Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

criticises and contradicts the Memoirs of St. Simon, and, indeed, $t. Simon supplies a very considerable part of the matter of the work. Now, the Memoirs of St. Simon were not published till 1788, and then but imperfectly, while this writer alludes to more recent editions. We hear of the National Assembly (vol. i. p. 123), and of the Revolutionary Tribunal (p. 132), and specifically of Philippe Egalité (p. 33), and Citizen Fouché (p. 104), and in the midst of a story, in which she apostrophizes her grandson as still living, she talks of the horrors of 1793 as already matter of history. All this brings the composition of the work down to, at the earliest, 1794, at which time she would be about ninety-five years old—rather an advanced age to commence writing thirteen volumes of memoirs—for such we are told is the extent of her work. · Credat Judæus ! But what follows would be too much for the credulity, we will not say of a Jew, but even of the Parisian public. The fictitious marquise thinks it necessary to be acquainted with all the eminent persons of the century embraced by her Memoirs, and accordingly she introduces, about the year 1714, the Marquis Dangeau.

They said at the time (on disait alors) that he was writing his memoirs, and when they appeared (quand je les ai vu paraître) they seemed to me neither more interesting nor less insignificant than their author.'- vol. i. p. 128.

Now, the Memoirs of the Marquis Dangeau did not appear till 1817, fourteen years after Madame de Créqui's death. These, and a hundred other anachronisms are not in stray paragraphs, or explanatory notes, or subsequent insertions—they are interwoven with the body of the work, and accompanied by, and dovetailed into the most elaborate falsehoods and fabrications. Let us give our readers another example :-In a visit to Rome in 1722, Madame de Créqui is represented as meeting a certain Duchess of Bedford and her daughter,' Milady Marquionesse (as her mother called her) de Tavistock,' who are the most ridiculous personages that can be imagined, and of whom, particularly of the Marquionesse de Tavistock, the Memoirs tell us the most absurd stories. It may be very true, as the Memoirs say, that all English women are mad and vulgar—but at least the lady here specially attacked must be acquitted of the specific charges made against her—for luckily there happens to have been no Lady Tavistock between the years 1700 and 1764. In 1722, there existed a Duchess Dowager of Bedford, (who died in 1724 at Streathanı,) and in 1725, her son, the third duke, married Lady Anne Egerton, and it was not till the marriage of the son of the fourth duke in 1764, that there was a Marchioness of Tavistock.

But

But it is mere waste of time to dwell on such trifles—we now revert to our former statement, that not merely is the book spurious, but the lady to whom it is attributed is a phantom of the fabricator's imagination. We beg our reader's attention to the exposure

of this miraculous mistake. We find in the French Biographie Universelle, article Crequi, the following notice :

The Marquise de Créqui (married in 1720 to the Marquis de Créqui) deserves to be reckoned amongst the most celebrated women of the eighteenth century. She loved literature and cultivated it, and died in Paris in 1803, at a great age, leaving a fine library to her executors, and several manuscripts--amongst others, Thoughts and Reflections on different Subjects.'

Here we have the germ of these Memoirs--a Madame de Créqui, of great wit and talents, who dies at a great age, who might have seen both Louis XIV. and the First Consul, and bequeaths copious manuscripts to her executors--and this is, no doubt, the lady of whom the Princess des Ursins writes (as triumphantly quoted by the editor) from Rome, in 1722.

The young Marquise de Créqui is distinguished by the dignity of her manners, the graces of her mind, the originality of her conversa. tion, and the propriety of her conduct.'—vol. i. p. 2.

The editor quotes also, with great confidence and complacency, the eulogies of Voltaire and Rousseau, and (so late as 1788) of Delille. All this looks at first sight like an important, and, indeed, conclusive corroboration of the authenticity of these Memoirs; but alas ! alas! we hardly know how to announce so direful a denouement of this fable--there have been two Marquises de Créqui —the one the lady mentioned in the Biographie, whose maiden name was Anne Louise Lefevre d'Aury, and who was married in 1720, and whose husband died in 1771; and the other the lady to whom these Memoirs are attributed-Renée Charlotte de Froulay, the wife of a gentleman of another branch of the Créqui family, which, on the death of the husband of. Anne, in 1771, claimed the Marquisate of Créqui. Anne Lefevre d'Auxy was, no doubt, born early in the century, as she was married in 1720, and she was the only Marquise de Créqui existing till 1771. Renée de Froulay was not born till 1715, (the year in which the author of the Memoirs pretends she was married ;)—she was really married in 1737 to the Marquis de Heymont, and her son became, on the death of his cousin-in 1771-Marquis de Créqui, and she may, for aught we know, have also called herself Madame de Créqui. All this will be made quite clear by the following tabular view of the genealogy of the family, extracted from Moreri and La Chesnay des Bois.

