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Full text of "William Wordsworth and Annette Vallon"

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

AND 

ANNETTE VALLON 




PRESUMED MINIATURE PORTRAIT OF 
ANNETTE VALLON 



EMILE LEGOU1S 

WILLIAM 
WORDSWORTH 

AND 

ANNETTE VALLON 




1922 

LONDON & TORONTO 
J. M. DENT & SONS LTD. 
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON 6- CO. 



All rights reserved 

PR 

58% 
L5.5 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE ........ vii 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH AND ANNETTE VALLON . i 
APPENDICES 

I. Genealogy of the Vallons . . . 123 

II. Letters of Annette Vallon to William and 

Dorothy Wordsworth . . . .125 

III. Marriage Certificate of Caroline Wordsworth 134 

IV. Petition to the King on behalf of Annette 

Vallon ...... 137 

V. A Literary Note on Wordsworth, written 
for Madame A. Marquet, Wordsworth's 
grand-daughter 141 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

ANNETTE VALLON .... Frontispiece 

FACSIMILE OF A LETTER FROM ANNETTE 
VALLON TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, zoth 
March, 1792 . . . Facing page 26-7 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH . 38 

From a drawing by Hancock in 1798 

PAUL VALLON 78 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

From the painting by B. R, Haydon about 1830 

WORDSWORTH'S DAUGHTER, CAROLINE BAU- " 
DOUIN (nee VALLON) 



VI 



PREFACE 

SOME time after I had published The Early Life of 
William Wordsworth, in the last years of the last 
century, I met in London my friend Thomas Hutch- 
inson, now deceased, who was soon after to make 
himself known as the erudite editor of Wordsworth, 
Shelley and Lamb. He had many times encouraged 
and helped me with his advice while I was pre- 
paring my book. In the course of our talk he asked 
me whether I was aware of a well-established tradi- 
tion in the Coleridge family that William Wordsworth, 
during his stay in France, had of a young French 
lady a^jon,) who afterwards visited him at Rydal 
Mount. This statement which mixed truth with 
some error an error which can now be easily 
accounted for made me regret that I had not 
known the fact beforehand, so as to alter some pages 
of my work which were flatly contradicted by it. 
But as I had then turned to other subjects, I let 
the thing pass without more comment, and allowed 
the story to sleep for many years, not hiding it from 
those who were concerned with the poet's life but 
never committing it to print. 

Then came the time when Professor George 
Harper of Princeton University began to write 
his masterly biography of the poet. I told him 
the little I knew, but no further progress was made 
till he discovered among the British Museum 
vii 



viii PREFACE 

manuscripts a series of letters written by the poet's 
sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, to Mrs. Clarkson, the 
wife of the anti-slavery apostle, wherein clear men- 
tion was made of a French lady named Madame 
Vallon (Annette) and of a daughter of hers named 
Caroline whom Dorothy called her niece. Their Paris 
address was also given in the same letters. 

Once furnished with this clue, Professor Harper 
could give us a first sketch of the love-story in his 
William Wordsworth, His Life, Works and Influence, 
which came out in 1916. Having soon after come to 
France again during the war to help in the American 
Hospital of Neuilly, he devoted his very scanty 
leisure to further research and was so fortunate as 
to find out some documents of great importance, 
such as the birth and marriage certificates of Caroline 
Wordsworth. He, moreover, identified Annette as 
, the sister-in-law of a Madame Vallon whose memoirs 
of the revolutionary times had appeared in 1913. 

All these discoveries he generously imparted to me 
while he was in Paris, but I must confess that though 
they strongly impressed me on the spot, the terrible 
circumstances the war was then at its darkest hour 
soon drove the precise facts from my mind, leaving 
only the remembrance of their general interest. When 
Professor Harper had to return to his university, 
unwilling to leave his research only half done, he 
challenged me to bring it to an end. But I had no 
such design at the time, and might never have turned 
to the task at all, had not the English publisher of 
my book on The Early Life of Wordsworth told me 
last year of his intention to issue a second edition 
of that work. I answered that I owed it to the reader 
not to publish again without making the corrections 



PREFACE ix 

and additions necessitated by later discoveries. I 
therefore set out to write an appendix on the relations 
between Wordsworth and Annette. For this I began 
to dip into our Records, national and local, those of 
Paris, Orleans and Blois. Besides the documents 
formerly revealed to me by Professor Harper and 
quite recently published by him at the Princeton 
University Press under the title of Wordsworth's 
French Daughter, I lighted on many others which 
he had not the time to hunt for, and, by degrees, 
the French family of the Vallons assumed a definite 
shape before my eyes. It was my good fortune to 
get into touch at last with some living members of 
that family, the descendants of Wordsworth and 
Annette on one side, and of Annette's brother Paul 
on the other. The result of my researches appeared 
in the Revue des Deux Mondes of the ist April and 
ist May 1922, but the exigencies of the Review 
precluded all recognition of my debt to those who 
had done most to help in the completion of my 
labour. 

First of all, I beg respectfully to thank Madame 
Rene Blanchet, the eldest grandchild of Madame 
Vauchelet, who was herself the poet's eldest grand- 
daughter. To her I owe, among other valuable 
information, the curious copies of Caroline's mar- 
riage contract and of the petition to the king made 
on behalf of Annette by her aristocratic friends in 
1816; also the fine portrait of the poet's daughter 
Caroline in her old age, and the essay on Words- 
worth's poetry written for the special benefit of 
Caroline's third daughter, Madame Marquet. 

I am also exceedingly grateful to Madame Lecoq- 
Vallon, the descendant of Annette's brother Paul 



x PREFACE 

Vallon, who had already made extensive private 
inquiries into the family's early history and treasured- 
up recollections of the revolutionary times. By her 
or through her I was informed of many circumstances 
relating to Paul Vallon. She also communicated to 
me the interesting researches of Abbi Gallerand, the 
Director of Blois Seminary, on Paul and Annette's 
uncles, the priests Charles Olivier and Claude Vallon. 
But she did more than all by letting me know that 
a double letter of Annette to William and Dorothy 
Wordsworth, written in 1792, had quite recently been 
discovered in the Records of Blois by the learned 
Archivist of that town, M. Guy Trouillard. I owe 
her much besides for the establishment of the Vallon 
genealogy. To her father, M. Omer Vallon, I am 
indebted for the right of reproducing the presumed 
miniature of Annette which is among his possessions; 
to her cousin, M. de la Flotte, for the same autho- 
risation as regards Paul Vallon's portrait, and also 
for having been allowed to read the memoirs of his 
grandfather Ame'de'e Vallon, Paul's second son. 

I am deeply grateful to Mr. Gordon Wordsworth, 
the lineal descendant of the poet, for his courteous 
communications and especially for his positive assur- 
ance that no traces of Annette and Caroline subsist 
in the family papers that have been preserved, for 
it would have been unjustifiable to give to the world 
a fragmentary and often conjectural story of the 
episode so long as there remained a possibility of 
having a more thorough account of the poet's doings 
and feelings. 

It is a pleasant duty to express my thanks to 
M. Guy Trouillard, already mentioned, and M. 
Jacques Soyer, the Archivist of Loiret; to M. Pinault, 



PREFACE xi 

chef de 1'Etat civil de Blois, whose inexhaustible 
kindness has allowed me to ascertain many facts and 
dates in the lives of the Vallons before 1815; and to 
Mademoiselle Ce"cile Ducaffy of the " Archives De- 
partementales et Communales, Prefecture de la 
Seine," to whose untiring and intelligent exertions 
I owe the discovery of the living descendants of 
Wordsworth and Annette. 

Yet, in spite of so much benevolent aid and of my 
personal efforts, I am conscious that much still re- *__ 
mains obscure in the story. The course of the love 
story of Annette and William in France can be 
better imagined than historically related. It is there- 
fore pleasant to hear that it will soon be told with the 
enviable freedom of the novelist by Mrs. Margaret 
Woods. The biographer is often at a loss: it is 
impossible for him to say exactly what took place 
at Orleans and what at Blois. Neither is it known 
with certainty whether Wordsworth took the bold 
step of revisiting France and Annette in the midst 
of the Terror. The feelings and conversations of <* 
the two former lovers at Calais in 1803 can only be 
guessed at; so can the help given by the poet to the 
mother either to educate or marry their daughter. 

Those questions would, of course, be clearly 
answered, had not the poet's nephew and first bio- 
grapher done away with all the papers and letters 
relating to the adventure. It was surely his right, 
and he considered it his duty, to do so. But it 
happens that by so doing he perhaps suppressed 
what might be to-day Wordsworth's best justi- 
fication, or at any rate what might account for 
some things which we can either not explain or 
not approve. 



xu 



PREFACE 



It is to be hoped that the too meagre lineaments 
of the story as told in this book will be little by 
little filled up by new documents, the existence or 
whereabouts of which the writer had not the means 
of imagining. 

The substance of the following pages is nearly 
identical with the articles in the Revue des Deux 
Mondes. But the limited space allowed him in the 
Review having obliged the author to compress or 
suppress several details, he now takes the oppor- 
tunity of publishing his text at full length. All the 
references lacking in the Review will be found here. 
Several documents of various interest have also been 
given in full in the Appendices, instead of the short 
extracts or mere analyses as hitherto. Moreover, some 
illustrations are now added: besides Wordsworth's 
well-known portrait by Hancock about 1796, they 
consist of the reproduction of a miniature which is 
presumed by the Vallon family to represent Annette 
under the Directory; the portrait of Wordsworth's 
daughter Caroline in her old age, and for comparison 
that of Wordsworth by Haydon about 1830; the 
likeness of Paul Vallon, who plays an important 
part in the story of his sister's life; and finally the 
facsimile of a page of the letter written by Annette 
to Wordsworth in 1793, and confiscated by the 
French police. 

It is perhaps superfluous to vindicate the present 
book against the charge of being one of those un- 
pleasant disclosures which the public would be better 
without, for the subject it deals with is no longer 
secret. Wordsworth's youthful irregularity is now 
well known, and it is my sincere belief that his 
reputation will suffer less damage if the tale is 



PREFACE xiii 

told at full length. What he might now most suffer 
from, would be timid reticence and whispered hints. 
Many a reader will even admit that the man's 
honest nature is made more manifest by the long / 
fight of his loyalty against untoward circumstances. - 
More humanised and truer to life, he may become 
more sympathetic in the end. It is good to know 
that he did not find sanctity ready-made in his cradle, 
and that no privilege of nature made easier for him 
than for others the unfailing practice of the domestic 
virtues which he was to celebrate in some of his 
best verse. The character shown by the beginning 
of this story was a real young man, not a premature 
sage. He was altogether like the lover of Ruth: 

... A Youth to whom was given 
So much of earth so much of Heaven, 
And such impetuous blood. 

But the following pages are not only intended to 
complete the likeness of a great poet on whom so 
many books have already been written. It has also 
appeared to me that the French family he chanced 
to be connected with had a striking story well 
deserving notice; that their adventures were much 
the same in outline as many of those novels of Balzac 
whose characters follow the fluctuations of the most 
dramatic, most intense and unstable period of French 
annals; that, in fact, it was upon the destinies of 
such families that more than one volume of the 
" Come'die Humaine " was built up. The mysterious 
conspiracies, wild intrigues and police inquiries so 
dear to Balzac are not wanting in the lives of the 
Vallons. But in this instance, the singularity of such 
eventful lives is made more striking by the propin- 
quity of a great foreign poet, of the solitary dreamer 



xiv PREFACE 

of the Lakes and august priest of Nature, who was 
at one time almost sucked in by their vortex. One 
wonders at the convergence of his hermit life with 
their tumultuous careers. The mere contrast is 
enough to make one admire the variety and pic- 

turesqueness of this world. 





s t * \3 f*/' n 
" 4 W *,* 




WHEN William Wordsworth arrived at Orleans at the 
beginning of December 1791, he was twenty-one and 
a half years old. Though he had taken his degree in 
January, he still postponed, in spite of the entreaties 
of his uncles and guardians, the choice of his career. 
Yet his means were limited. At that time, his sister 
Dorothy estimated that she and her brothers pos- 
sessed 470 each, but that the cost of William's 
education had to be deducted from his share. 1 He 
then possessed only the bare means of staying some 
months in France in very modest circumstances. It 
is true that all the orphans had one hope: that of 
the recovery of a considerable sum of money owed 
to their father by the Earl of Lonsdale whose 
steward he had been: a dangerous hope which 
induced in the young poet a tendency to idle away 
his time in waiting, to shirk definite tasks, and follow 
his wandering instincts. At the moment of his 
arrival in France he had found a pretext for pro- 
crastination : he was aiming, so he said, at a thorough 
knowledge of French so as to fit himself to be tutor 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, His Life, Works and Influence, 
London, 1916, Vol. I. p. 87. 

i 



2 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

to some rich young fellow-countryman, and to 
accompany him in his continental travels. At the 
back of his mind was a desire to gain time, to escape 
fronudrudgery and to write poetry. Who was to say, 
after all, whether the poems he was even then com- 
posing, were not to make him famous at once, sparing 
him the slavery of a professions' He was revising 
a description of his birthplace, the beautiful Lake 
Country, 1 and meditating another a of the splendid 
Alpine tramp he had made the year before with a 
Cambridge friend, on foot, his knapsack on his back. 
In all these verses Nature is his theme. His 
dominant passion had already revealed itself, but it 
was still far from engrossing all his thoughts. He 
was curious of everything; he felt a keen appetite for 
life. His mood was not yet attuned to the seclusion 
of a country hermitage. Hardly out of college, he had 
settled in London where he had just spent several 
months, idling about, drawn thither by the varied 
pleasures of the crowded metropolis, and if he now 
turned to France, the principal attraction was the Revo- 
lution. He remembered his arrival at Calais on i3th 
July, 1790, the eve of the Federation, and the ecstasy 
of joy and hope that then possessed the whole country: 
a thrilling memory which long made his heart beat 
faster, and the traces of which he sought during 
his new stay. His mind still bore the imprint of 
those ineffable hours during which the rapture of a 
whole nation had accompanied with its mighty music 
his own mirth of a student on holiday. His mind 
was then stirred by no political faith, unless it were 
by the word Liberty in its fresh gloss, its vague- 
ness full of infinite promise; he had, above all, been 
1 An Evening Walk. ' Descriptive Sketches. 



?&&&( 

AND ANNETTE VALLON 3 

moved by the overflowing spirit of brotherhood that 
showed itself in a thousand acts of courtesy towards 
the young Englishman, the son of a free country. / 
Decidedly the glimpse he had had of France and 
of the French had_ _enchanted_him. 

He now returned eager to enjoy that same hearty 
greeting, and with his expectations of social inter- 
course he could not but mingle some dream of love, 
the scenes and circumstances of which he could not 
yet determine. Everything predisposed him to it. 
No existing attachment was there to prevent a new 
^passion; no strict rule of conduct yet guided his 
steps. Austerity had been foreign to his education; 
for this he was grateful all his life, rejoicing to have 
been 

Unchecked by innocence too delicate, 
And moral notions too intolerant, 
Sympathies too contracted. 1 

He had known no rigid discipline in his native West- 
morland, still less at Cambridge, loose as its morals 
were. He does not conceal from us that at the 
university he consorted with bons vivants rather 
than with earnest students. It is saying a good 
deal, and will suggest much to those who have read 
to some extent the descriptions of college life in 
those days. 

It may not be superfluous to remind the reader 
that Wordsworth was born in 1770, so that he was 
an old man of 67 when Queen Victoria ascended 
the throne. He might have died before her accession 
without any loss to his poetry and to his glory. It is 
only through his latest, and weakest, effusions and 

1 Prelude, XIV. 339-41. 



4 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

chiefly owing to the tendency of his first biographers 
that he has assumed that Victorian air which is 
decidedly anachronistic. No greater mistake can be 
made in literary history than the confusion of the 
two epochs, the one in which he lived and the one 
in which he outlived himself and died. Wordsworth 
was, to all intents and purposes, a Georgian through- 
out his best years, and his youthful conduct should 
be judged according to the standard of times very 
widely separated from those of Victoria. 

Great looseness of manners prevailed in the last 
decades of the eighteenth century much corrup- 
tion in the higher and much roughness in the 
lower ranks of society. There certainly existed even 
then in England, chiefly among the Evangelicals, 
classes of men remarkable for their entire purity 
even austerity of morals, but the general tone of 
the country was neither refined, nor even what would 
afterwards have been called simply decent. 

Of the difference between those and later times, 
a single instance will suffice here. It puts, I think, 
the whole contrast in a nutshell. Dorothy Words- 
worth, the poet's exquisite sister, writing to a friend 
in 1795 she was then twenty-three expressed her- 
self in this way: 

A natural daughter of Mr. Tom Myers (a cousin of 
mine whom I dare say you have heard me mention) is 
coming over to England ... to be educated . . . and 
T. Myers* brother ... has requested that I should 
take her under my care. 1 

Who could imagine a young lady of the Victorian 
era speaking with this simplicity and ingenuousness 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, I. p. 375. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 5 

of her cousin's natural daughters' This is only a 
trifling example of the unconventionality of those 
days, but it tends to show to what an extent natural 
children were a normal occurrence under the Georges. 
The case was so usual that it scarcely provoked 
any comment. 

There was no strain of asceticism in the young 
poet's nature, to make him an exception to his age. 
However reticent his poetry may be, we can feel in 
it the ardour of his blood in those years. It partly 
reveals what De Quincey bluntly describes as Words- . 

worth's " preternatural animal sensibility, diffused 
through all the animal passions (or appetites) " and ", j 
considers as the basis of his " intellectual passions." 1 
It would be quite idle to give proofs, had not the fact 
been ignored by most critics and biographers. Setting 
aside the mysterious Lucy whom he was to sing in 
his finest verse and for whom he felt among the 
English hills " the joy of his desire," there were 
daughters of Westmorland farmers whom he visited 
during his Cambridge vacations. With them the 
whole night sometimes passed in dances from which 
he came home with fevered brain, having felt in 
their company 

Slight shocks of young love-liking interspersed, I i ; 
Whose transient pleasure mounted to the head 
And tingled through the veins. 2 

And it was that very " tingling " that had favoured 
the birth of his poetic vocation. It was in the 
morning following one of those nights of rustic 

1 De Quincey's Collected Writings, Edited by David Masson, 
II. p. 246. 
8 Prelude, IV. 317-19. 



6 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

revelry that coming home on foot and seeing the 
rise of a glorious dawn, he had had the first con- 
sciousness of his genius and dedicated himself to 
. the worship of Nature. 1 The tumult of his senses 
had been the means of rousing his imaginative fire. 
For the first time he had felt the truth of the pro- 
found maxim he uttered later on: " Feeling comes 
in aid of feeling." 2 

One year later, when he journeyed across the Alps, 
the sublimity of the mountains had not engrossed his 
enthusiasm to the point of blinding him to the beauty 
of the girls he met on his way. The dark Italian 
maids he passed by on the shore of Lake Como had 
stirred in him voluptuous desires, and he was to 
remember them in that very year 1792, in lines full 
of a sensuous exaltation which makes itself felt in 
spite of the awkward and old-fashioned form of 
the verse: 

Farewell ! those forms that, in thy noon-tide shade, 
Rest, near their little plots of wheaten glade; 
Those steadfast eyes, that beating breasts inspire 
To throw the " sultry ray " of young Desire; 
Those lips, whose tides of fragrance come, and go, 
Accordant to the cheek's unquiet glow; 
Those shadowy breasts in love's soft light arrayed, 
And rising, by the moon of passion swayed. 3 

Surely the young man who wrote these lines 
was neither ignorant of, nor deaf to the call of 
the senses. He revelled in beautiful scenery but 
desired love; love in its integrity, not merely the 
immediate satisfaction of a passing fancy, for his 
heart was as impetuous as his senses. He carried 

1 Prelude, IV. 319-38. Prelude, XII. 269-70. 

31 Descriptive Sketches, 148-56. 



into his attachments the " violence of affection " l 
that endeared him to his sister Dorothy. There were 
in his disposition all the elements which make for 
a great passion. 



II 

THIS, then, was the young man who on his arrival 
at Orleans alighted at " The Three Emperors " and 
without delay went in quest of lodgings. He finally 
decided on the rooms offered him by Monsieur 
Gellet-Duvivier, a hosier, Rue Royale, at the corner 
of the Rue du Tabour which is called the Coin- 
Maugas. There, for the moderate sum of eighty 
francs a month, he had both board and lodging. 2 
His host was a man of 37 whose mind had been 
deranged by his wife's recent death, and who showed 
imprudent exaltation in the expression of his hatred 
of the Revolution, an unfortunate whose tragic end 
we shall soon hear of. In his house the poet found 
as fellow-boarders two or three cavalry officers, and 
a young gentleman from Paris, who all no doubt 
shared the political opinions of their host. When 
he wrote on the igth December to his elder brother 
he knew as yet no one else in the town. 

Yet there was one exception : " one family which 
I find very agreeable, and with which I became 
acquainted by the circumstance of going to look at 
their lodgings, which I should have liked extremely 

1 Letter of Dorothy of i6th Feb., 1793. 
* Letter to Richard Wordsworth, igth Dec., 1791. Harper, 
I. p. 145- 



8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

to have taken, but I found them too dear for me." 
Here the paper is torn and we can only make out the 
words : " I have ... of my evenings there." Does 
he mean that being unable to lodge with them he 
was spending his evenings at their houses' And was 
that house the house in which Annette was livings' 
And if such is the case, is it the house in the Rue 
du Poirier where lived M. Andre Augustin Dufour, 
greffier du tribunal of the Orleans district, who with 
his wife was to assist Annette in her ordeals' 

Mere conjectures these, to which we are driven 
by the lack of authentic details. The letter to his 
brother Richard, in which Wordsworth gives us 
these few details, is cheerful. We feel that he is 
enjoying the novelty of the place. Everything pleases 
him; even the surrounding country, which no doubt 
seems very flat to the hill-born youth, but abounds 
" in agreeable walks, especially by the side of the 
Loire, which is a very magnificent river." 

He realises that his French is not at all up to the 
mark, yet he does not intend to engage a teacher of 
the language. He has no intention ofeigoing to that 
expense. Had he, so soon, found Annette willing to 
give him free conversation lessons S 1 

The young lady whose life was to be linked with 
his own, Marie Anne (or Annette) Vallon, was born 
at Blois on 22nd June, 1^66. She was the sixth and 
last child of Jean Leonard, surnamed Vallon, a 
surgeon, and of Fran?oise Yvon, his wife. The 
father belonged to a family which, by its own tradi- 
tion, traced itself back to Scotland, and in which the 
surgical profession was hereditary. One of Annette's 
brothers, writing to the Board of the Hotel-Dieu of 
Blois, stated that his great-grandfather, grandfather 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 9 

and father had been surgeons of the same hospital 
in succession. In 1755, at the funeral of Joseph 
Leonard Vallon, formerly surgeon, aged 95, the chief 
mourner was the " Sieur Vallon/' his son, himself 
maitre chirurgiem It appears that Jean, Annette's 
father, was a grandson of the aged Joseph Leonard. 
Her two eldest brothers, Jean Jacques, born in 1758, 
and Charles Henry, born the following year, adopted 
the paternal profession. They were both attached as 
surgeons to the Hotel-Dieu before 1792. 

When .Wordsworth made Annette's acquaintance, 
the girl's father had been dead for several years and 
her mother had married again, her second husband 
being a " Sieur Vergez," himself a surgeon. Father- 
less, somehow morally estranged from her mother 
by the latter's re-marriage, Annette was hardly less 
left to herself than William. 

In addition to the two surgeons who were the 
eldest sons of the family, there was yet a third 
Paul, born in 1763, who had turned his thoughts to 
law. Also three daughters : Franfoise Anne, born in 
'1762; Ange .que Adelaide, born in 1765; and Marie 
Anne, one year younger, the latest born. 

Two second cousins of the children are also known 
to us: Charles Olivier and Claude Leonnar (sic) 
Vallon, born the first in 1728 and the other in 1729, 
both cures of the diocese of Blois, both reconciled 
with the Revolution and patronised by the constitu- 
tional Bishop Gregoire, who made Claude one of his 
vicaires episcopaux in the department of Loir-et- 
Cher. They had taken the constitutional oath in 
1791; they were in the autumn of 1792 to take 
the oath of liber te-egalit6; and five years later, on 
3Oth Fructidor of the fifth Republican year, that 



io WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

of hatred to monarchy. For these reasons a pre- 
fectorial report of gth Thermidor of the ninth 
year of the Republic speaks highly of them. It 
commends Claude's " great theological science " and 
declares Charles to be " of perfect morals, learned 
and tolerant." l 

There does not seem, then, to have prevailed from 
the first in the Vallon family the hostility towards 
the Revolution which manifested itself later on so 
violently in some of their members. The name of 
Jean Jacques, given in 1758 to the eldest of Annette's 
brothers, strengthens this impression. The father 
must have become an adept of the new creed spread 
by Jean Jacques Rousseau; of his worship of nature 
and sensibility. Yet there was a sturdy sense of 
tradition in that well-established family whose head 
had for generation after generation confined himself 
within his corporation as within a caste. If the two 
priests themselves became " constitutional," they 
none the less retained their loyalty to religion. 
Charles Olivier uttered an indignant protest when 
the Convention, in order to sever priests from Chris- 
tianity, pledged itself to give pecuniary assistance to 
those who would be willing to give up the ministry. 
He wrote to the Citoyen Administrateur on 3oth 
March, 1794, the very day on which Robespierre 
ordered the arrest of the Indulgentsi " I beg you 
will not depend on me for help, and not take it ill 
if I tell you truthfully that religion, conscience and 
honour forbid me to take any step towards resigning 
my ministry, which I hold from God alone." 2 He 

1 1 owe my information on the two priests to Abbe J. 
Gallerand, professor at the Seminary of Blois. 
* Letter communicated to me by Madame Lecoq- Vallon. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON n 

was in the end, after the Concordat, to recant his 
oaths of the revolutionary period. 

Finally Wordsworth's evidence, his repeated affir- 
mation in The Prelude that, before knowing Captain 
Michel Beaupuy, he had lived among the opponents 
of the Revolution, induces us to think that as early 
as 1792 those of the Vallon family whose acquaintance 
he could have made, saw rather with sorrow than 
with satisfaction the advance of the nation towards a 
republic. As to Annette herself, it is probable that 
she remained rather indifferent to politics until the 
day when a tragedy that struck her home threw 
her into the most active opposition. If she felt the 
slightest disagreement with Wordsworth's opinions 
on monarchy and republic, it did not trouble her 
much, engrossed as she was by her love for him. 



Ill 

UNLESS we are to accept the idea that Annette be- 
came Wordsworth's mistress on their very first 
meeting, the birth of their child as early as i5th 
December, 1792, obliges us to think they made each 
other's acquaintance soon after the poet's arrival at 
Orleans where he spent the winter. 1 There is nothing 

1 It is impossible to know the exact date of Wordsworth's 
change of residence from Orleans to Blois, but we know that 
he meant to spend the winter in the former town (Letter to 
Mathews of 23rd Nov., 1791, Harper, I. p. 122, and Dorothy's 
of 7th Dec., 1791, ibid. p. 124). On the other hand, if we admit 
that there is a parallelism between his own story and that of 
Vaudracour and Julia, we are led to infer that Wordsworth's 
love had two successive towns for its scene of action. 



12 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

astonishing in Annette having made a stay even a 
prolonged stay in that town. In Orleans lived her 
brother Paul, with whom she seems to have been 
particularly intimate, partly, perhaps, on account 
of their nearness in age, partly on account of a 
certain similarity of temperament. Paul had for some 
years been notary's clerk in Orleans under a Maitre 
Courtois, whose office was in the Rue de Bour- 
gogne, close to the Rue du Poirier where the Dufours 
were living. In winter Orleans offered more attrac- 
tions, being a larger and busier town. Paul had 
made friends there, and his worldly tastes, his 
sociable temper, found an echo in Annette. 

