-
year-old Virginie had grown tall in France and had such a
glowing, pink and white complexion that she was often mis-
taken for an "English miss."
Anastasie's baby appeared promptly after her mother's re-
ANOTHER SEPARATION 231
turn and proved to be twin girls, only one of whom sur-
vived. The baby, Celestine, was less than a month old when
the little house at Vianen became crowded to capacity, Adri-
enne, as business head of the family, had called a conference
of her sisters. Pauline and Joachim came from Witmold,
Madame de Tess providing the funds for their journey.
The de Grammonts came from France.
It was on March i7th, 1799, that they all assembled
Easter Even; the first time in eight years that the three sur-
viving daughters of Henriette d'Ayen would be able to go
to Mass together on Easter Day. Pauline and Rosalie had not
seen one another since that snowy December morning in
1791, when Rosalie came to the Hotel de Beaune to say
Pauline and Rosalie, knowing how impoverished Adri-
enne was, made common purse with her in meeting the ex-
pense of feeding the hungry crowd that sat down every day
to dinner at Vianen. Even so, they ran into difficulties. An
economical egg dish, oeufs d la neige, kept appearing with
monotonous regularity on the table. Later Joachim de Mon-
tagu, who liked substantial vittles, complained that the only
decent dinner he ate in Holland was in the house of General
Each evening, after the skimpy supper had been cleared
away and the rest of the household had gone to bed, the three
sisters held conferences in the chilly little parlor of the cot-
tage. Fires were at a premium; each conferee was wrapped in
an overcoat, three pairs of slippered feet were perched on a
tiny foot stove set in the middle of the room. The talk was
in whispers so as not to disturb the sleeping husbands and
children, and the talk was not of business; that could be dis-
cussed when the others were present
Adrienne, Pauline, and Rosalie spoke of the past They
had slipped back again into the red tapestried bedroom of
the Hotel de NoaiUes and felt that their mother was again
232 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
present, watching over them. They decided to compose a
prayer in honor of their dead, to be said daily; if possible at
the hour when the Duchess, Louise, and their grandmother
had died. It took the form of a litany.
"Lord, Thou hast made Thy light and Thy truth to
shine upon them; Thou hast led them to Thy holy hill
and allowed them to enter into Thy sanctuary
"Have mercy on us!
"Lord, who was their strength, their salvation and
"Have mercy on us!"
Midway in the prayer, to which each contributed a por-
tion, Pauline holding the pen, the others dictating, the pe-
titions for mercy changed to amens and alleluias.
"Thou hast made them pass through fire and water,
Lord, and hast brought them into a place of refresh-
"The source of all life is in Thee, oh Lord, and in
Thy light they see all light
Pauline and Rosalie took up again an old game they had
played as children of analyzing one another's characters,
faults as well as virtues. They were full of mutual admira-
tion, but decided that Pauline was too excitable, she ought
to read and meditate; Rosalie was almost too withdrawn
from this world, too much of a nun. The younger sisters
found a shining example in Adrienne; her faith was strong;
she was wise and, as Pauline phrased it, she had a "ravishing"
way of giving you her whole attention when you talked to
her; but wasn't Adrienne perhaps a little too outgoing? Was
she sufficiently introverted? To this pair of pietists, Adrienne
ANOTHER SEPARATION 255
seemed to count too heavily on the joys and consolations that
she could find this side of heaven.
For a month the sisters were very short of sleep. After their
midnight whisperings they had to be up early in the morning
to go to Mass. They would have been glad to stay together
longer, but they heard that some of the unpleasant charac-
ters Adrienne had encountered in Paris had been informed
of their meeting and thought they might be plotting mis-
It had been decided to the satisfaction of all parties how
the Duchess* property should be divided. Adrienne would
inherit the chateau and demesne of La Grange-Bteneau,
Pauline would inherit Fontenay, and Jenny de Thsan lands
that lay between the two estates. Rosalie would receive Tan-
gri in the Pas de Calais. Some valuable farms in the Seine-
et-Marne district would go to Louise's children.
Early in May the de Grammonts and de Montagus left
Vianen, Pauline taking with her a trunkful of clothing that
George had brought from America for his aunts and some
antique garments of the Vicomte de Beaune, Pauline's trou-
blesome father-in-law, that Adrienne had collected at Plauzat
on her recent trip to Auvergne.
A few days later Adrienne went back to France to continue
her labors. Again Virginie went with her and this time
George as well. While his mother and sister stayed in Paris,
he would go to Chavaniac to gladden the eyes of his aunt.
Once more abandoned, Lafayette waited for news, for
letters, as Adrienne had so often waited for them in the past.
Hardly had his wife left than he began counting the days till
her return. He wrote her often out-of-doors in the tiny cot-
tage garden, where a ring dove was sitting on her nest. He
kept thinking of La Grange, their future home. She must
tell him all about it the house and farm. How many ani-
234 MADAME OE LAFAYETTE
mals, big and little, were there? How much did it cost to
feed and care for them? What was the state of the forest land?
Lafayette had borrowed some English books on agriculture
and was deep in their study, for he assured Adrienne that he
had no greater ambition than to spend the rest of his life
with her in retirement as a gentleman farmer. In June, he
told her that he had had a visit from a French officer sent by
Carnot, one of the Directors, who hinted at yet another coup
d'tiat in Paris as if there had not been enough already!
Would General Lafayette be interested in a leading role?
The answer was no.
But this was a moment of great suspense and uncertainty.
The skies were darkening over Holland now. An invasion by
Britain and Russia, the most recent member of the coalition,
was rumored. France was sending in troops to defend her
Dutch ally. Lafayette saw again the French uniform and
tears came to his eyes.
One day in August, George suddenly burst in upon him,
bringing with him an ancient trophy. While in Chavaniac,
he had dug up the two swords of honor that Adrienne had
buried in the garden when she was expecting the chateau to
be attacked in 1792. The United States sword had rusted
away, all but the golden hilt, but George thought that it
could be affixed to the blade of the other trophy, the one
which had been presented to Lafayette on his retirement
from the National Guard.
George could give viva voce all the news of Paris. The
political situation there was changing from hour to hour.
It seemed as if the impotent and disorganized Directory
would not last much longer but it was hard to say what would
replace it. The Jacobin Club had been revived a menacing
circumstance. The foreign war had taken an alarming turn,
the French having been driven from Italy and General
Bonaparte was in Egypt.
Adrienne, George said, was very much frightened by the
ANOTHER SEPARATION 235
threatened invasion of the Low Countries. Again she might
be cut off from her husband by a barrier of war. She heard
that Napper Tandy, the Irish patriot in exile in Hamburg,
had been handed over to the British and she could picture
Lafayette being surrendered to the allies by the defeated
In her anxiety, she had gone to call on one of the Direc-
tors. It was difficult to choose among them but she selected
the one who seemed to represent most nearly the point of
view of the constitutionalists of 1789. This was a former
churchman, Abb Siys. He had trimmed his sails to every
political wind; he was a clever man with liberal leanings,
but without the moral fortitude to live up to them. When
someone asked him what he had done during the Terror,
he replied simply, "I lived."
Adrienne asked Siyfcs if it would be a good idea for her
husband to come back to France in case Holland should fall.
The Abb6 didn't think so. It would be imprudent, he
said. If Lafayette had to seek asylum anywhere, he had better
go to one of the states controlled by the now neutral King
"The King of Prussia, who held him prisoner!" Adrienne
exclaimed indignantly. "My husband would prefer a prison
in France if the worse came to the worst! At least he has a
little more confidence in his own countrymen!"
Lafayette had shrugged his shoulders when he first read
the report of Adrienne's talk with Steyfcs that Virginie, who
was also present at the interview, had written out for him.
He refused to think of politics then; he refused to think of
politics now. Instead, he and George talked about a farm in
America that would support the whole family, though George
had a more immediate end in view. He and Victor de la
Tour Maubourg wanted to enlist in the Dutch army. Lafa-
yette, speaking like any staid and cautious pire de famille,
dissuaded them, saying that it would be unwise politically*
236 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
When the invasion began, however, and the lines o defense
were driven back, he could restrain them no longer and the
two young men went off to Haarlem to join up under as-
Lafayette knew that this would be yet another worry for
George's mother. He was glad before long to reassure her.
On September igth, 1799, the second anniversary of their
leaving Olmiitz, all the church bells in Vianen were ringing
to celebrate a victory over the British and Russians at Ber-
gen op Zoom. George came home crestfallen because he had
seen no action.
