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The review over, the Chief Consul returned to the palace. The lines were again formed, and he re-entered our apartment with his suite. As soon as he approached our window, I observed my first acquaintance start a little forward. I was now all attention to her performance of her promise; and just as he reached us she stretched out her hand to present him—a petition !
The enigma of the conference was now solved, and I laughed at my own wasted expectation. Lui parler, however, the lady certainly did; so far she kept her word; for when he had taken the scroll, and was passingi on, she rushed out of the line, and planting herself immediately before him so as to prevent his walking on, screamed, rather than spoke, for her voice was shrill with impetuosity to be heard and terror of failure, “C'est pour mon fils ! vous me l'avez promis !"
The First Consul stopped and spoke; but not loud enough for me to hear his voice; while his aides-decamp and the attending generals surrounding him more closely, all in a breath rapidly said to the lady, « Votre nom, Madame, votre nom !" trying to disengage the Consul from her importunity, in which they succeeded, but not with much ease, as she seemed purposing to cling to him till she got his personal answer. He faintly smiled as he passed on, but looked harassed and worn; while she, turning to me, with an exulting face and voice, exclaimed, “Je l'aurai! je l'aurai !" meaning what she had petitioned for—"car tous ces Généraux m'ont demandé mon nom !" Could any inference be clearer ?
The moment the Chief Consul had ascended the steps leading to the inner apartment, the gentlemen in black with gold chains gave a general hint that all the
company must depart, as the ambassadors and the ministers were now summoned to their monthly public audience with the Chief Consul. The crowd, however, was so great, and Madame d'Honin was so much incommoded, and half ill, I fear, by internal suffering, that M. d'Arblay procured a pass for us by a private door down to a terrace leading to a quiet exit from the palace into the Tuileries' garden.
Madame d'Arblay to Mrs. Burney.
With the nearest relatives now existing of M. d'Arblay I am myself more pleased than I can tell you. We have spent a fortnight at Joigny, and found them all awaiting us with the most enthusiastic deter, mination to receive with
open arms and
heart the choice and the offspring of their returned exile. Their kindness has truly penetrated me; and the heads of the family, the uncle and the aunt, are so charming as well as so worthy, that I could have remained with them for months had not the way of life which their residence in a country town has forced them to adopt, been utterly at war with all that, to me, makes peace, and happiness, and cheerfulness, namely, the real domestic life of living with my own small but all-sufficient family. I have never loved a dissipated life, which it is no virtue in me, therefore, to relinquish; but I now far less than ever can relish it, and know not how to enjoy anything away from home, except by distant intervals; and then with that real moderation, I am so far from being
a misanthrope or sick of the world, that I have real pleasure in mixed society. It is difficult, however, in the extreme, to be able to keep to such terms. M. d'Arblay has so many friends, and an acquaintance so extensive, that the mere common decencies of established etiquettes demand, as yet, nearly all my time; and this has been a true fatigue both to my body and my spirits.
I am now endeavouring to make an arrangement, after a fashion of my own, to put an end to these claims, at least, to their being fulfilled. I am sure I shall have a far better chance to do well by those I mix with, as well as by myself, if I succeed; for my voice is as wearied of pronouncing as my brain is wearied in searching words to pronounce. All I experienced, however, from company, interruption, and visiting at Paris was so short of what I found at Joigny, that, in the comparison, I seemed completely mistress of my time; for at Joigny I can truly affirm I never had one hour, or even half a one, to myself. By myself I mean to our three selves.
M. d'Arblay is related, though very distantly, to a quarter of the town, and the other three-quarters are his friends or acquaintance; and all of them came, first, to see me; next, to know how I did after the journey; next, were all to be waited upon in return; next, came to thank me for my visit ; next, to know how the air of Joigny agreed with me; next, to make a little further acquaintance ; and, finally, to make a visit of congé. And yet all were so civil, so pleasant, and so pleased with my Monsieur's return, that could I have lived three lives, so as to have had some respite, I could not have found fault ; for it was scarcely ever
with the individual intruder, but withthe continuance or repetition of interruption.
Addressed to Miss Planta for the Queen and Princesses.
Passy, December 19, 1802.
RARELY, indeed, my dear Miss Planta, I have received more pleasure than from your last most truly welcome letter, with assurances so unspeakably seasonable. I had it here at Passy the 5th day after its date. I thank you again and again, but oh! how I thank God!
Permit me now to go back to Joigny, for the purpose of giving some account of two very interesting acquaintances we made there. The first was Colonel Louis Bonaparte, youngest brother but one, (Jerome) of the first Consul. His regiment was quartered at Joigny, where he happened to be upon our last arrival at that town, and where the first visit he made was to M. Bazille, the worthy. maternal uncle of M. d'Arblay. He is a young man of the most serious demeanour, a grave yet pleasing countenance, and the most reserved yet gentlest manners. His conduct in the small town (for France) of Joigny was not merely respectable, but exemplary; he would accept no distinction in consequence of his powerful connexions, but presented himself everywhere with the unassuming modesty of a young man who had no claims beyond what he might
make by his own efforts and merits. He discouraged all gaming, to which the inhabitants are extremely prone, by always playing low himself; and he discountenanced parade, by never suffering his own servant to wait behind his chair where he dined. He broke up early both from table and from play; was rigid in his attentions to his military duties, strict in the discipline of his officers as well as men, and the first to lead the way in every decency and regularity. When to this I add that his conversation is sensible, and well bred, yet uncommonly diffident, and that but twenty-three summers have yet rolled over his head, so much good sense, forbearance, and propriety, in a situation so open to flattery, ambition, or vanity, obtained, as they merited, high consideration and perfect good will.
I had a good deal of conversation with him, for he came to sit by me both before and after his card-party wherever I had the pleasure to meet him; and his quiet and amiable manners, and rational style of discourse, made him a great loss to our society, when he was summoned to Paris, upon the near approach of the event which gave him a son and heir. He was very kind to my little Alex., whom he never saw without embracing, and he treated M. d'Arblay with a marked distinction extremely gratifying to me.
The second acquaintance to which I have alluded is a lady, Madame de Souza.* She soon found the road to my good will and regard, for she told me that she, with another lady, had been fixed upon by M. del Campo, my old sea-visitor, for the high honour of aiding him in his reception of the first lady of our land and her lovely daughters, upon the Grande Fête which he
* Authoress of · Adèle de Senange,' &c.