We know what Paul's physical appearance was: 
he was a small dark man, with a thick-set neck, and 
large bold eyes under heavy black brows. We have 
a glimpse of his character in the memoirs of his 
grandson Amedee, a magistrate, who declares him 
to have been " one of the wittiest men he had the 
privilege of knowing," with an excellent heart. His 
chivalry and generosity tended to excess, and his 
carelessness of money was so great that his financial 
position suffered by it. The appearance of Annette's 
daughter is also known to* us. It is a face which, 
according to its age, wears a look of frank gaiety, or 
a gently mischievous smile. But Annette dwells so 
much on her daughter's likeness to her father that 
it would be illusory to expect to find the expression 
of the mother in the face of the child. The portrait 
of Annette published in this volume is not well 
enough authenticated for us to place much reliance 
on it. It does not seem as if liveliness had been 
outstandingly characteristic of her, though kindness 
and generosity certainly were. In the letters of 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 13 

Annette that have recently been discovered the 
dominant note is that of an irrepressible, exuberant ^ 
sensibility which is a trait of her nature and is not 
exclusively due to the harassing circumstances in 
which the letters were written. She abounded in 
words, was prone to effusions and tears. These 
emotions of a " sensitive soul " were, moreover, 
quite of a nature to win her the young Englishman's 
heart. He himself was in those years inclined to 
melancholy and the elegiac mood. His very first 
sonnet 1 had been inspired by the sight of a girl 
weeping at the hearing of a woeful story. At that 
sight, he said, his blood had stopped running in 
his veins: 

Dim were my swimming eyes my pulse beat slow, 
And my full heart was swell'd to dear delicious pain. 

The maiden's tears had made manifest her virtue. 
The poet's turn for sentimentality found in Annette 
many an opportunity of satisfying itself, while the 
garrulity of the young Frenchwoman fell in splendidly 
with his intention of learning the language. 

All subsequent evidence agrees in representing 
Annette as obliging and generous. For economy's 
sake, Wordsworth had decided on not incurring the 
expense of a teacher. Annette, then, was his tutor. 
She listened kindly to the stammered sentences of Jj 
the foreigner. She set him at ease by laughing good- /'. ' 
humouredly over his unpronounceable name. Her 
tender heart was filled with affection for the youth, 

1 Sonnet signed Axiologus, printed in European Magazine 
(March 1787) and ascribed to Wordsworth by Knight and 
Hutchinson. Professor Harper expresses some doubt as to 
the authorship. 



i 4 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

younger than she by four and a half years, who was 
separated from all his friends and was living among 
men whose language he knew but ill. And when 
William allowed his budding passion to burst 
forth, her too charitable soul was powerless against 
his ardour. 

His love for her was an exalted, blinding passion, 
in the presence of which all else vanished. The sight 
of Annette at her window, or even of Annette's 
window alone, was each day's supreme instant. He 
himself tells us so, though under a disguise, in the 
story of Vaudracour and Julia. 

A wretched poem, said Matthew Arnold, the only 
one of Wordsworth's which it was impossible for 
him to read. The verdict is not altogether unde- 
served. But Arnold errs in not excepting a few very 
fine lines, and, on the other hand, does not take into 
account what we now know, that is to say the keen 
biographical interest of this awkward and confused 
poem, to which the author seems to have found some 
difficulty in assigning a place amongst his works, and 
of which he is at a loss to explain the origin. 

He began by inserting it at the end of the very 
book of The Prelude in which his memories of France 
are related. The poem strikes the love note which 
is lacking elsewhere. It was at first, according to 
Wordsworth, a story told by his friend Captain 
Beaupuy, the devoted Republican, who was trying 
to make the young Englishman realise the evils of 
the old regime, and particularly the horrors of the 
lettres de cachet. 

Young Vaudracour, a nobleman from Auvergne, 
loved a daughter of the people whom he wanted to 
marry. A lettre de cachet obtained by his father came 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 15 

as a barrier between him and his purpose. Ira- 
prisoned for having killed one of the men sent out 
to arrest him, he only recovered his freedom by 
pledging himself to give up his mistress. Could he 
be true to such an oaths' The lovers met again, but 
were again violently separated. Julia, now a mother, 
was shut up in a convent. The child was left with 
Vaudracour, who withdrew with it to a hermitage in 
the woods. 1789 sounded the call of freedom; it could 
not rouse him from his lethargy : he had become insane. 
It is easy to see that Vaudracour is not Words- 
worth, nor his story that of the poet. There existed 
between Wordsworth and Annette no difference of 
caste. The surgeon's daughter was as good as the 
son of the Earl of Lonsdale's steward. There was 
no violence used in their case; no lettre de cachet, 
murder, prison, convent, nor tragic ending. But 
before coming to the lovers' woes, the poet described 
con amore and it is the only place in his works 
where he has done so the intoxication of passion. As L. 
invention never was his forte, he turned for help to 
the memories and exact circumstances of his own love- 
story in order to give some reality to the first hours 
of rapture broken by sudden partings. He may have 
been afraid lest marks of his personality should be 
discovered in the poem if it found a place so near his 
own adventures, and it is this, rather than the over- 
burdening of the Ninth Book of The Prelude, and the 
awkwardness of its composition he never was very 
sensitive to defects of this kind which induced him 
to publish Vaudracour and Julia separately in 1804. 
Later on, when in his old age he started commenting 
upon his poems, he wrote at the head of this one a 
note, the object of which was to avert suspicion, 



16 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

rather than to give information to the public. The 
story, he says this time, was told him not by Beaupuy 
but " from the mouth of a French lady who had been 
an eye-and-ear-witness of all that was done and said." 
And he adds: " The facts are true; no invention 
as to these has been exercised, as none was needed." 

A most astonishing French lady surely, with the 
eyes of a lynx, the ears of a mole, to have over- 
heard, even to their minutest details, all the lovers' 
effusions, and to have been both present and in- 
visible at their most secret meetings ! One can 
hardly refrain from smiling, in reading the begin- 
ning of the poem, at the thought of the story-teller 
endowed with senses so acute behind whom the 
poet hides his identity. 

However, no careful reader will be led astray. 
Professor Harper, the most thorough and best in- 
formed of his biographers, straightway proclaimed 
the connection between Vaudracour and Julia and 
Wordsworth's youthful love adventure. The real diffi- 
culty is to draw the line between reality and fiction, 
between Wordsworth's story and Vaudracour's. 

To Wordsworth, the lover of Annette, no doubt 
belong the ecstasies of the very young man who sees, 
not a mere woman of flesh and blood, but rather he 
knows not what blinding splendour: "... He 
beheld a vision and adored the thing he saw," a 
vision so dazzling that its very radiance renders it 
indistinct. It will be observed that his attitude of 
wonder is more in keeping with the youth's sudden 
passion for the foreigner, than with Vaudracour's 
long and tender love for his Julia, known from the 
cradle, beloved since she was a child, the constant 
companion of his games throughout his childhood. 






AND ANNETTE VALLON 17 

Let us listen to the poet: 

Arabian fiction never filled the world 

With half the wonders that were wrought for him. 

Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring; 

Life turned the meanest of her implements, 

Before his eyes, to price above all gold; 

The house she dwelt in was a sainted shrine; 

Her chamber-window did surpass in glory 

The portals of the dawn; all Paradise 

Could, by the simple opening of a door, 

Let itself in upon him : pathways, walks, 

Swarmed with enchantment, till his spirit sank, 

Surcharged, within him, overblest to move 

Beneath a sun that wakes a weary world 

To its dull round of ordinary cares; 

A man too happy for Mortality I 

These were the first days of fascination, when the 

lovers were still innocent. 
In comparison with that for him exceptional 

outburst, the story of the consummation of their love 

is cold and stilted, and full of awkward explanations 

that seem to chill the lover's ardour: 

So passed the time, till, whether through effect 

Of some unguarded moment that dissolved 

Virtuous restraint oh, speak it, think- it, not! 

Deem rather that the fervent Youth, who saw 

So many bars between his present state 

And the dear haven where he wished to be 

In honourable wedlock with his Love, 

Was in his judgment tempted to decline 

To perilous weakness, and entrust his cause 

To nature for a happy end of all; 

Deem that by such fond hope the Youth was swayed 

And bear with their transgression, when I add 

That Julia, wanting yet the name of wife, 

Carried about her for a secret grief 

The promise of a mother. . . . 



i8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Poor verse and wretched moral! Rather than 
confess to the rash thoughtlessness of an instant of 
passion, to the sudden exaltation of heart and senses, 
the poet chooses to ascribe to Vaudracour a cal- 
culated act, in the very depth of his transports. In 
spite of that constrained explanation, suggested with 
but little conviction by the author himself, we are 
tempted to believe that Wordsworth and Annette 
merely succumbed, with no preconceived design, 
like thousands of others, because nature prevailed 
over prudence, and passion over wisdom. They 
loved each other unreservedly from the time of their 
stay at Orleans; and when Annette left the town to 
go back to Blois, at the beginning of the spring of 
1792, she already carried about her, like Julia, per- 
haps not knowing it, perhaps not yet being sure of 
it, " the promise of a mother/' 



IV 

, 4, 

SHALL we look in Vaudracour and Julia for the 

reason of that change of residence?" Vaudracour is 

opposed not only by his father but also by Julia's 

humble parents, who are in fear of the nobleman's 

, anger. Julia, as soon as her shame is known to them, 

^*f is hurried away by them one night, in spite of her 

protests. When in the morning her lover realises 

what has happened, he does not know whither to 

turn for her. He 

. . . Chafed like a wild beast in the toils. 

But he is soon able to find her track, follows her to 
the distant town where they carried and confined her : 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 19 

Easily may the sequel be divined 
Walks to and fro watchings at every hour; 
And the fair Captive, who, whene'er she may, 
Is busy at her casement as the swallow 
Fluttering its pinions, almost within reach, 
About the pendent nest, did thus espy 
Her Lover! thence a stolen interview, 
Accomplished under friendly shade of night. 

Was Annette in the same way taken back to Blois in 
spite of herself and torn from her lover by her alarmed 
friends S* We have no reason for assuming this. 
Her father was dead. Her mother, who had married 
again, was without much power over her. Yet Blois 
was her native town; there stood the family house. 
She had no private means and had probably visited 
Orleans on the invitation of friends or her brother 
Paul, for a limited space of time. Despite her twenty- 
five years, she was therefore still partly dependent 
on her people, and it is likely that at Blofs the 
couple's intimacy was held in greater check than at 
Orleans. The town was smaller and Annette better 
looked after. 

Indeed the two lovers did wander about Blois and 
its surroundings. We even know that their walks 
often took them to the neighbourhood of the con- 
vent in which Annette had been brought up an 
opportunity for them to grow sentimental over 
" their happy innocent^ years." * For aught we 
know, Wordsworth may have had some access to 
the Vallon family. He may have been acquainted 
with the two priests, the uncles of Annette, who 
were perhaps in his mind when he said to Ellis 
Yarnall in 1849, that during the Revolution " he had 

1 We gather this from Annette's letter printed in Appendix II. 
c 



20 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

known many of the abb&s and other ecclesiastics, and 
thought highly of them as a class; they were earnest, 
faithful men; being unmarried, he must say, they 
were the better able to fulfil their sacred duties; 
they were married to their flocks." 1 

But it is not certain how far the house in which 
Annette lived was open to the young man. We are 
therefore inclined to believe that Wordsworth drew 
from his own memories the lines the last fine lines 
of the poem in which he describes a nocturnal 
meeting of the lovers, invoking for the occasion the 
^ memory of Romeo and Juliet, and of the lark which 
gave the signal for the last embrace. This scene of 
passion on a summer night, which the French lady 
narrator could surely not have seen with her eyes 
nor heard with her ears, probably commemorates 
one of their secret meetings during the second part 
of their loves: 

. . . Through all her courts 
The vacant city slept; the busy winds, 
That keep no certain intervals of rest, 
Moved not; meanwhile the galaxy displayed 
Her fires, that like mysterious pulses beat 
Aloft; momentous but uneasy bliss! 
To their full hearts the universe seemed hung 
On that brief meeting's slender filament! 

Reminiscences of Mr. Ellis Yarnall of Philadelphia: W. 
Knight's Life of Wordsworth, Vol. II. p. 334. The passage 
immediately preceding is amusing, read in the light of what we 
now know. " France," relates Yarnall, " was our next subject, 
and one which seemed very near his heart. He had been 
much in that country at the outbreak of the Revolution, and 
afterwards during its wildest excesses. At the time of the 
September massacres he was at Orleans. Addressing Mrs. 
Wordsworth, he said : 4 1 wonder I came to stay there so long, 
and at a period so exciting.' " 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 21 

The other striking fact of Wordsworth's stay at 
Blois, the town of the Vallons, is his friendship with 
Captain Beaupuy. Of that attachment only, he 
spoke abundantly and beautifully in his Prelude. But 
in omitting Annette, he at the same time did away 
with all that made the pathetic complexity of those 
summer months. 

Wordsworth, who could now see Annette only by 
stealth, found himself thrown back upon the society 
of other companions. It seems that at this time he 
was boarding with officers of the late Bassigny regi- 
ment, all of whom, with one exception, he introduces 
to us as exalted aristocrats whose minds were bent 
on emigrating. He now made friends with the only 
one who was in favour of the new ideas, Captain 
Michel Beaupuy. Very soon, their friendship became 
'close, and the young foreigner deferentially listened 
to the officer of thirty-seven who a nobleman by 
birth had abandoned all the interests of his caste 
and even the esteem of his colleagues for the revolu- 
tionary cause. Beaupuy's eager proselytism converted 
the young Englishman into a true patriot, a Jacobin 
in the sense the word had in 1792 prompted by a 
zeal equal to his own. They were frequently to be 
seen together at the patriotic club of Blois; 1 in the 
town and its surroundings, among neighbouring 
forests and even in places as distant as Chambord or 
Vendome, they would take long walks during which 
Beaupuy preached his gospel. From each of these 
talks, Wordsworth returned increasingly exalted by 
his republican enthusiasm, for a Republic was in 

1 See Harper's Life of William Wordsworth, Vol. I. ch. viii., 
and especially his " Wordsworth at Blois " in John Morley and 
other Essays, 1920. 



TT 



22 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

the air. His ardour was like a consuming fever. In 
that heart already heated by love, stirred by anxiety 
and remorse, it soon flamed into passion. Again 
" feeling comes in aid of feeling." Meanwhile Annette 
was beginning secretly to prepare the expected 
baby's linen, bidding William touch and kiss all the 
things that were to be used for the infant, particu- 
larly " a little pink cap " intended for it. They 
mourned together, between two kisses, their lost 
innocence. Dreading the impending and inevitable 
revelations, they discussed, perhaps, the possibility 
of a marriage that would patch up matters. In 
these impassioned emotions, weeks passed away and 
the much dreaded event drew nearer. 



BEAUPUY had started for the Rhine on 27th July 
with his regiment, and Wordsworth still lingered at 
Blois. Beaupuy had not been the cause of his coming 
there, and he needed another departure, another 
invitation to go away in his turn. He stayed on till 
the beginning of September, and we may hazard 
two reasons for his new removal. 

One of them may have been the sudden death of 
Annette's eldest brother. Jean Jacques the surgeon 
died at thirty-four, leaving a widow and two little 
daughters, one aged two years and the other a few 
months. According to a family tradition, he was 
killed one night in the forest of Blois on his way to 
bring urgent help to a wounded man. The precise 
date is missing, but would appear to be in the second 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 23 

half of 1792. For the benefit of his widow, three 
doctors from Blois offered to the town officials to 
take over his post as surgeon to the Hotel-Dieu and 
to the hospitals of the parishes of St. Louis, St. 
Nicolas and St. Saturnin. One of the three was his 
own brother Charles Henry, who, at the widow's 
request, was finally appointed on i3th November. 1 
Such a tragedy alone would have been sufficient ta 
upset the family and necessitate some changes. But 
Annette's departure from Blois may easily be ac- 
counted for by direct motives. The state she was 
in could no longer be concealed. It was impossible 
for her to remain in her native town without her 
trouble becoming public. She preferred to return 
to Orleans where, in some quiet place near com- 
passionate friends, she might give birth to her child. 
And Wordsworth again followed her thither. On 3rd 
September, he once more dated from Blois a letter 
to his elder brother, asking him for an urgently 
needed sum of money. The next day he was back \ j 
at Orleans, where he tells us he happened to be 
during the September massacres. 

It was indeed on the morning of 4th September 
ihat Fournier, surnamed the American, despite the 
orders issued by the Convention, started at the head 
of his gang for Versailles with the prisoners who 
were waiting in the prison of Orleans for the verdict 
of the " High Court." At Versailles, septembrisseurs 
(or assassins) from Paris were appointed to meet and 
butcher them. This crime, conceived and perpe- 
trated in cold blood, caused a shudder of horror 
to run through the town which had witnessed the 

1 Archives of the Hotel-Dieu of Blois, Registre E 3 t folios 
57-8. 



24 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

wretched creatures' departure. It left behind an 
inextinguishable hatred in the hearts of all those 
who were not among the fanatics of the Republic. 
It is astonishing that Wordsworth should make no 
allusion to this event; he speaks of the September 
massacres only as of a Parisian tragedy. The only 
event he commemorates, either in his Descriptive 
Sketches or in his Prelude, as having taken place 
during the period of his second stay at Orleans is 
the proclamation of the Republic. This is the occa- 
sion of a veritable paean of joy. His Sketches show 
him wandering by the source of the Loiret and 
seeing the river, its banks and the whole earth trans- 
formed by the magic world. It is all over with 
the monarchy, with all monarchies. The reign of 
happiness and freedom has begun for all men. 1 

Strange alternations of enthusiasm and despon- 
dency when from those delightful visions he fell 
back to the thought of the young girl who was on 
the eve of becoming a mother. Was he allowed to 
see her at Orleans during the few weeks he spent 

1 On that same occasion, Wordsworth was probably present 
at the " Civic Feast " given at Orleans on 2ist September 
to celebrate the suppression of monarchy, during which 
deputy Manuel made a speech before the Assembly. As a 
symbol of the fall of royalty, fire was set to a big wood-pile : 
" Le feu est solennellement mis a i'enorme "bucher, compose 
de fagots eleves en une haute pyramide couronnee d'un bouquet 
d'artifice qui bientot tombe en mille flammeches etincelantes, 
et les citoyens se livrent a la joie qu'ils ressentent de 1'etablisse- 
ment de la Republique francaise; dans leur enthousiasme, 
avec ces elans qui n'appartiennent qu'a des hommes vraiment 
dignes de la liberte, les cris de 'Vive la Republique! Vive 
la nation francaise!' eclatent de toutes parts." Quoted in 
Histoire de la ville d'Orleans, by Bimbenet, Vol. II. p. 1235. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 25 

there? 1 He was to leave Orleans at the end of October 
for Paris and stay there for about two months. We 
know nothing of the reasons of these comings and 
goings. It is certain, however, that he lingered in 
France beyond the appointed date. On 3rd October 
he again informed his elder brother of his proposed 
return to London in the course of the month. But 
what motive prompted him to leave Orleans before 
Annette's deliverances' Was his presence considered 
inadvisable in view of the secrecy that was desired { 
On the other hand, he could not bring himself to 
put the sea between himself and Annette so long as 
he did not know the now imminent issue. 

It was in Paris that he learned the birth of his 
daughter. On i5th December, 1793, in the cathedral 
church of Sainte Croix, was baptised " Anne Caro- 
line Wordswodsth (sic), daughter of Williams Words- 
wodsth, Anglois, and of Marie Anne Vallon." Paul 
Vallon stood godfather to the child and Madame 
Augustin Dufour stood godmother. The absent 
father was represented by Andre Augustin Dufour, 
with a legal power from the poet. The father owned 
the child as his and gave it his name, in so far at 
least as the episcopal vicaire Perrin could spell it. 1 

Some little time after, at the end of December, 
Wordsworth came back to England. It seems that 
he stayed in France to the utmost limit of his re- 
sources, and it was against his will that he went back 
to his country, " dragged " as he says " by a chain 
of harsh necessity." 2 But he suffers us to think 

1 The full certificate of Caroline's birth has been printed by 
Professor Harper in Wordsworth's French Daughter, Princeton 
University Press, 1921. 

* Prelude, X. 222. 



26 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

that his revolutionary zeal alone made him wish to 
stay on in France. Had it been possible for him, he 
> tells us, he would have shared the Girondins* fortune : 
41 made common cause with some who perished." x 
He hides from us the chief reason of his unwilling- 
ness to leave the country in which his child had 
just been born. 

, 

/ V. 

VI 

,~ WHY did Wordsworth leave France without marrying 
Annettes' He had owned his daughter, why did he 
not legitimise her by making the mother his wife? 1 
Considering the passion which inflamed him in 1792, 
it seems he would have done so there and then, had 
it been in his power. And yet there was no marriage. 
There was none before Caroline's birth, as her 
christening certificate testifies; there was none later 
on, as is attested by the death certificate of Annette, 
who died a " spinster." 

The likeliest explanation is his poverty, which was 
only too real. To support wife and child he needed 
help from his guardians, an instalment of the money 
that was to be his one day. Therefore it was indis- 
pensable to obtain their consent. He might perhaps 
disarm their opposition by showing his readiness to 
enter some one of the careers they pointed out to 
him even the church, which, at that time, did not 
exact too strict a faith. He decided, therefore, to go 
to England, with the intention of returning shortly to 
bring help to the dear ones he had left in France, 

1 Prelude, X. 339-30. 




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AND ANNETTE VALLON 27 

or to take them away with him to his own country. 
This plan was submitted to Annette, who accepted it 
resignedly. Wordsworth was to come back and 
marry her as soon as he had his guardians' consent 
and the necessary help. 

Another man might have reversed the decision; 
married Annette straightway, then placed before his 
guardians the accomplished fact. Marriage first; 
money would come afterwards when fate should 
think fit. This would have been splendid imprudence, ,. 
but it was made impossible by the inborn cautious- 
ness of the young poet. His native wariness inclined 
to procrastination. Besides, he may have been some- 
what alarmed by the force of the fascination which 
enchained him. To speak plainly, he had lived 
in France for months in an unknown, strange and 
feverish atmosphere in which he felt at times as though 
he were dreaming. Annette was fascinating, but she 
remained in part a mystery to him. He felt anxious 
at having so far resigned his will-power, and lost the 
control of his actions. She gave the impulse and ..' 
swept him on in her wake, not merely because she 
was four years older than he, but because she was ^ v > 
gifted with that natural intrepidity which was to 
make her a model conspirator, an " intriguer " as 
her political adversaries called her. Who can assert 
that she did not find pleasure in concealment, and in 
her very sorrows an exciting sensation not devoid 
of charm?' Did Wordsworth in the depth of his heart 
feel a vague mistrust of the woman he loved S* 



2 8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

VII 

ON coming back to London, Wordsworth's time was 
occupied in two directions: the publication of his 
first two poems in the hope that they might bring 
him fortune as well as fame, and the consideration 
of the steps that must be taken to propitiate his 
uncles. He hesitated to face them, knowing them 
to be displeased and hostile. He begged his sister 
Dorothy, who lived with her uncle, Dr. Cookson, a 
clergyman, to speak for him. He confided every- 
thing to Dorothy, who immediately conceived a 
warm affection for the young French mother and 
her child. She imagined no other issue than marriage, 
and she already pictured the cottage in which the 
newly married couple would live, and in which she 
would have a place. 1 Of her own accord, she started 

1 We gather this from Annette's letters to William and 
Dorothy (Appendix II.). The dream of a retired life in a small 
cottage which is found both in Dorothy's letters and in Words- 
worth's Evening Walk first makes its appearance at the begin- 
ning of 1793 when the letters were written and the poem 
published. It was first connected with William's determination 
to marry Annette. The cottage was to shelter both sister and 
wife. This is how we ought to read the following lines in An 
Evening Walk, addressed to Dorothy: 

" Even now [Hope] decks for me a distant scene, 
(For dark and broad the gulf of time between) 
Gilding that cottage with her fondest ray, 
(Sole bourn, sole wish, sole object of my way; 
How fair its lawns and silvery woods appear! 
How sweet its streamlet murmurs in mine ear !) 
Where we, my Friend, to golden days shall rise, 
Till our small share of hardly-paining sighs 
(For sighs will ever trouble human breath) 
Creep hushed into the tranquil breast of death." 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 29 

^correspondence with Annette, to whom she pro- 
tested her sisterly affection. To carry on this letter- 
writing, she began " fagging at French again." But 
she trembled at the thought of telling the whole story 
to the Cooksons, whose anger she foresaw. She 
confessed her fear to Annette, who wrote to William : 
" I beg you to invite her not to say anything to 
your uncle. It will be a hard fight she will have to 
engage in. But you deem it necessary." And Annette 
forgot for a time her own grief in pitying Dorothy 
for the trouble she caused her. She was distressed at 
the thought of her being deprived of all sympathy: 

You have no one to whom you might freely confide the 
painful state of your soul, and you must check the tears 
which your tender feelings force from you. I advise you 
to hide as long as you possibly can from your uncle and 
aunt the reasons which make your tears flow. 

Thus did Annette express herself in a double 
letter written on 2Oth March, 1793, to William and 
Dorothy, a letter seized by the French police on 
account of the war and recently discovered in the 
Blois Record Office. 1 

Annette returned to Blois with her child. She 
lived with her family, but for fear of scandal she 
had to part from Caroline, who was sent to a nurse 
some little way off in the suburbs, so that the poor - 
mother might see her frequently. She carried on 
with Wordsworth a copious correspondence. If the 
letter to William dated aoth March is comparatively 
short, it is because she wrote " quite a long one " on 
the preceding Sunday, and because she is to write 
him another the Sunday following. It is also because 

1 See Appendix II. 



30 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

she devotes hers this time chiefly to Dorothy, to whom 
she owes an answer and gives ample measure. 

The two letters, read together, are a long and 
pathetic appeal to the distant friend. At every page 
is repeated the prayer: Come back and marry me. 
She suffers too much in his absence. She loves him 
so passionately! When she embraces her child, she 
thinks she holds William in her arms : " Her little 
heart often beats against mine; I think I am feeling 
her father's." She writes to Dorothy: 

I wish I could give you some comfort, but alas! I 
cannot. I rather should look for it from you. It is in the 
certainty of your friendship that I find some comfort, 
and in the unalterable feelings of my dear Williams (sic). 
I cannot be happy without him, I long for him every day. 

Indeed she sometimes tries to call reason to her 
help. She wishes for her lover's return, yet fears it, 
for war is threatening. She contradicts herself four 
times in the course of ten lines : 

My distress would be lessened were we married, yet 
I regard it as almost impossible that you should risk 
yourself, if we should have war. You might be taken 
prisoner. But where do my wishes lead mes* 

I speak as though the instant of my happiness were 
at hand. Write and tell me what you think, and do your 
very utmost to hasten your daughter's happiness and mine, 
but only if there is not the slightest risk to be run, but 
I think the war will not last long. I should wish our two 
nations to be [reconciled]. That is one of my most earnest 
wishes. But above all, find out some way by which we 
can write to each other in case the correspondence 
between the two kingdoms were stopped. 

Her strongest reason for insisting on marriage is 
her motherly love, rather than her wifely passion. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 31 

She is ready to accept that William should come 
only to go away again immediately afterwards, if he 
must. Although she needs him for her happiness 
she would make the sacrifice. But then her situation 
being regularised, her daughter could be given back 
to her. She writes to Dorothy: 

I can assure you that were I happy enough to have my 
dear Williams journey back to France and give me the 
title of his wife, I should be comforted. First my daughter 
would have a father and her poor mother might enjoy 
the delight of always having her near. I should myself 
give her the care I am jealous to see her receive from 
other hands. I should no longer cause my family to 
blush by calling her my daughter, my Caroline; I should . 
take her with me and go to the country. There is no 
solitude in which I should not find charm, being with her. 

Her bitterest trial was on the day on which the 
child went out for the first time, for the woman 
who carried her passed before the mother's house 
without stopping: "That scene," she writes tojf 
Dorothy, " caused me a whole day of tears. They, / " 
are flowing even now." 

Indeed, Caroline is the theme of almost all her 
letters. She speaks endlessly about the wonderful 
progress achieved by the three-months-old babe. In 
her mother's eyes she is a beautiful picture of her 
father, though she is not fair-haired like him. Annette 
carries on with the child many a tender, childish 
dialogue. She smothers her with kisses and bathes 
her in tears. She speaks of her pride in dressing her, 
in putting on " that little pink cap which fits her so 
well," and which she had once bidden William kiss. 