And a few weeks later there was even greater news from
France. On October gth, Napoleon Bonaparte landed in the
South at Frejus. His exploits in Egypt had been far from
brilliant, but the country as a whole had heard little of Nel-
son's victory at the Nile and knew by heart the grandiloquent
speech that the General had made to his troops in the shadow
of the pyramids. Napoleon's march to Paris was a triumph.
Within a month of his landing, he was master of the entire
country. The Abb6 Si6ys was his fellow conspirator in oust-
ing the other members of the Directory who might prove
troublesome. On the i8th of Brumaire, the gth of November,
i?gg, Bonaparte surrounded the Assembly with a cordon of
his troops, had himself appointed supreme military com-
mander, and swiftly wrote a new constitution under which
he, as First Consul, would be the chief executive.
Adrienne had acted swiftly also. Even before Bonaparte
had taken the Assembly by surprise she went to one of his
levees. He spoke vaguely, but favorably, of Lafayette. She
wrote at once to Vianen, saying that the time was ripe for
return. As a first step, Lafayette must write a letter of con-
gratulation to the General.
Lafayette, interrupted in the middle of a game of chess
with General Van Ryssel, wrote somewhat reluctantly, for
Bonaparte had never replied to his letter from Hamburg
ANOTHER SEPARATION 237
two years earlier. He felt, however, that Adrienne, the master
strategist, his commanding officer now, knew best. He sent
her the letter to Bonaparte to pass upon and deliver. He set
her mind at rest on a subject that he knew was deeply trou-
bling her. Back in France, would he again enter politics or
public service? Would the miseries she had suffered when
they lived in the Rue de Bourbon be repeated?
"Nothing/* Lafayette wrote, "nothing in this world I
swear it on my honor, on my love for you, and on the shades
of those for whom we weep shall ever persuade me to re-
nounce the plan of retirement that I have formed for myself
and according to which we shall spend tranquilly the rest
of our lives. ... I can read your heart, my dear, beloved
Adrienne, and none of its good, tender and generous im-
pulses escapes me. I have an inexpressible impatience to see
you here or there and to seize at last the happy moment
when we shall be separated nevermore!"
Ten days after the i8th of Brumaire, Alexandre Romeuf,
Louis Romeuf s brother, rushed into the cottage at Vianen
with a passport that Adrienne had taken out under a
pseudonym for Lafayette. Two hours later Lafayette was
on his way to France.
November, 1799 Christmas Eve, 1807
The Garden ofPicpus
TAFAYETTE FOUND that they were all there to greet him
JLrf Anastasie and Charles, as well as Adrienne. Adrienne
had managed to get the de Maubourgs a permit to return
under police surveillance in October. They were staying in
a house that belonged to Adrien de Mun, the son of Madame
de Tessa's old admirer, the facetious young man whom
Pauline had found such a tease.
Lafayette wrote at once to Bonaparte and Siys to an-
nounce his arrival and to present his compliments. He was
summoned to the ministry and told curtly that he should go
back to Holland. The First Consul was enraged. He had no
wish to see a rival to his popularity appear at this critical
moment. No one dared to mention the name of Lafayette in
Lafayette shrugged his shoulders and disobeyed the order.
He would rather, he said, be arrested than go skulking back
to Vianen. Again it was Adrienne who must save the day.
She went alone to call on Bonaparte. This took as great
courage as any of the disagreeable and perilous interviews
242 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
she had undertaken in the past. The Corsican was notoriously
rude to women. At a dinner party he was quite likely to say
to the lady next to him, "My God, what red arms you havel"
or "What an ugly way you have of doing your hair!"
But like many a parvenu of the moment, Bonaparte had
a sneaking admiration for a great lady of the old regime. He
received Adrienne courteously. He listened while she bravely
explained the ideas her husband symbolized, the good effect
that she thought his return would have on public opinion.
The little man with the beautiful, pale face and quick, rest-
less eyes seemed impressed, but when she rose to go he paid
her a dubious compliment.
"I am charmed, Madame," he said, "to have made your
acquaintance. You are very intelligent but you don't under-
stand public affairs/'
Nevertheless, Lafayette was notified that he could remain
in France if he went to the country and lived there quietly
while the legality of his status was reviewed. This would
take some time.
That the Consulate was determined that he should remain
in the background was made plain when, shortly after the
new year and a new century had begun, the news of the
death of Washington was announced in France. In an order
of the day, the First Consul decreed that the standards of
the army should be hung with black crepe for ten days of
mourning. An address was delivered by a major general in
the Temple of Mars, praising Washington's glorious deeds,
but there was no mention of Washington's adopted son, nor
was he invited to be present. George, who went merely as an
onlooker, reported to his father that Bonaparte's victories in
Egypt were more to the fore than the victory of Yorktown.
The Lafayettes went first to Fontenay and then to La
Grange-Bl&ieau, which would soon be theirs. The old
chateau, about thirty miles from Paris, had been built in the
thirteenth century. It had come to Henriette d'Ayen from
THE GARDEN OF PICPUS 243
her mother. A big, irregular building, with five massive
towers, it looked like the castle of Sleeping Beauty when its
future inhabitants saw it first under a somber winter sky.
No one had lived here for many years. The avenues were
overgrown. The moat that surrounded the blackened walls
was thick with sludge. But this, at last, was home, a home
for them all. There was good fanning land that could be
reclaimed and made productive. Lafayette set to work with
a will to put his recent studies in agriculture to the test and
wrote to his one time farm superintendent, British John
Dyson, for advice.
Adrienne was back and forth continually between La
Grange and Paris that winter at her old task of getting her
friends and family back from exile; it seemed as if the corvee
would never end. She also had to see what she could do for
George, who should be given the chance that he wanted to
enter the army. She got him a commission in a regiment of
hussars, and in the spring, to his father's pride and joy, he
went off to fight the Austrians in Italy.
Gradually the names of the outcasts were erased, one by
one. Pauline was among the first of the Noailles family to
return. She arrived in February of 1800, and set to work,
with Adrienne's help, on the cases of her husband, her
father-in-law, Madame de Tess6, and the Due de Noailles.
Pauline and Adrienne's father wanted to come from Switzer-
land, bringing with him, of course, his new wife, the former
Countess Golovkin, to see if he could salvage anything from
the wreck of his immense fortune. He would like to regain
possession of the Hotel de Noailles, which had not yet been
sold by the government, but there seemed little chance of
that. Napoleon had taken exclusive possession of the Tuiler-
ies and one of his fellow Consuls, Lebrun, who had formerly
lived in the palace, moved into the mansion of the Rue St.
Pauline walked in fear during her first days in Paris. She
244 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
would tremble at the sound of a cart, rumbling down the
street behind her. Some churches were open, where Mass was
being said by priests who had taken the required oath but
this Pauline could not abide. Madame de Duras, the cousin
with whom Adrienne had passed those agonizing months in
Le Plessis, showed Pauline the way to a secret chapel, con-
cealed behind a dressmaker's shop, where she could get the
kind of religious sustenance that she craved.
One day Pauline visited an &nigr6 who had been arrested
and was an inmate of the Temple where the royal family
had been imprisoned. Free to wander where she would, she
climbed to the empty rooms where poor Marie Antoinette
had once shed so many tears. Rummaging about in a closet,
she found a blue-and-white salad bowl that surely had been
used by royalty. Pauline reverently carried it home with her
as a relic to be handed down to her children and grand-
She was amazed and for some reason a little depressed by
the vigor with which her sister and brother-in-law were
building for the future at La Grange. Even after the last
detail of the inheritance was completed in the spring of 1801,
and Fontenay was legally hers, Pauline did not go to live on
her estate. She, Joachim, and the children another baby was
on the way set off to visit Rosalie de Grammont in Franche
Comt6 and from there made a melanchoy pilgrimage to
Plauzat to gaze on the scene of former splendors. From the
windows of Plauzat in the old days, one could see five manor
houses, all belonging to the de Montagu family, all of which
had passed, like Pauline's wedding diamonds, into other
When she returned to Paris, Pauline became absorbed in
a project that had been decided upon during the meeting of
the three sisters at Vianen. They had talked then of finding
the place in France where their mother, Louise, and the
THE GARDEN OF Pic PUS 245
Mar&hale were buried and of building a tomb for them.
They had made many inquiries. Father Carrichon, the first
to be consulted, did not know where the bodies he had seen
go down into the cart on that July day, were taken after the
execution. No one else could give them any information.
The Terror was a subject that most people preferred to for-
get and that the Consulate officially ignored.