Henry

[blocks in formation]

Charles Marquis of Heymont, born in 1738,
succeeded, on the death of his Cousin

Charles James, in 1771, as Marquis of Créqui. So that the centenaire Madame de Créqui (if ever such a centenaire existed) was Anne Lefevre d'Auxy, the aunt, à la mode de Bretagne, of Renée de Froulay, who, in the Memoirs, usurps her age, her place, and her honours. What could have led to this extraordinary blunder we cannot venture positively to assert, but we suspect that an error in the Biographie has misled the fabricator. We doubt that the lady who died in 1803 was Anne Lefevre; we rather think it was Renée de Froulay, because we know that the Baron de Breteuil inherited some property from the lady who died in 1803, and the Breteuils were certainly allied to the Froulays, and not, that we can discover, to the Lefevres d'Auxy. But as Renée de Froulay, who was born after the death of Louis XIV., would not have answered the fabricator's purpose, he confounds her with her aunt; and by taking the birth of one and the death of the other, he completes his fable of a centenaire.' We see, indeed, that the fabricator had some misgivings that he was not on sure ground. He says Madame de Créqui complains of the inaccuracies of the dates in Moreri and La Chesnay des Bois. This it was quite necessary to do, because, having set out with the wrong person, he found it impossible to manage the dates, and he hoped to evade detection by thus denying the authorities which he could not reconcile: but he does not seem to have any suspicion that the cause of his difficulties was his having got, if we may use Queen Bess's homely expression, the wrong sow by the ear. Biographies and genealogies are, we well know, very liable to errors of date, but such a mistake as Anne Lefevre d'Auxy in one generation, for Renée de Froulay in another, we hardly think possible. But it is remarkable that, in this case, there seems additional reason for giving credit to the genealogists. First, the Biographie Universelle does not copy the genealogies, yet agrees with them as to the birth and marriage of Anne Lefevre: secondly, the edition of Moreri, in 1728, makes no mention of Renée de VOL, LI. NO. CII.

2B

Froulay

Froulay—which it would have probably done had she been married in 1715—but the edition of 1759, which continues the history of the family, introduces Renée as married to the Marquis de Heymont in 1737: thirdly, in the edition of La Chesnay des Bois, in 1772, that writer contiáues still further the genealogy, and notices the death of James, Marquis de Créqui, in the preceding year, and adds, that by this event Charles, the son of Renée de Froulay, has become Marquis de Créqui:' and, fourthly, we find that the genealogies of the two different families of Tessé and Créqui agree in the same story. That of the Créqui family is given in the foregoing table: and in that of the Froulay family it is stated that · Renée Charlotte de Froulay was married on the 18th of March, 1737, to Louis de Créqui, Marquis de Heymont, cadet de la branche ainée de la maison de Créqui.' We must further remark that out of this genealogy of the Froulay's arises another remarkable contradiction in point of fact to the statements of the Memoirs. The Marquise Renée is made to say, that the death of her brother in his youth was, by her thus becoming an heiress, the cause of her marriage with M. de Créqui. Now, it appears, if any faith is due to history, that Renée's brother, the Marquis de Froulay, survived her marriage above eight years, and that, so far from dying a youth prior to 1715, he was a general officer, killed at the battle of Lafeldt, 11th July, 1745.

Our readers may ask how it is possible that any man of common sense and of the most superficial literature could fall into such extraordinary—such obvious mistakes? We might content ourselves with replying, in the words of Molière

Vous avez raison; et la chose, à chacun,

Hors de créance doit paroître;
Un conte extravagant, ridicule, importun,
Cela choque le sens commun-
Mais cela ne laisse

pas

d'être !' We have only to state the facts, and cannot be expected to account for such strange inaccuracy; but the bold ignorance of some modern French writers is quite amazing. We proved in a former number* that M. Lemontey—the editor of Dangeau's

Memoirs'—the author of an historical essay on the reign of Louis XIV., on the strength of which essay he was elected into the French Academy-showed, in that said essay, that he had never read (though he did not fail to quote) the · Memoirs' of St. Simon, and had attributed to an anonymous satirist whose name he lamented he could not discover - some of the most remarkable and best known passages of St. Simon's work. After such an example of the learning of the academicians, we cannot be sur

* See Quarterly Review, vol. XIX. P. 476.

“prised prised at any, degree of ignorance in the obscure tribe who live by that disreputable class of fabrications which it has of latę been our duty to expose.

We add, that the literary merit of the work is worse than nothing - vulgar-trash-stupid threadbare stories, not only common to all the French jest-books, but to be found in our own Joe Millerindecent in many passages, disgusting in more, contemptible in all:

*** Since writing the above, we have received from Paris the result of a search which we caused to be made in the official registers of burial in that city. It confirms all we have said, and all we suspected. The lady who died in 1803, (14 Pluviose, an. xi.) was Renée de Froulay--born in 1715—the widow of Louis Marie de Créqui. This settles the matter.

ART. VI.The Dispatches of Field-Marshal the Duke of Web

lington, K.G., during his various Campaigns in India, Den, mark, Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries, and France, from 1799 to 1818. Compiled, from official and authentic documents, by Lieut.-Colonel Gurwood, Esquire to his Grace as Knight of the Bath. Vol. 1, London. 1834. 8vo. N 1832, Lieut.-Colonel Gurwood published a volume of the

Portuguese, Spanish, French and Belgic campaigns from 1809 to 1815;' -a volume which we believe to be of more practical use, not only to military students, but even to experienced officers, than all the theoretical works that ever have been written on military economy. It is, indeed, an admirable code of regulations founded on the broadest principles, but descending into the most exaet detail—for the equipment, subsistence, discipline, and poliee of an army, for all that tends to its own comfort and honour to the protection of its friends and allies---and to the defeat of its enemies. The deserved success of that work has induced the gallant and intelligent editor to undertake another, somewhat similar in its nature, but of a wider scope—a collection, as far as he could obtain them from authentic sources, of all the dispatches and letters, official, semi-official, and private, of the Duke of Wellington, from his first appearance in India, as Commandant of the 33d regiment of infantry, down to the period of the Army of Occupation in France--from 1799 to 1818. * The Duke,' says Colonel Gurwood,' is now presented to the 2 E 2

world

« AnteriorContinuar »