The first time she had it on, I put it on her head 
myself after kissing it a thousand times. I said to her, 



32 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

44 My Caroline, kiss this bonnet. Your father is less 
happy than I; he cannot see it; but it should be dear 
to you, for he put his lips to it/' 

The impression left on us by these letters is firstly, 
that Annette is in every sense a kind and passionately 
fond woman. No bitter word or recrimination is to be 
found in all these pages. Nor is her disinterestedness 
less manifest. She raises no cry of poverty, no call 
for material help. She is all sensibility. Too much 
so for our present taste, even if we take into account 
the circumstances in which she writes. We feel that 
her natural tenderness has been accentuated by the 
reading of the novels of that time novels in which 
tears flowed abundantly, which teemed with moving 
apostrophes. This is the more evident by reason of 
the inferiority of her education. There is no punc- 
tuation in her letters and her spelling is eminently 
fanciful. Here and there, one meets sentences with 
a popular turn, like " le chagrin que vous avez rap- 
port a moi "; then again we find whole paragraphs 
overflowing with the facile sentimentality of the age. 
She writes to Dorothy : 

Often when I am alone in my room with his [William's] 
letters, I dream he is going to walk in. I stand ready to 
throw myself into his arms and say to him : " Come, my 
love, come and dry these tears which have long been 
flowing for you, let us fly and see Caroline, your child 
and your likeness; behold your wife; sorrow has altered 
her much; do you know hers 1 Ay, by the emotion which 
your heart must share with hers. If her features are altered, 
if her pallor makes it impossible for you to know her, her 
heart is unchanged. It is still yours. Know your Annette, 
Caroline's tender mother. . . ." Ah! my dear sister, 
such is my habitual state of mind. But waking from my 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 33 

delusion as from a dream, I do not see him, my child's 
father; he is very far from me. These transports occur 
again and again, and throw me into a state of extreme 
dejection. 

Although inexhaustibly voluble when she pours 
out her heart, she seems to be devoid of intellectual 
curiosity. She is an afflicted lover, a doting mother. 
But she seems to know nothing of that William whom 
she longs to see again, nor yet to want to learn 
anything. She does not inquire after his doings; 
does she even realise that he is a poet? 1 Of the war, 
of politics, of the dawning Terror she has not a word 
to say, except in so far as it concerns her lover's 
journey. Her sentimental absorption is absolute. 
The pathetic strain never relaxes. 

One may imagine Wordsworth's perturbation as 
he received these moving letters, which at first were 
frequent. Did many others come to his hand after 
2Oth March, 1793?" Were the next ones likewise 
intercepted S* We find no trace of another letter from 
Annette till the end of 1795. But one thing is sure: 
that Dorothy performed without much delay her 
arduous mission. She spoke to her uncle Cookson. 
The result was not favourable. She complains on 
i6th June in a letter to her friend Jane Pollard, " of--- i^L-l 
the prejudices of her two uncles against her dear f^, 
William." l She must have heard a thorough indict- 
ment of him, directed not only against his political 
heresies, and have been somewhat shaken by it, for 
she owns that " he has been somewhat to blame "; she 
adds, " The subject is an unpleasant one for a letter; 
it will employ us more agreeably in conversation." 
But her affection will take no serious alarm. She 

1 Professor Harper's Life of William Wordsworth, I. p. 202. 



34 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

perceives in her brother's strange and wayward 
nature, in his very errors, the mark of his genius. 
Repulsed by his guardians, called for by Annette, 
what did Wordsworth doS 1 War, which had been 
officially declared on ist February, had little by little 
become a reality. The lovers who had, when they 
parted, hoped for a near reunion, found themselves 
divided by an almost insuperable obstacle. William 
could only run the risk of another journey to France 
at the cost of the utmost difficulties and perils. Did 
he run that risk? 1 It is an open question. Much 
might be said to prove that he did or that he did 
not. On one point all his readers will be unanimous : 
they will wish that, for chivalry's sake, he had 
hastened to Annette's relief, notwithstanding his 
lack of money, in spite of the war and in the teeth 
' of danger. 

Against the probability of his having shown this 
courage there is the silence of his Prelude and our 
general knowledge of his cautious nature. His very 
sister had declared the year before, that he was " wise 
enough to get out of the way of danger." l A strange 
combination of outward circumstances and natural 
wariness always kept him from dangerous extrava- 
gances. Some friendly power always held him back 
on the brink of the precipice. He was not the man 
to defy fate. He it is who thought at one time of 
joining his destiny to that of the Girondins, but was 
prevented; who in the midst of the English counter- 
Terror wrote a proud republican letter to the Bishop 
of Llandaff, but kept it in manuscript and probably 
never even sent it to his opponent; who in 1795 
wrote satirical verses against the Court and the 
1 Letter of Dorothy, 6th May, 1792. Harper II. p. 181. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 35 

Regent, but decided not to publish them. His 
courage was of the passive rather than of the active 
kind. He was capable of stubbornness and silent 
pertinacity, not of that fiery temper that hurls itself 
against the cannon's mouth. 

But it is never safe to generalise. Young love may 
have momentarily transformed his native circumspec- 
tion. There are strong reasons to believe that for 
once he was capable of a fine imprudence, Why did 
he linger for a whole month towards the end of the 
summer of 1793 in the Isle of Wight when nothing t_ 
obliged him to do so, if he was not waiting for some 
smack to carry him over the Channel?" l Besides, he 
must have been in France again in the autumn of 
1793 if he was present at the execution of Gorsas, 
the first Girondin sent to the scaffold, on 7th Octo- 
ber, as he told Carlyle in i84o. 2 If we combine this 
statement with an anecdote related by Alaric Watts, 
which evidently contains some truth and much error, 
Wordsworth was on this occasion alarmed by a 
Republican named Bailey, who told him that he 
would surely be guillotined if he remained in France 
any longer, whereupon Wordsworth fled back to 
England. 3 The risk he had run simply by coming 

1 1 owe this suggestion to Mr. G. C. Smith, school inspector 
at Edinburgh, a keenWordsworthian. On Wordsworth's feelings 
while he stayed in the Isle of Wight, see Prelude, X. 315-30. 

2 Carlyle's Reminiscences : see Harper's William Words- 
worth, I. p. 209 and II. p. 417. 

3 Harper's William Wordsworth, 1. 179. According to Watts, 
Bailey said : " He had met Wordsworth in Paris, and having 
warned him that his connection with the Mountain rendered 
his situation there at that time perilous, the poet decamped 
with great precipitation." There is no indication of time. 
Wordsworth could be in no danger at the end of 1792, a 

D 



36 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

at all, at a time of war between the two countries, 
was extreme. As soon as the Terror had set in, it 
would have been sheer madness to stay on. As a 
friend of the Girondins and as an Englishman he 
was doubly liable to suspicion. 

Even if he made that bold attempt as his admirers 
wish it might be proved he did as it would perhaps 
be proved if the family papers relating to the Annette 
episode had not all been destroyed it is quite possible 
that he had only been able to reach Paris on his way 
to Blois and had had to take flight home, not only 
without marrying, but also without seeing Annette. 

Whether he crossed the Channel or not, we know 
by The Prelude how wretched at heart he was through- 
out the Terror. He was shaken with anger against 
the ministers of his country whom he held respon- 
sible for the war; he longed for the victory of the 
Republic over her enemies, over the English them- 
selves, and refused to join in the thanksgivings with 
which the churches of England greeted the naval 
successes of their people, even rejoicing within him- 
self at the defeat of the English armies. 

At first his poetry is gloomy. He puts into it all 
his hatred of war and takes a delight in recounting 
its atrocities. He paints its sinister effects on indi- 
viduals and families; he gives expression to his 
indignation against the whole of society, which is 
ill-ordered, unjust, merciless to the humble, heart- 
comparatively quiet period. He never was connected with 
the Mountain. His sympathies were all for the Girondins 
(Louvet against Robespierre, etc.). The anecdote is full of 
gross mistakes, but the fact of his being in Paris at a particularly 
dangerous moment, and his having decamped, can scarcely 
have been invented. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 37 

less and devoid of charity (Guilt and Sorrow). But 
he is, moreover, discontented with himself, con- 
science-stricken. In order to face needs which are 
no longer his only, he ought to set resolutely 
to work, and yet he remains the wanderer who x 
postpones the choice of a remunerative career. He 
lives from hand to mouth, as unbreakable to the 
yoke as when he had neither burdens nor respon- 
sibilities to bear. This is the great moral fault of- 
these years. His excuse is that, had he enriched 
himself by work, he could not, during the war, have 
shared it with wife or child. Hence a kind of inertia 
compounded of sundry elements : his general disgust 
of a society grown odious to him, his unconquerable 
reluctance to enter into any regular profession, his 
powerlessness to help the forsaken ones, and above 
all, the insistent call of his genius. An ordinary man 
would have perceived his urgent duty more clearly than 
the poet, harassed as he was by the demon of verse. 
^ Besides, whilst we can be sure that he considered 
it his duty to help Annette, it is less certain that he ~ 
remained anxious to marry her. It was in the course 
of this very year 1793, or very soon after, that he 
became the confirmed disciple of Godwin the philo- 
sopher, who was the adversary of marriage, which 
he proclaimed to be an evil institution, for cohabi- 
-tation provided an atmosphere too dangerous and 
disturbing for the intellect whose supreme need was 
calm. The wise man would relegate marriage to 
its place amongst other outworn prejudices. 1 The 

1 The denunciation of marriage was common at that time. 
Charles Lloyd's novel, Edmund Oliver (1798), is a defence of 
marriage against its then numerous enemies. The story is 
supposed to adumbrate a passage of Coleridge's early life. 



3 8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

poet echoes the philosopher. He discards at that time 

every institution, law, creed, rite, an4 only believes in 

__ 

personal Liberty, 

Which, to the blind restraints of general laws 
Superior, magisterially adopts 
One guide, the light of circumstances, flashed 
Upon an independent intellect. 1 

He may have gone further still in his enfranchisement, 
and fought against pity itself, a frequent source of 
injustice. Who knows but that he strove to harden 
his heart like Oswald in his Borderers $* 

The wiles of woman, 
And craft of age, seducing reason, first 
Made weakness a protection, and obscured 
The moral shapes of things. 1 

He felt that his first duty was to keep unblemished 
his intellectual faculties, above all his poetic gift, 
threatened by the anguished appeals from Blois. 
His nature was too tender and passionate to allow 
him to fortify himself against compassion. But it is 
likely that he may then have tried to harden his heart 
and, moreover, that he held this hardening to be a 
higher virtue. His first biographer, his nephew 
Bishop Wordsworth, who had in his hands and 
afterwards destroyed the evidence of the case, does 
not conceal that his uncle's doctrines then revealed 
themselves in his very conduct. True, he attributes 
the evil thereof to France and the Revolution: 
" The most licentious theories were propounded, all 
restraints were broken, libertinism was law." 3 Young 
Wordsworth, emancipated by the Revolution, would 

1 Prelude, XI. .240-4. * The Borderers, II. 1090-3. 

3 Memoirs of William Wordsworth, I. p. 74. 




WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 
From a drawing by Hancock in 1798 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 39 

for a time appear to have resembled the solitary man 
of his Excursion who did not scruple to display 
" unhallowed actions . . . worn as open signs of 
prejudice subdued." 1 " He was certainly no Don 
Juan, but could very well be an adept of free love. / 

While he was endeavouring to^ choke the voice of 
his heart and conscience by taking refuge in the 
abstraction of his ethical theories, Annette on the 
other hand, roused from her plaintive sorrow by a 
tragedy very near to her, was little by little infected 
by a political fever the violence of which was to 
counterpoise her love. 



VIII 

So grievous were the misfortunes through which 
the Vallons were to live during the Terror that the 
piteous situation of the young husbandless mother 
soon took a secondary place amid their troubles. 
Annette herself ceased to be absorbed by her own 
cares. At the time at which she wrote to Words- 
worth and Dorothy her tearful letter, the Terror was 
raging at Orleans, and Paul, her favourite brother, 
he who had stood by her in the time of her trouble, 
was about to come dangerously within reach of 
the guillotine. 

Paul Vallon found himself implicated in the alleged 
criminal attack on the delegate of the People 
Leonard Bourdon an affair in which ludicrous and 
atrocious elements are inextricably mixed. Bourdon 
was one of the most shameless demagogues of the 
1 The Excursion, II. 369-73. 



. 
' 



40 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Revolution, previously to which he had styled him- 
self Bourdon de la Crosnie're. The founder of an 
Educational Home and a clever self-advertiser, he 
had obtained from the Assemblee constituante per- 
mission to lodge in his institution the famous cen- 
tenarian of the Jura, so as, he said, to impress on 
his pupils a respect for old age. During the Legis- 
lative, he had managed to get himself elected as 
deputy for Orleans, his native town. Sent to this 
town in August 1792 to look into the procedure 
employed against the prisoners of the High Court, 
he had given help to Fournier, known as the Ameri- 
can, and had in consequence taken part in that 
butchering of the poor wretches by the septem- 
brisseurs, which we mentioned above. 

Although Bourdon's complicity cannot be distinctly 
determined, he had acquired for himself ever since 
that date a criminal notoriety at Orleans. However, 
supported by the most turbulent elements of the 
town, and thanks to them sent as deputy to the 
Convention, he delighted in defying his opponents, 
/the aristocrats of the national guard who were 
suspected of reactionary feelings. 

Thus it is that in March 1793, while on a mission 
to the C6te d'Or, he went out of his way to see his 
Jacobin friends at Orleans. Without seeing any of 
the local authorities, he immediately presented him- 
self amid acclamations to the People's Society, whom 
he excited with incendiary talk. The meeting at the 
club was followed by a patriotic dinner where 
drunkenness was added to political excitement. 
From the banquet-room, there soon poured forth 
an intoxicated and yelling mob that insulted the 
aristocrats on their way, and threatened the soldier 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 41 

on duty at the Town Hall. The man gave the alarm, 
the body of the guard rushed out and a scuffle ensued, 
in which Bourdon got a few bayonet thrusts which 
merely grazed his skin. The commanding officer of 
the national guard was not long in liberating Bourdon. 
The latter was carried to his inn and there most care- 
fully tended. Concerned about the consequences 
of the fray, the municipality expressed their regrets 
to Bourdon for a fight which they could neither 
foresee nor prevent. 1 

But Bourdon had made up his mind to strike the 
attitude of a republican martyr. He wrote to the 
Convention a letter in which he affects to be a victim 
of the aristocrats. He pictures the affair as a kind 
of conspiracy in which a delegate of the people 
hardly escaped being murdered. He was saved, he 
says, by nothing less than a miracle. If he is still 
living, he owes it to a coin, now dyed with his 
blood, which was in his pocket. That coin plays 
the part of the blessed medal in pious stories, for 
the blade, sliding along the face of the Goddess 
Liberty, was only thus prevented from penetrating 
more deeply. 2 Bourdon cries for revenge. At the 
Convention, Barrere claims to see in the assault, the 
news of which is brought by the same post as that 
of the Vendee insurrection, the proof of a huge 

1 Cf. Histoire de la Terreur, by Mortimer Ternaux, Vol. VI. 
p. 479 et sqq. The author is a deadly enemy of the Terrorists, 
but his information is perfectly accurate, as is proved by an 
examination of the original documents in the Archives nationales. 

2 Letter of Leonard Bourdon to the Convention of igth 
March, 1793. All the documents relating to the Bourdon 
affair are found in the Archives nationales, BBso 87 and 
AF" 167. 



42 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

monarchist plot: " They want," he says, " to murder 
the Republic, and begin with the patriot deputies." 
Full of indignation, the Convention declare Orleans 
to be in a state of rebellion, and suspend the muni- 
cipal authorities. The instigators of the plot are to 
be arraigned before the revolutionary court. 

The mayor of Orleans, however, writes to the 
Convention and asks that he may be held as sole 
culprit and sole responsible person; the reading of 
his generous letter instantly converts the hysterical 
assembly. The sentence is repealed only to be pro- 
nounced again a few days later by the influence of 
the Mountain. Not till a month later, on 26th April, 
is military law to be abrogated. 

During this month, Orleans lies under the terrorist 
regime. Some thirty suspected persons are impli- 
cated, among whom are Wordsworth's former land- 
lord, Gellet-Duvivier, and Annette's brother, Paul 
Vallon. 

The Jacobins at Orleans busy themselves in gather- 
ing evidence against the aristocrats and the national 
guard, which they hate. One of them, who was also 
one of the most active supporters of Bourdon, the 
apothecary Besserve, writes to his good brothers and 
friends to assure them that the affair is being actively 
followed up, that the accused have grounds for some 
uneasiness, that his own evidence has terrified more 
than one of them, that he spoke with the frankness 
characteristic of the genuine republican and honest 
man, and that " he showed Truth so naked that 
more than one judge fell in love with her." l 

1 Tuetey, Repertoire general des Sources manuscrites de 
rhistoire de Paris pendant la Revolution frangaise, Vol. VIII 
p. 278. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 43 

One can with difficulty form an idea of the idle- 
ness of most of the charges gathered by the delegates 
of the executive power who held the inquiry at 
Orleans. There may be some truth as regards poor 
Gellet-Duvivier. Not being fully responsible for his 
actions, he had shown extreme excitement in the 
scuffle amongst the national guard, in which he was 
a grenadier. Not only did he hurl insults against 
Bourdon and the Convention, but he took the deputy 
by the throat, knocked him down and struck him 
with his sword. It is even said that he fired one shot. 
Thus he was the first to be arrested. 

But one reads with bewilderment the charges 
brought against Paul Vallon, who was on special duty 
at the Town Hall. 

Citizen " X " gives evidence that a young citizen 
[told him] that having seized by the throat a young man 
who uttered insolent words and insulted Bourdon and 
the patriots, the young man thus seized cried out that he 
was not the man, and that citizen Vallon used every 
means to tear himself out of the hands of the patriots 
who held him. 

Citizen " Y " gives evidence that being at the Place 
de 1'Etape, he heard three or four young men who were 
gunners, grenadiers or chasseurs, say on seeing the 
patriots drawing near, " Here come the knave Goullu, 
the rascal Besserve and the other scoundrels "; that in 
the same moment there came out of the courtyard of the 
municipal buildings some thirty young men, that three 
of four of the said young men surrounded the witness, 
that one of them called at the top of his voice for one 
Vallon; and, seeing the said Vallon did not come, they 
turned back to assault citizen Besserve. 1 

1 Archives nationales, AF 11 167, No. 137. 



44 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Paul Vallon had tried to disengage himself from 
the patriots' hands; he had not come to the assaulters' 
help, but had been called to the rescue by one of 
them, and this evidence was amply sufficient to lose 
him his head. Was he not known in town as a friend 
of the old regime?* 

Yet some hope dawned for the accused. Other 
representatives of the people passing through Orleans, 
gave an account to the Convention of the wretched 
state of the town (nth May); by their statements 
the criminal attempt was reduced to a mere scuffle, 
the responsibility of which was thrown on to Bourdon. 
On i gth May, Noel read a report exonerating the 
town council and incriminating Bourdon. The 
Mountain grew indignant. The Girondin Lou vet 
made an eloquent reply. The Convention followed 
Noel's lead and cancelled their former verdict. But 
a fortnight later, the Mountain had the upper 
hand again. The accused, transferred to Paris, 
to the Conciergerie du Palais, were arraigned by 
Fouquier-Tinville before his tribunal. 

Gellet-Duvivier's daughter a minor now pre- 
sented a petition, in which she explains that since 
his wife's death her poor father's mind is unhinged, 
that the people of Orleans know him to be weak- 
minded, that since his arrest his madness has become 
complete, that his incoherent shouting prevents his 
fellow-prisoners from sleeping, that when she visits 
her father, he does not recognise her, calls her his 
wife and offers to marry her. She demands for him 
a medical examination so that his madness or weak- 
mindedness may be certified. 

In correct style, Fouquier-Tinville granted the 
examination, but poor Gellet-Duvivier nevertheless 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 45 

was one of the nine accused from Orleans to mount 
the scaffold on I3th July. 

Nearly two years passed after gth Thermidor 
before the iniquitous case was revised. Six sec- 
tions of the commune of Dijon the town Bourdon 
visited just after the scuffle at Orleans then de- 
nounced the deputy as having boasted that he 
had himself purposely provoked the fray (gth May, 
1795). Bourdon, who, in the meantime, had had 
his period of grandeur, who had succeeded to 
Robespierre as president of the Jacobins, who had 
dared to stand up against him not indeed as a 
moderating factor but by virtue of his alliance with 
the Hebertists or Enrages (maddened ones) and 
who, urged by his fear of his powerful enemy, had 
helped to accomplish his overthrow Bourdon was 
denounced as " infamous " by his colleagues, though 
they had been witnesses to many kinds of inhumanity. 
Legendre, during a stance of the Convention, Boissy 
d'Anglas in the Council of the Five Hundred, one 
after the other called him murderer. He lasted 
out till the Empire, however, having returned to 
his educational calling and become head of a 
primary school. 

Meanwhile, more cautious or more lucky than 
Gellet-Duvivier, Paul Vallon succeeded in saving 
his head. When they tried to arrest him on 24th 
April, 1793, he had disappeared. He figures among 
the accused, marked down as absent, whom Fou- 
quier-Tinville indicted on i6th June, and ordered 
to be committed to the Conciergerie. He was in 
hiding at Orleans at the house of a M. Lochon- 
Petitbois, a merchant and a friend of the family. 1 
1 Manuscript memoirs of Am6d6e Vallon, Paul's son. 



46 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

But we may well imagine the anxiety of his friends, 
and of his sisters, during all these months when the 
least word might cause his death. No doubt he 
was assisted by them as far as lay in their power, 
with the constant fear of their very help betraying 
him. No doubt also that the atrocious injustice under 
which their brother laboured inspired these women 
with the hatred of the Revolution. 

This miserable affair must have occupied a great 
part of the letters which Annette continued to send 
Wordsworth. But did he get them?' And did his 
own letters reach hers* The first he received, as far 
as we know, is that of which Dorothy speaks to a 
friend in November 1795: "William has had a 
letter from France since we came here. Annette 
mentions having despatched half a dozen, none of 
which he has received." l The violence of the war 
rendered all correspondence precarious, if not im- 
possible. However, relations became frequent again 
during the preliminaries of the Peace of Amiens. 
Then from 2ist December, 1801, to 24th March, 
1802, are noted down in Dorothy's diary a series of 
letters exchanged between the poet and Annette. It 
is clear that their correspondence was as active as 
possible, and that circumstances alone prevented it 
from being carried on continuously. 

1 Letter of Dorothy to Mrs. Marshall of 30th November, 
1795. See Harper, I. p. 292. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 47 



IX 

IF, in this new series of letters, Annette has no such 
tragic adventures to relate, yet misfortunes and 
dangers have not ceased to beset her and her friends 
after a short period of calm. 

The Terror once over, Paul Vallon having come out 
of his hiding-place and returned to the office of Maitrc 
Courtois, it seems there was a short period during 
which the Vallon family could breathe in peace. The 
three sisters lived together at Blois, poorly enough 
no doubt (but who was not poor thenS 1 )* but on 
good terms with the best society of the town. They 
lived with their mother and stepfather at the family 
house in the Rue du Pont. Sheltered by the name 
of Madame William that she had assumed, or of 
Veuve William for one finds both in turn Annette, 
protected from scandal, was bringing up Caroline. 
Her brother Charles Henry, who had become head 
of the family at the death of Jean Jacques, was in a 
prosperous situation as head surgeon at the Hospital 
of Blois. 

Life, after the fall of Robespierre and throughout 
the Directory, in spite of persisting troubles, in spite 
of war and the general impoverishment of the country, 
had the sweetness of convalescence. It seems to have 
had at Blois a peculiar charm, according to Dufort, 
Comte de Cheverny, who drew in his Memoirs this 
idyllic picture: 

Thanks be rendered to the inhabitants of the town 
of Blois, who have succeeded in making of the society 
which gather there the pleasantest that may be imagined. 
Blois is in every way preferable to its three neighbours, 



48 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Orleans, Vendome and Tours, a distinction it has always 
enjoyed. The general lack of means has levelled all 
rivalry and there is no disparity in rank. The insignifi- 
cant trade that is being carried on does not arouse com- 
petition. The few people who live at Blois stay by reason 
of its irresistible attraction. . . . Despite [he adds] the 
poverty suffered by all classes, there are gatherings of 
twenty, thirty people, sometimes more. The stranger 
admitted to these parties might think himself in the midst 
of a family. Women are elegantly dressed, and there are 
numbers of marriageable young girls, every one prettier 
than the next. Music is carried to a point of great per- 
fection. [They give concerts] that would be deemed 
good even in Paris. 1 

A fine spirit of generosity prevailed towards the 
victims of the Revolution, according to another wit- 
ness, the wife of Doctor Chambon de Montaux, 
who lived at Blois from 1793 to 1804: 

One would never end if one tried to give an account of 
the acts of kindness performed by the people of Blois on 
behalf of the unhappy proscribed. We were welcomed 
and helped as brothers by the nobility of the town true 
to king and state. Our tears were dried by the hand 
of friendship. 2 

Royalists were numerous and active. Blois was " one 
of the most ardent centres of the counter-revolution." 
The gth of Thermidor raised great hopes. The 
Vendemiaire insurrection found in Blois zealous 
agents who corresponded with the Paris sections in 

1 Memoires sur les Regnes de Louis XV, et Louis XVI. et sur 
la Revolution, par J. N. Dufort, Comte de Cheverny, Intro- 
ducteur des Ambassadeurs, Lieutenant General du Blaisois 
(1732-1802), publiees par Robert de Crevecceur. Tome II. 

* Quoted in Memoires de Madame Vallon, published by Guy 
Trouillard, p. 223 (note). 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 49 

revolt, and among these agents men such as Guyon 
de Montlivault and Pardessus the younger, to whom 
we constantly find reference among the friends of 
the Vallon sisters. These early hopes were to be 
wrecked on i3th Vendemiaire (5th October, 1795) 
by young Bonaparte on the steps of the church 
of St. Roch. At first great discouragement ensued 
for the royalists. The tone of Annette's letter 
mentioned by Dorothy on 3oth November, must 
have been very different according as it was written 
before or after i3th Vendemiaire. 

But soon the party took heart again. Without 
renouncing their aim, they changed their tactics. To 
the Parisian insurrection succeeded the provincial 
chouannerie of which Blois was to be one of the 
chief centres and into which Annette threw herself 
heart and soul. She allied herself with the most 
combative among the Chouans, those criticised 
by the Comte de Cheverny, whose own ideal was to 
keep himself and family safe by " an absolute 
nullity." ' 

Cheverny is full of recriminations against the im- 
prudent members of his class or party, whose 
intrigues endanger the security of others. Yet when 
the occasion comes, when a clever stroke has been 
well struck, he is fain to applaud it. Thus he relates 
with relish a certain incident at Blois in which one 
of the three sisters bears a part. 

It occurred after an anti-royalist move on the part 
of the Directory. The act of the 22nd of Germinal, 
in the fourth year of the Republic (nth April, 1796), 
had just prescribed new penalties against non-juring 
priests and emigrants. There happened to be two 
1 Mimoires de Cheverny , II. p. 128. 



50 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

emigrants in the prison of Blois. A plot was formed 
in the town to help them to escape. One morning 
five persons were arrested before the prison by a 
patrol ; among them was Lacaille the younger, aged 
sixteen years, gunsmith, and surgeon's apprentice 
under Vallon. They were accused of having planned 
the escape of the emigrants. On the ground by them 
was found a very well-made rope-ladder. And 
Cheverny adds here: 

A demoiselle Vallon, of meritorious character and of 
an obliging disposition, is questioned by the jury as to 
having ordered twenty-seven fathoms of rope to make 
the ladder which was to save the prisoners. She owns to 
having ordered the rope but says it is still in her attic, 
which is proved true. Thus she is pronounced not guilty. 1 

If Cheverny congratulates her, it is probably be- 
cause he thinks she showed both daring in abetting 
the escape and skill in getting out of the difficulty. 
He rejoices at the happy issue of the case which, 
in compliance with the request of the accused, had 
been tried in Orleans. Once acquitted, they came 
back triumphantly to Blois in the carriage of Brunei 
the coffee-house keeper, and a scuffle ensued between 
their followers and the Jacobin post on duty, in 
which the latter got the worst of it. 