At last Pauline discovered a clue. She heard that there was
a girl named Mademoiselle Paris, a lacemaker, who was liv-
ing in a garret in one of the suburbs and who might be able
to tell her something. After making many fruitless expedi-
tions, after having knocked at many doors and climbed up
and down many flights of stairs, she found Mademoiselle
Paris on the fourth floor of a miserable building, not far
from the Barrifere du Tr6ne. At first the girl but one could
hardly call her that, she looked as if she had never been
young was unresponsive; she seemed to be afraid of timid
little Pauline. When Pauline had told her errand, however,
the lacemaker burst into tears. She was glad that she had
someone to whom she could tell her story.
In July of 1794, Mademoiselle Paris was living with her
father, who had been a groom to the de Brissac family for
thirty years, and with her brother, who was clerk in the
office of a major of the National Guard. The brother was
the only breadwinner. Since the Revolution no one wore
lace any more and Mademoiselle Paris was out of work. A
pension that her father had received was also cut off by the
financial ruin of the de Brissacs.
One day the brother, a steady, reliable boy, who brought
home all his earnings, did not come home at his usual time.
Mademoiselle Paris went to look for him and failed to find
him. When she came back to her apartment it was empty.
Neighbors told her that her father, who could hardly walk,
had just been dragged off to prison, the same prison where
her brother had been under arrest since early morning.
246 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
What was the accusation brought against them, by whom
it had been lodged, Mademoiselle Paris never learned, nor
did she see her father and brother again until they were in
the tumbril being taken to the guillotine. She followed the
cortege, as Father Carrichon was to follow it only a few days
later. She watched her father and brother die, as if in a
trance, hardly aware of what she was seeing, murmuring a
prayer over and over without knowing precisely what she
When she came to herself, the grisly spectacle was over.
The Place du Trdne was almost deserted and the wagon,
with the bodies of the victims in it, was going off in the
direction of Saint Mand. Still half-dazed, Mademoiselle
Paris followed at a distance. The wagon turned off the road
into a field near the ruins of an Augustinian monastery, the
Monastery of Picpus. It was almost dark but she saw that all
the bodies were thrown pell-mell into a big pit, about thirty
feet square, that was already well-filled. They were quickly
shoveled over with dirt. She was sure of the location, for she
went there often on Sunday to pray by the mound under
which lay the remains of thirteen hundred people, all of
whom had been executed in the six weeks that the guillotine
was in operation at the Barrifere du Tr6ne.
Pauline went back to tell Adrienne that their search was
over. The following day, guided by Mademoiselle Paris, the
two sisters visited die monastery ruins. It was a very lonely
place. The fields were uncultivated; the road leading into it
was a mere track. The grave itself was plainly marked, for
a wall had been built about it.
As the three women stood there, looking at the mound,
sorrow seemed to rise from the very ground. How evanescent
life was, how vast and all-embracing the community of death!
Some of the beings who were buried here were mourned, but
many had already been forgotten. There was no one left to
remember that they had ever lived or to say a single prayer
THE GARDEN OF PICPUS 247
for them. The idea that Adrienne and Pauline had cherished
of an individual tomb for their dead seemed petty and in-
They learned something of the history of Picpus. In me-
diaeval days, the monastery maintained a hospital, and in
time of pestilence the monks developed a primitive therapy,
which consisted of lancing the boils of their patients and
draining off the pus hence the odd name. Until the Revolu-
tion, a community of religious women was located here, but
in 1792 it disappeared and all that was left of the establish-
ment was the chapel, which had been partially destroyed by
fire. Since then the property had passed through several
hands. After the Directory came to power, the fields were put
up for sale and the one containing the grave was bought by
a Princess Hohenzollern, whose brother, Prince Salm-Kyr-
bourg, was one of the victims.
Adrienne and Pauline wrote to the German Princess and
asked her to unite with them in consecrating the ground to
the memory of all who lay beneath it. The Princess refused
to give up her property rights.
They then considered buying the surrounding fields as a
cemetery, but wondered how they could manage to do so. It
was Mademoiselle Paris who suggested that they should raise
a subscription from all relatives of the dead. She offered to
set aside ten SOILS a week from her meager earnings for the
That was the small but brave beginning of a mighty
undertaking. The first subscriptions, from the Noailles sisters
and their friends, were easy to get, but seeking out the rela-
tives of all who had passed through the Conciergerie during
the last six weeks of the Terror was a complicated, time con-
suming affair. Many had disappeared completely; many, like
Louis de Noailles, Louise's husband, were out of France. All
even those who had once been rich were poor.
Adrienne and Pauline persuaded Abb Beudot, the priest
248 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
of the Parish of Sainte Marguerite, to head the fund, though
they took upon themselves much of the labor of investigation
and letter writing. The ruins of the monastery were bought
in 1802, the rest of the property later. The chapel was rebuilt
and in time enlarged into a church, where Abb Beudot
came every Sunday to celebrate Mass. Each year, in April or
early May, a solemn Requiem was sung, after which a pro-
cession of mourners, headed by the priest, issued from the
church, chanting the Miserere and moved through what had
once been the garden of the monastery to the grave. The
grave itself was planted with cypresses and poplars and sur-
mounted by a cross. For a time, the activities at Picpus were
watched by Napoleon's secret service agents, until it was dis-
covered that Eug&ie Beauharnais, Napoleon's step-son, was
one of the subscribers to the fund.
The wall of the church's transept came slowly to be cov-
ered with small marble plaques, each giving the name, the
age, and the occupation of a victim, as it had appeared on
the rolls of the Conciergerie. Men and women were there,
old and young; boys of seventeen one was discovered who
was only fourteen and octogenarians. Some were famous
folk there were poets, generals, and high dignitaries of the
church but most were obscure. Only a small fraction was of
noble blood, the majority having followed some humble call-
ing, such as that of Mademoiselle Paris' father and brother.
In time, also, a portion of the ruins was transformed into
a retreat for an order of nuns, devoted to the perpetual
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. To the church, Adrienne
came often to pray behind the white-veiled figures that, day
and night, knelt, immobile as though they had been carved
from marble, before the altar. The road that led by The
Garden of Picpus, as it was called, was the road that took
her to and from La Grange.
Years of Grace
AT LA GRANGE, Adrieime was finding those joys this side
of heaven o which Pauline and Rosalie thought she
was a little bit too fond.
Sooner perhaps than he had expected, Lafayette was told
that he was persona grata in France. When, in the early
summer of 1800, Napoleon came back from his campaign in
Italy, Lafayette asked for and obtained an audience. The
First Consul was surprisingly friendly. They chatted infor-
mally then and later. Lafayette was invited to private func-
tions at which Bonaparte was present; whenever he was in
Paris he went to the receptions that Josephine held at the
A curious relationship grew up between the two men.
Napoleon, the great opportunist, was fascinated by this man
of principle, though his admiration was well-mixed with
contempt. He couldn't understand how anyone could have
had so many chances of seizing power and let them slip
through his fingers for a mere nothing, an abstract ideal.
Sometimes he envied Lafayette. "Lafayette," he said wist-
250 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
fully, "has the talent for making friends." If he, Napoleon,
should fail no one would stand by him, except his wife "for
one always has the person with whom one sleeps" and per-
haps his brother Joseph.
Lafayette, on die other hand, was more than a little at-
tracted by Napoleon's personal charm, his brilliance, and his
military genius. At their very first interview, however, Lafa-
yette sniffed the air and scented a despot. Various offers were
made that would bind him to Napoleon's chariot wheel.
Lafayette accepted reinstatement in the army as a General on
the retired list this brought him a small pension but he
refused a seat in the Senate, a seat on departmental councils,
and the post of Minister to the United States. He couldn't
picture himself appearing there in knee breeches instead of
in a uniform and he didn't want to represent a government
that he mistrusted.
"I am like the child," he said quizzically, "who, when they
tried to teach him the alphabet, obstinately refused to say
'a' for fear that they would afterwards oblige him to say
When, in 1803, a plebiscite was held that would give
Napoleon the First Consulship for life, Lafayette wrote on
the register of his commune: "I cannot vote for such a magis-
tracy until the public liberty is sufficiently guaranteed; then
I shall give my vote to Napoleon Bonaparte."
That there should be no misunderstanding, he wrote a
personal letter to the Consul, thanking him again for the
release from Olmiitz, but telling him how he had voted.
After that Lafayette was ignored and no longer visited the
For Adrienne, how comfortable, how satisfying it was to
know that he could not be lured away from her and that
honor forbade his cooperating with Napoleon! She had been
happy in the squalid cell at Olmiitz, she had been happy at
Lemkuhlen, she was even happier now, knowing that they
YEARS OF GRACE 251
were at rest and that the trees and grass that surrounded
them were growing on the soil of France.
La Grange was slowly, but steadily, made more habitable
and more productive. Lafayette bought some fine rams and
ewes at the fairs at Rambouillet and built up a handsome
flock. There was a hospital for sick animals in one of his
barns, but it was usually empty. F61ix Pontonnier, who had
played his Panpipe to such good effect at Olmiitz, was put in
charge of the farm. Monsieur Vaudoyer, the architect who
had done so well at Chavaniac, drew up plans for transform-
ing the interior of the chateau.
Adrienne was particularly anxious to restore a small chapel
on the ground floor. On one of its walls, she placed a tablet
on which was engraved The Canticle of Tobit. A circular
room in one of the towers Lafayette took for his library it
was "the prettiest thing imaginable," Adrienne said. There
was a suite of rooms for Anastasie, Charles, and their babies
Celestine had acquired a little sister and another suite for
George. There were many guest rooms for the friends who
dropped in and must be put up for the night, and often for
very much longer.
As in the old days in the Rue de Bourbon, Americans were
often entertained. Flix Frestel, now married, came with his
family; and Josephe Masclet, the "Eleuthfcre" who had writ-
ten those biting articles in Lafayette's behalf; and, of course,
Madame de Simiane, who had become as close a friend of
Adrienne as of Lafayette. Madame de Tess6 came so often
that a special room was reserved for her use.
There were English visitors, too. One was the novelist,
Fanny Burney, who had married Alexandre d'Arblay, one
of Lafayette's staff officers. The author of Evelina could not
say that Madame de Lafayette was beautiful; she was too
worn and frail for that but what "speaking eyes!"
The Whig leaders in Parliament, Charles James Fox and
General Fitzpatrick, were also guests whom Lafayette espe-
252 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
cially enjoyed at La Grange. Fox agreed with his host's esti-
mate of Napoleon and said that the kind of democracy they
both had tried to promote with small success in their re-
spective countries would not come in their own time, nor
perhaps in George's time, but it would be a living reality for
George's children. Fox planted some English ivy that flour-
ished on the weather-beaten walls of the chateau, saying, in
compliment to Adrienne, that it symbolized constancy.
None of this hospitality and none of the improvements to
the house would have been possible if the Lafayettes' finan-
cial situation had not taken a turn for the better. The Amer-
ican government had been asked by Louis Romeuf to
reimburse Lafayette for the large sums he had spent in the
American war, of which his man-of-business, Monsieur Mori-
zot, had kept account. In 1803, a land bonus was being dis-
tributed to American veterans and Thomas Jefferson, now
President, saw to it that Lafayette was given some valuable
property, at first in Ohio and later, after the Louisiana Pur-
chase, near New Orleans. It would be years before title could
be taken, but this, like the liberty Fox had promised, was
something to anticipate.
With an eye to the future, income and outgo at La Grange
were carefully watched. The family economized on clothes
and on trips to Paris, which they visited only when absolutely
necessary. Adrienne held the purse strings. In all money
transactions she cast the deciding vote. She knew how care-
less Gilbert could be and how open-handed he was. Once,
when she consulted him about giving some wood to a peas-
ant neighbor who was laid up with a broken leg, he said,
"No, darling, I won't let you give them a quarter of a cord.
Give them half. Then the poor things won't have to come so
She was charitable herself, but at this time she was strug-
gling to pay off some of the older debts, among them the
debt that she had owed so long to Gouverneur Morris. This
YEARS OF GRACE 253
was a painful experience. The Lafayettes' last meeting with
Morris at Hamburg had not been altogether cordial and he
had long since gone home to America. The value of French
money had fallen in the past ten years. Morris' notary in
Paris, with whom Adrienne negotiated, haggled over prin-
cipal and interest. Morris himself was indignant that he
should not get the full buying power of the 100,000 livres
he had laid out in 1793. But Adrienne stood firm. To pay
the augmented amount, she thought, would be unjust and
even ruinous to herself, her husband, and her children.
Her children had to be thought of now, for her family was
increasing. In 1802, George, who had been wounded at the
Battle of Mincio, came home on sick leave from the army.
He was twenty-three and it was high time that he should be
married. Dutiful son that he was, George would only marry
someone of whom his parents thoroughly approved. He
found a charming wife in Emilie de Tracy, the daughter of
one of Lafayette's ex-officers and a member of the Constitu-
ent Assembly in 1789.
The wedding took place in June. Immediately after, the
family left en masse for Auvergne, so that Aunt Chavaniac
could meet and inspect the wife of her beloved George. Each
summer since their return, the Lafayettes had visited the
old lady, the only drawback to these stays being her passion-
ate grief when they left The old cry, "I will never live to
see you again," was always raised and had lost none of its
While the Lafayettes were at Chavaniac in 180*,
Pauline de Montagu, ever restless, was in Limousin, at
Brives-la-Gaillarde, which was once the center of the Noailles
estates, seeing if something could be saved for her father
from the ruins. All of the property had been confiscated and
most of it had been sold, but under a new law, that granted
254 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
indemnity to former owners of the land, a few crumbs
might be garnered.
At Brives, Pauline met an elderly gentleman, a Monsieur
de Lasteyrie, who drove about with her on the trips that she
had to make in the surrounding countryside, inspecting
farms and vacant manor houses. Sometimes the old man's
nephew, Louis de Lasteyrie, went with them.
Pauline began to have designs on Louis. He was good-
looking and twenty-three years old; he was of noble blood,
a Marquis Lasteyrie du Saillant. Titles might have been
voted out of existence in 1789, but not for Pauline! She
was further interested to discover that the young man was
a very distant relative and that he was much to be pitied.
He had spent his childhood at Malta and when the island
was besieged by the British, escaped by the skin of his teeth
to France. Recently his mother, to whom he had been much
attached, had died. It seemed to Pauline that here was just
the husband for her niece, Virginie.
Virginie was twenty and she too should have been married
long ago, though her relatives said kindly that she didn't
look a day older than sixteen. The only fault that they could
find with her was that she didn't have the stately, erect car-
riage of a court lady. "But what can you expect of a child
who was brought up in a prison?" was Adrienne's comment.
At the time when her father was being wooed by the Bona-
partes, Josephe Bonaparte suggested that Virginie would
make a good wife for his brother Lucien, but this idea was
never seriously considered by her parents and Pauline, had
she known of it, would have held it in horror.
Before leaving Brives, she consulted Monsieur de Lastey-
rie. He was willing to promote what seemed to him a dis-
tinguished, if not a rich, alliance for Louis. Pauline wrote
that she was bringing some friends to Chavaniac, one of
them a candidate for son-in-law.
All went as she had planned. The young people took to
YEARS OF GRACE *w
one another. The de Lasteyries were invited to visit La
Grange after the Lafayettes had gone home from Auvergne
in the autumn and the marriage was scheduled for the spring.
Again Madame de Tess, long since repatriated, insisted
on providing the trousseau. The bride could not be showered
with diamonds, as once was the custom, but the relatives
banded together to present her with a purse of two thousand
francs; they had not been able to do as much for her sister
when she was married at Lemkuhlen.
The May wedding was a small one and, Father Carrichon
officiating, was held, not in the chapel, but in a room adjoin-
ing Lafayette's bedroom, for in February the father of the
bride had slipped on an icy pavement in Paris and broken
his hip. He allowed two young doctors to experiment with
a traction device in setting the fracture. The procedure was
exquisitely painful both for him and for Adrienne and a
complete failure. For the rest of his life Lafayette would
walk, as his wife still did at times when she had a recurrence
of her old malady, with a cane.
After the wedding, Madame de Tess6 invited the entire
bridal party, including the invalid in a wheelchair, to the
country house at Aulnay she had acquired as soon as she
returned to France. She still had a farm, she still kept cows,
but she was no longer in the dairy business. All of her milk,
cream, and butter was needed for her guests, who were even
more numerous than at Witmold.
The stout-hearted disciple of Voltaire spent her mornings
in bed, reading, with a pencil in her hand to mark quotable
passages. At noon she got up, dressed, and descended to an
elegant little kiosque, which she had had built in her garden,
a different vista from each of its many windows. There she
received her court until dinner time and after dinner there
was, as anciently, a game of picquet in the salon, followed
by reading aloud, and conversation that went on until far
into the night.
256 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Nothing had changed in Madame de Tessas habits, but
her nieces felt that she had mellowed a little with the years.
She was not as witty as formerly, they noticed, at the expense
of religion and religious people. She went regularly to Mass
in the village church and insisted that her docile, taciturn
old husband should go with her. To him she was more atten-
tive than of old. Being married to him was a habit she had
acquired almost half a century ago and she was looking for-
ward soon to celebrating a golden wedding anniversary by
yet another fte at Aulnay.