Although we cannot say for certain which of the 
Vallon sisters Cheverny has in mind, there are many 
reasons to believe that it was Annette, who is always 
noted as the most active of the trio. She now defi- 
nitely separated herself from her uncles, the con- 
stitutional priests, and went back to the old form of 
worship. Her signature is found to a secret Roman 

1 Memoires de Cheverny, II. p. 295. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 51 

Catholic marriage, held in the private chapel used 
instead of the parish church of St. Honore, on I4th 
July, 1795. This is the one and only time she signs 
herself William Wordsworth Vallon. It seems that 
her enthusiasm carried away her relations. On 
agth December, 1796, her brother Charles Henry, 
who two years earlier had contracted a civil marriage 
with a girl named Charruyau, had their union secretly 
consecrated by a non-juring priest in a room of the 
house in the Rue Pierre de Blois, used instead of 
the church of St. Solenne. 1 

Annette and her sisters, but more particularly 
Annette, were allied to those too energetic families 
who fell under the displeasure of Cheverny. They 
were at the very heart of that chouannerie whose 
leaders were such men as Pardessus the younger, 
Charles de Rancogne, Guyon de Montlivault, with 
whom they were closely acquainted. 

Guyon de Montlivault was the nominal head of the 
Blois chouannerie. Cheverny, who disliked him for 
his turbulence, speaks of him as ambitious and 
trusted by nobody. Montlivault certainly lacked 
circumspection. He ingenuously betrayed the secrets 
of the conspiracy to a spy who passed himself off 
on him as a Chouan and who, on 3rd March, 1797, 
sent a report on the councils of the Chouans to 
the Ministry of Police: " I learned through him," 
says the spy, " that Blois had a paid Chouan 
brigade, bound by the customary oath, recruited 
among the artisans and labourers, but of established 
moral character and formed only to ensure the 
secret execution of the Council's designs." Their 

1 Notes furnished by Abb6 J. Gallerand, professor at the 
Seminary of Blois. 
E 



5 2 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

procedure was to provoke the former Terrorists to 
make trouble so that the suspicions of the Directory 
might be shifted on to them. The Chouans were 
under oath to render every assistance to the Catholic 
and royal party. 1 

It was no mere affair of caste, as may be seen. The 
bulk of the soldiery was drawn from the people. Part 
of the population lightheartedly entered the fight 
against the Jacobins, insulted and reviled them, occa- 
sionally came to blows with them. In the ranks of the 
conspirators were found men of all ranks. The Vallon 
sisters threw their house open to noblemen such as 
Montlivault and Rancogne, to bourgeois such as Jean 
Marie Pardessus, to artisans such as the gunsmith 
Lacaille and his sons, to mention only those whose 
names are coupled with theirs in the police reports. 
Pardessus's father had been in custody during the 
Terror, his younger brother was killed at Savenay, 
fighting under Larochejaquelin, Jean Marie himself 
was the ordinary counsel for the Chouans of the 
region when brought to justice. Charles, the son of 
the Marquis de Rancogne, despite the entreaties of 
his father as timorous as Cheverny himself was 
for a time a captain under Georges Cadoudal. The 
younger Lacaille too, it is said, fought under the 
same chief. Lacaille's very apprentices were known 
for their extremist opinions; one of them was later 
shot at Brest under suspicion of espionage in 
English pay. 

The usual meeting-place of the Chouans was, 
doubtless, Berruet's coffee-house, "The Three 

1 Memoires sur les Conseils Chouans remis au Ministrc 
dc la Police generate le 13 Ventose an V. (3 mars, 1797): 
Archives nationales, F7 6200. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 53 

Merchants." But there were more secret haunts, 
used chiefly by those who were being tracked down, 
and the house of the Vallon sisters was one of these 
shelters. We do not know the name of those " num- 
berless " French people who, as we are told by a 
Restoration document, 1 owed their salvation to 
Annette, of those who were " saved, hidden and 
assisted by her," of the persecuted emigrants and 
priests whom she helped to escape from prison and 
death. Among those who later testify to her devoted- 
ness, only one, the Chevalier de la Rochemouhet, 
declares that " Madame William saved his life at the 
peril of her own." The others are witnesses to her 
devotion rather than personally her debtors : Theo- 
dore de Montlivault, the Comte de Salaberry, the 
Vicomte de Malartic, the Baron de Tardif, etc. 
... It is just possible that the Vicomte de Mont- 
morency-Laval owed her some direct assistance in 
his troubles. Formerly a staunch liberal he had 
gone as far as to move, on the night of 4th August, 
the abolition of the aristocratic privileges he had 
repented of what he termed his errors ; towards the 
end of the century he was in the department of 
Loir-et-Cher under threat of arrest. When the 
Bourbons came back to the throne, he gave proof 
of his gratitude to Annette. 

All those who struck at the Jacobins won Annette's 
sympathy, amongst others Nicolas Bailly, whom we 
shall meet later as her great friend. It was he who, 
entrusted with the public prosecutor's speech against 
Babeuf and his followers at Vendome in May 1797, 
contributed to the condemnation of the redoubtable 
socialist and to the fall of his Jacobin supporters. 
1 See Appendix IV. 



54 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

The activity of the Vallon sisters, and chiefly of 
Annette, was extreme and could not long escape the 
attention of the government. The police searches 
ranged nearer and nearer and ended in the compila- 
tion of a long list of suspected persons, whose 
arrest was decreed by the Minister of Justice. This 
vigilance began at the end of the Directory, and 
continued into the first months of the Consulate. 
From loth October, 1799, to 3ist January, 1800, 
were indicted: Montlivault, Montmorency - Laval, 
Rancogne the younger, Jean Marie Pardessus, Puzela 
(Paul Vallon's future father-in-law, whom we shall 
meet again), among many others. Annette was one of 
the persons not to be arrested on the spot, but for 
whom " it were advisable to have an order for a 
domiciliary search to examine their papers and arrest 
them if any plotting is discovered " (police document, 
3ist January, 1800). She is marked down on the 
police paper as " Widow Williams at Blois; gives 
shelter to the Chouans." l 

We do not know whether the search took place. 
It is certain, however, that more coherent action 
was being taken against the Chouans. Most of them 
were discovered; some were imprisoned, others 
placed under supervision and rendered powerless. 
The big fight in the West ended on 26th January, 
1800, with Georges Cadoudal's defeat at Pont de 
Loch, followed by his submission. The Chouans 
were capable of nothing more than spasmodic 
movements in the following years. 

This was a source of sadness for a zealous royalist 
like Annette, and personal troubles were added to it. 
Her eldest sister Francoise, at more than thirty- 
1 Archives nationales, F7 6200. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 55 

five years old, was implicated in a mysterious and 
painful adventure. 

We must imagine the strange atmosphere in which 
these women conspirators moved in order to under- 
stand there is no question of excusing what hap- 
pened to Frangoise. We must consider the perturbing 
promiscuity of excited men and women maddened in 
turn with anger and with fear, the secret meetings, 
the long whisperings, the feverish intimacy, when 
pity provokes love and danger leads to unrestraint. 
In 1798, Frangoise gave birth to a son whose father 
is not known. Given the extraordinary laxity of 
morals throughout the country during the Directory, 
the mad thirst for pleasure which carried away all 
classes, and the general discredit into which marriage 
had fallen, this might have been a simple occurrence 
enough at a time when so many men and women 
" followed nature." But in the house of the Vallon 
sisters, who were known for their devotion to Church 
and Throne, and who were nieces of two priests, the 
matter was different. It was a scandal in the very 
sanctuary. What jeers, what sarcasms would be 
levelled at the Catholic conspirators! How their 
adversaries would make use of the adventure to 
ridicule the Cause itself! Thus Frangoise was in- 
duced, after having concealed her state, to abandon 
the child. The very day of its birth (ist November, 
1798), it was exposed at the Hospital of Blois, where, 
on account of the date (nth Brumaire of the seventh 
year of the Republic), they gave it the names of 
Toussaint Decadi. Both calendars were thus united : 
Dcadi, a revolutionary name, striking a strangely 
false note in the records of a monarchist family. 

We must remember that Franchise's brother, Charles 



5 6 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Henry, was head of the hospital. We may conclude 
that he connived at the plan and exercised special 
supervision over the disowned child. Nature had 
been sacrificed to the Cause, but it would be wrong 
to regard Franoise as devoid of all maternal feeling. 
She suffered and did not forget. Twenty years later, 
when settled away from Blois, in Paris, where she 
was safe from the malicious curiosity of neighbours, 
she owned Toussaint De"cadi as her child (22nd May, 
1819), and some time afterwards married him to a 
girl of illegitimate birth, who could not upbraid him 
with his own (22nd July, 1820). 

At the same time, Annette was beset with other 
anxieties concerning her brother Paul, who suddenly 
left Orleans, in 1800, to lead in Paris a precarious and 
disorderly existence of which we shall speak further. 

It is not probable that Annette related all these 
misfortunes in the letters received from her by 
Wordsworth at the beginning of 1802, but she 
could tell enough to justify Dorothy's exclamation, 
"Poor Annette!" 



WHILE these various cares engrossed Annette and 
severed from him, if not her heart, at least her 
thoughts, the poet himself was drifting from the 
love that had long possessed him by turns with de- 
light and with suffering. We can ascribe to the end 
of 1795 the growing estrangement of which at first 
he may not have'BeelTquite conscious. During the 
Terror, his passion had been kept on the alert by 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 57 

the dread of the scaffold to which he might think 
Annette exposed, realising as he did her generous 
imprudence. He has related the nightmares that 
haunted his sleep, without confessing, however, that 
they were not merely called up by vague and general 
fears, but by intimate and tangible realities. There 
was, moreover, no abatement in his love for France. 
He saw the crimes that were committed, but he also 
saw the acts of heroism which shone through that 
darkness. He deplored the actions of the ruling 
1 party, but preserved his faith in the people " and in 
the virtues which his eyes had seen." l Circumstances 
had simultaneously brought into existence his love 
for the woman who was becoming an ardent 
royalist and his enthusiasm for republican France. 
The destinies of these two passions remained strangely 
interwoven. As long as France continued to be 
the land on which his hopes centred, Annette had 
no reason to fear forgetfulness or estrangement. 

But the war continued, still preventing the wished- 
for meeting. By slow degrees, France, becoming a 
warlike nation, lost her prestige for him France, 
together with all he had left there. The indefinite 
duration of hostilities obliged him to fix his life in 
his own country since he was shut out from the other. 
His need of feminine tenderness was almost satisfied 
by his re-union with his sister Dorothy, in whom 
he discovered treasures of imaginative and poetical 
sympathy of which his French friend, unacquainted 
with his tongue, deaf to his verses, unaccustomed to 
rural life, was quite incapable. Besides, a prolonged 
feeling of powerlessness brings with it a kind of 
paralysis of the affections. Had he been willing to 
1 Prelude, XL 87. 



58 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

atone for the harm done to Annette/ he could not 
have done so. Had he been desirous of helping her 
in the accomplishment of her maternal duty, he had 
neither the money nor the means of sending it. 

When, by his friend Raisley Calvert's legacy in 
1795, he was enabled to dispose of 900, he could 
not use this sum in assisting mother and child. He 
used it as is well known. He secured for himself out 
of the income of his modest capital a very frugal 
life devoted to poetry, which he shared with his 
sister at Racedown. And the happiness he enjoyed 
there was such that after a time he must have felt 
a secret terror of any alteration in his mode of living 
that would deprive him of Dorothy, tear him from 
the Muse and the country. When to Dorothy was 
added Coleridge, when his emotional and intellec- 
tual life was in a way complete, when the first poems 
which gave him the certainty of his genius gushed 
out, and he advanced towards the composition of 
the Lyrical Ballads in the combined joy of friend- 
ship and poetry; above all, when from the confusion 
in which Godwin's anarchic doctrines had left him, 
he turned again to his own country, which day after 
day became dearer and more indispensable to his 
heart, and steeped himself again in the remotest 
memories of his childhood centred round the Lake 
district then the thought of Annette and Caroline, 
moving as it still was, no longer came before his 
eyes save as a troubling vision, contrary to the 
direction now followed by the flow of his existence. 

There was not, at first, any lessening of his sym- 
pathy for their distress nor of the feeling of the 
obligations he had incurred. But when troubled by 
his recollections, he used the famous Goethean re- 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 59 

cipe and turned his memories into verse. His poetry 
in these years teems with subjects in which his 
own distress is poured forth, in dramatic form, in 
affecting stories of seduced maidens, forsaken wives, 
or simply of wretched women whose lives have been 
wrecked by the war. Sometimes the details of the 
story are widely different from Annette's, sometimes 
they closely resemble it, but in all these tales 
the recurrence of which might justly astonish us if 
we knew nothing of his own adventure we find the 
same pathos issuing from a heart tormented by 
remembrance and remorse. 

Thus, in The Ruined Cottage 1 (1797), or the tale v' 
of Margaret, we have the story of a woman happy 
before war spreads desolation over the country, 
whose husband one day joins the colours, driven 
thereto by unemployment, and never comes back. 
She sees her little child die, her garden grow waste, 
her cottage fall to ruins. 

In The Thorn (1798), we are given the sad picture 
of Martha Ray, forsaken and left with child by 
Stephen Hill, who marries another. She kills her 
infant and becomes half mad with grief and remorse. 
She constantly returns to weep on the mound planted 
with a thorn, where the villagers think she buried 
the little corpse. 

Above all, in Her eyes are wild (1798), one of his ^ 
most moving ballads, we hear the lament of the 
poor woman deserted by her husband while she 
suckles her babe a prolonged complaint, a poignant 
appeal to the forgetful absent one. Had not the poet 
the frequent vision of another forsaken woman 

1 Afterwards inserted by him in the First Book of The 
Excursion. 






60 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

lulling her babe to rest, who could indeed imagine, 
as she looked in vain for the return of the father, 
that he no longer cared for hers* Here we distinctly 
recognise some of the feelings to which Annette 
gives expression in her letter of I793'. 1 

Thy father cares not for my breast, 
Tis thine, sweet baby, there to rest; 
'Tis all thine own! and if its hue 
Be changed, that was so fair to view, 
'Tis fair enough for thee, my dove ! 
My beauty, little child, is flown, 
But thou wilt live with me in love; 
And what if my poor cheek be brown?" 
'Tis well for me thou canst not see 
How pale and wan it else would be. 

Dread not their taunts, my little Life; 
I am thy father's wedded wife : 
And underneath the spreading tree 
We two will live in honesty. 
If his sweet boy he could forsake, 

1 Cf. in Annette's letter: " She is such a pretty little one, so 
pretty that my love of her almost distracts me unless I hold 
her continually in my arms. . . . Behold your wife; sorrow 
has altered her much. Do you know hers* ... If her 
features are altered . . . her heart is unchanged. It is still yours. 
Know your Annette, Caroline's tender mother." ..." I 
cannot express the degree of my love for my daughter. When 
I hold her in my arms I often repeat to her: ' Caroline, my 
dear child, you have not your father; he is far away, poor 
little one. . . . Call him to you, my pet. . . .' The only 
pleasure left me is to see her. . . . ' Your father is not so 
happy as I, Caroline, he will not see you with this tiny cap 
on your head.' " 

Wordsworth never read that letter, but he received many 
others which perhaps came much nearer the feelings expressed 
in his ballad. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 61 

With me he never would have stayed : 
From him no harm my babe can take; 
But he, poor man, is wretched made; 
And every day we two will pray 
For him that's gone and far away. 

Again there isJRuth (1799), who is carried away by 
the sweet words of the young Georgian, by his 
enchanting descriptions of the Tropics. She allows 
him to lead her to the altar, but the young husband, 
soon caught again by his passion for a free and 
wandering life, shortly after leaves her and she 
becomes mad with grief. 

Fifteen years later, we find the same story told 
again in The Excursion, 1 but this time in a tone of 
edification. We are invited to mourn over the poor 
young peasant girl Ellen, so grave and so beautiful, 
who yet was seduced and had for sole comfort the 
child of her sin. Poverty drives her to hire herself 
as a nurse; her child dies. Ellen fades away and dies 
full of repentance. 



XI 

THUS did Wordsworth give utterance to his trouble 
when he thought of Annette. This is certainly not 
forgetfulness. In letters he wrote to Dorothy in 1800 
he still spoke with tender feeling of Annette and her 
child. But what was beyond his control was to 
prevent his imagination from becoming estranged 
from her as from a being alien to his deeper nature. 
She appeared to him more and more as an^ accident, 
a surprise in the course of his existence. As early 
1 Book VI. 786-1073. 






62 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

as 1799, he had repudiated her poetically, had out of 
the secrecy of his past discovered a favoured rival. 
He had sacrificed her to the memory of Lucy. 

The Lucy poems, which are among the purest 
jewels of the Wordsworthian poetry, were written 
during a stay he made at Goslar, in Germany, with 
Dorothy, in 1799. Read in the light of Annette's 
adventure, they assume a newer and perhaps a 
deeper meaning. 

Doubtless she remains an enigma to us, this young 
Lucy, to whose cottage the poet went on horseback 
in the moonlight. We have here the memory of a 
youthful love which it is fit we should place before 
that for Annette. It is indeed at this date 1799 
that Wordsworth's mind reverts to the early time of 
his life and to his native hills, in order to draw new 
faith and strength from them. One can fancy Lucy 
loved by the Hawkshead pupil about the end of his 
school time, or by the Cambridge student during 
one of his vacations. What we have to consider here 
is that Wordsworth conveys to her, into the grave 
where she has long been buried, the assurance that 
it is she whom he was right in loving, she whose 
love had sunk deepest into his heart. 

She had indeed two claims on his love, over which 
nothing now seems to him able to prevail. She was 
^_mpurjijain_girl, dwelling in a secluded and lovely 
dale. Nature meant to mould her herself, to make 
of her ** a lady of her own." Her beauty was like 
the reflection of the beauty of heaven, of clouds, 
springs and woods: 

And hers shall be the breathing balm, 
And hers the silence and the calm 
Of mute insensate things. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 63 

The floating clouds their state shall lend 

To her; for her the willow bend; 

Nor shall she fail to see 

Even in the motions of the Storm 

Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form 

By silent sympathy. 

The stars of midnight shall be dear 

To her; and she shall lean her ear 

In many a secret place 

Where rivulets dance their wayward round, 

And beauty born of murmuring sound 

Shall pass into her face. 

Lucy's other claim was that she was English. No 
doubt it is the weariness of his stay in Germany, 
which forces from the poet a vow nevermore to 
leave his country. No doubt his time in France had 
been very different and he had then rebelled against 
the necessity which recalled him to London. But now 
all foreign countries are repellent to him. He recon- 
ciles himself with his own country over Lucy's grave : 

I travelled among unknown men, 

In lands beyond the sea; 
Nor, England ! did I know till then 

What love I bore to thee. 

'Tis past, that melancholy dream! 

Nor will I quit thy shore 
A second time; for still I seem 

To love thee more and more. 

Among thy mountains did I feel 

The joy of my desire; 
And she I cherished turned her wheel 

Beside an English fire. 

Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed, 
The bowers where Lucy played; 

And thine too is the last green field 
That Lucy's eyes surveyed. 



64 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

It may be that these verses were not directed against 
^ Annette, but they pass her over and, by ignoring her, 
they pronounce her doom. She it is who owes nothing 
to the soil or sky of England, who speaks another 
language, who would be an exile in an English 
village and wondered at by the villagers. Above 
all she is town-born and town-bred, garrulous of 
speech and possessed of all the worldly qualities 
which the poet now proclaims worthless if not repre- 
hensible, and there are in her none of the inclina- 
tions that bind a soul to Nature. She is a foreigner 
and a townswoman. If ever the poet now did 
marry her, it would be out of gratitude or from a 
sense of duty, but with the inward certainty of 
having wrecked his life. 



XII 

Now, thanks to his sister, he finds the new Lucy in 
so far as it is possible for another woman to renew 
the miracle of an apparition beloved at the dawn of 
youth, and made divine by death. He had quite 
forgotten her, that Mary Hutchinson who was his 
schoolfellow at the Penrith dame's school, and whom 
he had seen again, with pleasure, in the same place 
during his summer holidays of 1789. In later years 
she had long been driven from his thoughts by 
Annette. Dorothy herself, who was her comrade, 
had neglected her for her bosom friend Miss Pollard. 
But Miss Pollard was now married, and time, distance 
and silence had caused Annette's memory to fade 
more and more. Dorothy, in whom every other 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 65 

consideration gave way to the duty of protecting her 
brother's genius, invited Mary to visit her at Race- 
down, where she spent the spring of 1797, not seeing 
much of the poet however, who frequently absented 
himself during this time. It is after the journey to 
Germany and the Lucy poems that William appears 
to have been convinced that the happiness of his 
life would be found in a marriage with the gentle 
and^quiet English girl, who knew and loved rustic 
life so well. In May 1800, he went to see her at the 
Yorkshire farm where she and her family lived, and 
in her turn she spent the winter of 1801-2 at Dove 
Cottage, the humble house at Grasmere, in the Lake 
Country, in which Wordsworth and Dorothy had 
settled at the beginning of the century. Meanwhile, 
the poet addressed to Mary a definite declaration of 
love, for what other name can we give to the poem 
to Mary Hutchinson written and published as early 
as 18005* l 

In a walk amid the woods he found a delightful 
secluded glade, enclosing a lawn and a small pool. 
The place was sheltered from the hot sun and the 
rough wind. This peaceful retreat immediately 
blended itself in his mind with the soothing image 
of Mary. It is unknown to travellers: 

. . . but it is beautiful; 
And if a man should plant his cottage near, 
Should sleep beneath the shelter of its trees, 
And blend its waters with his daily meal, 
He would so love it, that in his death-hour 
Its image would survive among his thoughts: 
And therefore, my sweet Mary, this still Nook, 
With all its beeches, we have named from You. 

1 To M. H.: " Our walk was far . . ." 



66 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

The declaration was made, and if anything still 
withheld Wordsworth from marrying, it was not 
Annette, but his lack of money, or rather, it seems, 
> his inability to support both Annette and Mary: 
was he not to provide for his daughter's educations' 
(He had decidedly abandoned the thought of making 
Annette his wife.) He also had and here his courage 
is seen to tell Mary everything, if he had not done 
so before. It is true that this confession was then 
less difficult than it seemed to be a generation later. 
/A natural child was a frequent occurrence and did 
not mean so much. 1 Whatever else we may think, 
Wordsworth's honesty is evident. To him the lot 
of the two women was interdependent. He wished 
neither Mary to be ignorant of his past nor Annette 
of his decision. We read in Dorothy's diary of 
3ist March, 1802: 

A rainy day. William very poorly. Two letters from 
Sarah [Mary's sister] and one from poor Annette. . . . 
We resolved to see Annette, and that William should go 
to Mary. 

The pecuniary condition was fulfilled almost imme- 
diately after this decision. In June, Wordsworth 
learned that the son of the old Earl of Lonsdale 
who had just died, would pay his father's debt; and 
Mary was told without delay. Dorothy and he were 
to leave Grasmere to go and see her. From now on 
she was his betrothed. 

This is proved by the Farewell he addressed, before 
leaving his little Dove Cottage, to his garden and 
flowers, promising them a speedy return with her 
who is to be his wife: 

1 See ante, p. 4. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 67 

We go for One to whom ye will be dear; 
And she will prize this Bower, this Indian shed/ 
Our own contrivance, Building without peer! 
A gentle Maid, whose heart is lowly bred, 
Whose pleasures are in wild fields gathered, 
With joyousness, and with a thoughtful cheer, 
Will come to you; to you herself will wed; 
And love the blessed life that we lead here. . . . 

O happy Garden ! . . . 
Two burning months let summer overleap, 
And, coming back with Her who will be ours, 
Into thy bosom we again shall creep. 

Brother and sister start for Gallow Hill, near Scar- 
borough, where they spend ten days near Mary, 
from i6th to 26th July. Then by way of London 
they reach Calais, where Annette had agreed to 
meet them, arriving there on ist August. They 
stayed four weeks with her and Caroline. 



XIII 

ALTHOUGH we can fairly well guess the reasons for 
the visit, there is still something strange about this 
August spent at Calais with Annette. Their corre- 
spondence had been resumed as soon as the pre- 
liminaries of peace made it possible. Wordsworth 
was to go to her as soon as the treaty of Amiens 
opened France again to him. This alacrity might 
well induce one to think his passion was still alive. 
No doubt, by taking his sister along with him, 
Wordsworth plainly meant that there was no question 
of a renewal of their former irregular relations. 
Dorothy was, so to speak, acting as a chaperon. 
But to consecrate four weeks to the parting of two 
F 



68 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

lovers is a somewhat extraordinary proceeding, especi- 
ally when one considers that during that time Mary 
was awaiting her lover. 

Everything seems to have passed simply and 
cordially, without transports of affection or out- 
bursts of passion. In Dorothy's diary of the period, 
written just after her return to Grasmere, we read: 

We found Annette and Caroline chez Madame Avril 
dans la rue de la Tete a" Or. . . . We walked by the sea- 
shore almost every evening with Annette and Caroline 
or William and I alone. One night I shall never forget 
the day had been very hot, and William and I walked 
alone together upon the pier. 

" Alone," that is without Annette, for Dorothy adds : 
" Caroline was delighted." 

It was on this occasion that Wordsworth wrote 
one of his most famous sonnets, the only one of his 
poems that relates to his French daughter: 

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free; 

The holy time is quiet as a Nun 

Breathless with adoration; the broad sun 

Is sinking down in its tranquillity; 

The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea: 

Listen! the mighty Being is awake, 

And doth with his eternal motion make 

A sound like thunder everlastingly. 

Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here, 

If thou appear untouched by solemn thought, 

Thy nature is not therefore less divine: 

Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year; 

And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine, 

God being with thee when we know it not. 

There is certainly nothing in this pious effusion, 
full of biblical and religious evocations, to betray 
the presence of a natural daughter of the poet. That 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 69 

is why many critics have thought that Wordsworth 
here addressed his own sister regardless of the factf 
that Dorothy was of all women the most exquisitely 
sensitive to natural beauty. To us who are better 
informed, this almost sacerdotal blessing offers a 
striking example of the way in which Wordsworth 
was apt to solemnise the most mundane passages of ^_ 
his life. It may either irritate or amuse readers averse 
from all untimely and inopportune solemnity. There 
is indeed a wonderful forgetfulness of contingencies, 
a rare lack of compunction in the father, a frail 
sinner, who transforms himself into a sovereign 
pontiff. 

But the words in the sonnet which are of greatest 
import to us are " untouched by solemn thought," 
which furnish us with a key to the imaginative dis- 
agreement between the Wordsworths and not only 
Caroline, but also and still more Annette. To 
be sure Caroline was a ten-year-old child who was 
readier to play on Calais pier than to contemplate 
with august emotion the setting of the sun in the 
sea. All we know of her tends to prove that she was 
playful and lively, more sociable than contemplative. 
It is no mere question of age, Annette, like her 
daughter, was ill-fitted for prolonged ecstasies in the 
presence of nature. Her mind would soon turn back " 
to her ordinary cares, to her friends at Blois, to the 
political intrigues she had left in suspense to revisit 
her former lover. 

William and she had now only one common 
feeling, their hatred of Bonaparte; and even in this v 
they differed, for they hated him for diametrically 
opposite reasons. Annette execrated in him the hero 
of 1 3th Vendemiaire who had ruined the last royalist 



7 o WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

hopes, the Consul who, instead of using his absolute 
power to restore the Bourbons, was stifling chouan- 
nerie and preparing the accession of his own dynasty. 
/ Precisely on the i5th of that month of August, fell 
the anniversary of his birth and the proclamation of 
his Consulship for life. They were sources of common 
woe and indignation for the two lovers of yore. But 
Wordsworth's anger was roused by seeing his re- 
^ publican dreams belied and set at naught by the 
return of tyranny. He was exasperated with those 
of his compatriots who were pouring into France to 
salute the new despot. He contrasted the Calais of 
1802 with that of 1790, the official and joyless pomps 
of the present festivities with the raptures of true 
mirth at the Federation. The words " Good morrow, 
citizen," which had made his heart beat faster and 
had seemed to him the very accents of fraternity, 
were now, though he still heard them here and there, 
" a hollow word, as if a dead man spoke it." x 

His rekindling patriotism was fanned by the dis- 
appointment caused by this new visit to the country 
in which he had once so nearly lost it. What a change ! 
The English name was no longer on French soil, as 
it was wont to be, a token of honour, a symbol of 
Freedom; it was an enemy's name, frequently 
coupled with curses. War had filled the souls of the 
two peoples with mutual hatred. He felt the weak- 
ness of the peace treaty which had enabled him to 
make this journey: 

I, with many a fear 

For my dear Country, many heartfelt sighs, 
Among men who do not love her, linger here. 2 

'Sonnet: "Jones! as from Calais . . ." 
1 Sonnet: " Fair Star of evening . . ." 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 71 

All the acts, past or present, of the new master were 
hateful to him. As a poet he lamented the extinction 
of the Venetian Republic, 1 so great in the memories 
of men. He pitied Toussaint L'Ouverture who was 
thrown into prison. 2 He waxed indignant at the 
return to slavery decreed in the very country in 
which all men had so recently been proclaimed free. 
He execrated the act which drove all the negroes 
from France. 3 

However, he did not yet recant his old affection 
for France. He did not yet decisively take sides with 
either of the two nations which in this time of peace *~ 
were moving towards an imminent and terrible 
encounter. He tried to divert his thoughts from the 
present so that he might cling to hope: 

Happy is he, who caring not for Pope, 
Consul, or King, can sound himself to know 
The destiny of Man, and live in hope. 