Adrienne and Gilbert themselves had been married for
almost thirty years. She was forty-three, he forty-five. With
all of their children paired off, they felt that they definitely
belonged to the older generation. That summer and the next,
they went to take a cure at a spa in Auvergne as well as to
visit at Chavaniac.
When the Louisiana Purchase was in prospect in 1803,
Jefferson offered Lafayette the governorship of the new ter-
ritory, and the commissioners who came to Paris to clinch the
bargain one of them was James Monroe urged their old
friend to come where he could do useful work and be sure
of making a fortune. He declined, however, giving the un-
certain health of his wife as the chief reason.
Jefferson, when he left France in 1789, had worried about
Lafayette's being in danger from royal autocracy in France;
he worried now as he foresaw a still greater concentration
of power in the hands of a single man. In 1804 the subservi-
ent Senate, which Lafayette had refused to join, voted the
Imperial crown for Napoleon. An Imperial court of princes,
dukes, and barons was hastily created. Surprisingly, perhaps,
overtures were again made to Lafayette. He was suggested as
a candidate for the Legion of Honor by Josephe Bonaparte,
now Prince Josephe; another offer of a seat in the Senate
YEARS OF GRACE 357
was made. Again Lafayette refused, saying firmly, but gently,
to Josephe, whom he had always liked, that he preferred to
be nothing in other words, a private citizen.
He seldom left La Grange. While Adrienne was never
completely well, Lafayette soon again was vigorous and
active, in spite of his lameness. Always till now a lean man,
he began to put on weight. Since he was no longer able to
mount a horse, he saved himself unnecessary steps by keeping
a megaphone in his tower room with which he could carry
on shouted conversations with his men in the grounds. His
agricultural experiments were so successful that he was able
to buy bits of property to round out the estate.
Adrienne was much interested in a little school that she
had started at Courpalais, a village near the chateau. She
found it hard to find a teacher that would satisfy her, for,
the itch for education being in her blood, her standards were
high. Celestine, Anastasie's child, was old enough now for
informal lessons and to her granddaughter Adrienne began
to read some of the books, the classic poems, and plays, that
Madame d'Ayen had once read to her children in the red
tapestried bedroom of the Hotel de Noailles.
The years that were passing so gently, so delightfully, were
not all serene, for the world outside the gates of La Grange
was a world at war. Adrienne and Lafayette were saddened
by the death in 1804 of Louis de Noailles, who, when they
all were very young, used to walk in the garden at Versailles
with Gilbert, Adrienne, and Louise.
Noailles had never returned from America. He was a
banker for some time in Philadelphia and after the Terror
rejoined the French army in Santo Domingo. For five
months, with only a small garrison, he held Fort St. Nicholas,
which was being besieged on one side by native troops and
on the other by the British fleet. He was able to evacuate his
men successfully, sail to Cuba, and capture a number of
British ships. He might have come to port in France in tri-
258 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
umph, if he had not been mortally wounded in the sea fight.
Louis 1 sons, Alexis and Alfred they were now of military
age entered the army of Napoleon. George went back into
service and Virginie's husband, Louis de Lasteyrie, enlisted
for the campaigns of 1805 and 1806. George was twice-
wounded and at the bloody, wintertime Battle of Eylau
saved his general's life, pulling the general out from under
a fallen horse and giving him his own to ride to safety. All
of this, as well as his years of service, should have brought
advancement to George, but he still remained a lieutenant
after the upgrading of all of his comrades. One day, at a
review, Napoleon asked who the junior officer was who
seemed somewhat older than the others. When he was told,
he said, with a shrug, "Oh, his son" and passed on down the
During the peace that followed Eylau in 1807, George and
Louis, who had also found that he was being held back be-
cause of his connection with the Lafayettes, handed in their
resignations. That was a very joyful spring for Adrienne.
Her son and son-in-law would soon be home. They would
all be together again all the family, to which a new member
had been added, for Virginie had just borne her first child,
a daughter. A happy year, it seemed, a year to crown all
others, lay ahead.
Only Pauline, who came to La Grange for a visit before
going to see her father in Switzerland and then on to see
Rosalie in Tranche Comt, was dubious. She felt a presenti-
ment of sorrow, but she did not put it into words; it was only
a presentiment and Pauline, who was so prone to premoni-
tions, had learned over the years to keep them to herself.
>"pHE TWO YOUNG MEN came home from the wars in August.
JL A few days later Adrienne was in great pain. The enemy
that had first struck her down at Olmutz returned without
After the violence of the first attack had subsided, she im-
proved a little and Madame de Tess insisted that she should
come to Aulnay to be nearer to Paris and its doctors. They
had all intended to go to Chavaniac that autumn and it
seemed too bad that the old aunt should be deprived of her
yearly, revivifying glimpse of George and Lafayette. On
October nth, Adrienne heard Mass said in the chapel of La
Grange and, apparently without thinking that she might
never return, was driven to Madame de Tessa's villa. Lafa-
yette and his son left for Auvergne.
They felt that they should make this trip a short one and
stayed only a few days at the chateau. Just as they were leav-
ing, a letter came from Aulnay, saying that Adrienne was not
so well and had been taken to her aunt's house in Paris.
Lafayette, who usually was so optimistic, was panic-stricken.
260 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
George was less disturbed by the news than by the effect it
had upon his father. He had never seen him so unnerved.
They traveled fast to Paris. They found Madame de
Tessa's house had been transformed into a hospital a well-
filled hospital, though there was only one patient. All the
family from La Grange was there; George's wife, Emilie, the
de Maubourgs, Louis de Lasteyrie, Virginie and her baby,
who was still at the breast. Lafayette could see that there
had been a change for the worse and that Adrienne was very
ill; for a few days after his arrival, however, she rallied.
Madame di Simiane came to see her, and Adrienne said
stoutly, "I am going to have a malignant fever, but I am
being so well taken care of that I will recover."
She felt that she was deeply rooted in life. She had been
ill before and had survived.
But the respite was short and all the care that the doctors
could give her was only to make her a little more comfort-
able. The medical men of Paris were as baffled as Dr. Kreut-
schke of Olmiitz had been by this mysterious malady. All
that they could say of it was "a dissolution of the blood."
Adrienne's pains remitted somewhat, but as her fever con-
tinued and increased she lost contact with reality. She wan-
dered in strange places. Was it because she had recently been
reading Athalie with little Celestine that she thought she
was in Syria and Egypt? Or did the fantasy stem from her
own childhood when she first heard the stately verses of
Racine read by her own mother?
She knew that this was a time of great trouble and danger
for the House of Jacob. There was war between Syria and
Judah. Persecutions would soon begin; martyrs would die
for their faith. That she was deeply involved in all this tur-
moil Adrienne was sure, though she was confused as to how
and why, so quickly did one vision succeed upon another,
so evanescent were the shapes that moved about her.
Bewildered though she was, there was one figure that was
YOURS ALONE 261
constant and whose identity she never mistook; her husband
was always there beside her. He was loved not only by her,
but by the House of Jacob, she said. If there were persecu-
tions, he would be sure to defend the oppressed. One day
she felt that a crown was resting on her head; she must be
an empress. "But if that is so," she said in puzzlement to
Lafayette, "then you must be an emperor and I know that
that would lie heavy on your conscience. How strange it
would be if I should have to sacrifice myself for a king!"
Then the mists would clear and she would realize that she
had been talking nonsense. "I must be mad," she said. "Lean
closer and tell me if I have lost my wits."
Lafayette, sitting by her bed, holding her hand, murmured
that he would be sorry to think that the loving things she
had said to him were all absurdities.
'1 did say them? But I said a lot of foolishness as well.
We have been playing the tragedy of Athalie. Here I am
married to the most truthful man in the world and I don't
know the true from the falsel"
Another day she laughed and shook her head. "How tire-
some I am and what a nuisancel" she exclaimed. "My chil-
dren will have to put up with having such a stupid mother
since their father seems to be so contented with his stupid
Even in her delirium she knew that her children were
there and once when George would have kissed her hand
flung her arms about him in ecstasy, thinking that he had
just come back from the army. But she couldn't remember
whether Virginie was engaged to Louis de Lasteyrie or mar-
ried to him, nor was she sure that Anastasie had children.
"Do you know what mother love is?" she asked Anastasie.
"Do you revel in it as I have? Is there anything sweeter,
stronger, more intimate?"
In her unclouded moments, she spoke of La Grange and
262 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
how delicious it would be to go back there for six more
happy years. She and Lafayette at times talked of things that
they had never spoken of before. She told him how when he
came home to Paris in 1782, she tried to hide her feelings so
as not to trouble him. She did not need to restrain herself
"If you don't think you are loved enough," she said, "you
will have to blame God for my shortcomings, for He made
me what I am. What a fate to have been your wife! I have
loved you in the Christian sense, in the worldly sense and
He told her often that he loved her too and she would ask
him to say it again as if she could hardly believe it. He
thanked her for her loyalty when he first went to America
and she defended him against the criticism of her family,
but she put aside the compliment. "That's true," she said,
"it was rather nice for a child, but how good of you to re-
member something that was so very long ago!"