With his mind thus engaged, feeling himself already 
half a stranger, he listened with inattentive ears to 
the long tales recounted by Annette of the politics 
of Blois, of the conspiracies into which she had 
ardently plunged, but of which neither names nor 
details affected the poet. Besides, what did the 
monarchist and Catholic cause matter to him thens* 
It was to take thirteen years of a new and formidable 
war to make him desire the restoration of the Bour- ' 
bons. Annette's arguments and explanations jarred 
with his own opinions. Much as he might admire 
the bravery of the loyal monarchist, and be moved 

1 Sonnet: " Once did she hold . . ." 

2 Sonnet: " Toussaint, the most unhappy . . ." 

3 Sonnet: " We had a female passenger . . ." 



72 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

by her perils and misfortunes, he could not but 
blame morals and habits which were suggested by 
Annette's narratives, whatever might be her reserve 
in the telling. 

How far away he felt her to be from what now 
made up his whole life, not only from nature, but 
from poetry as he understood and practised it! 
Between them stood the barrier of language; never 
could she delight in the verses he had written, nor 
in those he still would write; never would she grasp 
their rhythm nor their beauty; even if he translated 
them to her, scarcely could she catch at a few of 
the ideas that had inspired him, and those ideas, 
strange and subtle as they were, were more likely to 
bewilder than to enchant her. His daughter herself 
did not know English, and he despaired of ever 
making her intellectually and poetically his child. 
Besides, in the long interval which had elapsed since 
1793 he had lost the fluency and readiness of his 
French. To speak it was now a painful effort, words 
and accentuation played him false. 

To balance these impressions of profound dis- 
appointment he would have had to feel some renewal 
of the old fascination, a rekindling of the ashes of 
his sensuous and exalted passion. Alas! Annette 
was now thirty-six, and aged, no doubt, by anxieties 
and trials. He, on the other hand, was still a young 
man, and shielded from her influence by a new love; 
all he could feel for her was a remnant of affection 
compounded of gratitude for the past, of pity for 
the present. 

With the wisdom and calm which the years 
had brought, they were, moreover, probably both 
agreed on rejecting the idea of a permanent union. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 73 

Circumstances, against which they had railed so 
long, had on the whole been merciful in holding them 
apart. The ten years they had lived away from each 
other had opened an impassable gulf between their 
tastes and habits, or rather had brought to light the 
essential difference of their natures. Annette, no less 
than William, now realised the impossibility of a life 
in common. She would have been deeply grieved at 
parting from her friends at Blois, to whom she was 
bound by the ties of common hopes, fears and perils. 
She would have been terrified at the idea of the 
hostile island, where a language unknown to her 
was spoken, where (to judge by William and 
Dorothy, in spite of all their friendly attentions) 
the people had their own ways of seeing and feeling, 
their own emotions and pleasures which were so 
different from hers. 

Both showed rare wisdom in confirming their 
separation, and still greater wisdom in parting in 
friendship with kind thoughts towards each other. 
Indeed this equanimity was possible only because 
passion was dead. There subsisted only the memory 
of the past which seems to have remained with them 
untroubled by poignant regrets. The whole story 
ended without any ill-feeling, with a certain sweet- 
ness veiled by a shadow of sadness. We read in 
Dorothy's diary on agth August, the very day of the 
Wordsworths' return to Dover : " We sate upon the 
Dover cliffs, and looked upon France with many a 
melancholy and tender thought." 

What had been agreed upon between Wordsworth 
and Annette? 1 Wo do not know. Neither do we 
know what steps he took to assist the mother of his 
child, nor the offers he had made. It may be that 



74 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Wordsworth, fearing for Caroline the influence of 
Annette's combativity, proposed to take charge of his 
daughter after having come to an agreement with Mary 
Hutchinson, who was capable in her generous kind- 
ness of being a mother to her. But neither Annette 
nor Caroline, who were all in all to one another, 
could consent to this change. The help proffered 
by Wordsworth for his child's education then took 
another form, of which we have no evidence. Was it 
immediate and effectual S 1 Or was it the promise of 
a yearly help soon cancelled by circumstances? 1 It 
was not till the following year that the Earl of 
Lonsdale was to repay the money owed by his 
father. Wordsworth had received nothing of it when 
he saw Annette at Calais. If he was content with 
a mere promise, what was the outcome of it later 
ons 1 Eight months after their meeting, war broke 
out anew, and all communication between them was 
once more cut off. 

The one thing certain is that Caroline remained 
with her of whom circumstances had made her 
doubly the daughter. She remained French and 
spoke the language of France. 

The Calais interview was the decisive crisis of 
the love of Wordsworth and Annette. They were 
to remain friends to the end friends, but never 
husband and wife, William .was to marry Mary, 
and eventually did so on 4th October. Annette was 
to go back to Blois with Caroline. The former 
lovers saw one another only once again, eighteen 
years afterwards. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 75 



XIV 

ANNETTE now returned to her friends, the Chouans 
of Blois, who in spite of their ever-dwindling hopes, 
kept up their hostile manoeuvres against the Chief 
Consul. But most of her troubles were caused for a 
time by her brother Paul. Though they now weighed 
more heavily on her, their origin dated far back, and 
she may have told part of them to Wordsworth 
during her interview with him. 

When the capital sentence pronounced on Paul 
in 1793 had been cancelled, he had gone back to 
Orleans again to fill his post of notary's clerk in 
Maitre Courtois's office. But he did not recover his 
balance for a time. He was then in the state of mind 
of many who gave themselves up wholly and pas- 
sionately to pleasure as a compensation for their 
past anxieties. To his misfortune he made in 1795 
the acquaintance of a certain " Mme. de Bonneuil," 
whose beauty and whose alleged brilliant connections 
were then setting the hearts of the youth of Orleans 
on fire. 1 She was, as a matter of fact, a woman of 
the name of Rifflon whose father was a skinner at 
Bourges. She had had countless love intrigues, 
several of them with members of the nobility and 
famous people whose names gave prestige to her 
tales. Among many others she quoted the names of 
M. de Bellegarde, described as an extravagant spend- 
thrift as far as women were concerned, whom she 
knew at Versailles under the old regime; more 

1 The whole Bonneuil episode is related from papers in the 
Archives nationales, F 7 6340. The main facts are gathered 
from Paul Vallon's declarations to the police. 



7 6 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

recently, in Madrid, she had been connected with 
the French ambassador, M. de Pe*rignon; M. de 
Villequier, the agent of the Bourbons, and Godoy, the 
prince of the Peace, of whom she had simultaneously 
been the mistress. She complacently showed letters 
from Godoy; she also exhibited some from the late 
Prince Louis of Prussia. 

She was pretty, and was mistress of the art of 
preserving her beauty, to the point of unblushingly 
giving herself out as twenty years younger than she 
was. Gifted with a genius for intrigue, she gave 
such excellent reasons for her movement, she excelled 
to such an extent in confusing people's minds that 
the wonderful Consulate police itself seems not to 
have seen very clearly what her game was. 

Paul made her acquaintance at the house of a 
certain Maugus, a lodging-house keeper, who lived 
in the Place du Martroi, and had formed a literary 
society called " Cracovie," where the newspapers 
were read. He lived with her until she forsook him 
for other conquests. But that period of dissipation 
made regular work wearisome and the life at Orleans 
distasteful to him. Either because Maitre Courtois no 
longer appreciated his services, or because the metro- 
polis attracted him, he left Orleans for Paris in 1800. 
There he occupied several posts, never stopping long 
in any, staying for instance three months with M. de 
Lasteyrie, the famous agriculturist, who was then 
writing on Spanish sheep. Finally he took work 
with Maitre Thierry, a notary at Melun, and was there 
when, during a short journey he took to Paris, he found 
himself again in the presence of Madame de Bon- 
neuil. The old passion flamed up again on the spot. 
She was going, she told him, to Spain with 40,000 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 77 

francs' worth of goods, lace and false pearls. She 
offered to take him as her assistant or secretary. He 
consented. At least such is the explanation of the 
adventure that Paul gave to the police, but it is 
likely that under the cover of these business trans- 
actions, a Bourbon intrigue was hidden. 

Their passports, which have been preserved with 
their descriptions, are interesting. Madame de Bon- 
neuil declares herself to be twenty-nine, but a marginal 
note from the police makes the correction : " She is 
nearly fifty." One may, however, imagine her a pretty 
woman with brown hair, well-made nose, small 
mouth, round chin, round face and high colour. 
As for Paul Vallon, he wears a brown wig; he is but 
five feet four inches; he has grey eyes under a high 
forehead barred by dark eyebrows. 

They went first to Spain, where they stayed from 
March to August 1802, that is until the month that 
Wordsworth and Annette spent together in Calais. 
From the very start, they had strange ups and downs. 
She sold lace. She again tried the batteries of her 
charms on the prince of the Peace in order to obtain 
from him permission to export piastres, but fortune 
soon wearied of her. She went on to Portugal. There 
they passed through a time of hardships, and Paul, 
according to a family tradition, in order to earn his 
living had to load orange ships in the port of Lisbon. 
From Portugal they went to England, whence, after 
spending three months in London, they sailed for 
Holland. They spent all the winter together from 
November 1802 to March 1803 either in Amster- 
dam or at The Hague. But at that date, the Consulate 
police began to feel uneasy on the subject of the 
adventuress and to suspect her of political intrigues. 



7 8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Her passage through London had made her an object 
of suspicion. No doubt peace with England was 
not yet broken, but everyone knew it was but a 
truce between two deadly enemies. As early as 
2ist January, 1803, the High Commissioner for 
the commercial relations of the French Republic in 
Holland addressed from Amsterdam a report to 
Semonville, the French ambassador at The Hague, 
warning the latter of Madame de Bonneuil's arrival in 
Amsterdam on i8th November with " a person six- 
teen or seventeen years old, of charming appearance, 
whom she calls her niece and treats pretty badly; 
an Englishman about forty, tolerably well looking, 
of average size, who styles himself Lord Spenser, 
and finally a little, dark, rather ill-looking man, about 
thirty years old, who is called Vallon, and whom 
she passes off as her secretary. . . ." She keeps up 
a very active correspondence : " Besides a secretary 
who does not leave her and seems very busy, she 
herself writes ceaselessly." 

Paul Vallon must have left her in March 1803 to 
go back to Paris. We do not know if he was still 
with her on i3th March when Madame de Bonneuil 
was first visited by detective Mackenem. This agent, 
who seems to have had a turn for humour, has left 
us curious and detailed accounts of his conversations 
with the adventuress. 

She was suspected by the Chief Consul of plotting 
with the English against his life. Mackenem intro- 
duced himself to her as a ci-devant (former noble- 
man) ruined by the Revolution, but formerly very 
intimate with Bonaparte, who had not withdrawn 
his confidence from him. Madame de Bonneuil, on 
her side, claimed to have a secret plot to divulge to 




PAUL VALLON 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 79 

the Chief Consul, but to him only, which concerned 
some Englishmen who intended to murder him. The 
detective expressed surprise that " they should have 
chosen a pretty woman like her as confidante of such 
horrors." " Here, assuming a modest countenance, she 
confessed to me, with pain (she said), that it was to 
her poor charms that she owed her knowledge of this 
infamous secret." Her beauty had excited rivalry 
between two men who were taking the lead in this 
matter, and had betrayed each other out of hatred. 
The English, then, had put a price of three thousand 
guineas and a pension upon Bonaparte's head. As 
Mackenem seemed doubtful, she offered to let him 
see her next-door neighbour, Colonel Spenser, one 
of the conspirators. And in fact, the said Colonel 
appeared as if by magic. There followed a conversa- 
tion in English between him and the lady, of which 
Mackenem did not understand a single word no 
more than Spenser understood her when she spoke 
French with Mackenem. She repeated to each 
whatever she chose. Throughout she tried to pass 
herself off on Mackenem as a patriot working for the 
good of Bonaparte. 

Mackenem continued to follow up her traces. He 
tried to catch her up at Pyrmont in the Principality 
of Waldeck, and sent a very amusing report from 
Hanover to General Moncey, inspector-general of 
the police, on i3th August. 

Before reaching Pyrmont, he had learned that 
Madame de Bonneuil had just taken public leave of 
the society of that watering-place at a ball given by 
the Prince of Brunswick. She had particularly in- 
sisted on saying good-bye to the Bavarian Electress 
44 before going," so she said, " to Gotha." There was 



8o WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

not a moment to lose. Mackenem showed his creden- 
tials to the Prince of Waldeck and asked him to expel 
from his court the adventuress who, " as vile as her 
birth, is impudent enough to introduce herself into 
society where she can maintain herself only by dint 
of lying and fraud." 

" Ah! " the prince said to me, " in a public place such 
as Pyrmont, when you see a woman, you do not ask who 
she is nor where she comes from, but only whether she is 
young and pretty." " As to being pretty," I replied, " it 
may be she is thought so, but as regards youth, I have known 
her for at least twenty years as a very active courtesan, 
and very dangerous intriguer." " Ah! " said His Highness 
to me, " she is at most thirty-five." " Admitting this to 
be the case," I said, " Your Highness, being a soldier, 
must know that for a soldier the campaigning years 
are reckoned double." The prince laughed and said: 
" Since you insist on going to Pyrmont, I will give 
instructions. . ." 

And indeed Mackenem gained his point and was 
taken in a post-chaise to Pyrmont, but he was driven 
along circuitous and abominable roads, while an ex- 
press hurried straight away by a direct route to warn 
Madame de Bonneuil. When the exhausted detec- 
tive arrived, she had fled into Prussian territory. Poor 
Mackenem, in order to uphold the prestige of the 
consular police, had to invent an errand in search of 
lodgings at Pyrmont for his sick wife, which left him 
no choice but to take up his quarters in the small 
watering-place from which the clever bird had flown. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 81 



XV 

PAUL VALLON, as we saw, was no longer with the 
adventuress. He had left her before the renewal of 
hostilities in May 1803. He was in Paris, leading 
a dissipated and precarious existence. He had no 
money, and was looking about for a situation with the 
help of M. Bonvalet, a business agent in the Place 
Vendome, who was making inquiries about him at 
Blois and trying to get a post for him. 

However, closely watched by the police, he was 
arrested on and July, and that very day underwent 
a preliminary cross-examination; he underwent an- 
other on the 1 6th. The authorities wanted to get out 
of him information about Madame de Bonneuil. 
But he claimed to know nothing of her political 
intrigues. He merely kept her books and commercial 
correspondence. " He did not notice she had sus- 
picious liaisons with foreigners, with English people." 
Since his return to Paris he had heard nothing what- 
ever from her. 

It must be concluded that notwithstanding his 
monarchist relations, the personal innocence of Paul 
appeared manifest to the police, for on 5th October 
he was released from Ste. Pelagic where he had been 
imprisoned. He was free, but his connection with 
Madame de Bonneuil leaving some apprehension 
behind, he was ordered out of Paris and forced to live 
at Blois under the prefect's supervision. But how was 
he to lives' He could not return to Paris where he 
had friends and might find a situation. Nor could he 
indefinitely live at the expense of his family in Blois. 
Paul was hopeless. His fate seemed almost desperate, 



8a WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

when the strategic genius of one of his sisters 
probably Annette helped him out. 1 In January 
1804 Paul came, accompanied by her, to the market- 
town of St. Dye, on the Loire, a little above Blois, 
to take possession of a small legacy. In this very town 
lived the notary Puzela, a well-known monarchist, 
whose adventures under the Revolution have been 
related by his daughter, Marie Catherine, in her 
Memoirs, lately published. 

Louis Puzela (1748-1806), a passionate devotee 
of the royalist and Catholic cause, had plunged with 
gloomy zeal into the fight against the Revolution. 
He had undergone more than four months' imprison- 
ment under the Terror, and his elder daughter, 
Marie Catherine, then seventeen years old, in order 
to alleviate the physical sufferings of a sickly father, 
and to support him with her filial love, had of her 
own free will shared his imprisonment. Unexpectedly 
set free, Puzela had settled as a notary at St. Dye, 
where he lived with his heroic daughter and her 
younger sister, upon both of whom his ascetic and 
sullen temper imposed a trying restraint. Unable 
to bear the thought of seeing them exposed to un- 
godly temptations, he forbade all kinds of amuse- 
ment. He would not hear of the elder girl trying 
to divert her thoughts by music or reading. The 
mere idea that she might marry was odious to him. 
He employed her as his clerk so that no young man 
should have access to his house. Moreover, his 
fanaticism made everyone avoid him. In his eyes 
hardly any of the St. Dye families were zealous 

1 The following pages are grounded on Memoires de Madame 
Vallon, edited by Guy Trouillard, 1913, chiefly from pp 
232-9. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 83 

enough for the " good cause." Raboteau, an agent 
of the Directory, wrote on I7th November, 1797 : x 

If he had had his way, our unhappy country would 
have become another Vendee. The non-juring priests 
and even the deported ones, of whom he was the zealous 
friend, found at his house lodging, a chapel and sup- 
porters of their fatal errors. ... He has two young 
ladies worthy from their manners to be " ci-devant 
duchesses," who, just like their dear father, only visit 
the most respectable houses." 

Raboteau had certainly no idea of what the " duch- 
esses " suffered under the enforced regime. Marie 
Catherine was falling into a decline. She finally fell 
ill, and came dangerously near to death. A famous 
Parisian physician, Dr. Chambon de Montaux, was 
then at Blois, but he had, in the capacity of Mayor 
of Paris in 1793, been a member of the commission 
that had to notify to the king the death sentence 
passed by the Convention. It mattered not that he 
should have resigned his functions immediately after- 
wards, and that he had been persecuted by the 
Terrorists. To Puzela, he was no better than a 
regicide. " For his own sake," his daughter tells us, 
" he would rather have died than see him, but for 
mine he consented." Here we must quote a page 
from the Memoirs : 

M. Chambon came. He stayed by me a whole day, 
watched my illness, told my father that so far as he could 
judge it was due to a kind of life little fitted to one of my 
sex, age and disposition; and that he must prepare him- 
self to lose me in a very short time if he made me work 
on in the same way. My father was crushed. This 

1 Memoires de Madame Vallon, p. 216. 



84 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

sentence ruined all his plans, but he loved me too much 
to sacrifice me. 

During my convalescence, which was very long, your 
father [that is Paul Vallon : she is writing for her children] 
came out of the prison of Ste. Pdlagie where he had been 
detained since his return from foreign countries. A small 
legacy necessitated his presence at St. Dye. His parents 
were living at Blois and one of his sisters accompanied 
him. The fame of my father was great. The political 
opinions of the sister were said to be very good, and 
although she did not know us, she introduced her brother; 
the victims of the Revolution told their misfortunes to 
each other and were soon fast friends. Your father con- 
fided to mine that he was watched by the police and that 
he could stay nowhere unless with special permission. 
To attempt disobedience was to defy the tyrants. 

His sister had heard of the presumed cause of my 
illness. Her brother had been for fifteen years a head 
clerk at Orleans and was a very talented man. She pro- 
posed our marriage to my father. Still dazed by the blow 
delivered to him by M. Chambon, circumvented by the 
sister, who gave him no time to breathe and continually 
represented the monarchist alliance as worthy of him, my 
father, who had sworn in his heart never to let me marry, 
was persuaded. To his mind, there was no need of his 
daughter's consent : they settled everything, and then your 
father was introduced to me as my destined husband. 
I was morally very weak at that time and physically 
weaker still, for I remember I could not rise from a large 
easy chair to welcome brother and sister. I agreed to 
everything with a feeling of joy. 

Three weeks later I married your father. . . . 

The thing is perhaps a little less strange than 
Mademoiselle Puzela thought it. Her father's name 
in 1797-1800 had been on the same list of suspected 
Chouans as Annette, " the widow William." Both 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 85 

were well known to Guyon de Montlivault, who was 
a visitor at the house of the Vallon sisters, and at 
the same time was the protector of Puzela; it was 
Montlivault who had forced the unwilling inhabitants, 
or rather the republicans, to accept him as notary at 
St. Dye. He may have answered for the opinions of 
the Vallons to Puzela. 

Moreover, Dr. Chambon, who in 1798 was candi- 
date for the post of civil doctor at the Blois Hospital, 
surely knew the medical man who was head of that 
hospital Charles Henry Vallon. He may have spoken 
to him of the sick girl at St. Dye and of the urgency 
of finding a husband for her. It may be Annette had 
heard of these circumstances before leaving Blois. 

That she is the sister of Paul spoken of in the 
Memoirs in this connection is extremely likely, 
although there can be no certainty about it; her close 
intimacy with Paul, her royalist activities, more pro- 
nounced than those of her sisters everything points 
to her. And, indeed, she displayed in the matter a 
genius which recalls that of her enemy Bonaparte. 
Like him she knew how to prepare an offensive 
movement with wonderful rapidity and win a vic- 
tory, crushing in its immediate effect, but making 
ultimately for the benefit of both parties. Thanks to 
her, Marie Catherine Puzela was to be rescued from 
the illness which was thought fatal. As to Paul, who 
was drifting, though we may consider that, after his 
lapses, he obtained in the pious heroine a gift above 
his deserts, though we may suspect that his rash 
adventure with Madame de Bonneuil was in the 
telling somewhat transfigured into an episode of pure 
chouannerie, into a bold attempt to overthrow the 
Chief Consul, he was yet to make himself worthy of 



86 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

his mate by his transformed life. The secretary of 
the equivocal Madame de Bonneuil was to become an 
accomplished notary, a perfect husband, the father of 
four children destined to enter honourable careers: 
three sons, one a prefect, another a barrister, the 
third a judge ; a daughter who married first a notary, 
then a Conseiller a la Com. 

His good behaviour is certified by the very man 
who was set to supervise him, Prefect Corbigny. 1 
This prefect was clever, temperate, courteous and 
slightly sceptical. A Breton by birth, being given 
at twenty-two a mission in Brittany during the 
Terror, he managed to prevent excesses in his 
district. Appointed Prefect of Loir-et-Cher at the 
age of twenty-nine, he was able in a short time to 
calm down excited spirits and to reconcile contending 
parties. He rallied to the new regime many stubborn 
opponents by his efforts to restore to all the emigrants 
of his department such of their estates as had not 
been sold. He was averse from all violence. He was 
no fanatic in politics, and he carried out his functions 
with a regretful eye on the literary studies of his 
youth. Was he not the author of two tragedies, a 
few comedies and some poems!* When he died in 
1811, a baron of the Empire, peace reigned in the 
department formerly so turbulent. 

Paul Vallon found in him no churlish jailer. When 
he had reported to him on arriving at Blois, Corbigny 
no doubt looked with some curiosity at the friend of 

1 On Corbigny see Biographic Universelle et Portative des 
Contemporains ou Dictionnaire historique des hommes vivants 
et des hommes marts depuis 1788 jusqu'd nos jours, publie sous 
la direction de MM. Rabbe, Vieilh de Boisjolin et Ste. Preuve 
four vols., Paris, 1834. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 87 

Madame de Bonneuil committed to his guard. At 
first sight he judged that his wild oats were sown. 
As early as loth December, 1803, he wrote to the 
Secretary of State for Justice, who had ordered him 
to undertake an inquiry : 

The information I have gathered about Paul Vallon 
shows him to be a respectable man whose head has been 
turned by certain events of the Revolution, but who is 
now sobered down. There is no doubt that his behaviour 
at Blois, since I had the opportunity of watching him, 
gives no ground for uneasiness. I have nothing but 
favourable reports to make of him since that time. 

Yet there were a few weeks at the beginning of 
his married life, when Paul all but took another rash 
step. He could not bear at first the idea of settling 
near his austere father-in-law. In spite of the efforts 
of his wife to palliate the matter in her Memoirs, we 
catch a hint of early differences of opinion. 

Your father [she writes to her children] lived on fairly 
good terms with mine; the conformity of their opinions 
made up for the difference of tastes, but your father 
loved society, whereas mine only enjoyed his home. . . . 
He [M. Puzela] had given up all his rights over his 
daughters, but he did not realise it. 

Thus Paul, only recently married, asked (25th 
February, 1804) to be released from supervision 
and from internment in the department of Loir-et- 
Cher. He needed, he said, to reside in Paris for 
business reasons. He had a partner in Paris. He 
could not find means of livelihood at Blois. It seems 
that while applying for release, he did not wait for 
the application to be granted, for the prefect thought 
it necessary to threaten him with arrest. This caused 



88 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

great terror to his young wife, from whom they had 
till then hidden the fact that he was under police 
supervision. She writes : 

There were folk charitable enough to tell me that the 
Prefect of Loir-et-Cher meant to have your father arrested 
because he dared to leave St. Dye. I was thunderstruck 
at the prospect of seeing the prisons again open their 
doors. In a great state of terror I spoke of it to my father, 
who then told me everything and added: " Your husband 
has thirteen years of persecution to his credit, my 
daughter: I needed these qualifications in my son- 
in-law." 

I went to call on the prefect, to whom I must do justice. 
He said to me : "I wanted to give your husband a lesson 
of prudence by threatening him. In compelling him to 
continue to live near you, I am not hard on him. Be 
comforted, madam, I entrust your husband to you. Go 
and consult the police registers, and you will see what 
testimonials I have given in favour of his establishment." 
So I did; his report was most flattering to me, and most 
moderate in respect of the political conduct of my father 
and husband. 

The adroitness and moderation of the courteous 
prefect succeeded splendidly. Paul resigned himself; 
entered into partnership with his father-in-law, and 
succeeded him as notary when Puzela died two 
years later. 

Yet the police remained suspicious. In spite of a 
new and favourable report from the prefect on 3Oth 
October, 1804, in which it is stated that Paul Vallon 
" has behaved properly since coming to Blois, that 
he has married, and is working with his father-in-law, 
a notary, which inclines us to think that he means to 
lead a quiet life," the Secretary of State postponed 
the examination of Paul's request to be liberated. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 89 

As long as the Empire endured Paul remained, 
curiously enough, at once a notary and a suspected 
man under police supervision. He obtained his 
entire freedom only at the Restoration. 



XVI 

THE consequence of his being placed under super- 
vision was to turn once more the attention of the 
police towards his sisters, one of whom had an 
English name. After the " infernal machine," and 
the discovery of Cadoudal's plot, the secret police, 
on the look-out for all the Chief Consul's enemies, 
pointed out, on 8th March, 1804, to the Loir-et- 
Cher prefect as requiring " particular supervision, 
the following citizens : Lacaille, a gunsmith, and his 
two sons, Rancogne the younger alias Charles 
formerly captain under Georges (Cadoudal), Par- 
dessus, the younger, son of a barrister, Montlivau 
(sic), a returned emigrant," finally "the demoiselles 
Vallon, one of whom is married to an Englishman 
named Willaume (sic). We are told that the afore- 
said individuals often meet in her house. I direct 
you, as prefect, to have their conduct carefully 
observed, and to let me know the results of the 
observation and your own opinion regarding them/' 1 
Corbigny answered on i6th March, to the " Coun- 
cillor of State specially in charge of examining and 
following up all the affairs connected with the 

1 Archives nationales, F 7 6410, 5 e division: Police secrete, 
Dossier n 8171. 



9 o WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

tranquillity and internal security of the Republic." 
Regarding the Vallon sisters, he says: 

The Vallon sisters, as well as their sister Madame 
Williams (sic) have always been known as friends and 
abettors of the royalists. They have a brother who is 
under supervision in my department and who was 
for a long time imprisoned in the Temple prison on 
account of journeys he had made into foreign parts with 
Madame de Bonneuil. The woman Williams particularly 
is known as an active intriguer. The police commissary 
of Blois assures 'me there are no suspicious meetings in 
that house. As I have only to-day returned to my 
department I cannot give more positive information 
in the matter, but I am going to arrange for a watch to 
be set on them which will let me know all that is done 
at their house. 1 

The prefect ends by reducing the affair to modest 
proportions. He admits that there is in the de- 
partment a fairly large number of supporters of the 
Bourbons who would try to turn to their advantage 
" an event such as the one we were threatened ,by, 
that is the Chief Consul's death," but at bottom there 
is nothing to be anxious about: 

Their well-known weakness of character, the strength 
of the government, the firmness of the administration, 
and the comfort they enjoy, will prevent them, I think, 
from making any criminal attempt, but it is essential to 
watch their doings closely as their political opinions, 
generally speaking, are unsatisfactory. You may depend 
on me that no pains will be spared to prove to them that 
there is nothing to be gained by nursing foolish hopes. 

The prefect also admits in that very % letter of 

1 Archives nationales, F 7 6410, 5 division: Police secrete, 
Dossier n 8171, 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 91 

i6th November, 1804, in which he notes the good 
behaviour of Paul, that " the family of the Sieur 
Vallon and that of his wife have been known since 
the beginning of the Revolution, for political opinions 
and habits of intrigue which have always been in 
favour of the old order." 

Yet his own policy was not to punish, but to disarm 
and conciliate. He succeeded in his aim. Two of 
the uncompromising supporters of the Bourbons who 
were suspected of frequenting the house of the 
demoiselles Vallon were soon to make their peace 
with the new regime. Guyon de Montlivault be- 
came chief secretary of Madame Bonaparte (for which 
error he made amends in 1815, when he was con- 
spicuous among the most fervid ultras). As to Jean 
Marie Pardessus, he became deputy-mayor of Blois 
in 1804, and mayor in 1805. We find him a deputy 
to the Legislative Assembly in 1807, and in 1810 the 
Imperial Government appointed him Professor of 
Commercial Law in Paris, the first stage of his career 
as a famous jurisconsult. No doubt he remained a 
monarchist at heart, but he dropped all active hostility 
against the Empire. 

Annette and her sisters, who remained firm in 
their faith, must have suffered from these desertions. 
Powerless and isolated, they were leading a quiet life. 
The turbulent Annette herself, who, on account of her 
English name, felt the weight of a double suspicion, 
kept quiet and devoted herself to the education of 
her daughter. We know nothing more of her until 
the fall of the Empire. War had barred all possible 
communications between herself and Wordsworth. 

Only a few domestic events in the house in the 
Rue du Pont are known to us: the death within a few 



92 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

months in 1805 of her stepfather, Dr. Vergez, and 
of her mother, and four years later the death of 
the second of the three sisters, Adelaide Angelique. 
Were those losses the reason for which Annette left 
the family house, or did she do so on account of 
the abdication of Napoleon in iBi^ Whatever the 
reason, it is in Paris that we find Annette and 
Caroline settled at the Restoration. 



XVII 

WHEN Napoleon resigned his throne at Fontaine- 
bleau, on I4th April, 1814, it was news as joyful to 
Wordsworth as to Annette. Both had fought in their 
own way the one by prose and verse, the other by 
intrigue against " the usurper." The conclusion of 
the long war also enabled them to resume a correspon- 
dence of which war had been the sole interrupter. 
The poet could not think of France without calling 
up the image of his former mistress and their child. 
He remained anxious for their safety, although his 
affections had long since ceased to be concentrated on 
them. His English family, with their joys and sor- 
rows, were becoming all in all to him. The sweet 
tenderness of Mary was sinking deeper and deeper 
into his heart. Indeed he had chosen wisely. True, she 
had none of the brilliant qualities which the world 
admires and which fascinate people at first sight. 
But now that he saw the " very pulsations of her 
being," he knew all her worth. She was endowed 
with the true beauty, that of the soul, which only 
discloses itself to loving eyes: 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 93 

Heed not tho' none should call thee fair; 

So, Mary, let it be 
If nought in loveliness compare 

With what thou art to me. 

True beauty dwells in deep retreats, 

Whose veil is unremoved 
Till heart with heart in concord beats, 

And the lover is beloved. 1 

The quietude of Mary 2 effaced the memory of 
Annette. The five children she bore the poet during 
the Empire those children who grew up under his 
eyes, whose caresses he loved, through whom too he 
learned to know deep sorrow, for he saw two of them 
die in 1812 made the image of the eldest daughter, 
the ever absent Caroline, recede into a hazy distance. 

Indifference f 1 Observation of propriety 5* Or mere 
laziness?* He relaxed the only bond still linking him 
to his French daughter and to her mother. He no 
longer wrote to them personally. When the corre- 
spondence was resumed, his sister Dorothy did so in 
his place. It was she who, with the little French she 
knew, answered Annette's letters. If Wordsworth 
correctly performed, when circumstances demanded 
it, his paternal duty, Dorothy felt and showed a real 
kinship with Caroline, " her niece/' as she tenderly 
calls her. 

Neither her letters nor Annette's have come down 

1 " Let other bards of angels sing." 

2 " Her words were few. In reality, she talked so little that 
Mr. Slave-Trade Clarkson used to allege against her that she 
could only say ' God bless you ! ' . . . How much better this 
was adapted to her husband's taste, than a blue-stocking 
loquacity, or even a legitimate talent for discussion." De 
Quincey's Lake Poets. Ed. David Masson, 1889, Vol. II. p. 236. 



94 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

to us, but we hear an echo of them in Dorothy's 
correspondence with her friend Mrs. Clarkson, the 
wife of the anti-slavery apostle, which has been 
published by Professor Harper. 

We learn from it that a young officer named 
Eustace Baudouin visited the Wordsworths at Rydal 
Mount, and that Baudouin was a prisoner of war 
liberated by the recent peace. 1 The brother of a 
colonel of the Imperial Army, he had been sent to 
the military school of St. Cyr and thence to Spain 
as a sub-lieutenant at the age of nineteen. He had 
scarcely had time to show his valour there when he 
was thrice wounded, was taken prisoner at Olot in 
Catalonia, on I3th April, 1811, and soon after sent to 
England. There, during three years of captivity, he 
had at the same time an opportunity of learning the 
language and of making the acquaintance of the 
Wordsworths. His relations with them became close 
enough for Dorothy to call him in 1814, " our friend 
Baudouin." 2 It is probable that when peace re-opened 
to him the gates of France, he was entrusted by the 
poet with some message for Annette. Thence sprang 
up between the Vallon and Baudouin families a rapid 
intimacy. Besides the colonel, Eustace had another 
brother, Jean Baptiste Martin, then head of an office 
at the Mont de Piete. The latter, who was thirty- 
three years old, fell in love with Caroline Words- 
worth, who was twenty-one, asked her in marriage 
and was accepted. It is this marriage which is the 

1 Ministere de la Guerre : Archives administratives. 

* It was without doubt his frequent presence at Rydal Mount 
that later on gave the Coleridges the impression that Words- 
worth had had a son, not a daughter, in France. Eustace 
Baudouin was exactly of the same age as Caroline. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 95 

chief argument of Dorothy's first letters to Mrs. 
Clarkson after the Restoration: 

She [Caroline] and her mother [Dorothy writes on 
gth October, 1814] are extremely anxious that I should 
be present at the wedding and for that purpose have 
pressed me very much to go in October. This, unless 
such good fortune attended us as being taken under 
your and your Husband's protection, we could not think 
of at this season, and therefore I wish that the marriage 
should be deferred till next spring or summer, because 
I desire exceedingly to see the poor Girl before she takes 
another protector than her mother, under whom I believe 
she has been bred up in perfect purity and innocence, 
and to whom she is light and life and perpetual pleasure; 
though, from the over-generous dispositions of the mother, 
they have had to struggle through many difficulties. 
Well, I began to say that I particularly wished that you 
could have seen them at this time, as through you I 
should have been able to enter into some explanations, 
which, imperfectly as I express myself in French, are 
difficult, and as you would have been able to confirm or 
contradict the reports that we receive from Caroline's 
Mother and Mr. Beaudouin (sic) of her interesting and 
amiable qualities. They both say that she resembles her 
Father most strikingly, and her letters give a picture of 
a feeling and ingenuous mind. Yet there must be some- 
thing, I think, very unfavourable to true delicacy in 
French manners. Both Caroline and her Mother urge my 
going in October on this account, that, after a young 
woman is once engaged to be married, it is desirable that 
the delay afterwards should be as short as possible, as she 
is subject to perpetual scrutiny and unpleasant remarks, 
and one of the reasons they urge for marriage in general 
is that a single woman in France, unless she have a 
fortune, is not treated with any consideration. 1 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. pp. 211-12. 



9 6 



WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 



Dorothy is anxious about the journey. Though the 
Clarksons assure her they found a kind welcome in 
Paris from the French people, she cannot help 
thinking that " their judgment is formed on the 
best of the people," for accounts from all other 
quarters depict the French as " rude and brutal in 
their manners." She would fain have M. Baudouin 
meet her at Calais, but is frightened at the expense 
this plan would involve: 

We should wish to carry presents of English manufac- 
ture. Can this be done without much risk or disagreeable 
troubles' 

On 3ist December she announces her journey 
for April 1815, but as she expects to stay in France 
at least nine or ten weeks, she is afraid of the dis- 
turbances which are sure to occur during the king's 
coronation : 

Besides the journey will be very expensive, which we 
can ill afford, and the money would be better spent in 
augmenting my Niece's wedding portion. To this effect 
I have written to her. She would not consent to marry 
without my presence, which was the reason that April 
was fixed 

If she were not troubled at the thought of leaving 
her brother and her sister-in-law, she would think 
of the journey " with satisfaction nay, with delight, 
for that dear young woman's sake whom I believe 
to be thoroughly amiable." 1 

But Napoleon returns from Elba, and the plans 
for the marriage and journey are all upset. As early 
as 1 6th March, before the Emperor reached Paris, and 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. pp. 213-14. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 97 

while the success of his attempt was still doubtful, 
Dorothy had written to Mrs. Clarkson: 

For the sake of our Friends I am truly distressed. The 
lady whom I mentioned to you from the first was a 
zealous Royalist, has often risked her life in defence of 
adherents to that cause, and she despised and detested 
Buonaparte. Poor creature! In the last letter we had 
from her she spoke only of hope and comfort; said that 
the king's government was daily gaining strength, and 
Buonaparte's friends [coming over] in their hearts to 
the other side. A few days after the [evil tidings] reached 
her she would receive my letter containing the plan of 
our journey. 1 

Less than one month later, on nth April, Napoleon 
having again become the master of France, Dorothy 
again writes saying she cannot sleep for thinking about 
the evils that the Emperor's "fiendish ambition" 
will set loose: 

Everybody here is anxious, but none a hundredth part 
so much as we are. We had a long letter from France 
written on the igth and aoth. The letter was concluded 
at midnight. My Friend says: " I hear troops entering 
the City. I think it is the avant-garde of Buonaparte. 
Good God! What is to become of uss 1 " We have had 
another letter written the next day in miserable dejection; 
but she says no more of public affairs than that " all is 
quiet." Lodgings were taken for us in the " Hotel du 
Jardin Turc, Boulevard du Temple, in a pleasant part 
of Paris," as they describe it. Poor creatures, they say 
they are shipwrecked when just entering into port. 
Indeed it is a distressful situation, but I trust that 
we shall see them in Paris before the end of another 
twelvemonth. 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. pp. 214-15. 
3 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. p. 215. 



9 8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Annette was again the fearless Chouanne of old 
in the fight against Napoleon. The Baron de Tardif, 
testifying in 1816 to Annette's indomitable royalism, 
describes her conduct during the Hundred Days in 
these terms: 

During the last events which plunged France into 
mourning, she performed acts of courage, with no inter- 
ested motives. Conscious only of her attachment to the 
legitimate dynasty, she posted proclamations at night, 
distributed them in the day-time, favoured the escape 
of the brave men who wanted to devote themselves to 
the king's service. 1 

Her merit was the greater, in that many of her 
political friends bowed to the new imperial order. 
Guyon de Montlivault paid his court to Napoleon 
after his return. Nicolas Bailly signed the Address 
from the Cour de Cassation to the returning Emperor 
in spite of just having signified his adherence to his 
deposition. The jurisconsult Pardessus himself wrote 
an address to Napoleon, an act which he recanted a 
few months afterwards in Parliament: 

" I was very guilty, but I asked pardon of my king, 
and my king forgave me." " On your knees then," said 
M. de Girardin laughing. ** With a wax-candle in your 
hand," cried M. de Keratry. 2 

It is pleasing to see that Annette was guilty of no 
such weakness. She was guided, not by interest, 
but by her monarchist faith. 

1 See Appendix: The Baron de Tardif, who gives that praise 
to Annette, certifies the same of Eustace Baudouin, who (says 
deTardif) "was entrusted with the exhibition of all posters 
destined to bring back the people to their king" (Archives 
da Minister e de la Guerre). 

* Biographie Universelle et Portative, etc., op. cit. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 99 

At the same time, the Waterloo campaign roused 
the anxieties of the Words worths. Their hatred of 
Napoleon, and alas ! of France, reached its climax. 
The new victory of the Allies did not soothe their 
violent anger. The good Dorothy, echoing the poet 
who was about to write that Thanksgiving Ode of 
his, which might have been inspired by the Holy 
Alliance itself, makes an attack in her letter of i5th 
August on the English admirers of France, and 
adds: "Would that all the English had Prussian 
hearts, and that our generals and counsellors had 
the soul of Bliicher! " x She then goes on to give 
news of Annette: 

It is impossible for me to think of going to Paris this 
year. We have had letters from our Friends written just 
after the return of the king. They were in great joy at 
that event, and urged me and my companions to go, all 
being safe and quiet. At the same time they waited our 
determination respecting Caroline's coming over. We 
could only answer that the time of meeting my Br. and 
Sr. was gone by, and that we could not appoint any 
particular plan, knowing of nobody about to return from 
Paris, and having no friends in London to whom we 
could with propriety entrust her, but we proposed that 
the Mother should look out for some person or persons 
coming to London, to whose care she might be con- 
signed till we could hear from her of her arrival there. 
This I trust may not be difficult, as Madame Vallon has 
a numerous acquaintance. I wish you had been in Lon- 
don in lodgings. The great difficulty will be there; for 
people who might be relied upon for the journey must 
be continually coming from Paris. 2 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. p. 216. 

2 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. pp. 216-17. 



ioo WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

XVIII 

OWING to continual postponements on the part of 
the Wordsworths, the wedding finally took place 
without Caroline having been to see her father in 
England, and without any of the Wordsworths being 
present at the ceremony. 

The wedding was celebrated on 28th February, 
1816, at noon, at the Mairie of the 3rd arrondisse- 
ment. Annette wanted the ceremony to be impressive 
and summoned her brilliant friends from far and 
near. They willingly answered the summons, wishing 
to acknowledge the services rendered to the Bourbon 
cause by the valiant Chouanne of Blois. The wedding 
had all the appearance of a royalist manifestation. 

In the marriage certificate, the spelling of the bride's 
name was duly corrected and the former error pointed 
out. It is true other mistakes were made in its stead. 
Caroline was spoken of as the " file majeure (of age) 
of Williams (sic) Wordsworth, proprietaire, living at 
Grasner Kendan (sic), duchy of Westermorland (sic)." 

Among the witnesses were the bridegroom's 
brother, Eustace Baudouin of St. Etienne, head 
instructor of the Scotch company, Chevalier de la 
Legion d'honneur, and former prosecutor of Babeuf ; 
and Nicolas Bailly, chevalier, Officier de la Legion 
d'honneur, councillor of the Cour de Cassation. 

The wedding was consecrated at St. Vincent de 
Paul, the church on the hill, whose broad successive 
flights of stairs lend themselves so admirably to the 
ascent of a brilliant procession. 

In spite of her very limited resources, Annette 
had insisted on giving a great dinner, to which she 
had invited the largest number she possibly could 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 101 

of the notable people she knew. On this occasion 
she wrote a letter to the Wordsworths, in which she 
took pleasure in describing to them all the pomp 
that had attended the marriage of the poet's daughter. 
Dorothy communicated the substance of the letter 
to Mrs. Clarkson on 4th April: 

The mother's details of the wedding festivities would 
have amused you. She was to give the fete, she who 
perhaps for half a year to come will feel the effects of it 
at every dinner she cooks! Thirty persons were present 
to dinner, ball and supper. The deputies of the depart- 
ment and many other respectable people were there. 
The bride was dressed in white sarsenet, with a white 
veil " was the admiration of all who beheld her, but 
her modesty was her best ornament." She kept her veil 
on the whole of the day. How truly French this is ! 1 

Dorothy's irony, however light and harmless, is 
perhaps out of place here. After all, Annette was 
proud (and why nets') to tell the poet that the daughter 
of whom she had had the sole charge and care, that 
the girl to whom he had given his name without 
giving it to her mother, had had a brilliant wedding 
ceremony, which effaced the memory of her irregular 
birth. The mother had done her utmost, thrown 
away the last of her gold to attain, as it were, this 
exaltation of their daughter. What matter if she did 
it according to her ideas, which were those of a 
humble French bourgeoise, and in the manner of her 
country! The absent father, the kind aunt herself 
who had not been able to come, would have done 
better here to check their sense of humour. 

In the marriage certificate, it is stated that Words- 
worth had given his consent by a certificate, dated 
1 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. p. 318. 



102 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

1 7th October, 1815, registered by and left with Maitre 
Deherain, a notary in Paris. This certificate does not 
exist, but another one kept in the same office merely 
specifies that Caroline acted " with the consent of 
her father, which she declares having in her posses- 
sion. 1 Besides, as we shall see, this certificate does 
away with the idea that a dowry was settled by the 
father on his daughter, although for three years 
Wordsworth had really been living at ease, thanks 
toTus sinecure as stamp distributor for Westmor- 
land, which brought him 400 a year. It isj^ great 
pity that all trace of Annette and Caroline should 
have been carefully destroyed by the poet's nephew 

s and first biographer, for we might have found else- 
where the proof that the father contributed to his 
child's settlement. 

It would be the more desirable, as the Words- 
worths knew very well how modest were the resources 

/ of mother and daughter. In her letter of 4th April, 
1816, to Mrs. Clarkson, Dorothy wrote: 

The", young person is married to M. Beaudouin's 
Brother. We have just had a letter from them both, 
written a month after their marriage. I believe him to 
be a noble-minded, excellent man, and she seems to 
have well-grounded hopes of happiness, provided poverty 
can be kept out of doors, but though their present 
income is very well for two persons, it is not enough 
for a family. Mr. B. has a place under government, and 
will have, they assure us, a certain increase of income 
in a short time; besides, C.'s mother has the promise 
of a place for herself or one of her family in recompense 
for services performed by her for the royal cause, but I 
fear she may wait long for this, as the poor king has not 

1 Cf. Appendix III. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 103 

wherewithal to reward all who deserve it. In case of Mr. 
B.'s death, his widow will have half the amount of his 
present income as a pension. 1 

There is no longer any question here of the dowry, 
which had been mentioned in the letter on 3ist 
December, 1815, without any explicit statement as 
to who would provide it. 

The marriage contract left with Maitre Dehe"ram 
seems to dispose of all ideas of a settlement by the 
father on the daughter. But for still another reason, 
it is an interesting document. It is here, more than 
in the brilliant ceremony of the marriage itself, that 
we see Annette in all her glory as a loyal royalist, r 
Round this empty table, witnesses to this dowerless 
contract, sat several of the great people of the day 
to do homage to the poor mother of a portionless 
girl. The certificate is so strange, the form so excep- 
tional, that it would deserve complete quotation : the 
widow of the Prince de Beauveau, the wife of the Due 
de Montmorency, the Vicomte de Montmorency and 
the Marquis d'Avaray, both peers of France, and the 
Baron de Tardif, field-marshal, came thither among 
a dozen people to declare " they held the marriage 
as desirable/' whereas the contract specifies that 
the whole fortune of the pair is their personal i 
property, and stipulates for a total jointure of two / 
thousand francs. 

A few of the witnesses are already known to us 
from their connection with Annette: the Vicomte 
de Montmorency, Jean Marie Pardessus, the Baron 
de Tardif. The member for Loir-et-Cher, Josse de 
Beauvoir, came to greet the former Chouanne in the 

1 Harper's William Wordsworth, II. p. 172. 



104 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

name of the department in which she had fought. 
The Marquis d'Avaray acts in a way as the delegate 
of the king himself; for his brother, the Comte 
d'Avaray, until his death in 1810 had been the most 
faithful companion and dearest friend of " Monsieur " 
(afterwards Louis XVIIL), during the emigration. 

Following the example of the noble friends of the 
Vallons, the most famous officials of the time known 
to the Baudouins also came and signed their names. 
It constitutes, as it were, a review of the ultras 
x of the Restoration. This imposing series of witnesses 
marks the zenith of Annette's career. It was to her 
what was later to Wordsworth the famous Oxford 
ceremony in 1839, when he was proclaimed a Doctor 
of Civil Law amid the cheers of the audience. An 
honour devoid of all solid advantage to her, we must 
/ admit a flash of soon extinguished splendour. 

Some of the persons who had taken part in that 
demonstration, however, realised the painful contrast 
between Annette's rights and her fortune. They joined 
a numerous body of others who had formerly been 
helped by her, or had been witnesses of her courageous 
services, to petition for a royal recompense in her 
favour. 1 Annette asked for that reward to be given not 
to herself but to her daughter, and finally a lottery 
office was applied for on behalf of Madame Baudouin. 
We again find in this petition the signatures of the 
Marquis d'Avaray, of Josse de Beauvoir, of the 
Baron de Tardif, of J. M. Pardessus, and of a 
score of other noble persons in addition. Among the 
latter, we shall only note the Marquis de Bartillat, 
the Due de St. Aignan, the Comte de Salaberry. 
Not content with signing, J. M. Pardessus added a 
1 See Appendix IV. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 105 

marginal note to the request, stating that the claim 
was not for a favour but for justice. As to Sala- 
berry, the fanatical monarchist whose perfect honesty 
was acknowledged by his very enemies, the former 
Chouan who had once plotted for the king with 
Annette in Loir-et-Cher, he let his indignation at the 
thought that nothing had been done for her find full ., 
expression. " I am more qualified than anyone," he 
wrote in the margin, " to testify to the complete de- 
votion and rare disinterestedness shown by Madame 
William for the twenty years that I have known her, 
and I am sorry to bear witness to the neglect into 
which her rights to the king's bounty have fallen." 
The Baron de Tardif points out the services rendered 
by Annette during the Hundred Days : 

The king's cause and interests having drawn me to 
the side of Madame William during the interregnum of 
the Hundred Days, I assert that there did not exist in 
the whole of France at that unhappy period so zealous, ^ 
devoted and courageous a woman as she. 

It seems that the petition did not produce all the 
desired effect. Three claims were successively put 
in, in March, June and September, 1816. In the 
end, Annette must have got some small help, since 
in 1825 sne appealed for an increase of her pension, 
with what success we do not know. She had to work 
for her living in some humble situation which we 
cannot trace. After the dazzling days of splendour, 
she disappears again into obscurity. 






io6 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

XIX 

BUT she is happy in having by her side her daughter 
and grandchildren. After the marriage we find the 
Baudouins living at 47 Rue Chariot, with Annette. 

Her son-in-law, Jean Baptiste Martin Baudouin, 
then head of an office at the Mont de Pie"te, was to 
hold in that office the positions, first of inspector, then 
of sub-director. He was in 1816 a good-looking man 
of thirty-six, the second of three brothers, the two 
others being officers. He lived till 1854. It is pleasant 
to see the close friendship that united him with his 
brothers, especially with Eustace, the younger, who 
was at all times an active intermediary between the 
Vallons and the Words worths. Eustace also had for 
his sister-in-law, Caroline, who was of his own age, 
a sincere affection. " He is very much attached to 
his sister-in-law, and has given us a very pleasing 
account of her/' wrote Dorothy to Mrs. Clarkson 
(4th April, 1816). 

The very year of her marriage, on 2yth December, 
1816, Caroline gave birth to a first child, a daughter, 
by whom the English poet's French posterity was to 
be assured. The godfather was her grandfather: 
" Mr. Williams" (sic) Wordsworth, proprietaire, re- 
siding at Rydalmount near Kindal, Westermorland 
(sic), the child's maternal grandfather." x The poet, 
not being present at the christening, was represented 
by Nicolas Bailly, now doyen of the councillors of 
the Cour de Cassation; the godmother was the 
wife of the father's elder brother, nee Caroline von 
Honigshof, a Viennese by birth. It is touching to 

1 Birth certificate of Louise Dorothea Baudouin. Paris, 
Mairie. 




WORDSWORTH S DAUGHTER 
CAROLINE BAUDOUIN {n&e VALLON) 




WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 
From the picture by B. R. Haydon, c. 1830 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 107 

find among the child's names that of the English 
aunt who had always borne her a tender affection. 
She was christened Louise Marie Caroline Dorothe'e. 
She was, it is true, generally known as Louise, but 
this mark of affection given to the poet's exquisite 
sister pleases us. We could wish that the idea had 
originated with William himself, the godfather. 

The Baudouins were to have two other daughters: 
Anne Leonide, born on I5th December, 1819, 
who died before she was six, on i5th October, 
1825, an d Marie Marguerite Caroline, born on I2th 
November, 1823. So the poet's daughter had already 
with her two little girls, the one nearly four years, the 
other nine months old, when the Wordsworths at last 
paid her, in October 1820, their so long delayed visit. 

Wordsworth, with his wife and sister, accompanied 
also by his friend Henry Crabb Robinson, were 
coming home from a tour on the Continent. We 
find a few details of that visit in the diaries kept by 
Dorothy, Mrs. Wordsworth and Robinson. 1 

Having arrived in Paris on ist October, the poet 
and his sister went the next morning to see the 
Baudouins. It was arranged that they were all to 
meet, Annette and Mrs. Wordsworth included, in 
the Louvre at one o'clock. It was in the Museum, 
then, that the first interview between the former 
lover and the wife of the poet took place. The same 
day, the Wordsworths left the hotel where they had 
put up to take up their abode in the Rue Chariot, 
near the Baudouins. It is Mrs. Wordsworth who 
tells us so in her diary. Robinson notes down a little 
more explicitly on 3rd October : " Having break- 
fasted alone, I repaired to the Rue Chariot and was 
1 See Harper, II. p. 319. 



io8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

introduced to Mrs. Baudouin, a mild, amiable little 
woman in appearance." l On the yth he goes to see 
the Wordsworths, but finds they are out. Thence 
he goes and calls on Madame Valon (sic). On the 
8th, he again calls on the Baudouins, where he learns 
that the Wordsworths are not yet back from Ver- 
sailles. He returns once more and finds Dorothy. 
Always Dorothy! 

The diaries also speak of Captain Eustace Bau- 
douin's great kindness to the visitors; he was their 
attentive guide everywhere. No allusion is made to 
the poet's grandchildren. We know from another 
source that Wordsworth found less enjoyment at 
the Louvre than at the Jardin des Plantes. It is just 
possible that he took young Louise Dorothee to the 
garden to show her the animals. 

This is all the record we have of that meeting, 
the last which took place between the Wordsworths 
and their French friends. A psychological novelist 
might find in this situation matter for a long chapter. 
Yet no very vivid emotions seem to have been stirred 
by the meeting. Time had blunted sensibilities and 
vanities on both sides. We may be sure that the 
greeting which passed between Mrs. Wordsworth 
and Annette was simple, friendly and devoid of 
bitterness. Besides, the ignorance of French on one 
side and of English on the other, obviated the diffi- 
culty of conversation. All passed very happily 
indeed. " We have had great satisfaction at Paris 
in seeing our Friends whom I have mentioned to 
you. Of this when we meet." 2 Thus wrote Dorothy 
to Mrs. Clarkson after her return to England. 