Even their difference in religious outlook was brought into
the light. When Adrienne received Communion, the girls
thought that it might embarrass her for their father to be
present but when he rose to go she would not let him leave
her. Each night she asked him to bless her. She recited The
Canticle of Tobit for him, saying apologetically, "I have to
say it because I sing so badly."
One day she put the question that she had always forbid-
den herself to ask, "You are not a Christian?"
Lafayette was silent.
"Ah, I know what you are," she continued, with a little
smile. "You are a fayettist."
"You must think me very egotistical," he said, abashed,
"but aren't you something of a fayettist yourself?"
"You are right," she was still smiling, "that is a sect that
I would die for!"
YOURS ALONE 265
Though there were days, such as this, when she seemed
better and her hold upon the present and the past seemed so
firm, those who watched her saw that she was steadily losing
ground. At the end of November, Pauline was sent for and
came to join the distraught group that hovered about the
sickroom. With Pauline present, Adrienne felt that her
mother was there also and frequently spoke of the Duchess
as if she were alive.
"I think I will see my mother today," she said.
It was Christmas Eve, George's twenty-eighth birthday
and she had been looking forward to the anniversary. She
seemed more comfortable. Her mind had cleared but all
felt that the end was close at hand.
Till then only two or three at a time had come into her
room for fear of exhausting her, but they all entered now
and sat where she could see them. She looked about her with
satisfaction, as though they were all gathered again in the
living room at La Grange or Chavaniac. "What a delightful
circle/' she said. She spoke to each affectionately and then
The minutes ticked away, the hours. She murmured some-
thing indistinctly that Lafayette could not understand. He
leaned over her. For a moment life rushed back. Her voice
was clear and strong as she cried, "Then you have loved me!
How happy I am! Kiss me."
She put her arm about his neck and drew him down to her.
"I am yours, yours alone," she whispered in his ear.
After that she made no further effort to speak. Though
she kissed the crucifix that Pauline held out to her and put
into her hand, it slipped from her grasp as she groped for
Lafayette's fingers and clasped them. Presently he felt her
264 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
On Christmas Day, Pauline went to the Garden of
Picpus and marked the spot where Adrienne was to be
buried, close to the wall surrounding the mass grave.
Shortly after Adrienne's death, Lafayette wrote a long
letter to Csar de la Tour Maubourg, who had known her
so well, of whom she had been so fond. He described the
details of her illness and the long farewell they had been
permitted to take of one another, paying tribute to the
virtues that had made her "incomparable;" her courage, her
high-mindedness, above all her generosity; on the day of her
death Adrienne had sent her love to Madame de Simiane.
"Farewell, my dear friend," the letter concluded. "You
have helped me surmount some hard and painful misfor-
tunes . . . but this is the greatest misfortune of all a misfor-
tune of the heart. I will never rise above it."
On that Christmas Eve of 1807, Lafayette felt that he was
a broken man, but he could not look into the future. It
would be twenty-seven years before his body was laid beside
Adrienne's, twenty-seven years during which he lived fully
and adventurously. His career, which had caused his wife so
much pride and anguish, which for a time he laid aside to
please her, was to have a stirring conclusion.
Lafayette was to play a part in the fall of Napoleon and the
restoration of the Bourbons. He was to return in glory to
America, and, when the Bourbons failed to live up to his
ideal of liberalism, he was to lead yet another revolution
when he was in his seventies. He would even put on again
his general's uniform, as head of the National Guard and,
as he walked through the streets of Paris, people would
crowd about him to kiss his hand, to kiss his cheek and cheer
Throughout these years, Lafayette never lost touch with
Adrienne. The door leading into her bedroom at La Grange
was walled up so that visitors could not stray into it unin-
vited. Everything was left there exactly as it was when she
YOURS ALONE 265
was alive. Each Christmas Eve, Lafayette went there alone
to spend the evening in her company.
There was daily communion as well. In his old age, Lafa-
yette was valeted by an elderly ex-guardsman named Bastien.
Bastien would come to his General's room early in the
morning to draw the curtains and receive his orders for the
day. Then, as Lafayette fumbled for something beneath his
pillow, Bastien would quietly withdraw for a quarter of an
hour. Lafayette, having found the locket in which was Adri-
enne's miniature and on the back of which were engraved
the words, "I am yours alone/' pressed it to his lips and for
a few minutes felt her sustaining presence. If, for some rea-
son, the ritual had to be omitted, those who were about him
noticed that he seemed troubled and unsure of himself. Lafa-
yette had never become a Christian in Adrienne's sense of
the word but he had found his patron saint.
In her children's hearts, she also survived. After they all
came back to France in 1799, the life of her mother that
Adrienne had written on the margins of the volume by
Buffon at Olmutz was put into print, a friend who had a
small hand press running off a limited number of copies.
Virginie wanted to create a similar tribute to her mother.
As audience, she had in mind particularly her own children,
who had never had the privilege of knowing their grand-
Virginie set to her task with some misgivings. So many
records, so many precious letters had been lost! Yet another
difficulty faced her at the very outset. How could she describe
adequately the passionate love for her husband that had
dominated Adrienne's life, that surpassed all other feelings,
all other attachments, and yet did no damage to them?
"I don't know how," Virginie wrote, "I can give you an
idea of my mother's way of loving. It was something that
was hers alone."
Bibliography and Comments
Certain works were used so constantly in preparing this
book that it would be tedious to cite them in every particular
case in the notes on the individual chapters that follow.
This is true for the primary source for Adrienne's life, a
memoir that she wrote of her mother, the Duchesse d'Ayen,
and a similar brief biography of Adrienne written after her
death by her daughter, Virginie de Lasteyrie. Both lives
were published at Paris in 1868 as Vie de Madame de Lafa-
yette, par Madame de Lasteyrie, sa fille, precedte d'une
notice sur la vie de sa Mire, Madame la Duchesse d'Ayen,
par Madame de Lafayette. Adrienne's tribute to her mother
was written, as described in Chapter XIX, in the prison of
Olmiitz, probably in the winter of 1795. After the return of
the Lafayette family to France in 1799, a few copies were
privately printed. They have been exceedingly rare items for
book collectors, though six fresh copies were found recently
by Count Ren de Chambrun at La Grange.
Lafayette's writings were published in six volumes after
268 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
his death as Memoir es, Correspondence et Manuscripts du
Gdn&ral Lafayette (Paris, 1837-1838). Because of length, and
perhaps to save the feelings of those of Lafayette's con-
temporaries who were still alive, the material was severely
pruned. On the other hand, most of the letters that Lafa-
yette wrote from prison and exile were collected during his
lifetime by his friend, Louis Romeuf, but were left unpub-
lished for more than a century. They were edited by Jules
Thomas, Correspondance Inedite de Lafayette, 1793-1801
(Paris, c. 1930). These letters are uncut and, like the
Mdmoires, have been freely used.
CHAPTOR i. HEROIC HOMECOMING
A fragment of the Hotel de Noailles, where Adrienne was
born and spent the first twenty-two years of her life, is pre-
served in the Hotel St. James and Albany at 211 Rue St.
Honor6. Where the main body of the mansion stood, the
Rue d'Alger has been cut through. The house contained
many obfets d 9 art and a fine collection of paintings by the
early Dutch and Italian artists, as well as the work of men
who were distinctly modern when the Hotel was in its prime
Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard. There was also a mag-
The meeting of Adrienne and Lafayette in 1782 is not
mentioned in either Adrienne's life of her mother, nor in
her own biography by Virginie. Adrienne may have wished
to forget her moment of weakness; Virginie may never have
heard of it. The incident, however, is described in various
memoirs of the day, among them Volume I, page 188, of the
Comte de Sgur's Mtmoires, Souvenirs et Anecdotes (Paris,
Recently, The American Friends of Lafayette distributed
to its members printed copies of the words and music of the
popular song cited at the end of this chapter. It was prob-
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMMENTS 269
ably one of many that were being sung at this time. Its title
is Adieux de Ventre-&-Terre, Dragon, a Mar gotten Sa Mie.