1 See Harper, II. p. 319. 
* See Harper, II. p. 319. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 109 



XX 

IT may be during this visit that Wordsworth gave 
Annette or Caroline his pencil portrait by Edward 
Nash (the counterpart of the one he offered to 
Southey in 1818). He also presented them with a 
splendidly bound copy of the two-volume edition of 
his poems published in 1815, a precious but un- . 
decipherable gift for his French descendants, who 
in the first generation seem to have stubbornly kept 
themselves ignorant of the language in which he had 
become famous. One of the two volumes is still in 
the family's possession, but the other has disappeared. 
The only attempt to become acquainted with 
Wordsworth's poetry seems to have been made by 
the youngest daughter of Caroline. Marie Mar- 
guerite Caroline Baudouin, whose charming features 
are known to us through a photograph, had become 
in 1845 the wife of M. Marquet, a high official of 
the prison administration. In the year which followed 
her marriage she desired to know what were those 
poetical works the fame of which had been propagated 
in France by Pichet, Sainte-Beuve, Philarete Chasles, 
Fontaney, and of which many reviews spoke with 
respectful and devoted admiration. She then lived 
at Melun, her husband being the prison director. 
"A former professor of foreign literature" wrote 
for her an account, well informed on the whole, of 
the general characteristics of Wordsworth's work. 
He speaks in rather pompous style of the originality 
of the English poet, and highly praises his intimate 
and familiar verse. He speaks judiciously of the 
Lakists, and of the purity of their inspiration, both 



no WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

moral and religious. He explains Wordsworth by 
commenting on Lamartine, for whom his admira- 
tion rises to enthusiasm. Finally he acclaims in 
Wordsworth the poet of childhood, and, by a skilful 
transition, concludes: 

benevolent and venerable poet, may France always 
love and keep with reverence thy beloved children thou 
who hast worked so long for the moral well-being of 
youth, and hast entrusted to an alien soil thy dearest 
affections ! 

The booklet of nine pages was dedicated " to Madame 
A. Marquet, granddaughter of the illustrious poet 
Wordsworth." 1 

When the " former professor of foreign literature " 
wrote these lines, Wordsworth was still alive. Annette 
had been dead for five years. We read in the death 
register : 

In the year 1841, on loth January, died in Paris, 
Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire n, in the 8th arron- 
dissement Marie Anne Vallon, known as William, an 
employee * aged seventy-five years, born at Blois (Loir 
et Cher). Spinster. 

Poor words, the pathetic quality of which will be 
felt by those who know what moving realities are 
here hidden under the designation of "spinster," 
under the " known as William," and who picture 
the straitened and arduous life of the seventy-five- 
year-old " employee." 

She was buried in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery. 
When in 1846, at the death of Caroline von Honigs- 
hof, the wife of Colonel Baudouin of St. Firmin, the 

1 See Appendix V. 

1 The word probably means that she held a small state office. 



AND ANNETTE VALLON in 

Baudouin family bought a burying-ground there, 
Annette's remains were exhumed, and together with 
those of her granddaughter, Anne Le'onide, trans- 
ferred to the vault in which, in their turn, her son- 
in-law and her daughter Caroline were to be laid 
to rest near her. On the slab we can still read 
these words: 

Anne Leonide Baudouin, born I5th December, 1819, 
died 1 5th October, 1825, an d Marie Anne Vallon Williams 
(sic), born 22nd June, 1766, died loth January, 1841, 
exhumed and laid together on 28th November, 1846. 

What were Wordsworth's feelings at the news of 
Annette's death?" Doubtless, not very profound. 
JHe was old and was outliving himself. This was the 
time when with circumstantial inaccuracy he dictated 
to Miss Fenwick senile notes on his poems, amongst 
others those t<^Vaudracou^qnd_Julia t which seem 
like an effort to bury his French love-affair in 
oblivion. In this year, moreover, all the remaining 
passion in his soul gathered itself into a kind of 
egotistical despair at the thought of the impending 
marriage of his English daughter Dora with Mr. 
Quillinan. From this time onward, everything else 
seems to have been indifferent to him. He was to 
die in 1850. 

It deserves notice, however, that in the year after 
Annette's death he published a translation into 
English verse of a short French poem that appeared 
in a volume entitled La Petite Chouannerie ou Histoire 
d'un College Breton sous I'Empire. 1 The English 
translation bears the name of The Eagle and the 
Dove. Was not there some recollection of Annette's 

1 By A. F. Rio. London, Moxon, 1843. 



. 



WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

bravery as a Chouanne in the praise given to the 
" beardless boys " who boldly fought against the 
soldiers of the French Emperor?' l 

After all, we can only speak with hesitation of the 
old man's feelings, for all trace of the letters ex- 
changed between the English and the French families 

o of the poet has been lost. Yet it is certain that the 
correspondence was not closed with the visit in 1820 
of which Dorothy said she had kept so pleasant 
a remembrance. 

After Annette's death, and Wordsworth's appoint- 
ment as poet laureate (1843), tne Baudouin family 
made a move to obtain some recognition by him of 
their claims to relationship. As soon as Wordsworth 
himself was dead, Mrs. Wordsworth, the poet's 
nephew, Bishop Wordsworth, and Crabb Robinson 
almost decided to make some public statement 
relating to the affair of 1792. The question was 
very seriously discussed among them. But the 

* Baudouins' efforts seem not to have been insistent. 2 
A few words will suffice to bring the story to its 
close. Caroline Wordsworth (Madame Baudouin) was 
to outlive her father twelve years. Her life, less 
eventful than Annette's, has no history, but her 
features are known to us. It will be remembered 
that, according to her mother and to M. Eustace 
Baudouin, she strikingly resembled the poet. Look- 
ing at her portraits, all taken in her later years, 
this resemblance is chiefly visible in the chin and 

1 1 thank Mr. Gordon Wordsworth for pointing out to me 
this poem and its probable relation to the Annette episode. 

2 1 owe this information to Professor Harper, who found 
the facts among the Crabb Robinson documents (diary and 
letters preserved at the Dr. Williams library in London). 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 113 

cheek-bones, which are rather prominent both in 
father and daughter. What strikes us is a look of 
gaiety which, in the earliest photograph, is almost a 
laugh, not that " convulsive inclination to laughter 
about the mouth," observed in Wordsworth by 
Hazlitt, which is already so noticeable in the drawing 
by W. Shuter in 1798, and which is found again in 
the pencil portrait by Edward Nash. In Caroline 
it is a mixture of kindness, mirth and playfulness 
which is said to have endeared her to her friends 
and grandchildren. 

She was buried in the same grave as her mother, 
and her children had these words, still legible, carved 
on the stone : 

To the memory of our mother Anne Caroline William 
Wordsworth, the widow of M. Jean Baptiste Baudouin, 
former sub-director of the Mont de Piete, born on 6th 
December, 1792, died in 1862. 

She died on 8th July. The certificate states that 
she lived on the left bank of the Seine, 3 Rue Jacob, 
and that she was a rentier e (an independent lady). 

The poet's posterity was assured through Caroline's 
eldest daughter, for Madame Marquet died childless 
in 1864. Louise Marie Dorothee Baudouin was 
twice married, first to M. Judesretz, twenty-one years 
older than herself an unequal and unhappy union. 
Left a childless widow in 1849, she went back to her 
parents, and two years later, being then thirty-four, 
she married Theophile Vauchelet (1802-73), an his- 
torical painter who was well known under Louis 
Philippe. A pupil of Herseut and of Abel de Pujot 
(the latter acted as witness at his wedding), he won 
the Grand Prix de Rome in 1829, and first painted 



ii 4 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

religious subjects, but the Versailles museum con- 
tains several historical compositions by him. He has 
preserved in a fine portrait the features of his mother- 
in-law, Wordsworth's French daughter. 

Madame Vauchelet died on 2nd October, 1869, 
leaving two daughters who are now dead, but 
through whose children the poet's descent is con- 

tinued, numerous and prosperous. 

-, --- -^ - 






XXI 



IN the course of this story we see two beings so 
strongly contrasted that only the illusion of young 
love could ever have drawn them together and 
created between them a passionate union, which, 
4 impatient of conventions and obstacles, they had 
once hoped to render permanent. Wordsworth 
and Annette were separated by language, political 
-- opinions, tastes and temperaments. Chance had 
brought together these two natures, far asunder as 
the poles, and created between them a connection 
which, in various forms, was to last all their 
life long. 

What is extraordinary in their adventure, is not 
so much the ardent passion of its initial stages as its 
gradual conversion into a friendship which later takes 
the form of a somewhat distant family tie, a calm and 
^ vague connection which was not only accepted by 
the poet himself, but imposed by him upon his inner 
family circle. What gives to this liaison its particular 
aspect is the part played by the pure and kind 



'; / . 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 115 

Dorothy, whose gentle heart sympathised from the 
beginning with the foreigner loved by her brother 
and was drawn towards their child, Dorothy who 
little by little became, in the place of William, the 
habitual correspondent of his former mistress. 
Perhaps still stranger is the perfect equanimity 
of the legitimate wife, not ignorant of the past, 
but giving her sanction to it, and, without trace of V; 
retrospective jealousy, of the slightest bitterness, 
going to visit the woman who gave her husband 
his first child. 

It is a singular situation. Instead of lessening 
our idea of Wordsworth's goodness and his con- 
formity to moral laws, his love-adventure only shakes 
it a moment to strengthen it immediately afterwards. 
He may as a young man have strayed from law and 
order, but soon we know not what secret power 
induces him to make of what might have been but 
a passing folly, a sort of first marriage followed by 
a separation by mutual consent, without clashing or 
violence. He builds up a new life, a new family, 
quite within the law this time, without severing his 
ties with the old one. We can understand how the 
French Wordsworths could have believed, from 
the second generation onward, that a marriage trad 
taken place between Annette and William during 
the Revolution, a marriage of which neither the 
place, the date nor the conditions were known, no 
doubt concluded after Caroline's birth, maybe illegal, 
that is to say performed by some non-juring priest, 
as was often done at the time, and as the Catholicism 
of the Vallons rendered it probable. The documents 
that have been found, it must be owned, do not 
encourage this belief, but surely Wordsworth carried 

~~ 



n6 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

even into his irregularity a constancy and gravity 
which consecrated it. 

N If, unhappily, on account of the loss of the docu- 
ments which might reassure us, a painful uncertainty 
is left as regards the help given by him to his mistress 
and their child, either in 1792, in 1802, or at the 
time of Caroline's marriage, on the other hand we 
can at any rate be glad that he did not keep his past 
a secret. He neither condemns nor disowns it. Most 
of those who surround him are aware of it; first 
his guardians and his sister, then his wife and 
some of his friends had been told the story. No 
reserve was imposed on Dorothy, who ingenuously 
writes about it to Miss Pollard or Mrs. Clarkson. 
This sincerity is pleasing. It breathes of simplicity 
and nature. It is only later that mystery enveloped 
the whole adventure. It does not seem that Words- 
worth as a man was responsible for it, except perhaps 
in the later years of his life. 

It must, however, be acknowledged that as a poet 
he helped to blind the world. More intent on 
education than on pure truth, aspiring to play an 
almost sacerdotal role, he allowed an image of 
himself, more edifying than exact, to take shape 
I in his verse. He hardly showed his weaknesses and 
\ mistakes, or if he confessed them at all, did so in 
terms so moderate that no one could have guessed 
all that was hidden by certain harmless-looking 
words. He did even more, since he undertook to 
retrace his own youth, and practised in his Prelude, 
where all is true, the deceit which consists in 
the omission of embarrassing facts. He himself 
warns us of it, in a way ; but he cannot prevent 
the effect of the suppressions he thought himself 



entitled to make. The three books of The Prelude on 
the Revolution do not .contain the whole truth of 
his stay in France nor of the feelings of the poet 
during the three years which followed his return to 
England. The crisis he underwent was not merely 
intellectual. Politics did not wholly engross his 
thoughts, nor guide all his actions. There was 
Annette and there was Caroline. It is impossible 
to-day to re-read these books without seeing their 
shadowy faces in the background. It is impossible 
not to wonder, or smile, at more than one statement, 
more than one analysis of self which is warped 
because they are absent from it. 

There is another, an aesthetic, reason for regret. 
The reality was richer, more complex and humane 
than the simplification of his experiences given us 
by Wordsworth. His poetry suffers from his over- 
expurgation of Nature. Though this part of his 
poem is powerful, how much more vivid were the 
emotions he really experienced in France ! Words- 
worth between Annette and Beaupuy at Blois, his 
walks with the heroic officer who infuses into him 
his revolutionary fervour, alternating with stolen 
interviews with her whom he loves and who bears 
in her bosom the fruit of their passion! Or again 
at Orleans when in September he exults at the 
proclamation of the Republic, then falls from these 
high summits of enthusiasm into the agony of 
knowing Annette to be in hiding and unhappy, while 
he cannot devise the means of repairing his fault 
and of preventing her coming shame. In only one 
of his poems did he have the frankness to hint at 
the whole affair, though he shirked the opportunity 
of recounting it in full namely, in the Descriptive 



1x8 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 



Sketches, which he wrote during that same tumul- 
tuous year. Hampered, however, by his subject, he 
could only express in it his love and remorse without 
fusing them with the rest. He could but force into 
a merely picturesque poem those fits of exultation 
and of bitter melancholy which he felt in 1792. He 
casts into the past, into an excursion which, as we 
know, was an enchantment to him, regrets and 
remorse which came to him two years later. In the 
midst of his Alpine rambles he stops now and then, 
and sighs. He declares that human joy is brief and 
he numbers among life's scourges " the spectres of 
conscience." He has no hope of overcoming his 
despair " Save in the land where all things are 
forgot." But, save in the Sketches, his principle was 
reserve, the escape from the dramatic and the stifling 
of passion. Hence the peculiar character of his 
poetry, which involves the limitation of its grasp 
on the imagination and consequently of the number 
of his readers. 

The episode of Annette thus helps us to form a 
juster appreciation of his poetry. It is not that it 
becomes an essential element of it. The significant 
fact is that the adventure is suppressed as a thing 
adventitious and foreign. Yet its value is not wholly 
negative. We have seen that it gave the poet subject- 
matter or inspiration for several poems written by 
him before 1802 those in which he represents some 
forsaken wife or some girl-mother abandoned by 
her seducer. 

Even his fine lines to Lucy and to Mary 
Hutchinson take a deeper meaning when we are 
aware of the other passion, so different, which 
once burnt in the young man's heart, and of the 



AND ANNETTE VALLON 119 

comparisons which are implied in the tribute he 
offers them. 

This episode thus affords us a favourable point 
whence to survey his life, his character and his 
works. It leads us to a revision of our judgment. 
This is the best justification of these pages. 

But in relating it with all the details possible in 
view of the rare and scattered nature of the docu- 
ments, which are difficult to find and to connect 
with one another, we have also tried to call up, 
against the background of the Revolution, through 
which a whole family live their eventful history, 
the image of his French mistress; and on the whole, 
her weaknesses being admitted, she appeared to us 
worthy of a sketch the eager and generous girl who 
could captivate the young poet's love, who, asking 
nothing for herself, with no bitter recriminations, 
could retain the friendship of the mature man. 
Indeed hers is the better part, since she gave more 
than she received. 

Her courage as a monarchist is admirable, what- 
ever opinion we may hold of the chouannerie. She 
who, in the service of her cause, from devotion to 
her political friends, many a time risked being 
arrested, thrown into prison and perhaps guillo- 
tined, assumes the aspect of a heroine. 

She was also a devoted sister whose energetic 
decision once saved from wreck the brother she 
loved. And throughout, she splendidly performed 
her maternal duty to the child whom circumstances 
had left to her sole care, to her sole affection. 
She succeeded, according to her lights, in ensuring 
for her a /purer, less troubled and penurious 
existence th^n her own. She, who was an employee 



i2o WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

to her last day, managed that her daughter should 
be a rentiere. 

And if she had a taste for worldly vanities, it is 
in the wedding of that daughter, Wordsworth's 
daughter, that she gave full scope to her inclination, 
in the first months of 1816 which mark the zenith 
of a chequered existence, half shade, half sunshine. 



APPENDICES 












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THE VALLO 


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Charles Olivier Vail. 
b. 1728, d. 18 


Paul, b. 1763, d. 1835; 
marries in 1804 Marie 
Catherine Puzela 


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GENEALOGY OF 


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led again with Vergez, surgeon) 


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Toussaint Decadi, Paul, Arr 
b. 1798 prefect adv 


ise Marie Caroline Dorothee E 
869. Marries (a) Joseph Judesri 
Theophile Vauchelet, painter, b 

Marguerite Vauchelet, Ma: 
d. 1910; marries Marie m 
Ernest Ramus in 1873 

laughters and one son, 
all still living 


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123 



APPENDIX II 

LETTERS OF ANNETTE VALLON TO 
WILLIAM AND DOROTHY WORDSWORTH 

(aoth MARCH, 1793) 

[THE following letters have been recently discovered by 
M. Guy Trouillard in the Records of the " Departement 
de Loir-et-Cher. Fonds du Comite de Surveillance du 
Departement; liasse L. 2060." They now bear the mark 
LD 990 bis. 

The two letters were addressed as a single one to 
Monsieur Williams Wordsworth 
Staple Inn No. n 
London 

Angleterre. 

The letter to William Wordsworth is written on both 
sides of a single sheet of paper. The address is framed 
in the latter part of the letter, the paper being simply 
folded in and sealed. On the broken wax of the seal a V 
is still discernible. 

The letter to Dorothy fills up two sheets of very close 
handwriting, the last sentences being written in the 
margin. The sheets are of smaller size than the one used 
for the letter to William, so as to be enclosed in the latter. 

The ink has faded, but the characters remain quite 
distinct. Some words have been obscured or torn here 
and there by the folding in of the flaps and the breaking 
of the seal. One or two more are blotted out by an ink- 
stain. My conjectural restorations of those words are 
indicated by brackets. 

Annette's spelling is quite personal, irregular and 
arbitrary. I have tried to preserve it throughout. She 
124 



APPENDIX II 125 

uses no punctuation, but it seemed preferable not to 
follow her in this. Commas and stops have been restored 
to make the letter easily intelligible.] 



LETTER TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

BLOIS, le 20 mars. 

Je lai enfin recu cette lettre que j'attendois avec ten 
d'empressement. Elle m'a trouvee bien affligee. Je 
craignois que tu ne fus malade. Ta lettre a neuf jours 
de date. II est inconsevable comme la poste nous sert 
mal. Si mes lettres pouvoit arriver a toi aussi vite que 
mes penses qui y sont continuellement je ne serois pas 
toujours dans des craintes penibles. Mon imagination 
ne me donne que des inquietudes sans jamais me donner 
un instant de plaisir. 

Tu doit a present avoir recu deux lettres que jai ecrittes 
depuis la date de ta derniere. J'y rpont a celle de ta 
sceur. La terre n'en a pas produit deux comme elle; 
elle fait Ihonneur de son sexe. Je desire bien que ma 
Caroline lui resemble. Que jai pleure, mon cher Williams ! 
quel cceur! quelle ame! comme elle partage bien les 
malleurs qui macable, mais que je suis fachee de voir 
qu'elle est tourmente raport a nous ! En grace, mon ami, 
tranquilise la, dit lui que je lui promet de m'armer de 
tout le courage possible pour suporter ton absence, comme 
je Ten assure moi-meme; je serois plus console si nous 
e'tions marie", mais aussi je regarde presque impossible 
que tu t'expose [au voyage] si nous avons la guerre. 
Tu serois peut etre prit prisonier. Mais ou m'egare mes 
desires!" Je parle comme si je touchois a 1'instant de 
mon bonheur. Ecrie-moi ce que tu pense a ce sujet et 
mets la plus grande activite a h^ter le bonheur de ta fille 
et le mien, mais sur tout s'il n'y a pas le moindre risque, 
mais je croit que la guerre ne sera pas longue. Je vou- 
derois voir les deux nations [reconcilie'es]. C'est un de 



i 2 6 APPENDIX II 

mes vceux les plus sincere. Mais surtout informe [toi 
d'un] moyen pour nous e"crire en cas que la correspon- 
dance entre les deux royaume fut interompue. 

Ta sceur me parle [de notre] petit menage avec un 
entousiasme qui me fait grand [plaisir], Que nous serons 
heureux, 6 mon tendre ami; oui [on] sera heureux. Je 
te le promet. Ta fille fait des progret qui m'enchante. 
TSche de faire ton possible pour me la donner bien tot 
pour ne plus m'en se'pare, cette chere petite qui rit a 
present si bien, qui connois deja sa pauvre mere et qui 
bientot demandera son pere. Vien, mon ami, mon mari, 
recevoir les embrassemens tendre de ta femme, de ta 
fille. Elle est si jolie, cette pauvre petite, si jolie que la 
tendresse que j'ai pour elle m'en fera perdre la tete si je 
ne 1'ai pas continuellement dans les bras. Elle te resemble 
de plus en plus tous les jours. Je croit te tenir dans mes 
bras. Son petit cceur bat souvent centre le mien; je 
croit sentire celui de son pere; mais pourquoi, Caroline, 
est-tu insensible S* pourquoi ton coeur ne s'agitte-t-il 
pas quand celui de ta mere bat terns S* O mon ami, bientot 
il le sera agite quand je lui direz: Qaroline, dans un 
mois, dans quinze, dans huit jour, tu vas voir le plus 
. che"rit des hommes, le plus tendre des hommes. Alors le 
coeur de ma Caroline sera emue, elle sentira la premiere 
sensation et ce sera de tendresse pour son pere. Je te 
prie, mon cher petit, de faire passer aussi tot cette lettre 
a ma chere sceur que j'aime de toute mon ame, de 1'engage 
i de ne rien dire a ton oncle; ce sera un combat penible 
qu'elle aura a soutenire. Mais tu le juge necessaire. 

J'arrive de me promener avec ma petite, mon ange 
(car elle en a la candeur); elle a etc" fort guaie; je lui 
ait dit que j'allois dcrire a son pere. Je lai bien embrasse 
pour toi. Je me chagrine bien de ce qu'elle a toujours son 
pouce dans sa bouche. Elle vas s'abimer les yeux; elle 
les tire ces yeux; et ce serois grand domage car elle les 
a bien beau. Je n'en dcrie pas bien long car je nai pas le 
terns. Je veux retourner voir la petite a six heure; il en 
est bientot cinq edemie. Je tai ecrit une lettre bien longue 



APPENDIX II 127 

dimanche. Jespere recevoir de tes nouvelles bientot. 
Adieu, mon ami, dit bien a ta sceur que je vouderois bien 
apprendre qu'elle est plus tranquille. Aime toujours ta 
petite fille et ton Annette qui t'embrasse mil fois sur la 
bouche, sur les yeux et mon petit que j'aime toujours, 
que je recomande bien a tes soins: adieu, je t'ecrirez 
dimanche. Adieu, je t'aime pour la vie. 

Parle-moi de la guerre, ce que tu en pense, car cela 
mocupe beaucoup. 



II 

LETTER TO DOROTHY 
BLOIS le 20 mars 1793 mercredy a 10 heure du matin. 

Si il est consolant pour moi, ma chere sceur, de voir 
linteret que vous prenez a [mes tris]tes chagrins, je 
mafflige bien en meme terns de ce qu'ils vous rendent 
si malheureuse. Mes sentimens sont audesus de mes 
expressions. Je n'en trouverois pas qui vous renderoit 
au naturel ma vive reconnaissance; elle e"gale lattache- 
ment que j'ai pour ma chere sceur. Ces deux sentiments 
sont grave dans mon Sme; le terns ne fera que les aug- 
menter, surtout quand une espasse imense ne nous 
se"parera plus, quand pourai dire mil fois le jour a me 
sceur que je 1'aime avec cette tendresse que je sens dej'a 
bien vivement. Que vos lettres sont touchante, que j'ai 
de peine a en soutenire la lecture ! Je les arrose de larmes 
comme celle de mon ami. Votre derniere ma fait une 
sensation si vive; a chaque ligne je voyois la sensibilite" 
de votre ame et cet interet si touchant que vous prenez 
a mes peines. Elle sont grande, ma chere sceur, je vous 
1'avoue, mais ne les augmantez pas en vous affligant trop: 
1'idee que je vous rend malheureuse est cruelle pour moi; 
oui ces moi qui trouble votre repos, qui fait couler vos 
larmes. Calmez-vous, 6 ma chere sceur, mon amie, jai 
grand besoin de cette assurance pour ne pas etre plus 



i 2 8 APPENDIX II 

inquiette. Je vouderois pouvoir vous donner quelquc 
consolations, mais helasl je ne le peu; cest a moi d'en 
chercher aupres de vous. Ces dans 1'assurance de votre 
amitie que je trouve quelque soulagement et dans 1'invio- 
labilite des sentiments de mon cher Williams. Je ne peu 
etre heureuse sans lui, je le desire tous les jours, mais 
j'aurai asse de raisons pour me soumettre au sort qu'il 
faut que je subissent. Je 1'apelle souvent a mon secour, 
cette raison qui trop souvent est foible et impuisante 
aupres de mes sentimens pour lui: non, ma chere amie, 
jamais il ne ce fera une idee juste du besoin que j'ai de 
lui pour etre heureuse; maitrisee par un sentiment qui 
cause tous mes chagrins, je cherit toujours son empire et 
1'influence qua sur moi [un amours'] cher a mon coeur 
sous cesse ocupee de lui. Son image me suit par tout; 
souvent seule dans ma chambre avec ces lettres, je crois 
qu'il va entre". Je suis prette a me jetter dans ces bras et 
lui dire: Vient, mon ami, vien essuie des larmes qui 
coule depuis longtems pour toi; vollons voir Caroline, 
ton enfant, ta ressemblance; vois ta femme, le chagrin 
1'a bien changee; la reconnois-tuS 1 oui, a cette Emotion 
que ton coeur doit partager avec le sien. Si ses traits sont 
change, si cette paleur te la rend meconaissable, son coeur 
est toujours le meme. II est toujours a toi. Reconois ton 
Annette, la tendre mere de Caroline. Ah ! ma chere 
soeur, voila 1'etat ou je suis continuellement; revenu 
de mon erreur comme d'un songe, je ne le vois point, 
le pere de mon enfant; il est bien loin de moi. Ces 
scene se renouvelle bien souvent et me jette dans une 
melancolie extreme. 

Mais, ma chere amie, je vois sans y pense que loing de 
vous consoler, je vais encore eguillone les chagrins que 
vous avez raport a moi, mais je ne peu rien vous cacher, 
ce seroit faire injure a la soeur de mon chere Williams, 
la tante cherit de ma fille, de lui cache la moindre choses. 
Non, je ne le ferai pas. Ces dans le sein de I'amitie que 
rinfortune* trouve des consolations; cest dans celui de 
ma sceur que j'aime a me"pencher, mais si vous vous 



APPENDIX II 129 

attendrissez sur mon sort, je partage bien aussi les de'sa- 
grements du votre. Vous n'avez personne a qui vous 
puissiez librement confier 1'etat penible de votre ame 
et que vous etes obligee d'etouffer des larmes que votre 
sensibilite vous arrache. O ma chere sceur, que je suis 
malheureuse de savoir que vous 1'ete raport a moi; 
jamais, non, jamais je ne pourai trop vous dedomager de 
tout ce que vous soufre pour moi. Mon ami partage 
bien ma reconnaissance; il m'avoit bien dit, ce cher ami, 
qu'il avoit une sceur charmante, mais que le tableau qu'il 
ma fait de votre cime est inferieur a ce que je vois dans 
vos ecrit! Non, mon cher Williams, tu ne m'en as pas 
dit asse. Je veux un jour lui en faire reproches quand 
nous serons reunit; mais quand viendra-t-il 5 1 Ah! que 
je le croit encore eloignezi II faut que je 1'achette encore 
par bien des soupires. Mais quand nous y serons, 6 ma 
sceur, que nous serons heureux! Et toi, mon ami, ddsire- 
tu ce jour aussi ardament que ton Annettes' Quand tu 
sera environez de ta sceur, ta femme, ta fille, qui ne 
respirerons que pour toi, nous naurons qu'un meme 
sentiment, qu'un coeur, qu'une ame, et tout sera reportee 
a mon cher Williams. Nos jours coulerons tranquillement. 
Je jouirez enfin du calme que je ne peux sentire qu'aupres 
de toi, qu'en te disant de vive voix que je t'aime. 

Et vous, ma soeur, vous Taime aussi, mon ami; comme 
moi vous ete priv du bonheur de le voir; que vous 
etes malheureuse si 1'absence vous est aussi penible 
qu'a moi, mais vous n'etes pas si e"loignez. Plus souvent 
qu'Annette vous recevez de ces nouvelles; vous vous 
envoyiez vos pense"s; et moi, trop souvent les lettres que 
je recois de lui ont huit jours de dates; la derniere que 
j'ai recu etait datee du 8 mars et je ne Tai recu que le 14; 
jetois deja bien inquiette; sa lettre m'a fait un plaisir 
inexprimable, et celle de ma chere soeur me fait encore 
pleure quand je vois que mes moyiens de consolation sont 
insufisant, que je ne pourois sans la trompe lui dire que 
je suis heureuse. Mais je peu vous assurer que si jetois 
assez heureuse pour que mon cher Williams put faire le 



130 APPENDIX II 

voyage de France pour venir me dormer le litre de sa 
femme, je serois consolee. Dabort ma fille auroit un pere 
et sa pauvre mere jouiroit du bonheur de 1'avoir toujours 
avec elle. Je lui donnerois moi-meme des soins que je 
suis jalouse qu'elle recoivent de mains etrangere. Je ne 
ferois plus rougire ma famille en 1'apellant ma fille, ma 
Caroline; je la prenderois avec moi et jirois a la campagne. 
II n'est pas de solitude ou je ne trouvas des charmes avec 
elle. Je ne peu vous dire a quel exces je porte la tendresse 
pour ma fille. Quand je la tien dans mes bras, je lui re"pette 
souvent: Caroline, ma chere fille, tu na pas ton pere; 
il est bien loing de toi, pauvre petite. Si il te voyois, et 
ta chere tante, combien il te trouveroit interessante. Les 
aimera-tu, mon enfant? 1 Oui, je leur prometerai pour toi. 
Apelle ton pere, ma petite. Bientot je te prenderai dans 
mes bras; j'irez au devant de ce pere qui a coute tant de 
larmes a ta mere; tu le serera dans tes petit bras; tes 
petite levre lui donnerons un baize 1 bien tendre; elle lui 
seront chere, ces caresses inocentes. Oui, ma chere 
sceur, j'irez lui porter son enfant. J'ai de"ja montre 1 a 
Caroline la route; j'irez encore demain avec elle; nous 
1'apellerons, mais il ne nous entendera pas ; ny vous non 
plus, ma bonne amie, vous n'entenderez pas, mais vous 
penserez que presque tous les jours je m'echape a deux 
heure apres-midy pour aller avec ma fille dans les lieux 
qui me sont chere puisque j'y ait ete si souvent avec votre 
frere. Je parle a Caroline comme si elle entendois; je 
lui dit: Regarde, ma fille; c'est ici le couvent ou a ete 
e"levee ta mere, ou souvent avec ton pere nous nous 
sommes attendrie en pensant a ces jours heureux de 
1'inocence ou tu es actuellement. Conserve la longtemps, 
ma Caroline, si tu veux etre heureuse; sois toujours 
sourde aux cris des passions; ne connois jamais d'autres 
sentiments que 1'amour pour ton pere, ta tante et ta 
mere. Elle me donne les plus grandes espe" ranees; je 
crois qu'elle repondera aux bontes et aux soins que vous 
vouderez bien prendre d'elle, car, ma chere sceur, vous 
serez sa seconde mere, et je suis persuadee [du soin] 






APPENDIX II 131 

que vous metterez a travailler a en faire une seconde 
vous-meme. 

Vous voulez que je vous parle d'elle; ces bien me 
prendre par mon foible. Je ne tarie point en parlant de 
ma fille. La tendresse maternelle ne m'aveugle point, mais 
je suis orgeuieuse de 1'entendre dire par tous ceux qui la 
voyient que ce n'est pas un enffant ordinaire. Le premier 
jour qu'elle a sorti, la femme qui la portois fut arrettez 
par plusieurs personnes pour I'admirer. Elle passa par 
la maison, mais je ne peu vous repettez ce qu'eprouva 
son infortunee mere. J'en ait parl dans ma derniere a 
mon ami. Menagez ma sensibilite en me permettan de 
passe sur cette scene qui m'a valu une journee entiere 
de larmes. Elle coule encore. Je m'arrette. . . . 

Je reprend la plume. C'est encore de Caroline que je 
vais entretenir sa tante. Jobserve tous les progrets quelle 
fait; il son rapide. Elle est d'une vivacite qui se deVelope 
tous les jours. II n'est plus possible de la faire manger 
couchee comme sont tous les enfants. II faut qu'elle soit 
assise sur les genoux et elle s'y tien seule. Bientot elle 
voudera manger seule. Le jour que j'ai recu votre lettre 
et celle de Williams, je m'empressai d'aller lui dire. Je 
lui fit baiser les deux et apres je lui mit la votre dans ces 
mains; elle la garda tout le terns qu'elle manga. Je croit, 
la pauvre petite, qu'elle partageois ma joie; elle rioit 
beaucoup. Jus de la peine a lui oter pour lui donner 
celle de son pere. Elle la prie avec la meme vivacite, et 
1'une apres 1'autres, je lui fit mettre ses levres et j'y apli- 
quois les mienne. Cette soiree delicieuse finie trop tdt 
et je ne pouvois la quitter; ces le seule plaisir qui me 
reste, de la voir; je n'en jouit jamais asse. Apres midy je 
vais aller lui faire baise cette lettre. Je ferai une croix 
dans 1'endroit, et je me procurerez le plaisir de la bais6 
apres elle. Je croit bien que ma chere soeur en aura ausi 
ie choisir cette endroit pour y appliquer ces levres et 
ecevoir les sentiments les plus tendre de la mere et de 
'enfant. Mon ami qui vera cette lettre avant vous en 
era autems. Ne fesons plus qu'un tous les quatre, ma 

K 



i 3 2 APPENDIX II 

chere amie; un jour viendera que, reunit ensemble, notre 
unions sera indissoluble. 

Vous avez rit de ma vanite, du soins que je met a 
habiller ma fille; oui, cest pour moi un grand plaisir. 
Cette petite toque rose qui lui vas si bien a un grand prix 
pour Annette. Mon cher ami la baise*. Je me rapelle lui 
avoir fait baise" tout ce qui devait servire a son enfant. Ce 
tendre pere, cet ami sensible, a touche" tout ce qui fait 
aujourdhui la parure de ma fille. La premiere fois qu'elle 
la porte, ces moi qui lui mit, moi-meme apres 1'avoir 
baize mil fois. Je lui dit : Embrasse, ma Caroline, cette 
coiffure. Ton pere n'est pas si heureux que moi; il ne 
te la vera pas; mais elle doit tetre chere; il y a mis 
sa bouche. 

Je le fait sortire actuellement tous les jours deux heure; 
elle se porte bien mais elle ma donne bien de 1'inquietude 
pendant quelque jours. Vous avez du la voir dans une 
lettre que je vous ait ecritte. Actuellement vous devez 
avoir recu deux. 

Avant de finire ma lettre, ma bonne amie, je vous 
recomande bien de ne pas vous affiigee, de chacher 
autems que vous le pourez a votre oncle et votre tante 
les raisons qui comande a vos larmes de couler. Je 
vouderois bien pouvoir vous dire pour les arrettez que 
je suis heureuse, mais je vous tromperois; vous ne pouriez 
le croire; mais au moin je peu vous assure avec verite* 
que si il est possible que mon ami puisent venire me 
dormer le litre glorieux de son epouse, malgret la cruelle 
necessity qui 1'obligera de quitter aussi tot sa femme et 
son enfant, je suporterai plus aisement une absence penible 
a la verite, mais je serai a meme de trouver dans sa fille un 
dddomagement qui m'est interdi jusqu'a cette epoque. 

Je suis force de finire mais je ne fait que commancer. 
Le papier finie toujours trop tot. Je me procurerai le 
plaisir de vous e*crire bientot. Je voile chez ma fille 
aussitot que j'aurai diner; jemporterai ma lettre avec 
moi. Adieu, ma chere sceur; non, pas adieu, car je vous 
direz encore deux mot. . 



APPENDIX II 133 

II est quatre heure. Le terns passe vite avec Caroline. 
Elle a bien baize cette croix; chaqu'une nos tours, nous 
1'avons fait. En grace, ma chere amie, e"crive"-moi bien 
tot et dite-moi que vous etes un peu consold; j'attens cela 
avec impatience. Pense toujours a nous; je vous payie 
d'un parfait retour, car vous mocupde bien souvent. 

Je suis ocupee a present a faire des bas pour Caroline, 
car bien tot on ne poura plus la tenire dans ses langes; 
elle est trop vive. Je vois avec peine qu'elle naura pas les 
cheveux si blon que je 1'esperois; il brunissent tous les 
jours ; jetois bien contante parce qu'il me sembloit 
qu'elle les aurait de la couleur de son bon pere et 
comme les votres. 

Je vous embrasse de tout mon cceur; je voudrais bien 
que vous fusiez pres du terns ou vous verez mon tendre 
ami, mon cher Williams. Que vous serez heureuse! 
Vous lembrasserez avant moi, mais fait le bien pour 
nous deux et pour Caroline. 

Adieu, ma chere amie, adieu. Aimez toujours celle que 
vous che"rit, aimez aussi [de cce]ur votre petite fille. 



APPENDIX III 

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE OF CAROLINE 
WORDSWORTH 

(MARCH, 1816) 

Les 6 et 15 mars 1816. Devant Me. et son collegue 

ont comparu : 

Madame Louise fitiennette d'Archiac, veuve de M. 
Ferdinand Gerome de Beauvau, prince de Craon, et 
demoiselle Jeanne Marie Bonne d'Alpy, demeurant toutes 
deux a Paris, rue Ste. Croix 22, 

Madame Anne Louise Caroline Goyon de Matignon, 
epouse d'Anne Charles Francois, due de Montmorency, 
demeurant a Paris, rue de l'Universit, 

M. Mathieu Jean Felicit, vicomte de Montmorency, 
pair de France, chevalier d'honneur de son altesse 
Royale Madame, gouverneur du chateau de Compiegne, 
demeurant a Paris, rue de Lille, 

M. Claude Antoine de Beziade, marquis d'Avaray, 
pair de France, lieutenant general des armies du Roi, 
maitre de la garde-robe de sa Majest Louis XVIIL, et 
Angelique Adelaide Demailly, son epouse, demeurant 
ensemble a Paris, rue de Grevelle, faubourg St. Germain 
No. 85, 

M. Claude, baron de Tardif, marshal de camp, ancien 
officier suprieur des gardes du corps du roi, chevalier 
de Saint-Louis, demeurant & Paris, rue Jacob No. 22, \ 

M. Auguste Guillaume Josse de Beauvoir, deput de 
Loir et Cher, demeurant a Paris, rue de Crenelle, h6tel 
de Bourgogne, 

M. Jean Marie Pardessus, professeur a 1'ficole de 
134 



APPENDIX III 135 

Droit, membre de la chambre de Dpute"s, demeurant a 
Paris a I'ficole de Droit, 

M. Guillaume Antoine Baron, directeur general du 
Mont de Pie"te, demeurant a Paris, rue des Petits Augustins 
No. 20, 

M. fitienne Barthelemy Dysarn de Villefort, chevalier 
des ordres de Saint-Louis et de Saint-Lazare, sous-direc- 
teur du Mont de Pie'te', rue des Vieilles Andriettes No. 4, 

Madame Anne Francoise Gabrielle Pontonnier, epouse 
de Rene Victor Pesson, inspecteur de la navigation du 
bassin de la Charente Inferieure, et Louise Constance 
Pesson, sa fille, demeurant a Paris, rue des Saints Peres 17, 

M. Pierre Francois Dubonexie de Pinieux, chevalier 
de 1'ordre royal de St. Jean de Jerusalem, demeurant a 
Paris, rue Neuve des Mathurins No. 18, 

et Madame Marie Louise d'Honigshof, epouse de M. 
Baudouin de St. Firmin, lieutenant-colonel, demeurant 
a Paris, rue du Cherche-Midi No. 25, 

Lesquels ont declare" qu'ils ont pour agreable le mariage 
dont les conditions civiles ont etc arretees par le contrat 
dont le minute precede entre M. Jean Baptiste Martin 
Baudouin et Mile. Anne Caroline Wortsworth (sic). 

The contract itself is as follows : 

Par devant Me. ont comparu : 

M. Jean Baptiste Baudouin, chef de bureau au Mont 
de Piete, demeurant a Paris, rue de la Tixeranderie No. 
82, fils majeur de Georges Baudouin, proprietaire et de 
Marie Anne fitienne, son epouse, actuellement sa veuve, 
demeurant a Montbard, Departement de la Cote d'Or, 

et Mademoiselle Anne Caroline Wortsworth, fille 
majeure de M. W. Wortsworth et de Mme. Marie Anne 
Vallon, dite William, demeurant la demoiselle a Paris, 
frue Paradis 35, faubourg Poissonniere, M. son pere a 
Grasner pres Kendal en Angleterre, et Mme. sa mere 
a Paris, rue Chariot 47, au Marais, 

Stipulant et contractant la dite demoiselle pour elle et 
en son nom, du consentement de M. son pere qu'elle 



136 APPENDIX III 

declare avoir et en presence et du consentement de 
Mme. sa mere, d'autre part. 



ARTICLE I 

Les futurs epoux seront communs en biens conforme- 
ment aux articles du Code civil. 



ARTICLE III 

Les dits futurs epoux declarent que toute leur fortune 
est mobiliere et ils mettent en communaute tout ce qui 
appartient a chacun d'eux, en consequence il n'est fait 
aucune appreciation de leurs apports. 



ARTICLE IV 
Stipulation d'un pr^ciput de deux mille francs. 

Dont acte le 16 fevrier 1816. 
Ont signe: 

A. C. WORDSWORTH, 

M. A. VALLON dite WILLIAM, 

BAUDOUIN. 



APPENDIX IV 

PETITION TO THE KING ON BEHALF OF 
ANNETTE VALLON 

(MARCH-APRIL 1816) 

Les soussignes supplient Sa Majeste de leur permettre 
d'attester le courage, le devouement, la Constance avec 
lesquels Madame Williams nee Vallon a sauve, cache" 
et secouru dans les temps les plus orageux de la Revolu- 
tion un nombre infini de Francois fideles sujets du Roi, 
dpouilles, persecutes et poursuivis pour la cause de leur 
Dieu et celle de leur attachement a la dynastie des 
Bourbons. Us attestent aussi les sacrifices de tous genres 
qu'elle n'a cesse de faire pour la cause du Roi. 

Signe : 
MM. 

BERENGERE, DUCHESSE DE BEAUVILLIERS DE ST. 

AIGNAN. 
LE MARQUIS D'AVARAY, lieutenant-general, maltre de 

la garde-robe du Roi. 
HYPOLYTE DELAPORTE, fils de 1'intendant de 

Loraine et Barois. 
DE BELLEFOND, chevalier de St. Louis, capitaine 

d'infanterie. 
LE MARQUIS DE BARTILLAT, officier aux gardes du 

Roi. 
THEODORE DE MONTLIVAULT, officier de marine du 

Roi. 
THEODORE DE PERIGNY, commandeur de Tordre 

royal et militaire de St. Louis, membre de la 

Chambre des Deputes. 
LE COMTE DE MENOU. 
137 



138 APPENDIX IV 

MALET, mare'chal de camp, atteste avec plaisir 

le contenu. 

LE COMTE DE QUINEMONT, officier des gardes. 
LE MARQUIS DE CouRTAVEL, marechal de camp. 
LE COMTE DE SALABERRY, membre del la Chambre 

des deputes. 

LE COMTE DE BERANGER, marechal de camp. 
DE LUSIGNAN atteste tous ces fails. Us sont a sa 

connaissance. 

DE ROSTAING, chef d'escadron de dragons. 
LE CHEVALIER DE LA RocHEMOUHET declare que 

Madame Williams lui a sauve la vie en ex- 

posant la sienne. 
LA BOISE DE RAISEUX, commandant les royalistes 

sous les ordres de M. Le Veneur, commissaire 

de sa Majeste, dans 1'Orleanois. 
VICOMTE DE MALARTIC, major-general de 1'armee 

royale du Maine, atteste que Madame Williams 

a rendu des services signales pendant le 

temps de 1'insurrection de la Vendee et avec 

un desinteressement qui lui donne des droits 

aux bontes du Roi. 

LE DUG DE ST. AlGNAN, PAIR DE FRANCE. 

LE VICOMTE D'OSMOND, commissaire extraordinaire 
du Roi, atteste la verite des fails. 

Pour copie conforme. 
Certifie conforme et veritable : 
feme WILLIAMS VALLON 
(signature d' Annette). 

[en marge] 

Je suis plus a meme que personne d'attester le de- 
vouement parfait, le desinteressement rare que Mde. 
William a montres depuis vingt ans que je le connois, et 
malheureusement j 'atteste aussi 1'oubli ou ses droits a 
la bonte* du roi sont laissees. 

CTE. DE SALABERRY, officier vendeen, depute du 
dipt, de Loir et Cher. 



APPENDIX IV 139 

[en marge] 

Depuis vingt-cinq ans je connois Madame Williams 
Vallon; il est impossible d'avoir porte" le devouement et 
les sacrifices pour la cause royale et les malheureux plus 
loin que ne 1'a fait cette dame. 

Elle merite non pas m leret [inte'rets'] mais justice et 
jamais Justice n'aura e"te* mieux rendue qu'en la recom- 
pensant par un bureau de Lotterie qu'elle sollicite pour 
Madame Beaudouin sa fille. 

PARDESSUS, 

Depute de Loir et Cher. 

[en dessous] 

Les soussigne"s deputes de Loir et Cher certifient a 
tous ceux qu'il appartiendra que les originaux des Pieces 
ci dessus enoncees sonts restees entre leurs mains. 

JOSSE BEAUVOIR, 
Paris, le 4 avril 1816. CTE. DE SALABERRY. 

[2 feuille] 

Madame Williams depuis vingt cinq ans n'a cesse de 
donner des preuves du plus parfait royalisme. Elle a 
cache, secouru, un grand nombre d'fimigres et de pretres 
persecutes. Elle en a fait echapper des prisons et elle a 
par son zele et son courage arrache a la mort beaucoup 
de sujets fideles du Roi en exposant ses jours. Dans tous 
les terns elle a servi la cause Royale avec un desinteresse- 
ment absolu: Dans les derniers evenements qui ont 
plonge" la France dans le deuil, elle a fait des traits de 
courage, sans calcul personnel. Ne voyant que son at- 
tachement a la Dynastic legitime, elle affichoit la nuit 
les proclamations, les repandait le jour, fesait partir les 
Braves qui vouloient se devouer pour la cause des Roi. 
Elle joint la copie certifiee des temoignages nouvelles 
qu'elle a obtenus. 

Le cause et les interets du roi m'aiant rapproche 
pendant les cent jours d'interregne de Madame 
Williams, j'atteste qu'il n'existait pas a cette 



i 4 o APPENDIX IV 

e"poque si malheureuse dans toute la France un 
etre aussi ze"le, aussi devoue et aussi courageux 
qu'elle, et je suis heureux de grossir de mon 
nom la nombreux et respectable liste qu'elle 
presente, 

LE BARON DE TARDIF, 
Marechal de camp et ancien officier superieur des 

gardes du corps. 
Paris, le 6 mars, 1816. 



APPENDIX V 

TO MADAME A. MARQUET 
GRANDDAUGHTER OF THE ILLUSTRIOUS POET WORDSWORTH 

LITERARY NOTE ON WORDSWORTH, POET LAUREATE OF 
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, distributor of stamps at in 

the county of Westmorland, is one of the most original 
poets living at the present time. He is the poet of real 
feeling. No praise is too high for his lyrical ballads, such 
as Hartleap Well, The Banks of Wye, Poor Susan, We 
are Seven, Ruth, the verses To the Cuckoo, Margaret, The 
Complaint, and a thousand other pieces, of marvellous 
beauty and perfect originality. 

Wordsworth has achieved a reputation of the highest 
order amongst the most intelligent class of readers, not 
only because he can keep his poetic practice within the 
limits of his theory, and confine himself to the common 
language of men a language which can be employed 
with much charm in such poems and pieces as those we 
have just quoted but also because he can express his 
most profound thoughts in words of the greatest beauty, 
availing himself at the same time of the most daring 
poetic licence. Wordsworth is deservedly the head of 
the poetic school of the Lakes. 

This school took its origin in the first French Revolu- 
tion or, rather, in the feelings and opinions which 
brought about that revolution. The poetic literature of 
England had degenerated, towards the end of last century, 
in the hands of the imitators of Pope, into all that is 
common and mechanical. It had need of new elements, 
141 



i 4 2 APPENDIX V 

and found them in the principles and events of the 
revolution which had just broken out in France. By 
virtue of the impulse it received from this political 
cataclysm it was suddenly raised from the most servile 
imitation to the highest degree of originality and paradox. 

The change which took place in literature at this time 
was as complete and at the same time as startling as 
that which took place in politics. The minds of politicians 
and poets were in a state of ferment, and, according to 
the ideas current at the moment, the whole world was to 
be renewed, and to become according to nature. Every- 
thing known as authority or fashion, elegance or system, 
was cast aside as belonging to prejudice or pedantry. 
Licence became extreme, and was pushed to its furthest 
limits. The Deucalions who were to bring about the great 
promised renaissance were Southey (then poet laureate) 
and the two authors of the Lyrical Ballads, Coleridge and 
Wordsworth. They founded their poetic doctrine on 
nature alone, stripped of all art. This poetry reduced to 
one level all distinctions of nature and society; it shattered 
the golden images of poetry, and stripped them of their 
splendid coats of arms, so that they might be tested in 
the crucible of ordinary humanity. The proofs are to be 
found throughout the works of the poets named, and, 
above all, in the numerous compositions of him to whom 
this article is particularly devoted. 

The Lake School is the school of nature; it was, at 
the end of the eighteenth century, what the school of 
imagination had been two centuries earlier. Under the 
great Queen Elizabeth, Imagination was the prototype 
of the poetry of the time, and imagination, confined 
within reasonable limits, may be indeed regarded as the 
truly inspired guide of genius. It may justly be called 
the elder sister and companion of Intelligence. In poetry, 
the two seem to unite to form a single muse. And are 
not poets, in all nations, the Pilgrims of Genius, the 
seers and the prophets? 1 Are they not the benefactors 
of the world, whose duty is to sing the beneficence and 



APPENDIX V 143 

power of the Creator 5* What soul could be so insensible 
as to refuse them homage and adoration 5* Kings of 
the past, they transform it into the present. Endowed 
with the double faculties of seer and prophet, they unfold 
a prospect of the future, in turn dazzling and gloomy. 
They are the brilliant oracles which reveal themselves 
to our eyes like a pillar of flame, or like a sunbeam 
struggling through the clouds. Who, then, would refuse 
to reverence the poets s 1 

For the poet of true feeling, there are not two different 
worlds, the world of sense and the world of thought; he 
enfolds them, he unites them; for him there is but one 
same universe. He does not know what delights him most 
the flowers unfolding at our feet in the meadow, or the 
stars twinkling and, as it were, coming to birth in the 
firmament above our heads. Wordsworth calls the one 
the pure reflection of the other, for to the poetic soul of 
Wordsworth feeling is imagination beautifying every- 
thing. Thus poets add beauty to created things, and the 
puissant wand of these magicians of thought is naught 
else but imagination or feeling. 

We can therefore justly say: 

Soyez beni, 6 vous tous, pelerins du genie, 
Voyageurs qui marchez a I'immortalit6 
En leguantaux humains ces chants de verite 
Dont les anges du ciel vous dictent 1'harmome ! 

At the end of a religious meditation, Wordsworth makes 
this touching and sublime prayer : 

The Poets . . . 

Oh! might my name be numbered among theirs, 

Then gladly would I end my mortal days. 

And he attained the noble aim of his genius, for his 
prayer was heard by the muses, the ministers of divinity. 
Spenser was the poet laureate of the great Queen 
Elizabeth, as Wordsworth is to-day of the young Queen 
Victoria. Spenser had also founded a school, but a school 
of imagination only; nothing in his doctrine was real, 



i 4 4 APPENDIX V 

save language; all was fiction and allegory. His great 
poem the Faery Queen, which he composed while private 
secretary to the Viceroy of Ireland, is an allegorical work 
of the highest order. 

In Wordsworth, Poetry, Philosophy and Religion are 
united by a bond both powerful and fruitful the spirit 
of love; and when this sentiment is developed, intel- 
ligence and imagination create within themselves vast 
conceptions. They produce all the emotions of the sublime 
and beautiful; thus, in the noblest and highest feelings 
of man, these three sisters, Poetry, Philosophy and 
Religion, are one, and this marvellous unity is constantly 
realised in the most exquisite of all feelings, the spirit 
of love. 

But the purpose of Wordsworth and his school was not 
only to please. Their purpose was to raise, to etherealise 
man, to make him purer, more grateful to God, more 
confident of His marvellous and inexhaustible goodness. 
Are not poets like Wordsworth our most profound 
theologians 5* Do they not bring to us the knowledge of 
happiness and the sublimest morality t Their pious and 
philosophic muse sings in hymns and odes the sacred 
beauty of nature and the powerful God who created it; 
the song of men becomes like as the song of the angels. 

Another characteristic of the poetic school of Words- 
worth is that, instead of choosing elevated subjects, it 
concerns itself almost exclusively with humble hie. Thus 
it is a poetry not of passion nor of imagination, but of 
affection and the heart. A simple labourer, a humble 
shepherdess can be its hero or heroine. Its principal 
object is to sanctify and to beautify the humblest emotions 
of quiet lives. The home is its altar; it rarely strays 
beyond the circle of family life. One might say that this 
poetry is peculiar to Engla .d, and is, of all poetry, that 
which produces the most moral effects on the lowest 
ranks of society. It show., them that their state is cap- 
able of producing the sweetest, the purest, the most 
exquisite pleasures. It opens their hearts to the voice 



APPENDIX V 145 

of civilisation and humanity, and these humble and 
obscure people no longer rebel against their life when 
they see that it inspires poets who paint in the purest and 
most touching colours their humble actions, and their 
attachment to their homes. They know that the most 
distinguished poets of their country sing in sweet and 
pleasing verse " the simple annals of the poor." 1 

1 know no poet belonging to this school in France save 
M. de Lamartine. He is perhaps not exactly the bard 
of the country and the village, but he is at least the poet 
of the affections and the heart, and in this he resembles 
his contemporaries of the English Lake School. M. de 
Lamartine is, without exception, at least in our humble 
opinion, the most pure the most morally pure of all 
the authors now famous in this country. There is not, I 
believe, in all his works, one single line which he would, 
at his last hour, wish to see erased, neither do we believe 
that there could be found one thought, or one expression, 
capable of bringing a blush to the cheek of the most 
modest woman. We could wish that there were in France 
at present fifty Lamartines instead of one. The moral 
atmosphere we breathe is in need of such a purifying 
agent. The pure affections which are born beneath the 
domestic roof, and which should rise from our hearts 
towards the Divinity, are now lost in the whirl of passions 
born of politics. 

Yet the first thing we should try to cultivate is the 
individual character of man in his home. In that is all 
our being, all our existence. The duties of the citizen, 
who is a simple unit amongst millions like him, are but 
secondary. The root of the trouble is, that in times of 
misfortune, men grow accustomed to living too much 
out of themselves, to identifying themselves with public 
questions, and to attaching their existence to them. They 
unfortunately forget, in the excitement of public life, 
that they should follow the warning of their conscience, 

1 Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, written by Gray, 
a secondary poet of the eighteenth century. 



146 APPENDIX V 

and remain faithful to their most intimate convictions. 
It is to this inner life, full of purity, of joy and of useful 
activity, that Lamartine in France and Wordsworth in 
England desire to bring back humanity. We repeat; we 
wish with all our heart that there were in France fifty 
poets of the stamp of Wordsworth and Lamartine. Such 
poets are the true Apostles of morality. 

We cannot conclude this article, which has already 
exceeded the limits we had intended, without remarking 
on one trait of the lovable character of Wordsworth 
his affection for youth, his desire to be useful to it. 
Thus all his works dealing with children have an atmo- 
sphere of childlike freshness, of simplicity, of naivete, 
and a tendency at once moral and religious; so that the 
little ones, as the good Vicar of Wakefield calls the 
children, learn unwittingly lessons of religion and philo- 
sophy in a song about a bird or a simple flower. O 
benevolent and venerable poet, may France ever love and 
keep with reverence thy cherished children thou who 
hast worked so long for the moral well-being of youth, 
and hast entrusted to an alien soil thy dearest affections ! 

By A FORMER PROFESSOR OF FOREIGN LITERATURE. 
MELUN, this loth December, 1846. 



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