CHAFER n. A RED TAPESTRIED ROOM
Adrienne's childhood and marriage is not only described
in the Vie de Madame Lafayette but also in a biography of
one of her younger sisters, Anne Paule Dominique de No-
ailles, Marquise de Montagu 9 which was published anony-
mously at Rouen in 1859. Later editions give Auguste Callet
Lafayette's marriage was arranged by his maternal great-
grandfather, the Comte de la Rivifere and his great-aunt, the
Comtesse de Lusignem. His father, another Gilbert du
Motier, died when Lafayette was two-years-old, his mother
when he was twelve.
There is no eye witness report of Adrienne's wedding, but
it no doubt set the pattern for Pauline's marriage, which is
detailed in Chapter I of Callet's book.
CHAPTER in. THE HOUSE IN THE RUE DE BOURBON
Lafayette's affair with Agla de Hunolstein is the subject
of Louis Gottschalk's book, Lady in Waiting, the Romance
of Lafayette and Agla de Hunolstein (Baltimore, 1939). Ex-
cept for the letter that Lafayette wrote from Chavaniac in
1783, the evidence in the case is slight. Agla6 had another
American friend beside Lafayette, John Paul Jones, with
whom she corresponded. The little that is known of her life
after she left the Palais Royal is told in the MJmoires of
Madame de Genlis, who was governess to the children of the
Duke de Chartres, one of the Duke's many mistresses, and
therefore hostile to Agla<. Madame de Genlis does not give
the name of the convent in which Agla led the life of a
penitent. It was abolished in 1789 and she then boarded with
270 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
a poor family on the fifth floor of a tenement. After the Ter-
ror, she was reunited with her husband, but shortly after
died, in 1795.
More about Lafayette's attachment to Madame de Sim-
iane may perhaps be learned after all the documents at La
Grange have been published. Many of Lafayette's letters to
her are given in abbreviated form in the Mtmoires. She is
mentioned by many of her contemporaries, by Madame
Vige le Brun, who painted her portrait twice, Souvenirs de
Madame Vige le Brun, (Paris, 1822) Vol. II, p. 305, and in
the Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne, (New York, 1908)
Vol. I, p. 21 and Vol. Ill, p. 4. Thomas Jefferson was so fa-
miliar with her connection with Lafayette that when Mad-
ame de Simiane's husband committed suicide in 1787 he
wondered, in a letter to his secretary, William Short, whether
he should condole with Lafayette or congratulate him.
The Lafayettes' house in the Rue de Bourbon no longer
exists and the name of the street itself was changed during
the Revolution to the Rue de Lille. A house still standing
at No. 121 Rue de Lille, and now occupied by the Institut
Neerlandais, was built at the same time as the Hotel de Lafa-
yette and was identical with it, according to an item on page
165 of the catalogue of the exposition held in Paris in 1957
to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Lafayette's
The very condensed view of Lafayette's career given here
follows that given fully and painstakingly by Louis Gotts-
chalk in his excellent book, Lafayette between the American
and the French Revolutions (Chicago, 1950) and in Volume
I of Brand Whitlock's Lafayette (New York, 1929).
CHAPTER iv. THE KING'S JAILER
There are many firsthand accounts of the march on Ver-
sailles and the riot in the Champ de Mars. Their variations
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMMENTS 271
are due to the political outlook of the observers. The report
given to the National Assembly after the Champ de Mars
affair set the casualties at a dozen killed, with perhaps a
dozen more wounded; the radicals, however, said that 600
and even 2000 people fell. In Gaetano Salvemini's The
French Revolution (New York, 1954), page 231, he cites a
dispassionate German observer, who estimated that there
were about sixty hurt or killed.
Just how much sinister plotting was done by the Due
d'Orleans has never been accurately determined, but Lafa-
yette was convinced of the Duke's evil intentions and saw
that he was sent away on a mission to England after the Oc-
tober 5th outbreak. The sniper who almost killed Lafayette
on July lyth, 1791, was a gunman said to be in the Duke's
CHAP1T2R v. THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS
Three books tell something of the history of the chateau
of Chavaniac; Henri Mosnier's Le Chateau de Chavaniac
(Le Puy, 1883), Louis Romeuf s Au Pays de Lafayette (Paris,
1921), and Une Grande Famille d'Auvergne by George Paul
Pierre Bodinet and Marie Louise Le Verrier (Clermont-
Ferrand, 1951). The chateau came into Lafayette's branch
of the family by the marriage of his grandfather in 1708.
Even today the house in the hills seems remote. Part of it
is preserved as a Lafayette shrine, part is a preventorium
for tubercular children maintained by a Franco-American
Lafayette was brought up by his grandmother, a maiden
aunt, Marguerite-Madeleine de Lafayette, and his "Aunt
Chavaniac," whose given name was Louise-Charlotte, the
only survivor of the trio in 1791.
The meeting with Pauline de Montagu at Vaire and her
272 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
departure for England are detailed in Chapter IV of her
CHAPTER vi. A WAITING TIME
The account given here of the sack of the Tuileries fol-
lows closely that given in Friederich Kapp's Justus Erich
Bollmann, Ein Lebensbild Aus Zwei Welttheilen (Berlin,
1880). The author used this work extensively in preparing
an earlier book dealing with the Lafayette legend, A Chance
for Glory (New York, 1957). Bollmann, who later was to try
to rescue Lafayette from the prison of Olmiitz, was in Paris
on August loth, 1792, and followed the crowd to the Tui-
CHAPTER vii. THE BEST OF NEWS
The material for this and the next chapter is taken from
an account written by Anastasie de Lafayette and published
in the Revue Retrospective in 1900 (Vol. 13, p. 363 ft). At
that time, the manuscript was in the possession of Louis Ed-
mond, the last descendant of Lafayette in the male line. It
must have been written soon after the events described, by
a girl who had a sense of humor, a keen eye for detail and
characterization. All the conversation quoted is reproduced
from Anastasie's report.
Though she gives such a vivid picture of the servants at
Chavaniac, Anastasie does not mention an American em-
ployee of Lafayette whose existence is revealed by a docu-
ment exhibited at the 1957 Lafayette exposition in Paris.
His name was Zamord, he was about thirty-years-old and
was baptized by Father Durif on December 26th, 1791. Adri-
enne was his godmother.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMMENTS 273
CHAPTOR ix. THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION
Anastasie's account breaks off abruptly before the prisoners
reached Le Puy. The editor says that there was more of the
manuscript, but that at the time of publication it was lost
and the owner was hunting for it. Virginie's less detailed
account takes over at this point. In her life of Adrienne, she
gives all of the letters quoted here. Aulagnier's report to
Roland is given in the Appendix to the Vie. The letters to
Brissot were found among his papers after he was guillotined
Adrienne's letter to Washington and another letter to him
mentioned in the following chapter appear in Volume 10
of Jared Spark's The Writings of George Washington (Bos-
ton, 1838), also the covering letter that Dyson wrote from
England in which he says that "her situation is truly affect-
ing . . . Under these circumstances she relies on your in-
fluence/' Adrienne could speak a little English, but could
not write it perfectly. With the first letter she may have had
Dyson's help and Frestel's with the second, Frestel having by
that time, March, 1793, returned to the chateau.
CHAFER x. A NET OF MANY STRANDS
The correspondence of the ministers in regard to Lafa-
yette is taken from Gouverneur Morris' Diary of the French
Revolution (Boston, 1939) and an article by Samuel Flagg
Bemis, "Lafayette and America" in The Magazine of the
Daughters of the American Revolution for June, July, and
Pauline's view of the fortress of Wesel is told in Chapter
V of her biography.
274 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
CHAPTER xi. THE LAW OF SUSPECTS
Lafayette's letter to Adrienne from Magdebourg is given
on page 193 of Correspondance Inedite de Lafayette. La
Belle Gabrielle Plantation was still in his possession when
he returned from exile in 1799 and was sold to the French
government in 1802, with the proviso that the Negroes
should be free.
Adrienne in the life of her mother (p. 131) says that the
Duchesse d'Ayen saw in Paris during the winter of 1793 a
valet de chambre of Lafayette, who had escaped from prison,
that she sent him on to Chavaniac, but that little could be
learned from him. This, of course, was not Chavaniac, who
was with his master all during his captivity. Lafayette, how-
ever, mentions in his letter to Adrienne a man named Des-
manches who escaped during the removal of the prisoners
from Wesel to Magdebourg and asks her to do something for
his family in case he had never reached France.
CHAPTER xn. DETAINED
Armand Raoul in his In the Shadows, Three Heroines of
the Revolution (New York, 1928) says that the House of
Detention at Brioude was the Hotel Doradour.
CHAPTER xra. US PLESSIS PRISON
All of this chapter is based on Madame de Duras' account
of her prison experiences, Les Prisons de mon P&re, de ma
Mtre et des Miennes (and. ed., Paris, 1889).
The Hymn to the Supreme Being is quoted from page 191
of Edith Sichel's The Household of the Lafayettes (London,
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMMENTS 275
CHAPTER xiv. OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CITY
Grelet's account of the events of July 2ist, 1794, is given
in Madame de Duras' book; Father Carrichon's is appended
to Adrienne's life of her mother. An article by the Due de
La Force, "Une Prisontere sous la Terreur" in the Revue des
Deux Mondes (Vol. 47, Sept. 1938, p. 361) quotes liberally
from the letters that Louise wrote to Grelet and her children
from the Luxembourg, more than a hundred of them hav-
ing been preserved.
CHAFITER xv. IN THE SHADOWS
The New York Public Library owns the manuscript letters
that Adrienne wrote to Monroe. They have been printed in
Bookman's Holiday (New York, 1942), edited by Charles
Flower McCoombs. Among the Monroe papers, also in the
New York Library, is the citizenship certificate written for
Adrienne at Aurat by Dr. Guitandry. This must have been
one of the papers that Adrienne asked Monroe to take to
the Committee. It is not certain from yet another unpub-
lished letter in the Monroe collection just when he visited
her, but the editor thinks that it was after she left Le Plessis
and therefore probably in the Maison Delinas.
CHAPTER xvi. MRS. MOTIER
The author's A Chance for Glory deals with the Lafayette-
Huger rescue attempt. Adrienne wrote to Dr. Bollmann from
Olmiitz on May 22nd, 1796, saying that she had heard of his
exploit while she was still in prison in Paris. Her information
at that time probably came from the Princesse d'H&iin,
Lafayette's cousin in London. The letter is given on page
321 of Jules Cloquet's Recollections of the Private Life of
General Lafayette (London, 1835).
276 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
Rosalie de Grammont is said to have written, as did Adri-
enne, a memoir of her mother; if so, it has never been found.
Rosalie was the only one of the sisters to live to a ripe old
age. She died in 1853 in her eighty-fifth year and thus wit-
nessed two more revolutions, those of 1830 and of 1848. In
1848, her granddaughter asked her if she wasn't afraid of
seeing the guillotine set up in the public square, but she
replied characteristically, "Poor darling we have to die,
don't we? The important thing is to be always ready; the
manner of death is a mere detail."
Adrienne's letter to Lafayette written on board The Little
Cherub is quoted from the account of the discovery of the
Lafayette letters at La Grange in The New York Times, June
igth, 1956. As mentioned in Chapter XVIII, it was not de-
livered to Lafayette in Olmiitz, but it eventually came into
his possession and he must have treasured it, for it was found
in his wallet after his death.
CHAPTER xvii. A NEST OF EXILES
Pauline de Montagu's biography, Chapters V to IX, are
drawn upon for this chapter.
Madame de Tessa's pre-Revolutionary Paris salon was one
of those where Lafayette was most at home. Madame de Tess6
was a friend of Jefferson. They shared an interest in agri-
culture and exchanged letters to the day of her death. See
Chinard's Trots Amities frangaises de Jefferson (Paris, 1927).
The Due d'Ayen had been intimate with the Countess
Golovkin as early as 1790. Pauline met her then when she
went for a cure to Switzerland. Madame Golovkin and the
Duke were married in 1796.
CHAFFER XVIH. THE CANTICLE OF TOBIT
Virginie describes the interview with the Emperor; Adri-
enne describes, in a letter to Madame de Tess6 (Vol. IV, p.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMMENTS 277
270 of the Mdmoires), the interview with Thugut. The wives
of de Maubourg and de Pusy later tried to reach Vienna and
the Emperor unsuccessfully.
The description of the prison of Olmiitz given by Vir-
ginie is supplemented by that given by C&ar de la Tour
Maubourg, whose letters, smuggled out of the prison, appear
in The French American Review for October, 1948. Another
letter of La Tour Maubourg is quoted in Cloquet's Recol-
lections (p. 73).
CHAPTER xix. PRISON IDYL
There is no internal evidence of just when Adrienne wrote
the life of her mother, but it seems likely that it was soon
after her arrival at Olmiitz. Madame Lavet, who was with
the Duchess and Louise during their last night at the Con-
ciergerie, wrote a brief account that is appended to Adri-
CHAPTER xx. FREEDOM CAMPAIGN
How the mail was brought to Olmiitz is told in H. L. V.
Ducoudray-Holstein's Memoirs of Gilbert M. Lafayette (New
York, 1835), Chapter XXIIL
There are many quotations from "Eleuthfere's" later cor-
respondence with Lafayette given in Cloquet's Recollections.
The letter, earlier mentioned in the notes on Chapter XVI,
that Adrienne wrote to Bollmann was found among "Eleu-
th&re's" papers. Since Bollmann was in America at the time,
it was never delivered.
CHAPTER xxi. RELEASE
That Adrienne was practically in command of the freedom
campaign in its final stages is proved by her letters given on
page 300 and following of the Correspondance Inedite.
278 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
The trip to Hamburg is described in Chapter XXV of
Gouverneur Morris' unfriendly criticism of the Lafayettes
is given on page 302, Volume II of his Diary and Letters
CHAPTER xxn. BY THE WATERS OF PLOEN
Chapter XIII of Pauline's biography deals with the Lafa-
yettes' stay at Witmold and Lemkuhlen.
Madame de Simiane was an old and intimate friend of
Madame de Tess6.
CHAPTER xxm. ANOTHER SEPARATION
Lafayette's letters to Adrienne while she was away from
him in France are taken not only from his Mdmoires (Vol.
V), but also from the Correspondance Inedite (p. 339 ff.).
Pauline as well as Virginie describes the meeting of the
three sisters at Vianen.
CHAPTER xxiv. THE GARDEN OF PICPUS
In Virginie's life of Adrienne (p. 410) she says that her
mother first heard of Picpus from a priest, but Pauline's
biographer gives Pauline the credit for the discovery; both
stories may be true.
A book by G. Lendtre, the pen name of Louis L. T. Gos-
selin, Le Jar din de Picpus (Paris, 1928) gives a history of the
cemetery and adds some gruesome details of the burial of
victims of the guillotine. The cemetery is now within the
city limits. Among those buried in the mass grave are the
poet, Ancjr Ch&iier and the Prussian adventurer, Baron
von Trenck. A wreath is laid on Lafayette's grave every July
4th by The American Friends of Lafayette.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND COMMENTS 279
Gosselin points out that the spectators who took a ghoul-
ish delight in attending public executions represented a
minority of the citizens of Paris. The fact that the guillotine
was set up in various places, and eventually outside the walls
of the city, was due to protests from local inhabitants. A
vigorous protest was lodged in 1794, against the Picpus prop-
erty being used for a burial ground, by a man who had
rented the house of the former religious community as a
sanitorium. His business venture, he declared, had been
ruined. Le Jar din de Picpus lists the names of all in the mass
CHAPTER xxv. YEARS OF GRACE
Lafayette himself described his relations with Bonaparte
in a long letter to his friend, General Van Ryssel, beginning
on page 148 of Volume V of his Mtmoires.
Cloquet's Recollections give a careful description of La
Grange. He, the family doctor, visited it frequently though
this was after Adrienne's death. His catalogue of the things
that were in the chateau and even their position in the var-
ious rooms is so exact that this book has been invaluable
to the Comte and Comtesse de Chambrun in their restora-
tion of La Grange.
Cloquet tells of being called once to La Grange to take
care of a son of Mix Frestel who was visiting there and was
injured in a hunting accident.
Chapter XVII of Pauline's biography tells of Virginie's
marriage and of the death of Louis de Noailles. Louis 1 sons,
Alexis and Alfred, both had military careers. Alfred was
killed during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812.
280 MADAME DE LAFAYETTE
CHAPTER xxvi, YOURS ALONE
Lafayette's long letter to C&ar de la Tour Maubourg, de-
scribing Adrienne's illness, is given at the end of Virginie's
life of her mother.
After Adrienne's death, Pauline came to live, more or less,
at Fontenay and kept up her charitable enterprises. She
cared not only for her own children but for her orphaned
nephews and nieces. She was in close touch with the Lafa-
yettes and with Rosalie de Grammont, also with her father
and his second wife, who apparently was a satisfactory and
kindly stepmother to the children of his first marriage. The
Duke returned from Switzerland after the fall of Napoleon
and regained possession of the Hotel de Noailles, though he
was so poor that he could only live in a corner of it. He died,
aged eighty-five, at Fontenay in 1824. Pauline survived her
husband, Joachim, and died in 1839. The most long-lived
of all the characters touched upon in this story was Madame
de Chavaniac. She reached the age of ninety-three and was
constantly visited by Lafayette and George until her death